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Email marketing is a great way to build a relationship with your target audience and convince prospective clients that you can be trusted.

The average person has countless emails jostling for attention in a crowded inbox each day. As a result, lawyers need to develop a strategy that ensures their emails do not get lost among the loud marketing messages and competitive subject lines bombarding them daily.

The good news is that attorneys can use a number of conversion tactics to improve the open and click-through rates of their emails.

Using a targeted email marketing strategy that addresses everything from growing a list to implementing effective design elements can help yield higher conversion rates.

Step 1: Building an email list
Email is a valuable tool because it provides direct entry into the inboxes of your target audience. However, one of the most challenging aspects of email marketing is gaining access to that coveted space. For law firms, the first step is to build a substantial list of email addresses that includes not only current clients but also prospective ones.

There are multiple ways to procure new email addresses. Attorneys can use their Facebook page and other social media to gather basic information like names and emails, or they can extend offers on their law firm website. For example, people can sign up to receive an ebook in exchange for submitting their email.

While gathering email addresses is an ongoing process, simply having a large list is not enough. Email marketing firm Listrak estimates that around 63 percent of email lists consist of inactive subscribers. Successful email marketing campaigns are those that make periodic efforts to re-engage inactive groups of subscribers by perhaps creating separate lists and content for people moving through different phases of the conversion process.

Step 2: Getting recipients to open emails
Landing in a prospect’s inbox is half the battle. The next step is to get people to open your emails, read them and click through. To do that, your law firm’s emails have to generate a connection with the target audience.

Subject line
Subject lines create the first impression for email recipients and play a vital role in helping your emails stand out from the competition in a crowded inbox. According to CMB Consumer Pulse, 47 percent of email recipients decide whether to open an email simply based on the subject line.

A subject line should be catchy, clear and brief. All keywords in it must be both descriptive and informative so that recipients know what to expect when they open the email. Avoid spam-like promotional language. Conversion rates will suffer if the message’s actual contents diverge from reader expectations.

The length of the subject line is also important. Those that are too long risk getting cut off, especially when emails are viewed on mobile devices. HubSpot recommends keeping subject line length under 50 characters.

Personal touch
People receive so much spam that they may be reluctant to open emails from unknown senders. Sending emails from an actual person, rather than your firm, can boost email open rates. Recipients tend to trust personalized sender names and email addresses rather than general ones. An email from an attorney is likely to be more personal than one from “such and such law firm.”

Step 3: Compelling people to take the desired action
Email campaigns should be a continuation of the law firm’s website in terms of color scheme and fonts, thereby building trust with email subscribers as an overall brand.

Design elements
Colors can evoke emotions and capture readers’ attention. While emails can and should include images, graphics and colors to be visually appealing, avoid cluttering your messages with too many distracting elements that compete for attention. Anything too bright and garish may be a turnoff and come across as unprofessional. Images can improve reader engagement if they are chosen wisely. Instead of using cheesy stock photos, include graphics and images that are relatable and relevant to the content in the email. The email’s accompanying title and body text should use a combination of complementary fonts that enhance readability while creating interest.

Opting for a minimal design in your emails allows the reader to focus on key features. To that end, divide content into sections so readers can skim the content for an overview before deciding to delve deeper. Break up your email message with images, bullet points and lists for visual appeal and a concise layout.

Today, over 53 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices. Email designs must be responsive and appealing, whether they are opened on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Emails should be optimized for mobile devices in every aspect including image size, text, format and layout. If your law firm’s emails are not mobile friendly, subscribers are likely to delete them without a second thought.

Call-to-action button
When it comes to client conversion, emails should include a next step, or call to action (CTA). The majority of email recipients tend to scan emails in a matter of seconds in order to determine if they want to read it in detail. That is why it is essential for every email to have a prominent CTA button that even the speediest scanners will find hard to miss.

If you do not include a next step in every email, it will be difficult to get a return on your investment. The CTA should encourage your law firm’s target audience to click through to your website, contact your law office for a consultation, download an ebook or follow your Facebook page, thereby yielding conversions. Clicking on the button should take the individual to an on-brand landing page that matches the email. Whatever the desired action is, make sure it is clearly communicated through the CTA button.

The CTA should accompany interesting, compelling content that is written using action-oriented language. The more engaged email readers are, the more likely they are to click through the email and convert.

In addition, use a unique color for the CTA button so it stands out from the rest of the email content. Play around with sizing and the use of white space in order draw attention. Bold CTA buttons that are not dominated by overwhelming design have the power to boost click-through rates by 28 percent.

Email marketing is an effective tool for generating new leads and figuring out what works best for your firm is a process. Attorneys can benefit from A/B testing, which involves sending emails to different parts of your email list after changing one variable to compare how it performs. A wide range of elements can be tested, like colors, copy, subject lines, images, CTA buttons and email frequency. Once you determine a format that yields higher open rates and conversions, you can really begin honing your law firm’s email marketing strategy.

About Author

Dipal Parmar is a staff contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine and legal content developer for mid-sized to large law firms.

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