7 Online Business Generation Tips For Law Firms.
I spend a significant amount of my working week speaking to law firms about growing their business. I regularly speak at events about how law firms can use the internet more effectively to increase their turnover. Time and time again we see certain issues appearing and opportunities missed in terms of not giving your law firm the best possible chance to generate more business online.
To help you avoid the same pitfalls we see so many of your competitors making, I’ve compiled a list of seven things you should consider when reviewing your approach to online business generation.
1. Start with a strategy
Your online platform can be your best performing – and cheapest – salesperson. But it won’t just happen. It's not just about having a website; all of your competitors have websites too. It's what you do with it that will set you apart from the rest. So, what are your goals and how are you going to achieve them? Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and put tracking measures in place from day one.
2. Be visible
There’s no point in spending time and money developing an online platform if nobody is going to see it. Don’t let anybody tell you that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is dead. It’s not. SEO best practice may change, that’s true, but if your platform isn’t presenting properly to Search from a technical SEO perspective, it will never make you money. If your platform was built years ago and your developer at the time told you that your site would be fully optimised for Search, they would, I’m sure, have carried out a first-rate job. However, what worked five years ago will be very different to what's accepted as best practice today.
3. Aggregation of marginal gains
During a Law Society seminar I attended in 2015, I had the pleasure of sharing the podium with law firm rainmaker, Stephen Gold.
Stephen discussed the concept of the “aggregation of marginal gains,” as coined by Dave Brailsford, appointed Performance Director for Team Sky several years ago.
He explained the concept as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement. This analogy can apply to everything, from fitness to business.
This struck a chord with me in terms of our holistic approach to helping our law firm clients generate business online.
While important, content on its own won’t help you to dominate the online space relevant to your service areas. Neither will link building. The same goes for social media, PPC, and any other singular online business generation activity.
It’s important not to get too fixated on one or two of the above elements in isolation. To consistently and successfully generate business online, all of the above (and much more besides) needs to be taken care of on an ongoing basis.
All these little things add up. If you want to win online, you need to cover all the bases.
4. Update your online platform regularly
Your online business generation platform should be viewed as a work in progress that requires ongoing care and attention. Google will respond positively to your website if it is regularly updated. An up to date platform will also help you build trust and establish authority amongst potential instructing agents. Has your blog not been updated for 6 months? Not a good sign. Finalist at the 2010 Law Awards – who cares? Still promoting compromise agreements as a service? You get my point.
5. Get social
Of all the adults in the UK who use the internet, 96% of them use social media (OfCom). This means your target market is guaranteed to be on social media. Consumers are making more and more buying decisions based on companies they like, and see online on a day to day basis, even in the legal sector.
But even if you don’t see opportunities for your firm to generate business directly from social media, being active on relevant social sites will help you compete online. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: if content is fire, social media is gasoline. To get people onto your online platform, you need to actively go out and share it with them, and social media is the best place to do that.
Traffic from social media to your platform indicates to search engines that your website is popular and valuable. Sharing your links on social media is called “social media bookmarking”, and buoys your website’s search rankings.
By networking on social media platforms relevant to your areas of practice and target audience you also place your brand in a position of thought leadership in your field. Communicating with other thought leaders gets your name out there, and can spark valuable business relationships.
6. Be conversion focused
Your online business generation platform needs to be found. Then robust amounts of unique, brand aligned and authoritative content should convince the visitor that they should be speaking to you. Make it easy for them to get in touch with you by having prominent calls to action throughout the site.
Of course, you can’t improve what you can’t measure and to this end conversion tracking is essential. It seems crazy to be willing to spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds each month on your online business generation, but not willing to take the time to really evaluate the return on your investment (ROI). To be able to quickly build up a clear picture of how your platform is performing for you, it’s important that you set up Google Analytics (there are a number of other analytics tools available, but GA is free and serves up all the data you could ever need).
And don’t forget to set up call tracking. We make use of call tracking software to track all calls made from website visitors. Not only does this let you determine where calls are coming from, it gives insight into what areas of your site (and thus your business) are performing best.
As our Client Relationship Director Dave Kerr says: “There can be a certain reluctance among solicitors to engage fully with their online business generation as they feel it’s a nebulous enterprise with little in the way of measurable returns. Nowadays, the opposite is true. You can track pretty much everything that happens on your site and determine exactly how it is performing. Your analytics strategy is every bit as important as design, and measuring conversions should be the beating heart of it.”
7. Play the long game
A well-developed online business generation strategy will help you to generate more business. BUT! It will not happen overnight.
Google won’t trust you because you have been focusing on your online presence for a week, or a month, or even a few months, depending on the competitiveness of your areas of practice and location(s). It can take time to establish yourself as an authority. And don’t try to cheat. Gaming Google won’t work. They will catch up with you in the end.
We ask our clients to come with us for an initial period of six months, after which we can reasonably expect to be delivering positive results. If you are approached by any form of online marketing ‘guru’ promising you instant results, page one rankings overnight or anything of the sort, please – run a mile. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.