Email Marketing for Law Firms: How to Attract & Retain More Clients with Email

Some firms still doubt the power of email marketing for lawyers.

The average Return on Investment is $36 for every $1 spent, which means email marketing outperforms most other marketing strategies by some distance.

That’s why almost two-thirds of small businesses use email marketing to reach customers, and almost 80 percent see it as an important way to build brand awareness.

In short, law firms need email marketing.

Fortunately, over many years of designing email marketing campaigns for clients, we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t.

So, today I’m going to help you get started with email marketing by sharing a few “golden nuggets” that will generate more subscribers for your lists, more successful email campaigns, and more sales calls and leads (i.e., more revenue for your firm).

Why email marketing?

Poor communication is consistently named as the most-common complaint for clients about their lawyers.

Email marketing can help you cut off that potential complaint at the pass.

Most law firms communicate by email with clients at some point in their journey — whether during onboarding, casework, billing, or at another point

Email marketing for law firms needs to go well beyond that. It should be a structured strategy to connect with existing clients and prospects using automated emails that inspire a specific action or increase awareness at the top of the sales funnel.

Talking about the sales funnel, where does email marketing fit in exactly?

Law Firm Content Marketing Sales Funnel

There are three basic phases to a client engaging your law firm:

  • Awareness
  • Evaluation
  • Purchase

As you can see, law firm email marketing can fit into the awareness, evaluation, or purchase stage of the client journey. It can also be used effectively to inform clients, aiding retention and breeding customer loyalty.

You can read more about each element of the funnel (TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU) in our guide to content marketing for lawyers, but it’s enough now to recognize the versatility of email marketing.

Why is email marketing for lawyers so effective?

The fact that it works on so many levels may be the secret to why law firm email marketing is so effective.

A well-run email marketing campaign can help firms in each of the following key areas:

  • Business development: Reach out, capture contact info, and nurture leads so that you stay top-of-mind. When a prospect needs your legal services or knows someone who does, who will they come to? Many law firms have no lead nurturing system in place and lack follow-up with potential clients to create awareness and “next steps.”
  • Improving communication: Simply sending automated “thank you” emails for inquiries or “schedule a meeting”/“meeting reminder” emails are great ways to increase touchpoints with clients and improve their experience with your firm.
  • Client retention and loyalty: Improving the experience of existing clients with relevant updates, news, articles, and opinion in law firm newsletters is a powerful way to build relationships, retain clients and generate more loyalty (this one is usually more relevant for business or family law firms than criminal defense firms).
  • Thought leadership: By demonstrating your legal expertise in your practice area through email marketing, you build your reputation. This can open many doors, including speaking engagements, media coverage, invites to serve on industry committees/boards, etc.
  • Attracting new talent: Email marketing campaigns can also target law school graduates and build relationships with potential recruits and clients.

Law firm email marketing vs. social media

If you’re a law firm that embraces Facebook, LinkedIn, or even TikTok marketing, congratulations! Keep going — email marketing won’t replace any of that.

But they can work alongside each other very well.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Social Media

If you play it right, email puts content directly into the inboxes of target clients. That’s an advantage over social media, where you post content and wait for it to be “found” by your followers. With so much social media content out there, it can get buried, and it’s becoming harder to stand out.

One of the great beauties of email marketing is that you can ensure that your content gets seen.

Most of the heavy lifting can be automated too. Once you’ve put a little upfront effort into planning and designing your automated email sequences and campaigns, they work for you even when you’re short on time.

Few marketers would disagree that a well-written series of emails providing informative, educational, and engaging content to the right people at the right time is incredibly powerful.

Now, let’s take a look at how to do that.

Getting started with law firm email marketing

Getting started with email marketing requires three basic elements:

  1. Email list
  2. Content
  3. Email marketing software

Take the time to get each element right:

  • A high-quality email list: Ensures that you contact only willing prospects who want to hear from you and remain within ethical guidelines.
  • High-quality content: Helps you engage your target audience effectively so that they take the desired action (download content, arrange a consultation, etc.).
  • The right software: Automates campaigns and gets information to the right people at the right time while tracking ROI and aiding compliance.

Now, let’s go into detail about best practices in each of these areas and more.

9 strategies for building your email list

You can’t do anything without an email list, so it’s the obvious place to start.

The most effective way to grow your subscriber list is to capture contact details in exchange for providing free content using a signup form.

The free content pieces are sometimes called “lead magnets” and are designed to elicit interest from your target audience. They must be informative and of value to your main target audience so that you attract the right prospects.

Lead magnets help you demonstrate your expertise on legal topics, providing a valuable “taster” of how you can help your target audience. Most people will willingly provide contact details (email address) once they know you can help them.

So, they must enter details in a signup form before receiving the free content.

How do you design your firm’s lead magnet(s)?

When deciding what to offer, think about the following types of questions:

  • What does my target audience want to know?
  • What are the burning questions in their mind?
  • What are they searching for?
  • How can I help them with a problem?
  • How can I provide something short and sweet that is of high value?

So, you get the picture: the first step in lawyer email marketing is to build your list by providing something of value that helps your target audience with a problem — focused on them, not you.

Here are a few great examples.

1. eBooks on key topics for the target audience

eBooks can be about practically any legal topic. This firm in Wisconsin created a personal injury eBook about what to do if you’re in an accident.

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2. How-to guides

This business-focused law firm created a guide to starting a business in Georgia.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Guides
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3. Cheat sheets/tip sheets/worksheets

This Indiana-based law firm not only created a free estate planning worksheet. They made downloading it front and center on their homepage.

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4. White papers

White papers are a little formal for many law firms, but depending on your practice area, they may be an option for B2B audiences.

You might also want to attract partner firms or reach out to peers. For instance, Thomson Reuters in Canada created a white paper for other law firms on overcoming business challenges.

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5. Invitation to subscribe to a newsletter

The most popular way for law firms to try to grow their subscriber list is to feature a Subscribe to our newsletter button on the website, like this example from a family law firm in New York.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Newsletter Form
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This is better than nothing. However, it is unlikely to get prospects forcing down your door for a legal consultation.

Being proactive with your marketing will produce better outcomes: think lead magnets/gated content and valuable, downloadable resources designed for your target audience.

6. Community presentations and webinars

Some lawyers like to give presentations in the community — another great opportunity to grow your list for law firm email marketing,

Events may include seminars on different areas of law, such as estate planning seminars for the elderly or people with aging parents.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Seminars
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Whether this is an offline or online event (like a law firm webinar, as in the above example), it’s an excellent opportunity to collect the contact details of attendees.

After the event, you can add them to a list/automation sequence specifically geared toward this target audience.

7. Resource libraries

This estate planning firm in Ohio provides access to a complete library of resources in return for contact details.

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As you can see, access to eBooks, documents, articles, videos, podcasts and financial calculators is provided — but only in return for an email address.

How do you design your firm’s signup form?

Email marketing software can be used to set up an automated series of emails to your list built from your free downloadable lead magnets — but more about that later.

Each email marketing app has a different setup, but most allow you to create new contact forms for downloadable content and automation sequences for people who have filled it out.

Your lead capture form might look something like this one from New Mexico Legal Group.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Signup Form
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What happens after a subscriber signs up?

Once you design your signup form, you normally insert the code on your website. Then it’s a simple, automated, 1-2-3 process:

  1. A prospect fills out the form and is automatically added to your list.
  2. The subscriber receives the downloadable content link via an automated email
  3. They then receive an automated series of emails (often in newsletter form) that “nurture” interest, aiming to persuade the recipient to book a consultation.

Until this point, most of the work is looked after by the software. At this juncture, you’ll need to get more hands-on to convert leads into new paying clients but the email marketing campaign has (hopefully) done its job of bringing interested, target clients to you.

Keep your list updated and segmented

With any email marketing campaign, segmenting your list is essential to ensure that all communications with clients remain relevant and emails are only sent to people who want them.

In its most basic form, for multi-practice law firms, your clients should be segmented into different practice areas: e.g., estate planning, family law, personal injury, etc.

Email Marketing for Lawyers List Segmentation
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Even if you specialize only in one area of law, you will have existing clients and new prospects who usually want to receive different types of content. You may even provide different content for different genders, locations, income levels, etc., after the appropriate list segmentation.

You may also keep other email lists for staff and partnering businesses, etc., who will receive completely different emails to clients (news about the firm, new hires, etc.)

If you have underutilized legal assistants, get them to update your email list and remove any addresses that receive bouncebacks. Keeping your list “clean” and updated is good practice.

Why give away your legal knowledge for free?

Are you thinking:

“Why should I give away my legal knowledge for free? That’s what people are paying me for!”

Rest assured that the type of information you provide for free will not convince any genuine potential clients that they can suddenly do complex lawyer work.

Instead, it’s more likely to engender trust in your abilities because you wrote informative content about your area of expertise.

And that’s the key: trust. People will never hire a lawyer they cannot trust (and the same goes for any other professional). By demonstrating your legal expertise, you start building this valuable quality.

Newsletter marketing for lawyers: 9 ways to create engaging content

We’ve covered how to get subscribers for email campaigns, but what should you actually write about, and how should these campaigns look?

Most importantly, how do you make your emails engaging?

Monthly or quarterly newsletters are a fine way to stay top-of-mind with your audience. Most lawyers and most recipients are comfortable with this format.

The Earley Law Group claims to send monthly newsletters, but these are prepared every two months (so really, they are bi-monthly).

Email Marketing for Lawyers Monthly Newsletter
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However often you decide to send them, newsletters are a great way to reach out to a variety of key people you interact with at your law firm:

  • Existing clients
  • Prospects
  • Referral sources
  • Colleagues
  • Prospective employees/law school graduates

They’re an excellent long-term strategy for trust-building and lead generation for lawyers. However, many firms struggle to get to grips with the content of their newsletters.

Here are a few ideas.

1. Repurpose your most popular content

Law firm blogging should be an integral part of your content marketing strategy. In your newsletter, you can preview the most popular posts (those that received the most traffic) and link back to the original article so that your readers can learn more — like in this example from divorce lawyers Laufer, Dalena, Jensen, Bradley & Doran, LLC in New Jersey.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Repurpose Blog Posts
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Once a year or every half year, it’s a good idea to include a roundup of your top-performing blog posts.

In its newsletters, Gentry Law Firm LLC provides a preview and a link to video content where readers can find out more by watching a video (you could also do the same for podcasts or even past recorded webinars).

Email Marketing for Lawyers Video Preview & Link
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2. Answer frequently asked questions

What are the questions you’re asked most regularly by prospective clients?

Answering FAQs is a great way to remain engaging and relevant to readers. You could feature a “Q&A column” exclusively devoted to explaining certain legal concepts or just replicate some of the best questions from the FAQ page of your website, like Larry King Law.

Email Marketing for Lawyers FAQs
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3. Promote community events or webinars

As a lawyer, you’re a respected part of the local community. If you sponsor local events, sports teams, or do charity/pro bono work, it’s a good idea to feature this in your newsletters.

Even if you’re not directly involved, your readers may be interested in local events like health fairs, county fairs, or other community information of note.

This multi-practice firm’s website features a page on community work it’s involved in — each project could easily be featured in email marketing newsletters.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Community Work
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You could also promote upcoming webinars or continuing legal education (CLE) programs for lawyers, depending on your target audience.

4. Include video introductions in your emails

Don’t just link to videos on your website. Embed them in your emails to maximize engagement. Law firm video marketing is a great way to introduce yourself to prospects and leads and encourages high click-through rates.

Depending on your email provider, you may be able to embed a full video in your email, like this one from the newsletters of car accident law firm Morrin Law Office.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Video
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Alternatively, you can embed a thumbnail of a video in your signature, perhaps linking to your attorney profile video (if you have one).

5. Advise of changes in the law

Legal changes that affect your readers are great content for newsletters, along with your opinion and advice if appropriate.

This family law firm in Alberta advises its readers of recent changes to the Divorce Act that might affect them.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Law Changes
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6. News or announcements about your firm

News about your firm and behind-the-scenes peeks may also be suitable for newsletters — especially if you have a loyal client base who you know reasonably well (like many family or estate planning lawyers, for instance).

Perhaps you can include an interview with one of your attorneys or a new staff member, feature an important case you’ve been working on recently, or news about an award or press coverage you’ve received, like the Vacca Family Law Group in New York does.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Awards
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You need to be careful not to overdo it with self-promotional posts. But if you provide enough valuable content to clients, you’ll get away with one or two pieces of self-congratulation.

7. Use case studies and testimonials

Including a few case studies or testimonials in newsletter marketing campaigns is fine as long as they’re balanced with other informative content.

Here’s an example from Bay Area Criminal Lawyers, proving that email marketing provides an opportunity for criminal defense marketing as much as it does for family law, personal injury, or estate planning firms.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Testimonials
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8. Report on industry-related news

Does your law firm specialize in certain industries? Medical? Financial? The environment? Or maybe your main practice areas revolve around estate planning or family law?

Whatever your focus, relevant news stories relating to your practice area are searchable on Google. If they could be of interest to your audience, include them in your newsletter.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Industry News
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9. Offer seasonal greetings

Don’t forget that simply reaching out and saying “Happy New Year” or another greeting to clients is appreciated too.

Here’s a good example from an immigration law firm in Nebraska.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Seasonal Greetings
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Seasonal greeting emails are another opportunity to connect with clients and remind them that you’re there — especially if you don’t send regular newsletters.

Email marketing for lawyers: Best practice tips

Getting your content right with law firm email marketing is a great start to being successful. But there’s more to email marketing than that.

Follow these best practice tips, and you’ll be well set for success.

Set SMART goals

Each email campaign should have a SMART goal driving it: that means a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goal.

Email Marketing for Lawyers SMART Goals

Here are some possible goals of email campaigns:

  • Raise awareness and build visibility of your firm
  • Generate leads
  • Launch an initiative or new practice area
  • Build your brand in a new market
  • Improve recruiting efforts
  • Build your reputation as a thought leader

Outline what you want your law firm’s email marketing campaign to do, and then create a SMART goal around it with specific target numbers and time limits.

For instance, a divorce attorney may set the following SMART goal:

Generate five sales leads for our new divorce mediation service in the next seven days from the 300 emails we send out to our list.

Optimize emails for mobile

Most readers of your newsletter won’t be anxiously waiting for it to drop into their inbox.

They might read it later on the train when they have more time. They’re more likely to read it on a mobile device than a desktop, so ensure that your campaigns are all optimized for mobile.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Mobile
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Make emails responsive for all mobile screens and take a mobile-first approach by keeping headlines and paragraphs short — which is good general practice for content writing in general.

Personalize every email

Message personalization is the number-one tactic used by email marketers to increase engagement rates.

You should personalize every email with the recipient’s name. This is easily done with the right email marketing software.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Personalized Emails
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Use images, diagrams, charts, tables, and quotations

In September 2022, Google reported that it was providing a more visual search experience. Making the user experience more visual is a trend you should follow with your content — including your emails.

Take the article you’re reading right now. It’s easier to read with images, wouldn’t you agree?

Don’t just use stock images — try to add value to the content. Diagrams, tables, graphs, and infographics are great for breaking up the text and making the content more digestible.

Imagine how effective this infographic from Ted A. Greve & Associates Injury Lawyers could be in an email campaign to the right recipients.

law firm email marketing
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In this example from employment law firm Rudner Law, a quotation ends the email newsletter on a lighthearted and engaging note.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Quotations
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Keep email concise and easy to read

Use simple language (no legalese), short paragraphs, and sub-headers to break up blocks of text in your emails.

Most readers will skim-read emails and not take everything in. You’ll get better results if you make it easy for them to do that. Again, Rudner law gets this spot on.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Readability
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Create law firm email marketing templates

If you’re going down the path of law firm newsletter marketing, you’ll likely decide on a template to use relatively early on.

Depending on the software you select, you can create time-saving law firm email marketing templates for other types of campaigns, such as:

  • Announcements (e.g., about new staff members)
  • Matter successes
  • Practice area launches
  • Client alerts

Create an email marketing content calendar (don’t overcommit)

If you say you’re going to send a monthly newsletter, send it monthly. If you can’t commit to that, go quarterly or half-yearly.

Overcommitting and underperforming look bad. And so does this.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Consistency
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If you have a newsletters page on your website featuring past issues — and there’s only one past issue from 2013 — what does that say about your commitment to communication?

This firm may be great with client communication, but first impressions from featuring one newsletter from almost a decade ago aren’t good.

At the beginning of the year, it’s an excellent time to create an email marketing content calendar that plans out what you will include and when you will send it.

Don’t be overly-promotional

As you saw in the above section on law firm email marketing content, it’s fine to include a few testimonials or case studies, or news about a lawyer award, but if it’s all about you, your audience will stop reading.

Newsletters are not sales emails, but they’re an important part of a law firm’s marketing strategy. Focus on providing value to your readers by providing information that helps them answer questions rather than how great your firm is. Then you’ll start to “feel the love” from recipients.

Use a call-to-action in every email

Call-to-action buttons tell your readers what they should do next — rather than leaving them guessing.

This is a basic requirement for any marketing content and your emails are no exception. Include a call-to-action, such as a book a consultation, learn more, or register for an event, as in this example from family law and estate planning firm Carrier Law.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Call to Action
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Keep subject lines engaging

For the call to action to be effective, your emails first need to be opened. That means using a subject line that entices the reader to open it — short, engaging, and reflective of the content in the email.

Here are some ideas:

  • “5 estate planning tips for this winter”
  • “What to do after an accident in Georgia”
  • “How to file a personal injury claim in Minnesota”

These are far more likely to get opened than a subject line of “newsletter,” which may end up sitting unread in potential clients’ inboxes.

Include contact details and social media links

Even if there’s no direct call to action to contact you in your emails, you should make it easy for potential clients to get in touch.

All your contact details, including phone, email, and website URL should be apparent, as well as buttons for LinkedIn, Facebook, and any other social media channels you’re active on.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Contact Details
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If you include the names of specific attorneys in your firm, consider linking to their attorney bio pages on your website so that readers can get in touch easily.

Include social sharing buttons

Make it easy for users to help you expand the reach of your newsletters by including social share and email buttons in your marketing emails, as well as a subscribe or join our list button.

Recipients may forward your email to friends, colleagues, or family members who are interested in your services.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Social Sharing
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Include an unsubscribe option

You’ve probably heard of the CAN-SPAM Act. It sets the rules for commercial email and establishes requirements for messages.

One of these requirements is to include an unsubscribe button for people who no longer want to receive your emails. It’s important, therefore, to include an option like the following in the footer of your emails.

To remain CAN-SPAM compliant, also do the following with your email marketing campaigns:

  • Include your company name and address in every email.
  • Use real email addresses in the “From” and “Reply to” fields.
  • Write subject lines that honestly indicate the content of the email.

You can easily achieve CAN-SPAM compliance using the email marketing software outlined at the end of this post.

Drip/nurture email campaigns for lawyers

Besides newsletter marketing for lawyers, another type of email marketing campaign that will suit some law firms is drip or nurture campaigns.

Here’s what Mailchimp says about drip marketing.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Drip Campaigns
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These campaigns rely heavily on personalization and segmentation of your list, as it’s very important to nurture the right interest from the right people with the right content.

Campaigns are usually triggered by a particular user action on your law firm’s website. They are all about building closer relationships with prospects so that they choose you when they need your services.

Few law firms are employing this type of marketing very well. It’s a long game, and it takes some patience.

Many content ideas that apply to law firm newsletter marketing (outlined above) will also work for nurture campaigns.

Here are a few other ideas for running personalized nurture campaigns for different segments of your list at different points in their journey with your firm:

  • Introduction/welcome series: To welcome new prospects and build credibility for your firm at the start of the relationship — usually more of a tutorial about how your firm works and the people in it than a direct sales pitch, though it’s OK to feature a testimonial or case study or two.
  • Industry update series: To nurture an interest shown in a particular area of law (e.g., after reading a certain blog post, eBook, or white paper). This action triggers a series of emails that educate the prospect more about that subject.
  • Onboarding client series: When new clients agree to hire you, sentiment is good, and it’s a great time to reach out via emails that start building a trusting relationship. Show them how to get started with your firm and the paperwork they need to fill in, with a personal introduction from the lawyer assigned to their case, for instance.
  • Reactivating client series: Sometimes, you may not hear from existing clients for a while. A reactivation series may be able to reignite the relationship. If one or two “lost clients” end up hiring you again, the minimal effort required in developing a series of a few emails is more than worth it.

Testing email campaigns and measuring success rates

Every time you create an email, you’ll hope that it does its job effectively. The best way to make sure of this is to A/B test (sometimes called a “split test”).

Split testing is a well-established marketing practice that tests how small changes to campaigns impact your results.

So, for example, you may A/B test two or three different subject lines to see which gets the better open rate or two calls-to-action to see which gets the best click-through rates.

Once you know that, you launch the full campaign with the winning content.

Email Marketing for Lawyers A-B Testing
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Most of the major email marketing software programs allow you to do this.

They also have comprehensive tools to help monitor the success of campaigns.

The four main metrics that you need to focus on are:

  • Open rate: the percentage of recipients who open the email.
  • Click-through rate: the percentage of people who clicked a link inside the email.
  • Opt-out (Unsubscribe) rate: the percentage of people who opt-out of receiving future emails from you.
  • Bouncebacks: the number of messages from your service provider informing you that emails cannot be successfully delivered to the intended recipients.

These metrics should go a long way toward telling you whether you’re meeting your email marketing goals.

It’s fairly obvious that if enough people aren’t opening your emails, you won’t achieve your goals, and you’ll need to make changes to the subject line, the topic of your emails, or the way they’re delivered.

Once you understand your emails’ success (or failure) rates, you can make the necessary adjustments and either go again with new emails or keep doing the things that work.

The best email marketing software for law firms

Whether you’re just starting a law firm or you’re an established firm that’s just decided to add law firm email marketing to your strategy next year, you need email marketing software.

This is one marketing strategy that simply cannot be done without the right technology. If you try to arrange email campaigns through your regular email account, it’s almost certain to get you blacklisted.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options from established players that have been managing email marketing for lawyers for many years.

Let’s take a quick look at the main software options available.

Email Marketing for Lawyers Mailchimp
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Email Marketing for Lawyers AWeber
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Constant Contact

Email Marketing for Lawyers Constant Contact
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Campaign Monitor

Email Marketing for Lawyers Campaign Monitor
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Each of the above options is easy to set up and use (via a simple interface) and integrates seamlessly with many practice management software options used by law firms.

The software allows complex automation, such as sending specific emails to subscribers once they take a certain action (e.g., filling out a contact form or visiting a certain page on your website).

In summary, you can:

  • Maintain your segmented lists of contacts
  • Select from a range of law firm email marketing templates
  • Build emails and launch campaigns
  • Schedule campaigns to send out at optimal times
  • Automatically send emails at the scheduled times
  • Track, monitor, and measure the success of campaigns

Law firm email marketing: The smart way to grow your practice

Don’t let poor communication let you down, like many law firms.

Even in this era of social media, email marketing has an important role to play. Clients who have not heard from you for a year may forget you exist. Prospective clients may expect to receive follow-up emails, and unless you have some form of email automation, you may lose them as a prospect.

Email marketing is a smart, cost-effective way to retain clients, attract new clients, and grow your practice. And once the systems are in place to automate campaigns and measure their success, you need to monitor and tweak them.

You may want to contribute to monthly newsletters, but most law firm email marketing can be outsourced. If you go it alone, there are plenty of tools to help you.

Once in place, your email campaigns act like 24/7 marketing agents sending leads to your firm when you’re not even there.