Having Your Law Firm online isn’t just a matter of having a website anymore. Being online needs to be seen as part of your “multi-pronged marketing approach” and it should be woven into all of your more traditional marketing efforts. The harder and faster you establish your online presence the quicker you can offset the client acquisition costs.
A Law Firm Website is a must… but lets face it, law firm websites are often stagnant and stale. It is difficult to keep up with changing the pages on your site and adding fresh new content regularly enough to train Google and other search engines to look to your site as cutting edge and fresh. Though all the changes and updates you can possibly make should continue to be part of your online marketing plan, it should not be the only part. Your site needs to be set up so that visitors can easily find what you’re offering and they can actually request information, video, reports or something of value from your site (these “widgets” help you collect some or all of their contact information for future marketing).
However, in order to have an effective and revenue generating online presence, your firm needs other online efforts to get to the top of the rankings and yet more effort to stay there, and that’s were social media can play a big role.
- Social Media tools aren’t just cool—they work, however in order to know they work your law firm has to track where your prospective clients and clients are coming from. Often you will need to have various marketing or online ads sending prospective clients to a particular web page and Google Analytics can provide you with a report that tells you the number of visitors, how many have clicked on your pay-per-click ads, the top referring sites, your conversion rate or the number of people who requested something from your site, the number of unique and return visitors and much more.
- Blogs are almost imperative these days. Google and other search engines LOVE regular blogs that use your keywords. The “crawlers” tend to look at your site at the times of day and days each week that you train them that changes are likely to be there. Not only do 3-5 blogs per week JUMP your rankings up but if you’re a decent communicator, you can actually develop a following and a reputation for being someone to listen to. Your rankings and credibility along with recognition is quickly impacted!
- Facebook – having a profile isn’t enough, your firm needs a fan page. It will allow your law firm to instantly invite prospective clients, centers of influence and clients (as well as family members of your clients) to upcoming events or notify them about publications you’ve been quoted in or other newsworthy info you have to provide. Look at the geographic area you support and estimate how many potential clients are there and set a goal to establish a specific number of fans by a certain date. Make regular entries and blog postings so fans get to know you and get value from being a fan of your firm.
- LinkedIn – is known more for establishing and maintaining contact with professionals than consumers, so look at getting your profile set up and target a specific number of professionals that need to know who you are and how great you are.
- Twitter – I always felt that Twitter is for the die-hard social media person who wants to tweet short blasts of personality and news each day…. however, you don’t have to be a Twitter expert to use it. You can set you blogs and Facebook or LinkedIn settings to also post to Twitter. The reason it’s a good idea is that some people prefer to participate on Facebook, while others don’t—they like Twitter. If you’re everywhere you have a lot more coverage with the consumers and professionals who need to know who you are.
- AVVO – here at the Academy, we’ve watched AVVO really take off as an attorney directory that also has a social media element to it. We just can’t emphasize enough, the value of claiming your profile and answering a few questions here and there to achieve a high rating on their directory. Consumers ask questions and attorneys who answer them get clients.
Don’t forget: Your online signature needs to have your full name and your web address and you should not be shy about commenting on our blog or other blogs you see as well as answers to consumer questions on AVVO. Those web links back to your website are very good for your rankings. If you’re reading a blog anyway, think of something intelligent to say. Just a comment or two that puts your signature and web link out there gives the search engines cause to see your link on a variety of places outside of your own site.
A warning with all these tools is that like any marketing, if you’re not consistent, if you don’t have a plan and if you don’t track results… you’ve wasted the set-up time and expense and it may cost you some credibility as well. If you have a few postings or entries then disappear… what kind of message is that?
Director, Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.