The Internet is a powerful marketing channel that law firms can leverage to attract new business. When developing an online presence, the right planning and implementation can make all the difference. Below I highlight a number of extremely useful tools to help your firm execute its online marketing campaigns, improve performance, and track results.
Your website. Your website is the foundation for your firm’s online presence and plays a key role in the overall marketing strategy. Visitors come and go 24/7, and they take with them impressions of your law firm. Ensuring that your website looks professional, provides a good user experience, and effectively showcases the firm’s value proposition should be a priority. Use your website to differentiate your firm and highlight why someone should consider working with you.
WordPress. Choosing the right platform for your website is important, and WordPress.org is the industry standard. It offers a robust tool set that is both highly functional and scalable. While the initial setup and customization will likely require the assistance of a web developer, WordPress makes it relatively easy for a non-technical person to add and update content. Pro tip: An entire community of developers creates add-on tools that are often free, known as plug-ins, to enhance the functionality of your WordPress website. Use them.
Yoast SEO: A WordPress plug-in. If your firm is pursuing a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, Yoast is a must-have tool. Use it to easily write page titles and descriptions. Create an XML sitemap to submit to Google Search Console. Pro tip: Write compelling page titles and descriptions that include target keywords to improve click-through rate and keyword relevancy. Both are important factors that contribute to organic search rank.
Web hosting. While you cannot run a website without hosting, choosing a website host is nothing to stress about. When evaluating a provider, make sure to consider security, site speed, backups, and customer service. Pro tip: Consider encrypting your website with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate. This is a small data file that will authenticate the identity of your website and enable a secure connection between the web browser and the server hosting the site.
Google Analytics. Google Analytics is free, powerful, fairly easy to install, and found on websites across the Internet. Most importantly, it provides a wealth of valuable information about the visitors to your website. The primary metrics to focus on are audience, acquisition, and behavior. Audience metrics provide insight into the users visiting the site. Acquisition data focuses on the individual sources responsible for bringing users to your website: organic search, paid search, social, referral, and direct. If your firm is running different campaigns to increase traffic to the website, acquisition data will provide the comparative details. Behavior data reports on what is actually happening on the site. There you can see what pages are most interesting to users and what pages generate the most traffic.
Your blog. The goal of writing a blog is to highlight the firm’s expertise in a particular area of law and position it as an authority. People go online seeking information. Think about the type of clients you would like to attract and consider the type of information those people might go online to learn about. Pro tip: High-quality content on your website will provide an essential foundation for your SEO strategy.
Google Search Console. Google Search Console is a free tool that allows site owners to diagnose the overall health of their site, submit site maps, and review search analytics such as impressions and click-through rates. Pro tip: Navigate to Search Analytics and sort by pages and impressions to identify high-traffic pages with low click-through rates. Write new, more compelling page titles and descriptions to improve these rates and attract even more traffic to your best content.
Google My Business. Google My Business is another free tool provided by Google that allows businesses to manage the details of their businesses in Google properties such as Search and Maps. Be sure to claim and fully update your firm’s profile. Carefully chose the category, write a good description of the firm, and add quality photos. The details of your Google My Business listing, along with reviews, show up in a variety of ways across Google properties, but perhaps none is more important than the local search results, which are tied to Google Maps and often the user’s actual location.
Moz Local. Ensuring that your local business details—such as firm name, address, and phone number—are consistent and correct across the web is important. The online ecosystem of local business directories is vast, and manually updating business details to every directory is not possible. While you should manually claim and complete as many of the most important local and legal directories as possible, use a tool like Moz Local to handle the rest. Input the correct business details once, and Moz Local will help push your firm’s correct details to directories across the web.
Call tracking. Correctly attributing new client inquiries to a specific channel or campaign should be a top priority. Because the majority of new inquiries are likely phone calls, implementing a call-tracking solution is critical. This means assigning a specific phone number for each campaign. That way, when the phones ring, you will know the source associated with each inquiry. Check out well-known providers such as CallRail and CallTrackingMetrics.
AdWords. Google AdWords is Google’s advertising platform. Attorneys widely use it to acquire new clients. Correctly planned and implemented, Google AdWords can be one of the most powerful and scalable advertising channels available to law firms, especially those with consumer-facing practicing. AdWords is considered a high-intent advertising channel—ads are shown based on the use of specific keywords by users in Google Search. AdWords is a pay-per-click channel, meaning you only pay for the ad when someone clicks on it. Pro tip: Fine-tune your AdWords campaign and migrate it into Bing, as the cost of advertising is likely to be less expensive. However, carefully monitor performance, as not all advertising channels are alike.
Lead intake. Lead intake is more process than tool, but it is an absolutely critical point in your marketing funnel. While you can invest heavily in your online marketing program, your results will be less than optimal without a clearly defined process for managing new inquiries. It takes a significant amount of work and investment to generate a new lead. Make sure that your firm has a well-defined process and that staff is properly trained to qualify an inquiry, quickly gather contact information, and “close” the prospect on the initial consultation.
Although this list is hardly exhaustive, these tools will help streamline processes, simplify tasks, and help your firm get the most out of its online marketing program.
ABA LAW PRACTICE DIVISION
This article is an abridged and edited version of one that originally appeared on page 40 of Law Practice, January/February 2017 (43:1).
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