Email Marketing Helps Estate Planning Attorneys and Their Clients
The state Legislature just made a major change to the inheritance tax law. The update will impact existing and future estate plans. If left unaddressed, families may face hefty fees.
This is the perfect opportunity for a trusts and estates law attorney to use a practical marketing tool: send an email to inform clients, demonstrate expertise, be helpful, and show that clients’ best interests are a top priority.
What is Email Marketing?
Email as a marketing strategy is different than one-on-one communications an attorney has with clients. An email marketing strategy has many business development benefits for an estate law attorney. These benefits come from repeated touchpoints with former and current clients and others, including referral sources.
Email marketing incorporates branding, extended client service, and relationship-building strategies through the sharing of helpful and interesting content. In addition, marketing emails drive traffic to the firm’s website, where potential clients and others can learn even more about the practice.
For trusts and estates law attorneys in particular, email marketing is especially effective given that clients are generally laypeople who rely on their attorneys for updates and compliance instructions. While clients should be making regular updates to estate plans and trusts as circumstances change in their lives, providing information that may warrant an estate plan review is good for business development and client service.
If nothing else, consider email marketing to stay competitive. The American Bar Association found in a 2021 survey that 72% of responding attorneys said their firms send client alerts via email. That number continues to increase, according to the ABA.
Email Marketing Content
First and foremost, only send emails that provide value. Like a marketing content strategy, the emails should include information that clients need or want to know. Answer questions clients frequently ask or search keywords like “estate planning” and “what is a trust?” to see what other attorneys write on the subjects and what’s trending. Share perspective on relevant topics, such as lessons learned from a celebrity’s problematic will that grabs headlines.
Any thought leader articles or blog posts posted to the firm’s website can be sent in an email. Firm updates, including expanded services or new team members, are also appropriate, as are announcements about upcoming webinars and seminars and links to recordings of past presentations. Awards and accolades, unless significant, are best left out of marketing emails.
The content in the email itself should be simple, concise, and focused. Use summaries or the first few sentences of an article in the email to draw readers in, then link to the full content on the website to bring visitors there. Use images to break up the text.
Many law firms utilize an email marketing system, which includes features like automation, branded templates, easy contact list management, and analytics.
Some attorneys create content and sending schedules to stay on track while others send as the occasion presents itself. Emails can be single subject or a “newsletter” format that includes several articles at a time sent weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
Email Marketing Distribution Lists
An email distribution list is equally important to the content in an email marketing strategy. Email recipients should include past and current clients, referral sources including colleagues at other law firms, media, and potential recruits. Firms that utilize a client relationship management (CRM) system are ahead in the list-building game. Otherwise, create a list using the following:
Ask everyone in the firm to submit their professional contacts.
Include an opt-in field on client intake forms so that every new client can be added to the distribution list.
Implement a subscription form on the website and link to that form in all posted content, in social media posts, and in the emails themselves (as people often forward emails to others).
Create “lead magnets” by offering such things as estate planning worksheets, a free consultation, webinar registration, checklists, a resource library, etc. in exchange for subscription sign-ups.
If a law firm has more services than trusts and estates law, it should consider segmenting lists by practice so that recipients only receive information they’re interested in. For example, a trusts and estates client should not receive emails regarding corporate law. Nothing makes people feel spammed more than unwanted emails in their inbox from someone they thought was a trusted source.
When collecting subscribers, ask for more than just an email address. First and last names, especially since it’s not always obvious who personal email addresses belong to, and phone numbers are helpful in both lead tracking and follow-up communications. If clients include businesses, then ask for company names and the subscriber’s title.
DO NOT buy lists. It may be tempting to grow distribution this way, but it’s better to reach less people who are interested than more people who are not. List purchasing also puts the firm at more risk of violating privacy and spam laws.
Email Marketing Rules and Regulations
There are many laws that address how businesses, including law firms, should obtain and manage contacts. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), other states’ privacy protection laws, the CAN-SPAM Act, and professional ethics and responsibility rules all place various restrictions and requirements on email marketing. Which regulations apply depend on the size and location of the law firm, among other factors.
Some basic email marketing rules to follow include:
Allow new contacts to opt in to an email distribution list and existing clients opportunities to opt out by providing links in each email.
Be sure the firm’s name and address are in every email.
Use descriptive subject lines.
Measuring for Success
Since there are many benefits to using email marketing as a trusts and estates law attorney, it is important to set goals and expectations to focus on what matters most. Whether it’s building readers, increasing website visitors, or generating new client leads, be sure to measure results.
Email marketing systems provide analytics on how many recipients opened the email and how many clicked through to read more. According to Mailchimp, which provides email marketing systems to a wide variety of industries, the average “open” rate for legal industry marketing emails is about 22%, which is just over the standard 19%.
Scorpion helps trusts and estates attorneys and law firms of all types create and implement email marketing strategies that generate readers and clients. Contact us to learn more.