Perhaps the best and most cost-efficient way to stay in touch with clients and referral sources on a regular basis is through an e-mail newsletter. This spring, New Jersey ElderLawAnswers member attorney Michael Rudolph decided to give our Client E-Newsletter a try, and only three months later he's glad he did.
"The head of the tax department of a major accounting firm said he liked the newsletter and was putting me on his list to make referrals," Rudolph reports. Another E-Newsletter recipient told Rudolph she wants to discuss estate planning after Jewish holidays, "and she's serious about that. I've had a lot of good feedback," Rudolph says.
Rudolph, a solo practitioner in northern New Jersey, launched his E-Newsletter in June 2010 and sent the first issue out to his e-mailing list of 775 addresses. "I was astounded at how many names I had," he says, but adds that "in three months I haven't had one person unsubscribe."
ElderLawAnswers' Client E-Newsletter is a monthly publication containing five or six ready-made articles on timely topics of interest to consumers. Although the articles are pre-written, ElderLawAnswers members can easily change them or substitute their own articles. Rudolph has been taking advantage of this feature, adding a New Jersey slant to articles or his own editorial comment. He also directs the article links to his site rather than to ElderLawAnswers' site – another option the E-Newsletter offers.
Rudolph had initially considered doing a blog instead of the newsletter, but realized that a weekly blog would be a far heftier time commitment. "This was much better because it offers something that's monthly and it gives me the opportunity to make changes to it," he says. Rudolph also occasionally dips into ElderLawAnswers' extensive archive of past articles. "The archives are a very good source of substituting something when there's an article that I don't think will be of interest to my clients," he says.
Rudolph's only complaint is that he'd like to increase the number of people actually reading the E-Newsletter, a statistic that ElderLawAnswers member attorneys can track. Rudolph's "open rate" was 35 percent at the outset (an excellent figure by industry standards), and then dropped somewhat over the summer.
To spur readership, Rudolph introduced a little contest in the August issue. He asked subscribers "How Am I Doing?" and offered a jar of his "famous home-made preserves" to the first three people to respond by e-mail, and another jar to the first person to identify the individual who made "How am I doing?" famous. (Answer: Former New York Mayor, Ed Koch.)
Rudolph recalls that preparing to send out his first E-Newsletter is June was "like learning any new technology that I'm not familiar with. But I spoke to Jessica [ElderLawAnswers' customer services representative], and she's terrific and very patient. When I finally got it down and did something on my own, all of a sudden it was like the light went on, and once I got it, I really got it." Now he says the technical side of the E-Newsletter is "a piece of cake," allowing him to devote more time to revising articles when he sees the need, which he says is educational and keeps him abreast of issues.