Getting your e-marketing strategy off the ground (First published in BD in Law)
7th February 2012
Law firms cite a wide range of benefits, including:
- generating new business and referrals
- raising awareness amongst existing and new clients
- extending market catchment in terms of market sectors and geographic reach
- introducing new services and capabilities
- differentiating them from their competitors
- enabling small firms to punch above their weight
- improving their image
- speedier communications with clients
- improved attendance at seminars
- reduced costs
- improving their environmental credentials
- real time and useful reporting.
Speed is one of the main benefits of email marketing. As experts in a particular issue, it provides you with the facility to circulate clients and contacts with a comment or response to a case within hours rather than days.
The most sophisticated systems also provide comprehensive real-time tracking – allowing you to see exactly who is opening your email, which articles or web links they click through to and what they download – information that is invaluable as a reminder to touch base with a client that you have not spoken to for a while.
However, many law firms still seem to be struggling to get their email marketing campaigns off the ground.
Whilst there is a large number of e-marketing software packages available, there is more to a successful e-marketing strategy than selecting the software.
There are essentially four main elements that you need to consider when planning:
- Objectives – what are you trying to achieve and how will your e-marketing programme help you achieve this? How will you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
- Who are your targets? B2B or B2C? – Do you have a list and appropriate permissions? If not, how do your plan to build it?** (see offer below)
- How will you provide content – once started, how will you ensure that you will have sufficient, high quality, relevant content for each edition?
- Who will manage the campaign creation, sending and follow up?
The following two case studies outline how we helped two quite different firms to get their email marketing campaigns off the ground:
Case study 1: Keystone Law
Keystone Law is a top 200 ‘virtual’ law firm, with over 100 consultant solicitors operating within the Keystone brand across all practice areas. The directors wished to launch an e-newsletter. Having a central administration team in London with only minimal in-house marketing resource, they decided to outsource the entire production process.
It was important to communicate the actual experience and expertise of the Keystone team and around 20 solicitors volunteered to provide between one and four articles each per year. Some editorial assistance was required to ensure that all the articles conformed to a common Keystone Law style.
Berners Marketing was engaged as being uniquely positioned to provide both the editorial and technical support in the production of the Keystone e-newsletter.
The first step was to produce and agree an editorial style guide that would form the standard for all the articles. Based upon style guides for respected publishers such as The Economist and the BBC, and incorporating plain English Guidelines and addressing common legal issues, a Keystone Style Guide was agreed and circulated to all the volunteer authors.
A rota and editorial deadline were agreed and each solicitor was given plenty of advance notice to produce their initial draft article. This is then edited to the common style and then returned to the solicitor to check the legal accuracy has been maintained.
The solicitor has final approval of their article before it is published on the internet and then in the e-newsletter.
Berners Marketing use the Enablermail email marketing software on behalf of Keystone to create and send out their e-newsletters.
The Keystone team maintains control of their database and mailing lists and have been trained to import the latest contact data for each edition.
Once articles have been uploaded onto the Keystone web site, then the e-newsletter is created with trackable links to each article, event or even an external survey.
Once the emailer has been sent out, then the Keystone team can dial into the software to see the real-time statistics and details of which recipients have opened or clicked on particular links. They are also able to see which email addresses have bounced and clean this data before the next edition.
Case study 2: Oliver Fisher Solicitors
Like many law firms, Oliver Fisher Solicitors had decided to introduce an email newsletter for clients and contacts but they were struggling to get a list of email addresses together.
On one hand it is a fairly straight forward administrative task, but on the other hand, people are naturally very protective of their contacts and require a lot of reassurance that clients will not be bombarded and upset by a torrent of marketing spam, which is quite understandable.
In addition, client commitments always take priority so it is easy for such a task to slip further and further down the ‘to do’ pile.
Having tried for some time to produce the list internally, Oliver Fisher’s Senior Partner, Russell Conway, asked Berners Marketing to help produce an initial list of email contacts with our “Email List in a Day” service.
The format of the day is as follows:
Stage 1 - Team briefing
The day starts with a briefing to fee-earners and secretarial staff, where we explain the importance of keeping contact data and how it will be used. This gives staff an opportunity to put their mind at ease about security and privacy etc.
Stage 2 - Saving email contacts to Outlook
We then spend time with each member of staff individually to help them to save their contacts to MS Outlook, they are then left to do this.
Stage 3 - Exporting contacts to a spreadsheet
We then spend further time with each member of staff individually to help them to export their contacts to a spreadsheet.
Each person then has an opportunity to delete any contacts that should not be added to the mailing list (competitors, family and friends).
Stage 4 - De-duplication of database
Once all the contact spreadsheets have been prepared, we then carry out an exercise in combining the various spreadsheets to remove any duplications of contacts and inconsistencies which need to be ironed out.
With all solicitors and support staff participating, by the end of the day a list of around 2,500 email addresses was compiled and Oliver Fisher Solicitors were in a position to launch their e-newsletter.
Russell Conway, Senior Partner of Oliver Fisher Solicitors commented:
Solicitors generally make the worst managers. Hence the exercise of extracting emails from fee earners was never going to be an easy one. We took the view that the best way to facilitate the process was to employ an outside consultant who could make a potentially threatening and time-consuming process less painful and save everyone a great deal of time. The end result was a huge list of email addresses which we can now use to our best advantage. Whilst we continue to add to it and trim those that do not wish to become involved in our newsletter we now have a cheap and very effective means of email marketing.”
Sue Bramall is Managing Director of Berners Marketing which provides marketing support for independent law firms. Visit http://www.bernersmarketing.com or contact Sue firstname.lastname@example.org
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