Law firms should use educational email campaigns to nurture “tire kickers,” a.k.a. prospective clients, to convert them into clients.
Some lawyers get frustrated by “tire kickers,” a.k.a. prospective clients who are not yet ready to retain a lawyer. You can understand why.
These lawyers spent time and money to attract these people to their law firm and to compel them to contact the firm. But because these people are not ready to hire a lawyer when they first interact with a firm, there is a perception that these people are a lost cause and represent time and money down the drain.
In a recent blog post, I explained that this is the wrong view to take of tire kickers. That’s because today’s tire kickers are tomorrow’s clients.
So how can lawyers and their firms help guide today’s tire kickers toward becoming tomorrow’s clients? By nurturing relationships with these individuals through educational content.
Put yourself in your prospective clients’ shoes
Imagine you have signed up for free consultations, free webinars, or free reports offered by three different vendors that provide the same service or product at about the same price and at roughly the same quality. You handed over your email address to each vendor when you signed up for these things.
You’re not yet ready to actually buy the vendors’ services or products (even after a free consultation), but you’re interested in educating yourself about the options available to you because you think you’ll be ready to buy in a few months.
As a result of signing up for these freebies, you begin getting weekly emails from two of the three vendors.
Vendor A emails you weekly with educational content regarding the problem the vendor’s product or service solves, or about a topic related to that problem. These emails are focused on educating you and rarely attempt to sell you something. These emails are not flashy, but they provide you information you did not know already.
Vendor B emails you weekly with mostly sales-related emails. They include information about sales, promotions, and other information designed to get you to BUY NOW. They are slick emails that catch your attention each time they arrive in your inbox.
Vendor C doesn’t email you at all.
When you are finally ready to purchase a service or product from one of these vendors—three months after you first contacted each of them—who are you most likely to contact based on the vendors’ attempts to nurture their relationship with you?
Well, it won’t be Vendor C. You forgot all about it because it never emailed you after you requested and received its freebie.
So we’re down to Vendor A and Vendor B.
Vendor B offered you numerous opportunities to buy from it. Its emails had aesthetically pleasing designs that made you want to scroll through each one. But it did not demonstrate its knowledge concerning its clients’ problems or provide you with a sense that it knew how to resolve those problems better than other vendors.
Vendor A built trust with you over these last three months by demonstrating that it knew the problem you were dealing with inside and out. By educating you and proving that it knew how to tackle your problem, Vendor A positioned itself in your mind as THE vendor to contact when you are ready for help solving your problem.
Be an educator to prospective clients, not a salesperson
Let’s apply this to your law firm’s engagement of tire kickers.
Your law firm should strive to be like Vendor A. Nurturing prospective clients with educational content while they are on their self-timed journey to finding a lawyer is the best way for you and your firm to establish yourselves in their eyes as THE lawyer and law firm to hire when the time is right.
The trust you will build by consistently educating prospective clients about the problems they’re wrestling with—which just so happen to be the same problems you and your law firm help every client with—will elevate you above other law firms that focus on flashy ads and emails that are all sizzle and no steak.
You cannot control how long prospective clients stay on their self-timed tire-kicking journeys for. There are many reasons why a prospective client could take weeks or months to be ready to hire a lawyer, ranging from wanting to educate themselves, to being busy with work or life, to doubting if they even need a lawyer.
But you can control how you and your law firm are perceived by these prospective clients during their tire-kicking journeys.
Building your firm’s educational campaign
You may be wondering, “This makes perfect sense, but what will I or my law firm talk about in each email that goes out to prospective clients?” The good news is that you need not reinvent the wheel.
You can repurpose your firm’s blog posts or relevant content from old email newsletters. You can also keep a list of questions that prospective and current clients frequently ask you and your colleagues, and answer those questions in your educational emails.
What’s nice about this endeavor is that it is, in a way, a “set it and forget it” endeavor. Once you begin building this email campaign with the help of a service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc., you will soon amass a library of emails spanning many months.
As new prospective clients come into the fold, these services will allow you to start these people all the way back at the first email. So every new prospective client will have the benefit of receiving the full email campaign unless they unsubscribe or you stop the campaign. This means the upfront work you do in building this educational campaign and writing these emails will be a small investment compared to how often you will leverage it as part of your firm’s marketing and business development efforts.
(These email campaigns are often called “drip campaigns.” You can learn more about drip campaigns for lawyers and law firms here.)
Should you be sending “salesy” emails as part of your educational campaign?
Reasonable minds can differ (and do!) regarding whether it is ok to include sales emails within an educational email campaign.
Some “experts” will tell you to strive for a mix of 80% educational emails and 20% sales emails. Others will tell you to strive for a 50%/50% mix.
The idea for including sales emails is based on a belief by some people that while all of this education may be great, if your email recipients don’t eventually pull out their credit cards and make purchases, an educational campaign was a waste.
But that is not a big concern for most lawyers and law firms. They’re trying to get prospective clients to call or email their firms to schedule a free consultation or to retain them. They’re not pushing these prospective clients to take advantage of a sales promotion. For that reason, a clear call to action at the end of an educational email prompting the recipient to call or email the lawyer or law firm is likely all the salesy language a lawyer or law firm should need.
(Lawyers selling information products via email may need to inject more sales emails into their email campaigns. But campaigns for lawyers selling information products is beyond the scope of this post.)
Some people may consider emails from lawyers and their firms that play up their credentials, awards, and results to be salesy. They might be—but it depends on how those lawyers and firms present that information.
If a lawyer or a law firm can weave that information into an educational email in a way that does not feel forced and overly promotional, that information could give additional comfort to prospective clients that they’ll be in good hands with the lawyer or firm.
Putting it all together
Not every prospective client who contacts your law firm is ready to retain your law firm. Some people might be days away from a decision. Others, months away.
The best use of that time is showing prospective clients that you are THE lawyer or law firm to help them with their legal issues by educating them via email about the legal issues they’re dealing with and topics related to those issues.
If executed well, your educational campaign will help your prospective clients get to know you, like you, and trust you enough to sign on the dotted line of your retainer agreement.
Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service collaborates with today’s and tomorrow’s rainmaking BigLaw and boutique partners to ethically craft knowledge-conveying, book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.
Thinking about bringing on an outside writer to help you engage your law firm’s tire kickers? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your firm.