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Essential law firm marketing strategies for 2022

Written by Amy Hinman

This is the time of year when legal marketing experts start talking about leading-edge trends, hoping to catch your eye as you set your law firm’s marketing budgets and plan for the upcoming year. Too often, however, agencies churn out a list of self-serving recommendations that push their products, rather than focusing on what tactics and strategies can advance your legal marketing goals.

2022 is different. The pandemic continues to affect how consumers use the web. Google’s Core Updates are increasingly prioritizing authority and expertise. And everyone is thinking differently about data privacy and branding.

To address all these issues, we’ve made our 2022 legal industry trends forecast more detailed than ever.

Content trends in legal marketing

EAT continues to dominate law firm marketing strategy

EAT isn’t a new topic, but it’s becoming more important to your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. EAT stands for:

  • Expertise
  • Authoritativeness
  • Trust

Here’s why law firms cannot afford to ignore EAT metrics.

In the summer of 2021, Google launched a series of Core Updates that seem to have affected “your money, your life” (YMYL) websites more deeply than others. YMYL content can affect readers’ health, security, and finances—so Google is increasingly prioritizing detailed information that is written by recognized, trustworthy experts.

Here are a few improvements that you can start working on now, which might boost your EAT metrics:

  • Share your knowledge: The days of the 400-word legal blog are over. Make sure you are publishing high-quality content that is clearly written and answers your readers’ most pressing questions.
  • Refresh your content: Maintain a consistent editorial calendar and publish new content regularly. You should also consider rewriting and supplementing your existing content—which can strengthen its authority.
  • Demonstrate your expertise: If respected sites are referencing your content, you’re more likely to be seen as an expert. Not sure where to start? We can help you reassess your link building and guest blogging strategies.

If you noticed your law firm’s SEO performance stagnated in 2021, or you want to stay ahead of these search engine developments in 2022, now is the time to take a new look at your content strategy and marketing efforts.

RELATED ARTICLE: SEO for law firm websites: What you need to know about EAT and the latest YMYL update

Time is of the essence with legal consumers—and automation can help

Legal consumerism continues to grow. Your prospective leads are researching you, your competitors, and their legal questions with increasing specificity. They also have high expectations.

Legal consumer surveys consistently show that responsiveness is a top determining factor when clients hire lawyers. But it can be hard to provide immediate attention to every lead that comes in the door.

That’s where automation, chat, and lead scoring tools can come into play. Automation and chat platforms can ensure that every person who contacts you gets a prompt response. And, sophisticated forms and chat tools can help you identify your most valuable leads early on, helping you provide five-star service from the moment they complete your contact form.

If you noticed your law firm’s SEO performance stagnated in 2021, or you want to stay ahead of these search engine developments in 2022, now is the time to take a new look at your content strategy and marketing efforts.

Legal advertising trends

Audio-only ads will be increasingly popular and effective

The number of people streaming music and other content only continues to grow. For instance, Spotify, the music streaming giant, is projected to have 400-407 million monthly active users in Q4 of 2021, compared to 271 million in Q4 of 2019. Audio ads, therefore, are a solid choice for law firms that want to reach a broad audience that includes younger listeners, especially those who may not be tuned in to traditional radio.

Want to really be on the forefront? There are other audio law firm marketing options as well, especially on social media. The new platform Clubhouse offers audio-only “rooms” where listeners can join designated speakers in conversations about certain topics. Twitter is testing a similar feature, called Twitter Spaces, and even Facebook is trialing a version. These spaces are especially popular among tech-first businesses and groups. If your law firm is interested in connecting with tech companies, startups, or other entrepreneurs, this could be a great place to do it.

For more mainstream legal practices, consider music or podcast streaming platforms, or even local radio; your audience is ready for audio ads.

User tracking rules means firms need to use first-party data more strategically

For years, law firms and their marketing agencies have used cookies and other tools to track their audiences. However, data privacy is becoming an increasingly sensitive issue.

The EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) revolutionized how many businesses think about and treat user data, including cookie use. The regulation turned the tide and pushed for more privacy for users.

A similar state-wide initiative, called the California Consumer Privacy Act, was passed in 2018. In July 2021, users in the U.S. got the choice to opt-in to cookie use on websites.

Chrome is expected to block cookie use by 2022. By 2023, Google is expected to eliminate user tracking for all websites visits.

These changes will affect paid advertising targeting, interest-based advertising, and social media ads. This means that businesses, including law firms, will need to be more thoughtful with how they use their first-party data.

In 2022, law firms should look to get ahead of the curve. Consider investing in marketing efforts that make the most of data you already have. This includes programmatic retargeting ads (ads that go to people who have visited your website previously, but did not convert), email list building, and other advertising options that don’t rely on user data, like Local Services Ads. 

Short-form video is increasingly influential

Video marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach potential clients online. Short form video in the form of Reels, Stories, TikToks, and other social media content is a particularly good marketing strategy right now.

While most of this content is no more than a minute long and relies on humor, dances, and sound trends to educate and engage with viewers, businesses are starting to embrace them too. (The hashtag #digitalmarketing has more than 100 million views on TikTok.)

TikTok in particular has been a successful home for many professionals like doctors, surgeons, and lawyers who share stories and offer insights (not formal advice). Some attorneys have garnered millions of likes and hundreds of thousands of followers online.

However, becoming a “social media lawyer” is not for everyone. Signs this social media marketing tactic could be right for you and your law firm:

  • Enjoy social media and understand how trends work
  • Are comfortable on camera
  • Understand your clients’ pain points and can speak to their legal questions and pain points in plain English.
  • Like to have fun and be a little different

One of the biggest reasons to choose short-form video is the low financial barrier to get started. All you need is a smart phone, some time, and a few ideas, and you can be on your way. And working with a legal marketing company like LaFleur can also help you jump on social media trends and generate creative law firm marketing ideas.

In 2022, law firms should look to get ahead of the curve. Consider investing in marketing efforts that make the most of data you already have. This includes programmatic retargeting ads (ads that go to people who have visited your website previously, but did not convert), email list building, and other advertising options that don’t rely on user data, like Local Services Ads. 

RELATED ARTICLE: 6 Steps to Better Video Marketing

Streaming ad options are expanding

With so much content available on the internet, it’s no wonder that so many people are “cord cutting,” or ditching their cable subscriptions to stream content online. This has given rise to two new ad options: OTT and CTV advertising.

These two options are similar, but not identical. OTT is an ad delivery method, and CTV refers to the platform on which your target audience sees that ad.

  • OTT, which stands for “over the top,” is a type of ad that’s streamed via the internet. This includes ads on paid platforms like Hulu and Netflix, as well as non-paid platforms, like a gaming device, such as an Xbox.
  • CTV, which stands for Connected TV, refers to a video streaming device, such as smart phones, smart TVs, and laptops.

OTT and CTV advertising are highly customizable based on user data, location, interests, and other factors. If your law firm has run display ads, they can function in largely the same way. Once a viewer sees your ad, they might be able click on an icon and be taken directly to a landing page on your website, making for a seamless experience.

If you’re investing your law firm marketing budget on TV spots, you should be segmenting some budget to streaming—especially if you want (and need) to reach a younger demographic. Plus, OTT and CTV ads offer better targeting, a higher volume of people watching, an even analytics so you can keep track of your ad’s performance.

We have one recommendation for law firms interested in streaming ads in 2022: Do it.

Design trends for law firms

Visual design in law firm marketing is increasingly gentle and optimistic

Visual design is getting kinder in 2022. The law firm marketing industry is shifting from bold colors to calming, muted earth tones. These soothing palettes make bolder colors pop (especially natural blues and greens) and add a layer of nuance and complexity to the user experience.

In addition, we’re increasingly seeing a shift as designers focus on speaking to an optimistic future state versus designing in a way that speaks to pain points. Law firms can expect to integrate messaging that focuses on positive outcomes and easy-on-the-eye color schemes. These changes seem subtle, but they make an impact.

Micro-animations and other subtle interactive features add a depth of experience

There’s a good chance your law firm website already includes some subtle interactive features; a common one is a button that changes color when you hover over it, called a hover state. These micro animations increase a user’s engagement with your site and help them feel more connected.

A classic example of the same phenomena from traditional marketing is to give someone a packet with a paper band around it. When they break the band, they feel more connected with the packet because they’ve made it their own.

And just like in traditional marketing, increasing engagement through delightful details is a way to increase a user’s attachment to your product, in this case, your legal services. In 2022, law firm websites can look forward to arrows that bounce slightly when hovered over, small, animated load buttons, and more.

User experience and technical trends

Local SEO drives content strategy and lead generation

Local SEO (which stands for search engine optimization) is the practice of optimizing a site to serve a specific area. While firms can serve clients anywhere in the state where they’re licensed, many attorneys choose to focus on a specific city or region. Local SEO, which is a type of law firm SEO, can help firms reach more of your target clients in these specific locations.

Sloppy Local SEO efforts might include simply including “near me” in your law firm website headlines. Since Google still prioritizes natural language, a website header like “Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me” isn’t likely to provide a long-term ROI—or sound like it was written by a real person.

If you’re ready to move your law firm marketing strategy beyond the questionable low-hanging fruit, LaFleur can help.

Accessibility is a requirement

If your law firm hasn’t addressed accessibility already, it should be on your list for 2022. Accessibility means ensuring your law firm website is navigable by people who use screen readers and other adaptive devices. Most law firms’ accessibility features rely on design and UX (user experience) concepts like contrast, keyboard focus indicators, and alt tags.

Accessibility also includes bilingual resources if your firm serves populations who speak other languages. Considering roughly 7.3 million Americans use a screen reader, and 20% of the population speaks a language other than English at home, accessibility should not be left out of your 2022 law firm marketing plan.

On October 6, 2021, the American Bar Association published Formal Opinion 500, “Language Access in the Client-Lawyer Relationship.” While this opinion isn’t binding, it’s a strong indicator of where ethics experts are headed.

Most of the website focuses on serving clients who need a translator or interpreter. However, there is another equally important trend in Formal Opinion 500—accessibility. It notes:

The foundational rules of competence (Rule 1.1) and communication (Rule 1.4) in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct establish a baseline for a lawyer’s duties when there is a barrier to communication because the lawyer and the client do not share a common language, or when a client is a person with a non-cognitive physical condition that affects how the lawyer communicates with a client, such as a hearing or speech disability. This baseline prescribes that when a lawyer and client cannot communicate with reasonable efficacy, the lawyer must take steps to engage the services of a qualified and impartial interpreter and/or employ an appropriate assistive or language-translation device to ensure that the client has sufficient information to intelligently participate in decisions relating to the representation and that the lawyer is procuring adequate information from the client to meet the standards of competent practice.

In conjunction with Robles vs. Domino’s Pizza, you should be taking your website’s accessibility (both for non-English speakers and people with disabilities) seriously.

RELATED ARTICLE: Digital accessibility: Why it matters and how to build an accessible website

Page speed is an increasingly important metric

We’ve written about the importance of page speed before, and given how important this metric is, we’re writing about it again.

Because page speed is one of the most profound factors affecting user experience, it’s one of the most important metrics the Google algorithm uses to rank your law firm’s website. So, not only is Google considering your content when they rank pages on their search engine results pages (SERPs), but how quickly your page loads as well.

Sites that load quickly are (usually) built with speed in mind. If your law firm’s website is older, uses a visual composer like Wix or Squarespace, or hasn’t been updated in a while, it’s time to consider your site’s functionality in your 2022 marketing strategy.

Craft a law firm marketing plan for your law firm with LaFleur

If you’re looking for a forward-thinking law firm marketing company that has your best interests in mind, you’re in the right place. At LaFleur, our priority is acting in good faith, equipping your team with the tools you need to make the right choice for your law firm, and acting as your true partner along the way.

For personalized insight and recommendations about your 2022 marketing initiatives, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re available at (888) 222-1512, or you can fill out our simple online contact form. Either way, we look forward to hearing from you!

References

American Academy of Arts and Sciences. (2013). The State of Languages in the U.S. A Statistical Portrait. Retrieved from https://www.amacad.org/sites/default/files/academy/multimedia/pdfs/publications/researchpapersmonographs/State-of-Languages-in-US.pdf

Formal Opinion 500, Language Access in the Client-Lawyer Relationship. American Bar Association. Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/professional_responsibility/aba-formal-opinion-500.pdf

National Federation of the Blind. (2019, January). Blindness Statistics. Retrieved from https://nfb.org/resources/blindness-statistics

Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, 913 F.3d 898 (9th Cir. 2019), cert. denied.