Louise Waern, a veteran communications professional with Zooma Marketing and Communications of Sweden, shared six reasons for moving from sending monthly newsletters to blogging.

Her reasons are spot on for lawyers and law firms. With a little annotation by me, here they here.

  • Get searchable. Blog content is indexed by Google, meaning the blog itself and each of your posts is searchable by a wide audience. Blogs also rank near the top of search results. Most newsletters are not indexed by Google nor searchable online. Those newsletters which are “stored” on a website may in theory be indexed by Google, but tend to be buried and rank poorly, at best on Google.
  • Frequent communication. Most newsletters are sent out once or twice a month. A blog can be updated frequently, especially important when others are blogging on a timely topic. When a marketing department is assisting in publishing and distributing content written by lawyers, it is is far easier for marketing to post a single post on one subject than to gather content from a lot of lawyers into one long newsletter. Blogs enable the reader to choose what they’d like to read by browsing the title of one post in the subject of an email or RSS aggregator.
  • Let your subscribers share posts to a broader audience. There are more people interested in your insight and commentary than you’ll ever know. Newsletters are sent to a defined group—a defined number of email addresses. A blog post is sent to everyone who has subscribed to the blog, but a blog enables your subscribers to easily share your posts across other social media, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. With law bloggers receiving half of their traffic from social media today, it’s critical that your content is shared on social media, something not apt to happen with newsletters.
  • Communicate with, instead of talking to, your audience. Blogs, by their very nature have a conversational and engaging feel. Not only is the tone of language more informal, but blog posts tend to share and link to items a lawyer has read which in turn engages the thought leader cited and linkeded to. Because blog posts enable comments (admittedly you’ll get few) and are shared on social media, you and your content will be further engaged. As a result, you can start building a relationship with the people who are reading your blog and start a dialogue instead of just a monologue.
  • Tailor the content to different personas. Your law firm’s target audience has different needs. They search for different types of legal information related to their consumer or business needs. You need to publish content for their specific interest. A newsletter is a static communication with different sorts of content thrown at everyone. You need to give your audience the ability to get what they want rather than what you as a law firm want them to get. Create different blogs for different types of content, for example one blog for family law and another blog for employment law.
  • Measure, analyse and continue the communication. With newsletters, it’s difficult, or impossible, to find out what content was most popular and by whom it was read. A blog post can easily be measured and analyzed. Who was it read by? Which blog posts gets the most views? This will give you an idea of what your audience is interested in and guide you in providing content of value going forward.

There are plenty of other reasons why publishing a blog works better for business development than a newsletter, including establishing the bloggers as trusted authorities in a niche.

Sure, there are times when using a newsletter may be more appropriate such as for sharing firm news or word of an event.

But at the end of the day, for getting legal insight and commentary to your audience, blogs have it over newsletters.

A legal marketing professional recently commented on a law marketing listserv that law firms may want to stay away from blogs if the firm has had trouble getting content from lawyers for a newsletter. ‘It is highly unlikely that you will have enough content to make any type of blog successful.’

I explained that may not be the case. No one should presume that getting content for a blog is difficult. LexBlog has over 800 lawyer clients authoring blogs. On the vast, vast majority of the blogs content has not been an issue – at all.

Rich De Luca, Business Development Director at 100 plus lawyer, Stark and Stark, said that getting content from lawyers for articles and newsletters was like pulling teeth. After he started blogs, lawyers lined up to have their content published. K & L Gates said their lawyers were having fun blogging.

Why not a content problem with blogs?

  • Most of the lawyers we work with, from solos to largest firms in country, call blogging fun.
  • A good blog post may take as little as 15 to 30 minutes. Articles and newsletter content take much more time.
  • Blog posts often reference content you’ve read (best when picked up on RSS feeds from relevant blogs & keyword searches at Google Blog Search and Google News). Taking a block quote and adding your insight and commentary in a blog post so as to enter into a ‘conversation’ with thought leaders is easy and enjoyable. Brings exposure to blog and positive feedback from leaders in a lawyer’s area of practice and industry they represent.
  • Lawyers like the immediacy of seeing content on net. They see something they want to share with clients, prospective clients, bloggers, and reporters and it’s up in a day – or even immediately.
  • Positive feedback on blog posts from clients as well as people they have not met, who they would never have reached with newsletters.
  • Informal aspect of blogs – closer to email than an article. Professional, yes. But not something that is reviewed and edited again and again.
  • Viral marketing bounce of blogs motivates lawyers. Content found on Google. Calls from reporters. Requests to speak at conferences. Content automatically syndicated to third party publications, ie NY Times, Forbes, Bloomberg. These positives lawyers do not see in email newsletters get lawyers fired up to publish blogs.

Newsletters have a role. But there are reasons the number of large law firms publishing blogs has grown almost 40% in the last 6 months with now over 25% of large law firms publishing blogs.