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Just as client communication is crucial to your practice, keeping in touch with people matters. Consistent communication builds strong relationships while helping strengthen your law firm brand. In this post, you will learn why email newsletters matter and get tips for creating one of your own!
Think of your email inbox. Amongst the many emails you receive, you will surely find various newsletters. These newsletters may contain useful legal information for your practice, relevant news from your community or professional associations, and even information about your hobbies.
For a law firm, newsletters are often a useful way to establish communication with the people involved with your practice. These people may be colleagues, current and former clients, people who subscribed to updates, or even other people who had some other contact with your firm at one point or another.
In addition to helping establish communication, newsletters can help you build the image of your law firm and strengthen all of your essential branding assets. Thus, you can cement your position in the minds of those who receive your newsletter, and they become your potential clients or referrers.
If you have the right strategic plan, creating a newsletter for your law firm should not be complicated. Newsletter planning can be as simple as answering the following: Why? How? When? To Whom? and What?
Here are some tips that can help you answer these questions and create a strategy for efficiently executing your newsletter.
Why Would You Want a Newsletter?
As mentioned above, establishing consistent communication with your colleagues, clients, and potential clients is one of the most important reasons for creating a law firm newsletter. Inform them about important changes in the law, especially those in your practice area. Tell them about events that they may find interesting. Give updates about your firm itself.
Another reason for creating a law firm newsletter is the opportunity to build and strengthen your brand, including all of its related elements – your name, logo, mission, vision, and more! By keeping these elements, especially your firm name, in front of your readers, your firm becomes ingrained in their minds. With the right brand awareness, your firm can be the first they think of when they need a lawyer or want to offer someone a recommendation or referral.
A third important reason for creating a law firm newsletter? Strengthening your reputation and building credibility. With good content planning, including sharing news, links, and useful information for subscribers, you build trust with your readers. In addition, a quality newsletter helps you position yourself as an authority in your areas of expertise.
These three aspects – consistent contact, brand value, and reputation – are essential in creating an overall positive image of your law firm. Working together, these three aspects complement and reinforce your law firm’s marketing strategies, all through a form of communication as simple as a law firm newsletter.
Who Should Receive Your Newsletter?
Initially, you will likely want to include everyone who has had contact with your firm to be on your recipient list. This includes current clients, past clients, collaborators, your staff, colleagues, and other professionals in the legal field. Remember to check the Rules of Professional Conduct for your jurisdiction to determine any applicable requirements and confirm it is ethically permissible for you to email all of these groups.
Moving forward, you will want to well define the audience receiving your newsletter. Why? By knowing who your readers are, you can plan the content of your newsletter. Not all people are interested in the same thing. By having a better idea of who your readers are, you can determine whether one newsletter with broad information is sufficient or whether you should consider dividing your content into several specifically targeted newsletters.
For instance, you may want a newsletter exclusively designed for the members of your firm where you can share relevant news and event information. At the same time, you may want to create a newsletter for professionals and other colleagues outside of your firm, where you can share more general information about changes in the law and best practices tips.
Defining your audience not only helps you ensure you are presenting relevant content but also helps you determine other important aspects of your newsletter, such as design elements and timing for publication.
In addition to checking your local rules, consider any CAN-SPAM laws that impact sending commercial messages to a general audience in your jurisdiction.
How to Start Creating Your Newsletter?
At first, you may find that developing your newsletter seems to be a complicated process. Admittedly, creating the first edition may be a bit complex. There are several important factors to consider, so you will need to devote time to developing a strong newsletter template. You want to make sure you have an attractive format with adequate content and a strong balance between text and images.
However, once you have created a great template, it will be the starting point for your future newsletters. You will no longer have to create them from scratch, easing the development process.
Here are some factors to take into account when creating your first newsletter:
- Name: Some newsletters have a creative, independent name (for example, our own Justia Insights newsletter), while others do not. There is no requirement or expectation to name your newsletter. Frequently, the newsletter will simply be the company or brand newsletter. For example, your newsletter may simply be the “ABC Firm Newsletter.” That is okay.
Regardless of whether you name your newsletter, make sure your law firm name appears prominently in the header. This is so people can quickly identify its association with your practice. Should you choose to name your newsletter, you may want to refer to your practice area, experience, or a legal pun even! Whatever you choose, try to be sure it is creative, catchy, and, of course, professional.
- Design: Your newsletter must have an attractive design that is easy to read. When creating your design, be sure it includes your law firm logo and, ideally, incorporates your brand colors. Remember, you want consistency across all of your brand assets to build an identity and credibility for your firm with potential clients.
Another important element of design is the typeface or font that you will use. Be sure it is easy to read. Remember, however, that your fonts are one of the basic elements of your brand. If you have already established a font for your website and content in your other marketing materials, you should use it in your newsletter. If not, this is a great opportunity to define this branding element.
For the actual design, you can turn to a specialist in this area who can help create a template you can use for years to come. If someone on your staff has design experience, they may be able to help with this as well. However, if you do not have access to a design professional and cannot hire a specialist, don’t worry! There are several email marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp, which provide quality email templates you can choose from in addition to automated sending services. When choosing one of these standard templates, be sure to pick the one that is most cohesive with your brand’s visual identity.
- Language: Unless you have created a newsletter exclusively for legal professionals, you will want to use clear, direct language that is free of legal jargon and easy for non-lawyers to understand. Your language and tone need to be consistent, so it is important to accurately define your audience early on. Just as you do not speak with potential clients about legal matters in the same way you chat with other lawyers, you would not write to all audiences in the same manner.
- Balance: Having a healthy mix of content and images in your newsletter is important. Having an appropriate balance helps avoid giving the impression that your newsletter is complicated, boring, or tedious to read. Remember, your newsletter is not a book. Be sure your design makes use of various visual resources, such as photos, illustrations, and graphs. These improve readability by breaking up text and giving your newsletter an identity. If you offer multiple sections in your newsletter, utilize icons and color-coding so readers can distinguish between sections and learn what to expect.
- Sections: Think about your classic newspaper. It is divided into grouped sections so that readers know what they will find in each section. Could you imagine if this organizational system did not exist? One day you would be reading political news mixed with entertainment, sports, and classifieds. In the same way that a newspaper needs organization, so does your law firm newsletter.
Depending on your content strategy, you will be able to organize each note or message into different groups, thus creating sections that improve readability for subscribers. Once you identify the most important sections, try to keep them present in each issue of your newsletter (don’t skip them unless necessary), and, ideally, keep them in the same location within your design template.
- CTAs: A call-to-action (CTA) in an email newsletter guides readers to take a specific action by clicking a button or link, whether that action is to learn more about a news item, visit your law firm blog, check out your social media accounts, or get in touch with your team. CTAs are essential because they help people find more information or take a logical next step after reading your content. Additionally, utilizing CTAs and analyzing click data can help your team measure your readers’ responses to certain content.
- Original Info: Remember, you want readers to learn more about you, your team, and your law firm. Therefore, it is important to showcase any original content you may have created. It is also important that people can easily find links and CTAs that take them to your website or social media accounts. You may even want to prompt people to call you on the phone or view your firm’s location on a map.
What Should Your Newsletter Contain?
Your content is the most important piece of your newsletter. The content should be relevant enough that subscribers open the email and then read the newsletter, at least in part. Therefore, it is important to define your content strategy at the planning stage. Then, you should maintain this strategy for each edition of your newsletter.
You want to specifically define the types of information you want to share with people. Remember, there are plenty of great topics with which you can build a good newsletter. You just need to ensure that what you present is both useful and relevant to the readers. Below are a few suggested content categories you may want to consider:
- Your Law Firm: In this section, you can open the doors of your offices for people to learn more about you and your team. Present profiles of your lawyers, showcase achievements, share firm news, talk about community service, and promote any other activity that helps build a positive image of your firm.
- Relevant News: Consider including a newsletter section with the most relevant news at the local, regional, and national levels. You may want to give a summary of the update and link it back to the source so people can read the full content. Make sure this news is current and is a conversation starter.
- Legal Guides: As the name implies, in this section you can present educational guides focused on your key practice areas. These guides can be particularly useful for those facing a legal issue and can serve as an introduction that prompts them to contact you.
- Case Studies: This is a prime opportunity to highlight your experience and achievements. While you must always take care to appropriately safeguard client confidentiality, you can utilize this type of newsletter section to present a brief summary of cases you have handled, the challenges your firm faced, key strategies, and the result. How you handle your cases and the results you achieve can help strengthen your reputation both with potential clients and other attorneys.
- Lists: Lists are always an interesting attention-grabber for readers. You can employ very subjective or very factual list styles that address topics in your practice area(s), such as the 10 best jurisdictions for practicing labor law, or more general topics that are relevant to the legal world, such as the 10 biggest myths about a law practice.
- Curated Content: As your readers seek information online, it often becomes difficult to locate relevant, accurate content from the many available places. You can ease this process by presenting a section in your newsletter that directs them to resources to help them locate key content more quickly. This could be links to different blogs, government resources, and other websites where they can find and download forms. This exercise in curatorship also helps you build your position as an authority on the matter.
- Opinion on the Law: This type of content allows you to share your opinion and demonstrate your knowledge about the law. In addition, you can comment on updates and changes that are happening in the laws impacting your community.
- Informative Data: This is the ideal place to share relevant statistical data on the legal field.From general data, such as the number of lawyers nationwide, to very specific Data, such as the number of family law cases pending in your state, statistics are often very interesting for readers. We suggest using infographics to present your data appealingly.
- Recommended Events: Whether it be local or national events for the legal community, events for the general public, virtual or face-to-face, you can recommend key events that are of interest to your target audience. Be sure to share a link where they can get more information and register for the event. As a bonus, you can use this section to promote events in which you, or someone else from your law firm, are participating for even more exposure.
- Other Type of Content: While you must remain true to your firm’s brand identity, you do not necessarily want all of your content to be formal and serious. You can include a section in your newsletter where you share lighter, more entertaining content. Although we recommend keeping it somewhat tied to the legal world, the sky really is the limit. You can give a review or comment on movies and books about the legal industry, offer tips on courtroom etiquette, or share a little bit of lawyer humor.
Finally, it is very important that you clearly state that the content of your newsletter is only for informational purposes and in no way represents legal advice.
When to Send Your Newsletter?
In email marketing, the topic of timing is a subject of great discussion and study. When to send a newsletter can depend on many factors, such as the related industry, the audience, the habits of the audience, and more. Various considerations can make a newsletter perform better on certain days of the week than others. Nonetheless, some general best practices can guide you in determining when to send your newsletter.
- Avoid Mondays: The day that everyone returns to their daily activities may not be a good day for your newsletter, since everyone will be more focused on those emails that will mark their agenda for the week.
- Forget Weekends: People likely want to disconnect from corporate emails by the weekend. They can leave them on their tray for later reading or ignore them. For sporting events and concerts, the weekend may be a great time to email. For a law firm update, weekends are not ideal.
- Mixed Feelings Fridays: The weekend is almost here, so people are often looking forward to the end of the day and, consequently, avoiding their email inbox too.
- Day or Night: It is generally recommended that email be sent during the day, which is when people are most active. However, a younger audience may have more time to check their inbox at night.
- Mornings Are Better: Best practices indicate the morning hours are best for email communications. It is the time when people are traveling to their offices or just getting started for the day. Early in the morning, they tend to have more time to read their emails than when they are in the thick of their daily tasks.
These are just a few recommendations for email marketing. If you want more information on this topic, we suggest reading this article. As a final note, we recommend you test the best time to reach your audience by changing the time you send your email newsletter and later testing the days. When engaging in this kind of analysis, you are more likely to find the correct timing for your newsletter and target audience.
What Else Should You Consider For Your Newsletter?
We have a few final recommendations for you to consider when developing your newsletter:
- Consider the Subject Line: This is the first line your audience will see in their inbox, and it will be competing for attention with other emails. You want your subject line to be attractive enough to entice the reader. It may be worth it to test a variety of styles. For example, try using a summary of what is in the newsletter, or if the newsletter has a name, include it to see if it achieves greater recognition and faster identification.
- Automation Software: You don’t have to do everything by yourself. While you may need to tackle the initial planning with little assistance, you can later use one of the various automation service providers that help you manage the email marketing process, from sending and creating recipient lists to designing templates and analyzing the results of your emails. Mailchimp, Autopilot, ActiveCampaign, Campaigner, Campaign Monitor, and Constant Contact are just some of the providers you should consider.
- Create a Calendar: Establish a calendar for the process of developing each edition of your newsletter. This calendar must consider the timeline for content creation, initial revisions, updating the decision template, final revisions and quality assurance, and sending. Without an established order, creation can be messy and disorganized. You run the risk of not having all of your necessary items prepared on time. After you have established dates for your first newsletter, try to keep the dates as similar as possible month after month, so you ultimately create a mechanical process and all of your involved team members will know on which days each phase of the process is happening.
- Editorial Team: Make sure you assign a team to handle content creation: writing introductory texts, curating content, developing the look and feel of visual resources, etc. While you must have a dedicated team that is in charge of complete content development for each edition of your newsletter, remember this team does not necessarily need to be 100% dedicated to this marketing effort either. They can also work in other roles.
- Content Editing and Proofreading: This step is one of the most essential pieces of the newsletter development process. While no one is perfect, you want to avoid sending your newsletters with spelling and/or grammar mistakes, incorrect photos, or broken links. There must always be someone in charge of checking that everything is right. If you can assign multiple people to this quality assurance stage of the process, that is even better.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
Although two of the key marketing objectives in any industry are new client acquisition and generating loyalty amongst existing clients, intangible factors that are critical for success are strengthened by the marketing process. In the case of a law firm, your image, reputation, experience, and legal knowledge are amongst the intangible factors that an email newsletter strengthens in the eyes of clients and colleagues. For this reason, a newsletter with a solid structure and efficient strategy is a fundamental building block you should use to create the communication and marketing plans for your law firm.