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As the legal profession becomes more aware of the benefits of business practices and corporates look to dominate the legal market in the upcoming years, it can be hard to keep up with the competition.
Could having a digital marketing strategy be your edge?
It can be difficult to know where to start with new digital strategies. Have they been just an afterthought for you when setting your business goals? And how much emphasis should you put on them?
I’ve helped lots of clients who are stuck when it comes to marketing their business online. How to understand the best ways to improve their visibility, how to know if their SEO and digital marketing agencies are performing, what criteria to measure for success, it goes on.
There are may common mistakes law firms make in their digital marketing strategy and activity and I can only assume it’s a result of bad advice.
Main menu bars clogged up with links to pointless pages diluting the link equity coming into your site. Blogs filled with short articles semi-related to your services that serve no benefit to your site at all. Slow-loading pages that aren’t optimised for mobile and are stored on cheap shared servers.
As other industries are optimising for voice search, the legal sector is still wondering how best to use social media – it’s a long way behind.
It’s very easy to get distracted or confused with the wide array of marketing options and opportunities that exist online.
Do you do websites, blogs, social media, because everyone else does, or because it has a tangible benefit to the bottom line?
Law firms tend to be a little behind the curve when it comes to embracing digital marketing – my time in boardrooms of law firms has seen first-hand how difficult it can be to persuade the partners and directors to embrace change – particularly when SEO and digital marketing can be portrayed as smoke and mirrors by agencies and consultants.
So rather than write about SEO best practice, technical audits, or what not to do – I thought it would be much more useful to set out some simple digital marketing activity you can implement in-house, along with some advice about how to best utilise your various digital channels to get the most from them and the investment you’re making.
Use social media for customer service - and to show some signs of life in your company. An active and highly engaged social media channel will provide additional trust signals to someone considering your services.
An open dialogue with customers through social channels can help to limit any negative impact from the occasional unhappy client (it will happen from time to time) and also provide further trust and authority signals.
Do measure social media performance. Set some KPIs and some targets that will support your wider digital marketing strategy and contribute to the business goals. This might be in relation to the size of the social community, response time to inbound messages, level of engagement, or a combination of the many other ways to measure performance.
Don’t forget you can also use social media for finding content ideas and opportunities, and as part of your digital PR research and relationship-building. A strong social media presence also can help you with recruitment – something which is also becoming more competitive and harder to get right.
The mistake that many firms are making with blogs is that they are doing them for the sake of doing them. Where’s the analysis on the results, what was the objective of the last blog post you published and how will you measure its success?
Don’t clog up your website with pointless short articles that aren’t driving traffic to your site, or helping with conversions. You should be checking the performance of the blog posts in Google Analytics to determine the value to the business.
We have been analysing blog posts from top 200 law firms and they consistently fail to rank for any keywords in Google.
If you want to write blogs to share as content on social media, then look at the kind of content that works on social media and do something similar. If you are writing to generate traffic, then create less articles but make them much longer and focused around specific search terms and keywords.
Your client-facing staff are a crucial part of your marketing efforts as they are the biggest representation of your brand when they communicate with existing and potential customers. You know you can usually hear someone smiling on the phone as they talk – try it, you’ll notice the difference. Make sure anyone who speaks to clients over the phone is properly trained and you get specific sales training for the team that handle new enquiries.
Have a very clear internal SLA around dealing with customer feedback online – such as through social media or independent review platforms. Be honest enough to hold your hands up if something has gone wrong, it will show other customers that you’re prepared to make things right, and that goes a long way.
If you’re only running PPC campaigns, or buying in claims from elsewhere, then you’re not building a brand and creating any additional value to your business. When you stop paying for claims, the work instantly disappears. So being able to get visitors to your site from organic search results in Google will have a huge impact on the bottom line.
Website traffic from desktop computers will account for less than half your overall website traffic in 2019 – go ahead, check out your data in Google Analytics. Some clients are seeing as much as 70% from mobile and tablet devices. We don’t have a single client with more desktop traffic than mobile anymore.
Google uses ‘mobile first’ in their analysis of your website so you need to make sure it loads very quickly on mobile and that it functions correctly and is fully responsive. Failure to optimise your website for mobile will mean a drop down the search rankings.
Improving your search rankings in order to get more website traffic will inevitably involve making sure the site is optimised at a technical level so Google can find it, crawl it, and index it in their results. This is one area you may want to outsource to SEO specialists if you don’t have the in-house capacity.
Whoever you use, you need to make sure you’re monitoring results and that performance is where you want it to be.
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Sam is a multi-award-winning marketing expert and the director of Legmark – a specialist law firm marketing agency – working with the legal sector to improve digital and online performance.
0330 161 1234