Building Authenticity Into Automation

I subscribe to a lot of lawyer email lists. Unfortunately, most of them are pretty lousy. In some cases, multiple firms send out the exact same email. This happens because they sign-up for the same email newsletter service. I see similar behavior on social networks. Multiple lawyers, different firms, same posts.

Whether in the context of client development or practice management, finding ways to automate routine production work can serve as a productivity hack. However, the devil is in the implementation. Automations that fail to engage audiences authentically aren’t just ineffective, they’re actually a liability. After all, lawyering remains a reputation and relationships game.

So, what’s a busy lawyer to do? Abandon automations altogether? Of course not. Instead, build authenticity into your automations. Here are a few examples to consider.

First, with respect to email automations, dump the canned newsletter altogether. Instead, consider configuring automated emails for the following:

  • Holidays (i.e. Labor Day, Fourth of July, New Year’s, etc).
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries (i.e. One year since client bought a house).

Craft automated email messages the same way you would write, you know, an actual email (Hint: it’s probably not with a giant hero image). Include your regular email signature. Make sure your “From:” is you, not your “firm brand.”

Second, personalize your automations. Personalization is probably the single most effective way to improve your automation-authenticity. Table stakes version: use their names. Better version: reference a specific conversation, meeting, or event that you shared. Admittedly, automation of this nature require a bit of advanced configuration beyond merely loading-up a list into Mailchimp and firing at-will, but that’s sort of the whole point.

Third, where appropriate, be transparent about your automations. In other words, don’t try to hide them. Your colleagues, clients, and next clients will easily sniff-out your attempts to hide automations. Don’t treat them like idiots. Instead, acknowledge that a notification has been automated from the time of opt-in. Folks who subscribe have agreed to receive such messages. It’s truly amazing how much better engagement you’ll likely experience when you simply come clean about what you’re asking people to sign-up for.

Finally, at the risk of stating the obvious, sign-up for your own automations. It’s astonishing to me how many times I talk with lawyers who are surprised to learn how bad their communications actually are. Like you haven’t been receiving these emails? Also, build feedback requests into your messages. Ask people whether they appreciate what they’re receiving from you. Measure things like open rates, link clicks, and conversations. Your audience is playing a little game of show and tell. They might not want to show you nothing but they’re telling you everything (name the movie). Listen to them. Remember that any technology automation you implement should be designed to create, nurture, and solidify relationships, not just make your life easier.

Gyi Tsakalakis, AttorneySync

Gyi Tsakalakis helps lawyers earn meaningful attention online because that’s where clients are looking for them. As a lawyer himself, Gyi is familiar with the unique considerations of effectively marketing a law practice online. In 2008, Gyi founded AttorneySync to build the most trusted team in digital legal marketing. He serves as a Co-Chair on the ABA’s Client Development & Marketing Committee. Gyi lives in Chicago and loves coffee. He also misses coaching football and is happy to discuss various strategies and techniques of defensive front seven play. Have a question? Don’t hesitate to ask him (@gyitsakalakis).

Gyi Tsakalakis is apart of the ABA TECHSHOW 2020 Planning Board.