By Michelle Calcote King
Think about the best experience you’ve ever had with a company. What made it great? My guess is that it felt personal — as if the company understood your specific concerns, spoke to you directly and delivered tailored, customized products or services that met your exact needs.
While this kind of experience becomes harder to achieve as firms grow larger and more diverse, automation can help marketers get one step closer to delivering personal experiences — no matter the size of the firm.
What Is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation, broadly, is a way to automate and combine various marketing tasks, (email, social media, customer relationship management and more), typically through a software program. In a relationship-driven industry such as ours, “automating” communication with clients can seem counterintuitive. However, marketing automation allows law firms to do what has previously been nearly impossible: deliver the right message to the right client at the right time. It also unveils valuable data with rich insights into your clients' needs and behaviors.
So how can law firms use marketing automation to develop deeper relationships with clients by personalizing their experience?
Personalize From the Start
Often, the earliest stages of a client relationship are the most important. Clients quickly form impressions that are hard to change, so it’s critical to ensure the earliest communications your new clients receive are personalized, relevant and helpful to them.
Your first task is to map out the steps that clients follow when they begin working with your firm. From signing the contract, to scheduling input meetings, to billing, these can all be mapped out into workflows, which you can then automate to ensure consistency in your communications.
For example, consider:
- A welcome email with links to attorney bios, along with helpful blog posts for the client’s areas of need;
- A trigger that reminds a senior, overseeing attorney to call the new client after an initial period to check in and make sure everything is going well;
- An email directing the new client to a customized landing page with details on how the firm works, from file management to billing policies and procedures; and
- A questionnaire for the client to fill out with information such as their date of birth (to send a birthday greeting), communication preferences and other details that will enable you to create a five-star, personalized experience.
Build Personalization Into Day-to-Day Communications
Marketing automation also allows you to segment your clients according to a range of factors, including:
- Demographic criteria, such as industry and title; and
- Behaviors, such as visits to landing pages, accessing attorney bios, downloads, email opens/clicks, social media clicks and more.
Once you segment clients into lists, you can then personalize your communications to those lists, ensuring every communication they receive from your law firm is relevant to their needs and challenges. For example, you can:
- Send an alert to the list of clients that have demonstrated an interest in a certain topic based on their past behaviors on your site.
- Develop a series of communications tailored to clients in a specific industry.
- Send communications targeting clients at a certain level of seniority (only vice president level and above, for example).
- Determine optimal communications patterns for various segments. For example, clients in one industry may respond better to certain subject lines, content formats, etc.
- Test and personalize send times. Do your emails get opened more by clients in a particular industry when you send them on the weekend? What about early morning? Most email services have a knowledgebase or FAQ section that can help you understand how to optimize send times.
- Allow clients to select the type of content they prefer. Do they want downloadable PDFs? In-depth research reports? Short, bulleted lists? What about videos or webinars? Segment into lists accordingly.
When you know what topics clients are interested in, as well as how and when they want to receive the information, the sky is the limit.
Michelle Calcote King is the principal and president of Reputation Ink, a public relations and content marketing firm serving professional services firms and B2B companies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 904-374-5733.