Today’s law firms are competing online as well as in the real world. Understanding law firm digital marketing is a must for the smart attorney if they expect to stay ahead of other firms. Clients do most of their research for legal professionals on the Internet, and “Google it” long ago replaced “let your fingers do the walking” as a phrase for finding someone to help you with your problems.
A savvy attorney needs to understand three core principles to get their law firm online and keep it in the forefront of digital search engines.
Establish an Online Presence
Your online presence starts with an outstanding website, but doesn’t stop there. Developing your online presence means taking time to place your firm in locations where prospective clients can find you when they are looking, and that means understanding where people look for things they need on the Internet.
Make your website effective and user-friendly. Your website should provide a visitor with information about your firm, your attorneys, and your practice areas. Potential clients should not have to sift through endless pages of ads and puffery to get the information they need.
Use search engine optimization efficiently. SEO is critical to placing your page where users can see it. Google’s algorithms toss out overused words or phrases, so “padding” your page with extra keywords will not help you. Categorizing your site properly is more effective than lots of loaded keywords.
Approach social media with caution. Used correctly, social media can boost traffic to your site immensely. Used incorrectly, it can destroy your firm in less time than it takes to write a review. Developing a good social media presence is worth the time it will take.
Establishing your online presence will take time and effort. It is an ongoing process that does not end with creating a website and starting a blog. If you don’t have time to oversee the process on a daily basis, you should consider calling on a professional marketing company that specializes in law firm digital marketing.
Direct Potential Clients to Your Online Presence
Just as potential clients look for plumbers and landscapers on Angie’s List, they look for attorneys on directories like Avvo and Nolo. If you decide to list your firm on these directories, you should be careful to ensure that your profile comes up on local searches. Nothing will ruin your day like getting multiple calls from across the country.
Online directories can be a good way to get potential clients aware of your firm name, but be aware that these are national (or even international) directories. For targeted local referrals, Yelp, Google, and other localized search directories can be helpful, too.
The benefit of these sites is that searchers ask for a service “near me” and the algorithms pull up providers within the searcher’s geographic region. All you need to do is have your business listed within the city or county, and you will appear in that search.
Other ways to alert potential clients to your online presence:
Love it or hate it, social media platforms are here to stay, and they are used widely by almost everyone in America. That said, you should be extremely careful about which platforms you use, and what you say on those platforms.
News stories abound with tales of politicians and celebrities brought down by carelessly retweeting the wrong story from the wrong site, or letting their blog be repeated on the local extremist’s page.
When posting to social media, craft your message to be neutral, provide useful information, and consider your target audience before posting. Also, remember that social media invites responses, and some people respond to social media just to be obnoxious or inciteful. Be prepared to handle these “trolls” as necessary.
As of 2016, email marketing was still a major force in client outreach, with more than four times the return on cost over other forms of marketing, according to eMarketer Magazine.
Email is very low-cost, so any return will be a net gain to your firm in potential clients. Experts suggest the best way to attract clients is with an ebook or other helpful material, in exchange for an email address.
Blogs are time-intensive, but almost nothing is better at keeping your firm’s name fresh in people’s minds than a new article every day or week. A new spin on an old topic, updates on your firm’s activities, or an interesting fact about a legal case is all that is needed for a short article at the top of your blog.
A link to the blog can be placed on your social media page and kept active as part of your social media strategy. Because blogging takes time, it’s easy for a busy attorney to fall behind in writing a blog every day or week.
If you like the idea of a blog for your firm, but don’t have time in a hectic practice to keep up with producing one on a regular basis, you should consider working with a professional, legal digital marketing team.
Keeping your clients aware of your firm’s online presence and looking at your activities should be a part of your regular marketing practice. Just like you run print ads or radio spots, you will need to make time for social media, videos, blogging, and email marketing.
More people look for attorneys online than via any other source today. Taking the time to make sure people know who you are and where to find you will pay off down the road.
Follow Through on Digital Marketing Efforts
It should go without saying that you need to follow up on all these marketing efforts. However, an astonishing number of legal firms don’t take the time to check if their efforts are bearing fruit.
Does each blog contain a clear call to action (CTA) and contact information? You might be surprised to find that many do not. For that matter, does each page of your website include a CTA and a phone number as well as a link to your intake page?
Once you’ve gone through the time and work needed to establish your online presence and show people where to find it, you must take time to determine if all that work paid off, and where you need to make improvements. Some areas to begin with include:
Once you have all those email addresses obtained from your email marketing program, someone must contact everyone who responded and ask how you can be of further assistance.
Maybe the person just wanted the free ebook, and you can put them into a contact file for later reference. But maybe they had other questions; you need to do more than just leave them for another day. Anyone who took time to contact you must be emailed in return, or you have lost them forever.
Social Media Review
Some people will write on your social media accounts just to be irritating. Some people may have legitimate questions or concerns. Your firm should make an effort to contact or respond to those people, because again, it’s all about appearance.
You can ignore the trolls, but you shouldn’t ignore anyone who has an honest question or you may appear to be rude or insensitive, which could hurt your firm’s credibility.
How quickly do you answer phone calls and contact form requests? Nothing will give you a bad reputation online faster than taking too long to call people back. If you aren’t able to call people back within a reasonable time, you should consider using an outside agency to return your calls.
The same is true for the online contact form many websites use. If those are not responded to within a very short time, potential clients will not only go elsewhere, they will feel slighted. They will also post reviews about you on Google.
Ask for Client Reviews
You should always ask satisfied clients to give you a review on Google or Yelp or Avvo. Client reviews help build online trust and show that you can deliver on your promises. There are people who disbelieve anything they see online, and will think those are “fake” reviews, paid testimonials, or just plain lies.
There will also be angry clients who will give you equally negative reviews because you couldn’t get them the results they think they deserved. Some platforms will remove those reviews, but some will not.
Manage Your Firm’s Digital Marketing Goals
For an attorney, digital marketing can be the key to success. It can also be a confusing and time-consuming muddle of social media and anagrams. Attorneys who are tech savvy may do well enough at managing their own online presence and digital marketing, but those who lack the time and internet ability may want to have a professional do the job for them.Scorpion Legal can help with all your legal digital marketing needs, from developing a stellar website, to lead generation and social media optimization. If you’re a legal professional who doesn’t have time to blog your way into the online world, we’re here to help you out.