Beyond Marketing Basics: Marketing Automation for Law Firms

By Randall Craig, CEO, 108 ideaspace


Back in the dark ages of the internet, building “the list” was a best practice for email marketing. The theory was great: send your firm’s monthly newsletter, event listings, and any other firm content down the pipe and a certain percentage of people will “convert.” Existing clients would call to discuss the implications of what was written, prospective clients would call for the same reason, and referral sources would pass this along to their contact base.

Today, however, there are a number of flies in the ointment that have significantly reduced the effectiveness of this strategy:

  • Who is actually interested in reading not-completely-relevant generic newsletters?
  • Who really wants to be a member of a list?  Or be “marketed to”?
  • Who has the time to read the newsletter?

One approach to these problems is to stop producing the newsletters altogether. Another is to shorten them to their essence, and increase the value provided.  (My Make It Happen Tipsheet follows this strategy). A final parallel strategy is to develop templated client and contact-relevant communications: that’s where marketing automation comes in.

Marketing Automation can be defined as the family of initiatives (and underlying technology) that automates the improvement in the relationship between your firm (or a particular partner) and a particular stakeholder. At the most basic, consider Marketing Automation as a sequence of interactions – usually by email – that both educate and increase trust.

Here are the nine key marketing automation sequences that every firm should consider:

  1. Web enquiry forms: A whitepaper download form that tags the user with a number of attributes, sends the PDF, and later asks if there are any questions. Here is an example for a white paper that describes how social media can be used for events.
  2. Follow-up from traditional advertising or tradeshows.  A series of emails that are triggered by the user’s registration, that provide more information, usually with a follow-up call-to-action.  Two examples: (1) follow-up during the student recruitment process, (2) as an automated fulfillment/follow-up process from an advertisement’s call-to-action.
  3. Drive to Social Media engagement campaigns. These are campaigns that drive selected segments of your database to engage within your social media communities.  Two examples: (1) To drive alumni to a firm’s LinkedIn alumni group, (2) To drive a segment to specific evergreen blog posts or YouTube videos.
  4. Webinar/event follow-up campaigns. These sequences encourage registration, add value post-registration/pre-event, and then continue the conversation post-event.  See how we do it by registering for one of our webinars.
  5. Long-term nurture-marketing sequence. A sequence of emails that continue a conversation after an initial touchpoint. When the recipient might need your services, they would be both better educated and more predisposed to work with you. Here is an entire tipsheet on nurture marketing.
  6. Mini how-to education sequence. This is a short sequence that provides specific education on a particular topic. Here is one example Six Steps to Strategic Blogging, and another Five Quick Reads: an Executive Social Media Briefing.
  7. Sales trigger/Onboarding campaign: This is an email (or series of emails) that kick off when a new client comes into the fold. It might be just a quick automated “thank you” email from the managing partner or practice leader, or in some cases, a short series of emails that helps educate them on how to get the most value from their relationship with you.
  8. Referral and testimonial capture campaign: This campaign is designed to capture a testimonial, and generate referrals.
  9. Service delivery campaigns: These are the family of campaigns that either improve the efficiency of the delivery of your services, or reduce your client support costs.

Done right, Marketing Automation can do it all: improve relationships, educate prospects, improve efficiency, and grow the firm. However, if you are clumsy, Marketing Automation can kill your brand. 

This week’s action plan:  If you currently are using Marketing Automation, how do you know that you are getting the most from your efforts? This week, look carefully at the metrics: what is the one thing that you can do to improve your numbers?  And do you have it integrated with your CRM system?  If you don’t have a marketing automation program in place, maybe it is time to look into it.

Marketing Insight: While choosing the right technology is clearly important, a successful marketing automation initiative is grounded in the strategy, copywriting, and implementation.  Don’t believe the product vendors when they say it is “quick and easy”.


About Randall Craig       

Randall Craig helps law firms rethink their approach to marketing and client engagement using digital strategy, technology, and design.  He is the author of 8 books, speaks extensively on the topic, and is the CEO of 108 ideaspace.  (And he is also a big user of marketing automation in his own firm.)  More at and

© Randall Craig 2016

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