My previous post talked about the effect of social media on a firm’s clients. Moving past all of the social media concepts I have been talking about lately, I’d like to talk today about some internet marketing techniques that are “must-tries” for this year. Many firms believe that once they implement a few strategies, they can leave it at that and ride off of past successes for the future. Unfortunately, when it comes to the online world, things are constantly evolving, and so your marketing techniques must evolve as well.
Get Published Online
I have touched slightly on the subject of guest posting before on other community or law firm blogs, but it’s also important to create a certain level of authority for your firm above competitors in your area by being published online. If you can find a legal site, local, national, or otherwise, which accepts legal essays and articles, it might be in your best interest to have one published.
You can add a link to this article on your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media feeds, post it to your blog, and advise clients, potential and current, to read it from your firm’s website.
It isn’t always enough to create amazing content for your clients, you also need to have a fair idea of who is reading it and who isn’t. To do this you can monitor the traffic to your site and blog by setting up software or utilizing online tools such as Google Analytics. HG.org suggests:
Web traffic monitoring should be your top priority. You have to determine the incoming web traffic in order to gauge the visibility of your website, and effectiveness of your marketing. Once you understand your user habits, you can definitely increase your market profits.
A stat counter on your website works well enough for those who are new to this concept, and it gives you the option to see how many people have seen your site per day in real time. These are offered for free by many online application developers, but your own web developer may have a tool that can be customized to fit your site as well.
Search Engine Optimization
This is something we have talked about before, but it is another ongoing marketing concept that needs to be continued over time. It seems like Google and other search engines are implementing new guidelines, rules, and internet laws on a regular basis, and these can affect the way that your clients see your website, and how your site is ranked compared to others in your industry. Legal Marketing Review says:
Search engine optimization requires optimizing such things as the URLs, headings, sub headings, text, meta-tags, images, load time, interlinking structures, categorization of content and so much more.
Search engine algorithms are impossible to track 100%, but one thing you can count on as a law firm is the ability to hire a professional who knows how to use SEO properly. These experts can be found online, and often offer services through a variety of packages that include not only better web design, but other methods of marketing and advertising tools as well.
If you are pretty SEO savvy yourself, you may not require a service of this nature, but even if you only hire on a search engine optimization expert as an advisor for a short time, you could surprise yourself and the rest of your firm with how great of an impact it can really make to your search engine rankings.
Remember that many potential clients will pass up a website in favor of another simply because of how they are stacked in the search engine results and the number of people who select second and third choices dwindle the further down the list you get.
Last time, I discussed how to make your blog the authority in your field. Meanwhile, the world of internet marketing and SEO is becoming a vast one, and while I try to keep up with all of the ins and outs it has to offer, it takes dedication and some serious research sometimes to keep on top of the competitors in your industry. This week I thought it would be a good idea to compile a short list of dos and don’ts that every law firm should understand about online marketing techniques. Some might be straightforward, others I may have touched on before, and still more may be new to you.
What I really want for my readers is to know that they have come away with a sense of new knowledge on the subjects about which I write. This article proves no different, and I hope that it inspires you to stay on track and take a few chances with the newer tips and tricks offered.
Do Stay Focused
Staying focused is nothing new to a lawyer or law firm, as every case requires your utmost attention and some deep digging for facts, but what I am talking about here is staying focused on long term marketing goals. Many companies, not just law firms take on a one-time event, activity, or marketing concept in the hopes that it will pay off forever, but the truth is that just like anything else, in order for marketing to work on a constant basis, it must be used consistently. Olmstead & Associates suggest:
Frequently law firms experiment with marketing and engage in isolated promotional activities not integrated with the firm’s business plan with the expectation of immediate results after the one-shot activity. The firm engages in fits-and-start activities that are completely unfocused, unrelated to an overall plan, unmeasured, inconsistent and often inappropriate.
It is still a great idea to interact in community activities, take on projects that are local and may bring in some additional brand recognition, but you also want to branch out with a few long term marketing techniques as well. Sometimes the addition of a one-time event can make a big difference to a long term campaign if you know how to correspond the two. An example of this is when law firms use social media as a promotional tool, a community fundraiser can be advertised through your social media feed, and your involvement may gain you some additional recognition from new potential clients.
Don’t Disregard Video As A Sincere Form Of Marketing
It can be tricky to incorporate videos in your day to day marketing without feeling like a bit of a phony, but here is the thing: your videos don’t need to be commercials for your firm. The videos that you create can be promotional without sounding promotional, you just need to show potential future clients that your team is approachable, human, and caring. Use videos from the above-mentioned public events, make a short video diary of daily life at the firm, or post up one tip from your niche of law for viewers each week. Web Marketing Today states:
Two sites started to change the value and importance of videos as an effective marketing tool. First is the growth of YouTube into a powerful search engine that’s now owned by Google. That combination started giving increased significance to video as a better form of content than the written word. The second site is Facebook.
The world has become a very visual being, which means that we all love to see what’s going on, rather than just read about it. If you can show viewers what it means to use your firm’s services as opposed to a competitor, you could find yourself with some much higher levels of website traffic.
Do Use Marketing With Visible Results
While all traditional marketing methods shouldn’t necessarily be off the table in favor of internet marketing, you do want to minimize some of the strategies that increase spending, but give you no sign of success. Larry Bodine suggests:
Don’t waste any money on marketing that is not measurable. If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. For instance, advertising and public relations are widely used, but after you’ve spent $20,000 on it, do you have any way that you can check to see if it actually generated any results? I don’t think so.
Try to keep your focus primarily on processes that can be measured, as this will give you a better overall ability to stay on track, plan, and organize. Success comes in many ways, and in the marketing world, it is the little things like being able to monitor traffic that can really let you understand whether you’re wasting money or making a worthwhile effort.
Don’t Ignore The Power of Communication With Your Clients
Finally, don’t give up on the power of communication, or just sit around waiting for all of those potential clients to contact you. Make an effort to get out there, speak to people who are interested and make them believe that you are the right man or woman for the job. Many cases that require a lawyer are very personal, whether they are based on family law, criminal law, injury claims, or any other field, you will find that if a person can see you as dependable and approachable, they will be much more willing to trust you with their personal issues. ABA Journal says:
Contact three to five potential referral sources a week—every week, regardless of how busy you are—and arrange to meet for coffee, drinks or a meal. That works much better than reaching out only when business is slow.
This can be through e-mail, social media, or telephone, although the more personal method of a phone call is often the most successful, even in today’s world of modern communication methods. If you call and the response comes back in email, it is fine to switch to this more low key method of talking, but making the first move in a firm, self-assured, and confident way will set the tone for your first impression on a client.
Last time, I discussed the Google Penguin algorithm updates. Now, let me get back to the use of social networking sites, particularly Facebook. Many law firms steer clear of Facebook as far as social networking goes, and while I usually recommend LinkedIn for my clients, I have touched a few times now on the ways that different online networks can have positive results for you and Facebook is no different. This is especially true with all of the changes that Facebook has made within the last few months, which allow businesses and personal accounts to take advantage of more benefits than ever before. Cube Social says:
We find that most law firms start out by assuming that the best social media platform for them is LinkedIn, but that’s not necessarily the case. It’s best to do some research first. Create a list of keywords that reflect your law firm’s areas of business. Phrase them in the way your clients might talk about those topics. Next go through each of the major social networks and search for those terms.
People will always complain about Facebook and have something negative to say about it in regards to the way that it compares to other social media, but the truth is that millions use this website every single day, and if you can put it to work for you, you might be surprised at the positive results that come out of your campaign.
Facebook Group Application
One of the latest and greatest changes that Facebook is making in the new year is the creation of a new group application for iOS and Android devices. This allows groups to communicate better through the application, which means that whether you’re chatting with family and friends, or a team from the office that you’re working on an assignment with, you can stay in touch and communicate better. Socialmediaforlawyers.com quotes Facebook in reference to their latest search feature update stating:
With a quick search, you can get back to a fun video from your graduation, a news article you’ve been meaning to read, or photos from your friend’s wedding last summer…Your search results are personalized and unique to you and, as always, you can only see things that have been shared with you.
You can manage conversations and start new ones easily from the convenience of your mobile device. Fortunately, this latest update to the system won’t have any effect on your firm outside of the possibility of you finding it easier to interact with those you work with, but it is still a great new tool.
New Content Controls
In the past, there was really only one way to view your news feed and for a professional law firm that wants to interact with employees, clients, and other local businesses, this can make for a lot of clutter. Fortunately, this new change makes it possible for you to limit what you see, expand what you see, or be selective about which posts appear on your timeline at all. Paperstreet explains:
In an effort to cut through the clutter on News Feeds, Facebook will be using new “volume and content controls” to limit the number of posts from pages that you see in your News Feed.
The types of changes that your firm might see due to this change in content may be the inability to post anything that is too promotional, and the inability to repost content that comes directly from an advertisement. Other than this, you can still promote yourself in a natural and non-pushy way and interact with clients and colleagues easily.
How These Changes Will Work For You
Although the changes aren’t scheduled to take place until 2015, this is a great time to take advantage of the update by clearing out your friends list, contacting any clients with whom you haven’t spoken with for some time, and bringing in possible new consumers by posting professional and original content. Facebook is another tool that you can use to post links to your website, photos of your staff, contests and special offers, and articles or relevant data regarding your firm or specialty. Every new change that Facebook makes is for the benefit of their users, not just for the benefit of the company. Think about it like this: Facebook may have millions of users but those users aren’t likely to stick around with so many other options available these days if they aren’t being treated right. This is one reason that Facebook seems to be doing their best to stay on top and keep their name in the good books of those who use the service. If your firm doesn’t yet have an account, either personal or professional, then it may be time to get on board and create a fan page or an individual account so that your clients, and new potential clients have a way to get in touch with you.
Sharing And Caring
Facebook can also help you better your business and brand by giving clients the opportunity to share information with others on their friends pages, by liking, sharing, linking, and commenting on anything and everything that you post. This is one way that businesses can grow, and even go viral. If you have a website for your law firm and you plan on utilizing it as a client contact base, a Facebook page can bring in traffic to your site, and even make people curious about what you do and how you can help them.
You can post videos, upload rows of photos, and leave examples of previous cases. You can also offer incentives to new users, and find a number of other advantages to the service, including more search results when your brand is typed into Google, and the possibility of a larger following than ever before. This isn’t to say that you should cut back on your other social media and switch to Facebook altogether, but having an account on the side as an additional tool can be a big perk later in the game, when you’re finding it difficult to think up new marketing methods to bring in new business.
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