As practitioners operating within the legal system, you’re no stranger to binding changes in legal principle. As practitioners operating within the field of digital marketing, we’re no stranger to binding changes in SEO strategies. And while you might be unable to appreciate the breadth of commonality between those two fields, a quickly scribbled Venn Diagram would place your legal marketing needs firmly in the middle.
At the end of the day, there are few corners of modern living whose navigation don’t require the (direct or indirect) involvement of a skilled attorney. From the everyday needs of personal injury and estate planning to the specialized needs of family and immigration law, there are countless prospective clients who are in need of your services. But before you start asking yourself if you’re doing everything possible to direct those parties to your practice, pump the brakes. The question you should be asking is whether or not those parties are even able to find you in the first place.
As of 2018, it’s estimated one in three people begin their search for an attorney online. If we’re being completely honest, that’s somewhat surprising considering the prevalence of online searches for nearly everything. That said, the continued strength of word-of-mouth referrals (previously viewed as a strength) can’t guarantee growth for any firm. In order to expand your clientele, a well designed digital marketing strategy must be employed. This is why recent years have seen an unprecedented spike in marketing spends. A recent study reported that nearly two-thirds of law firms are spending half (or more) of their budgeted allowance online. In fact, of 80% of respondents indicated an even higher spend, with over 75% of their budget allotted to digital marketing initiatives.
That said, are you among those who are investing your resources wisely in order to grow the reach and influence of your firm or practice? Or, are you among those who are prepared to minimize the importance of referrals and referral conversion? Those who accept voicemail as a suitable means of fielding contact from prospective clients. Those who believe that an average 3+ day response time, with no process of lead cultivation and tracking in place, is “acceptable”. Those who fail to secure an email address along with telephone contact information, preventing the ease of relationship cultivation. Those who feel that there’s no need to increase the demand for their services. If you associate more strongly with the latter points, you might be inclined to stop reading. But let us assure you, that you need to keep reading more than anyone.
Generating Organic Traffic
It is the most powerful weapon that a firm or practice can arm itself with. Online traffic is the modern-day equivalent of word-of-mouth, and the generation of that traffic comes in a number of forms which make up the cornerstones of any digital marketing platform. Responsive Web Design. Social Media. Reputation Management. Search Engine Optimization. How many of these cornerstones do you employ? And (more importantly) how many do you employ effectively as part of a well-designed strategy?
With digital marketing being a relatively new addition to the industry, it’s important to recognize that a number of practices still make use of dated website design, be it something that was designed ‘on the cheap’ or through do-it-yourself software. Outdated aesthetics aside, websites simply don’t work the way that they used to, due mostly to the fact that people don’t use them the same way that they used to. The evolving expectations of consumers view a website as a gauge of both professionalism and excellence, in turn, a website needs to perform efficiently on all devices, from desk and laptop to smartphone and tablet. Failure to utilize a responsive website design means that countless of dissatisfied users will view your services as subpar.
If the website is the foundation of your online presence, social media is a valuable means of taking an aside with both existing and prospective clients. It enables real-time interaction in a public forum, which can humanize your practice, allowing for the cultivation of trusting and mutually beneficial relationships. If you’re not utilizing social media as part of your daily professional life, you are minimizing your accessibility.
Argument and Rebuttal
Set aside the negative spin, or at least be prepared to address it on. Client testimony matters after the fact, as well, with online testimonials and referrals proving to be one of the greatest means of cultivating new clientele. As previously mentioned, it’s the new ‘word of mouth’.
But such statements aren’t always positive. Your exclusive control over your website does little to address possible defamation when you consider the number of free consumer review sites and the public nature of any social media presence. That said, your digital marketing strategy should include the use of trusted professionals, skilled in matters of reputation management. The ability to reach a positive resolution in a timely fashion puts your professionalism and skills on display for all to see.
Most online searches result in the interested party contacting the highest ranking search results. Failure to rank high atop the first page of search results can equate to a lack of visibility. Failure to rank on the first page at all can equate to complete IN-visibility. If you can’t be seen, you can’t be found. Hence the need for a comprehensive S.E.O. (search engine optimization strategy) to ensure the best possible search rankings, through the creation and curation of superior content. Not a task for the unskilled, S.E.O. makes use of Google’s ever-evolving algorithms to set a website apart as a highly-valued resource. It makes content more appealing, increasing its value in the all-seeing eye of the search giant.
Turning a blind eye to your need for an effective digital marketing strategy could prove the death knell for your firm or practice. That’s not an exaggeration or said for dramatic effect. Those in need of your services need to be able to find you. They need to feel connected to you. They need to interact with you in whatever means is most accessible and comfortable for them. Evolving your marketing to create a client-centric experience might be the most valuable step you’ve ever taken, and digital marketing is the easiest (and most crucial) means of doing that.