One of our favorite parts of running our “Let’s Talk Legal Marketing” community, has been the ability to pick the brains of top industry experts. So far this year, we’ve gotten to speak with owners of legal marketing companies, legal content writers, successful lawyers, and even a law firm PR professional for our LTLM blog series. Throughout these conversations, there has been a lot of invaluable information shared. In this marketing tips for lawyers post, we’ll break down five of our favorite lessons from the first half of 2019.
Lesson #1: Consumers Now Expect More Engagement From Attorney Websites
How has marketing changed over the past decade? When asked this question in January of 2019, Douglas Bradley, founder and partner of Everest Legal Marketing, was quick to mention consumer expectations.
“Consumers are more tech savvy and tend to expect more engagement from law firms or individual attorneys,” Bradley said. “People want to know more about the person they’re going to hire, they expect more information from their website, and they demand good communication and service. If they don’t get these things, they consult online reviews to either make decisions, or wield negative reviews to report their experience to others. 10 years ago this was non-issue, but now it’s something every consumer lawyer needs to be conscious of.”
Having an up-to-date website with compelling and informative content truly does mean everything these days. If your website fails to provide answers to what your potential clients wants to know about your firm or doesn’t provide any reason to move forward with contacting your law office, you risk losing new leads before you ever get a chance to speak with them.
“It’s still very common to see firms that have very basic information on their website with no compelling calls to action, and offering no real reason to hire them other than the fact that they exist,” Bradley said.
In Bradley’s LTLM feature, he recommended law firms create website content on what they do, who they are, and what they can do for someone. “The data shows that this is essentially what people are looking for,” he said. “if you don’t disappoint them when they get (to your site), you’re halfway home.”
Legal marketing writer Rodney Warner also discussed the importance of viewing things from the consumer’s perspective when developing website content, in his LTLM feature in May.
“Potential clients want to avoid problems, resolve problems or exploit opportunities,” Warner said. “What does the firm do to accomplish these things? Why should they be trusted with this responsibility? What are the benefits of the attorney’s services, not the features? How is a prospect’s life improved by the attorney?”
Once you convince site visitors that your law office is worth contacting, you’ll want to give them as many avenues as possible for reaching out. Steven Long, co-founder of Precision Legal Marketing, believes all law firms should be exploring live chat features on their websites, and have them run by human operators.
“Providing a potential client with a contact point, with a real person who they can tell their story to, and feel like they have been helped, is crucial,” Long said. “We did a study last year with a client that was skeptical about deploying live chat long term. He thought those that engaged with live chat would have called or filled out a form on the site if the live chat were not present. Consequently we found a 1% overlap, and he was obviously convinced. His conversions have increased by 35% since that time period.”
Lesson #2: If You’re Not Tracking, You’re Slacking
Lawyers are usually more than willing to put extensive work into planning out marketing campaigns. But, it’s often the work that they do after a marketing campaign is completed that ends up paying the highest dividends. In his March LTLM feature, we asked Long for his top piece of marketing advice for lawyers just starting out in 2019, and he turned his focus to the post-campaign stage.
“Tracking and conversion KPI metrics are often ignored by firms,” Long said. “On a basic level, having Google Analytics installed on your site and some basic event and goal setup there is crucial. It can also be useful to have a marketing consultant pore over historical data for your firm. Without access to that data, you are flying blind.”
Jodi O’Hara, founder of Web Visibility Advisors, agreed that lawyers aren’t doing enough when it comes to tracking and accountability of their marketing strategies.
“Attorneys and firms select vendors they like, then don’t manage the execution, performance and metrics to know if the solution is working or not,” O’Hara said. “Due to little to no or haphazard oversight, the ‘solution’ becomes expensive and under-performing.”
Marketing is far from an exact science, and constantly throwing new marketing solutions at the wall without making educated adjustments and corrections is not likely to get you far.
“If you’re not tracking, then you’re slacking,” Long said. “Slacking didn’t get you through law school, so don’t slack. Know where your money is going and how it’s working for you, or find someone that can help you figure that out.”
Unless you are ready to do your homework on understanding Google Analytics and other data tracking softwares, reaching out for professional marketing help is probably your best course of action.
“Hiring or consulting with a proven marketing professional saves time, money and the frustration of making wrong decisions and getting into under-performing and over-priced solutions,” O’Hara said.
Lesson #3: You Can Grow Your Firm’s Reputation Through Sustained Quality Media Attention
In April, our LTLM blog series took a brief dive into the world of law firm public relations, as we spoke with Joe Marchelewski of Juris Productions PR. In the interview, Marchelewski explained to us how organic media attention can really compliment a marketing campaign.
“Good marketing and good public relations is a long-term investment,” Marchelewski explained. “One good media hit won’t change your life and one bad media hit won’t ruin your career. But a sustained focus on getting quality media attention will help your firm’s reputation grow. Conversely, if you choose to ignore the media then you’ll just be left out.”
Having positive press clippings to show off can help lawyers build up credibility within their industry, and can often lead to the development of new relationships with both clients and fellow attorneys. Imagine the impact having media hits to show off in a section of your website and on your social profiles can have on people looking up your company online for the first time.
While garnering media attention can seem like an intimidating process, it’s often just a matter of showcasing off what makes your firm and its attorneys special.
“Ideally an attorney is both someone who has great cases or clients and who knows how to help the media out with a story,” Marchelewski said. “But, an attorney needs to have real stories to tell, whether that’s a timely lawsuit, a great sympathetic client or a case against a notable defendant. If the firm doesn’t have mainstream media worthy cases or results, the firm should encourage its attorneys to write perspective articles in legal journals or blogs. By self publishing online, the firm will get noticed which can lead to future press coverage.”
Lesson #4: Sharing Case Studies Is One Of The Best Ways To Build Consumer Trust
There are a lot of online methods lawyers can use to try and get consumers to trust them. They can create eBooks showcasing their legal process, and publish blogs and vlogs showing off their legal knowledge. While all great tools, the best way to build trust in legal consumers is to have ringing endorsements from other legal consumers.
A case study is one of the best ways for lawyers to show off client success stories and build consumer trust. In fact, Rodney Warner, who has helped assemble content for law practices all across North America, called case studies a “secret marketing weapon hiding in plain sight”.
“They break down psychological and intellectual barriers,” Warner said. “They show the firm can help and has helped others in the past. It shows they’re trustworthy and can get the job done. I think they’re especially helpful if the prospect is a business and the case study can show a positive ROI on the client’s spend. If so you’re speaking the prospect’s language.”
Online consumers have more options than ever before these days, so being able to provide them with some kind of social proof is a must for any business, especially ones that are asking their customers to make significant decisions like hiring an attorney.
“The opinions of fellow consumers mean more than the opinions of law firms, banks, car manufacturers or insurance companies,” Warner said. “It applies to all our decisions and drives consumer ratings for attorneys, doctors, restaurants and lawn mowers. My daughter’s in college. We have a friend who went to the same one some time ago and has great things to say about it. If our friend said she hated it our daughter might not be there. We might’ve crossed it off the list of schools to apply to.”
Your words alongside great endorsements can mean a lot, but your words alone likely won’t be enough to win over the trust of prospective clients. The quicker you accept that, the better your marketing efforts will go. So get to work on developing case studies for your website. Ask some of the former clients that you’ve helped to share their stories with you, and make sure you use them as a resource for recruiting new clients.
Lesson #5: Your Advertising Should Focus On What Makes Your Firm Different
The legal industry in just about every field of law is overcrowded these days, and it can be difficult for even really good lawyers to stand out with their marketing efforts. But, instead of thinking how can my firm be more like my successful competitors, you should be thinking how can I establish my firm as different than competitors.
In her LTLM feature, attorney and legal marketing blogger Joleena Louis told us about her journey to success as solo lawyer in New York City. Her best advice to others growing firms in competitive markets was to niche down and become a specialist.
“Be known for something specific so that you are easy to remember and people come to you for that specific thing,” Louis said. “One of the things I focus on is divorce for business owners. A referral source can know ten different divorce attorneys, but if the referral involves a business they are going to think of me first.”
Think about it this way. If you were experiencing foot pain, who would be best qualified to treat you, a general practitioner or a podiatrist? Chances are you would rather be helped by the doctor that specializes in your specific issue. Many legal consumers view hiring a lawyer the same way. If someone is looking for a divorce attorney they have a truly endless amount of divorce lawyers to choose from, many of which will be advertising the same thing. It can quickly become an overwhelming process. But, if you are a business owner going through a divorce, and hear that Louis has a practice that specifically gears its services towards business owners, your choice becomes a lot more clear.
When asked to provide her top piece of marketing advice for lawyers in 2019 in her March LTLM feature, O’Hara agreed that opening a niche practice was the way to go.
“Don’t try to be a personal injury attorney who handles every type injury law,” O’Hara said. “Pick a specialty and focus on it. It’s much easier to stand out with a focused practice than doing everything. Your marketing will be clearer, more visible from a search perspective and the public perception will be that you’re more specialized.”