A couple of weeks ago, MLT’s David Kerr welcomed the arrival of his second child, Alice (congrats, Dave and Nic, she’s beautiful!). Before finishing up for a couple of weeks, Dave found time to write the intro to our August client newsletter. As he sat down to write the intro, his mind naturally drifted towards his impending fatherhood and how building a website, digital marketing strategy and online presence for your law firm is a little bit like having a child. For example;
- the hard work really begins after ‘launch’ (Not sure that Nic would agree, Dave, but we’ll run with it for the purposes of this blog!)
- it requires pretty much constant attention
- it’s a constant learning process
- it’s probably easier to outsource
- you have to be careful what you say
As Dave is currently enjoying some time off with his newly expanded family, I thought I’d add my thoughts to the above observations.
The hard work really begins after ‘launch’
The majority of enquiries we receive from law firms still begin with “we need a new website”. When we speak with these law firms, often what they want is more new business opportunities.
It’s important that your law firm’s website looks great and offers a certain level of sophistication in terms of design and user experience and is appropriate for and appealing to your audience. However, it’s what you do with the site post launch that will determine whether it will generate those new business opportunities for you or not.
The reality of generating more new business opportunities online is that there isn’t any 'one size fits all' solution. While the aesthetic of your site is important, its vital that its structured in a way that’s flexible and scalable and will enable a variety of digital marketing activities. The approach to succeeding online that is right for your law firm will depend on myriad factors, such as the areas of practice you service and the locations you are targeting. You may need to consider a mix of inbound and outbound marketing activities, lead generation and demand generation, gaining visibility organically or through paid promotion etc. All of this should be taken into consideration during your site’s ‘gestation period’ and teased out during a ‘getting to know you’ process with your agency before you engage in a relationship that will ultimately lead to the delivery of your website.
(I’m trying hard to maintain the theme here, Dave!)
It requires pretty much constant attention
Digital marketing trends and technologies continue to develop apace. People’s expectations of an online experience are becoming increasingly sophisticated. What was considered cutting edge or best practice a couple of years ago is probably out of date now. The online space relevant to your law firm will become ever more competitive. Google’s algorithm becomes more intelligent with every passing year. The regulatory authorities that govern your profession are taking a keen interest in how you promote yourself online (see here for example).
All the above means that if you wish to use the internet effectively to grow your law firm you need to treat your online presence like a work in progress that requires ongoing care and attention.
It’s a constant learning process
I’m sure that there is an old saying that our parents will have aimed at us at some point, and that we in turn will repurpose for our own children. It goes something like ‘the day you stop learning is the day you stop growing’.
This saying can be applied to businesses as well as individuals. Being in a fast paced continually evolving industry (this applies equally to digital marketing and the legal sector over recent years) means that we can never rest on our laurels and have to continue to iterate our offering to make sure that it remains aligned to the needs of our audience.
Lawyers need to undertake CPD activity to ensure that they retain their ability to do their jobs to the standard expected of them. Understanding and being able to implement effective digital marketing technologies and techniques requires a similar dedication to remaining with, if not ahead, of the curve. If you’re standing still, you’re moving backwards.
For example, how will AI, gamification, service automation, and marketing automation affect internet marketing within legal sector in the months and years ahead? We don’t know for certain, but we’re having fun researching, developing, trying, occasionally failing, and trying again.
It’s probably easier to outsource entirely
Back in 2016 we wrote an article called ‘Spinning plates – the life and times of an in-house legal marketing professional’. For many of the law firms we speak to, hiring one marketing professional is usually the limit. That person will rarely be able to cover all the marketing needs of the firm given the broad scope of activities your average in-house law firm marketer has to deal with.
In our experience, the most effective in-house marketing resource will contain someone who can lead projects, has solid marketing, sales, and general business expertise, who can set the strategy, hold people accountable, coordinate teams, remove obstacles, and communicate with stakeholders.
These individuals will also hire external agencies that can assemble a team of people and deliver a range of services tailored to their needs rather than trying to be all things to all people, including those who like their breakfast meeting croissant warm!
It’s rare to find a marketing professional who can honestly say they have in-depth expertise across the full remit of their role. Therefore, it makes sense to maximise your marketing budget and return on investment by bringing in people with in-depth, niche expertise as and when required.
You have to be careful what you say
As soon as you hit send, post, like, share, etc, your words exist in the ether forever. You can’t take them back. Sure, you can delete posts after the fact, but by then the damage might have already been done.
The SRA expect solicitors to act at all times with integrity, including on social media and when commenting in what may seem to be a personal capacity. Many firms insist on publishing social media usage guidelines and providing fee earners with social media training too. But it’s not just social media that can land you in hot water. Simple, old fashioned email communications can prove hazardous too if simple precautions aren’t taken. A prime example of this can be taken from our own experience. A few years ago, one of our team found out about a law firm merger before it happened because he was accidentally copied into a chain of emails from others within the merging law firm. If that news had ended up in the wrong hands and got out early, it could have been costly.
After this near miss, we published our email best practices for Lawyers & Law Firms guide which can be accessed here.
You have to be careful what you say
So, trying to get back to the original theme of the article that I’ve rather conventionally ignored since point 1, developing and maintaining your law firm’s online presence can be a rather daunting prospect, just like having a child!
Having said that, a robust online presence that generates a steady stream of relevant qualified enquiries can be one of the greatest things that can happen to your law firm.
"Working with Moore Legal Technology has quite literally transformed our practice.”
Not knowing where best to place your marketing budget can cause sleepless nights. Trying to assess relevant metrics in order to generate the data required to make more informed business decisions can feel like wading through treacle.
If you are coming to digital marketing for your law firm the way most of us came to parenting - knowing nothing and trying to learn everything, Moore Legal Technology can help. For further information on how, contact or call today on 0333 060 6254
And, once again, congratulations to Nic and Dave.
Team MLT xxx