E-Mail Newsletters: Keep in Touch with Existing Clients, Reach Out to New Ones
by Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch
(County Bar Update, September 2002, Vol. 22, No. 8)


E-Mail Newsletters: Keep in Touch with Existing Clients, Reach Out to New Ones

By Carole Levitt, J.D., M.L.S., Law Practice Management Section Executive Committee, and Mark Rosch. Levitt and Rosch are principals of Internet For Lawyers (IFL), focusing on Internet legal research training and Internet marketing. They can be reached at (310) 559-2247 or clevitt@ netforlawyers.com. The opinions expressed are their own.

There’s more to marketing a law practice online than creating a Web site. Launch-ing an e-mail newsletter, for example, is another effective online marketing tool. Print newsletters have long been an effective means for attorneys to reach new or existing clients to provide useful information and establish or maintain their reputation as an expert in their field. Sending an e-mail newsletter is a low-cost means to begin or continue employing this effective marketing strategy.

Maintaining and managing an e-mail newsletter subscriber list doesn’t have to be an expensive or difficult proposition. A number of companies offer free list hosting, management, and/or distribution services. One of the best known is Topica (http://www.topica.com), which offers a free, all-in-one tool to host, publish, and manage your own e-mail newsletter. Topica requires that you register to use its service. Registration includes listing your user name, e-mail address, zip code, and birth date.

Starting a List on Topica

Topica’s list creator helps you create your newsletter through a form-driven questionnaire about your newsletter.

You further customize your lists by selecting various options provided by Topica:

List Type: You can select a newsletter/announcement mode by which only you can send messages to the list (this is the preferred mode for a newsletter).

Subscription Approval: You can either choose to screen new subscribers as they apply or you can have them automatically added to the subscriber list.

Newsletter List Replies: Replies from newsletter list members can be directed back to the original poster of a message (that’s the list owner on an announcement-only newsletter) or to all list subscribers. (For a newsletter, it’s preferable to have responses directed back only to the list owner.)

Message Archive Access: Topica maintains a free online archive of the newsletter, which can be made available to subscribers only or to anyone interested. If your goal is building awareness of your expertise or services, it’s best to open the newsletter archive to everyone. If you wish to provide a “client only” benefit, you can limit archive access to subscribers only.

Subscriber List Access: You should select to keep your subscriber list private and viewable only by you.

Next, you select the Topica category that best describes your newsletter. (Click on “Business” or “Government” to find the “Law” sub-category.) Once you’ve found the category that best describes your list, click the “Place My List Here” button.

In the final step, Topica prompts you to supply a custom message to send automatically to people after they apply to receive your newsletter.

Getting Subscribers: Once you’ve created your list, you should actively solicit subscribers from your existing clients and others you’ve met professionally. Topica even provides a form for entering e-mail addresses to invite business contacts and clients to subscribe. If you have a Web site, you should also include a link on the site inviting visitors to subscribe to the free e-mail newsletter.

By creating your own e-mail newsletter, you can extend your marketing reach. Sending your informative, monthly e-mail newsletter to prospective clients you meet at conferences or networking meetings could make the difference when they’re looking to hire an attorney six months later. Your newsletter can also keep you in front of former and existing clients who may have new legal matters that need attention.

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