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.

What’s at the heart of your marketing?

While online marketing is about more than just having a website, your site is the heart of your web presence. Regardless of how they hear about you, most legal prospects will visit your website to collect information before they contact you. Think of your website like a funnel where traffic from all your marketing efforts eventually arrives. An optimised, content-rich site is a key resource for establishing your brand, educating site visitors and converting them to clients. There are three components of a successful, high-impact website: visibility, design and content.

1. Visibility

Can the prospects who need your expertise easily find you via search engines? Achieving good online visibility is key to having your choice of the best cases, particularly now that most lawyers have an internet presence of some type. Factors that can enhance your visibility include:

  • Site optimisation, meaning a website with a high percentage of keywords and phrases that are unique to your practice area and location, and reflect how your prospects search
  • Links from other relevant, law-related websites that direct users to your site. The more quality links you build from trusted, authoritative sites, the more popular and visible your site becomes

Promoting your firm via a range of online marketing channels is another effective way to enhance visibility, since Google results now are as likely to include videos, maps and social-media results as they are traditional web text.

2. Design

Effective site design engages people and projects a strong, persuasive image that reflects your brand. This can include:

  • Photos and other visual elements that reflect your geographic location and key practice areas
  • Headlines, section heads and other prominent blocks of copy that stress unique capabilities
  • A consistent colour palette and tone that appeal to your target audience

3. Content

Site content can include everything from lawyer profiles and FAQs to online videos and blogs ”” all the compelling information that defines your unique value proposition. It serves two purposes:

  • To bring search engines to your site. For that reason it should be clear and concise, optimised for search indexing and updated frequently, so that it’s fresh for search engines and site visitors alike.
  • To highlight your areas of expertise in a persuasive way. Practice centre pages, articles you’ve written, a blog devoted to your area of the law ”¦ all are great ways to position yourself as an authority that consumers can trust

What are the key online marketing trends to support your website?

Legal directories, video and social media are key areas for lawyers who want to engage more deeply with prospects and convert them at a higher rate. Now that search engines utilise “universal search” ”” meaning that the search results they serve up include videos, local business listings, Facebook profiles and other forms of information in addition to traditional text websites ”” these tools also boost your chance of ranking high in searches that matter to your firm. So how does this look in context?

Legal Directories

The growth of the internet and the decline of print directories have led to another trend in legal marketing: more people using online legal directories”” which pool lawyer biographies and legal information in a central online location ”” to research legal issues and find lawyers in a specific geographic location or practice area. Online legal directories receive millions of visitors every year because they provide:

  • An easy, accessible starting point for people who need a lawyer and do not use the yellow pages (a growing majority)
  • Search tools that help the user find the right lawyer for their specific situation.

Online directories benefit lawyers as well by linking you to prospects that have come online specifically to solve a legal problem. They need answers and, more often than not, a lawyer. The fact that they’re motivated, and can easily search by location or legal need, often means that they’re better-qualified leads. Legal directories are an opportunity to disseminate links to your website, location maps, contact information and other details about your firm.

Video

Online video is a potent brand-building tool for law firms. The power of video to both engage and inform ”” to promote a business in a warm, personal way while still providing useful information ”” makes it ideally suited for law firm marketing. Placing videos on your website and other popular sites can enhance brand awareness, give you high-impact exposure points across the internet and help prospects verify that “this is someone I want to work with.”

Social Media

An effective social media presence helps educate people about your firm, build relationships and generate word-of-mouth recommendations. A blog, a Twitter feed, your presence on Facebook; they’re all tools that enable you to proactively manage your reputation, build credibility and generate search hits (since search engines like Google “read” Facebook, Twitter and blogs). To extend your firm’s reach on social media, it’s important to build an audience by establishing “friends,” “connections” and “followers.” Connect to the businesses, people and pages relevant to the firm and its practice areas.

How do I drive engagement?

Here are a few general rules to help you establish your authority across all social media channels:

1. Listen

It may seem paradoxical, but one of the best communication tools you have at your disposal is the ability to listen to what people are saying in the social media sphere. Whether you set up a Google alert for a particular topic or simply devote a small amount of time each day to scanning Twitter updates, active listening will inform you about others’ interests and give you insights into new opportunities for your firm.

2. Invest time

Social media is a conversation. By setting aside time on a regular basis to post updates and respond to comments, you’ll help ensure that your information is engaging and that users who want to connect with you don’t feel ignored. Devoting even five minutes per day to social media can generate real value for your law firm. Keep your profiles up to date and ensure they reflect any new accomplishments or changes at your firm.

3. Don’t be afraid to have fun

It’s important to stay professional, but most consumers of social media will react positively if you take the periodic opportunity to lighten the mood and put a relatable, human face on your firm. Step back occasionally and ask yourself a few questions. Are my updates “push” only, meaning that I’m only sharing information and never asking questions or sharing at a human level? Do my updates give the impression that I’m overly serious and lack a sense of humour? Rely on your natural conversational skills to guide you. Given the nature of the legal industry, you may not experience an overwhelming amount of audience engagement through social media. However, every time a follower does mention your firm or re-tweets a message, you are presented with an opportunity. Treat every mention as an enquiry and every re-tweet as a social referral, and respond to them just as you would to a potential client who leaves you a voicemail. Likewise, just as you would thank a colleague or client for a referral or endorsement, thank the social media users who go out of their way to promote your firm and its online content. The bottom line is that done well, social media can help you build a positive, authoritative presence online ”” one that drives referrals, generates traffic to your website and brings new clients through the front door.

And to conclude?

The internet is a chance to create your own destiny ”” to define your firm and build the type of practice you want. The website now is at the heart of most legal marketing strategies. The keys to a successful website are good visibility, site design that reinforces your brand and content that engages site visitors. Today, it is important to identify your online opportunities which are ever expanding and taking on innovative new forms. Everything from maps to tweets to blogs appear in Google results and resources like online video and social media are increasingly powerful, emerging ways to connect with new clients. Leveraging those online marketing trends in support of a strong, clearly defined brand is the key to a cost-effective, successful client development strategy that can help your law firm achieve its goals.

FindLaw UK from Thomson Reuters offers trusted law firm marketing solutions from website builds, design and content writing, to blogging services and social media, helping to drive the kind of traffic you want. View our product demo:

For more information on how FindLaw UK can take your marketing strategy to the next level, contact us and request a free audit of your current website today.

Call 020 7542 3725. Email findlawuk.info@thomsonreuters.com. Visit findlaw.co.uk/law-firm-marketing

Thomson Reuters is the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, intellectual property and science and media markets, powered by the world’s most trusted news organization. For more information, go to legalsolutions.thomsonreuters.co.uk.

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