Tag Archives: marketing

Google My Business for Law Firms

In an online world, legal consumers need to be able to find your law firm. Google My Business (GMB) plays an essential – and often overlooked – part in that.

What is it? GMB is a free online listing in Google’s business directory. It is available for businesses and organizations to manage across Google’s services like Search and Maps. What is important is that Google uses GMB listings in the local search results it presents. A well-organized entry in GMB therefore results in a better ranking in Google’s local organic search results, making it easier for people to find your firm. (‘Organic’ search results are the ones that are not paid for).

GMB offers other benefits as well. It allows you to manage your own information: you can specify areas of expertise, address, opening hours, your website and how you can be contacted. GMB also offers you several ways to interact with your target audience (see the overview of features below). Lastly, GMB offers metrics, called insights that allow you to better understand and expand your online presence (see below).

Google My Business offers several useful features.

Messages: people can use GMB to leave you private messages that you can reply to.

Questions and Answers are similar to messages, except that they are public, so people can see them in the ‘Knowledge panel’ of your law firm. (The knowledge panel offers a summary of your GMB listing and is what is shown in the local search results).

Posts are short announcements you make that have a limited life span. You can use them, e.g., for promotions, or to wish people a happy new year, to announce days with different opening hours, to announce new staff, etc.

Bookings allow people to directly make an appointment with your law firm.

A GMB listing also offers Reviews from your clients. Google has de facto become the largest review site.

Insights is the name Google gave to the metrics it provides with regard to your GMB listing. You can discover how people found your firm (e.g. what key words they used), where they came from, how many people directly clicked on the link to your website, or on the telephone link, etc.

So, how do you start using your GMB listing? Stacey Burke describes the process in four steps: claim the listing, have Google verify it, optimize it, and keep it active.

Step 1: Claim your listing. To be eligible for a GMB listing, you must be able to meet clients in person, either at your law firm’s physical address, or at their premises. If you haven’t claimed your listing yet, perform a search on your law firm’s name and address. If a knowledge panel appears with information on your law firm, it is already listed. If there is no knowledge panel (area in the rectangle) then you will want to create a listing following these steps from Google. To claim the listing, you will need a Google account.

Step 2: Verify your listing. To make sure not just anybody claims your law firm listing, Google will have to verify it first. This step is required in order for your law firm’s listing to be eligible to appear on Maps, Search, and other Google properties. Once you’re verified, it also means Google deems your law firm a legitimate business, providing third party verification of your company’s credibility when people search for your law firm online. To verify your listing, sign into your Google My Business account where you will see a “Verify Now” option. As part of the verification process, Google will contact your business to ensure your contact information is correct and legitimate.

Step 3. Optimize your listing. Once you’ve claimed your listing, you want to optimize it for the best search engine results. First, you have to add the basic information like the name of your firm, the phone number and other contact modalities, as well as the business category and location, the service area (=geographical area your law firm mainly serves), and opening hours. Optimizing your listing is an art in itself, and these two articles will greatly assist you in the process.

 

Step 4. Keep your listing active. In its search results, Google tends to favour law firm that remain active: make posts (e.g. to announce blog posts), answer questions, make sure to get reviews and respond to them, etc. Burke recommends checking your GMB listing once or twice a week.

 

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Marketing Essentials for Law Firms

For most, if not all law schools, marketing is not a part of the curriculum. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Practicing law is one of the liberal professions, and as such is ruled by its own ethics which typically limit the marketing options of their members. While there may be differences from country to country and even from bar to bar, when it comes to marketing, lawyers are not allowed to do what companies are. Still, for the things that you are allowed to do as a lawyer, there are certain basic marketing principles that always apply, even whether it’s writing blog articles or about what you put on your website.

It is beyond the scope of one blog article to give a thorough introduction to marketing. So, we will stick to some essentials. These can be summarized in five sets of questions.

The first set of questions has to do with your target audience: Who is your target audience, and what are they looking for? You must identify your target audience and learn about their needs and their interests. Are they big businesses, small business, or specific types of individuals? You have to find out where can reach your target audience: e.g., on what social media they are, etc.

The second set of questions has to with differentiating yourself from the competition: What sets you apart from the competition? Who is your competition? What are they doing? What services are they offering? What makes you different from them? This does not have to be limited to legal services, but also applies to the whole ‘customer service’ aspect of things: how client-centric are your competitors, and is your law firm?

The third set of questions has to do with the message you want to communicate to your target audience: What is your message? This applies to any communications you have with clients or potential clients, whether it’s a blog article, a video, an image, your website … Your message has to be tailored to suit your target audience.

The fourth set of questions has to do with the presentation of your message: how do you present your message? This applies to the medium you choose, to the language and the visuals (imagery and video) you use, as well as the layout, … One important aspect of the language you use, e.g., is the readability of your texts. All of these, too, should be chosen to best suit your target audience.

A fifth set of questions has to do with building customer loyalty: how do I retain clients, and create repeat business? It is a good habit to regularly do specific campaigns for your existing clients.

Once you have answered all those questions, you can proceed to the next two groups of questions. These largely fall into two separate categories: questions about the operational aspect of your marketing, and about your online presence.

With regard to the operational side of things, you must ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my business plan?
  • Will I handle my marketing internally or do I outsource?
  • What follow-up process do I have for prospective clients?
  • How many clients can I handle, at most?
  • What are my marketing goals?
  • What does my marketing budget look like? As a rule of thumb, it is generally recommended to spend at Least 2.5% of your revenue on marketing.

The last set of recommendations focuses more specifically on your online presence (website, blog, social media, etc.). Legal consumers are online customers: more than 90% of people with a legal issue look online for solutions first. If they need to get a lawyer, they mainly find them through recommendations and through online searches. But the vast majority of people looking to hire a lawyer will check that lawyer out online first, i.e. before contacting them. So, from a marketing point of view you should:

  • Have a (well-designed) website. Does your website live up to the current best practices?
  • Optimize your website for search engines: What are the keywords your target audience will be looking for?
  • Measure and track all of your marketing efforts. In a future article, we will focus more on the relevant marketing metrics, and what you can learn from them.
  • Install Google Analytics on your website, not only to keep track of who visits your website, but also to see which pages work and which don’t.
  • Maintain a digital database of all contacts so you can follow up effectively
  • Create Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages, because it is more than likely that that is where your target audience will find you.
  • Get reviews, testimonials, etc. In an online world, social proof is essential.

In future articles, we will deal more in detail with some of these aspects.

 

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Email Marketing for Lawyers

Email marketing is a valuable tool for lawyers, with many benefits. It is still seen as the top medium for return on investment by 70% of digital marketers. It is pretty straightforward to get started, and with limited resources you can reach a global audience, have an instant impact, maintain customer loyalty, etc. Add to that that emails are easy to share, and that their impact is easy to measure. You can deliver targeted messages, drive revenue, etc. One of the most obvious advantages of email marketing is its lower cost compared to mainstream marketing channels. As a lawyer, however, you must keep in mind that there are not only legal (GDPR compliance, e.g.) but also ethical considerations.

What types of emails can or should you send? Joleena Louis mentions six different types:

  1. The Welcome Email, e.g. when you get a new client, but also when somebody signs up to your blog.
  2. The Tools or Resources Email, where you share helpful information with clients: URLs, seminars/webinars, eBooks, etc.
  3. The Asking Email, where you ask your clients for feedback or assistance.
  4. The Content Email, where, e.g., you share a new blog post you’ve written.
  5. The Curated Email, where you share interesting content by other authors.
  6. The Newsletter Email.

The list is not exhaustive. You can also send out different types of reminders, birthday and holiday wishes, etc.

So, how does one go about organizing an email campaign? In essence, there are four major aspects to keep in mind: your target audience(s); the message you want to deliver to that target audience; the presentation of the message; and how it will be delivered. Let’s have a look at those.

Your Target Audience: who do you send your email campaign to? The most obvious targets are your clients, as well as people who signed up to your blog. It is not a good idea to send the exact same content to all of your readers. It is recommended to use segmentation of your email list, e.g., by interest, by activity, by date, by type of reader (e.g. client vs. blog subscriber). But don’t make segmentation too complicated or time consuming.

Your Message: you have to define what the message for each target audience is. Remember to personalize your message: start with their name or, if applicable, the company name. Keep your emails concise and focused. When it comes to the actual content, it is important to not just pay attention to yourself and/or your services/products. The content has to be about and for the readers. Make sure to provide value. If in doubt or uninspired, you can ask your readers what information they want. It’s often also a good idea to include some fun facts and statistics.

The Presentation: how you present your message is important. Research has shown that it’s good to include images in your message. Using 1 to 3 images typically has the greatest impact. Make sure, however, that those images are not too large: They have to load fast. It is also recommended to not send out a mail that consists only of an image. (Those typically get marked as spam by spam filters). Use short plain texts from one or more real persons on your team.

Sometimes, it can be a good idea, too, to use video: don’t embed a video, but instead include a link to the video you’d like your readers to have a look at. This works best for first mails, e.g., for a welcome email. Using either static image with a play button, or an animated gif typically results in more people watching the video.

Also keep in mind that by now a majority of people read their mail on their mobile device. Make sure your message is mobile responsive.

The Delivery Method: how are you going to deliver your message to your audiences? If you are using Office Management software, chances are that it comes with a module for email campaigns.  If your law firm management software does not offer the option, you can use the services of service providers like Mailchimp, Litmus, Reachmail,  Cakemail, etc.

Some additional observations: it is recommended to automate the sending of emails where possible. That is the case, e.g., for welcome mails, reminders, holiday or birthday wishes, etc. When you start planning your email campaigns, it is recommended to start with a clear goal in mind. The biggest mistake people tend to make with email marketing is not having a strategic plan. Another important aspects of emails campaigns is to keep track of your results: how many mails were opened, and read? What topics are successful, and what works best for which target audience, etc.?

 

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