What is one of the most effective forms of marketing for solicitors that, when done consistently, leads to more conversations, more referrals and more instructions? Email marketing for solicitors is the answer. It is also one of the four marketing arteries from my book The Law Firm Growth Formula. The marketing arteries are the marketing tactics that every law firm should have in place if they are serious about growing their business. Email marketing for solicitors is one of the most important.
If you are not currently sending an email marketing newsletter to all of your clients and prospects on a regular basis, it simply means that you are leaving new client instructions behind; often lots of them.
Clients who would use you again if they knew the full range of your legal services are forced to go elsewhere and use your competition, all because you didn’t keep in touch with them and remind them that you are there.
Friends of your clients, when asking your clients whether they know a solicitor who could help them are met with a blank stare; all because the last time they used you was over three years ago and they haven’t heard from you again since!
Referrers to your business are forced to send their clients elsewhere because they too have not heard from you and, to be honest, forgot of your existence.
All of these situations are happening every month when you do not send an email newsletter, so you need to fix it and fix it quickly.
First, let me start by talking about the results of a survey that I ran which covered the most important question about email marketing for solicitors – consistency!
Email Marketing Survey Results
I know from having done this for solicitors for far too many years to mention now that consistency is crucial here. So these results of a survey were informative:
What can I say about this? I can pretty much guarantee from my own testing that ONLY the solicitors sending an email monthly are getting any meaningful and measurable results.
Consistency is vital when it comes to email marketing and the minimum that I recommend is monthly.
If you are not sending a consistent monthly email then you really are shooting yourself in the foot.
Now let me look at all of the other reasons (excuses) solicitors provide me with when it comes to answering the question “Why aren’t you doing regular email marketing?”.
It won’t work – in other words, it will not win me new instructions.
The only reason I advise any solicitor to undertake any form of marketing is to win new client instructions.
First, this is what Peter says about email marketing (amongst other marketing that he undertakes) helping him to do just that:
Nick didn’t just work on the lead generation side of things either – he helped us with the client conversion process too, training our team, making our sales calls better and improving our onboarding process to avoid drop-offs due to ‘cooling off’.
Now we don’t buy in any work at all, our pay-per-click efforts do a sterling job, and the large client database that Nick has helped us build has allowed us to increase the amount of work we do by a factor of ten, in just three years.
I’m one extremely satisfied client, and despite the dramatic differences Nick has been able to make in the time we’ve been working together, things are still improving thanks to his guidance and support.
Peter Russell, Russell Worth Solicitors.
When done correctly and consistently, email marketing wins you new clients.
The best part of it is that when you do it correctly and follow the model that I advise, it doesn’t take a lot of time and it does not cost a lot of money at all.
I will show you how to do it, but just ask yourself the only question that really matters.
“What would one new client a month be worth to you if that is what your email marketing produced for you?”
Let’s look at one of the lowest priced legal services first. If you sell Wills, one new client might be worth only £300 to you, but that would be £300 per month plus other cross selling opportunities, but a minimum of £3,600 per annum alone, not to mention the Probates that will follow.
Would you turn your nose up at this if it took you 30 minutes per month and very little outlay?
When you think about commercial legal services, where each client is more likely worth at least £1,000 per instruction, isn’t 30 minutes a month worthy of your time for £12,000 minimum extra income?
However, there are huge additional financial benefits to email marketing, such as proof of expertise, being the only firm invited to quote or pitch for new work due to your continued contact and also being approached by the media who see your regular content. I will go into these in more detail later.
I don’t read other people’s email newsletters so no one would read mine.
This is one of my favourite comments because I hear it so many times. It falls into the category of “I wouldn’t respond to this type of marketing so why would anyone else?”
This is a huge mistake – I will share with you why shortly. First, let me tell you the other times that I hear this comment in relation to other very effective forms of marketing for solicitors:
“I don’t ever click on Google Adwords advertisements so none of my clients will either.”
“I don’t ever choose a service provider from a website so no one would choose me in that way either.”
“I don’t ever read or sign up for other people’s email newsletters so why would anyone sign up for or read mine?”
The simplest way that I can answer this is to say that if you are saying this in relation to any form of law firm marketing, you are absolutely wrong.
When it comes to marketing legal services you must always remember my marketing mantra:
The only thinking that you need to do when considering any marketing is “would any of my clients respond to this marketing?”
You are not your client.
Therefore, the only way for you to determine whether this form of marketing could work for you is to test it.
For every one of the marketing methods I mention in the statements above I have clients being hugely successful in terms of generating new client instructions in every type of commercial and individual legal service imaginable. You must start thinking like your clients and not as a solicitor if you are serious about growing your client base and your profits.
What about GDPR?
GDPR is seriously testing my patience because it is putting so many of my clients into a state of fear and anxiety.
The fact of the matter at this moment in time is that the United Kingdom has not even finalised its legislation to bring it in. Even when (if) it does, email marketing will still have a huge part to play in growing your law firm.
At the moment the only people who really care about GDPR are the people selling their training courses using the fear from the media to promote it.
My advice is that if you are already email marketing, keep going with your current list for as long as you can.
Do not under any circumstances send an email now telling people they must click the link in the email that you have just sent to them or they will never hear from you again.
At best 20% of people will stay on your email list, meaning you will lose 80% of them.
Wait until we know what is definitely coming in in the UK in May then you can formulate a plan.
You could, if you want to be very cautious (as I know a lot of solicitors naturally are), start a brand new email list from today where everyone from this day forward has to request to go on to it and double opt in to it. That would be all that I advise you to do in the meantime.
Just imagine, if you include March, you can send two or three emails that might make your telephone ring and generate a lot of new business for you, or you could shut your list down and do nothing.
The second option is not an option.
What I write will be too boring.
As a solicitor, you are incredibly lucky. Whichever field of law you operate in, your subject matter is incredibly relevant to your clients and prospects. Now if you consider that you can only talk about the law, yes, the content of your email newsletters may be a little dry. However, expand what you talk about to cover the issues that impact upon your clients’ business or personal lives and your content need never be so dull.
I will give you examples of how you can do this for virtually every type of legal service in the training referred to later on but it is a lot easier than you might think.
Clients don’t want to hear what I have to say or hear from me at all.
If clients have already purchased your legal services before, why wouldn’t they want to hear from you again?
If your fears or concerns relate to the fact that you supply a niche service that people might only use once or twice during their life time, I have a solution for that too.
People already get too many emails already.
Whilst it is very thoughtful of you to worry about your clients’ email inbox, it is only their decision to make about what is ‘too many’ emails. Every email you send, when you use the right software and do this properly, will include the opportunity for your client to ‘unsubscribe’ from your future email newsletters, so let them be the judge of whether they want to hear from you again, not you.
I don’t know which software to use or how to use it.
This is perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks for solicitors and I completely understand this. When you add to it the possibility that your case management software ‘may be able to do this for you’ (below), it can be a tricky issue.
However, it really shouldn’t be. You need to ensure three things only:
- The email software is designed to do one thing and one thing only; send bulk emails on your behalf with an excellent delivery rate (above 99%);
- Is very easy to use so that it takes up as little time as possible to create your monthly email newsletter; and
- Doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
I will show you the software that I use and that most of my law firm clients use to send their email newsletters, including a step by step demonstration of how to set it up, plus the ability to ask me questions and even have me login to your software and complete the set up for you if you get stuck at any stage of the process.
I think I can use my case management software but I am not sure how and they charge £750 per day for training.
Your case management software is designed to do one thing; manage your cases. I have yet to see any case management software which is fit for purpose when it comes to sending email marketing newsletters. Use professional email marketing software designed to do that one thing, not your case management software. This is especially pertinent when you consider that the £750 or more cost of training would allow you to pay for the email marketing software that I recommend for more than three years!
Your case management software is not up to the task for email marketing.
I sent an email once and nothing happened.
Consistency is crucial with email marketing. Rarely does anything happen when you do it once, but when you do it once a month for three or six months, sometimes, literally, magic happens.
You will receive requests for assistance from existing clients, alongside referrals from your existing clients and often contact from the press to help them with a current story.
Email marketing demands consistency. Provide it with that and you will be successful.
I sent an email once and someone complained.
This comment allows me to pull one of my favourite stories from private practice out of the hat!
When I was a practising solicitor, I arranged a mail shot to our wills and probate database. We were doing it in batches of 100 or so at a time. As soon as we sent the first batch we received a volume of enquiries and some instructions. I was getting ready to send the next batch when we received a complaint from a relative of our now ‘deceased’ client. Whilst I had been told that the database was current, clearly one had slipped through the net.
I knew what had to be done:
- Update the database to ensure that this did not happen again;
- Send profuse apologies, flowers, chocolates and confirm that it would not happen again; and
- Send the next batch of letters.
What happened? The senior partner had one of his numerous senior moments and completely lost all sense of rationale and stopped any more letters being sent in that successful campaign or to any ‘non-current’ clients ever again.
Every business makes mistakes, what matters is how you deal with them. The apology and correction of the database with a gift to prove we were genuinely sorry would have been sufficient and the right approach to take; it will be for you too.
I share this story with you because you will from time to time receive emails from people asking you not to contact them again. They will not press the ‘unsubscribe’ button themselves, despite it being there and easily located. They will instead send an email that sometimes might be a bit tetchy, saying something like:
“How dare you keep emailing me. Your emails are boring and I am convinced that you are stalking me. Go away and get a life.”
I may have exaggerated this point, but sometimes people can be incredibly rude. Do not rise to their bate. They may just be having a bad day. Click the unsubscribe button in the email for them that they couldn’t be bothered to locate and they will be gone.
Forewarned is forearmed. You will occasionally receive complaints. Don’t act like my former senior partner. The only thing to remember is that you are doing this to win new clients. If you want an extra £5,000 to £100,000 in income each year, you need to be able to deal with the occasional complaint.
I am scared of being rejected.
I think this one is more or less covered above. More income should help you to overcome this fear. It really should.
Email is dead.
Someone really did say this. They believed that there is no place for email any longer in the business world. Golly gosh, I thought.
If this were true, the tens of thousands of pounds worth of profit costs generated by my clients and other law firms from their email marketing would either not be spent at all or would be spent with their competition.
Email is dead: simply untrue.
I can’t get my fee earners to write the content.
Good. You absolutely shouldn’t get them to write it. They will write turgid, dry content that absolutely nobody wants to read.
In my experience and my very strong opinion, the ONLY thing that your fee earners should be doing is ‘earning fees’ for you. Take away anything that stops them from doing this and you will have a very profitable practice. Let other people talk to new clients, let your finance department deal with all billing and just let your fee earners do what they are best at and your life will become significantly easier and better. Your clients’ experience of your services will also be dramatically improved. Dramatically!
The issue you may still be fighting is this “I hear what you say Nick but the content must be legally accurate”.
Baloney! The content shouldn’t be legal at all. It needs to be about your clients’ businesses or personal life and how the law touches on that, not about the law itself.
When you add to this that your fee earners could be charging out at £250 plus per hour yet a legal copywriter is a fraction of this, even purely on the mathematics of this equation you can see that it doesn’t make any financial sense to ask your fee earners to write your email newsletter content.
I don’t know what to write about.
Remember, the key is to write content that is relevant to your audience, so if they are individuals, that allows you to talk about pretty much anything. If they are businesses, that allows you to talk about anything business related, or anything at all.
I don’t have the time to do it.
The good news is that you do not need much time. My preference is that aside from approving the content, you outsource all of this process. If you can’t afford to do this (probably false economy with your hourly rate versus an outsourced copywriter) I will share all of my shortcuts to make the process as fast and as painless as possible below.
I offer a niche service so can’t send an email newsletter.
Whereas solicitors see operating a niche service as a limiting marketing factor, I simply see it as a huge opportunity. You only provide one service, yet your clients are likely to need many legal services during their lifetime. You can be the conduit that takes them to every solicitor for their every need, demanding from those that you send these clients to that they reciprocate to your business.
The beauty of setting up these reciprocal referral relationships is that you form partnerships with other niche law firms and so form a support network of likeminded law firm owners that can help each other in so many different ways. You can even write content for their email newsletters, bringing their client base to you too. Food for thought?
I tried it once and had very poor open rates of my emails.
Open rates are the percentage of people that open and read your emails. If you send your email newsletter to 100 people and 20 open it, your open rate is 20%.
People become absolutely fixated about email open rates.
Can I let you into a secret? Open rates are irrelevant.
Even if your email open rate was only 2% every time you sent it, you would still receive new client instructions. How can that be when so few people open it? Well, even if your clients do not open your email and simply delete it each time they receive it, they are being forced to remember your law firm name every month.
Therefore, when they next have a need for legal services, who is the one and only firm’s name that they can remember?
When a friend or colleague says “I don’t suppose you know any solicitors who deal with xxx do you?” instead of staring blankly into space, they can say “Oh, yes, hang on a minute. I get an email every month from my old solicitors. I will forward it on to you.”
Open rates really don’t matter as much as people say they do for that reason!
We use social media to keep in touch so don’t need to send emails now.
Oh wow. This is one of those ‘Nick falls off stool’ moments.
Social media is such a crowded space. Thousands of messages every second are sent out to anyone who is on social media, which has actually created a reduction in emails being sent because people believe ‘social media’ is the answer.
For nearly any question you can ask about law firm marketing, social media is rarely, if ever, the answer.
Send one email to your clients and prospects and you will get a much better response than you could ever hope for from a tweet!
I am going to get my database fully updated first before I send my first email.
Don’t. I have heard this said so many times. Do you know what is the outcome each time I have heard this?
Nothing. One, two or three years later the database still isn’t completed, and emails are not being sent. More importantly, additional income from email marketing is left on the table.
However, if you start your email marketing database today and grow it from this day forwards, in several months you will have a formidable database that will be generating new instructions for you.
See what my friend and solicitor (and fellow M4S mem ber) Jackie says about this:
“Nick had been advising me to start an email newsletter for ages but I was put off because I wanted to prepare a list of all of my old clients first. I finally took action when he reminded me and said “just start the list today”, so I did.
Nick was right. Within four months I have an email list of 1,000 people and it is growing all of the time, as are my referrals!”
It won’t work.
I hope by now that you have seen that email marketing can work, does work and is not anywhere near as difficult as you might first think.
Email marketing works. It delivers new clients and new referrals to you.
When you send email newsletters consistently it can do nothing else in your clients and prospects minds except prove your expertise. How can you consistently talk about what you do without being a specialist?
By creating monthly content, your website will become a much larger, more powerful, more useful and more consistently found resource, not only by your future clients but by the media too. When they start searching for someone to provide a comment on a topical issue related to your area of expertise, they will keep finding your website. You will be the only resource that they contact and receive a comment from.
However, the biggest benefit for me is that when you consistently send emails to all of your clients, the next time they have a need for your services you become one of only one firms asked to price the work for them. You go from being a ring around of three or four law firms where price becomes a major factor in your clients purchasing process to being the only firm that they speak with when price is simply not an issue.
Thanks, Nick, for constantly reminding us to send emailing to our clients and contacts. I recently sent one about the need to have a Will, popped out for an hour and returned to 5 emails from people wanting updated or new Wills. It made my day! We will now be sending regular emails to all our clients, prospects and contacts as we now realise this really is a great way to ‘increase solicitors’ profits’! Thanks again.
Jonathan Tyler, Seth Lovis & Co Solicitors
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