Want More Clients? Ramp Up Your Online Marketing
Lawyers who want more clients (and who doesn’t!), can’t afford to NOT market online. While the process of making a firm more visible online is challenging, complicated and technical, fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone.
In fact, lawyers probably shouldn’t go it alone as it isn’t financially worthwhile to do so; the opportunity cost just doesn’t make sense when you can hire professional expertise for a fraction of what you charge your clients.
So advised former lawyer and CPA, Jason Ciment, co-founder of GetVisible, Inc., a digital branding and website marketing firm, when he was interviewed on the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast. He outlined the “Four Cs” – the four stages of online visibility.
- First C – Competitor Analysis:
You want to see what other people are doing, what you’re competing with. By doing an industry analysis, even as simple as going to Google and just typing in, for example, “brain injury lawyer,” you’ll see what websites come up on the first page of Google – who they are, what they do, the keywords they use. And by doing a competitor analysis, you gain two things: 1) you can build a keyword phrase list for your website and 2) you can see how competitive the space [seems as if text is missing here? As written, this doesn’t make sense! Maybe just needs the verb “is” after “space”? Or, something else?]. If you find that there aren’t a lot of websites coming up that are directly competing with you, then maybe there’s a bigger opportunity to promote yourself.
- Second C – Communication Strategy:
Now that you have a keyword phrasing list, you can figure out where to put those keywords in your content. Google expects to see a website with original content and one that is authoritative. You have to say something that somebody else isn’t saying so you can look like you’re an authority in that space. When you’re developing your content strategy or your communications strategy, you want to be thematically dominant.
- Third C – Collaboration:
You need to write content not only for the person looking for an attorney, but also for the person who might engage with this content, e.g., another attorney in a different practice area than yours, with a client in need of an attorney in your practice area who gets to your article through a Google search. They see your article, see that it’s well-written and it initiates the right reaction from them.
In order to become an authority, you also have to look for websites that will link to your webpage. This process is called “back linking” and the goal is to get people to share your content.
- Fourth C – Coding:
From a technical perspective, this means optimizing your website. Optimization includes things like how fast your pages load; do you have headlines on your pages; do you have something that people don’t see, but which Google sees, called a “header tag”; do you have what are called “metatag descriptions” and so on. If a law firm wants to get its website visible on search engines, coding is a major component.
The beginning step to putting a brand online is coming up with a marketing plan to position that brand. So, before writing content or starting to build a website, you need to create a marketing plan for that brand – where the law firm determines its positioning statement, what the competitive marketplace looks like and how the firm will be different – its unique selling proposition, etc. People want to see something that’s more individualized about a law firm so that it’s not just a numbers game, e.g., “This law firm obtained $100 million in settlements and this one obtained $500 million.”
Numbers are a doorway into a conversation but if there are ten law firms that are espousing a $100 million number, what is the person who’s looking at those ten websites supposed to do next? The person goes to the next level, which is additional messaging that can be transmitted through a webpage, a Facebook page or a Twitter profile that makes your firm stand out from other law firms.
The design of a website is not the prime mover of new business. When you create a brand and create a message about your brand and you have a delivery mechanism like search engine rankings or Facebook advertising and your website looks professional, then the likelihood of getting a client will be much greater than just having a very fancy website.
In fact, if you design for a search engine spider to give you a good ranking, then ultimately, you’re going to avoid things that look pretty but don’t perform well. But, you can still have a nice-looking website. Beyond just being professional – and that includes having professional photographs – it can have pizzazz; it can have class; but you want to stay within the guidelines of what makes a well-optimized website.
There are two aspects to social media that are completely separate from website optimization.
- First Aspect: Social Media Marketing:
This includes creating posts for your Facebook page, or even in your LinkedIn status update or news update (LinkedIn Pulse). If you write articles or create videos that get posted on LinkedIn or Facebook, that’s promoting content, and what you need to do is find people who will share your content in the same way you want to find bloggers who will link to your articles. Both are great for search engine ranking potential.
In the social media space, what you want is eyeballs. You want to find people who have an audience that will share your postings so that more people will see them. That’s the point of social media marketing. It’s getting people to see your posts, getting them to follow your brand, and to “Like” it so that if you post something on your own Facebook page and you’ve built up a follower list, more people will see it. But that’s only half the equation.
- Second Aspect: Advertising:
On Google, if you don’t get ranked, you can buy a keyword and pay for the click. You can implement a similar tactic on Facebook (as an example), not based on a keyword, but instead based on a profile. Social media engagement is then when you get a person to click on your ad, see your Facebook page or share a post, which crosses over to marketing because now they’ve engaged. Google says if you share content, it doesn’t impact search engine rankings, but there may be an intersection between search engine visibility and social media engagement, which just proves how complex being online is today and why lawyers need professionals to assist them.
I Need More Clients
Many lawyers say, “I don’t get any business from my website so why should I go and invest in it?” Bottom line: if you don’t invest, you’re not going to get leads from those channels. There are potential clients searching online. If you simply engage and invest, you are going to get more business.
Measuring Success – Ranking, Traffic and Conversion
How can you measure success? Through KPIs, which stands for key performance indicators.
The first indicator is ranking. If a website starts out ranking on page 5 of Google for a particular phrase, and then after online marketing for a few months the site moves up to page 2 or page 1, that is a performance improvement.
The second layer is if the rank produces traffic. Are people clicking on the ranking and coming to the website? Layer number 3 is how many of those visits are converting into phone calls or leads (or sales if it’s an e-commerce website) and there, it gets a little gray because it could be the quality of the website that also interacts with the measurement of success. For example, if you’re driving a lot of traffic but the traffic isn’t converting, it could be that the website isn’t doing a good job converting or it could be that the traffic isn’t on target. Just getting leads isn’t enough; what’s important is getting the right leads.