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Text Message Marketing for Lawyers: The Next Big Thing?

By now, the importance of mobile-ready marketing is well established. Websites, apps, social media are all designed with the hand-held experience in mind. But what are law firms doing about text-based marketing.

Text messaging is an extremely valuable tool for reaching your audience. It’s reported that 96% of Americans own a cellphone, with 81% of them owning smartphones. These devices are in heavy rotation, too – we check our phones up to 52 times a day across all ages groups.

Studies show that audiences are receptive to text-based marketing, too, with 80% of people using SMS for business communications. That being said, this format has some serious risks as well as rewards. Lawyers have to be especially careful about their marketing tactics, particularly in states which have strict marketing guidelines. 

Before incorporating this format into your marketing strategy, carefully weigh the following concerns.

Are you following the rules?

This is the big one. Text-based marketing falls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and CAN-SPAM Act, which places strict guidelines for consumer protection. Yes, text-based messaging is legal, but compliance is essential. What are the basics?

General compliance

Know your local bar association’s marketing and ethics guidelines inside and out to make sure none of your messages violate any of the rules. While there may not be specifics mentioned about text messaging, apply the same restrictions that go for any other type of marketing to your text message marketing. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to possible ethics issues. 

Confidentiality is also key. You need to be completely sure the information you’re sending doesn’t break any of your responsibilities when it comes to maintaining client confidentiality. 

Opt-in and opt-out must be included

Your audience absolutely must consent to be contacted via text. Consent forms should include: 

  • The name of your firm and what types of messages you’ll be sending
  • Frequency of messages
  • Confirm that no purchase is required
  • Notification that standard messages and data rates may apply 
  • The initial text must also state that the recipient doesn’t have to respond if they don’t consent 

Recipients must also have an ongoing ability to opt-out of receiving your texts. 

Make Terms & Conditions Available

To invite clients to opt-in to your text messaging, you have to advertise that you have one. This could include print marketing, like posters or cards, or digital marketing, like an email campaign or social media posts. This approach provides a good opportunity to disclose Terms & Conditions. 

Another option? You can ensure compliance by disclosing the information via text with a short code and keyword. This can be done either by sending back a link to a Terms & Conditions page or contact information for customer service. 

Text is Personal

Smartphones are an extension of our lives. Millennials check their phones every five minutes – without even being promoted. With that in mind, you can’t take an impersonal approach to your messaging. To be more than a chatbot to your audience, make sure you:

Include personalization

You’re going right to their phone, after all. The least you can do is greet them by name! Text-based marketing should also take a friendly, conversational approach. Work closely with your marketing team to establish the best voice for text-based marketing for your paw firm’s brand.

Be mindful of your timing

One of the beautiful things about text-based marketing is that your message is immediately in people’s hands. And people are widely responsive to this. Text-based marketing messages have a 98% open rate, a vast increase from the 20% email marketing open rate.

But when you deliver your message makes a huge difference. No one is endeared by 11 pm chirps from their phone. Even early morning messages are risky. Unlike email, which is delivered more silently, texts tend to announce themselves. Plan accordingly.

Don’t overdo it

The bar is different for every audience, but no one likes to be overwhelmed with text messages. The key to finding the sweet spot is starting small and carefully building on a successful schedule.

What are you offering them?

Your clients need to find value in your messages. Otherwise, you’ll get blocked or unsubscribed faster than you can send the next message. Because text-based marketing doesn’t allow for subject lines, you should always lead with your offer. Appealing offers might include: 

  • Notify about changing case law that could have an impact on their lives or business
  • Appointment and deadline reminders
  • Offers or promotions

Making the leap

Adding text messaging to the marketing mix can seem like a stretch, but one of the best ways to have successful marketing is to meet leads and clients where they are. If they like to be communicated with by text, then it makes sense to try it out. Although after they’ve opted-in and in accordance with your bar associations rules of course!

Notebook

Maria Spanicciati

Maria is the Content Manager at CosmoLex. She has spent most of her career writing, editing, and managing content and social media for tech companies. At CosmoLex, Maria pays close attention to emerging industry trends and works with domain experts to produce content that puts quality and education first, bridging the gap between the legal and software worlds.