Tag Archives: content marketing

Why You Need An Email List For Your Law Firm & 7 Easy Strategies To Create One

Law firm website? Check!

Social media profiles? Check!

Email list? Huh?

Maybe you’ve heard of email lists but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about it, but it sounds like something you should know.

Wherever you are on the spectrum, this post will help. We’ll discuss everything you need to get started on building an email list for your law firm along with why you should build an email list to begin with.

Would you like a five step quick start guide to building your email list? Subscribe to receive this extra guide.

What’s an Email List?

An email list is a collection of people who’ve given you their email addresses so that they can stay in touch with your law firm.

Why Do You Need an Email List?

why-do-you-need-an-email-list

An email list is the most valuable marketing resource you have. Your email list represents people who want to have a relationship with your law firm – subscribers. These subscribers want to know what you have to say about hot topics and enjoy reading your advice.

Let’s take a look at the main benefits of creating an email list:

Top of mind awareness

An email list keeps your law firm at the top of subscribers’ minds. They may not need your legal services now or even six months from now. However, when the need arises, you’ll be the first (or only) law firm your subscriber will think of.

You own the list

You may be thinking, Isn’t my social media platform good enough? I already have a ton of fans and followers on social media.

Although a social media presence is important, it’s inferior to creating an email list. The main reason is that you don’t own that list of fans and followers. If Facebook or Twitter decides to delete your account tomorrow, everyone who follows you will go bye-bye, whether that’s 10 people or 10,000.

When you own an email list, you won’t ever have to worry about losing your subscribers.

Promote your services

Did you know that email is one of the best ways to market your law firm? That’s because your list contains people who actually want to be on it. It’s not just random people who stumbled onto your website via an ad or review site.

The people on your email list are highly interested in the services that you provide. It stands to reason that the people who took their time to sign up for your email newsletters actually want to hear from you.

In your email, discuss what you offer. Highlight key services. Describe these services in plain English.

You may think, why do I need an email list now? My site is brand new and I don’t have a lot of traffic.

Now is the perfect time to set up an email list. You want to have a method in place to catch any and every visitor who arrives on your site and wants to subscribe.

Think about people who visit your site and then leave. They’ll never return– not because they don’t want to, but because they’ve forgotten. They may love your site and want to receive more content from you, but you don’t have a way to ask for their email address.

So, now that you know why you need an email list, let’s talk about how to create a successful one.

Email Newsletter Best Practices

1. Choose your subject line carefully

The success of your email newsletter rests solely on your subject line. Choose a subject line that makes your subscribers want to click on it.

Get them interested

Why should the subscriber open this email? How will it benefit them? Using a subject like “Granger & Associates Newsletter: June 2016” won’t move the needle, I assure you. However, a subject like, “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About PreNups” is interesting and makes your subscribers think, hmm… what don’t I know about prenups?

It’s all about getting your subscriber to actually open your email.

Keep it short

The ideal length for an email subject line is between 50 to 70 characters. Many email service providers cut off the subject line after 70 characters. This is approximately eight words. Eight words seems short, but there’s a lot you can do in that space when you’re creative.

Avoid certain words

Creativity in word choice is a must, but you’ll want to steer clear of certain overused or spammy words and phrases. These words make your email look like spam to humans, and can also trip an email service’s spam filters. If that happens, your email won’t even make it to the inbox.

avoid-certain-words

Here’s a partial list of words you should avoid in your subject line:

Free

Donate

% Off

$$$

Cheap

W o r d s  w i t h  g a p s

Help

Amanda MacArthur at Mequoda has a list of the most offensive spam trigger words.

2. Choose your sender email address and name carefully, too

Chose a sender name that reminds the subscriber who you are. You may choose to use the name of your law firm (P&R Law), your own name (Debra Smarts, esq.), or a combination of the two (Debra Smarts from P&R Law). I’m partial to the third option because it provides maximum identification.

You should also choose an email address that sounds welcoming. Instead of using a donotreply@your-email.com as your email address, choose something like holly@your-email.com.

3. Don’t get too wordy

dont-get-too-wordy

We’ve already discussed keeping it short on your subject line. You should also adopt this mentality in the body of your email.

Attention spans are short in inboxes. Your subscribers don’t want to spend 30 minutes reading your newsletter, and they won’t.

Instead of creating a lengthy email newsletter, provide short and easy-to-consume content. Direct them out of the inbox and onto your blog or website to get the full scoop. Email is a quick burst of information, but it shouldn’t attempt to tell the whole story.

4. Include a call to action for each email

Piggybacking off of the above practice, use a strong call to action in your emails to bring people back to your website. At the end of each section of your newsletter, include a button or a link that tells your subscriber what to do next, i.e. “Read the rest on my blog…” or “Sign up for my upcoming class here.”

5. Segment

Have you ever heard of segmenting? Segmenting is the process of taking one email list and grouping subscribers based on demographics or other criteria. For example, you can group everyone who signed up from your blog post about adoption law into one segment and everyone who signed up from your blog post about divorce law onto another segment.

What’s the value of segmenting? In the example above, you can see how a family hoping to learn more about adoption won’t necessarily be interested in advice to divorcees.

By segmenting, you can create specific newsletters for each group. Your subscribers win because they’ll get relevant content they can actually use.

6. Come Up with an Interesting Topic

come-up-with-an-interesting-topic

There are so many great ideas that you can use to create content for your email newsletter. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Answer frequently asked questions
  • Highlight success stories (with your client’s permission, of course)
  • Discuss hot topics/current news
  • Tease your most recent blog post
  • Ask for feedback and reviews
  • Share company news
  • Highlight a member of your staff
  • Share the details of upcoming events (webinars, clinics, meet and greets)
  • Write a newsletter about past events you’ve hosted (charity drives, classes, etc)

Set up an editorial calendar on a spreadsheet and list all the ideas you have for your newsletters. Choose a frequency (once a week, bi-weekly, or once a month). Then, come up with an idea for each newsletter. By working in batches, it’s easier to brainstorm ideas.

7. Remember Your Audience

Who are your subscribers? Speak directly to them. Tone down any legalese because they won’t understand all the fancy lawyer-speak (unless they are lawyers also).

Along these same lines, choose subjects that matter to your subscribers. They may not care to know the finer details of the law. They simply want to know how a law will affect them.

Final Thoughts

Remember that an email list is a crucial part of your ongoing marketing efforts. It’s never too soon to start capturing email addresses from your site’s visitors.

Would you like a five step quick start guide to building your email list? Subscribe to receive this extra guide.

8 Steps To Creating A Law Firm Blog That People Want to Read

Thinking of starting a blog on your law firm’s website? That’s great. Not sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’re going to share eight easy steps to creating a useful and popular blog. Let’s go!

Would you like a list of blog topics to get you started? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

Don’t Speak in Legalese

dont-speak-legaliseImage Courtesy of CT Employment Law Blog

Depositions, adjudications, affidavits, oh my! Unless fellow lawyers are your intended audience, tone down the law speak. Your clients will quickly feel overwhelmed by legal terms that they don’t understand.

Here’s the caveat: you should use it as a relevant keyword initially– somewhere in the first couple of paragraphs in your blog post. Then, define the keyword and break it down so that your audience understands what it means.

Here’s an example:

A prospective client arrives on your blog after searching for the term “expungement dallas, tx.” This person has a fuzzy idea of what expungement means. They only happened upon the term when asking around about removing a youthful indiscretion from their permanent criminal record. Your site needs to educate them on the bare basics of expungement and then provide relevant insight you’d like to include, based on what a prospective client will understand.

Always keep your intended audience in mind. Adjust your conversation accordingly.

Focus on Only a Few Topics

focus-on-onlyfew-tipsImage Courtesy of California Labor and Employment Law

You may be multi-passionate, but you might excel at one specific area of law. This is where you probably focus your practice and where you should also focus your blog.

Instead of trying to be all things to all people, zoom in on the one topic (or handful of topics) that your audience wants to know more about.

How do you determine the best topics to tackle in your law blog?

Consider what your clients or colleagues (depending on your audience) ask you about the most. There has to be recurring questions that you get asked frequently: that’s the place to start. As you fill up your blog with content, people will ask you more questions. Of course, that can also inspire new posts.

The bottom line: start by the answering the questions people ask you most, no matter how basic.

Add Images

add-imagesImage courtesy of China Law Blog

No one wants to look at a wall of text, no matter how engaging. You’ve got to break it up with imagery to keep your audience’s attention. Imagery also helps illustrate ideas and convey your tone– whether it’s funny, pensive, or artsy.

I have a secret source of free images– actually, it’s not secret at all, and of course it’s legal. There are hundreds of amazing stock libraries available with 100% free images to spruce up your site.

All you have to do is visit one of the sites below, save the image you like, and then upload it into the body of your post when you’re ready to add it.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add this note: check copyright usage. Most of the images in these stock libraries are under the Creative Commons license, which allows you to use the images for free. Some photographers or websites require a link back (attribution). The usage requirements are always listed, but are subject to change.

So, here are my favorite stock libraries:

  1. Foter
  2. Gratisography
  3. Pixabay
  4. Magdeleine
  5. Unsplash

And if you’re looking for something a little more local, a little more personal, check out Flickr as well. It’s a little murkier when it comes to licensing, but here’s a guide to finding free blog post images for your firm.

Make it More Readable

make-it-more-readableImage Courtesy of Richard Harris Law

Images aren’t the only way to add visual interest to your blog. There’s yet another way to increase the readability of your blog: white space. Instead of lengthy, five-to-seven-sentence paragraphs, chop it up into bite-sized nuggets.

Now, I know this goes against everything you learned in grammar class, but remember this: you’re not writing a dissertation, you’re writing a blog post. Unlike your college professor, website visitors don’t have any incentive to read your entire blog post. If it looks long and tedious, it’s going to get passed up.

Take a look at how I’ve structured this blog, for an example. You may notice that there are no large clumps of text. Most paragraphs are three or four sentences long, but I may throw in a one sentence “paragraph” for emphasis and variety.

Like so.

Breaking up your text in this way makes it easier for visitors to read your content.

Post Frequently

post-frequentlyImage Courtesy of Ohio Employer’s Law Blog

There’s nothing worse than coming to a blog, loving it, and then realizing it hasn’t been updated since 2009. Helloooo… Where did you go? It’s lonely in here.

You don’t want your visitors to feel that way.

Your visitors rely on you to keep your blog current and relevant to their needs. Once you start a blog, commit to regular posting, even if you don’t have many (or any) visitors at first. If you post regularly and follow the other steps in this guide, they will come.

Plus, a regular posting schedule will entice visitors to subscribe to your blog, and return often.

Choose Clever Titles

choose-clever-titlesImage Courtesy of Lowering the Bar

Before people actually read your post, they’re going to read your title. Does it draw them in?

Your title doesn’t need to be packed with keywords to grab attention. Funny phrases, interesting questions, and controversial statements can all engage the reader. Here are a few considerations for a great title:

  • Create a list post (i.e. 10 Reasons Why, 7 Things to Consider…)
  • Create a how-to post (i.e. How to Hire a…, How to Find…)
  • Add a benefit to your post (i.e. Here’s What You Need to Know About X…)
  • Keep it simple but catchy. The reader should be know what the topic is about before clicking.
  • Keep it short. Nothing longer than 60 characters, or under 10 words.

Create Categories

create-categoriesImage Courtesy of Cruise Law News

People come onto your law blog for very specific reasons. Let’s say you have a family law practice. Some visitors may want to learn about adoption, and others about child support. You specialize in both.

To accommodate visitors, create categories that make it easy for them to isolate posts of one topic. They should be able to find more of what they’re looking for by clicking on the category section and selecting a topic.

When you’re creating your blog posts, make sure that you’ve created and then selected specific categories.

Consider creating at least three categories for your blog. If you’re stuck, I’d start out with: advice, opinions, and news.

Be a Source of News

be-a-source-of-newsImage Courtesy of Overlawyered

As a lawyer, it’s your job to stay up-to-date on the most relevant news stories. If you work as an immigration attorney, you’ll probably have an opinion on the current political discourse about refugees.

Bring it on. That’s what a blog is for– it’s a place to add your commentary and unique perspective to the conversation.

Don’t be afraid to insert your take on hot topics.

Would you like a list of blog topics to get you started? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

 

Your Guide to Finding the Best Topics For Your Law Firm Blog

One of the hardest things about law blogging is consistently coming up with topics that resonate with your audience.

Are you struggling to find decent topics for your blog?

Does it feel a bit like reading the tea leaves?

It doesn’t have to. In fact, today I’m going to share with you several ways to find the best topics for your blog, no divination necessary.

Would you like a list of potential topics for your legal blog? Check this out!

Know Your Clients

Understanding who your clients are and what they want most is the first step to finding relevant topics for your law blog. Your blog should serve as a resource of information for your target client. So, the first question to answer is:

Who is your target client?

You may specialize in real estate law, and more specifically landlord tenant law. If you do, come up with housing law topics that these types of clients would be most interested in. These topics may include posts on landlord rights, tenant rights, how to terminate a lease in your state, the eviction process, and/or privacy laws.

It’s tempting to make general and superficial posts that only parrot state law and not much else. However, I recommend that you challenge yourself to give a thorough treatment of each topic that you tackle in your blog. The reason is that your blog will serve as a marketer for your services. If a prospective client comes to your blog via a Google search and finds it useful and authoritative, he or she will view you as someone who:

  • Knows the law
  • Knows the problem the client is facing
  • Knows the solution

You need all of these three components to build trust with your prospective clients. By creating in depth blog posts that appeal to what your specific clients need at the moment, you’re showing them that you know who they are and what they’re going through. That’s the beauty of a blog post done right.

Not sure what type of content your target clients want to know about? Here are a few questions to help you figure it out:

  • What is the most important concern for your clients?
  • What law-related questions do they search on the Internet?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are the most common questions you get from your clients asked over and over again?

Make a list of the answers to these questions, and you’ll start to see a list of potential blog topics develop. Then, start generating blog post idea around each topic. It may help you to break each blog topic down into a series of questions. Keeping with the landlord tenant example earlier, here’s what the process may look like:

Topic:
Security Deposit

Potential Blog Posts:
Is a security deposit the same as last month’s rent?
How much can a landlord deduct from my security deposit for cleaning?
How can I dispute a security deposit deduction?
When should I expect my security deposit?

Ask Your Clients

If you already have an established audience, don’t miss the opportunity to ask them what type of content they’re most interested in. Periodically poll them to research future blog topics from the exact audience you’re hoping to reach. Use all the channels available to you to discover the learn about the topics your audience wants to learn about.

Let’s discuss where you can survey your clients, and how.

Survey Your Site Visitors

Did you know that you can ask for blog post feedback right on your site? My favorite way to do this is with a tool called SurveyMonkey, although there are plenty of other great options available. I like SurveyMonkey because the first 10 questions and 100 responses are free, and if you need more, they have an affordable monthly pricing plan, too.

With SurveyMonkey, you have the option to embed the survey on your blog, show a quick popup survey, or invite readers to participate in a longer survey.

For the purposes of idea generation, I’d recommend keeping it short. Go with the embed survey or quick popup survey.

Survey Your Email Subscribers

If you have an email list, let’s put them to work. You can send surveys along with your newsletter. Directions vary depending on your email newsletter service provider. However, if you use MailChimp, SurveyMonkey integrates perfectly.

Follow the instructions here to create and send your email subscribers a link to your survey.

Ask Your Followers on Social Media

SurveyMonkey to the rescue again!

In your survey creation dashboard, select the “Collect Responses” tab to determine how you’ll gather answers to your survey. In this case, select “Post on Social Media”. This option will give you a short link that you can post across all of your social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

surveymonkey collect responsesImage Courtesy of SurveyMonkey

What Should You Ask?

The next step is deciding what to ask. I suggest you go with a multiple choice. Ask something like, “What type of blog posts would you like to read from us in the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts!” Then, give them a choice list of between three to five blog post topics.

Analyze Which Blog Posts Do Best

Another way you can find out which blog posts resonate best with your audience is to look at the data. There are two ways to do this:

If you already have content on your blog, take a look at your blog’s analytics. Which posts are the most popular?

The second option is to discover which blog posts do well for your competitors. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find out which posts are the most shared. Search for a keyword phrase related to the topics you feel most qualified to write about. In this example, I’ll use the phrase “landlord tenant law”.

buzzsumo landlord tenantImage Courtesy of BuzzSumo

With BuzzSumo, you can narrow the search field by date, such as past year, week, or within the last 24 hours. You can also find out the latest news surrounding a topic (more on this below).

Other Ways to Source Blog Topics

Let’s discuss other ways to generate topics for your blog.

Let the News Guide You

Is there some interesting case that’s popular in the news right now? Analyze a hot topic case for your blog. You can highlight it as a cautionary tale, add your expert opinion on the facts of the case, or attach a do and don’t guide to help readers who may be in a similar circumstance.

Another idea is to discuss new laws or trends that affect your clients that they may not be aware of. Consider yourself a teacher who simplifies the often complex issues in the law by using stories to illustrate your point.

Create a Regular Series

You can create a regular post series on your blog such as “Ask a Lawyer” or “Your Legal Questions Answered.” Once a month, answer a commonly asked question. Hey, when you think about it– it’s only 12 questions a year, but you can cover a lot of ground.

Another benefit to creating a series around commonly asked questions is now you’ll have a place to direct those questions when they come through your email and social media. You can even link to them on forums, too.

Visit Legal Forums

Another great way to find topics for your blog is to scour legal forums. Look for popular questions that are asked (even if they’ve already been answered). To determine the popularity of a particular question, look at the amount of views it has received. This indicates that a lot of people have a vested interest in the same topic.

expertlaw viewsImage Courtesy of ExpertLaw

You probably know quite a few legal forums already, but these are among the most active:

If you’d like more information on creating an engaging blog, check out this post here: 8 Steps to Creating a Law Firm Blog that People Want to Read.

Remember to download our list of potential topics for your legal blog!

Email Marketing For Attorneys

I am not a lawyer. There. I said it. But I am married to a wonderful employment attorney who’s just recently hung her shingle. Like most solo attorneys out there, she’s found that building a client base is a constant exercise in hard work, ingenuity, consistency, and persistence.

I happen to be a really nerdy guy that has a background in building digital marketing platforms, so we sat down one night to figure out what ONE THING we could focus on that could get her the most bang for her buck in terms of getting in front of her ideal clients right now, and staying top of mind for when they actually had a need for her help.

We tossed SEO, as you’re not going to get to the first page in Google for anything but your name in the first few months of starting a firm. Anyone that tells you otherwise is peddling snake-oil. So what’s one to do when faced with the long-game that is internet marketing? Well, you have to get a little scrappy, and go places that most of your competitors won’t.

I’ll share what we came up with, and walk you through every step of putting this in place for you. And as long as you’re not an employment attorney in Southern NH, I’ve been given the green-light from the Mrs to let you in on the goods.

The Case For A Weekly Newsletter Over Say, Twitter or Facebook

The one constant over the last 20 years of the internet (besides cat photos of course) is email. Everyone has an email address. Everyone checks their email multiple times a day.  Everyone gets a nice little dopamine kick every time an email comes in and their phone beeps or vibrates in their pocket. In short, it’s the most ubiquitous way to insert yourself into a person’s weekly routine.

But you know all that. The real beauty of an email newsletter is twofold.

One, email is easily shareable. We’re used to forwarding an email, and we don’t have to leave our browsers to do it. No fancy “Share This” buttons, no URL shorteners, just a simple forward to a friend is all it needs to spread, and spreading is what you really want right now.

Two, email generates a feeling of reciprocity. Our species has a hyper-developed urge to return favors given to us. If you’re able to provide enough value to your readers on a regular basis in the form of insights, aggregated interests, etc, when it comes time to seek legal advice in your area of expertise, you’re the one they’ll have that urge to go back to.

I promised two, but I’ll give you a bonus reason. Email is not controlled by another company’s desire for you to pay them money in order to reach your audience. It’s been shown that Facebook posts are seen by less than 6% of a brand’s followers, and internally, Facebook wants to see that number drop to 1%-2%. Why you ask? Because they need money in order to satisfy their share-holders, and the only way to do that is to be the gate-keeper (read: toll-keeper) between you and the audience you’ve painstakingly built on their platform.

So if you want to actually build that audience, you’re now going to have to use their Facebook ads platform to do so.

Own your audience! An engaged newsletter subscriber is orders of magnitude more valuable than a Twitter follower or Facebook fan.

Now that begs the question, who should your audience be?

Choosing an audience

Deciding who your newsletter is for is largely dependent on how you define your ideal client. In the example of my wife’s employment law firm, her ideal clients are small business owners and HR managers in larger companies. For her, it makes sense to market directly to those folks with updates about the changing HR landscape.

But, when coming up with your newsletter audience archetype, clients aren’t the only option. In fact, in many cases, you may want to skip writing for clients at all, and instead focus on the natural referral providers that make sense for your practice area. For example, if you focus on trusts and estates, you might consider writing a weekly update for financial advisors in your state, that would keep them in the know, and ready to hand out your business card if their clients have more complicated estate matters that the financial planner can’t handle on their own.

Choosing your content

Now that you have your audience decided, it’s time to figure out what content we can provide on a regular basis that will ensure that your email is always valuable to that audience.

It’s tough starting from a blank canvas, so I’ll outline a few items that should work for most audiences. But don’t be afraid to get creative and get inside the mind of your ideal client. Remember, this is about them, not you. If you have other ideas, please share in the comments!

An Editorial Forward

I wouldn’t spend more than one paragraph on this. Give the readers an overview of what they’ll find in the update, and perhaps a light call to action. Suck them in.

Interesting Reads

You no doubt spend a lot of time reading the latest news related to your practice area. When you come across an article that you want to share on twitter, place it in your email template as well. Be sure to add a one or two sentence takeaway from each that informs your reader why it matters to them.

If you want to link to one of your own blog posts, that’s fine, but limit it to one per newsletter. You don’t want to come across as spammy. This newsletter isn’t meant to drive traffic to your blog, it’s about keeping your readers informed.

Events

Curate a list of networking events in your geographic area. Make sure to ask readers to let you know about any events they’re sponsoring or attending as well. Highlight the events going on that week, and then list out a calendar of events spanning the next month.

Reader Questions

Solicit questions from your readers. If they have a particular problem that others in the group might be interested in, ask if you can publish your response to the group. Obviously, you should be careful to disclaim that the email doesn’t constitute legal advice.

Blog Posts

If you do want to have a place for all of your posts from the week, place them in their own section, and toward the end. Follow a similar format to the “Interesting Reads” section above.

Footer

This is essentially your business card. Make sure your readers have a way to contact you, and how to find you on your various social media accounts. Also, this is a good spot for a disclaimer if you have anything in the newsletter that might be construed as legal advice. Also, a good place to let folks know that replying to you doesn’t constitute an attorney-client relationship.

Constructing your list

Normally, in the world of email marketing, there’s a hard and fast law that you never email someone that hasn’t specifically opted in to receive your newsletter.

For this one time, and this time only, I’m going to advise ignoring that rule, mostly because we’re going to be following the intent of law, if not the letter.

We are going to be creating a weekly newsletter that your readers will WANT to look through every week. If we don’t reach that level of awesomeness, then this whole endeavor won’t be worth it anyways.

So, for your initial list, we’re going to build a list of people you know in person that would genuinely be interested in your content. This is not a “dump my address book” into a list type of exercise. This is a painstaking process of going through your address book, your Linkedin contacts, your Facebook friends, etc and asking the following questions:

  1. Does this person know who I am personally?
  2. Does this person fit my audience archetype?
  3. Would this person likely look forward to this email every week? (Be brutally honest)

If the answer is “yes” to all three (and a real “yes” not “maybe” or “possibly”, a hard and fast “yes”), then you want to add them to your list in the following way:

  1. Create a spreadsheet in google docs. You can do this in excel as well, but we’re going to do this using Google Docs because everyone has access to that tool, and particularly for marketing activities like this, Google Docs can be a lifesaver.
  2. In Column A, put the email address. In Column B, put the person’s first name.
  3. Rinse and repeat step 2 for every person that fits.

When you’re done, we need to download your list so we can import it into your email provider of choice. To download the file in the correct format in Google Docs, click File> Download as…> Comma-separated values (.csv, current-sheet). Remember where you place that file, we’ll need it later.

Now that we have a list, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Tools

There are a TON of email providers out there. There’s MailChimp, Constant Contact, Emma, Campaign Monitor, and I could go on and on and on. They’ll all work and if you have one of them in place already, stick with it. Better to work with the one you know. If not though, I always recommend MailChimp for two reasons. One, it’s free for up to 2000 subscribers, which is more than enough for every firm I’ve ever worked with. Two, it has all of the features you’ll need, is easy to use, and it works on every device so if you have a few minutes of downtime, you can work on your next week’s digest without having to bust out a laptop.

We’ll be walking through how to implement this using Mailchimp.

Setup

Head on over to mailchimp.com and sign up for their free plan.

Once you create the account, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Just follow the link in that email to continue with the setup. Fill out the form related to your business size and whether you have a list (feel free to select “No” for now, we’ll build one later) and hit submit. You should now be staring at your Mailchimp dashboard.

We’ll start by creating an empty list. Click on the “Create List” button on the dashboard to get started.

MailChimp - Creating Your List

Creating Your First Email List with MailChimp

Just click “Save” and congratulations, you now have your first email list.

Importing Your List

Now that we have a list, we want to make sure all of our readers receive it. We need to import them from the list we created before. So go ahead and click on the import subscribers link, and then select “Import From a CSV or TXT File.”

MailChimp Importing Subscribers Step 1

How to import subscribers from a CSV file in MailChimp.

Now, find the file that you downloaded in the “Constructing your list” section above. Once you import that file, you should see a screen where Mailchimp is going to match up the columns in your list with the custom fields that Mailchimp uses to customize your emails to each reader.

MailChimp Importing Subscribers Step 2

Selecting which file to import your subscribers from.

If it works, it should look like this:

MailChimp Importing Subscribers Step 3

Making sure your data lines up with MailChimp’s dynamic fields.

Once you click then ‘Next’ button, you should see a confirmation screen. The defaults are fine, just click ‘Next’ to complete the import.

MailChimp Importing Subscribers Step 4

Finalize your import.

Congratulations! You now have an email list. Let me be the first to say that this immediately puts you in the top 5% of solo attorneys in terms of internet marketing expertise.

So pat yourself on the back, and now let’s talk about how we actually send to the list, and come up with a plan to make it a regular part of our marketing strategy.

Building your first campaign

Alright, now that you have a list, we need to build a campaign. Campaign is just another word for sending out an email to your list. To start the process, click on “Campaigns” in the sidebar then in the dropdown on the next page, click “Regular campaign”.

MailChimp Creating a Campaign

Starting your first campaign with MailChimp.

When you do that you’ll be placed into MailChimp’s campaign creation workflow. In the first step, just select “Send to entire list” and click “Next.” The next step is where you start to define what this particular campaign (or mailing) is.

You’ll need to create a name for the campaign. I would chose something that can be easily modified in future campaigns since this is going to be a regular thing. In this example, I chose to name it after the newsletter, and then give it an issue number. That way, in the next campaign, all I have to do is change the issue number and they’ll be easily identifiable. You could use the date you plan to send it instead of an issue number too. I’ve seen that work nicely as well.

Once you have the name, it’s time for the subject line. Now I’ve always found the subject line to be a little hard to write before you’ve written anything about the content. So for right now, put in something generic about your newsletter and move on. We can change the headline later (before we send) to make it more specific to the actual content you put in the newsletter.

And the final change I’d suggest is putting *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|* as your “To:” field. Whenever you see *|SOME_CODE|* it means Mailchimp will replace that SOME_CODE with the data in your list that matches “SOME_CODE”. In the case of FNAME and LNAME, that’s the first name and last name of each recipient that was matched up when you imported your list.

As for the tracking section, you can leave that at the default values. If you use Google Analytics, you can go ahead and check the box there so that the campaign name will appear in your Google Analytics account as well.

Here’s what your screen should look like:

MailChimp Campaign Settings

How to choose your campaign options.

Choosing a Template

Once you’ve set up your campaign, it’s time to decide how it will look. MailChimp provides a number of Basic Templates which allow you to build out your email, and they also provide pre-designed themes that have a bit of design to them.

I would stick to single column layouts to minimize complexity, but find one that works for you. It’s hard to go wrong here, so have fun! If you’re concerned about which one to pick, click “Themes” and search for “Minimal”. It’s organized into nice sections that you can customize to match the content you decided to include earlier.

While a template is one of the fun parts of setting up your marketing campaigns, be careful not to fall into analysis paralysis. There are a number to choose from, and you can always change it later. But for now, just pick one that’s simple and clear. After all, you want your readers to focus on what you’re writing, not the template that wraps it.

Writing your first email

And here we are, staring at a blank canvas. Intimidating right? I felt the same way. It gets easier, particularly once you find a format that really starts to resonate with your list, but for now, we wrote up an epic newsletter template that you can use to get yourself going on the right track.

Don’t get stuck on what to write.

We took care of the ideas for you, so you can focus on getting started. Click that green button there and you’ll have that template to use for whenever you’re ready to write your first newsletter.

Scheduling your first campaign

You’ve now created your first email and you’re ready to hit send. That’s awesome! Now, when it comes to sending email marketing campaigns, you don’t want to just hit send when you’re done with it. You’re going to want to schedule the campaign to optimize for actually getting read.

Let’s face it, while our goal is to create an email marketing newsletter that readers actually look forward to, folks are busy. Think about the day-to-day business of your clients and try to schedule the campaign to go out when your readers will be able to sit down and read it.

For example, if your clients are HR managers, mid-afternoon on a Friday might be great, as they might be killing a bit of time waiting to punch the clock for the weekend. Every list is different, so feel free to experiment.

Sending your first campaign is only the first step…

Sending your first campaign is a really really big deal. You should be proud. You put yourself out there, and that’s the first step to allowing you and your firm to be found online.

Now, let’s take advantage of that momentum and talk about how to grow your list and how to keep pumping out great content.

Getting new subscribers

That first group of readers is going to be the easiest. You already know them. Getting folks you don’t know to sign up will be a lot harder. But alas, we’ll talk about a few ways to get started. The first two require little to no technical ability. You can start doing it today and to be quite honest, you’ll likely have your best results there.

Ditch the business cards, sign them up for your list in person.

We all know the value of meeting industry folks face to face. Attorneys are some of the best networkers I’ve ever met.

All of those events, the hours of chit-chat, the passing of business cards, all with the hope that one day someone will remember your firm when they have the need.

What if they didn’t have to think back to that charity dinner 18 months ago, and instead only had to remember the person that emailed them two weeks ago?

That’s the real power of email marketing. So now that you have a newsletter, you can use it to stay in front of all of those people you’re investing time to meet with.

So rather than saying “Here’s my business card, call me if you ever need help.” you can say, “I have a newsletter that goes out every other week or so that will help you with <problem they might have>. Would you like to sign up? It’ll only take a few seconds.” And then whip out your phone, go to Lists, choose your main email list, and then in the upper-right corner click on the button to add a subscriber and just enter their name and email address. You could even hand them the phone to have them enter it themselves. Done!

Or, if you don’t want to have to pull out your phone, just keep a pen handy. When you ask about the list, if they say yes, make a quick note on their business card, then manually invite them to the list later that evening when you get home.

And don’t forget to email them personally to say thank you for signing up.

Ask for forwards…

Your loyal readers are also a great source of new subscribers. After all, they’ve already gotten to know you and the value you’re providing them. And, like most networked professionals, they probably know others just like them that might also benefit from your newsletter.

So, once a month, or once every other month, depending on how often you email your list, let everyone know that you’re on the lookout for new subscribers. Let them know the effort that you put into the list. Maybe even pull on their heart-strings a little bit by reminding your readers of all of the value they’re getting FOR FREE. And then ask if they’d take 30 seconds and consider forwarding your email to friends or colleagues that might also benefit from the information you send out.

MailChimp has a handy little merge tag for a forwarding link that will allow your readers to forward your email and have the recipients be prompted to sign up for your list as well. Just highlight your call to action (the sentence that’s asking folks to sign up) and click the link button. Select “Web Address” and set it to *|FORWARD|*.

MailChimp forward link

Creating a link that will help your readers forward your campaign to a colleague.

Mini Contests

Another way to entice folks to forward your email is to run a little contest. For example, you could raffle off say, three $20 amazon gift cards, or maybe a copy of a book that’s pertinent to your audience. Then ask them to email you with the names of folks they forwarded your email to. For each one that signs up, enter them in a chance to win.

Worst case, you have 3 folks sign up and you spent $60. Might seem expensive, but the beautiful thing about email marketing is that you have time to make that money back. If even one of those clients calls you for a 30 minute consult in the next 18 months, you’ve likely made your money back.

Get your website to drive new subscribers…

It’s fairly easy to get a signup form onto your website. If you use WordPress, just add the Mailchimp plugin. Follow the instructions to add the form as a widget in WordPress.

If you use AmazeLaw, just go to Email Marketing, and click “Connect Mailchimp” button and you’re done.

But, like sending out that first campaign, adding a form to your site is not enough. You also need to actively promote your list in order to entice new signups.

Obviously, “promote your email list” is the type of pithy advice run away from here at AmazeLaw, so here are some easy, concrete ways to promote your new list on your own website.

Landing Page

A landing page is just a dedicated page whose sole purpose is to get a visitor to perform an action. In this case, the action is to get someone to sign up for your email list.

Create a page in WordPress or AmazeLaw, and give it the same name as your list. The content is pretty simple, you don’t even need a picture:

[Headline: Big benefit they’ll see from signing up]

This is a paragraph about what your life will be like after you’ve signed up and are reaping said benefit. Imagine how easy life will be. No more worrying about missing the latest news and getting caught unaware.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Easy to digest updates about [your practice area]. No legalese! We promise!
  • Curated industry news so you don’t miss the best content out there.
  • No spam. Ever.
[Signup Form]

Pretty easy, huh?

Protip: Add a link to your landing page in your email signature with a simple call to action. Something like “Sign up for our free bi-weekly employment law update.” or “Free estate planning tips in your Inbox every week.”

Post/Page Footers

Having a signup form on your contact page, or home page is a great first step, but often times, visitors to your site won’t be coming through the front door. A good percentage of your traffic, particularly search traffic, will likely go directly to your blog posts where visitors are looking for a very specific answer to the problem they’re searching for.

They’ll likely never see your homepage, and unless you do a bunch of cross-linking (linking to other posts or pages on your site), they may not see another page before they move on with their day, armed with the answer to their query.

But what a perfect time to start a relationship. By answering their question you’ve provided value and built trust. It’s the perfect time to remind them that, hey, if you want more quality advice or analysis just like this, sign up for my newsletter!

So, long story short, at the bottom of every blog post, add a simple paragraph that explains that if they found the post useful, that they can sign up for your newsletter and add a link to your landing page where they can sign up.

Keeping it going…

Alright, time to recap. We’ve gone from nothing to:

  • Signed up for a free MailChimp account.
  • Created our first email list
  • Built and sent our first email campaign
  • Set up our website to attract new subscribers by using landing pages and blog post footers
  • Learned to leverage our existing contacts for new referrals

Staying consistent

Now that you’ve setup your email marketing essentials, we need to create a system for consistently delivering little knowledge bombs to your subscribers.

And consistency isn’t just how often you email your subscribers, but your ability to consistently deliver something that your readers value.

Steve Martin quipped in his autobiography that it wasn’t the ability to kill it on a given night that set the great comics apart. After all, most comics could kill it every once in a while with the right audience. It was the comics that could produce a great show night in and night out that were truly successful.

And just like Steve Martin, you need a system to deliver consistent value.

How do we do that?

Creating a schedule you can stick to…

We talked a bit about scheduling your campaigns so your customers are most likely to read your posts. Now let’s talk about how to schedule your campaigns so that they fit within the constraints of a busy attorney’s calendar.

You know it, I know it, so let’s not pretend that your email list is going to top your list of priorities for the week. So let’s just acknowledge it up front and figure out how to move forward anyways.

If you’re like me, you might tend to overestimate what you can accomplish, and that’s doubly true for todo items that aren’t sitting atop your priority list. So, if at this very moment, in your excitement over setting up email marketing for your firm (you’re totally psyched right? Right?!) you think that you could handle a weekly email campaign, let’s adjust that right now. Take your totally logical and reasonable estimate and cut it in half. Make it every two weeks, or make it monthly if your estimate was bi-weekly.

This will help you avoid the trap of committing to an unrealistic goal, missing it, and then bagging on the whole thing when a month has gone by and you missed your deadline.

And now that you’ve given yourself that break. Commit to it. You have no more excuses.

Set a recurring calendar reminder for 5 days prior to your campaign. Spend 30 minutes compiling your content. Don’t worry about being perfect. Just get a bunch of content in there.

Three days prior to the campaign spend another 30 minutes refining that campaign to make sure that the content is actually worth interrupting your audience for.

Forget for a moment that you’re an attorney and that you’re actually interested in the law. Forget that you want more clients. Forget every inclination you have to talk about yourself.

Just imagine your ideal client reading your email and constantly asking the question “What’s in it for me?” and “Why do I care?” If a sentence or bullet point isn’t written to answer those two questions, cut the sentence or rewrite it so that it is.

And finally, one day before your campaign is to go out, spend 30 minutes and perform the following exercise:

Read the following articles that summarize some simple techniques for coming up with headlines that inspire action

10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work
41 Classic Copywriting Headline Templates

Now, set a timer on your phone for ten minutes. Turn off your wifi, and just start listing out subject lines for your campaign. Don’t worry about how good it is, just get it out and move on to the next one. The goal here is quantity.

When the timer goes off, look over your list. From the perspective of your ideal client, which one do you think would inspire them to skip the ‘delete’ button and actually read that email?

There’s your subject line.

For example, here are 10 subject lines I came up to use in an email that would describe this exercise using those formulas. Which one resonates with you?

5 subject line secrets that will get your email read…
7-Minute brainstorms that WILL get you new clients…
Write subject lines like Don Draper, even if you’ve never written a word of copy…
Send emails that get read 50% more than ‘real marketers’ with 10 minutes of work
Write emails your clients WANT to read…
Don Draper couldn’t beat your copy if you follow this one simple exercise…
5 minutes could mean the difference between being spammy and being awesome
How to avoid writing subject lines that make your email invisible…
Are your subject lines wasting the effort you put into your newsletters?
What professional copywriters do when they can’t think of headlines

That was 10 minutes of work. Some of those headlines are clearly better than others. Some are repetitive, and that’s ok. But you’ll notice, the odds that the first subject line (the one you would’ve used had you not done the exercise) is the best one is slim.

This simple exercise will routinely get you two or three times as many opens on your campaign.

And that means two or three times as many opportunities to get in front of your clients, which means two to three times the ROI for all of this effort you’re putting in.

How to come up with (great) content

It can be hard to come up with something to say week in and week out. And it’s even harder when you only have 30 minutes between client meetings to do it.

So rather than setting yourself up for 30 minutes of staring at a blank page, let’s create a simple system for building up that hopper of great content throughout the week, so when it comes time to write, you just need to pull items off your stack.

First, we’ll need a central place to accumulate all of these notes.

Everyone’s style is different, so I’m sure you can come up with a tool that works best for you. But the whichever method you choose, the key is to optimize for being able to take a note as quickly as possible whenever the thought strikes.

I prefer to use Evernote. I just keep one note and add newsletter ideas to the top of it as I come across them. My wife uses Trello, creating a new card for every idea. I’ve seen folks use Google docs. I’ve also tried using a Word document or even writing in a notebook, but those two options make it hard to access from my phone on the go, or lack the ability to quickly copy and paste a URL for a link I want to remember to share.

So, over the course of the day, any time I think of something that might be worth sharing with the email list, I write it quickly at the top of the note. And at the end of the week, I have all sorts of items I can pull from to write the actual campaign.

What sort of things should you be on the lookout for? Here are just a few:

  • Common questions from clients that you could answer in a paragraph or two
  • Events that your clients might find valuable (even if they’re not valuable to you)
    • If you happen to be attending them, mention that and invite readers to come say hello.
  • Legislative changes (but only those that, upon learning about would cause your ideal client to say “Oh man, I’m really glad I know that, I’m going to change X…”)
  • Articles that your potential clients would want to read
  • Anecdotes that can bring a little levity to the newsletter
  • Interactions with readers that could benefit others
  • Positive news about those in your readership. Did someone just win an award? Did they get some positive press?
    • Take note and share it. And then invite others to share their good news when hey have any.

If you get into the habit of taking note of these tidbits, you should find that when you sit down to write your newsletter, you’ll spend more time figuring out what should be left out, than figuring out what to add.

That’s it!

This isn’t rocket-surgery. It just takes patience and practice. If you have any questions, please let me know. And if you take this advice and create your own newsletter, be sure to add bryan@amazelaw.com to your subscriber list. See! You already have an audience!

Now quick, go write your first campaign. I’ll be here, looking forward to reading it.

Psst! Don’t forget to grab the starter template to get your email marketing started without a hitch!

Further Reading:

The “From” Name: Perhaps Your Most Important Email Marketing Decision
The background on why you want your from name to be your law firm and not your name.

10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work

41 Classic Copywriting Headline Templates
When you’re stuck and need to come up with headlines or subject lines in your emails, these articles will get you unstuck right quick. It’s like mad-libs, except instead of laughs, you get tons of clicks 🙂

How To Use YouTube Video To Attract Clients

When given the opportunity, most people would rather watch a video than read a book. Is that a sad commentary on our society or a powerful opportunity to market your services to a wider crowd?

As an eternal optimist, I’m going for the latter. In fact, I don’t think it’s sad at all that most people prefer watching video. It just proves that most of us are visual thinkers.

While I’m a big champion of the written word, I’ll also argue for the use of video in your lawyer marketing strategy. Video can reel people in, help them “meet” your brand, and add tone and humanness to your online marketing efforts.

Together with written content, video can educate your prospective clients. It can also increase your brand’s trustworthiness. Let’s take a look at why you should consider video marketing in your ongoing effort to attract more clients:

Why Use Video Marketing

It’s easy to get people to trust you.

Prospective clients are much more likely to trust you if they can see you with their own eyes. This includes observing your body language and hearing the inflection of your voice as you speak. Without these social cues, clients must rely on the other content you’ve produced to gauge whether or not to trust you.

While it’s possible to do this through other types of content and visual branding (check out this post on building a visual brand identity that inspires trust), no other method is as direct and fast-acting. There’s a new level of trust you can establish just by showing your face, and you can do it in two minutes or less (more on this later).

Would you like a printable guideline for the do’s and don’ts of online video?

It’s easy to get started.

Thanks to smartphones and associated apps, producing a video doesn’t need to be a Hollywood-style endeavor. It’s you, a camera, and a microphone. If you want to get fancy, you can purchase an entire light kit for less than $200 on Amazon. This kit includes lights, stands, and three backdrops to add a professional look to your video.

limo-studioImage Courtesy of LimoStudio, Amazon

Some of us are better at speaking than writing.

For me, it’s vice versa. But for you, it may be easier to speak extemporaneously or with a very light outline. If you hate writing and find it easier to just start talking, you can use video to sell your services to potential clients.

It’s great for SEO.

We’re all fighting to dominate the search engine results page, but there’s one secret way that may push you to the top of the results: YouTube video.

Google actually owns YouTube. If you create a YouTube video and assign a relevant keyword, your video may rise above everyone else’s content to occupy a prominent spot in the search results. Observe:

great-seoGoogle Search: How to pay for an old ticket

great-seo2Google Search: Do I own my music if it isn’t registered

Some of these results are seven years old. In Internet years, that’s equivalent to 60. Pair this knowledge with the fact that Google’s search bots are constantly looking for relevant and updated information to give to its users. If you can create such a video, you’ll knock these ancient videos off their throne and become the new leader. The king is dead; long live the king.

Three Types of YouTube Video to Use

Now, let’s take a look at how you can use YouTube video to advertise your law firm and get more clients.

A Brand-Focused Commercial

Create a commercial for your law firm. This is your opportunity to connect with viewers and make them like you. No stiff body language and monotone voices, please. Rigid and robotic only work if you’re an animatronic character on stage at Chuck E. Cheese. Even then, it’s still creepy.

chuckecheese

Image Courtesy of Giphy

Here’s what you should do in your commercial:

  • Speak in everyday, relatable language. Odds are, your client isn’t a lawyer and doesn’t understand legalese. Talk to him or her in terms they can understand.
  • Make it about them, not you. Instead of listing what services you offer, discuss benefits. For example, don’t say, “We have 25 years of experience in helping folks file bankruptcy”. Instead say, “We’ll help you protect your assets, stop creditor harassment, and start over fresh.”
  • Inject personality into your video. Sure, you’d like to maintain a professional persona, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same script everyone else is using. Spend time thinking of fresh and original ways to introduce your law firm to others. It doesn’t have to be gloomy and serious, especially if your area of expertise is on the more creative end of the spectrum (such as sports and entertainment law).

Testimonials

There is nothing more persuasive than watching a relatable person share his or her experience. It’s called social proof, and it’s the top way to get people to buy what you’re selling.

If you have a client who is happy with your work, don’t just rely on him to tell others about you. Put him on the spot and ask if he’d agree to do a video testimonial for you. The worst response is a “no,” but you may be surprised at how many people are willing to shoot a short testimonial.

The key there is short. Don’t try to slice and dice a 30 minute video in 30 seconds. Keep it short by asking a few specific, open-ended questions (not yes or no) to get the response you’re looking for.

Educational

Use videos to educate your clients, both current and prospective. Let’s take a look at two types of educational videos to use:

Answer frequently asked questions. I’m sure there are a few questions you’re asked time and time again. In addition to writing a frequently asked questions page, create a YouTube video for each.

Be sure to use the frequently asked question as the title of your video. For example, entitle a video, “How long does it take to finalize a domestic adoption?”

By creating a YouTube video to answer these questions, you’ll bring in people who have specifically searched for that question in YouTube and/ or Google.

While the prospects of them finding your FAQ page is hit or miss (so many other law firms may have similar questions/ answers), you can separate yourself from the pack with a video. Most likely you will rank higher in the search engine results because of your video, and that means more people will click on your link.

Discuss what to expect. Your prospective client probably has no idea of what to expect. He’ll be forever grateful if you can provide a cogent list of what to expect during the case, trial, procedure, hearing, you name it.

Be a guiding light and help your viewer figure his way through this previously uncharted path.

Best Practices

Get a clear idea of who you’re targeting with your videos.

Don’t set out to make viral videos or entertain everyone on YouTube. Get narrow with your focus. Only a small group of people on the Internet will pay for your services. That number is likely less than 1000 people in a pool of billions that could potentially stumble up on your video. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to appeal to everyone – only those people who will retain you matter.

Select testimonials from those who represent the types of clients you’re actively seeking. These testimonials will attract and be much more relevant to those prospects.

Keep your videos short.

No longer than 2-3 minutes. After the two-minute mark, you’ll lose over half of your audience.

Be authentic.

Don’t stick to someone else’s script. Sound like yourself on your video, not like what you think people expect.

Invest time and money into editing your videos.

The average viewer will give you 10 seconds to get to the point. If you don’t engage your viewer quickly, they’re going to leave and never look back.

The smartest YouTube videos start with the end and then work their way back to the beginning.

Choose Keywords

A keyword is a word (or a collection of words) someone types into the Google search bar. Think like your prospective clients and consider which search term(s) he or she would most likely use to find your content. Next, use that exact search term to title your video. Support your video with other keywords that are related to that search term.

An example of this may be to title your video, “How to File for Divorce in Boulder, CO.” Your supporting keywords could be “divorce lawyer”, “Boulder law”, and “divorce Colorado.”

Add a Call to Action

End each video with a call to action. Ideally, you’ll want to send your clients back to your website to get even more information. But don’t just send them to your home page. Instead, send them to a specific landing page or contact page where you can encourage them to call you. Incentivize this page with freebies, such as a free ebook or a complimentary consultation.

Final Thoughts

Don’t overlook video as an effective way to build trust and appeal to a wider audience. You can dominate search results and be visible to more people than you would by just sticking to written content only. Fortunately, video is easy to produce thanks to the all-present smartphone, and it’s absolutely free. All you have to do is press record.

If you have a video, leave your link in the comments below.

Would you like a printable guideline for the do’s and don’ts of online video?

Avvo For Beginners: What It Is And Why It Will Benefit Your Practice

Love it or hate it, Avvo, along with other third party lawyer review sites, is an inescapable part of the Internet landscape. Clients (past, present, and possibly imaginary) can leave reviews about your service that can either mar or bolster your law practice, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Or is there?

Like the old adage says, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. In this post, let’s discuss how you can use Avvo to attract more clients, build your brand authority, and win at life.

What is Avvo?

Avvo is a service that provides legal resources. In addition to its function as an online legal directory, Avvo makes it possible for users to review and rate attorneys.

Lawyers can easily interact with the Avvo community at large, either through Avvo’s premium-level Advisor service or through the free Q&A forum.

Avvo is one of the most popular and well respected services of its kind.

Why should I be on Avvo?

If you’re a lawyer, you’re probably on Avvo anyway. It’s suggested that 95% of all US-based attorneys are listed on Avvo– whether they want to be there or not. This is because Avvo populates its site using public information obtained from the State Bar Association.

That said, you don’t really want to leave it with just that basic information, do you? Especially since it’s free to claim your Avvo listing, why not optimize it with the type of information that will win you leads?

Check out our tips for creating a winning profile on Avvo!

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are a few other compelling reasons to claim your Avvo listing now:

+Avvo is great for SEO

If you’d like to get found via search engine (and who wouldn’t?), don’t overlook Avvo. Avvo frequently ranks on page one of search engine results for both individual and generic results, as you can see here:

avvo seo generic

avvo seo

That said, I wouldn’t recommend putting all of your eggs in the Avvo basket. You should also have a solidly built website that serves as your online hub. (We can help with that. Click here for more information.) This website should be search engine optimized and the definitive resource for your legal practice online.

However, actively maintaining a profile listing on Avvo will only help your search engine rankings, and may even drive more traffic to your website.

+Clients use the Internet for researching attorneys

While word of mouth is important, clients also turn to good ‘ole Google to find out more about an attorney before even the initial consultation. Clients don’t just look for your phone number and hours of operation online, they look for reviews, areas of expertise, and a winning smile.

This is why full representation on Avvo is a must. You need to be everywhere that your prospective clients are looking for you.

+Control the conversation

While you can’t exactly change what the reviews say about you, you can make it a two-sided conversation.

A lot of attorneys make the mistake of pretending like a bad review doesn’t exist and never responding. Ignoring an unfavorable review doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it reflects badly on you, making it look like you don’t care.

When you get actively involved on Avvo (and other review sites), you can add your response to a review, whether that review is good or bad.

When you respond, keep in mind the prospective client who will read what you’ve written. Choose words that are professional but warm, with a hint of appreciation and insight. Those are the responses that will win the argument every time compared to a “this client was horrible” type of response.

Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to Using Avvo

In order to reap the benefits of being on Avvo, you must actively participate. In fact, the more you participate, the more you can positively impact your Avvo rating. Here’s a rundown of how to use Avvo effectively:

Claim your listing right now for free, and then optimize it.

After claiming your listing, it’s time to optimize it. Be sure to subscribe to receive a list of our top tips for creating a winning Avvo profile.

avvoImage Courtesy of Avvo

Participate in Avvo’s legal Q&A section.

If you’d like to build authority and raise your profile with site visitors who are looking for answers, get involved with the legal Q&A section on Avvo.

Consider upgrading to Avvo Pro.

Use Avvo Pro to track important analytics, such as how many people are contacting you based on your Avvo listing. You’ll also receive a “Pro” sign next to your name, which indicates that you are invested in the Avvo community (quite literally).

Another benefit of Avvo Pro is the ability to remove your competitors’ ads from appearing on your listing.

Advertise with Avvo.

Speaking of showing up on a competitor’s profile, you can opt in to Avvo Advertising. This service allows you to create an advertisement for your service that pops up on another attorney’s free listing.

One of the benefits of going with Avvo advertising, aside from greater exposure, is the fact that you can also target your ads to a specific demographic.

Get as many reviews and ratings as possible.

Avvo offers two types of reviews: client and colleague. Urge your clients to leave feedback for you on Avvo after successfully rendering a service. Similarly, court peer endorsements by asking for them the same way you would on LinkedIn.

To clarify, your Avvo rating is not the same as a client review or peer endorsement. Avvo ratings are determined by how active you are within the Avvo community, along with professional achievements and other information. For a more detailed look at the differences between ratings and review, check out this post: What is the difference between the Avvo Rating, Client Reviews, and Peer Endorsements?

Join Avvo Legal Services.

Another feature that Avvo offers its customers is a fixed-fee advice session. You provide the service and Avvo works as a marketer. It’s offered only to those local to your geographic area, and it’s not available in all states.

Why should you care?

Participating in Legal Services gives you more opportunities to increase your ratings. And higher ratings means that you look better in the eyes of prospective clients.

For information about Avvo Legal Services, check out this page: Avvo Advisor.

Final Thoughts

If you’re an attorney, Avvo is an essential part of your online branding efforts. Your name’s on there whether you like it or not, so claim it and control how prospective clients are introduced to your brand.

Check out our tips for creating a winning profile on Avvo!

Your Ultimate Guide to Getting More Referrals

How do I get more referrals?

Wow, what a question. It’s the single most important question you’ll ask when starting and growing your law firm.

Fortunately, I’ve got the answer. Below, I’m giving you the ultimate guide to getting quality referrals for your law firm. Even if you’re a complete beginner, here are the best tips to growing your law firm through word of mouth marketing. Let’s get started.

Network

play-stone-1237497_640Network with anybody you can get in front of. This includes fellow attorneys for sure, but also expands beyond your colleagues.

Consider networking with other small business owners in your area, too. These small business owners have access to a wide group of customers along with their own friends and family.

If you’ve niched down and offer specialized services, consider reaching out to businesses within that industry. Establish relationships with them. For example, if you specialize in prenups, you should cozy up to wedding planners. It’s a congruent relationship that makes sense.

Join groups online and in person, too. LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to start. But you can also contact your local chamber of commerce to find out about area events and social hours where you can mingle.

If the word “mingle” gives you the hives, I get it. Believe me, I get it. But if you want more clients, you’ve got to put yourself out there and be personable. Putting yourself out there is quite frankly the only way to get more exposure and earn referrals.

Here’s a list of networking tips to help you get more referrals.
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Make Customer Service a Top Priority

Even if you’re a one-person-shop, your customer service should be second to none. It doesn’t cost anything to smile, be friendly, and respond in a prompt and professional manner. And it doesn’t cost much to hire someone else to do it for you, if you find that you’re too busy to answer phones, make coffee, and meet with prospective clients.

When you make the client a priority and go out of your way to offer outstanding service, you’ll find that your current clients are more willing to recommend you to their friends and family.

Be a Referrer

It sounds counterintuitive— you want to get referrals, not give them. But there’s so much truth in the old saying, “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” If you find yourself with a client that’s not the right fit, don’t hold onto them— that’s not going to serve them or you. Instead, send them to someone who’s right for them.

This will do 3 things:

  1. It will free you up for a client that makes more sense for your law firm.
  1. It will build trust with that referred client. He may not need your services now, but he’ll definitely remember you if he needs your services in the future. Plus, you’re demonstrating that on the scale of trustworthy to money-grubbing, you’re leaning way over to the trustworthy side. You’re not just taking them on because you want the money. You’re passing them on to the right person.
  1. You will ingratiate yourself to your fellow attorney you sent the client to. Now, the attorney will be in your debt, and much more likely to send you clients, too.

Woo Your Current Clients

When you have a client, he or she is worth his weight in gold. Not only are they willing to pay you for your service, they’re also have the potential to advertise yours services to their own circle of influence.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to groom them as potential referrers.

And, not just when they’re in your office. Keep in contact with your clients throughout the year. Keep it simple and send a card to commemorate birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries. Make yourself a part of their family. This will keep you at the top of your clients’ minds, so that when the time comes, they’ll be ready to pass your name to their friends and family.

Simply Ask Your Clients

Although I recommend nurturing your clients, there’s no shame in simply asking your clients to refer you straight out. The best time to do so is after successfully rendering a service. This is the time when they’re happy with you and willing to evangelize on your behalf.

Be Specific With Your Ask

When asking for referrals, don’t be vague. Be clear about what type of client you want. For example, if you’re interested in finding musicians to represent, ask your network if they know that specific type of client.

Thank Referrers

Don’t forget to thank those who’ve referred clients to you– this way, they’ll do it again! Whether clients, fellow attorneys, or others that you’ve networked with, send them a small token of your appreciation. Food gifts (cookies, cupcakes, dave and harry pears, omaha steaks, you name it) are always great. It’s a folksy way of saying thank you.

Take Advantage of Avvo

avvo(1)Image Courtesy of Avvo

Avvo is a crucial part of marketing yourself online. As we discussed in our ultimate guide to Avvo (that you can read here), many prospects turn to Avvo to research potential attorneys. Users rely heavily on Avvo’s review system to decide which attorney is right for them.

As you see, Avvo can serve as both an advertiser and a referral source for you.

Be Social

Believe it or not, social media can work as a superstar referral agent for you. Think about it: you’ve got access to a whooping one billion members through Facebook alone.

Use paid ads to extend your reach on social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.

If you don’t want to pay for ads yet, you can still make it through organic reach on video channels like YouTube and, to a lesser extent, Vimeo. Make a video to attract clients (we show you how here), and then enjoy the influx of social referrals who would’ve never known about you otherwise.

Buy Radio and TV Spots

if you can afford it, why not go for the gusto and pay for a radio ad, a tv commercial, or both? Depending on your market, it may not be as expensive as you think. For example, a radio ad in Miami, FL may be $1500, but one in Pensacola, FL may only be $250.

Also, prices vary based on what time you’d like for the ad to run. A rush hour spot may be much more expensive than at mid-evening.

The benefits of running radio or TV ads are that you will open yourself up to your community at large. It’s another level of market saturation that can positively impact your referral efforts.

Final Thoughts

Referrals are the bread and butter of most law practices. Use these tips to build up your referral network and bring in more clients. If you’d like ongoing advice on getting clients, and growing your law firm, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

Here’s a list of networking tips to help you get more referrals.