What’s next in digital marketing for law firms?

First published July 2021 and updated December 2021.

One of the main things our clients ask of us is to help them look to the future. To help predict what’s next in the ever-evolving online landscape. We’ve written before on our predictions (some of which were more accurate than others!) and this piece is in that vein.

What trends and technologies will shape the digital future for law firms? Read on to find out. 

Programmatic Ads

Programmatic advertising is a form of dynamic, data-driven digital display advertising. It allows advertisers (including law firms) to target the right users at the right time. In short, it is the use of software to buy advertising in real-time to ensure you only show ads to a relevant audience.

Rather than displaying ads at random, programmatic ads allow you to automatically bid on relevant ad space. That is to say ad space your target audience are likely to see... With programmatic advertising, you are able to target people based on key characteristics. Age, location, search behaviour and type of device among them. For example, you can show your conveyancing ad only to first-time buyers in your area who have been viewing properties on their tablets.

Programmatic advertising is not just the future - it’s already here. By the end of 2021, 88% of ad spend in the US will be programmatic.

The key benefits are:-

AI Chatbots

Here are two quick questions:

1. How often do you or your staff find yourself answering the same questions?

2. When you last contacted a large company online for support, what were the easiest & most obvious means of getting help?

For most businesses, the answer to 1 is “a lot”. For most customers, the answer to 2 is “Livechat”.

Most large organisations have identified that question 1 is a problem. When you seek support (from, say, a bank, broadband company or retailer) they funnel you to a “knowledge bank” first of all, then to their Livechat function. At least, more often than not.

Livechat is preferable for a host of reasons. The semi-asynchronous nature means agents can handle many conversations at once. For the user, they can get on with other things while awaiting a response from the agent over the chat. 

The issue with conventional Livechat is management. It needs to be managed more or less continually during business hours and it can a bit of a fishing exercise.

However, if you can install an AI chatbot that handles the most common user queries, the benefits could be enormous. First, there would be a reduced burden on administrative and support staff. Second, if done properly it can generate a stream of qualified, ready-to-buy leads.

The “Artificial Intelligence” however, is really just a pre-prepared flowchart of potential interactions. This does require a fair bit of upfront work. That said, it can be added to and augmented over time and the benefits are likely to be substantial.

Appointment Management

On a related note, we have seen a rise in our clients using automated appointment setting and diary management software. We offered the setup and installation of these tools as part of our Toolkit. They have worked well for clients who have built their processes around them.

Essentially, they allow the website to do the heavy lifting of coordinating appointments. This gives you a friction-free means of managing your diary. Clients and prospects can take a proactive step on your website with no need for the usual back-and-forth.

We use Calendly with our clients, but alternatives are available.

WhatsApp Communication

What should be obvious to us all now is that clients want to communicate in a way and at a time that suits them. We’ve spoken often about how the dynamics of the lawyer/client relationship have changed. This is largely a result of the influence of other industries. 

We’re all accustomed (as mentioned above) to being able to communicate with businesses at our convenience.

And what is more convenient than a WhatsApp message? Almost 50% of the entire population use WhatsApp - in fact, it’s a safe bet your firm has at least one internal WhatsApp group on the go!

WhatsApp now has a business option that allows businesses to personally connect with customers. They can answer questions, relay information and promote their services. It’s a feature-rich platform that enables the sorting of contacts and automated responses (akin to the chatbot above).

Its integration with Facebook allows you to exploit real-time marketing opportunities. The ‘Broadcast list’ feature allows you to send marketing messages to a group of people without them being able to see each other - a smart, informal and more impactful alternative to email marketing.

Law firms are likely to have a number of valid concerns regarding WhatsApp: Security, confidentiality, record keeping and maintaining professional distance are among the key concerns. Having solid processes in place will help assuage these concerns.

Video Marketing 

We’ve extolled the virtues of video marketing before, but few law firms have made any great foray into this arena.

The technological barrier to adoption, reticence to engage in more forthright forms of marketing and, dare I say it, an element of self-consciousness on the part of most lawyers means video marketing hasn’t been fully embraced yet.

However, it has a host of benefits in terms of both search engine rankings and conversions. The stats are incredible. According to Wordstream:

There can be a daunting barrier to adoption. Equipment, editing, production, scripting, uploading etc can seem like a lot of fuss, but there is a tangible benefit. Given how significant those benefits may be (particularly for early adopters) it is, in our view, a step worth taking.

These are just some of the forthcoming trends in the fast-moving world of digital marketing. It’s no longer enough to ‘just’ have a website - it needs to look the part, feel great to use, provide a modern user experience, be compliant with various rules and regulations (not least of which is the publication of pricing) AND act as a platform for your law firm’s success.

If you’d like to speak to someone to find out how to leverage (or build) your firm’s online presence, please contact Chris on {{CONTACT_NUMBER}} or email (click here).