The most effective online marketing is based on corresponding in-person techniques used to generate new files. For example:
- Getting quality contacts: The online equivalent of attending a networking event is to attract potential clients to your website.
- Easily connecting with people: Social media makes it easy to meet new people. I’ve met people on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn with whom I ended up doing business.
- Generating new business with talks: Creating content online — whether it is a blog post, video or webinar recording — are the key to being found in Google.
- Creating good word-of-mouth: Review sites and getting happy clients to write reviews are now an essential part of marketing.
- Generating referrals: Newsletters for clients and a special landing page for referring attorneys are effective for staying in touch.
How clients find attorneys
Before the Internet, attorneys had to rely on recommendations from a potential clients friends and coworkers. Today, most clients search the web in private, on their computers or cell phones, to find an attorney. In fact, 80.8% of clients “check out” potential law firms by looking at their websites, according to Hinge research.
Further, nearly 60% of those searches are now made on mobile devices — meaning that attorneys must get their message across on a 3-inch cell phone screen instead of a 10-inch laptop screen. It is essential in 2018 that your website be mobile-friendly.
Take a look at your website right now on your cell phone. Is it easy to read at a glance, or is the text tiny and unintelligible? Google can tell — and it is not likely to return an unreadable site in its search results.
There are five key elements of an effective mobile site
- A click-to-call button. Don’t make visitors use the tiny cell phone keyboard to dial your number.
- A click to email or text button. Again, make it easy for potential clients.
- An interactive map button. Directions to your firm are essential.
- Easy drop-down navigation. Feature a “Menu” item that visitors can click to see attorney bios and practice areas.
- A Mobile Moment.
A “mobile moment” is the experience visitors get in a single glance when looking at your site on a cell phone. It is the indelible first impression that visitors have that will make them want to look further on your website. It can be a link to a free case evaluation, a link to an FAQ (frequently asked questions) or a free download of useful information. The goal is to generate engagement between your potential client and your website.
SEO and Content Marketing
Many attorneys waste money on SEO (search engine optimization) marketers who sometimes engage in “black hat” techniques like keyword-stuffing and purchasing links to your site.
The most effective form of SEO is content marketing — posting practical information in blog posts, FAQs and articles that answer the questions your clients bring. For your site to turn up on page 1 of Google search results, your website ideally will have 200 pages of high-quality written content.
Frequent blog posts are an excellent way to produce content to attract new business. It is true that the more you blog, the more business you will get. According to Hubspot, 76% of blog writers acquired a new customer through their blog by updating it two to three times per week. A blog post can be a simple 300-500 word article that answers a question that clients ask. The majority of internet users read blogs, and in fact, they read them more than once a day. A potential client will naturally click the link to a law firm blog to see if the attorneys have posted something relevant to their problem.
TIP: Think “locally, not legally,” when writing blog posts. 60% of people use their cellphones to search for a local service, and half of those searches lead to a local purchase. Accordingly, create local pages on your site: local FAQs, local court rules and local laws. Describe local clients and present local case histories.
The most important piece of content on your website is your bio. It should be 200-300 words long and describe what you do, whom you serve and what problems you solve. Describe what kind of an experience clients will have with you, and tell visitors about your journey in law. DO NOT put up a wall of unreadable text that starts out with where you went to college 30 years ago and finishes with a list of all the bar associations you belong to.
There are many other forms of content you can create, from videos of your presentations, recordings of webinars your present, and audio podcasts.
You can download a free copy of SEO Basics for Lawyers (https://goo.gl/M2V68x) to learn what SEO is, a timeline of Google algorithm updates, what search engines are looking for, how Google sees your website, and writing content that resonates with your clients.
Succeeding with social media
Even if you hate social media, you can’t ignore it. Facebook has 1.8 billion active users, LinkedIn has 467 million members and Twitter has 327 million users. People are looking for lawyers on social media: 54% of consumers said they’d be likely to hire a lawyer with an active social media presence and among millennials, 72% said they would, according to Thomson Reuters.
If there is one platform to concentrate on, it is Facebook. This social network has far more people spending far more time on it. You can safely forget Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and all the rest. And you don’t need to be a social superstar — you just need to post interesting information and get others to share, like, forward and comment on it.
Managing review sites
Review sites are the online form of creating good word-of-mouth. 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. It is very effective to have many 5-star reviews on Google, Facebook and even Yelp.
To get good reviews, emphasize to your staff how important they are. When you are onboarding a new client, ask them how they found you and whether it was by an online review. After a positive in-person consultation or favorable settlement, ask your clients to give you a review. Make it easy for them by handing out professionally printed review cards, with links to the review pages you prefer. Follow up by emailing links to review sites to happy clients.
There is software, like Birdeye, which helps manage the process. Birdeye sends an email to clients asking if they are satisfied with the service and treatment they received from you. If the response is positive, the client is shown links to review sites. If the response is negative, they a directed to a private page that acknowledges their feelings and inquiries on how the firm could do better.
It is smart to acknowledge all reviews, especially the occasional negative one. The only response to a bad review is “We are sorry that you are not happy. We strive for all clients to have a good experience. Please contact us so that we can talk about your concerns…”
The best new business comes from clients who were referred to you. A person who got a recommendation to call you is no longer shopping for a lawyer – they are looking for you.
A top source of referrals is past clients. They know, like and trust you and are in the best position to give out a personal recommendation. Unfortunately, many lawyers make the mistake of letting the relationship end when the matter ends.
A better approach is to be sure you have the client’s email address, and email them a quarterly newsletter. Again, fill it with answers to questions that you get from clients, set forth a few case histories, and ask recipients to recommend you. (Clients don’t know how you build a law practice, and you have to tell them to refer people to you.)
If you want referrals from attorneys, be sure to include a link on your site for “Co- Counsel and Referrals.” State that you are delighted to accept referrals and describe how the co-counsel process will work. Be sure to mention that you are also happy to share your resources with other attorneys by referring potential clients to them.
Let your reputation precede you
Websites, newsletters and social media are excellent ways to become well-known. Be sure that you have a mobile-friendly website that is filled with practice information for potential clients. Social media work well to leverage your speaking, writing and charitable activities, and a good place to promote your free downloadable information for clients. By being smart about online reviews, you can build good word-of-mouth across the internet. Online marketing can be much easier than in-person marketing, and can create a virtual presence that enables your reputation to precede you. Larry Bodine