The New Year is a chance for a fresh start. It’s a time of resolutions, renewed resolve and reinvigorated staff. This year, we are aiming to take advantage of the post new-year lull to help or clients reappraise their online growth strategy, which will really advance their online online business generation and make this their best year ever. Produced with law firms and barristers’ chambers in mind, here are our top 12 tips to make this your best year ever:
1. Plan & Strategise
Put in place a strategic plan from the start. What do you want to get out of your online efforts? How are you going to go about achieving your targets? What tactics will you use to generate new leads and new business online?
A dedicated plan, broken down into monthly and quarterly goals, with tasks allocated to members of staff (partners and other fee-earners, marketing team, support staff etc) means you are more likely to stick to your marketing plan. (The same goes for your 3-times-a-week gym plan, incidentally!)
A strategy is the overarching means of achieving your object. A plan is the framework you’ll use to implement that. Contained within these are the tactics you’ll use. Below we outline some of the best online business generation tactics for law firms, lawyers and barristers.
2. New Year, New You
New Year is a time of personal change and goal-setting. We all vow to lose weight, get in shape, save for a holiday or learn a language. From a business perspective, make this the year you become truly internet-savvy. Like any personal development plan, the more you put into making the internet work for you, the more you get out of it.
Even if you’re a more experienced solicitor with one eye on the golf course, you can benefit from the business opportunities the internet provides. If you’re a younger solicitor eager to carve a niche, why not try to become the firm’s resident law firm growth expert?
3. Establish your presence
If you don’t have an online presence, make this the year you get one. If you do have an online presence, make this the year you expand it. Online growth is not just about your website, although that should be at the core of your efforts.
It’s about your presence on Google, in local and business directories, your membership of (and contribution to) other relevant sites, your listings on review sites, your social media presence and your email communications with clients. It’s also about your contributions to established legal journals and publications.
Google is increasingly making use of ‘entity search’ – this is when they pull through all the information they have on an ‘entity’ (i.e. a business, a person, a film or even a concept) and display at-a-glance information in their sidebar. For your law firm this is likely to be a location, list of services, your contact details and perhaps even linked staff profiles of you’ve been smart about it.
The more visible you are, the more chance you’ll have to communicate with your potential customers.
4. Bring your site into the 21st century
The internet is old news. Make sure your site isn’t. We still see many law firms who embraced the first flush of online marketing by building a website and who haven’t touched it since. Sadly, your Web 1.0, offering is probably costing your firm business. As alluded to above, consumers (or potential clients, to use the vernacular), have certain expectations now. In our interactive, digital world, clients expect more than a 1-page website with a list of services and a phone number.
Web users expect images, staff profiles, several means of contacting you and some sign that the site (and thus your firm) is a going concern. Blogs, new content, links to social profiles are all factors which contribute to the client picking up the phone and calling you.
Website design for law firms, as for anyone else, is very much a trend-based enterprise. Certain types of ‘look’ come into and out of fashion. (Look at Apple’s move to ‘flat’ design over the last few years and how everyone has followed suit). Your site doesn’t have to look exactly like your competitors but it should at least be similar to the firms whose business you want to target. A clean look and feel, with all of the right elements present (images, video, calls to action, pics of staff and so on) will beat a late 90’s HTML-nightmare hands down!
5. Content is King
Google’s recent algorithm updates have incrementally moved the needle away from linking and other easily-spammed SEO tactics towards putting an emphasis on strong content.
Over the past few years Google has been continuing to favour sites that provide their users with in-depth, relevant, authoritative, personalised content tailored to their needs.
Put simply, the more you write on your areas of expertise, your services, your activities and about you and your business, the more your law firm grows and the more money you will make.
Your content should be designed to do one of three things:
- Provide information – informative, educational content that gives an insight into the legal area or problem the user faces allows you to attract those who are searching for an answer to their queries.
- Aid in navigation – simply, this is to help users who are looking for you to find your site. If your law firm shares a name with an auto-mechanic in Delaware, you want to be sure that clients in your locale find you and not them! Even if your name is unique, you need to make sure your website is displayed prominently in search when someone types your name into Google.
- Help users make transactions – this will help attract those who are searching for terms like “I need a Power of Attorney in Leeds”. These are people with an immediate need of your services so your content should help them find you, sell your services and let them contact you.
6. Make New Friends & Connections
Make this the year you make new friends and connections. Get out there on social media and share relevant news and updates from your practice areas and from within your firm, share photos and videos and interact with fellow professionals and potential clients alike.
While it is more difficult to establish a definite ROI on such activity, it’s essentially a form of free (or cheap) advertising and relationship building. There are any number of tools you can use to make this process easier and to seek out relevant contacts. If you’re already online then make this the year you make a splash online. If not, make this the year you lick LinkedIn, tame Twitter, grasp Google+ and get a foothold in Facebook.
Not only that, but sharing your site’s new valuable content on social media is a sure-fire way to generate rankings, traffic and new business.
7. Think Mobile
A few years ago China introduced ‘texting lanes’ on public highways to prevent injuries caused by distracted mobile users. A definite sign of the times! According to studies, 73% of us check our phones at least once an hour (the other 27% must be in meetings!). From email, to text, to apps, to web browsing, we’re always connected to the ‘net through our phones.
Your strategy should focus on offering a mobile-responsive, multi-channel output to complement your other online activities. Email newsletters, can be used to put your firm in the palms of your customers’ hands.
8. Go Local
The internet is great for broadening your potential audience, but it’s important to remember it’s also a route to the local market. As discussed elsewhere, making sure you have a big local presence both in terms of your links to the community and in terms of links and citations in local business directories (as well as a listing on Google maps), will help your most important clients – the local ones – to find you and get in touch.
Again, google is becoming increasingly clever and able to work out what results it should present. If I search for “Indian Takeaway Restaurant” then I’ll be shown the restaurants near me. Google knows this a locality-based search so no matter how much SEO the Taj Mahal in Peckham has carried out, they won’t be shown in my results for Glasgow’s Southside! They will outrank their local competitors though. See our guide to local SEO for law firms here for more information.
9. Shout about it
Won a case? Completed a deal? Team member had a baby? Raised money for charity? Then shout about it! If something interesting has happened in your office then get it out on your blog, on social media, on the site. Share images, videos and text and tag in anyone relevant. Get yourself out there and share the good news.
Which leads on to…
10. Stay Human
We lawyers are an inherently risk-averse bunch and like to present a professional image. However, it’s a true saying that people buy from people. If you can present a human side by entering into discussions, sharing and liking other people’s updates, sharing your interests and engaging in a way that not’s purely business-oriented then you’ll reap the rewards in the long term.
11. Ask clients to leave a review
As well as being risk-averse, we lawyers are a humble bunch: never hogging the limelight, content with a job well done and never boastful. However, Google isn’t quite so happy to give the quiet woman her just rewards.
More and more ‘review’ sites are springing up which Google are co-opting into their results. We’ve all seen 5 stars (or fewer, depending on the company!) crop up in search results. These are ratings pulled from sites like Trustpilot, Feefo and Google Local to aid the searcher in making an informed decision.
With a simple tweak to your site, these results can be displayed in search making users MUCH more likely to click through to you. To get these reviews, simply build a feedback process into your plan above and email, call or text clients to ask for a review. If your service is what it should be, the rest will take care of itself!
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If you are seriously looking to grow your practice, you should be looking to improve the quality of the business you generate online. Aim for the most profitable and fulfilling work and avoid the ‘tyre kickers’ (as we call them).
We’d be happy to show you how an effective online business generation strategy can add to your bottom line. For further information as to how you can embrace the concepts of inbound marketing to generate more profitable business contact Chris on 01413548862 or fill out our online enquiry form.