Digital marketing, social media, and content marketing are not buzz words anymore! They are concepts that are constantly changing and influencing the way people live, think, interact, conduct business and consume. According to a Marketing Sherpa report, webpages, social media, and blogs occupy the top slots for marketing content online.
(Link to Marketing Sherpa report – http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/chart/channels-peers-produce-content).
Websites have never been as important for marketing as they are today with a globe full of audience, and hence the need for these new-age catalysts such as social media and content marketing to drive prospects to your website. No wonder, they make a perfect platform to market your services, engage the clients, generate demand and serve your customers.
Gone are the days when it was enough to have a website. Today all that matters is how you establish your digital presence.
So, it goes without saying that law firms need to be proactive with their websites to stay abreast with latest trends in digital marketing. A recent study of 500 professional service firms conducted by Hinge Marketing reiterates this point. Almost 50% of the surveyed firms had their websites re-designed last year (refer chart below).
The websites of future are work-in-progress and all the efforts will address the following goals:
Digitization can never replace personal relationships which are essential in any business but today you need to reach out to the masses and engage your audiences. Nevertheless, digitization has to be adopted by law firms as a first step for demand generation, recruitment, and networking. Only recently the law firms have realized the value of digital presence to define their global brand value. With the current wave of law firms focusing on revamping their websites, below are the key capabilities that will drive user engagement, action, and results, to help you achieve the goals mentioned above.
Today, it is experienced that the user has, that drives engagement, which makes the user come back and talk about it with their peers. Therefore, the goal is to make the use of the website to address visitor needs and surface the relevant content in few clicks or no clicks.
Engage via Customization –
a. Customize the user experience by displaying relevant messaging and imagery. Customize the experience for user segments based on their industry, geography and practice.
d. Deliver the content that relates to the user’s industry and problems along with providing high-touch experience based on the user’s segment. Make navigation easy and intuitive.
Multi-Device/Cross Channel Experience –
a. Go Mobile
With the growing number of mobile devices and people on the move, it has never been so crucial to provide the brand/experience consistency across all the devices irrespective of the channel of consumption.
b. Multi-Lingual Experience –
Drive users to region/country specific sites in local languages for maximum engagement and to establish a connection with the user. This can be easily achieved via IP detection.
c. Contextual Discovery –
Understanding the context is essential to be able to respect user’s time and to provide value to the user. As the users become more engaged and their devices begin to generate richer content, contextual discovery requires websites to continuously respond in real time to an array of variables needs. Few aspects related to contextual discovery are:
d. Office Maps –
e. Videos –
The importance of search is only growing day-by-day with the increase in the amounts of information being made available on the internet. The user needs to be navigated to the exact results in the least time possible, without frustrating him. To make search most efficient, leverage -
Type-Ahead (Predictive Search) –
Show them the next letter/terms while they are entering the search term. This enables the user to foresee the available content being offered.
The above features will enable users to reach the appropriate attorneys and articles for the desired practice area.
b. Contextual Search –
a. Integration with social media is critical for mass marketing and nurturing prospects/leads. The social media provides a non-intrusive means to extend your online reach within and outside the legal audience segments. From a legal industry perspective:
b. There are several tools available in the market that can be integrated with the website to manage the website’s presence on the social platform. These tools can be used for:
c. Social media tools ensure that the content on attorneys’ corporate twitter accounts and LinkedIn convey a strong brand/marketing message.
It is important for the legal websites to provide seamless integration with their Alumni micro-site.
In the current digital landscape, social communities are more than just a chat room/forum of vocal clients, partners and employees; they enable focused information sharing and audience support cycle. There is a plethora of information in these exchanges that can be leveraged to inform marketing strategies, business development activities and service offerings.
Few advantages of community and collaboration offerings via the website are:
However, there is one key consideration for this capability– organization readiness. This necessitates organizations to moderate forums and communities since Law firms cannot be liable to information available on such platforms. The effort in moderating with firm’s interest in mind will definitely pay off in the long run.
Due to digitization, it has become much easier for the law firms to attract the right talent, to entice the prospects and to nurture the leads which in turn generates demand.
Few ways to market your thought leadership content:
a. Website –
b. Newsletters –
This is a primary tool for the thought leaders in the law firm – convenient, effective and global reach. The newsletters can also be effectively used for event marketing
c. Events and Insights –
Hosting online events is an effective tool to attract potential clients and re-ensure the current clients with thought leadership content.
Once the event is over archive it to create a knowledge bank by providing the events as an on-demand feature along with the associated articles, attorney profiles and maybe even a blog for the users to interact with the attorney.
d. Biographies –
In a study conducted by the Wicker Park Group, 90% of general counsel state that the attorney bios are the most important part of the law firm’s website. Attorney bios pages generate around 50% of the website traffic.
e. Blogs -
This is an effective tool to publish thoughts and develop ideas which can later become articles for your website.
f. Webinars –
As the users are short of time, so are the attorneys and this is where webinars come into the picture – an effective way to replace the events with a low cost, convenient and mass reach marketing tool. The marketing efforts are limited to any geography and can be made available as an educational resource for the prospects after the live webinar.
g. Social Media –
This is the most efficient means to reach out to a mass audience. It can be used to engage them and promote website content.
h. SEO –
With a well-defined SEO strategy in place, you can funnel the users from search engines to your website, blogs, careers site and alumni site. Most users leverage the search engines to find a solution to their problems.
This capability finally completes the loop of key benefits of digitization. It is imperative to measure the reach and effectiveness of your newsletters, the path and source of the user to the website, the navigational behavior of the users, and the effectiveness of search functionality along with the key search terms.
Website analytics provides a 360 degree view, which can be used to:
In a nutshell
Although the change is slow, there is a steady growth in the way law firms are adapting themselves to the digital era. With attorneys becoming specialized for specific markets, it becomes imperative for law firms to leverage their talent and enable them to grow productively for the company’s well-being. With online communication enabling personal web-based communication secure and legal, companies should leverage on a powerful and perfect mix of digital marketing, content marketing, and social media to gain a firm foothold in their niche segments.