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Articles filed under Marketing

Signpost in blue sky with fluffy white clouds

The legal directory industry shows no sign of decline. With the advent of the internet it would have been reasonable to expect the directories business to fade away as more people took to search engines to find their preferred counsel. However, the directories have embraced the internet by providing online versions with relevant information and as a result they are doing better than ever.

As you might imagine there are a number of directories to choose from. However, it’s worth noting that they are run in very different ways. For example, both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 spend a great deal of time and resources researching the legal market, both in the UK and overseas. Their results are both unbiased and unambiguous, ranking the top-rated counsel (as found by their research) in each practice area in each jurisdiction. Martindale-Hubbell and Who’s Who Legal appear to be more listings services rather than publications that have been methodically researched and ranked (I’ve received emails from Who’s Who inviting me to buy a profile in their directory and suggested that I would fit into the litigation category …. Scary thought for a marketing agency!). Practical Law Company’s directory ceased to be operational in 2013. It is worth mentioning that all of the directories have a cost associated with them. However, both Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners will still include the firm/chambers and lawyers in the directory rankings even if they choose not to purchase a profile. It’s not clear from the Who’s Who website how they deal with this.

Google AdWords

In February of this year Google made a substantial change to the way it inserts some advertisements into the search results when searching from a desktop computer.

The advertisements on the right hand side of the screen, known as the “rail”, have all been removed. And Google now serves up to four text ads above the organic search engine results (SERPs) and a further three ads at the bottom.

Outsourcing generally makes the media headlines when a multi-million pound government contract hits the buffers, and we all moan when having to deal with an overseas customer contact centre where the quality of the phone line and the quaint accent of the operator combine to leave us frustrated rather than delighted.

In the legal sector, media coverage of outsourcing has mainly focused on the wave of legal business process outsourcing to countries far and near.

As firms have become more confident in the use of outsourcing, they have extended its use to an increasing number of non-core services, ranging from telephone answering to cloud technology services. This article is concerned specifically with the outsourcing of marketing activities.

Law firms are increasingly competing for attention on the internet and, with content marketing being one of the main ways for firms to generate quality leads, the online space is becoming increasingly saturated. Regardless of which online channels firms choose to focus on (eg Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc), it’s becoming ever more difficult for law firms looking to be noticed to stand out from the crowd and drive more business online.

As difficult as it can be to get lawyers to write content for online publication, even once a great piece of content has been written, there’s no guarantee of it being seen or shared online. Due to the sheer amount of competition online, regardless of the talent you have at your law firm and no matter how well you think you differentiate yourselves from your competitors, it is still possible for great, unique content to go unnoticed. To put it bluntly, simply creating good content does not cut it anymore.

Digital Marketing Efforts

One of the most difficult aspects of my job is helping people outside of the digital marketing industry understand the way search has changed over time and convincing them that when they come to us asking for “SEO”, now what they really need is digital marketing.

It’s not that people do not understand, at a basic level, what it is that we do; it’s more that what constitutes SEO has itself changed, as search engines have developed and become more sophisticated and as the online environment itself has matured. People’s understanding of SEO remains slightly behind the rapidly-changing search marketing environment.

Much of the free content we enjoy on the web is supported by the advertising publishers sell on those pages. Until recently we have readily accepted this bargain. However, as advertising methods have become ever more distracting and intrusive, users have in increasing numbers taken to installing ad blockers to mitigate the effects: they facilitate a faster and cleaner browsing experience, enhance privacy, reduce the chances of picking up malware and save data.

According to a recent report by “anti-ad blocking” company PageFair, ad blocking has grown by over 40 per cent globally over the past year, taking the worldwide numbers of ad blocking users to almost 200 million. However, UK ad blocking users rose at a far greater rate over the same period, by 82 per cent to 12 million.

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch October 2015. Legal Web Watch is a free monthly email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

Ad blocking has been much discussed recently, particularly since Apple allowed apps with ad blocking capabilities to operate with Safari in iOS 9. However, the steam had already been building for some time as users have got increasingly frustrated with intrusive advertising and web browser tracking degrading their experience.

There are so many excellent tools for different purposes that I think I need to start with two pieces of rather generic advice.

Firstly, your time is expensive and limited; so fast, easy things are generally better value than less slick free ones. Secondly, where a product has a free version and a paid-for version, the latter is almost always a lot better. Insisting on “free” is normally a false economy.

Here are my five favourites.

Digital marketing plays a major role in marketing today alongside traditional methods. Unlike traditional channels, digital marketing allows marketers to target and track campaign successes with accuracy. After all, how can you truly know how many readers have seen your advert in a printed trade publication or how many recipients have opened your postal mailshot? Even your best guesstimate could be far off the mark.

Interflora v Marks & Spencer

Should you bid on a competitor’s trade mark in AdWords? This is a simple question, but not one that has a simple answer.

The High Court ruled in 2013 that you should not, as doing so would amount to a trade mark infringement.

The case before the court involved Marks & Spencer and Interflora. M&S had made an AdWords bid on the name “Interflora”. Users who searched that name were given results that directed them to M&S’s flower delivery service. Interflora claimed that this was an instance of trade mark infringement. The judge agreed, saying the adverts may lead the average well-informed internet user to think that M&S was a member of Interflora’s network.

What do you need do to generate more profitable business through your firm’s website?

In terms of generating business online, content is no longer king, it’s the kingdom. While the other online marketing activities that your in-house marketing team should be carrying out on an ongoing basis remain important (keeping your social profiles alive, electronic direct mail etc), regularly updated, high quality, unique content that is relevant to your service offering and of interest to your target audience is an increasingly potent weapon when it comes to driving traffic and conversions.

It is this content that will help you engage with current and potential clients and turn your website into an easily accessible portal of thought leadership and opinion.

Today most consumers go online to find legal help. So naturally, a firm’s website is now at the heart of most legal marketing strategies. FindLaw UK, a legal solution from Thomson Reuters, take this opportunity to share some key strategies for online success.