Having a newsletter is the first step in improving your newsletter. Is a newsletter going to be the thing that takes your business to the next level? No. Will a newsletter truly inform your clients of breaking legal content? Maybe. Should a newsletter none-the-less be part of your regular marketing communications strategy? Yes.
The merits of having a newsletter aside, we’re going to dive into what makes a good newsletter. Let’s start with frequency. You need to look at a few factors to determine frequency. Does your firm’s footprint cover states that generate enough legal content that is worthy of landing in your clients’ inboxes? Some of you may have one state that generates an out-sized amount of content and in that case you should be wary of leaning too heavily on that. Remember, your newsletter has two purposes: to inform your clients and market your business. If you rely too heavily on content from just one state where you operate then you run the risk of only reminding clients that you operate in that single state. So answer that question with careful consideration.
Secondly, what kind of frequency can you commit to as the author and producer of your newsletter—or are you willing to pay to outsource the work? Frequency can be a trap—remember our previous post, “Name that Newsletter”? Well in it we talk about naming your newsletter and the path of least resistance creatively can sometimes be the LAW FIRM MONTHLY NEWSLETTER. Good news—you named it; bad news—you committed to monthly releases.
Here’s where we’re going: content should drive frequency; not the other way around. One of our best practices to aim for is a loose, quarterly release (that’s about as often as clients want them), supplemented by “breaking” or “urgent” releases when big developments occur.
With our law firm clients, we advise having a blog on the website where all of this content lives (it’s phenomenal for your SEO, too) and when you’ve collected enough organic content on the blog, then we batch and send a newsletter to the clients. This strategy removes the pressure of sending it on pre-committed dates and stops you from searching frantically for content to fill the real estate in your newsletter.
Building the actual newsletter
We are big proponents of MailChimp. We use a variety of e-marketing systems for our clients, but when we have the choice, it’s MailChimp all the way. It’s priced by the number of contacts so you’re never overpaying and it handles all of the unsubscribe, legal footers, etc. to keep your mailings compliant. You can even do print mailings via MailChimp now and landing pages which are good for specific purposes but not really worth diving into when discussing a newsletter. Now here are five tips to help you build-out a fantastic newsletter:
Don’t put the full post in the newsletter. It’s a buffet, after all. If they want more, they’ll click to get it. Plus it keeps your newsletter down to short, readable bursts of text and won’t overwhelm your reader with too much content.
Purposefully vary the content. Balance the content between your various markets (states in the cases of law firms) and practice areas. This is where the marketing comes in. If you do this, you’ll subtly remind clients that use you for one service that you also provide other legal services they need. You’re doing the same by providing legal analysis for the same practice but different content for different states.
Throw back to your own, good stuff. We like to include a “recent” section or “update” section. Case law develops and often you’ll find yourself updating clients on a case or decision. So don’t be afraid to go back and update things you’ve already done. One, it’s easy. Two, it’s important to clients.
Watch your analytics. Check your open rates, click rates, and unsubscribes. For the first few runs of your newsletter, change up the day and time that you send. Keep in mind that time zones mean that your 11:00AM east coast distribution may sound perfect but that hits your west coast clients right at 8:00AM along with other critical, top-of-day emails. You can schedule them out to hit all time zones at the same time (say 11:00AM) but the point is you should play with it to get the optimum day and time for your list. Limit your play time to Monday, Wednesday, Friday before 4:30PM and avoiding lunches. Otherwise, take a few shots before settling on a specific day and time.
Keep it on brand. Choose fonts, colors, and a name that resonates with your core brand. Also watch the tone—these aren’t proprietary documents and they’re not designed for the court. So the tone should be informative, but casual. If it’s too “lawyery” they might not feel inclined to pick up the phone and ask questions. Or it may come off as too dense to read, thus defeating the entire purpose. So lighten it up and always leave it open-ended so they’ll click more, read more, and engage more.
Don’t worry about posting the full contents of your newsletter articles separately on your blog. Do it, and do it boldly. One step further: never require a login. Let us leave with you with a reality check: clients will not log in for the content. No one is going to steal the content. And, your website needs all the organic, fresh content you can give it to keep your search results up and to be seen as a legitimate source not only for Google, but for anyone else who lands on your website.
Want to discuss how we can build a newsletter as part of a comprehensive MarComm strategy for your law firm? Connect with us today by clicking right here.