Failure can be a great teacher. So for our newest three-piece blog series, we decided to focus on some of attorneys’ biggest law practice management mistakes. Our hope is that discussing frequent attorney pitfalls and errors will lead to our readers making better decisions for their law offices moving forward.
Since marketing is typically where the client acquisition process begins, that’s where we’ll begin with this blog series. In the digital age, legal marketing has become highly complex, as there are a lot of bases you must cover in order to be successful. Today’s legal customers have countless options to choose from, so in order to get consistently noticed, you’ll need to present your firm in a way that’s attractive to the modern consumer.
A recently released infographic from FindLaw offers valuable insight on the legal consumer’s journey, and what exactly they are looking for in their search for an attorney. If the data presented in the infographic largely comes as a surprise to you, there’s a good chance you’re doing something wrong with your marketing. Here are four costly mistakes that can derail your marketing efforts.
Not Making Search Marketing A Priority
According to FindLaw, 76 percent of legal consumers use search engines to find an attorney. Legal consumers also only visit four websites on average before contacting an attorney.
After hearing the above facts your mission should be clear. You need to identify relevant keywords your target audience is searching for, and engage in tactics that will get you on the first page of search engine results for those keywords. Unfortunately, many of today’s attorneys don’t seem very dedicated to accomplishing this mission. In a recent legal marketing survey conducted by our company, 41 percent of attorney respondents said they are not engaging in any kind of search marketing. Yikes.
While you may still get a good portion of your clients from referrals, the main way you’ll connect with consumers these days is online. Just think about what you do when you need to know something or need something done. Sure you may sometimes ask family and friends for input, but in most cases you’re heading straight to Google looking for a fast and easy resolution to your problem. If your firm’s website is buried in relevant search engine results or you lack any kind of online presence, you’re going to have a difficult time getting noticed in the digital age. Proper optimization of your website and blog content is a must in today’s age, as is having an up-to-date, user friendly website. Google pays close attention to your website’s user friendliness when ranking your website, so make it easy and enjoyable for visitors to navigate your pages.
The Mobile Experience
According to FindLaw, 54 percent of legal consumers are now searching with mobile phones.
Over the last year we’ve seen the trend of mobile search take over the marketing world, and the above data shows that the legal industry is no exception. Google has updated its algorithm to incorporate the mobile friendliness of your website into its ranking decisions. So if your website doesn’t display well or is difficult to interact with on a smartphone device, the majority of consumers out there won’t be engaging with you online. Consult with your web designer right away to make sure your website includes a mobile friendly design.
Failing To Validate Your Firm
Think about how you approach making a financial decision. Whether it be buying a product or hiring someone for an important job, you’re likely going to do extensive research on the company before deciding whether or not to go with them. One of the quickest ways to determine whether or not a company is worth your time is by doing a simple Google search of their name. When researching a company, it can be encouraging to see that a company has a real online pulse (perhaps in multiple locations), and offers content which establishes a high level of expertise in their given field.
Legal consumers are most definitely looking for validation when searching for legal help, that in many cases could determine the course of their futures. Many firms out there don’t take the time to develop an online footprint, and as a result don’t come across as trustworthy enough for a consumer to contact. Don’t let this be the case for your legal practice. There are many ways to go about validating your firm online, but here are the two most proven methods.
Being Present On Social Media
According to FindLaw, 27 percent of consumers use social media to learn more about you.
Getting consistent results on social media can take time, and many attorneys out there make the mistake of giving up on it too soon. With so many of the legal consumers you’re trying to reach using social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram every day, you need to make social networking a priority. By being active each week on these social networks, you’re not only getting the word out about your legal services, but letting the world know you’re actively looking to engage with prospective customers. Social media is also a great place to show off your expertise and legal knowledge, a practice which can help you stand out in today’s crowded field of attorneys.
Creating Blog Posts
According to FindLaw, 18 percent of consumers want to read blog posts before calling your firm.
While not every consumer is going to take the time to read a blog post from your website, enough of your potential customers will, to make the practice worthwhile. Blogging can be a great way to grab a consumer’s attention, introduce them to your practice, and prove to them why you can be trusted to handle their case. Through blog posts, you can answer questions your potential clients might be asking, cover relevant news stories your potential clients care about, and tell personal stories that will put a more human face on your firm.
Another great thing about blog posts is that they don’t go away. Write a great blog post, and center it around the right keywords, and it could end up earning you customers for years to come.
Ignoring Online Reviews
According to FindLaw, 89 percent of consumers want more information about a lawyer’s reputation, 68 percent of consumers read reviews from former clients, and 42 percent of consumers consider recommendations a top priority.
It’s not fun hearing people say negative things about you, and as adults we often preach blocking out and ignoring such criticism. Many lawyers take a similar approach with their reviews online, shrugging of those who don’t like them, and ignoring their online reviews. Unfortunately, poor online remarks from your clients will not just harm your firm’s reputation, but become your firm’s reputation.
FindLaw’s data tells us that today’s consumer cares very deeply about what their peers have to say. And since these consumers don’t know you yet, they won’t have any reason to give you the benefit of the doubt when they come across a one-star review of your firm. Your online reputation means everything, and in order to give your firm a fighting chance in the digital age, you must keep negative reviews to a minimum. Do everything you can to provide your current clients with positive customer experiences, and reach out to those who leave you negative reviews to see if you can find a solution to their issue with you and get the review taken down.
Making It Difficult For Customers To Reach You
According to FindLaw, 66 percent of consumers will contact you by phone, while 15 percent prefer to send you an email.
Marketing your firm can often feel like a full-time job, so make sure all that time and effort you put in doesn’t immediately go to waste, simply because consumers can’t get in touch with your office. On your website, have clear forms of communication available. In fact have multiple communications avenues available, because the way your website visitors will want to reach you will typically vary. Offer a phone number, and email address, a chat box, and a sign-up form on your site, and make sure someone from your staff is ready to offer a quick response on all those platforms.