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5 Tips for Writing an Engaging Law Firm E-Newsletter

By Michelle Troutman

How do you write an engaging newsletter that presents your firm’s personality effectively while also educating and informing clients and potential clients? And meet your marketing goals? Follow these newsletter tips to ensure you send the right message.

1. Strike the Right Tone

Choose whether your language will be formal or informal. Any existing content, such as blog or social media posts, can guide you, as can data about your average client. For instance, do they work in an office, at home or in a trade? Perhaps more of them have high school diplomas than college degrees, or vice versa. Their professions and education levels may also influence the reading level you write to, whether it’s an eighth-grade average or above. And your law firm’s image can influence your writing style. If you’re “buttoned up,” you can sound formal. But if you’re more casual, loosen your lingo a little.

Related: Keeping in Touch with Client Newsletters – Tips for General Practitioners

Generally, you and your clients should speak the same language. Your e-newsletter shouldn’t be stuffy, stilted or salesy. No matter the tone you strike, drop the legalese. Write in a way that sounds natural, as if you’re advising a client one-on-one. Use empathy in your writing, especially in more sensitive niches, such as elder law and estate planning.

Related: Writing and Editing for Empathy in Legal Marketing

2. Create Balanced Content

Consider content that will help you meet your marketing goals while you educate subscribers.

Per ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, quality content that educates your community and clearly comes from your firm can be considered an organized informational campaign rather than a solicitation. If you follow your jurisdiction’s advertising guidelines, you can find a balance that will resonate with readers.

Also, tie your marketing goals into the different stages of your client’s buyer journey:

  • Awareness. Potential clients might not know about your firm or how it can help them; write content that informs, such as examples of successful cases or your participation in a charity event.
  • Consideration. Potential clients are thinking about your firm and how it compares with others. Help them decide with tips, such as questions to ask a lawyer during a consultation.
  • Decision. Potential clients have now narrowed down their choices of firms; address their objections and help them evaluate how yours compares with others, like how it handles certain cases.

Which stage are your clients usually at? If you’re not sure, again, any existing content can help you narrow down appropriate topics. For example, check social media metrics to see which content sparks engagement and reuse it in your newsletter.

Related: 5 Tips for Creatively Repurposing Your Writing

3. Follow a Basic E-Newsletter Format

The structure can follow the inverted pyramid of journalism while it also works as a sales funnel. Essentially, put the most important content at the top and the less important information at or near the end. Throughout, aim to draw readers to your site or landing pages through buttons or links. Most popular email platforms (HubSpot, MailChimp, Constant Contact, Keap) include templates you can edit and customize to suit your firm’s brand and personality. (Tip: Keep it simple. Choose a one-column format and forgo multiple graphics and colors.)

4. Build Out Your Newsletter Template

Here are suggestions for filling the space from top to bottom:

  • Write a specific, attention-getting subject line that hints at what’s inside. Add preview text to further “sweeten” opens.
  • In the body of the newsletter, near the top, add news about your firm, such as a webinar you’re hosting. Make it interesting.
  • Toward the middle, add copy blocks that include your latest blog, or a summary that links to the full post. Embed videos links, if you have them.
  • Write headlines that invite opens.
  • At the bottom of the newsletter, write a call to action to entice clicks to your website or a landing page. Include a specific action verb. Example: “Book a Free Consultation.”

Some experts recommend the average e-newsletter be 300 words or fewer, or about six to seven lines of text, with simple words, short sentences and action verbs. (Tip: Memorialize your format and style choices so that subsequent editions are professional-looking and easier to produce.)

Related: Style Guides for Law Firms

5. Craft Interesting Subject Lines

Subject lines influence the open rate. Conventional wisdom says the shorter, the better. HubSpot recommends you keep the headline to 45 characters or fewer. But sometimes, you can bend the rules slightly. (Tip: It can be easier to write the subject line after you’ve finished writing the newsletter.)

Popular headline writing formulas include:

  • Problem-Agitate-Solution (PAS)
  • Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA)
  • Specific-Actionable-Urgent-Clear-Emotionally Compelling (SAUCE)

Some of the best headlines also have an air of mystery about them while they offer some detail, including a benefit:

Example: Preventing an Audit on the Final Tax Return

Numbers and action verbs can also add punch:

Example: 7 Ways NOT to File a Car Accident Claim

Try to get, not seek, attention. “Clickbait” or sensational headlines, such as “You won’t believe why this man bit his neighbor’s dog!” could be seen as violations of attorney advertising rules. It can also be better not to personalize your subject lines by putting your subscribers’ first names in them. According to a MailChimp study, the legal industry was the only market in which personalization hurt open rates, lowering them by 31%. Whether the jury is still out on that data, personalization could come across as sales-like.

What you feature in your newsletter says a lot about your firm. Think about your clients and address their problems in your content — and always follow email marketing best practices and legal ethics standards to send the right message.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Categories: Law Firm Marketing
Originally published April 20, 2022
Last updated April 21, 2022
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michelle troutman Michelle Troutman

Michelle Troutman of Classy Writing specializes in creating e-newsletters and ghostwriting blog posts for law firms and other professional services firms. She turns gibberish into everyday English that connects with respect for readers. Follow her @Classy_Writing.

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