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Remaining engaged with (or re-engaging with) your former clients is an often overlooked marketing strategy for many attorneys. Check out this post to learn more about why marketing to these former clients is important for your firm and how to do it.
In the sales world, they say the best customer is a repeat customer. It isn’t hard to figure out why. A repeat customer has purchased from you in the past, so awareness isn’t an issue. They are easy to target with campaigns because you already have their information. Furthermore, if they had a positive experience, then they already trust your brand.
As a lawyer, you are not selling someone dinner or a new jacket. Instead, you are selling your legal services. Most people probably don’t need a lawyer as frequently as they need new clothes or takeout. However, remaining engaged with former clients is still a strong marketing tactic for legal professionals that can lead to both repeat business and increased referrals.
Keep reading to learn more about why former clients are a key target audience for your firm, regardless of your practice area, and to learn a few tips on remaining engaged with them.
Why Target Your Former Clients?
It is important to understand that your former clients are an integral part of your law firm’s brand, reputation, and future marketing even after their legal issue has been resolved. In many practice areas, your clients may not need to hire you again in the future. For example, if you are a divorce attorney, you may have clients that will never get divorced again. However, these former clients still present value for your firm’s marketing efforts to obtain client-to-client referrals.
Furthermore, if you practice in other specialties, such as any area where your clients are typically business entities, this former client will likely have legal matters in the future (if they don’t already have something going on now) or have friends with similar legal matters. Businesses often need lawyers in many matters from workers’ compensation claims to customer lawsuits, construction projects, real estate transactions, employment disputes, and more. As such, you want to return those clients to your book of business.
Regardless of whether they will ever hire you again, staying engaged with your former clients, creates top-of-mind awareness and future referrals. If they do happen to need an attorney down the line, then they are more likely to contact you first. It also increases the likelihood that they will refer friends, family, and colleagues to your firm. Furthermore, staying engaged with your former clients is good for building your brand and reputation in the larger community through word-of-mouth advertising and public awareness. Your former clients are an audience that you can reach directly, not just by chance, to ensure the right message is getting spread. Also, your (happy) former clients are great resources for other marketing collateral, such as testimonials.
How to Interact With Former Clients
Threshold Issue: Why is your client a former client?
First, you must consider the reasons your former client became disengaged from your firm. Ask yourself why your former client is your former client. This may be obvious in some cases, such as when you were hired to handle a particular lawsuit and that matter has been resolved. However, in other cases, such as when you have an ongoing relationship with a business client that suddenly leaves or when an individual retains other representation mid-case, you may need to consider other possibilities for disengagement. For example, did another firm offer a better deal to one of your long-standing clients? Was a client dissatisfied with the service they were receiving? Was there a billing issue?
If the attorney-client relationship ended for any reason other than a resolved legal matter, you need to be cognizant of that reason when you begin to re-engage with the client. For example, if a client felt overcharged, perhaps you need to consider solutions for the situation. You may want to offer a partial refund or discount on future services.
You need to make sure you address any lingering issues that caused the end of your representation before you begin approaching a former client with more general marketing messages. If you are unable (or unwilling) to make it right or address the issue in some way, then these clients are likely not the high-value former clients you should be targeting with a re-engagement campaign.
Clients Whose Matters Recently Resolved
Assuming that you are dealing with former clients who saw a resolution of their matter, then you want to continue to nurture your relationship from the moment the legal issue is put to rest. As a first step, you can ask clients to leave a review of your firm in a thank you message at the conclusion of their case. If you solicit reviews, you should take care to consider the experience that each particular client had and the outcome of their matter before sending such an email. If you determine that a certain client would not be the best candidate for leaving a review, you should still send them an email wrapping up the representation and thanking them for choosing your firm.
After this initial engagement, you will want to continue to stay in touch with these former clients. Email marketing is a great way to do this. Did you know that 73% of millennials (people between approximately 25 and 40 years old) prefer it when businesses communicate with them via email? Additionally, well over half of marketers agree that email is their biggest source of ROI. These numbers indicate that email is a fairly easy, productive way to stay engaged with your former clients.
You can send regular updates from your firm, such as a monthly newsletter, highlighting legal updates. You can also include announcements about your firm, profiles on your attorneys and staff, and interesting details about upcoming events in the community or that you may be hosting. This is a great way to share and promote your useful content, such as new blog posts. Make sure the content you are sharing is engaging and well-written. Consider incorporating visuals and/or videos to increase engagement with this content.
Additionally, you can send occasional emails announcing big news, such as awards, a large jury verdict, or a new office. A nice touch is to also recognize these former clients on special occasions, such as by sending a personalized birthday or holiday message or card, each year.
Other Former Clients
In an ideal world, you will have maintained some form of contact with all former clients. However, this is not always an ideal world. If you have not always kept in touch with former clients, you can start now. This is where re-engagement comes into the equation.
As a consumer, you likely have a go-to store for groceries, new shoes, household goods, etc. You may receive an email announcing a sale or with a newsletter from time to time. As long as you remain engaged with the brand, they don’t necessarily expend a great deal of time and energy marketing to you. But have you ever noticed how the messaging changes when you quit being a loyal customer?
For example, if you have ever canceled a subscription-based service, you probably are familiar with the uptick in discounts, incentives, and special offers that suddenly arrive in your inbox. In the past, HungryRoot has offered free cookie dough for life and Hulu has been quick to hand out new free-trial periods. These tactics are examples of trying to reengage a former customer.
Your law firm probably cannot incentivize former clients in this same way. However, you do still have opportunities to reconnect with your former clients. As a starting point, we suggest sending emails, or even physical mail, about upcoming community events your firm is involved in.
For example, are you sponsoring a local sporting event? Has your firm entered a team into a community cook-off? Will you be partnering with a local organization to donate car seats for families in need? Highlighting these types of events not only places your firm in a positive light but also offers your former client the opportunity to get involved. When sending these announcements, craft a message with a Call to Action (CTA) that invites your former client to take action, such as by attending the event or volunteering for a cause. Encouraging action on the part of your former client helps to more effectively rekindle the engagement.
If you will not have an event or some community-based way for your former client to reconnect with your firm, you can send a note asking them for feedback on their prior experience through an internal survey, or even soliciting their interest in providing a testimonial for your marketing materials. These methods are good to consider because they allow the former clients to participate in something with your firm, but also offer the potential benefit of testimonials for you to use in firm marketing.
Another alternative to consider for re-engaging your disengaged former clients is a giveaway or contest. For instance, you might consider holding a drawing for a gift card or an even bigger prize. Depending on the types of clients in your former client base, you might even consider sending them a gift, such as a holiday basket. This method of re-engagement may be particularly efficient and effective if you are dealing with business entities or any clients who are not in your local area.
You can also leverage emails to highlight an important update about the law or your firm, and you should also include these former clients in your periodic email marketing, such as newsletters. However, you should not limit your efforts to only sending periodic newsletters or standard emails until after you have made a genuine effort to rekindle the relationship through encouraging action or another more personalized method of engagement.
Don’t Forget About Ethics
In any legal marketing efforts, you need to always remain cognizant of your ethical obligations. Check the rules for your local jurisdiction to be sure that you are familiar with the provisions applicable to attorney marketing and ensure any planned re-engagement campaigns will be in full compliance with those rules.
Depending on the rules for your jurisdiction, you may not be able to employ all of the strategies suggested in this post. That is okay. Other attorneys are on a level playing field with you in that regard. You simply need to adjust your strategy to ensure you are taking as much permissible action as possible.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
Your former clients often present a high-value marketing opportunity that does not require an abundance of resources to execute because you already know who these individuals are and how to reach them. These former clients may indeed become clients again with a future legal matter. However, continuing your relationship with your former clients is invaluable because they are a key source of referrals, word-of-mouth marketing, and reputation management through reviews.