Law Firms have traditionally been one of the slower industry segments to adopt a consistent approach to digital channels as part of their overall marketing strategy.
Times have changed, and firms that continue to lean on word of mouth referral networks and 'general awareness' are in for a rude awakening. The internet and proliferation of information now in the hands of more informed prospects has rewritten the rule book for practically every decision-making cycle, including Law.
Traditional networks and relationships still undoubtedly play a role in generating revenue, but any firm wanting to seriously grow file openings in the digital age will need to diversify their approach. To compound this further, older generations of Partners are retiring, and their contact groups are leaving with them. A new generation of business leaders that have grown up with Google are now challenging the old stereotypes of liquid lunches, trusted suppliers and handshake agreements to seal long-term business relationships.
Firms with a consumer focus have been quicker off the mark to invest in their web presence and advertising strategies. Intense competition to attract initial enquiries in areas such as personal injury and family law has forced the issue.
Law firms in business and commercial fields have been slower to change but they, too, are coming to the realisation that the businesses they are looking to reach are driven by individuals that are turning to digital channels to conduct research and inevitably form value judgements about what they see and read about a firm before contacting them.
This is certainly the case at the initial research stage and still applies when a contact has had a word of mouth referral and wants to read up on your firm and areas of expertise before contacting you.
A poorly conceived and outdated website may even burn the enquiry before it reaches you.
Firms are well-versed in client relationship management and time management systems for existing client matters. However, few have a dedicated CRM to track and monitor initial leads and enquiries. The appointment of a law firm can be a high touch process with multiple decision makers involved points being required to drive a final appointment. A dedicated system to manage enquiries and increase levels of accountability amongst practitioners is fast becoming non-negotiable.
Many Firms thrive on repeat business but do little to stimulate an on-going, meaningful dialogue with existing clients. It’s important to evolve beyond the tired old monthly newsletter. In order to leverage the true value of your clients, and unlock further referrals, consider implementing a segmented, personalised email strategy that nurtures existing relationships and keeps your firm 'top of mind'.
Lawyers need to maintain and develop their own ‘personal brand’. Clients will increasingly research individual practitioners and review their areas of expertise and experience. A good way to amplify content and articles that are published on a firm’s website is to share them on LinkedIn. This will reach a lawyer’s own network and also provides an opportunity for the content to be shared on (and reach a new audience). Last but not least, it provides an opportunity to direct increased traffic back to the company website, assisting in organic visibility and SEO.
All are important considerations for any individual or business that are actively reviewing firms to engage. Nothing achieves this in our time-poor world like video. Short videos that look at what makes a firm ‘tick’ add a human element to websites (and can be readily shared through social channels). Testimonials are especially important in a business to consumer context and add more impact than written reviews.
Not every firm is prepared to enter into the highly competitive and increasingly expensive paid advertising space. However, every firm should at least look at managing a branded campaign – bidding on their own band and related search terms. Gain control over the SERPS (Google results) page and convert as many searches with commercial intent as possible. Also be aware that this may need to be a protective, defensive strategy if other firms are bussing on your brand name.
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