How can lawyers build their email lists? 5 tips for 2010

At the Marketing Partner Forum in Palm Beach, Florida, two weeks ago there was a panel that spoke about blogs, social media, and how to build up a subscriber base or “list” for your blog. I wanted to take a few moments to explain some simple proven methods for building a list that have helped me.

Let me make something clear though, there is a big difference between those who read your blog and those on your email list.  Readers are pretty transient, they come and go.  You may have a great article that really resonates with a lot of people, but those on your list are engaged at a higher lever.  These are the people that have given you permission to market to them.  This is very valuable, and here’s why: it takes 6-7 touches on average before somebody will buy your product or service.  If somebody is on your list, you have easy access to them to make sure you can get in a half dozen touches or more.

With cheesy clip art!

With cheesy clip art!

1. Do: start a monthly or weekly newsletter. This doesn’t have to be long, and it can even use mostly information from your blog.  This can be highlights, or possibly one or two additional insights.  Just make sure to send it out on a regular basis.

2. Don’t: Ask people to “sign up for my newsletter.” It is all about how you sell the newsletter.  People get enough email as it it, and so they generally won’t sign up for newsletters unless it is something they really think is essential to their business.  A much better approach is to create a “freebie” that people can sign up for on your website in exchange for their name and email address. (And in the process they sign up for your newsletter).  I recommend using Aweber, a simple and inexpensive service that helps you manage your list, build out your campaign, and track the open rates to your messages.  There are free options out there, but in my experience they are harder to use and give you much few options.  Feel free to post in the comments sections your experience with other services.

3. Design a great Freebie. Your great articles and blog posts will drive traffic to your site, but they won’t really help build your list- unless you offer a freebie that people can have emailed to them for free in exchange for their email address.  Again, you need to really offer value, or people won’t part with their email address.

Remember, Opting in is Their Choice

Remember, Opting in is Their Choice

Do you like giving away your email address?  Most people don’t, they hold onto it as if it were a piece of gold.  That’s why you need to offer a valuable freebie to get people to part with their precious contact info.  I recommend something like a Whitepaper, or a guide to a certain area of law.  One past client created a “Peace of Mind Checklist” to help build an estate planning list, while another created a “Warranty Checklist” for large companies that need to create warnings for their products.  I give away a free chapter of my book Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition, which has been very effective to help build my list.  I know what some of you are thinking, “will people still hire you if you give away all your good information?”  Some will, some won’t- but all of them opting in will give you their email address so you can build your list, and have future opportunities to engage them.  It is just a numbers game after that. Read more

UK Conference Call Roll Call

Thanks for joining us on the call!  Please announce who you are in the comments section- what you do, and a link to your website and Twitter ID!

Mine would be like this:
Adrian Dayton

Professional Twitter Guy

@adriandayton on Twitter

I work with large law firms on implementation of social media strategy.

Overcoming Awkward: A Web 2.0 Wrinkle

I remember the first day of Jr. High like it was yesterday.  My new t-shirt was neatly pressed, my only pair of Girbaud jeans cleaned.  I carefully walked down the canyon-like halls of Bonneville Jr. High with my red Jansport backpack carefully hung on one shoulder as my older brother had instructed me.  This was a NEW experience, and as the new kid, it was completely awkward.  Many professionals face a similar dilemma when it comes to getting started with social media.

It isn’t hard to convince professionals that using social media is a great idea.  They get it.  I have presented to attorneys all over the country, and I imagine that as they watch me shoot out messages  on Twitter and engage users across the world- they feel a certain confidence that they can get home and do the same thing.  Then they return to their busy lives, they start a Twitter account or a new blog, and they are confronted by something as terrifying as the first day at Bonneville Jr. High- a blank screen.


New users aren’t following anybody, nobody is following them, and more importantly, they have no clue what to write and how to get started.  This really isn’t too different from your first day at a new school, with no friends and no idea where to get started – new social media users can’t help but feel completely alone, and this awkwardness usually extinguishes any enthusiasm they originally had to get started using social media.

The idea for this post came from the Managing Partner Forum in Palm Beach, Florida where Dennis Snow, an ex- Disney World Exec turned consultant and author spoke about the challenges of implementing new initiatives within an organization.  Mr. Snow broke it down into 3 stages that occur over time: acceptance is the easy part, then comes a certain awkwardness that prevents many from actually succeeding and implementing, and finally with enough effort, a certain percentage will assimilate the new process.  It struck me as a fitting analogy for developing good social media habits.

Stage I: Acceptance

It is the prevailing wisdom that use of social media and networking through platforms like LinkedIN or Martindale Hubble Connected is a GOOD thing.  We have seen tremendous growth with millions of new users joining these platforms.  One challenge the owners of social media sites face is that only a small percentage of users are engaging, really using the site.  A recent statistic showed that only 10% of Twitter users post on a regular basis.  This is no surprise- in fact, it is human nature.  How many people raise their hands to ask questions in large lectures?  How many people call in to radio shows?  It is a very small percentage of the total group.  The larger group, also referred to as “lurkers” online, can’t seem to get past the proverbial first base online.  There is a certain shyness or awkwardness that inhibits engagement.

Stage II:  Overcoming Awkward

How many of you have been in an awkward situation before? Whether it is starting at a new school, working out a gym for the first time, or even working in a new office- we all can relate to these awkward situations.  It just isn’t easy starting a new habit or a new process.

This is the same trial faced by those trying to start out in social media communities.  Whether they have a goal to write a blog, engage potential clients on Twitter, or even just identify prospects on LinkedIN- it takes time, and most are so discouraged by their first bad experience that they never make it back for a second try.

awkward-momentSo how can you get past this awkward phase?  Here are 3 easy steps:

1.  Set measurable social media goals- groups joined, contacts added, phone conversations created.  These  can serve as benchmarks that will keep you motivated.

2.  Make it a habit.  Schedule time for social media each week.  Schedule just a couple days a week at first, then ramp it up as you feel more comfortable.  Social media has become part of the minutiae of my life.  I check Twitter and blog posts like others check voice mail and email.  As you set aside time each week or each day to do SOMETHING online- it becomes part of your routine.  The more you do, the more comfortable you will feel.

3.  Move conversations offline.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  Finding a new contact or client through social media is such a great feeling- and once you actually speak and create a real offline relationship, it gives you the feeling that you are making progress.  This single item will, more than anything, help you feel like you are getting past the awkward phase.

Stage III: Assimilation

Stage three is a great feeling.  For some people this happens after the first weeks of using social media, for others it takes months.  The important thing is that it happens, that these social networks become a part of your routine.

I shared this idea with a Chief Marketing Officer this past week, and she asked me a very important question.  “Why?” Why would she want her attorneys making social networking part of their lives?

The answer is simple, if they don’t- they are going to miss opportunities.  Decision makers often go with the professional that is at the top of their mind- and social media provides an easy way to gain that status.  The secret is “touch touch touch” as Allen Fuqua said this past week as part of the Social Media panel at the Marketing Partner Forum.  Lawyers are too busy to make it to every dinner and cocktail party their contacts attend- but they can find time to engage a few minutes online each day.  Your competitors are most likely already online, and if they aren’t- don’t you think YOU should be?

Starting my second year of Junior High was a completely different experience than my terrifying first year.  I walked in with a swagger through the front door of Junior High like I owned the place.  My shirt was  untucked, my backpack was confidently placed on both shoulders.  I felt right at home.  If you don’t feel that way online, you will.  It’s just a matter of time before that nauseating sense of awkwardness passes.   Don’t give up before it does.

To hear how two UK Lawyers got over the awkwardness and started having success, listen in this Friday morning at 10:30 AM EST (15:30 GMT) as Brian Inkster and Chris Sherliker share their tips.  CLICK HERE to sign up for Friday’s call.

Help to Haiti: How to Give More Than a $5 Text

There is no need to expound further on the tragedy that has struck Haiti over the last week.  With over half a million people misplaced and heartbreaking number of the those killed- the earthquakes and aftermath of the Haiti disaster are truly of epic proportions.


Many Americans launched into action immediately after the disaster was announced, giving generously to the victims of the Haiti disaster.  According to one report, in just a few days aid from Americans has surpassed $150 Million dollars– more than has been pledged by the entire US government.  A series of text message campaigns have raised over $12 Million dollars as of January 17th.  Here are three Google verified campaigns that you can text to donate to:

  • SMS text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts
  • SMS text “YELE” to 501501 to Donate $5 to Yele Haiti’s Earthquake Relief efforts
  • SMS text “GIVE10” to 20222 to donate $10 to Direct Relief

In reading this, if you have the impulse to text one or all of those numbers- go for it.  These are all great charities that have a great track record – so I don’t want to discourage text donations in any way.

What I would like to call for however if that people be GENEROUS in giving.  What does it mean to be generous?  This is a very personal decision as to how much you are willing to donate to Haiti relief, but I think a good rule of thumb is to think about what you spend in an average month of entertainment or gifts or even just going out to eat- and give at least a comparable amount to the victims of this tragedy.  The idea is to sacrifice something you really don’t need to help out those in an incredibly desperate situation.

Those of you who are reading this post are likely those who have given or are planning on giving money to the Haiti relief effort, so I know I am preaching to choir- but let me just remind you that if you have an impulse to give- give now.  The impulse will pass, life will resume next week, and Haiti will soon be left behind as another footnote of 2010.  Take action now, and share some of your prosperity with those who need it most at this time.

Here are a few more of the relief sites that are excepting donations directly:

Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters in Haiti.  Let’s do our part to put those thoughts into action through generous donations now.

(More great lists of verified charities)

Huffington Post Charity List

Trip Advisor Charity List

Forbes Magazine: “How to Make Sure Your Donation Help Haitian Earthquake Victims (with great list at the end of charities)”

How UK Lawyers Are Using Social Media

Brian Inkster

Brian Inkster

Are things really that different in the UK?  Are lawyers in the UK and abroad using social media to make connections and bring in business?  Or are UK lawyers too serious for Twitter?

connectedbadge This coming Friday, January 22nd at 10:30 AM EST (3:30 GMT)we will host our first international conference call sponsored by Martindale Hubble Connected. Joining us will be Community Manager Rory Webber or @MrRx as he is known on Twitter.

Two of the most prolific tweeters in the UK, Brian Inkster (@BrianInkster on Twitter) and Chris Sherliker (@London_Law_Firm on Twitter) will be joining us to set the record straight.  Brian is a Solicitor from Scotland, Chris is a Partner with his firm in London.  Together they are bringing thought leadership in social media to the UK market.  Join us for a 45 minute conference call and conversation to learn how to get started on social media, and how to connect to international lawyers abroad. (Conference call MP3 posted above)

Chris Sherliker

Chris Sherliker

Click Here to sign up for the call.  Generally calls are held at 10:00 AM EST, but to accommodate the UK guests we are moving the call to 10:30 AM EST (3:30 GMT) for this week.

If you have questions for our guests, feel free to leave them as comments here, email them to, or you can ask them in person on the call.  Look forward to having you join us!

For the mp3 you can go to or simply listen to it below. There is a bit of an echo on my end, but our guests come through loud and clear- so as they say in the UK, “have a listen.”


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How to Cover a Conference Using Twitter #MPF

Throughout the day today and tomorrow I will be tweeting with fingers of fury from the Marketing Partner Forum in Palm Beach, Florida. (You can follow my tweets as well as those of @melaniegreen @karencarielo @meganmckeon and others by running a Twitter search for #MPF)  One of the most practical uses of Twitter is covering conferences, and I want to present 5 tips for adding value to your followers while attending and tweeting a conference.


1.  Use the hash tag.  Every conference has a hast tag (you know one of these # signs followed by a few letters- for the Marketing Partner Forum it is #MPF).  You can usually find out what the hash tag for a conference is by running a Twitter search for the name of the conference- and someone will likely have explained which hash tag will be used.  If the conference doesn’t have a hash tag, you can create your own.  Generally smaller hash tags are  better, but it should seem similar to the conferences actual name.

2.  Bring your laptop.  You can tweet from you phone in a pinch- the Iphone and the Palm Pre have great apps for tweeting- but to really cover the conference it helps to have a desktop application like Tweetdeck running so that you can cover multiple streams at once.

3.  Make connections before the conference.  For two or three weeks before any conference, start a continuous search for the conference so that you can set up meetings with individuals that will be at the conference.  When they tweet a message about the conference, get a conversation started.  This will be a great strategic advantage you will have over other attendees at the conference.

4.  Share the good stuff.  Most speakers in conferences will make 3 or 4 good points in a presentation.  Sometimes there is only 1 good point that is made.  When you hear that, put it in a tweet and send it out to your people.

5.  Don’t worry about tweeting the name and title of each speaker with each quote.  When a panelist starts, it is helpful to send a tweet introducing somebody, but after that you can simply include the hash tag #MPF it will be assumed that a speaker at the event has made the statement.  Some include “quotes” so that it is clear that one of the speakers made the statement, but I don’t think that is completely necessary.  You want to save as much space as possible for those following your tweets to re-tweet the message if they like it.

Tweeting conferences is a ton of fun, and makes somewhat boring presentations much more interesting because they suddenly become interactive.  For today and tomorrow I will be tweeting a lot more than normal as I coverage the #MPF- if you like what I am tweeting, as always- feel free to retweet the message.  Good luck, and I hope to see you live tweeting your next conference.