Law firms have faced many challenges due to changes in the legal sector such as new types of legal service, law firm mergers and pricing pressures (outlined in more detail here). It is likely that firms will continue to face further obstacles in the future.The good news is there are a number of ways that your law firm can significantly improve its business leads and beat competitors by developing a prominent online presence. In this digital age, more and more people are seeking legal services online. Below, I have outlined four major predictions for the online world in 2016 which can hopefully act as a guide to how your firm can come out on top next year.
1 - The year of the video in the legal sector
It was claimed that 2015 was the year of content. It became more important than ever for firms and businesses to produce rich and copious content on each website page for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) purposes. Whilst written content full of specific and relevant keywords should continue to be an integral part of your firm’s online marketing strategy, it is necessary to acknowledge the rise of interactive content and video marketing for law firms. Video is far from a new phenomenon; social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have been experimenting with auto-played videos and video advertisements for some time now. The important point to note is that Google now recognises video content in its search engine algorithm. Additionally, Google takes into account the amount of time a user spends on your website and rewards well performing sites with better rankings, hence why video is experiencing rapid growth. In 2016, choose to have a ‘welcome’ clip on your homepage or, even better, one video on each page describing your firm’s main services. Creating bite-sized, interactive content will give your site a boost in search engine rankings. Video content is also excellent for user experience – it can make a more lasting impression, is often more engaging and is usually easier to digest.
2 - Mobile will dominate – Ensure your law firm’s website is responsive
Gone are the days of viewing an item/service on your phone but completing the purchase on a laptop. 2015 has seen mobile substantially outdo desktop sales. With recent advances in smartphone technology, we expect everything to be at our disposal online across all devices. Put simply, if your website is not responsive on mobile/tablet then you could be losing out on a number of new business leads for your law firm. In 2016, it is imperative that a website is as easy to navigate on a mobile and tablet as it is on a desktop. An overall responsive site on all devices helps to combat a high bounce rate (leaving a site without navigating away from the landing page) and subsequently improve search engine rankings. Google also give preference to mobile-optimised sites when presenting results for searches, so ensuring your site is responsive on all devices is vital.
3 - Rise in paid advertising (while a more competitive legal market fights over a static volume of enquiries)
With regards to social media, it is becoming increasing difficult to get content viewed on social platforms without paying. According to research done by Forrester, Facebook displays a company’s post to just 16% of its audience. It is even tougher on Twitter as on average a tweet is seen by only 10% of a brand’s followers. Going forward, the best way to ensure your firm’s message is seen by the right target audience is by “paying to play”. The good news about advertising on Twitter and Facebook is you can monitor how well an advert is performing, adjust your budget on a daily basis, target based on very specific demographics and closely monitor what type of content is the most engaging for your audience. Worldwide, the advertising spend on social media is predicted to reach $29.9 billion in 2016, which is a 69% increase since 2014*. The increase in paid advertising doesn’t just apply to social media, however. In 2016, internet advertising in general is predicted to grow by 10% and mobile ads by a staggering 48%. A Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign can open up a wealth of opportunities for your firm, now more than ever. Allocating a portion of your online marketing budget for paid adverts in the coming year is certainly a sensible move. See our ultimate guide to PPC for law firms here.
4 - Developments in sophisticated legal web design
The structure and functionality of your website should be straightforward and attractive in order to improve user experience. From a web design point of view, we have seen firms’ online enquiries increase after improvements to its branding. It has been reported that a visitor to a website will form an opinion of your brand in less than two-tenths of a second* which goes to show how important it is to consider how your website is perceived. Design shapes the perception of a website and thus the brand associated to it. In terms of a website design, the importance of an aesthetically pleasing, modern, easy-to-navigate site is vital for your brand.
Get the best possible online strategy for your firm in 2016
In 2016, we can confidently say that through a range of online marketing techniques, your business leads will significantly increase. More people are online searching for your services than ever before. Your firm will be rewarded by being proactive and ensuring your firm is doing its utmost to be ranking well. If you would like more information on how our team could help your firm with any of the above to get your 2016 off to the best possible start, please call 03333 442 722 and ask for Chris or fill out an online enquiry form.
See also our update on SRA regulations regarding published pricing for certain services for legal firms in England & Wales. A regulatory update that can have a big impact on how you stand out from your compeititors.