As attorneys continue to utilize more (and better) web based marketing solutions, the email newsletter remains a popular tool. Newsletters can be quite effective. But attorneys have to employ a more delicate balance in their email communication than most other service providers. In a narrow legal sense, each state has its own bar rules and recommendations concerning attorney marketing and online communications, and attorneys must take care not to cross any ethical lines.
But from a broader marketing perspective law firms also face a more difficult road than other businesses when attempting to craft effective email newsletters. Attorneys can’t offer 30% off an entire summer line or a free drink with purchase. (Although that might be effective.) Try to imagine an amazon.com style attorney recommendation email based on your past lawsuits. Would each attorney get his or her own highlighted box and one to five star rating? Many of the marketing tips and tricks on every email newsletter design checklist are just not relevant to attorneys.
But attorneys can, and should, use email newsletters effectively. Here are some methods for getting them read and producing results.
1. Create compelling subject lines. Step one in effective email distribution is getting people to actually open the newsletter. According to research done by Smashing Magazine, users look at three things when deciding whether an email is worth their time: the sender, the subject and the date. Be specific about what people can expect to find in your newsletter and use action words that give them an incentive to read it.
2. Write about relevant topics. Your email newsletter is not a dissertation or legal review. It should focus only on topics and issues that may affect clients or potential clients. One good method is to present a question and then answer it in a way that is helpful to your readers.
3. Include a call to action and prominent contact information. You have given people a reason to be interested in your services with your relevant content. Make sure they have an easy way to take the next step and click through to your website or call your office.
4. Share just enough. According to an Email Newsletter Usability Report published by the Nielsen Norman Group, on average people take about 51 seconds to scan an entire email. Use your time wisely. Your articles should be long enough to be interesting but short enough to keep a reader’s attention. Write in short paragraphs, use descriptive headers and, when possible, include bulleted lists to break up content.
5. Design your newsletter for maximum readability. Emails are by nature more cluttered than websites. There is just not as much room. Be sure to design your newsletter so that the content is clearly organized and has enough room to breathe. Lead your readers through the email to the important points. Distinguish different sections with color, white space or headlines. Use a dominant graphic or tagline for your most important information.
6. BONUS 6th TIP! Be creative. Add humor to your writing. Use a color that pops in a visually compelling way. Pick surprising pictures. People want to hire an attorney they can relate to. Showing you have what it takes to make them laugh or giving them something unexpected to think about will go a long way toward making that connection.
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