August 23, 2016
At the start of each year, everyone is looking to plan for – and incorporate – the latest marketing trends. We help law firms who are searching for ways to increase their ROI quickly, and stay ahead of these trends to ensure long-term success. (Hence, our 2016 law firm trends report, ahem.)
But we are now over halfway through 2016, and things change and evolve in the digital marketing world on pretty much a daily basis. New technologies for website development, new algorithm updates from Google, the emergence of new modes and methods of search, and even user expectations.
For example, a month ago, we were trying out Blab, a unique video conferencing platform, to discuss the latest changes in SEO. We thought that it – and tools like it – might prove useful for some of our clients. Altogether, it was interesting and we gained some useful insights.
But now many companies – and, more importantly, users – are discovering Facebook Live, Periscope and Huzza, which fulfill a pretty similar market need; and, especially in the case of Facebook Live, have a lot more brand recognition.
That’s because some platforms just turn out to be fads, eventually swallowed up (or bought) by larger businesses in the space. The same can be said for some emerging strategies that are hot and promising for a time or are soon replaced.
Therefore, here you have it, our mid-year, updated report with the latest trends and updates for the digital marketing space for law firms in 2016.
Not only did we compile information from a handful of our key strategists, but we reached out to other leaders in the digital marketing space for their thoughts on emerging new trends for 2016 and, naturally, 2017.
After all, why wait another 6 months when there are new and useful things happening now that could tilt the scale in your favor?
In June of this year, there was another Google ‘Panda’ update, which always has to do with high-quality vs. low-quality algorithm changes. The main takeaway from it was that “thin” – i.e. low word count – content will have an even harder time ranking.
“Cornerstone” pages (think your homepage, about page, etc.) in particular need to have at least 1,000 words of content – though 1,500+ is ideal. The same can be said when looking at your law firm’s blog. If the website has a homepage, two main pages and a contact page, all with 1,500+ words, that’s great. But if there are tens or even hundreds of blog posts with less than 500 words, then the overall average content length is diluted. On the other hand, if blogs average around 750-1,000 words you should be fine.
“We all need to rethink what SEO really is about in 2016 – and going forward. Yes, it’s search engine optimization, but SEO is increasingly more about the user and less about the Search Engine. You need to have a mobile website, content that’s written for users and not Search Engines, and content that answers questions. Google’s algorithms are constantly being worked on, but UX (User Experience) will always come first. Forget about what Google wants and focus on what your user needs. Also – Local. Local. Local.”Jarod Spiewak, Lead SEO Strategist
We’ve seen a plethora of law firms try different marketing and SEO strategies without actually tracking and paying attention to what’s working, what needs re-worked and what needs scrapped. If you’re on this boat, 2016 is the time to jump ship.
70% of companies are still not collecting data from social media channels. That means that 70% of the businesses that are posting to social media, spending time and resources, have no idea of the success of particular campaigns or posts. What is the point of using social media platforms if you don’t know what’s working well for you?
Luckily, social media platforms have improved and focused a lot of effort into creating better analytics for marketers – after all, it’s how they make their money!
Live streaming has taken the world by storm. The first live streaming platform, Meerkat, has stepped aside for other platforms, including Periscope, Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
Why do attorneys need to keep live streaming on their list of possible marketing strategies? Brand awareness, connecting with potential clients and building a community.
Just like live video streaming has been enormously popular, people will watch more videos in general – more than ever. Video consumption will continue to explode this year, with Cisco predicting that it will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017.
There is a huge opportunity for law firms to create relevant, high quality video content and use the likes of YouTube, Facebook and Instagram to get it out there. Not only can you use videos in social media marketing, but also in other marketing efforts, such as email newsletters. Videos integrated into emails can lead to a 200-300% increase in click through rate.
Keep in mind the specific platform you are posting videos to. When posting videos to YouTube, make sure that you’re using proper keywords and SEO for the videos – it matters there, too.
Facebook works best when videos are uploaded natively as opposed to posting a link and driving traffic back to YouTube.
Short, attention-grabbing videos are best suited for Instagram and Twitter.
Videos are no longer about creating a picture-perfect scene, but about including valuable information that either educates and/or entertains your audience. Using only your phone and a simple editing program will suffice.
There are many unexperienced SEO companies who still believe that quantity is better than quality. But buying hundred of links is useless if they don’t have any value.
Social media can be a little bit daunting with the multitude of options available to your law firm. But the main platforms for attorneys continue to be Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. What’s more important is being consistent and providing some interest for your audience.
One valuable resource on social media are Facebook groups. Many business professionals have used LinkedIn groups, but Facebook groups tend to be a bit more active.
Join a Facebook group that aligns with either your specific law firm, or a locally based business group. This is basically an online networking opportunity, and oftentimes, an online mastermind. Collaborate on projects, get input or ask questions to gain valuable insights and information.
Traditional advertising with newspaper, television and billboards has evolved and been adapted to online advertising, including social media ads.
Hubspot reported that companies increased their social media marketing spend from $17.7 billion in 2014 to $23.6 billion in 2015, a 33.5% jump.
Setting up ads on Facebook can have a lot of added value for your law firm; to reach a larger audience, to make sure more of your followers are actually viewing your posts, to target the right people to view your law firm. Adding a Facebook Pixel to your website can start the process for creating a custom audience to target warm leads.
“FACEBOOK IS TAKING OVER. Seriously they are. Media, not just social media, has undergone a drastic shift.This year so far, Facebook ad revenue is at +63% and New York Times ad revenue is at -12%.
Facebook ads are BOOMING, and the trend doesn’t show any signs of stopping. With advanced targeting and a wide array of ad options, more and more marketers and businesses are turning to Facebook to run their ads.
Facebook has also shown itself to be a leader in the world of live video and video content. More and more businesses are turning to video as their main source of content. Facebook Live has proven itself to be the easiest way for people to view live content and cemented itself to be the number one source of live video for businesses and consumers alike. For users who primarily use Twitter, Periscope is the go-to for accessing (and producing) live video. Regardless of the platform, live video is growing and is on the fast track to becoming the number one source of video content.”
Anthony Gaut, Social Media Manager
Collecting positive online reviews is incredibly important, since reading reviews is one of the most popular ways that people find and evaluate law firms. However, having a few ‘ok’ reviews is not going to cut it. You need to have high-quality reviews, and lots of them. Ask your clients to provide them if they are happy with your service, and also make sure to promote the great reviews (think branded postcards, adding to your website, sharing on social media, etc.)
Online review statistics to take note of:
Online reviews are not only a way to find ideal clients, but they are also a place where current customers might be reading up on you and your services.
When focusing on gaining more online reviews, make sure to include these top review sites:
You need to not only be aware of the quantity of the online reviews you obtain, but the frequency and how recent the reviews are. 44% say a review must be written within one month to be relevant.
We all know that your website is the hub of your online activity, and a place where your clients can gain useful information about your law firm and what sets you apart. More importantly nowadays is the ease of use of your website.
User experience design (UXD or UED) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product. Basically, it’s great to have a website, but unless it is user friendly and easy to navigate, you still have work to do.
How do you understand the usability of your website?
It is no longer good enough to just be ‘good enough’. You need to not only be knowledgeable but also go above and beyond to provide your clients with an exceptional experience.
“Clients judge you on what they’re able to judge you on: how you treat them, how you respond to them, how you run the customer-facing parts of your office. They’re not necessarily qualified to determine what a good outcome is in a particular case, but they sure as heck can tell whether you treated them like a human being whose business is valued.”Micah Solomon, customer service consultant and author.
One of the most effective ways to create and foster a strong client relationship is through email marketing. There are a variety of different software options to use, but regardless of the platform, this consistent form of communication allows you to connect with clients and potential clients and further your relationship.
“Email marketing is the most cost effective way to stay in communication with clients and prospects to ensure that they call you the next time a legal need arises.If an attorney is spending any money at all on marketing and advertising but doesn’t have a simple, systematic process for communicating with those clients, they are certainly missing out on revenue opportunities.”
Michael J Kowal, President, Email Simply
While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most common social media platforms for attorneys, we all know how quickly online marketing changes and new digital trends emerge.
People want to work with someone who they know, like and trust. What better way to do that than to use social media to ‘humanize’ your law firm, and allow people to get to know you? Now, this is often done through face-to-face meetings, but with new (and not-so-new) platforms emerging like Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope, this can be achieved (or at least begun) online.
You might be thinking ‘Why would I use Snapchat for my business’? Snapchat predominantly attracts younger users, with the majority of Snapchat users under 34, so it only makes sense to use if your target audience is within this user demographic. You might also be wondering. ‘What would I share on Snapchat’? Some examples to get you going include quick tips, behind-the-scenes, Ask Me Anything sessions or employee introductions.
In addition, Instagram just introduced their new Stories feature, which has many of the same characteristics as Snapchat, but on the Instagram platform, which means you can use your current audience on Instagram to speak to in a more behind-the-scenes way. Many users have noticed an increase in engagement on their regular posts, because you can use the Stories feature to bring attention to your other regular posts.
Making sure that your website is optimised for mobile is not a new trend, but the speed in which information needs to be available is changing.
Over 87% of internet users now own a smartphone, and they use them for everything. Some people are even using their phone altogether, eschewing entirely a desktop or laptop.
Mobile users are also extremely goal-oriented and expect their information quickly and displayed in an easy-to-navigate fashion.
Once a potential client lands on your website, they are hopefully converting – meaning they are completing a contact form or booking a free consultation. But unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
Remarketing, which is the targeting of specific prospects across multiple platforms, is being used more to target prospects that have already shown an interest in your services.
With remarketing, prospects can be targeted by their email address, phone number and mobile device IDs, and it’s being used more and more to find potential clients and offer them other services that they might not even know you offer.
Facebook Custom Audiences and Twitter Tailored Audiences are similar options to remarketing. Remarketing is an efficient and cost-effective way of keeping warm leads in your sales funnel, versus starting from scratch with new, cold leads each time you market.
If you have a question, if you want to learn more about one of the above trends, or if you need help with marketing for your law firm, we are here to help. Reach out to our team today to find out about the immediate steps that you can take today to boost your website traffic, improve your SEO, rev up your offline marketing, and ultimately grow your law firm.