One of the most exciting activities for marketers at the end of a calendar year is to predict top marketing trends for the upcoming year. Typically, there is always some discrepancy from source to source. This is expected with any sort of prediction (and part of the fun).
However, in an ongoing global pandemic that turned the world upside down, there seems to be little anyone can be sure of. 2021 follows a year of total unpredictability, in which we all learned to expect the unexpected.
So, while we can’t be sure of anything, there are a few things we expect out of the marketing industry in response to the past year and in preparation for the future.
- Top Marketing Trend #1: Embrace the Client-Centered Experience
- Top Marketing Trend #2: Short-Form Video Content Growth
- Top Marketing Trend #3: Thought Leadership Takes Off
- Top Marketing Trend #4: Legal Brand Authenticity
- Top Marketing Trend #5: The Acceleration of Accessible Technology
- Top Marketing Trend #6: Demand for Custom Content Experiences
- Top Marketing Trend #7: Data Takes Charge
- Top Marketing Trend #8: Agile and Flexible Brands Move Ahead
Top Marketing Trend #1: Embrace the Client-Centered Experience
Across all industries, one of the most important top marketing trends is to put the client first. This means throughout the entirety of a client’s experience with your firm, that person is receiving top notch service from not just you, but from your entire team.
From the moment a client calls your office and speaks to a receptionist to far beyond the day their case wraps up, the client should be at the center of everything your firm does. First impressions are lasting impressions, and clients who remain loyal to your firm after their case is said and done are the ones who send you referral business for years to come.
There is no better marketing than the experience clients can expect within and surrounding your firm. So, while you may have the physical experience down — attentive receptionists, quality office environment, making the client comfortable with your team — there are factors outside the four walls of your office that come into play here.
How easy is it for your client to find your contact information?
Ensure your office phone number, website, contact email, social media handles, and any other pertinent information is in a prominent location. This means Google My Business, social media banner photos, your website homepage, etc.
What is the user experience like on your website?
If your website is outdated, slow to load, or difficult to navigate, you lose points on the client experience. It’s essential to eliminate any hurdles that could keep clients from wanting to work with your firm.
Is your firm responsive to inquiries?
If a client calls your office, they should be greeted promptly — that’s a no-brainer. But what if they reach out via Facebook Messenger, Instagram DM, or website chat? The legal industry lags behind on many of these platforms. If your Instagram account is going unused, that’s a missed opportunity to connect with a client where they might feel most comfortable.
The human experience is invaluable. Often, an efficiency-first mindset takes priority over the client-centric mindset that is, in many cases, much more valuable.
In 2021, law firms should be prepared for this top marketing trend to take precedence.
Top Marketing Trend #2: Short-Form Video Content Growth
Video content has been consistently strong among top marketing trends for some time now. However, as the digital sphere continues to grow, the ideal length for videos continues to shrink.
It’s estimated that 68% of people will watch a business video all the way through if it’s under 1 minute. On the contrary, videos over 20 minutes only retain 25% of viewers all the way through.
Florida-based criminal justice attorney Bruce Denson utilizes TikTok to educate his following and grow his brand.
@brucedensonIn Florida it is a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving if you are under 21. #dui♬ original sound – Bruce Denson
Whether you like it or not, TikTok has taken the world by storm in recent years. As just one example of the explosion of short-form video content, there is no doubt this medium will continue to grow in 2021.
Now, short-form videos do not need to be on TikTok, or its competing Instagram feature, Reels (although these are extremely valuable platforms to leverage your content). You can hop on the short-form trend on any platform — Facebook, Twitter, your own website, even on TV.
Top Marketing Trend #3: Thought Leadership Takes Off
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Similar to influencer marketing, thought leadership is the practice of an authority in a specialized field offering their knowledge up to their online audience.
Creating content as a thought leader online is a top marketing trend because of the value it provides an audience that, in turn, creates a relationship between the thought leader and their audience. This strategy not only solidifies your position in your market as an expert, but also demonstrates the helpfulness of your brand as you provide insight into your field for your audience.
Concrete evidence from a Linkedin-Edelman study shows that thought leadership can lead directly to sales. Almost 60% of business decision makers said thought leadership directly led to their awarding of business to an organization.
Leveraging thought leadership to accelerate growth and sustain long-lasting customer relationships is a tool that can benefit your firm exponentially.
Top Marketing Trend #4: Legal Brand Authenticity
Thought leadership is a strategy that fosters authenticity as a result. In recent years, brand authenticity has been on the rise at the request of consumers everywhere. With an uptick in the demand for corporate accountability comes a need for brand authenticity to build trust with an audience.
In fact, a staggering 86% of consumers say authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support.
This involves transparency with the public and the promotion of more than just business. Any firm looking to win client loyalty — especially in young audiences — will feel the need to adopt this top marketing trend in 2021.
Dedication to overall wellbeing, social justice, and community involvement are just the beginning. True brand authenticity goes beyond surface level commitments and verbal pledges. Clients look for proof of authenticity in the way a firm is run.
Louisiana personal injury firm Laborde Earles showcases the work they do in their community with this video, making it easy to share with the public.
In 2021, expect for consumers to hold brands accountable to their commitments and ensure the messages they convey are congruent with the experiences they deliver.
Top Marketing Trend #5: The Acceleration of Accessible Technology
As we continue to navigate a remote-based world via work, school, and social activities, tech races to become accessible in the average home. We will be ready to adapt to new technologies sooner than we may have otherwise due to the state of the world, most of which will take place in the comfort of our own homes.
So, what does this mean for legal marketing? New advertising media and artificial intelligence to improve marketing efforts. In 2021, be on the lookout for the rise of virtual reality marketing, smart speaker paid advertising, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
Virtual reality introduces a new realm in which brands can connect with consumers. While it may seem like distant technology, many brands are already incorporating this into their marketing strategies.
Brands use filters on social media to promote their products in interactive selfies. Furniture sellers offer the option to see the product you want to purchase in your own space with the use of augmented reality. Beauty retailers give customers the ability to give themselves a virtual makeover with their products. How will law firms implement virtual reality into their own marketing strategies in 2021?
Today, 26% of adults have a smart speaker in their home — a number which grew roughly 40% from 2018 to 2019 alone. Nearly half of all online searches now are conducted by voice, making search engine optimization for voice (SEO) nearly as important as written SEO.
When a potential client learns that they will need a lawyer, there’s a distinct chance that their research will begin with a voice search. How are you setting your firm up to be successful in this realm? Ensuring that your firm is the first to come up in voice search results is the first step.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Lastly, in the tech realm, artificial intelligence and machine learning were predicted to be responsible for an additional $2.6 trillion in value for marketing and sales in 2020. As the roles they play in the industry continue to show proven success, they continue to grow. These tools allow marketers to implement content customized for different audience segments, improving results for many brands.
These changes are equally as effective in legal marketing as they are in other fields. Early adopters in the legal industry will benefit greatly.
Top Marketing Trend #6: Demand for Custom Content Experiences
Gone are the days of bland copy/paste marketing strategies. Consumers want to talk to real people (or at least feel like they are). This means a top marketing strategy for 2021 and beyond will require creating custom experiences for consumers.
By implementing 1:1 personalization for segmented audiences and basing strategy on data, you’ll improve the chances of targeting the right people with the right message at the right time.
A blend of conversational content and purposeful targeting will be the key to successful strategy in 2021. In the legal industry, this will first require learning more in-depth information about your current clients. Then, using that information, improve your targeting for potential clients. When speaking to these potential clients, it will be just as essential to craft the right messaging for them.
Top Marketing Trend #7: Data Takes Charge
The benefits of tracking, analyzing, and taking action based on data are essential in any business. This goes for any department — finance, hiring, marketing, or any other team.
As technology improves, and the ability to track KPIs increases, you can make valuable decisions based on data. In a law firm, this looks like:
- Selecting key performance indicators (KPIs) that make sense for your practice — these are likely to fall into the categories of revenue, clients, and cases.
- Recording the data that corresponds with these KPIs.
- Utilizing the data by aggregating it on a dashboard that is available for the entire team to view. This acts as a sort of scoreboard to keep track of how the firm is doing, individual by individual. You then have the ability to coach those that don’t perform as well to improve the practice overall.
- Based on the metrics you’re now measuring, determining:
- Where your money is being spent.
- What your return on investment (ROI) is.
- What types of cases you’re landing from your efforts.
- How many cases you’re settling in a month.
- Which team members are performing for you.
- What type of marketing efforts are performing for you.
If you don’t want to end upside down in your firm’s investments, you must start tracking data. Compiling this data shows trends — and the numbers don’t lie. Use it to your advantage to take leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors and surpass your previous revenue targets.
Top Marketing Trend #8: Agile and Flexible Brands Move Ahead
After a year of reactive marketing due to the global pandemic, brands that move ahead of the pack will be the ones who are able to continue making pivots to accommodate consumer needs as they change.
Whether it’s adapting to new technologies for remote work, creating new solutions to accommodate clients, or adopting new partnerships and ideas to benefit your community — malleable law firms are a new necessity.
This top marketing trend is really a combination of many of the other trends we’ve predicted here. Flexible organizations combine technology, authenticity, and the client-centric mindset needed in 2021 and beyond.
Marketing predictions for a new year can be especially tumultuous during an ongoing pandemic. However, with the introduction of new technology and the willingness for many firms to adapt to their clients’ needs, there are some promising projections for 2021.