When was the last time you received a hand-written thank you card? Did you take the time to read it? How did it make you feel? Now let me ask you a different question; when was the last time you received a corporate newsletter from a company or law firm in your email inbox? 10 just this morning? By comparison, how did those make you feel? If you are like me, they didn’t make you feel anything, they were sent in an automated fashion to a pre-populated spreadsheet of email addresses.
Law firms can do better. Law firms have the ability to make these messages more personal. Instead of blasting a single message to every email address on the corporate list—law firms should encourage individual lawyers to build their own email lists to send out similar information, with a personal touch. For a partner’s top contacts, they can send a personalized email telling them why the email is important. In numerous panels I’ve attended of in-house counsel, buyers of legal services have insisted that the personal email messages with content attached are the ones they read. So why don’t we send more personalized communication?
For all of the other individuals on a lawyer’s email list, they can send out an automated message that is more personal. So instead of having the email come from “Corporate Group at White Shoe Firm X” it instead comes from “Kevin Bacon” or whoever and can include some personality or individuality in the note that won’t leave people feeling like they just received an automated note from a robot. More highly personalized messages work better and are more effective at convincing readers to take action.
On March 31st of this year, based on the votes submitted by thousands of lawyers and hundreds of law firms, I was voted the winner of Best Social Media Consultant by the National Law Journal. In the two previous years, I had asked for people to vote for me using social media only, but this year I took I different approach, instead, I asked my entire email list to take 15 seconds and vote for me. That simple email propelled me to first place.
There are over 40,000 people in my combined social network lists, yet only a couple thousand in my email list. So what was worth more? Hands down, it was the email list. The vast majority of those in my email list have met me in person or heard me speak at an event. They know me, and so by checking my read report, I was able to see that a high percentage of those I emailed took the time to click on the link and vote for me.
Social media is great and powerful, I absolutely love it, but your email list has the potential to be 10X as powerful because the quality of the relationships there is generally much more substantial. There are a lot of different email marketing tools out there, I personally use Concep for my email marketing and I love their platform. Their tools make it easy to send or schedule the messages and then view the analytics to improve my conversion rates. That second part is key, most law firms don’t share the analytics with the lawyers, not because they are unwilling, but because the lawyers don’t understand how valuable the information is. Using Concep’s analytics lawyers can see the name of every one of their contacts that has opened an email and whether or not they forwarded that email on to someone else. That is important information, especially when it leads to follow-up.
Some legal marketers may not like this post because creating individualized email lists for every lawyer at a firm is a massive task, but won’t it be worth it if it substantially increases conversion rates? The email lists are the low-hanging fruit for lawyers, they already know these people, they just need to do a better job of keeping in touch with them. Or they could keep doing things the way they are currently doing them. Just don’t expect different results. If the last century was all about automation, this century will be about personalization. Firms need to find ways to make that happen.