Two ebiz topics

The increasing importance of video on law firm websites

Two minutes, yes, just two minutes, that’s all the average visitor to a law firm’s website spends looking around the site. On average they look at between three and four pages per visit ”¦ that’s it! These numbers come from the 2011 benchmark that my firm, Conscious Solutions, ran over almost 200 law firm websites and they have been pretty consistent since we first started doing it in 2009.

So, what can a law firm do to increase the time spent by visitors on their website and why is it an important metric?

Let’s take the second point first. The longer someone spends on your website the more likely they are to be “engaged” with you, whether they are an existing client or a prospective one. The more likely they are to fill in an enquiry form, or download some free information, and that’s a good thing, right?

Writing more “Services” pages detailing every little work topic you do is not going to help. Even firms with a massive amount of detailed information on their site only get visitors to spend a little more than the 2 minutes average. Written text is just not going to do it.

I believe that video is one of the few techniques law firms can utilise to increase the time spent on their site.

What kinds of video?

Here are some examples of “videos” that law firms are currently putting on their site:

Some firms are also using YouTube to “host” their videos. Whilst not technically “on” the firm’s site, these videos will still provide a feeling of innovation and will enable the firm to make a “connection” with the potential client.

For a dramatic video hosted on YouTube, this time for a leading legal software company, see the TikitTFB photo/music video taken at their recent National User Group Conference.

What quality?

I’ve changed my mind on this over the last few months. I used to say that any video you produced should be of BBCesque quality. However I am now recommending that law firms are less precious about the production quality.

The thing that changed my mind on this was seeing how the BBC are now using Skype on programmes such as Sunday Morning Live rather than having viewers doing a “phone-in”.

You need to decide how much to spend on the quality of your videos. Getting a film crew in with two cameras and a Producer and then spending a few days in the editing suite is clearly going to cost a *lot* more than setting up your own camera and either doing self editing or having your digital marketing agency do the editing for you. Sure, one will look better than the other, but if you are planning to have a regular stream of videos on your site then a lower cost is clearly going to be better.

My two top tips for shooting your own videos are:

  • Buy some proper lighting (see resource list below).
  • Invest in an HD video camera that has an external microphone input and then buy a clip-on microphone.

The US legal marketing consultant Larry Bodine has some great video recording tips for lawyers on his website.

Video resources

You might find the following websites useful as you start to produce your own videos:

So whether you decide to go for BBC quality or something more home-grown, good luck with your video projects.

The biggest digital marketing mistake most law firms still make

What is it? Email marketing (lack of). That means no email newsletters to clients, no email newsletters to prospects, no email update to referrers, no “off the cuff” emails pointing them at new things on their website or useful references on the web.

Email marketing, whether it’s newsletters, special offers, seminar invites or any other idea you might have, is one of the most cost effective ways of popping up in front of a client/prospect every now and again saying “I’m still here”.

Here are some of the excuses firms give for not sending out emails:

  • Your data does not allow you to distinguish first name from last so you cannot easily address a letter as “Dear David”.
  • Where do you store all your clients/prospects email addresses? Most people store contact details in Outlook. The reason I ask the question is that Outlook is where you do most of your email from, not from within your practice management system (PMS), not from an Excel spreadsheet, not from your CRM system. So email addresses are in the wrong place i.e. Outlook, not a centralised system (PMS or CRM).
  • You do not email them in a systematic manner so you do not know if the email addresses that are stored in your practice management system are accurate.
  • Given that it’s January 2012, how easy was it for you to put together your mailing list for your Christmas ecard? You did do one didn’t you? Or (let me guess) you decided that mashing all the email addresses into one Excel file was the last thing you wanted to do in the run up to Christmas!

Given that all the points made above relate to data, it is hardly surprising that many law firms are wary about doing some kind of regular email newsletter. “It’s just too much like hard work” is a comment we hear regularly.

For firms which do send out email newsletters, some firms write their own news, some employ an external copywriter to write bespoke content and some buy in the content. Clearly the last option is the easiest and usually the most cost effective. All you then need to do it top and tail the bought in content. Yet even this can be too much for many firms.

Just get started

You need to get started sending out some emails, and you also need to get used to checking open rates and click through rates to find out how successful they are. Here are some tips:

  • KISS (keep it simple, stupid) – start small and simple. Start with a small list, even 50 or so people is fine.
  • MailChimp makes it easy and it’s free for up to 2,000 contacts and 12,000 emails per month. (If you are a Conscious client we provide an email marketing tool as part of your CMS).
  • Simple template – don’t start designing complicated templates, just replicate some kind of simple text alert email template. It will be faster and cheaper than getting a posh template designed.
  • Data collecting competition – get the whole firm involved. Give them a sheet of paper and ask them to write down the email address of everyone they speak to over the next month. Award a prize at the end of the month for the person who has collected the most. Why paper? Don’t waste people’s time typing data into anything, give that to your super-fastest typist to do, or offshore it using something like Elance – I recently got 1,200 pieces of data rekeyed for $60.

So, what’s to stop you getting started with even a little campaign, just one email, just to 50 people? Get some experience soon. You know what the Co-op are going to be doing when they get licenses as an ABS later this month? They’re going to be sending out mass offers to all their members. How many of your clients do you think are members of the Co-op and are going to get “distracted” by the myriad of offers they are going to be sent?

Remember the mantra “I’m still here ”¦”!

David Gilroy is the Sales & Marketing Director for Conscious Solutions and is one of the founders of the company. He has personally worked with over 250 law firms on their digital marketing strategies including social media, SEO, PPC and CRM.