A Law Firm Marketing Blog Series: Edition #5
Welcome back to our blog series, in which we talk legal marketing with real law professionals. In this edition, we pick the brain of Larry Bodine, a senior legal marketing strategist for LawLytics.
We hope hearing the thoughts and ideas shared by the people in these blog posts, will inspire you to make positive changes to your marketing strategies. We also know that marketing legal services these days is more complex and challenging now than ever before, and hope that some of our readers may identify with some of the marketing struggles presented here, and perhaps be able to offer solutions.
The biggest goal of this blog series is to get the conversation going, so let’s dive in.
A Marketing Conversation With Larry Bodine
Larry Bodine carries a level of legal marketing experience, that few can match. He began as a marketing director for Sidley & Austin, a law firm with 1,900 attorneys. In the year 2000, he incorporated Larry Bodine Marketing, and has since advised hundreds of law firms and thousands of attorneys in business development — both in person and online. In our below discussion, Larry offers some great information on law firm website strategy, adapting to voice search, and developing content plans.
Answering Legal: What are some of the biggest keys, when it comes to turning visitors to a law firm website into actual clients?
Larry: The website has to answer questions that a client would ask, sitting in your office or on the phone. Consumers start by searching online for an answer to their legal problem, not for a lawyer. If a lawyer’s website has the answer, only then will the person call.
This is why content marketing is so effective. LawLytics wrote 1 million words of copy for Maryland law firm Gilman & Bedigian to promote their taxotere drug side-effect practice. It is now the go-to site for these kinds of cases.
The website should also be updated frequently with a blog covering current events for potential clients. Blogging demonstrates that a lawyer is current on changing developments in the law.
AL: One topic you’ve been blogging about a lot lately is voice search technology. What about the technology has caught your interest, and how can it be used by lawyers to generate more calls and leads?
Larry: The voice search is an example of a “long tail search.” There are several ways to capitalize on these longer inquiries.
- Create FAQ pages- Smart attorneys will answer frequently-asked questions on their websites, because help-focused content will match up better with voice searches.
- Write blog posts- Blogging about current legal events and trends is an excellent way to capitalize on voice search. To find topics, get into the head of your ideal clients and write about what affects them.
- Answer the question succinctly- The point is to get your answer to be chosen by Google’s verbal answer to a verbal question. Google Assistant tries to find the answer in a sentence that is 40 to 55 words long.
- Write in a natural voice- Attorneys are trained to write precisely using language that can be defended from attack. This works great in a brief but is unreadable online. To be found in a voice search, attorneys should dictate their web content. It’s a sure way to produce conversational English.
- Make it local- Mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be local-based than text. In your online answers, try to incorporate more references that have a local angle, such as a case.
AL: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the legal marketing world over the past 5-10 years, and what do lawyers need to do to adapt to those changes?
Larry: Three things stand out.
- For attorneys, Facebook has eclipsed every other medium. This is the place for attorneys to show their good works, charity activity and community involvement. It is not the place to brag about your Martindale rating. Attorneys are still mastering the skill of engaging with Facebook visitors, and not blasting out one-way messages.
- Most consumers now visit an attorney website on a cell phone — so the site must be responsive on all devices. A website should first be designed to display beautifully on a cell phone, and on a desktop second or third. Attorneys are still learning how to give visitors a “mobile moment” — a short story, a brief video or a free download — something that make a mobile visitor remember your site.
- By 2019, internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic. Lawyers must master the art of creating 90-second videos to engage visitors emotionally. It doesn’t need to be highly-produced (but that doesn’t hurt), and an engaging video anecdote with a point recorded on a cell phone will do. Our brains love video, that’s because it is programmed to retain visual content better than a page full of words — viewers are able to retain 95% of a videos message compared to 10% when reading text.
AL: As someone who has experience working on law firm content strategy teams, what do you believe are some of the biggest keys to developing a quality content marketing plan?
Larry: It may seem obvious, but a law firm’s content plan must match the firm’s strategic plan. Many lawyers say they just want more files and matters, regardless of the services clients seek, and they build out their websites accordingly. It’s a formula for unhappiness. Smart attorneys analyze which clients they like to work with, which have repeat business, and which generate the most profit (not just revenue). It’s true that 20% of the clients will generate 80% of the profit.
Attorneys should focus on their potential clients and their needs. Think about them as you choose pages to create, as you add content to those pages, and as you choose the voice, tone, and vocabulary for your content.
Crafting an ideal client persona is a useful exercise to help you write content that directly addresses your target audience. For example, a DUI attorney in a college town should build a persona for underage college students with DUI arrests. An estate planning attorney may want to gear their content toward seniors who are ready to think about wills or trusts.
One mistake that I’ve seen is when attorneys forget to consider the local nature of the problems that they’re addressing with their content. They write great content, but they fail to give context about the geographic area where they practice. Most clients are looking for a local law firm.