We recently conducted a study examining hundreds of small to medium sized Australian law firms. The two most interesting observations we discovered were:
- Astonishingly, 21% of firms either had no website or a poor website, which was the subject of an article we recently published: Is your website your friend or your enemy?; and
- Firms that only had a few blog articles on their website, or blog articles that were outdated, saw little benefit from their effort (or lack of effort).
In this article we focus on the benefits of posting a blog article on your website and publishing a newsletter. These actions are individually sound marketing tactics and when combined can deliver supercharged results.
The difference between a blog and a newsletter article
A blog is an article posted on a firm’s website, usually in the News, Publications or Blog section of the website with the latest posts appearing first.
When we say newsletter, we are referring to an electronic newsletter. This is the practice of firms sending information in a newsletter style via an email to a database or contact list.
The fundamental difference between a blog post and a newsletter article is that the newsletter article is contained in the newsletter and distributed to a group whereas the blog post is merely posted on your website and not necessarily distributed. Unless you know the blog post is there it might, or might not be read and can be ineffective if people are not visiting your website.
Blogs (a shortened form of blog posts) are great if you post often and have an audience that regularly visits your website. They are also useful as “fresh” content on your website for an audience that have just heard of you, or who have been referred to you as they can help demonstrate your expertise and that you are on top of current topics. You can use blogs to promote your expertise to anyone who may be in the sales decision-making process, and consequently, you may strike it lucky if they are making their decision right at this point in time.
It might not seem important, but the act of distributing the article to people who know and trust you makes all the difference. There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, the recipients are already people who know and trust you, so they are your ‘low hanging fruit’. If they are looking for legal help, then there is a good chance you will be contacted providing you maintain this ongoing communication.
Secondly, distribution gets your message out quickly and the size of your contact list can really make a difference. If you have a law firm of say 2 lawyers and 2 others, and a contact list of say 2,000 people all receiving a newsletter filled with valuable information every few weeks on an ongoing basis, then if they need help they will contact you first. Similarly, you can leverage off this list as the recipients will also make recommendations to, or onforward your newsletter to their friends, neighbours or relatives, should they learn of others in need of legal help.
The buying habits of people looking for legal services
If you’re selling a service that requires some serious consideration from prospects, which is commonly what happens with legal services, then distributing a newsletter is a preferred strategy because a person needs time and information to make a buying decision and you need to stay in touch with them. Providing the newsletter as part of a regular planned publication process does just this.
In our experience lawyers fail to respect the art of selling their services. Most act on the basis that they are confident that they can do the job and properly represent the client. Whilst this might be true, generally speaking lawyers seem to think that just because they know that they, or their law firm, can do the work that this in itself means the phones will ring with new clients queueing up. However, the potential buyer of this legal service is usually not so sure and therefore may be at a different place in the sales cycle.
The importance of driving traffic to your website
Only a small portion of your overall web traffic will convert from a lead to a client. So, it is in your interests to generate, or drive, as much website traffic as you can.
It’s impossible to know where you stand unless you’re tracking traffic to your website and measuring engagement and conversion. In this regard we recommend Google Analytics. It’s free, easy to use, and quick to access.
Google Analytics will provide you with tons of useful website data, such as your total number of visitors, new users, and length of visitor sessions. You can view the data several ways, from graphs, to pie charts, to raw numbers. When we have access to firms with Google Analytics, and where we send their newsletters, we see spikes in website traffic like telegraph poles on the occasions when they publish a newsletter.
Why is that? When an email containing your newsletter is sent to your contact list, the recipient can see an article topic and usually a couple of sentences about the article, which gets them interested and when they click on a link to ‘read more’ the reader is then taken to your website where they read the full article.
Whilst they are there, they often ‘take a tour’ and see what you do, to see what’s new and look at other pages. This is all trackable from Google Analytics.
Increasing your website traffic without SEO
Distributing newsletters will drive traffic to your website, which is exactly the aim of SEO and Google Ads as marketing tactics.
The problem with SEO as a marketing strategy is that it will cost you about $1,500+ per month to make a difference and it is unlikely to be effective for the first couple/few months whilst you and your SEO team are tinkering with it. As we have said many times it may not work at all if you don’t have a good website filled with compelling content to make a visitor bother to stay.
If your website is good and the site is content rich and you can get eyes on it, you will have accomplished the first hurdle of lead generation, and as word of mouth spreads, your traffic will grow. This process is accelerated by having these viewers regularly driven to your website.
If you are posting a blog start sending out newsletters…now!
The purpose of this article is to illustrate the differences between posting a blog and distributing a newsletter.
We have highlighted the benefits of doing the extra work in publishing a newsletter. You can use the same content – the blog simply becomes your newsletter article. So, if you’ve taken the time to write a blog, or have somebody write a blog for you, why not take the extra step in broadcasting that blog to an audience?
At the same time, you can use the opportunity to broadcast messages to everyone on your contact list, so they get the message all at once.
Why doesn’t every firm send a newsletter?
The answer usually falls into one of four reasons:
The Principal doesn’t like newsletters
It is quite true that a small percentage of your database of clients will not like receiving newsletters and naturally they have the right to ‘unsubscribe’. If the firm’s principal is someone who cannot bring themselves to think that 95% of the database might like receiving a newsletter and that as a marketing strategy, this will regularly deliver work, then the only ones to benefit are the competitors of that firm. If you are an employed solicitor at such a firm, consider your future.
The firm has not got its contact database together
This is a fixable problem. There are guidelines we can provide that will help you. Essentially you want to make your list as large as it can be. However even if your list is small to start with, at least it’s a start. Part of your marketing plan can be to grow the list throughout the months ahead.
The firm doesn’t have the time to do it
This too is a fixable problem. The reason why more firms don’t publish newsletters is not because the strategy won’t work – the opposite is true, it will. The reason is that there are so many moving parts it is hard to continue to write the articles and get the staff to do all the necessary tasks involved.
We apprehend it will disrupt the office
Sometimes firms send one newsletter and find the effort hard to maintain. We can help you in terms of guidelines to assist with your internal processes or we can take the load from you and publish your newsletters for you. We have all the content you need and publish many newsletters for firms each month, so if this is your difficulty, give us a call.
We have put together some guidelines to help firms who want to send newsletters but need a helping hand to get them started. If this is your firm, ask for the guide and we will send it to you.
Where to from here?
Website traffic won’t appear just because you launch a blog, and you can have a great website but nobody will know about it if you don’t drive traffic to it. The idea of turning your blog posts into newsletter articles and thus traffic to your website, is a workable marketing solution for everyone, especially with the help of our guide.