The email newsletter is still a powerful communication channel for law firms.
This is despite the advance of other communication channels such as social media, blogs, video and enterprise social networks.
Most firms have a dedicated email communication tools which will be typically used to send three types of emails:
- Internal broadcast communications - usually top-down announcements
- External communications - targeted at clients and/or prospects with a focus on core messages and disseminating thought leadership or updates
- External communications - event-driven communication with invites and information linked to seminars or microsites
It's common that firms will send the same email to all of their clients and prospects (many of whom will not have opted in to receive these communications) which means that most of the content is not of interest to the majority of the recipients.
This can lead to low open rates, unsubscribes, and (worst of all) being marked as spam.
What's more, in an effort to avoid being relegated to the spam box, law firms often restrict themselves to sending only one monthly or even quarterly newsletter. This means that most of the content in the newsletter isn't new - it could be up to 29 days old (or three months old in the case of a quarterly email!).
These ineffective and unhelpful newsletters don't reflect well on the law firm that is presenting itself as being at the forefront of legal knowledge and a source of trusted information for clients, and can create a negative image of the firm for prospective clients.
Often, if a client is engaging with several firms they may receive the same information from different firms' newsletters - it's simply a case of who gets there first that is the most trusted source. Worst case scenario, poor email newsletters can turn prospective clients off altogether.
So what are law firms to do?
It's been suggested that firms turn to other forms of communication instead, such as blogs, digital magazines, intranets - these are great ideas but still don't solve the problem that readers have to actively seek out the information that is relevant to them.
The answer is personalised content hubs
Content hubs are personalised repositories of content on different subjects and delivered through many different mediums aggregated together.
By providing your clients and prospects with access to a content hub, you can allow them to curate information on the topics that are relevant to them. It transitions the flow of engagement from PUSH to PULL.
Increasingly, customers are demanding more content that is personalised and relevant to them. 75% of consumers like it when brands personalise messaging and offers, and 90% say they find custom content useful.
Relevant content means so much to consumers that a study revealed 25% of respondents would be willing to give up chocolate for a month to receive appropriate content based on their personal interests on all of their favourite websites.
Content hubs are more than just events or online publications - they are rich multimedia, combining written content like blogs, alerts, client specific briefings and articles on legal and regulatory development, with videos, podcasts and interactive features like comparison toolkits or knowledge products like microsites.
Users can consume content in the way that they prefer - many people don’t actually enjoy reading text and would prefer video or audio.
Allowing your audience to subscribe to personalised content hubs ensures they receive only the content that is relevant to them, at a frequency that suits them best is very powerful. This way, you’re giving back control to your audience so they get the information they actually want from you rather than what you think they want.
The ability to deliver tailored solutions to your audience ensuring they retain the flexibility to personalise their experience, allows your firm to provide an added-value service that many other firms might not be able to offer.
If other firms are still providing the standard monthly newsletter, or at best targeted email campaigns, a content hub and its digital services should be something that your firm can draw competitive advantage from.
But what about email newsletters?
Email actually remains a very effective communication method when used properly as a core delivery and engagement method in conjunction with a personalised content hub.
Believe it or not, customers actually like receiving emails from companies they engage with. In fact, 72% of consumers say that email is their preferred method of receiving communications from companies.
The problem with email newsletters isn’t to do with the medium itself. In fact, when it’s used well, email is great for staying in contact with your subscribers and sharing information with them.
- Email is a really effective way to distribute content. Online content like blog posts or videos don’t typically get discovered right away through search so you need to alert people to their existence. This is especially true of gated content, which isn’t indexed by search engines. Often, law firms create high value content that is only accessible to clients or by filling in a form to access. Let your users access this straight away in their content hub and let them know about it in their personalised newsletter.
- You don’t have to limit yourself to monthly newsletters. Many companies send daily newsletters, or even more than one a day. On average, subscribers receive 416 commercial emails per month. Allow your clients to decide how often they want to receive content.
- Email is a great way to get content shared to a broader audience. You can directly ask people to share public blog posts or resources, either via email or via social share buttons embedded in the email. In fact, emails with social sharing buttons see a 158% increase in click through rates.
- Persona-based email marketing has been around for a while now - it’s very common for subscriber lists to be segmented based on geographical region, buyer persona, previous engagement and so on. By segmenting, you can be far more targeted with emails than you can with blog posts. It’s important - segmented emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails.
- Personalised content takes this a step further - it’s segmented at an individual level, making the email even more relevant. Providing subscribers with the option to personalise what they receive, or deeply segmenting your subscriber list and sending information relevant to each segment can increase average click through rates from 3% to 8%.
- You can gather huge amounts of data from emails, with open and click rates revealing what content is interesting to your clients - and importantly, which individual clients are interested in what content. You can experiment with different content types, email templates, subject lines, and delivery times and you can easily and quickly compare results.
Offer value-add with personalised content
So email’s not that bad after all. But it can be even better if you offer your clients personalised content experience.
Why not widen the scope even further and offer a content hub where customers can pick and choose content topics and consumption methods to suit them?
It is also a great way to win and keep clients. If your firm adopts a content hub strategy it can provide a platform for further growth and competitive advantage.
In ensuring you stand out above other firms, providing timely quality updates is key and will always trump the bog standard monthly newsletter.