The event will be held on September 25th and 26th at the University Club of Chicago. Check out more about this years Technology Conference Midwest and LMA!
The National Law Review is proud to be this year’s Metabyte Sponsor!
Certainly by now we can all agree that the Internet has transformed the legal industry, from how you market your law firm to how legal services are delivered. Still, for many lawyers, the Internet is a confusing place with so many options that can either make you or break you. So let me help simplify things for you. Here are five online marketing strategies that are gold when it comes to delivering leads and boosting your brand:
Narrow your choices. Unless you have an unlimited marketing budget, you can’t do it all — SEO, social media, pay-per-click, content marketing, email marketing, etc. If you throw a little bit at everything — the shotgun approach — you are wasting your money. Instead, focus on two things: (1) where your potential clients are, and (2) what you can measure. You have to be able to measure your success (or failure) to discover what works for your area of practice and to be able to build on the successes.
Use Facebook ads. There are 1.4 billion monthly Facebook users and half of those log in every day. One of the most powerful features of Facebook is ad targeting, the ability to layer targeting options on top of one another to create a highly specific audience. This enables you to target locally and get your ads in front of people who need your services now. Facebook ads are low-cost, so you can experiment to see what resonates with your potential clients and then repeat what works.
Capture leads with what you know. There is a vast amount of basic information you know that prospects want. And there are a number of tools available for you to disseminate this information to them, including blogs, eBooks and free reports. Offer these in exchange for contact information as added value and the leads will follow.
Think mobile. If your law firm website is not already optimized for mobile, make that happen fast. Mobile-friendly sites perform better in search results and also provide a better user experience for prospects.
Automate your lead conversion. A comprehensive law firm marketing program that embraces multiple marketing tools – SEO, PPC, ads, email marketing, social media, blogs, etc. – means leads come in from many different sources. If you don’t have an automated way to deal with them, leads will slip through the cracks and all that hard work and financial investment will be for nothing. Small law firms lose tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year because they aren’t tracking their leads and quickly following up with them. Mid-sized law firms are losing millions. Lost leads also hurt your reputation with your referral sources if they supplied the referral and your team doesn’t follow through on the lead.
For many attorneys, maintaining a blog is like eating kale – we know it’s really good for us, but we just can’t seem to get all excited about it. But if eating kale was the best possible way to get your law firm coffers to overflow status, I bet you would be digging into a plate of it every day.
And so it is with blogging, which is one of the best possible ways for you to dramatically increase your lead flow, improve your firm website’s SEO and traffic count, and build a sterling reputation online – all of which can lead to a healthier bottom line for your firm.
Many attorneys I speak with feel they should be blogging, but are not really sure why. Here are 7 ways that blogging can help your law practice:
Increase client engagement. A blog provides an opportunity for you to open a dialogue with prospects and clients and share with them more about who you are, what kinds of legal issues you can help them with, and why they should hire you.
Improve SEO rankings. Blogs are the number one way to add new content to your website, which search engines like Google reward with higher rankings. Over the last few years, Google has favored larger websites with more content over small websites.
Humanizes your firm. People don’t want to hire faceless companies. They want to know they are cared for personally. Blogs provide you with the opportunity to tell the stories of clients you have helped (leaving out their real names and identifying information to protect the innocent), and nothing is better for putting a human face on your law firm. Include videos in your blogs to really humanize your firm.
Showcases your areas of expertise. Regular blog posts keep your website up to date and relevant, letting prospects know you are on the leading edge of emerging legal trends. You can highlight the areas you truly specialize in.
Market segmentation. If your law firm includes more than one practice area, you can segment this more effectively by creating blogs for each specialty area and speak directly to those targeted prospects.
Repurpose content. Your blog posts can be effectively repurposed for free reports, e-books and in your monthly newsletters.
Build trust. Current research shows that 81 percent of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.
Is everyone who calls your law firm ready to hire you right away? If someone downloads a free report from your website, does that mean they are ready to commit to hiring you? Not likely. In fact, research shows that more than half of leads are not ready to buy at the time of first contact, which is why you need to nurture those leads along a specific path to becoming a client using email drip campaigns.
We have used drip campaigns for years for our clients for one simple reason: they work! Research shows that companies that are good at nurturing leads enjoy 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost than companies that put no effort into lead nurturing.
Since email is a one-to-one communication, it can be personalized for whatever stage your lead is in the buying cycle. It is much more effective than blast email campaigns that don’t take your prospect’s buying journey into account. In fact, personalized emails generate up tosix times higher revenue than non-personalized (blast) emails.
This infographic from Eliv8 provides five different email drip campaign opportunities to help you increase your lead conversion rate:
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At the conclusion of a recent presentation I gave to a local bar association, an attorney in the audience asked how law firms are wasting their marketing dollars. “After all,” he said, “our firm only has a limited amount of money for marketing, and I want to make sure we are spending it wisely.” I was honest, and told him that, in my opinion, many fine firms are squandering their marketing dollars by the bucketful. And it’s often in the same familiar ways.
Let me begin with the assertion that, for most lawyers and law firms, effective marketing is all about personal relationships. It’s not about brochures, advertising or other marketing gimmicks. It’s especially about relationships with existing clients and referral sources. Consequently, I almost always recommend that a law firm begin “marketing” by making darn sure its clients are satisfied. If they are, they’ll be loyal to the firm and come back when they need legal counsel. Beyond that, they’ll tell their friends and business associates about you. Too often, firms get caught up chasing prospective clients, forgetting about solidifying and expanding relationships with the clients they already have.
After ten years of experience marketing legal services, I have developed some strong views on what firms are doing right and wrong. But before writing this article, I thought I’d post that attorney’s question to the 1,000-member law marketing listserv, a cyber-community of law firm marketing directors and consultants. The responses came back fast and furious and I’d like to share our collective opinions with you.
So here we go – the “Top Ten Ways To Waste Money Marketing Your Practice,” in David Lettermanesque ascending order of wastefulness.
Golf and lunch are fine marketing activities, very conducive to relationship building. But playing golf with an endless array of acquaintances who don’t have the ability to hire or refer you is hardly an effective use of your marketing time. Nor is that monthly “skins” match with your brother-in-law and his drinking buddies. The profession’s top rainmakers have a plan — even if only in their heads — when they go on their boondoggles… er, I mean, marketing ventures. They have determined who they want to get to know better and, from there, they develop a systematic plan to go about building and enhancing relationships with them. The key word is plan.
Reminiscent of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland deciding to “put on a show,” your firm decides to present the mother of all seminars. Over 300 people spend a half-day listening to you and your partners talk about the latest changes in state law. It was great. Problem is, there was very little follow up. When it comes to seminars and similar events, we suggest that you consider smaller, less formal and more interactive sessions. Think about a seminar series, focused on a particular industry, where participants get together repeatedly. This way, the follow-up is built in. Wasted Time and Money.
Come to think of it, forget about any marketing activity that does not include follow-up. All the marketing events that your firm sponsors — seminars, open houses, holiday parties, and the like — should be looked upon as relationship building platforms. And personal follow is the key to making them work. All participating attorneys should follow up with at least two or three people at each event, focusing on folks who can help them achieve their objectives.
Good brochures and newsletters have their place among effective marketing tools. But who wants to read mindnumbing tomes about the history of your firm and its 14 practice areas? Not me, and not your prospective clients either. Keep the copy concise and easy-to-read. Use bullet points whenever possible. Hire a talented graphic designer who will produce sharp, attention-grabbing marketing material.
No doubt, print and broadcast advertising works for attorneys with consumer-oriented practices (like family and personal injury law) and I’d recommend an ad in the Yellow Pages in a heartbeat. But things like traditional “tombstone” ads and “one-time” ads in a newspaper or magazine are practically worthless. Studies show that it takes 7-11 impressions before somebody will recall seeing your ad. Consistency and frequency are essential. Here again, hire a good graphic designer and stay light on copy to make sure your ads are noticed. If you want to advertise, do it right.
Ahhh, the holidays. Talk about getting lost in the shuffle! Effective marketing strategies get noticed and stand apart from the crowd. The holidays are far too busy a time for your cards, parties, and gifts to be fully appreciated. However, if you must send holiday cards, by all means, sign them personally!
Over the past ten years, law firm directories have sprouted like cattails in the Everglades. Unfortunately, most have little marketing value. Decision-makers simply don’t use them very much. In fact, our friends on the listserv think that only a few directories, such as LawOffice.com, Martindale-Hubbell and Best’s (for insurance defense counsel), are worth the money. Bottom line….hold on to your cash.
We’re talking about the kind that features every lawyer’s name on the masthead. Every letter becomes two-pages long, and each time a lawyer joins or leaves the firm the old supply gets chucked and a new supply is ordered. Often, the new letterhead is out of date even before it comes back from the printer! Most firms have abandoned this practice and yours should, too. Consider adding a snappy firm logo and/or a splash of color. Don’t worry, it’s OK.
Our #2 money waster was sent in by Bev Davis, chief operating officer for a well-known Oregon law firm….and you know exactly what she’s talking about! The firm’s $5,000 contribution for a table at the “Belles of the Confederacy” Dinner Dance, for example. Powerful Partner Jim thinks it’s a great idea. (So happens his wife is on the Board of Directors.) PPPPs are rarely budgeted and are hardly ever consistent with firm-wide marketing objectives. They tend to consume vast quantities of money and staff time. A firm-wide marketing plan goes a long way toward reducing the number of PPPPs. Show Jim the plan and just say no!
Law firms are a different kind of beast — big egos, lots of democracy, convoluted compensation systems and, in many cases, a disdain toward marketing. Yet, I see it happen time and time again. “We hired Sally because we liked the work she did for our big banking client. But she never could manage to implement much of anything around here.” When it comes to building consensus for a new idea or getting people to focus on non-billable activities, there is nothing quite like a law firm. It takes someone who’s been there to make it happen. If you decide to hire a consultant, hire somebody who has a successful track record working with law firms like yours.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this round-up of marketing blunders. Perhaps you recognized one from your own firm’s recent efforts on the list. My objective was to help you think about how you and your firm can more wisely spend your marketing dollars. After all, you have limited resources. My best advice….develop a proactive, firm-wide marketing plan. See you at the 19th hole!
Copyright 2016 The Remsen Group