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7 online marketing tips for law firms.

I spend a significant amount of my working week speaking to law firms about their websites. Indeed, I recently gave a talk for The Law Society of Scotland on what makes an effective law firm website. I discussed how we see certain issues appearing time and time again, and opportunities missed in terms of not giving your website the best possible chance to generate lots of profitable new enquiries.

Tomorrow, I’ll be going into even more detail at the Commercial Law Network’s CPD seminar on growing your law firm in the digital age. If you’re in Glasgow and would like to come along, click here to book.

To help you avoid the same pitfalls we see so many of your competitors making, I’ve compiled a list of seven things you should consider when reviewing your website and online marketing. Hopefully, by being able to identify these missed opportunities, your online marketing activities will work harder for you and start to deliver increasing returns on your marketing investment.

1. Start with a strategy

Your website can be your best performing – and cheapest – salesperson. But it won’t just happen. It's not just about having a website; all your competitors have websites too. It's what you do with it that will set you apart from the rest. So, what are your goals and how are you going to achieve them? Put key performance indicators (KPIs) and tracking measures in place from day one.

2. Be visible

There’s no point in spending time and money developing your website if nobody is going to see it. Don’t let anybody tell you that SEO is dead. It’s not. SEO best practice may change, that’s true; but if your website isn’t presenting properly to Search from a technical SEO perspective, it will never make you money. If your website was built years ago and your developer at the time told you that your site would be fully optimised for Search, they would, I’m sure, have carried out a first-rate job. However, what worked five years ago will be very much different to what's best practice now.

3. Aggregation of marginal gains

During the Law Society seminar mentioned earlier I had the pleasure of sharing the podium with law firm rainmaker, Stephen Gold.

Stephen discussed the concept of the “aggregation of marginal gains,” as coined by Dave Brailsford, appointed Performance Director for Team Sky several years ago.

He explained the concept as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement. This analogy can apply to everything, from fitness to business.

This struck a chord with me in terms of our approach to helping our law firm clients generate business online.

While important, content on its own won’t help you to dominate the online space relevant to your service areas. Neither will link building. The same goes for social media, PPC, and any other singular marketing service.

It’s important not to get too fixated on one or two of the above elements in isolation. To consistently and successfully generate business online, all of the above (and much more besides) needs to be taken care of on an ongoing basis.

All these little things add up. If you want to win online, you need to cover all the bases.

4. Update your website regularly

Your website should be viewed as a work in progress that requires ongoing care and attention. Google will respond positively to your site is if it regularly updated. An up to date website will also help you build trust and establish authority amongst potential instructing agents. Has your blog not been updated for 6 months? Not a good sign. Finalist at the 2010 Law Awards – who cares? Still talking about compromise agreements on your website? You get my point.

5. Get social

Of all the adults in the UK who use the internet, 96% of them use social media (OfCom). This means your target market is guaranteed to be on social media. Consumers are making more and more buying decisions based on companies they like, and see online on a day to day basis, even in the legal sector.

But even if you don’t see opportunities for your firm to generate business directly from social media, being active on relevant social sites will help you compete online. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: if content is fire, social media is gasoline. To get people onto your website, you need to actively go out and share it with them, and social media is the best place to do that.

Traffic from social media to your website indicates to search engines that your website is popular and valuable. Sharing your links on social media is called “social media bookmarking”, and buoys your website’s search rankings.

By networking on Twitter and LinkedIn, you also place your brand in a position of thought leadership in your field. Communicating with other thought leaders gets your name out there, and can spark valuable business relationships.

There’s no end to the benefits of a robust, strategic approach to social media marketing for your law firm. See Stacy Nelson’s social media guide for more information.

6. Be conversion focused

Your website needs to be found. Then, high quality, informative content should convince the visitor that they should be speaking to you. Make it easy for them by having prominent calls to action throughout the site.

Of course, you can’t improve what you can’t measure and to this end conversion tracking is essential. It seems crazy to be willing to spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds each month on your online marketing, but not willing to take the time to really evaluate the return on your investment (ROI). To be able to quickly build up a clear picture of how your website is performing for you, it’s important that you set up Google Analytics (there are a number of other analytics tools available, but GA is free and serves up all the data you could ever need).

And don’t forget to set up conversion tracking. We make use of call tracking software to track all calls made from website visitors. Not only does this let you determine where calls are coming from, it gives insight into what areas of your site (and thus your business) are performing best.

As our Analytics manager,Dave Kerr says: “There can be a certain reluctance among solicitors to engage fully with their online marketing as they feel it’s a nebulous enterprise with little in the way of measurable returns. Nowadays, the opposite is true. You can track pretty much everything that happens on your site and determine exactly how it is performing. Your analytics strategy is every bit as important as design, and measuring conversions should be the beating heart of it.”

7. Play the long game

A well-developed online marketing strategy will help you to generate more business. BUT! It will not happen overnight.

Google won’t trust you because you have been focusing on your online marketing for a week, or a month, or even a few months, depending on the competitiveness of your areas of practice and location(s). It takes time to establish yourself as an authority. And don’t try to cheat. Gaming Google won’t work. They will catch up with you in the end.

We ask our clients to come with us for an initial period of six months, after which we can reasonably expect to be delivering positive results. If you are approached by any form of online marketing ‘guru’ promising you instant results, page one rankings overnight or anything of the sort, please – run a mile. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.

If you would like to have a chat about your law firm’s website or online marketing, call Chris today on 07969 336 526 or email him at [email protected]

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