As the New Year approaches, it’s common for business owners and team members alike to reflect back on the twelve months prior. Did you accomplish the goals you set for yourself, personally and professionally? Were the initiatives you launched as fruitful as you hoped they’d be? Did you see growth in your firm?
Fortunately, our team accomplished many things in 2018 — we doubled in size, tripled our revenue, and hosted our first ever conference. But it wasn’t without a few bumps in the road. So as we look towards 2019, we have to ask ourselves: What has to happen to accomplish the goals we’ve set for ourselves? What sort of marketing, sales, or development strategies do we need to implement to hit those goals? While it may not require reinventing the wheel, it will probably require a few new tactics and strategies we haven’t tried before.
We spent some time trying to find out what those strategies should be. We researched what many people thought would be the “next big thing” in 2019 – especially with marketing. However, we still weren’t satisfied with what we found. So we decided to reach out to a handful of legal experts to get their opinion on what they think will be the most impactful legal marketing strategies in 2019 (P.S. we did this last year, too – if you want to see how many of them were accurate in their predictions).
Here’s what we asked: What strategies, programs, or tools (new or old) do you think will make the biggest impact on legal marketing in 2019?
Check out what they had to say below.
In my opinion, there are two areas that I feel will have a larger impact on search engine visibility in the legal vertical in 2019:
Longform Content & Content Upgrades
It’s becoming more challenging to rank well in search results without producing longer content, particularly pieces that are more in-depth and authoritative. There have been numerous studies that have concluded longer content performs better than shorter articles. With new web pages being added daily at an ever-increasing rate, only the strongest pages with the highest quality are going to have the best chance to rank. Search engines are beginning to place more weight/emphasis on signals like dwell time and bounce rates. This means content needs to be more valuable for users by being more in-depth and engaging, by simply being a better resource than other competing content. Ultimately, Google is looking for the best search results to answer consumer intent.
Increased Demand for Review Signals
Reviews are also becoming more important. Google’s updated quality guidelines refer to “trust signals” throughout their recommendations; reviews are amazing trust signals. Consumers are also more educated in their buying decisions and look at reviews more frequently when making a decision. Not only do the reviews impact perception for conversion rates, they also impact superlative based searches (e.g., best personal injury lawyer, top personal injury lawyer). I understand attorneys can’t typically advertise on their website that they are “the best” or “the top” firm, but high review ratings do impact the rankings for these searches.
Last, but not least, attorneys should focus on review prominence more than on a single review source like Google My Business. They’ll need to get reviews on other sites, such as Avvo, BBB, or Facebook.
Chris Dreyer, Rankings.io
Firms more and more are requesting their technology “work together”.
A big shift in the industry is going to be the ability for not only marketing data to tie directly into their CRM and intake solution, but the update of what happened to that lead coming right back into their marketing platform. This is going to allow marketers and firms to make more real-time decisions on if a campaign is working or not. It is no longer enough to simply track the number of leads a marketing effort is producing, you need to know if those leads are actually qualified and being retained. Make sure your technology can accomplish this for your firm!
Check out this example below of what it looks like to track the efficacy of your marketing efforts over time.
Denny Newberry, Captorra
Too many attorneys spend money on marketing that no longer brings the results it once did. In many situations, you can fix this issue by making a simple adjustment.
First, understand that the number of people wanting to hire you right now is very small. Yet if we look at those ready to hire you a little later down the road, this group is much larger. In fact, there’s an even larger group of people looking to hire you even later.
If you struggle to see consistent results with your marketing, you’re likely only targeting the tiny amount of people who want to hire you right now.
The problem is, most law firms go after this same small audience. So not only do you compete for a limited number of potential clients, but you’re also battling it out with a bunch of other attorneys.
Why not target the larger audiences where there’s less competition?
As we move into 2019, besides increasing your long-term follow-up with prospects (and past clients), add more touchpoints to your marketing. I especially encourage you to look at direct mail, retargeting and other channels you can personalize.
Tom Trush, Write Way Solutions
I believe most legal marketing experts agree that you must have a cohesive strategy using all platforms, video and the importance of reviews. In addition, you should absolutely know your numbers, from click-through rates (CTR) on paid search ads to the conversion rates of your various ads on your various platforms. These things should have been accomplished over the past 2-3 years. If not, please find someone who can set this up for you as soon as possible. In addition, your website speed seems to be of the highest priority in Google’s eyes. That sums up some of the “knowns”.
However, the question posed is what’s next? Not what you should already be doing. A lot of people ask how we were the “first” to be in so many aspects related to the legal marketing field. Creating the first live chat for lawyers (Ngage) that spawned a whole industry, creating the first apps for law firms (Big Momma Apps), and to be the first to offer true “exclusive marketing” (The Search Engine Guys). I am not sure why we have been so lucky, but we are aggressive as hell and we try to be first to innovation even if that means failing many, many times.
The next big thing in our mind is “catching the goldfish.” It is believed that the average attention span of a goldfish (7 seconds) is longer than a human’s (6 seconds.) Therefore, what’s next is how to use and create ads, websites, and videos that convert a lead within 6 seconds before your “goldfish” (prospective client) swims off to another firm. I believe this will be done from frictionless sign-up processes to creating high-impact, fast -hitting ads that create emotional fast-acting responses. Who does this first and best will determine the winner!
Joe Devine, The Search Engine Guys
Is your firm’s online presence ready for tomorrow? Here are 5 helpful tips to effectively improve your online visibility if you haven’t done so already.
- Security – as of July of this year, Google Chrome (which accounts for 62% of the browser market share) now marks all http sites with a warning message as “not secure” and potential visitors will move on to other firms.
- Speed – Before it was just a poor user experience, but nowadays Google is penalizing your site for sub-par download speeds on mobile and desktop on ranking results. Check out your download speeds and ask your website provider to adjust if you fall short.
- Voice – These days with Siri, Alexa, Google home, etc., more and more people are simply asking these devices to find a lawyer. Most voice-activated results are tied to either Google My Business and Apple Maps so you should make sure to build out your profiles on both databases.
- Reviews –The number of reviews you have on your Google My Business (GMB) can impact your Google local rankings or map section. It doesn’t cost any money and can positively impact local map rankings.
- Driving Traffic – Implementing all of these recommendations will not assist your online presence if the site cannot be found. The recent statistics show that 14% go to the Paid Search (PPC), 33% view the Google Map section and the remaining (53%) go to the organic results. Invest your money where consumers spend their time.
Mark Weinstock, Milemark Media
Law firms will reboot themselves in 2019 and start getting active in local business development. Here are the trends that smart law firms will lead:
- Attorneys will generate new revenue by pursuing individual business development plans that tie back to the law firm’s overall marketing strategy. The plans emphasize getting out of the office and being goal-oriented about opening new files.
- The chief technique will be setting up referral arrangements with attorneys in other practice areas at other law firms, and starting a mutually-beneficial relationship of referring good clients to each other.
- Law Firms will create Facebook business pages, or start updating their existing Facebook account several times a week. The posts will emphasize pictures and telling stories about the firm doing good work.
- Further seeking referrals, lawyers will start visiting clients to look for problems that have a legal solution and will start sending newsletters to past clients, keeping the firm front-of-mind.
- Lawyers will use their websites as the optimum expression of their brand and improve how many clients find them in Google by writing frequent blog posts.
Larry Bodine, Lawlytics
Your Google web properties and other Google features on search results pages will become even more critical in 2019 for the well-being of your law firm’s case-driving online marketing efforts.
The primary Google web property to be paying attention to is your firm’s Google My Business profile. This profile is what shows up in Local search results, with map results being featured in virtually every locally-relevant search today:
(example of a desktop search result for ‘corpus christi car accident lawyer’)
See how Google features your website and directions here.
Now, however, mobile traffic has overtaken desktop search in most markets, and Google knows when users are searching from mobile. Check out what Google features today in a mobile-specific search:
Google is monopolizing the user experience here and giving the user the option to either (1) click directly into your Google My Business profile or (2) ‘CALL.’ That’s it.
Which one do you think most searching from a phone would choose?
Assuming you have the visibility and are showing up in these 3-4 local results, and that you have positive reviews in comparison to the other competitors, you will drive quality and consistent phone calls.
Take care of your Google local profiles in 2019 and they will take care of you!
Tanner Jones, Consultwebs
Legal marketing, especially legal digital marketing, continues to quickly evolve. The digital marketing strategies and tools that will likely make the largest impact in 2019 include optimizing for voice search, posting client reviews, and creating high-quality videos.
Voice search is going to make a big impact in 2019. Each year more and more people are searching the Internet through talking rather than typing using their smartphones and smart speakers such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod. With the list of devices growing, it seems almost every tech company will be producing its own voice search device in the coming year or two. Since we often talk differently than we type, optimizing content for voice search – for example, by answering questions within the content – will be a very important step in legal digital marketing in the coming year. In addition, in 2018 Google announced a new schema.org structure called Speakable. Currently in Beta and limited to Google Home devices for news queries, this new structure allows websites to mark-up news articles to show Google Assistant which answers may be most relevant for voice searches. Google will likely expand the structure to different voice search devices and industries in the coming year, making it important to markup content to illustrate to Google which text should be read aloud to answer voice searches.
Second, securing positive client reviews on Google is becoming increasingly important. Positive reviews on Google can help boost a website’s local rankings. Moreover, potential clients searching for a law firm online often turn to client reviews when choosing a lawyer. People want to hire someone they like and trust, and reviews help build trust between a potential client and a law firm even before an initial meeting. Client testimonials can be posted on your website as well as on Google and, even more, video testimonials from clients can help promote your brand and build confidence that your firm can help a potential client.
Posting videos on your site and on YouTube is the third strategy to turn to in 2019. Showcasing a lawyer’s personality and/or law firm’s culture and brand through a high-quality, informative video can make the difference in a potential client’s decision to hire you. Just like reviews, videos provide a law firm with an opportunity to gain someone’s trust. In addition, surrounding that video with SEO-optimized text on the webpage gives you another chance to provide search engines with a page they can crawl and rank on the search results page.
Which 2019 marketing strategies are you planning on leveraging in your law firm in the New Year?