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March 01, 2020 The Marketing Issue

The Mobile Legal Services Consumer

Online marketing can revolutionize your client development.

Gyi Tsakalakis

People are online now more than ever before. Technology is at everyone’s fingertips at anytime and anywhere.

In fact, 35 percent of Americans owned smartphones in 2011—today, that number is 81 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. And around 20 percent of American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users—meaning they own a smartphone but do not have traditional home broadband service.

But you don’t have to work at the Pew Research Center to know that your clients and next clients are constantly connected to their mobile devices. Just look around.

Generally speaking, I’m not big on internet hyperbole. Shiny object syndrome is an epidemic in the legal profession. Nonetheless, in many ways, this has changed how attorneys provide legal services to consumers.

The Micro-Moment Age

Back in 2014, Google commissioned a travel-tracking study to better understand the role of the internet in making travel-related decisions. Based on that research, the following year, Sridhar Ramaswamy, who was Google’s advertising chief at the time, introduced the term micro-moments:

“But then there are the other moments—the I want-to-know moments, I want-to-go moments, I want-to-do moments, and I want-to-buy moments—that really matter. We call these ‘micro-moments,’ and they’re game changers for both consumers and brands.
Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped. In these moments, consumers’ expectations are higher than ever. The powerful computers we carry in our pockets have trained us to expect brands to immediately deliver exactly what we are looking for when we are looking. We want things right, and we want things right away.”

Almost five years later, many of us will recognize micro-moments in our own behavior on a daily basis. However, many lawyers and their marketing teams haven’t fully synthesized and applied this new mental marketing model. They tend to continue to filter strategies and campaigns through the lens of a funnel. Unfortunately, this doesn’t align with the mobile-local legal services consumers’ journey.

Many of your next clients don’t even realize that they need a lawyer. Instead, they are looking for answers about their life-legal issues. In fact, in over 10 years of looking at law firm Google Analytics, Ads and Search Console data, I can confidently tell you that the overwhelming majority of legal searches are “I want to know” research queries.

The good news is that many of these queries tend to be less competitive from a search engine optimization standpoint. In other words, you don’t have to be the local organic share of voice leader in order to earn positions, clicks and inquiries from legal services consumers. On the other hand, this segment of the search landscape is highly fragmented, making it somewhat more difficult to research. Here are some strategies for developing content for “I want to know” legal services consumers.

Google My Business

Make sure you have claimed, completed and verified a Google My Business (GMB) listing for each of your physical office locations. GMB will likely be the most effective way to communicate with your next clients who want to know your address, your phone number and  what clients have to say about you.

On a phone, the GMB listing dominates the entire screen. Therefore, it’s that much more important to own the top results for your most relevant search queries.

You should also consider seeding frequently asked questions and answers in the Q&A section of your GMB listing. This is a useful tool for communicating some of the most common questions you hear from potential clients.

Your Website

The next place mobile-local legal services consumers will “find you” is probably your website. I use “website” here rather liberally. It could be your firm’s site. It could be a practice-specific microsite. It could be a blog. Put another way, it’s any collection of web pages that you own and maintain. In other words, you are responsible for how fast they load and how usable they are on mobile devices.


How fast your pages load is of paramount importance. No one is waiting around for your slow pages to load. Further, think about what kind of impression that leaves with people looking for information about you. Hint: It’s not good.

For our purposes, we’ll say that your pages must fully load in less than three seconds. You should really aim for closer to around one second, but let’s start with three.

The next step is to test how fast your pages are loading. Here are a few of the most common tools:

  • Google Analytics: The Site Speed reports show how quickly users are able to see and interact with content.
  • Google’s PageSpeed Insights: Page-Speed Insights reports on the performance of a page on both mobile and desktop devices and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved.
  • Lighthouse: Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. You can run it against any web page, public or requiring authentication. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps and more.
  • GTmetrix: GTmetrix uses Google PageSpeed and Yahoo YSlow, two of the major speed analysis tools, to grade your site’s performance and provide actionable recommendations to fix these issues.

There are a bunch more, but these are the ones I tend to rely on most.

Some sites optimize content visibility at the expense of interactivity. This can create a frustrating user experience. The site appears to be ready, but when the user tries to interact with it, nothing happens.

In addition to delivering a better user experience, speed is also a factor in how Google ranks pages.


In this context, “responsiveness” refers to responsive web design, as coined by Ethan Marcotte. Design and development are based on the user’s behavior and environment, including screen size, platform and orientation. Put simply, your website “just works” regardless how and where users interact with it.

Mobile-local legal consumers tend to be action-oriented. They expect to be able to get what they need, immediately, wherever they are. They don’t have patience for having to swipe and pinch mobile device screens because a site doesn’t render properly. If layout, text, contact information, images and videos aren’t easily usable without pinching and swiping, you may need to explore a more responsive web design. Here are a few basic mobile site design best practices:

  • Don’t make mobile visitors pinch to zoom.
  • Make primary calls to action prominent and above the fold.
  • Keep menus concise.
  • Make home page navigation easy and obvious.

Your next clients will expect to find answers to their questions and information about your services on demand, from wherever they are, on their smartphones. Your ability to earn their business will depend on both impressing them and delivering a fast and seamless mobile-local online experience.

Gyi Tsakalakis

Gyi Tsakalakis helps lawyers put their best foot forward online because that’s where clients are looking. As a licensed (nonpracticing) lawyer himself, he is familiar with the unique considerations of ethically and effectively marketing a law practice online. In 2008, he founded AttorneySync with the vision of building the most trusted team in digital legal marketing. He currently serves on the ABA TECHSHOW Board (you should come). [email protected]