As will have been the case for many of you recently, spending more time at home with school age children than would be the case under normal circumstances (in my case nine-year-old twin girls) is not without its challenges.
Out with the difficulties involved with getting them to do their schoolwork (don’t get me started!), keeping them entertained generally has been a test of endurance. Luckily, the weather has been fair, but beyond throwing them into the garden every morning after breakfast and locking the door until lunchtime (I kid, of course), we have tried crafts (now needing a new living room carpet), purchased a Nintendo Switch and associated games at considerable expense (not interested), dusted down old board games (always ends up in a fight), tried to learn some new card games (one of the kids has a tendency to cheat) etc.
We kept searching and eventually we found a solution. A pastime that takes time and effort, but if done properly, the results make the effort very much worthwhile.
Working on various Lego sets with the kids over the past few weeks got me thinking about many of the conversations I was having with law firms during lockdown. Firms who suddenly realised that their online presence wasn’t fit for purpose during a time when the internet was their only window to the world.
As I said to those firms, building your law firm’s online presence need not be daunting, overly expensive, or hugely time consuming.
- As with Lego, you can start small and increase the scope of your ambition over time as you get more confident and begin to better understand the landscape in which you are operating.
- As with Lego, your online presence should be viewed as a work in progress that can be built on and added to over time.
- As with Lego, you can start off with a modest budget and increase that over time as you become more assured and start to see the fruits of your labour.
- As with Lego, the more detailed the instructions/guidance provided, the easier it becomes.
- As with Lego, integration is key. The art is in finding the right pieces of marketing technology and processes to knit together seamlessly, and making sure they do. If a bit doesn’t work or add to the overall picture, it can be removed quickly and painlessly.
So, to carry the Lego analogy one stage further, if you have been tasked with getting your law firm’s online presence whipped into shape with a view to increasing turnover, enhancing your brand, improving your efficiency, and, very importantly given recent events, future proofing your practice, what are the building blocks that you will need?
The following list is by no means exhaustive, but is based on our experience of helping law firms use the internet more effectively to grow their business and conversations we’ve had recently with firms keen to put their best foot forward online now.
Getting your digital marketing building blocks in order
You’re going to need a website
The beating heart of your law firm's marketing. Often a customer’s first impression of your law firm. A shopfront, a salesperson and a source of new business. An asset which will continue to deliver value and one which requires ongoing care and attention.
If you want to use the internet more effectively to grow your business, getting your website right should be your first priority.
If you would like more information on the principles involved in creating a great website for your law firm, visit our in-depth guide here.
You’ll want to establish your authority and expertise with website copy and content marketing
Build trust and establish authority by educating your audience (not to mention Search Engines!) about your services, experience and expertise by publishing content for your core areas of legal practice on your site.
Attract and engage with a clearly defined audience through the creation and distribution of valuable, relevant, and insightful thought leadership content distributed via relevant online channels (e.g. your website, LinkedIn, Facebook etc).
Try supporting your website with online advertising
Increase your online visibility and generate more new business opportunities for different areas of practice by designing and implementing targeted paid advertising campaigns on relevant platforms such as Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising and Facebook Ads.
If you would like to read more about online advertising, read our Google Ads guide here.
It’s good to talk - communicate more effectively with past and existing clients with email marketing
It’s tempting to focus mainly on gaining more new clients, but generally, and depending on your practice areas, the cost of acquiring a new client can be up to 10 times more than the cost of retaining an existing one.
It’s important that you don’t forget to communicate with existing clients, after all, it's much easier to sell to people who know and trust you. Let your clients know you are there to advise, remind them how you can help, keep them up to date with offers, recent developments and news by sending monthly, bi-monthly or even quarterly email updates to your client database (which hopefully will be up to date! – If not, cleansing your client database on a regular basis is a good habit to get into).
If you would like to read more about email marketing for law firms, read our guide here.
Use appropriate technology to improve client/prospect engagement
Spring 2020 forced all us into different ways of working and the fast tracking of relevant technologies was key to engaging with customers and prospects alike.
As people’s expectations of an online experience become ever more sophisticated, reverting to traditional methods of engaging with customers and prospects isn’t going to cut it.
Now, more than ever, your website needs to be aligned to the online expectations of your audience and enhance your firm’s customer experience.
Make the most out of every single visitor to your website by offering visitors to your site who may want to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible an immediacy of engagement by introducing LiveChat functionality.
Allow people to schedule time with you that is mutually convenient by integrating appointment setting software with relevant online touchpoints such as your website bio, e-sig, relevant service-related landing pages etc.
Increase your efficiency by carrying out initial client consultations via a video conferencing platform such as Zoom, which automatically integrates with Google Calendars, Outlook and Exchange, allowing you to send meeting invites, with links and joining instructions
Make it easier for your customers to pay you and align your firm’s online experience with the expectations of an internet savvy audience by introducing online payment functionality within your site.
The million-dollar question – is it working??
You’ve taken the leap. By utilising the appropriate building blocks listed above, you now have a content rich, contemporary, conversion focused website that is supported by online advertising and you have a strategy in place to communicate with clients and prospects alike.
But is it all worthwhile? What difference is all of the above making to your firm’s bottom line? You think the phone might be going more, but you’re not sure if that’s because of your online marketing efforts or not.
It would be good to know, right? Particularly as your other Partners are viewing what you see as a necessary investment as an unwarranted expense. Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn up at your weekly WIP meeting armed with management information that definitively shows your colleagues that their ongoing investment in your online presence is returning positively?
Monitor web generated phone calls with Call Tracking software
Firstly, to help add a layer of transparency around online performance, we’d recommend that you set up call tracking within your website.
Call tracking technology changes the phone number that appears on relevant pages on your site to a tracked number (i.e. each visitor to your site will have a slightly different version of your number to call that will come straight through to your main number). Whilst enquiry form fills from your site are easy enough to keep track off, without call tracking in place attributing phone call enquiries to your online marketing efforts can prove challenging, depending on your internal call handling processes (and that’s probably an article for another day). In our experience, for every form fill, you can expect to receive between 5 and 10 phone calls as a result of a visit to your site, so these are numbers you are going to want to know.
Monitor enquiry volume and source and manage leads with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Platform
Most law firms will have some form of case management platform in place to help track and manage interactions with clients.
But what about prospects? How effectively and proactively do you communicate with prospects? How do you give yourself the best chance of converting those leads that you are investing in generating into paying clients?
Some case management solutions will have this capability (although in our experience vary rarely utilised), but having a platform in place to help you understand enquiry volume and source as well as helping you manage your leads is vital when it comes to maximising return on investment.
For our law firm clients, we provide access to a piece of software we have developed that we are calling our Client Intake Platform.
This software records any web generated enquiry (form fills and phone calls) along with its source (e.g. organic, paid, direct, referral, social media etc). The dashboard provides an at a glance view of all live leads, and the platform can be used to manage leads too, by, for example, delegating to specific fee earners.
Nothing changes the minds of doubters more quickly than walking into a WIP meeting armed with a spreadsheet containing robust numbers of online enquiries generated over the previous weeks or months as a result of your foresight and innovation! The conversation can then move away from what you are spending on generating leads to what is happening to those leads and what percentage are converting into profitable new business.
A little help from your friends
Going back to our Lego analogy, building a robust online presence requires patience, focus and perseverance, creativity and experimentation, problem solving ability and being a good communicator.
All skills I’m sure you have leveraged to help you progress your career in law.
However, while there is a plethora of information and guides available online that will help you piece together your online presence, we appreciate that you didn’t go to law school to become a digital marketing expert, not do your fee earning targets lend themselves to you spending chunks of your working day (and in some cases evening no doubt!) reading guides on PPC best practice for example.
That being the case, you may want to look for some additional support, either in the form of an inhouse marketeer, or an outsourced agency, like ours, for example (or indeed a blended approach with an inhouse marketer bringing in specialist support from outside). What option fits best with your particular business objectives is your call, but here are our thoughts on the subject of inhousing V outsourcing your marketing resource.
Whatever approach you decide, the fact that you are still reading suggests that improving your law firm’s online presence is on your radar, which is great. Good luck with it all, and please do get in touch if we can help you, as we have helped many others over the years.
“Moore Legal Technology has helped us go from the stone age to the space age in our digital strategy outcomes. It is an ongoing process, and the new website build is just phase 1 of an on-going project. They provide the know-how to piece together the component pieces required, but also, and importantly, help us track performance and understand ROI. If you are looking for a firm that can deliver on the digital results, then you should have MLT in your call list” . Partner – London
Thanks for reading and here’s a picture of our most recent Lego creation by way of reward for sticking with us to the end!
Getting in touch with Moore Legal Technology
Following recent requests from a number of law firms who are keen to improve their online presence quickly and cost effectively, we have developed our quick set up Your Law Firm Success™ – 2020 Toolkit. This has been created to deliver business growth and to help you make your firm more efficient and more robust now and for the future.