Coronavirus Pandemic

How To Engage With An Audience In Crisis

With nearly all public gatherings canceled and many of us staying indoors, more and more of us are increasing our online usage, including watching videos on YouTube and connecting with friends on social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. The Internet has seen incredible, sudden growth in traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic – including total Internet usage surging between 50% and 70%. The websites for The New York Times and The Washington Post have both grown their traffic more than 50% over last month.

As web usage only continues to increase and we remain socially distant, ongoing unprecedented jumps in traffic are revealing trends, such as reduced download speeds and upward spikes in traffic after government announcements.

Since early March, brands have focused messaging around the importance of empathy, service, helpful information sharing, and humanity. It is important not to lose sight of these messaging changes when speaking to your newly highly engaged audience – meaning that while it’s exciting to have a much broader and more engaged online audience to interact with, we must remain aware of and sensitive to the reasons why they’re online so much right now. In order to do that, we – as the voices and representatives of our law firms – must listen as much or more than we talk right now.

Lawyers need to strike a delicate balance between remaining relevant by positioning ourselves as thought leaders and behaving sympathetically to a world in crisis. This holds true across all forms of media – whether it’s your law firm website, a direct mail piece, or a post on your social media channels. With the COVID-19 outbreak and millions of people now working from home or sadly not working at all, your online presence matters now more than ever. In this article, we focus on digital media, since the potential decision makers you want to reach are definitely online more frequently and for longer durations right now.

Website

Websites have been a vital part of our lives for over 20 years now, with many law firms maintaining a digital presence of some sort for the majority of that time. So how can you be sure your website is doing its job?

Start off the website update process by brainstorming revised messaging and the methods with which you’d like to convey it. A good starting point is updating any changes to contact information for the firm, letting current clients and the public know you remain open for business and how you’ll be running your firm. Once your hours of operation and contact details are updated, you should audit the pages of your website to identify which pages need adjustments in order to include coronavirus content. The pages will vary by firm, practice area, and geographic location, among other factors.

With so many law firms putting out educational COVID-19 content, it will be easy for your webpages and blog posts to get lost in the onslaught. Take steps to make your law firm’s content stand out by utilizing custom graphics and checklists, and incorporate other easy-to-digest multimedia like short-form videos.

Online Profiles

Google My Business (formerly known as Google Local and Google Places) is a free service provided by Google that allows business owners to control the information that appears in their Google listings, such as store hours, contact phone numbers, location, and more.

As many digital marketing experts have rightly noted during the past six weeks, a company’s Google My Business Listing is its lifeline. With many businesses forced to shut down temporarily and/or adjust their services, it’s crucial to keep the public in the know. While some features were suspended during the pandemic, most – if not all – are now reactivated, so update your business description, hours of operation, and create a post. Managing your Listing effectively now means securing better search results when the “new normal” for businesses occurs in the future.

In addition to Google, attorneys should also update their lawyer directory listings (such as Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers) to include keywords and information specific to how their practices can help those struggling with coronavirus legal issues.

Social Media

Social media has stood out in the pandemic with significant increases in new traffic as the world turns to these channels for real-time information and entertainment more than ever before. Your clients need to see your law firm remaining active online during this time, so keep engaging with them via all your social channels. This helps you stay close to your audience, and keeps you front and center in their minds so they can turn to you as needed. Like most businesses, law firms often rely on their surrounding communities; therefore, localized marketing and engagement efforts should be central to your strategy.

Email Marketing

With a rapid increase in the overall email volume sent out globally, email servers and anti-spam software are processing and filtering hundreds more incoming messages. The higher volume of COVID-based emails being sent has led to decreased open rates, increased unsubscribe rates, and even more spam complaints, none of which is good for law firm email marketing. However, email marketing can be free or very low cost and so law firms must find a way to use it wisely.

Does your law firm have an email newsletter or a list of email marketing subscribers? Now is a great time to leverage your list to directly communicate the information your contacts need with actionable steps they can take. If your law firm has not begun capturing contact information for the purpose of email marketing, now is a good time to select an email program (we love MailChimp) and organize your contact lists for segmented import.

Cheaper Paid Digital Marketing Campaigns

It’s a buyer’s market for advertisers. Right now, law firm digital advertisers are seeing lower costs per click when bidding. Take advantage of others’ decreased spending, and launch a targeted search engine marketing, paid social media advertising, or other inbound marketing campaign at a more affordable rate. With digital attention at an all-time peak, the amount of available impressions has also increased; and the capacity for your ads to reach your target audience is equally on the rise. This will lead to lower overall operating costs for your campaigns. For example, analysts predict Facebook’s ad revenue will decline by 19% for the year (a loss of around $15.7 billion), which means a lot of your competition isn’t competing there.

Responsible Attorney Advertising During Pandemic Times

With all the uncertainty around how long the COVID-19 pandemic is set to impact virtually every aspect of how we live, it’s hard to decide what’s best for business when it comes to marketing.

As a 20-year lawyer, I know how frustrating it is to work with marketing vendors who don’t speak your language. During an economic downtown, your law firm may need to adjust its marketing budget, including increasing its outsourcing. I manage a team of five full-time marketing employees devoted solely to legal marketing. We stand ready to help your firm adjust its messaging and approach during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

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