A Law Firm Marketing Blog Series Edition #24
Welcome back to our blog series, in which we talk with some of today’s most knowledgeable legal marketing minds. In our final Let’s Talk Legal Marketing edition of 2019, we feature Victoria Blute, Director of Education at 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. The biggest goal of this series is to get the conversation going, so let’s dive in.
Our Conversation With Victoria Blute
Over the past five years, Victoria Blute has served as one of the leading voices for LawLytics. For those unfamiliar with LawLytics, the company produces a website platform built specifically for small law firms, and aims to make the marketing process for attorneys simpler and more cost-effective.
Each week, Victoria shares new information on a variety of legal marketing subjects via the Law Firm Marketing Decoded Podcast and the LawLytics blog, both of which attorneys would be wise to check out. In our below conversation with Victoria, we discuss some things to know about local marketing, how to get more visitors to a website and whether or not podcasting makes sense for lawyers.
Answering Legal: What makes local marketing such a powerful online tool for attorneys?
Victoria Blute: Attorneys who engage in effective local marketing on their websites find it easier to connect with local potential clients. They’re focused on potential clients’ search behavior and answering the questions that potential clients are likely to ask, in the language that these potential clients understand best.
Search engines want to provide their users with the best possible answers to their queries. When attorneys publish information with a local focus, it makes it easier for search engines to return highly relevant results to users who conduct related search queries.
This kind of content attracts local potential clients, and it begins building a bond of trust between the potential client and the attorney. The potential client learns more about their case or matter and may also conclude that this attorney really understands the specific problem that the potential client is facing. This intellectual and emotional connection makes it much more likely that a local potential client will reach out to the law firm when they’re ready to do so.
AL: What are the biggest keys to doing local marketing right?
Victoria: The first thing to remember is that potential clients often think locally, not legally. The way that they think affects the way that they conduct searches.
Here’s what I mean by that: Let’s imagine that there’s a potential client for a family law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This potential client is thinking about getting a divorce.
This person is likely to use a search engine to do more research about their problem. But, the searches they conduct aren’t necessarily going to be something such as “Pittsburgh Divorce Attorney.”
However, they might do searches such as “Pittsburgh grounds for divorce,” or “Pittsburgh divorce law,” or “Can I get divorced in Pittsburgh without an attorney?”
Even if divorce is governed at the state level, potential clients may not know that or may not think about that as they’re conducting searches related to their problem.
The same is true for most practice areas. Someone might search for “The penalties for a second DUI in Arapahoe County,” or “Who’s at fault if I was bitten by someone’s dog in Charlotte?”
Your potential clients may not be familiar with the law. As a result, they’ll make searches that might not be an accurate representation of the legal terminology and structure of the law. Attorneys who can identify and reflect this way of thinking in their website content have a significant advantage over those who cannot.
AL: What are some of the biggest mistakes you see law firms making with their websites these days?
Victoria: One of the biggest mistakes we see is related to website design.
We see some attorneys who take a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach with WordPress or website builders like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and so on. When these attorneys reach out to LawLytics, they’re often frustrated with trying to maintain a site on a platform that isn’t designed for attorneys. Worse, the websites that are created on these platforms often look unprofessional, which can cause potential clients to feel skeptical or uneasy about the attorney.
Some attorneys mistakenly conclude that website design alone will drive new business to their firms. These attorneys pay for expensive, novel designs, and then struggle when their website isn’t bringing in potential clients.
An attorney website should look great and set the firm apart from the crowd. But unfortunately, this is why so many lawyers end up paying for bells and whistles that can have the opposite effect.
Potential clients don’t visit law firm websites to entertain themselves — they have a problem. They’re looking for information that will help them find a solution. And, unfortunately, when potential clients are looking for information about their case or matter, fancy designs often get in the way. The result is that these fancy designs distract and confuse potential clients, and ultimately degrade the conversion potential of the website.
AL: If lawyers aren’t getting enough visitors to their website, what actions should they consider taking?
Victoria: They need to examine why this is the case. For most lawyers, this problem is the product of buying into the wrong online client acquisition methods, and/or their search engine optimization (SEO) is poor.
Content problems (either a lack of content, a lack of quality content, or both) tend to be the common denominator in underperforming websites. Website content is the most important part of SEO — so if an attorney is struggling to get enough visitors to their website, they may want to start by assessing the quality and quantity of their website’s content. Attorneys should also have a system in place that helps them control and understand their website.
AL: Many attorneys make the mistake of just using their blog posts to simply recap recent events or news stories. How can lawyers go beyond doing this, and ensure that the blog posts on their website are providing actual value to potential clients?
Victoria: Potential clients can find news stories almost anywhere. What they’ll want to see in an attorney’s blog post is in-depth, unique analysis on a particular topic.
Blog posts are meant to add to the online conversation. Law firm blog posts should be used by the attorney to develop their online voice and their reputation as a thought leader.
Attorneys shouldn’t be afraid of covering news stories so long as they’re adding analysis to them.
For example, in the past few years, Utah made changes to their DUI laws — Utah’s governor signed a bill into law that lowered the DUI limit to a BAC of 0.05.
When this news was more recent, a DUI attorney in another state could explain the recent changes and discuss the potential consequences of these changes, as well as discussing the changes in the context of the current laws in their geographic location.
Once attorneys understand how to blog, and where their blog fits into their online marketing, many attorneys really enjoy the exercise of writing and publishing posts.
AL: Having quality content on your website seems to be more important than ever. What questions should lawyers be asking themselves when evaluating the quality of their current website content?
Victoria: The main purpose of law firm website content is to educate and inspire potential clients. So if your website’s content talks only about your firm, reads like advertising copy, fails to educate clients about their case or matter, sounds like it’s written for the search engines, or fails to make an emotional connection that inspires trust, there’s a good chance that the content isn’t going to drive new business to your firm.
It’s so important to write for your potential clients above all else. What do they need to know? What would you say to them if they were sitting across from you in your office right now? When attorneys begin writing with their potential clients in mind, the quality of their content improves dramatically.
AL: What can lawyers do to get the most out of their landing pages?
Victoria: Pay-per-click ads are extremely expensive for attorneys. If an attorney plans on spending money on pay-per-click marketing, it’s best to understand best practices for creating landing pages for lawyers.
However, the way that a potential client engages with a landing page for a law firm and the way that they engage with a landing page for a consumer product are quite different.
For attorneys who are interested in taking a deeper dive into the topic, our CEO, Attorney Dan Jaffe, wrote a great piece on understanding how real potential clients interact with law firm ads and landing pages here.
AL: How can creating client personas be a useful exercise for attorneys?
Victoria: Attorneys may find their content flops when they try to appeal to everyone. One of the best ways for attorneys to ensure that their law firm’s content will reach the right people is to create client personas.
Personas can help attorneys narrow their audience. What questions does this particular demographic ask? What is the best way to convey that information to them? Personas can ensure that you have clarity about who you’re speaking to.
AL: As someone who is part of the podcasting world, do you think it’s worthwhile for attorneys to create podcasts of their own?
Victoria: I do.
Potential clients like to learn about their case or matter in a lot of different ways, whether through written content, video, or audio. So listening to a podcast is one method that attorneys can use to provide information that resonates with potential clients.
The LawLytics podcast was a response to our members asking us for a format that they could consume on the go. They enjoyed our webinars and blog posts but found that they wanted a way to continue learning when they were driving to court, for example.
I don’t recommend that attorneys start a podcast until they’ve got a solid grip on their content marketing, and they’ve built out a substantial number of detailed pages on their law firm’s website. A podcast can be a fantastic supplement to your law firm’s marketing, but there is no substitute for written content. The content on your law firm’s website will always be the foundation of a strong law firm web presence. Without that content, nothing else is likely to attract new clients efficiently.
AL: What are some of the biggest marketing trends or developments that have caught your attention in 2019?
Victoria: We’re seeing many more attorneys who are beginning to understand the value of being in control of their law firm’s web marketing. More to the point, many of these attorneys are realizing that it’s not only something that they can do themselves, but that is easy for them to participate in. When they’re using the right tools, they’re saving a lot of time and money and driving more business to their firms through their websites.
AL: What’s your top piece of marketing advice for an attorney just starting out?
Victoria: While an attorney who is just starting may not have a lot of money or a lot of clients yet, what they might have is time. An attorney in this particular stage of their career can make a smart investment of their time by writing their own website content.
The internet is the great equalizer, and marketing has become a meritocracy. Attorneys no longer have to have the biggest budget in the game to compete. What they do need is a way to connect with potential clients, and the best way to do that is by using the right platform that makes it easy to publish quality content.
If this attorney has more time than money, they should start their online legal marketing by building a solid content plan and a clear roadmap. With that, they can use their time wisely to produce content for their law firm website.
Here at LawLytics, we have a formula for using our technology that helps new firms leverage their marketing time the right way.