Client Alert Essentials: 5 Ways to Make Your Alerts Stand Out from the Rest
The average office worker gets 121 emails each day. Most professionals would agree that there simply isn’t enough time to read all those messages. So, when one of your client alerts lands in someone’s inbox, it had better be good if you expect them to take the time to open and read it. This becomes doubly true when you consider that the colleagues and clients on your listserv may be getting the same news from additional sources, whether from a media outlet or a competing firm.
It can be difficult to break through cluttered inboxes, but you do have one advantage working in your favor. The truth? Most firms aren’t very good at client alerts. If you can master writing thoughtful, easy-to-read and informative alerts, they’ll almost certainly stand out from the rest—and they’ll help secure your place as an expert in your practice area.
There are a few client alert best practices that will ensure that your emails get opened, read and enjoyed. Read on for our top five.
- Break up text with subheads and bullets. Clients don’t need an essay detailing the latest Supreme Court decision. They just need to know enough, and they need to know what’s important for them. Formatting your alerts with bullets and headers helps readers skim and pull out relevant information. People’s attention spans are much shorter online, and easily digestible content wins over walls of text every time.
- Don’t bury the lead. Filling precious space with unnecessary information is by far the biggest problem with client alerts. Like most lawyers, you’re probably detail-oriented to a fault and you love to lay out all the facts. But when it’s time to write an alert, you have to think like a journalist. Use the inverted pyramid style of writing and organize information by importance rather than chronology. Your first sentence should convey the latest news in the simplest terms possible, with no nonessential information cluttering it.
- Don’t limit yourself to words. Visuals can make your client alerts shine, and they don’t have to be anything extravagant; a simple stock photo can make text look more engaging. Even a pull quote in a nice font can make your email more visually appealing. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, either. If another source has produced a chart or infographic related to the latest news, in many cases you can include it in your email so long as you give credit.
- Keep it to the essentials. An alert should never be more than a few paragraphs long. The beauty of a client alert is that it conveys critical information quickly and succinctly. Stick to the essentials and keep any extra information at the bottom or out of the alert entirely. If you think your audience wants more, you can always encourage people to visit your website, or you can link to a whitepaper or blog post you’ve written.
- Tell people what to do next. Ideally, clients should be able to use your alerts to make key decisions and react to changes in their industry and the law. It’s not enough to explain what legal development has occurred—you have to tell people why they should care. If there is a specific action they should take, tell them exactly what to do and how to do it. This guidance is the heart of your alert, because it’s what differentiates it from all other alerts cluttering up inboxes. No one else can provide your expert opinion.