At our LegalTech New York 2013 panel — "Taming the Wild West of Social Media: The Secrets of Social Media Success in the Legal Profession" — moderator Steve Mann, chief marketing officer of the Research & Litigation Solutions business at LexisNexis, pointed out that roughly one-half of all law firms are now using blogs as a way to reach potential clients. He asked our expert panelists to weigh in on how firms can assess whether blogging is a good marketing strategy for them.
As a business owner, attending a rainmaker retreat may be a worthwhile investment of your time and money.
Once again, The Rainmaker Blog publishes a compelling post. Many times you will have window shoppers on your website, read below for 8 ways to turn those browsers into buyers.
1. Position your firm as a specialist. When people search for attorneys online they have a specific problem (DUI, personal injury, etc) and they are searching for specific answers. If your firm has more than one practice area, the best practice is to have more than one website, especially if they have a very different clientele.
2. Offer free, educational information. Only a small percentage of website visitors are ready to commit to a consultation the first time they visit your website. Providing visitors with educational materials to help them make the best decision is a tried and true technique in Internet marketing. If you are an estate planning attorney, give them a free report on the "Top 10 Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Estate Planning Attorney."
3. Use fitting photos. Almost every legal website makes the mistake of using the same photo of the scales of justice or the courthouse steps. Be sure the pictures on your website are congruent with your message and your perfect client.
4. Give visitors easy ways to connect with you. I'm still astounded at how difficult many websites make it just to find their phone number or an email address that goes directly to an individual versus a "faceless entity." Make it easy for prospects to find all your contact information, even on their cell phone.
5. Create a mobile friendly site. Last year smart phones outsold computers! With slower speeds, smaller screens, the need for more immediate information, and the potential desire to easily call your office directly from their cell, a mobile version of your website is no longer a nicety, it is a necessity!
6. Tell visitors what the next steps are. If you want them to download your free report or call your office for a free consultation, tell them!
7. Use video clips on your website. Video is a proven converter. It gives visitors a way to see you as a real person, to hear in your own words how you can help them, and how you are distinct in your approach.
8. Provide a clear and compelling reason why you are different from your competitors. Online buyers of legal services visit an average of 5 websites prior to moving into the decision making phase. Explain to them in an easy to understand manner how your firm is different from others.
Here is an excerpt from a recent paper from LexisNexis demonstrating social media’s viability for law firm marketing purposes.
When a consumer faces a crisis—a failing business, an unfaithful spouse, a family member in trouble—that person is more likely than ever to turn to the Internet looking for answers to his or her legal issues.Three out of four consumers who sought an attorney in the past year used online resources, including search engines, websites, YouTube™, Facebook® and other tools at some point in the process, according to a recent survey.
Samantha Miller, the Senior Director of Product Management for Web Visibility Solutions at LexisNexis, recently posted about high bounce rates. Is yours too high?
The American Bar Association has reported the results of it's 2012 Legal Technology Survey. According to respondents, blogging is the way to drum up new business.
The infographic below from Mashable describes:
- What's an e-reputation.
- Why your online reputation matters.
- What potential employers are looking for.
- What you can do about it. While there are companies like Reputation Defender out there to help you manage your online reputation, there are still plenty of things you can do on your own. Feel free to check out my PowerPoint slide show "How to Monitor & Enhance Your Reputation on the Internet as a Lawyer."
A disciplinary committee of the Virginia State Bar on Tuesday ruled that a Richmond, VA, lawyer violated a rule requiring a lawyer to get a client's permission before blogging about their legal cases.
The committee said that Horace Frazier Hunter violated rules by disclosing detrimental or embarrassing information about clients without their consent. He received a public admonition and was told take corrective action within 30 days.
"Although I adamantly disagree with the panel's decision, I do respect it," said Hunter at the conclusion of the nine-hour hearing. The public admonition was the lowest sanction he could have received.
He said later that he will appeal and that in the meantime he will likely comply with the 30-day order to remove offending information from his blog and post a disclaimer.
But on Tuesday, Renu Brennan, assistant bar counsel, told the eight-member committee that "the First Amendment has no bearing on this violation. … It doesn't impact journalists, it doesn't impact bloggers, it doesn't impact the general public."
"The bar does not seek to ban his speech," she said. It simply wants a disclaimer putting the blog information in proper perspective. The intent, she said, is to protect the public from deception.
Brennan said his disclosure of information about his clients on his website and the ensuing bar's disciplinary proceedings is not analogous to censorship of the press covering criminal trials.
Can newspapers report on criminal trials? she asked. "Yes, absolutely, they can. Can (Hunter) then go back and report on his own cases? No, he cannot — absolutely not. Not without his client's consent."
"It doesn't matter if the information (he) reports is already in the public domain," said Brennan.
Hunter's lawyer, Michael L. Rigsby, argued for dismissal for exceptional circumstances: "He's passionate. He's bright. He's enthusiastic. … He had a good-faith belief that what he was doing was right."
Hunter testified Tuesday that he did not want to publish the disclaimer because "it's not what I want to say. It cheapens the speech when I have to put in front of it, 'Oh, by the way, this is for advertising.'"
Hunter conceded on cross-examination that one purpose of the blog was marketing and that he had not sought the consent of his clients before posting information about the cases — cases he had won, not lost.
Brennan presented evidence that at least two people represented by Brennan said they did not want their cases posted on his blog after learning they were there.
LexisNexis has rolled out Site Essentials, Site Edge and Site Exclusives, a suite of updated website development products and services — complete with blogging features and mobile device optimization — designed to help law firms establish an effective online presence and attract more clients.
“LexisNexis has updated its website development services to provide law firms with solutions that help them establish an effective web presence, generate robust site traffic and accelerate and track their web-based lead generation efforts,” said David Palmieri, vice president and managing director of Marketing and Consumer Solutions at LexisNexis. “When law firms engage with us, we can deliver higher return on investment with a wider variety of products and services that meet firms’ marketing goals.”
The new LexisNexis® Site Essentials product offers firms:
- An effective, professional website, designed and hosted by LexisNexis, that can be implemented in as little as two weeks
- A creative consultation
- Home page content with suggested content for practice area descriptions
- A website performance dashboard to track key site statistics including phone and email inquiries
- A content management system enabling users to make copy adjustments and site updates
- Basic search engine optimization
- A mobile-optimized version of the site
- Ongoing technical assistance from LexisNexis website experts.
Additionally, LexisNexis® Site Edge includes copywriting assistance as well as the addition of five articles each from three practice areas which update every two weeks, giving visitors a reason to come back to the site. Site Edge customers can also add a professionally produced video to their site.
Also available is LexisNexis® Site Exclusives, a custom, end-to-end web development product. In addition to providing all the features of the other two services, Site Exclusives gives customers significantly more copywriting and ongoing technical assistance, while also providing a fully customized site design and architecture and hosting services for up to five videos on the firm’s website.
While websites from all three services are optimized to render on mobile devices, LexisNexis® Mobile Website Personalization service gives firms the option to create versions of their site optimized for specific devices or to target specific clientele. According to a 2010 report from Gartner, Inc., mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide by 2013, making it more important for firms to communicate their expertise and capabilities effectively on the mobile web.
For firms looking to increase online engagement via their website, LexisNexis® Blog Basics is an easy-to-use integrated blogging tool. LexisNexis Blog Basics provides customers with another effective way of promoting authoritative firm content and maximizing lead generation. According to a 2010 study released by HubSpot, companies that blog have 55 percent more website visitors and generate 88 percent more leads.
To learn more visit the Law Firm Marketing Center at http://lexisnexis.com/law-firm-marketing.
I talk to a lot of lawyers who would like to launch a blog, but they're held back because they don't know where they'll get ideas for what to write about. Here's a terrific list of suggestions from Robyn Raybould Schmidt, Director of Product Management of LexisNexis:
- Google Alerts, newspapers and magazines. Use current events as a springboard for your blog entries.
- Ask yourself,“What’s the next big trend?” or “What’s next?” Everyone wants to know what's over the horizon.
- Read your competitors’ blogs and comments. Seeing what other lawyers are writing about will prompt you to think of a blog topic.
- Ask yourself, “What is my client’s biggest fear or concern?” Writing about what keeps them up at night will always be a well-read entry.
- Conduct an interview. Spend a few minutes on the phone with the head of a trade association, an author in your field or event a client. People enjoy when you put them in the spotlight and you will share in their credibility.
- Write a sequel or follow up to a past post. Look over your greatest hits, using your blog traffic reports. If a topic was worth writing about, it will probably be worth returning to.
- Ask a question. Is there an issue in your area of practice that you’re tackling? Discuss your mixed feelings. You can use Zoomerang to insert a reader poll into your blog for free.
- Make a prediction. You don't have to be right and no one will hold you to account. But it's interesting to read what people think will happen.
- Review the past. How has your area of practice changed over the past year? Five years?
- Create a regular feature. Focus on a recurring basis on a topic of continuing interest -- like a high profile trial.
- Read your comments. If a reader took the time to give their opinion, it could be a topic worth exploring.
- Read your social media group’s questions. What are people chatting about on LinkedIn? Answer on your blog, then go back and provide a link.
- Recruit a guest. Or two. When all else fails, call for backup. Sometimes you just need to take the pressure off so your post-generator has a little time to recuperate.
Check out Robyn's excellent video below for more ideas.