It was true 10 years ago, and it's true now – email subscribers are far more valuable to your firm than social media followers are.
Despite the annual calls of “email is dead” and the genesis of dozens, if not hundreds, of potential social media channels for you to spend your time on, the fact remains that implementing and utilising an email database for your law firm will deliver better results almost every time than devoting your efforts to developing a social media following (assuming you have to decide between the two of course…).
Here are just a few reasons why that is the case.
You Own your Email List
The common analogy is this: would you build a house on rented land?
Because that's exactly what you're doing if you decide to build a social media following.
Now you might decide that's worth the risk and invest that time/money anyway, which is fine. However if you do, you need to be aware that at any moment your page might be shut down, the social media giant might throttle your reach, and your investment might very quickly become far less valuable than you anticipated. At this point you will probably complain, a lot, about the sudden change of rules – and people like me will politely refrain from saying “I told you so”, but there's a good chance we'll be thinking it.
This, of course, is exactly what happened with Facebook. Through its rise, people invested a significant ad-spend on the then-current model Facebook was running. That is, your followers would most likely see the things you post. Your organic reach was extremely high, so if you paid for ads to build a following for your Facebook account, that gave you a great platform to bring your content to those people's attention.
Until it didn't.
Basically overnight, Facebook decided that showing everything to everyone wasn't the best play. Instead they throttled the organic reach of pages to within an inch of their lives, with many pages now seeing single digit percentages as their natural, un-boosted reach.
And, of course, if you wanted to pay Facebook more money to reach the people you had paid Facebook to bring to you in the first place, they would graciously show more of your followers the content you were producting.
If, however, you had taken those people and found a way to get them onto your email database, which you own, then there is nothing FB could have done to stop you sending them emails with your content.
Email Captures More Attention
Despite the fact that we all get too much email these days, we still:
- spend more time “checking” email than on any other single social media platform;
- have fewer email accounts than we do social media accounts.
This means (using the wonderful tool of maths) that an email out is much more likely to be seen, opened and clicked on than a link or post that flies past in a social media feed.
Email is a Higher Form of Committment
Clicking “follow” on social media doesn't take much effort. In fact we barely guard our habits at all when it comes to following people, and many of us follow brands just to support our friends or family, or for reasons that have nothing to do with an actual interest in their product or service.
We don't treat email the same though, do we? Our email address is a far more guarded asset, and most of us tend to be more cautious about who we give it to.
So if we're handing out our email address to someone, it means that we trust them enough to do it, are prepared to allow them to communicate with us, and at least have some basic committment to the process.
Ordinarily these days this comes in the form of a transaction – we provide an email address, they send us something we want.
And for you, the law firm, this is a great opportunity to demonstrate your ability to help people with something tangible. A checklist, a handout, a demonstration of the practical ways you can help them in their lives or businesses.
It's also a chance to start a new relationship with someone, even through automated processes, and give them an opportunity to become a real fan of your firm, and a client or referrer down the track.
That opportunity is far more restricted with the low committment of social media, coming as it does far more easily and without any form of value proposition for the follower.
So Where is your Effort Focused?
The fact is I know that many firms have dropped the ball on their email marketing. Social media newer, shinier and many are convinced that it has replaced email marketing as being worth our attention.
Unfortunately that's not true.
Email marketing has to remain a significant part of your effort, and if you aren't taking it seriously you are simply exposing your firm's marketing assets to risk.
Unless, of course, you trust Zuckerberg and Microsoft enough that you're prepared to leave your marketing assets in their hands for sakekeeping.
It's up to you 🙂