HOW IT USED TO BE
It seems like only a few years ago that the only lawyers who dared to advertise online, showcasing their case results, awards, certifications, honors, and other such selling points were members of the plaintiffs’ bar. While lawyers seeking to help victims of negligence fought hard to get the right to advertise in a meaningful way to potential clients that might otherwise not find them, lawyers in many other practice areas maintained their disdain for advertising their wares by limiting themselves to boring corporate websites or by not having websites at all.
Many attorneys get uncomfortable when they feel the slightest inkling of the tension between maintaining their law practices and being salespeople. To that I say – too bad. The legal market and competitive landscape have changed, and continue to change. In today’s competitive environment, effective digital marketing is an integral part of the practice of law.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
When most of us want to know about a service provider, we look online at the company’s website, at whatever organic search results Google serves up, and at online reviews. There are even entire websites, like Angie’s List, dedicated to reviewing service providers so that the website’s community membership benefits from its crowd-sourced knowledge. Sites like these were once free, low-tech message board-style digital lists, but are now revenue-generating Internet powerhouses that can charge users a fee to belong, and can make or break a small business’s reputation.
Rarely do we take the time to look in the Yellow Pages, or to read a trade publication for an industry we are unfamiliar with. Sure, word of mouth and one’s own personal network remain invaluable resources for obtaining business, but in today’s less IRL (in real life) social world, more and more of us choose to bypass talking to friends or acquaintances about our legal baggage and turn to the Internet to find help. Think about it – if your business were under investigation by the federal government, would you want to talk to your friends, neighbors, customers, or professional contacts about it to get a white collar criminal lawyer that can help you avoid any charges? No.
Additionally, emerging markets like startups want easily accessible legal advice and even free webinars to check you out before they are going to waste their limited capital on the hefty legal fees of most business law firms.
DIGITAL MARKETING BEYOND THE WEBSITE
In addition to having a law firm website, now more than ever, there is a virtually unlimited number of digital assets that you can claim and use to your marketing advantage.
Three Digital Marketing Items Important For All Lawyers:
- Directory Listings – Not only can directory listings improve your search engine optimization (SEO), allowing potential clients to find you more easily in search results, but directory listings can also provide an additional source of information about your law firm. With the popularity of review sites and apps like Yelp, many online directories include both peer and client reviews to help people choose the right law firm to fit their needs.
- Email Marketing – Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. – McKinsey. Email marketing drives more conversions than any other marketing channel, including search and social. – Monetate. Since most people communicate by text and email these days, leaving email marketing out of your comprehensive strategy is a big mistake. Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective forms of law firm brand promotion available, and it will keep you top-of-mind with professional contacts, personal contacts, and former and current clients with ease. You can even take email marketing one step further by creating automated sequences that occur as a result of the recipient’s interaction with the email.
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more. While many professionals have viewed these networks as potentially inappropriate for their target markets, the numbers of social media users speak to the contrary. For example, 70% of the U.S. population has at least one social networking profile – Statistica. 72% of U.S. Internet users are on Facebook. 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. 94% of top 50 U.S. law firms have a Google+ page. 80% of social media B2B leads come from LinkedIn.
WHAT YOUR LAW FIRM NEEDS TO DO ABOUT IT
Old worries like location consulting regarding where to place one’s brick and mortar office building don’t matter anymore if no one has heard of your law firm because you fail to adequately market your practice.
The days of DIY digital marketing are over for law firms. While lawyers are generally bright and certainly educated, that does not mean that we should try to know everything possible about the Internet. Using a consultant (like me) or a marketing agency will likely bring you the quickest, most effective, and best results. Once you give some control over to a consultant or to an agency, don’t hinder your hired help by being impossible to reach, not providing any meaningful feedback, or fighting and dwelling over miniscule points. Let the team you assemble spend the hours you pay for actually doing what they do best – work on your marketing. You don’t need to micromanage the minutiae of their every move – just sit back, relax, and watch the results.