More than many other businesses, law firms and lawyers seem to be struggling at creating an effective online footprint. Many are still exclusively using traditional marketing methods such as paid print and online advertising, contact lists, and referrals. While there is still a place for these tactics, the internet has lessened their overall effectiveness. Today, consumer trends have made online research a core element in the decision-making process. Consequently, if you do not have an inbound marketing strategy that effectively grows your visibility, shows off your expertise, and builds your reputation, then you are losing clients.
Here are some important statistics that law firms need to understand. According to the Pew Research, the number of adults who are online has grown from 52 percent in 2000 to 88 percent in 2016. Additionally, smartphone ownership has risen from 35 percent in 2011 to 77 percent in 2016, with “smartphone-only” internet users increasing from 8 percent in 2013 to 12 percent. Finally, social media adoption by American adults has climbed from just 5 percent in 2005 to 69 percent in 2016. As a result of these and many other trends, every business, regardless of industry, needs a strong online footprint in order to attract clients and beat the competition.
Explaining Inbound Marketing
Inevitably, the question that many law firms and lawyers have is, “How is inbound marketing really any different from what we are doing now?” They have a website that they paid good money to have designed and optimized for certain keywords. They also may have a social media profiles that they post and tweet about their services. Moreover, they are spending a lot of money on paid research. What can inbound marketing do that is not being done with these other techniques?
Fundamentally, inbound marketing is not new. Essentially, it is the process of attracting potential clients to your law firm by providing useful and valuable information. In the past, a law firm or lawyer may have provided a free seminar on the subject of estate planning, landlord-tenant relationships, or credit repair. By providing these free workshops, a law firm could effectively attract people who need a lawyer for writing a will, creating a trust, eviction procedures, or filing bankruptcy. Inbound marketing takes this strategy to the next level.
Ideally, most law firms would like to capture a lead at the precise moment they have decided they need legal counsel. However, as we all know, people don’t move in straight lines. The person who decides to file for divorce has likely thought about it for months or even years. The person who eventually files for bankruptcy likely did a lot of research on the impact to their credit, their spouse, and the employment. A first-time landlord may have even tried to write their own lease.
Regardless, in each instance, these individuals are going online to find useful and valuable information that helps them solve their problem. They are not looking for self-promoting content. Nevertheless, by meeting their need and feeding the demand for information, you become a trusted resource, an authority, and the obvious choice when the ultimate decision is made.
Elements of an Inbound Marketing Strategy
Traditional marketing is intrusive and is something that most people are actively working to tune out. Consider your own behavior when you come across advertising. People are employing spam filters and ad blockers. They will record television shows so that they can skip the commercials. They will toss direct mail and print flyers straight in the trash. There are even apps that will block marketing calls from your phone. On the other hand, inbound marketing is about becoming naturally found rather than being intrusive and aggressive. Be that as it may, there are several essential elements of an effective inbound marketing strategy.
1. Web Design – While you may have a very professional looking website, it is not doing its job if it is not producing results. Many law firms will use their website like an online brochure. Unfortunately, this is not conducive to building an audience or converting potential leads. An inbound marketing web design will use white space, navigation, calls-to-action, and other design elements to help guide visitors to specific conversation points.
2. Content Creation – Content includes the creation of blogs, social posts, videos, newsletters, e-books, and more. While content is for the purpose of attracting leads by feeding a demand for information, it also has a circular relationship with search rank, building online authority, and user behavior. While this is a bit of an oversimplification, more high-quality content will result in a boost to your SEO and visibility.
3. Landing Pages – How does your law firm’s website capture lead information? There is a good chance you are only using a “contact us” page. The sole purpose of a landing page is to create a conversion event by making a free offer in exchange for contact information. The offer can be a subscription to your newsletter, an e-book, or a free consultation. Regardless, each landing page is optimized based on the needs, wants, goals, values, or pain-points of different customers.
4. Social Media – Social media has a long list of benefits. First, it is the most effective way of distributing the content you created on your website. You can’t rely on search traffic alone. Moreover, it is an effective way to create marketing partnerships by sharing the valuable content of others. Some of this sharing will help you stand out as an authority, but can also identify you as locally relevant. But, probably the most important benefit is reputation management. People will evaluate you based on how you engage with followers, including dealing with questions, comments, and complaints.
5. Retargeting – While traditional pay-per-click and keyword search advertising have its place, retargeting provides additional value. When a person visits your website, they have shown an interest in you and your area of expertise. Retargeting will display advertising to past website visitors, reminding them to come back. The more often that a person visits your website, there is a greater probability of converting.
Do you have questions? What haven’t we covered yet that is important to you? If you would like to talk about inbound marketing for law firms and lawyers, please contact us.