Legal marketing efforts using e-mail give me great concern. Particularly, I worry about the amount of e-mail these days that inundates you, me and, most importantly, clients. I am just not convinced that it is a viable form of lawyer marketing. However, others may disagree.
The American Marketing Association has a webinar scheduled for August 30th on the topic “Email Marketing – A Checklist for Email Success in Tomorrow’s Market.” Although it doesn’t deal with lawyers specifically, it may provide some guidance that could be helpful to lawyers. Here is where you can find the particulars and to sign up, if you are interested.
But, not to worry. I am planning to listen in to see if there are ideas that may apply to law firm marketing. If I pick some things of value, I will let you know.

  • Tom,
    I just wrote a lengthy article for Law Office Computing about e-mail newsletters for law firms.
    Email newsletters have survived as one of the most potent electronic marketing weapons in a law firm’s arsenal, even though everyone seems to be talking about other e-marketing tactics du jour — blogs, podcasts and news aggregators. That’s because the basic and original e-marketing methods still work:
    *An e-newsletter is still the fastest and most personal way to deliver a marketing message to clients and prospects.
    *They easily show return-on-investment, by measuring number of messages opened, what elements the recipient read and whether the destination address was correct. Web sites and blogs come close, but can’t match this detailed measurability.
    *E-newsletters still take advantage of viral marketing in that they are easily forwarded. (The Professional Marketing e-Newsletter, which I publish has an “open” rate of 126% — meaning that more people read it than actually subscribe to it – because it is easily passed along to others
    *They are still the best way to find out exactly who is visiting your Web site. The Web site log will reveal the machine numbers of visitors, but a newsletter sign-up form on a firm Web site can record the person’s name, email address and demographic information.
    *E-newsletters do manage to get through the recipient’s firewall, spam filters and technical roadblocks because they come from a trusted source or have been “whitelisted” by recipients to be certain they get the e-mail.
    *They are the most cost-effective form of “push” marketing. A newsletter that must be printed and mailed not only is more expensive but also takes longer to reproduce and mail.
    *They can offer the colorful beauty and design of Web sites and magazines by using HTML coding.

  • Thanks for the feedback, Larry. I was referring to e-mails in the broader sense. I would agree that e-newsletters that recipients have requested or otherwise have agreed to accept are fine and can be a valuable legal marketing tool.
    But there are other emails that obviously are unwelcome, and e-newsletters that have been sent to me that I have not requested fall into that category. I consider them junk mail or spam.

  • Hi Tom–
    Glad to see there’s not as much divergence between your view and Larry’s as there first seemed. Here’s my take from my post on this:
    I read several postings this morning about the continued importance of email marketing. Compare this post from Larry Bodine with this one from Tom Kane. In my view both are right in their views, but both ignored the critical common ground of client focus. Tom is absolutely right that clients are innundated with email drivel from many sources and that the last thing most want is another email marketing piece from a lawyer. Larry is right about just how effective good email marketing can be. My contribution to the discussion? First, make sure anything you send out is substantively valuable. There is nothing worse (well, maybe a lobotomy) than getting email that says nothing other than “look at me!” Content counts for a huge percentage of positive reaction. Second, for current clients, ask whether they are interested in receiving your emails and let them look at one or two to make a judgment. Asking counts for a lot. It shows your sensitivity to the volume of email traffic they must navigate and puts the control in their hands, not yours. For prospects, the same can’t happen, at least until you’re getting close. But I promise, if your content is valuable, people will want to read what you have to say.

  • Thanks, Pat. I agree “content” is very important in anything a firm does – newsletter, web site, brochure, e-mail, etc. etc. My only disagreement with your post in that you said “both ignored the critical common ground of client focus.” Client focus is the WHOLE point of my question as to whether email marketing is right for lawyers. Clients, like all of us, are inundated with emails and if they consider an email spam or junk mail – whatever its content – that is not good marketing. Keeping the client in mind when undertaking any legal marketing effort will improve your chances of success.