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The Magic of Leap Day (and How It Translates to Digital Marketing)

I’m a Leapling — a baby born on Leap Day. Yes, that means I only get a birthday every four years. This year, I will celebrate my 32nd trip around the sun, but only my eighth birthday.

February 29 typically doesn’t get a second thought from people not born on Leap Day. People often tell me they didn’t even know people were born on Leap Day. Or, they ask, “When is your real birthday?” Sometimes, the fact that I’m a Leapling is the only thing people remember about me, which means we only connect every four years. It makes the day pretty special.

In 2012, NBC’s hit show 30 Rock aired a Leap Day episode. The show portrays Leap Day as a magical holiday, complete with a Santa Claus-like character named Leap Day William who wears the traditional Leap Day colors of blue and yellow and trades children’s tears for candy. The moral of the 30 Rock episode is that on Leap Day, you can take risks and live life to the fullest.

“[It’s] a day to do the things you wouldn’t ordinarily do — to take chances,” exclaims one character.

I couldn’t agree more. Leap Day is a bonus day we all get every four years, and there’s no better time to seize the day and make the most of it.

Here at LaFleur, we want you to try and live your best life this Leap Day. So, take a short Leap Day journey with us and dream big about what digital marketing could do for your business.

The Magic and Possibilities of Digital Marketing

Take a moment to think about all the possibilities and opportunities digital marketing can bring for your business. Just for a few minutes, set aside any objections and constraints you might have. Imagine how you could meet all your business and sales goals in the following categories:

Updated Branding and Logo

When you think of everything you want your brand and company to stand for, what do you think of? Do your logo, website design, business cards, and building signage reflect that vision? If not, imagine how you might update your brand. What would your logo look like, and what would it convey? How would it affect the way others see and experience your business?

RELATED: Develop Your Law Firm’s Brand by Asking These 3 Questions

Marketing Automation

Imagine what you and your sales team could do with marketing communications and sales follow-up processes that were partially or fully automated. Would you spend the extra time chasing new leads, attending networking events, growing other parts of your business, or taking that well-deserved vacation?

RELATED: (C’mon, Baby! Do the Automation!) Marketing Automation FAQs

Video Production

Think about how video content on your website and social media platforms could engage your target audience. Consider that the average user spends 88% more time on a website that has video, and viewers on average retain 95% of video information compared to 10% retention for text content.

With that in mind, what kind of videos would you create and share: client success stories, customer testimonials and reviews, a virtual tour of your facility, or explanations of complex topics?

RELATED: 6 Steps to Better Video Marketing

Social Media

What would your business look like with a larger social media presence? Whom could you reach, and whom could you engage to create a meaningful dialogue? A robust social media presence and strategy gives you the platform to draw users to your brand, educate potential customers about your products or services, and talk about events in your community.

RELATED: How to Run Timely, Effective Social Media Campaigns on a Budget

Paid Digital Advertising

What if you could target your ideal client based on location, interests, and online behavior? Paid digital advertising can be a game-changer for any business. With trackable and actionable data, paid digital advertising can get you the most bang for your marketing buck and grow your business quickly.

RELATED: Optimizing Your Paid Online Advertising Takes More Than A Great Ad

“Real Life is for March,” and LaFleur Is Your Real-Life Digital Marketing Partner

At the end of this quirky 30 Rock episode, Leap Day William encourages everyone to always remember the spirit and magic of Leap Day while another character declares, “Real life is for March.”

Soon, it will be March, and you’ll be back to your real life. You might still feel inspired by your Leap-Day dreams of digital marketing, but you may not know how to bring them to life. That’s where we come in.

LaFleur is your forward-thinking digital marketing partner. We can help you take your digital marketing fantasies and make them a reality through a strategy-first, data-driven approach.
Let’s start a conversation today! Call us at (888) 222-1512 or fill out our simple online contact form. We can’t wait to talk with you.
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Reference
Lister, M. (2017, March 8). 37 staggering video marketing statistics for 2017. WordStream. Retrieved from http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/03/08/video-marketing-statistics

Should I Pay for Search Engine Optimization? And How Much?

If you browse our list of digital marketing services here at LaFleur, you might notice that we don’t list search engine optimization (SEO) as one of them. Why don’t we offer SEO services when so many digital marketing agencies do?

Well, the answer is that we do offer SEO services — they’re just wrapped throughout everything we do. And in truth, offering SEO as a standalone service shows limited knowledge of what SEO really means — or, even worse, a desire to willfully deceive potential clients who don’t have a deep understanding of SEO.

To learn more about SEO and why it doesn’t make sense to treat SEO as a siloed, standalone service, keep reading.

What Is SEO and Why Does It Matter?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website more “findable” by Google’s algorithms. When Google finds your site, it shows up in a search engine results pages, meaning that more people get connected to your goods and services. While the nature of SEO practices has changed significantly over the past decade, the cornerstones of SEO remain content and keywords.

In the early, heady days of SEO, keywords were the only way Google understood whether a website was related to a search term. If your website used the phrase “tacos in Austin, Texas” in the title tag, headers, sub-headers, and body copy, Google understood that your website was about tacos in Austin, Texas, and would list your site as a result for those who searched that term. The more you used your desired keywords, the more likely your site was to show up early in Google results.

However, Google and its search algorithms have gotten smarter over time. Other factors now influence how web pages rank in search, and SEO as a keyword-based approach is only one of them.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: SEOoops! 8 Common SEO Myths, Debunked

Should Your Company Invest in SEO?

If you’ve never invested time, energy, or money in optimizing your website for search, you may be wondering if it’s time to do so now. You may have also been approached by marketing companies offering to “perform SEO” for you apart from any other services. When marketing companies frame SEO this way, it shows that either they don’t understand SEO or assume you don’t, and usually, the results will underwhelm you.

That said, there are some cases where certain standalone, one-off optimization services can actually help your site perform better in search, even if you don’t invest in other essential digital marketing strategies like content marketing. In general, one-time optimization makes the most sense when you have an older site with an existing library of content that simply needs updates to improve the user experience and compatibility with Google’s search algorithms.

Examples of standalone SEO services that can provide value for these types of sites are:

  • Making back-end improvements to your site that improve site performance, page loading times, and site security
  • Cleaning up your content to get rid of old, outdated blog articles and webpages that no longer receive meaningful traffic or provide relevant information
  • Reorganizing your site’s URL structure to be cleaner and more logical
  • Fixing or removing broken links
  • Adding on-page SEO elements like meta descriptions, alt tags, and headers (H1, H2, etc.) to pages that don’t have them
  • Adding images to pages and blog articles

If you wanted to purchase these types of service from LaFleur, we do offer them. They fall under our website builds, upgrades, and hosting service area.

Still, even though these updates can help improve your site’s performance in search engine results, it’s unlikely they’ll vault you to page one if your site wasn’t performing well already.

When You Pay for SEO Services, What Do You Really Get?

When it comes down to it, SEO in and of itself isn’t something you can buy. So, when marketing companies offer it as a service, what are you really getting? Often, the answer is:

  • Stuffing headers, body copy, and meta descriptions with keywords (an outdated practice that won’t work and can even get your site penalized by Google)
  • Obtaining backlinks to your site by requesting or purchasing them from other websites (another practice that Google frowns on)
  • Updated navigation (which may actually help a little, but probably not as much as you’re hoping based on what you’ve paid)

Overall, what do these services get you? At best, they may marginally improve your site rankings. At worst, your site becomes less user-friendly and inviting because it’s awkwardly stuffed with keywords, your Google ranking goes down as the functionality and usability are compromised, and you lose valuable leads. When you need your business to succeed online, these are less than favorable results.

RELATED ARTICLE: When Digital Marketing Plans Fail, Reboot for Success

What Should I Do to Boost Page Rankings?

According to Google itself, the single best way to improve your site’s performance in Google rankings is to publish original, high-quality content that your target audience finds helpful. In other words, the foundation of “SEO” is really content marketing.

A strong content marketing strategy should involve:

  • Filling your site with high-quality, original content (webpages, blog articles, infographics, videos, podcasts) that addresses topics your potential customers or clients want to know about
  • Regularly publishing new content
  • Researching keywords and including relevant keywords, but only when it’s natural to do so and doesn’t compromise the user’s experience
  • Updating old content to include more “evergreen” (perpetually relevant) information
  • Culling old, outdated, and ineffective content that isn’t worth updating

When you need to boost page rankings, your money is best spent investing in a holistic digital marketing strategy that’s designed to deliver sustainable results for the long term. While there are certainly cases where a one-time touch-up can improve your website’s performance in search, you should be wary of agencies that promise these fixes will continue to deliver results over time (unless they’re also attached to a long-term content strategy).

When You Need Reliable Results, Content Marketing Is Your Best Long-Term Investment

To get a website that performs well in search and delivers leads month after month, you need to play the long game. As much as we’d like to be able to deliver instant and massive results for our clients, we can’t, so we don’t promise that. There’s no way to make your site skyrocket to the first page of Google search results with a series of one-time fixes. Attaining lasting improvements in search engine performance and web traffic takes investment, commitment, and some patience.

If you don’t have a team of writers, editors, designers, web developers, and data analysts who can execute a data-driven content marketing strategy, don’t fret. That’s why LaFleur exists. We love working with clients to help them reach their marketing goals and make the best possible decisions. And we never offer quick fixes that won’t improve your business’ health in the long term.

LaFleur: Your Forward-Thinking Digital Marketing Partner

Here at LaFleur, we employ trained, certified SEO specialists who have the knowledge, skills, and experience to optimize your company’s website for search. And we approach all our services, from creating content to making website updates, with a holistic mindset that’s designed to make sure your website and digital marketing properties continue to attract and convert customers in the long term.

If your current website isn’t meeting your expectations, we can help! Call us at (888) 222-1512 or complete our online contact form and we’ll chat.

Best Practices for Tracking Digital Marketing Leads in the Legal Field 

Your law firm probably receives a lot of phone calls that seem like solid leads on the surface. After a brief conversation with a legal assistant or lawyer, the caller thanks you for the information, and you never hear from them again.

How many times does that happen to your firm each month? How many of those cases would you have accepted if the client had asked for legal representation? What went wrong?

Too frequently, lawyers have no idea, because they don’t track their leads or know who is browsing their website and social media profiles. Because they don’t even bother trying to collect the relevant data, they can easily lose clients to firms with well-established lead generation systems.

Change Your Perspective on Lead Generation

Law firms face unique marketing challenges due to state bar rules limiting a lawyer’s ability to solicit and generate leads. While you’re held to a higher standard than most professions, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a responsible and compelling digital marketing strategy.

Before you begin nurturing leads, you must consider the client journey (sometimes called the buyer’s journey or sales funnel). There are three primary stages in this process:

  1. Awareness: In this first stage, your potential clients realize they have a problem and start looking for information to guide them toward a solution. At this point, they might not even be looking for an attorney. Instead, they might be searching for information about auto liability insurance claims or stopping debt collection. While online, they find your firm’s site and benefit from its excellent, informative content.
  2. Consideration: Armed with new knowledge, the reader decides to initiate contact with your law firm to learn more about his or her claim and perhaps discuss how your firm operates and what you can offer. This might involve completing an online form, downloading an e-book or infographic, calling your office directly, or asking a general question on a social media platform. Once they’ve initiated contact, they become leads that you should add to a customer relationship management platform (CRM).
  3. Conversion: Your lead is ready to sign a retainer or fee agreement, initiating legal representation. Conversions are usually the result of a carefully crafted digital marketing strategy that includes tactics like paid advertising, remarketing, and email automation, as well as an effective lead scoring system.

You and your team should develop and distribute digital marketing materials that engage leads at every stage of the client journey. You should also track the efficacy of these materials using data analytics.

RELATED: Analyze This! Leveraging Analytics to Optimize Your Law Firm’s Content Marketing

Define Key Goals at Each Stage of the Client Journey

There are numerous metrics that gauge the success of your digital marketing presence. Rather than getting swept up in all the data, identify a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help you gauge lead generation and conversion performance. These might change over time depending on your user behavior, so establish an initial set of metrics and then update gradually.

At the Awareness stage, you might assess your performance on:

  • Organic traffic
  • Time on page/site
  • Unique and return user rates
  • Bounce rates
  • Click-through rates on paid advertising
  • Newsletter sends, opens, and clicks

Once you reach the Consideration phase, you should analyze:

  • Form fill rates
  • Landing page conversion rates
  • Scheduled appointments
  • Social media engagement

Finally, at the Conversion stage, you might gauge:

  • Cost of client acquisition
  • Average time for conversion
  • Client retention ratios
  • “No Call, No Show” rates for scheduled appointments

These metrics can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses in your marketing plan, understand your return on investment, and spot trends in your market. They can also help you develop a useful and reliable lead scoring system that will encourage you and your team to focus on the most promising leads and gradually influence those at the beginning of the funnel.

Related: LaFleur Podcast — All Analytics Talk (Rise of the Machines)

Create Standardized Processes and Client Experiences That Nurture Leads

How does your law firm handle client and lead intakes? Do you have a standard system that tracks the source of every lead and conversion, or do your partners handle their own intakes on an ad hoc basis? At LaFleur, we believe consistency is always the best policy. 

We encourage law firms to implement:

  • Phone tracking to identify and catalogue lead sources
  • Concise and direct calls to action
  • Dedicated landing pages 
  • Google Analytics
  • Automation systems that facilitate consistent email campaigns and track key metrics
  • Integrated CRM systems that compile all your law firm’s lead generation data
  • Internal policies that align your administrative staff’s intake procedures with your brand to offer a consistent experience
  • Regularly scheduled assessments of your KPIs

If only part of your firm is collecting accurate data, you can’t calculate your marketing ROI or assess the efficacy of a particular campaign or platform.

RELATED: A Horse to Water: Evaluating Your Lead Generation Strategy

Understand Your Law Firm’s Capabilities

This probably all sounds great, but how does your law firm accomplish everything? The answer depends on your financial and technical resources.

There are flexible, easy-to-use CRM systems that help automate and track lead generation. (HubSpot offers a free version that could get you started on the right track.) In the right hands, these powerful tools can help identify, nurture, and convert leads into great clients.

While quality CRM platforms and automation software are usually affordable, most involve a modest monthly financial commitment. You will also need to use your available resources to implement these products and use them properly. If you need help with CRM implementation or utilization, we can help with that too.

If you’re not ready to purchase CRM software, you should consider other tools. You can track your basic website traffic with Google Analytics and other similar programs (KISSmetrics has an excellent platform). Once you have your KPIs, you can begin building and updating your own client and lead databases using basic spreadsheets or AirTable.

RELATED: (C’mon, Baby! Do the Automation!) Marketing Automation FAQs

Team With an Agency That Specializes in Legal Marketing

We understand most lawyers would rather focus on their legal practice and counseling clients than the nuances of their marketing plan. If you don’t have the time or inclination to build a comprehensive legal marketing strategy that generates, scores, nurtures, and tracks all incoming leads, LaFleur can help!

We provide original, comprehensive marketing services for law firms (and all business types). Our skilled and experienced team includes former lawyers, journalists, and professors who work together to develop compelling and accurate content, brilliant websites, effective paid advertising campaigns, and sound marketing automation solutions.

For more information about our services and approach, please call us at (888) 222-1512 or complete this brief online form.

 

Smart Planning Leads to Attainable Paid Search Goals

Smart Planning Leads to Attainable Paid Search Goal

Paid search can be a tough nut to crack, but it can also be an extremely lucrative marketing tool once you understand the landscape and begin leveraging your opportunities. If you don’t set clear objectives and goals from the outset, however, there’s no way to achieve (much less measure) success. And attainable paid search goals begin with honest, open dialogue.

Paid Search Is a Key Component of Your Holistic Digital Marketing Campaigns

The first step in any paid campaign is to meet with key stakeholders to develop a plan that clearly identifies your team’s goals, a timeframe in which to either achieve those goals or alter your approach, and how this initiative fits into your larger marketing strategy. Ask yourself these basic questions to get started:

  • Why are we implementing a paid search campaign?
    Businesses implement paid search campaigns for myriad reasons, but in most cases, launching a paid initiative is critical for:

    • Maintaining brand positioning on search engine results pages (SERPs)
    • Driving traffic to a webpage or landing page
    • Generating conversions in the form of contact information or revenue
    • Securing RSVPs to webinars or other digital or in-person events
  • What are our fundamental expectations for this campaign?
    When discussing this question, you don’t need to develop clearly defined goals or objectives (at least not yet). Just work together to identify what you’re hoping to achieve. Do you want to build an organic list for an email blast? Or perhaps you want to drive traffic to a specific section of your website to capitalize on seasonal opportunities. The important thing is to make sure the general reason for the campaign is universally understood.
  • Do we have the right personnel and resources in place to succeed?
    This is a critical question. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, if you don’t have the right people, the proper tools, and a comfortable budget, you’re doomed from the start. Creating, managing, optimizing, and maintaining paid search campaigns is very difficult and requires painstaking attention to detail and constant vigilance. You should have experienced, capable individuals overseeing the campaign. And you should provide them with tools they need to succeed (SpyFu, SEMRush, etc.) as well as the budget they need to be cautiously aggressive.
  • Do we need to create any additional resources to complement the campaign?
    If you are running a brand protection search campaign designed to redirect to your website, then the answer to this question is probably “no.” If, however, you are running basically any other type of campaign, then the answer is likely a resounding “yes!” Here are just a few of the potential assets you will need to create your campaign, the associated creative, and effective landing pages:
    • Display Ads
    • Informative and Useful Whitepaper or Infographic
    • Testimonials
    • Professional Videos and Photos
    • Website Forms
    • Email Campaigns

The list could go on much further, which is just one reason you really need to understand your fundamental goals and the resources necessary to achieve them.

  • Are we willing to see this campaign through potential challenges and obstacles?
    Regardless of how much planning and research you conduct, the early stages of a paid search campaign can be brutal. Money seems to disappear into thin air with almost no return on investment, and the people clicking on your ads don’t match your persona or targeted regions. Some of this is basic human error, but most of it is just the consequences of a young campaign. All marketing initiatives suffer growing pains — perhaps none more so than paid search.
  • What type of campaign do we want to run?
    Many companies create paid campaigns to protect their brands from “conquesting” — when competitors use your brand-specific keywords against you by outbidding for them and siphoning away your potential traffic. (If this is happening, there are other methods unrelated to paid search you can use to protect your brand — contact us to learn more.)If you’re looking to be more aggressive in the marketplace, though, you might want to create broad-match keyword search campaigns, highly targeted display campaigns, or even email remarketing campaigns. Typically, display campaigns are meant to drive traffic, whereas remarketing campaigns are meant to generate conversions. Knowing what you want to achieve will inform how you pursue that success.

RELATED: Is Paid Search Right For Your Firm?

Moving From Brainstorming to Planning

Once you and your colleagues have answers to each of the questions above, it’s time to begin planning your campaign, which is where you establish your goals and objectives. At this point, the conversation moves from basic expectations to desired outcomes. You might be expecting to drive traffic or generate conversions, but to what extent and to what end? In essence, the question of “how?” becomes “how much?”

Answers to questions about your goals for the campaign are going to rely on your purpose, tactics, and budget. For example, if you are trying to collect RSVPs for an onsite event, you likely have a capacity limit, which means you have a clearly defined goal. On the other hand, if the purpose of the campaign is to collect as many contact listings as possible for a monthly newsletter, there likely isn’t a ceiling.

But even for campaigns designed to create as much interest as possible, you want to make sure the leads you are generating are qualified leads. Conversions are great, but what’s the point of adding someone to your list if they’re not actually interested in your product or service? The best way to ensure qualified leads is to use targeted keywords and placements and tailor your copy for your ideal audience segment.

When establishing your paid search goals, it’s also best to work in reverse. Determine the amount of revenue, traffic, conversions, etc. that you want to create and then consider the variables necessary to reach your objective. For instance, if your healthcare organization wants to add 10,000 new members in a year, it will help to research industry metrics to understand how many impressions you will need to get enough clicks and how many of those clicks you need to become conversions (leads). Further, you’ll need to have a percentage in mind for how many qualified leads will actually become members. Once you have a good grasp on those figures, you can assign an adequate budget and also let your team know the expectations from the outset.

Goals depend on expectations, and expectations are cultivated through open and honest conversations among key stakeholders that then trickle down to invested employees. As you go about developing a plan for your paid search initiatives, be sure to include the right people in all relevant conversations. This way, you can get quality input from multiple perspectives and rely on the people you trust most to provide the information you need for great campaigns that meet and exceed your goals.

Related: Paid Advertising — The Human Element

Contact LaFleur for All Your Paid Search Needs

LaFleur is staffed with certified AdWords specialists who have extensive experience in a wide variety of paid search approaches — including social and programmatic. We believe the best campaigns are built on a foundation of dialogue, research, and consistency. Paid search can be frustrating, but there’s no problem we can’t solve when we work together and use the resources at our disposal.

If you’ve been considering a paid search initiative or are struggling with your existing campaigns, please contact LaFleur today by completing this brief form or calling (888) 222-1512. We are happy to discuss your business model and expectations or review your current campaigns to give an honest assessment of what is working and what isn’t. There is never any pressure to sign an agreement, and we are always willing to give great advice and point you in the right direction — even if you choose to keep your business elsewhere.

References:

Brown, K. (2017, April 25). Search vs Display Advertising in 2017. Vertical Measures. Retrieved from https://blog.reachlocal.com/search-display-advertising-whats-the-difference

Long, J. (2014, August 4). 8 paid search marketing tips for beginners. HuffPost. Retrieved from https://blog.reachlocal.com/search-display-advertising-whats-the-difference

 

The LaFleur Laws of Digital Marketing

Over the last four years, LaFleur has grown from a trio of ambitious individuals into a powerful force of 12 talented and experienced marketing professionals. Our client roster has increased exponentially, and we now represent a wide range of successful companies in diverse industries across the United States — none of which would have been possible without a striking balance of creativity and principles among our staff. We are a conscientious, goal-oriented group and are committed to achieving great results for all our clients through best practices, hard work, and innovation.   (more…)

The 3 Funniest Law Firm Marketing Tactics We’ve Seen

Just like in any industry, marketing for law firms is a colorful arabesque that draws from all sorts of different approaches and philosophies. Since we spend a lot of time browsing attorney websites for competitor analyses and just plain everyday research, we’ve seen a pretty broad sampling of the possibilities for legal marketing and branding — from tasteful to tacky, head-turning to head-scratching, and everything in-between.  (more…)

How to Get More High-Quality Website Traffic — Today

More Traffic Isn’t Always Better

Seeing more and more website visitors every month is a great feeling, but what if your phones still aren’t ringing? If we’re all being honest, website traffic is a classic example of a vanity metric — it looks great, but it tends to only be loosely associated with the real results most law firms and other businesses are after: conversions such as phone calls, form fills, chats, and emails in which a potential client is making contact.  (more…)

10 Minutes with LaFleur’s Newest Team Member, Pat Kose

Pat Kose joined the LaFleur team in June 2017 as an account manager. Before coming to LaFleur, Pat worked in a similar role at the Zeeland, Michigan-based inbound marketing company CP Solutions. A native of Allen Park, Michigan, Pat graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising (a late switch from a film and video major).

We spent a few minutes talking with Pat about why he enjoys working with clients, what he’s hoping to accomplish at LaFleur, and what he learned during a post-college stint playing a medieval page in a children’s theater troupe.

***

LaFleur: Tell me about how you came to LaFleur.

Pat KoseI was looking for a new job at the time, and I found LaFleur on ZipRecruiter. I checked out the LaFleur website, and the company looked right up my alley.

At the time, I worked for a company that did internet marketing for podiatrists, so the wide world of feet was my reality. Let me tell you, the self-diagnosis I can do, like if I stub my toe and it’s still sore the next day…

LF: So if any of us have a foot problem, we can send you a picture for an expert opinion. 

PK: Pretty much. So anyway, I looked at the LaFleur website and read the team bios, and I was like, “Okay, these are the people I want to work with.” I also saw that Falon was a Notre Dame fan, so that pretty much sealed it.

LF: At your last job, client relations were a big part of your day-to-day work, and that’s even more true now at LaFleur. What is it you like about communicating and working with clients?

PK: It’s a nice combination of routine and repeatable work plus unexpected challenges. So it’s enough to keep you on your toes, but not where you’re feeling totally scatterbrained. And you can put a clear plan together for a client and then point to it six months later and say, “Okay, here’s where you were then and here’s where you are now.” That’s very satisfying to me.

LF: What do you want to accomplish and how do you hope to grow here at LaFleur?

PK: My big goal is — I mean, there’s so much room for growth here. We’re still a fairly small company and it’s a startup-type mentality and feel here, so there’s a lot of room for growth, both in terms of adding clients and on an individual level. So I’m looking forward to being able to dig in and help us grow rather than just keeping all the plates spinning, which was how it felt sometimes at my last job.

LF: Let’s talk about your life outside of work. I’d like to know the real Pat Kose.

PK: Well, I’m married and have a daughter. She just turned 1 this past Saturday. So that pretty much dictates my day-to-day existence.

LF: Yeah, that’s an adventure. Tell me about your first year of being a parent. What’s it been like?

PK: Um… good? (laughing) I had no idea what to expect going in, but everyone says, “Oh, she’s such a good baby.” She slept through the night starting at 3 months old, and she just started teething, so lately she’s been cranky… but, you know, we haven’t dropped her or forgotten her somewhere yet, so things are good.

LF: What’s something you weren’t prepared for that happened during that first year?

PK: Probably just the initial — you know, when you bring your child home from the hospital and it’s like, “Okay, I’ve got this kid now and it’s just us.” At the hospital, if the baby cries, the nurse tells you to try this or that, and someone’s constantly in and out of the room. But then when you get home, it gets real all of a sudden. Over the first three days, you get five hours of sleep total, and there’s just no preparing for that.

LF: And what’s been the most rewarding part so far?

PK: Just watching her learn stuff. She can give a high five now; she can wave hello. It’s amazing watching a kid develop day by day.

LF: So I assume that’s eaten into your free time a little bit…

PK: Free time, what is that?

LF: … but when you do get time to yourself, what do you like to do?

PK: Well, I’m in a softball league for the first time in a couple of years. I’m also kind of a movie buff.

LF: What’s your favorite film?

PK: Forrest Gump.

LF: Interesting. That movie was a big cultural thing when it came out, and now I feel like it’s not remembered as well as some other films from the ‘90s. What do you like about it so much?

PK: Just the historical connections, I guess. I love reading about history. Historical biographies and historical nonfiction are what I tend to read, and so to see that kind of play out and get weaved into an interesting story is really neat. Plus, Tom Hanks is just the best.

LF: What’s something about you that people don’t expect when they first meet you?

PK: What people usually find surprising is that, right after college, I worked as an actor for a year. I started school in film and video, but I found I wanted to dive into the creative side moreso than the “how to light a scene” side. So, throughout college, I auditioned for student films and did some things with campus TV, but it was always a side thing.

But after I graduated, I was like, “Well, now’s the time — I’m young, let’s give it a shot.” So for a year, I ended up acting in a traveling children’s theater troupe while I did odd side jobs.

LF: What was your favorite role from that year?

PK: Well, the role I played most consistently… the setup was that it was medieval times, and I was a young page who needed to learn how to write a story to impress the queen and win a contest. So I played that same character wherever we went, and kids who attended, they would write their own creative story after we showed them how and they’d submit it to us. Then we would return and turn their little story into a skit.

So the cool part was calling a second-grader out of the audience and saying, “Hey, Billy, we turned your story into a play.” So, I played that page so many times — I mean, I could probably still do most of the lines. But the really great part was improv-ing the kid’s story right in front of them.

LF: Have you applied things you learned from acting in your marketing career?

PK: Yeah. Probably the improv part the most. You know, if you’re on a call or in a meeting and a client suddenly has a complaint or a pointed question, to be able to get through that without freezing, and just sort of thinking on your feet. Being in front of people and speaking in public isn’t a huge challenge for me after being in front of rooms of — I mean, granted, it was elementary school children, but…

LF: Personally, I feel like if you can hack it in front of a crowd of second-graders, you can handle yourself anywhere.

PK: Right. In a client conference, odds are nobody in the front row is going to pee their pants.

LF: We haven’t had that yet, thankfully.

PK: Well, if it happens, I’m ready for it.

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How to Write a Successful Blog Post, the Right Way

Stating the Obvious? Blogging More Isn’t Always Better.

We’ve all heard that we need to blog more, and there’s a lot of advice from respectable online marketing agencies that posting more often will boost your bottom line. But this is a half-truth, not a proven formula for success.

In fact, part of the problem is that everyone is blogging more. If you’re only looking at WordPress, which is one of the most popular platforms for creating new websites, 42.6 million new blog posts are published every month. That’s nearly 17 new blog posts being created per second, just on WordPress. Near the end of 2015, WordPress powered 25% of all sites on the internet, so you can likely quadruple that number (for a total of 68 new blog posts) to approximate how much new content is truly being created every second. If you’d like to be sobered by precisely how much information is added to and consumed by the internet every moment of every day, just watch it unfold in real time.

Another part of the problem is that a great deal of content on the internet is garbage. Approximately 75% of all the sites that exist online are inactive. Furthermore, people just don’t seem to care about anything except what Google serves up to them. Consider these statistics from Moz:

  • 71.33% of organic clicks occur on page 1 of search results pages (SERPs)
  • On page 1, the first 5 search results account for a full 67.60% of clicks
  • Page 2 and 3 of SERPs account for a mere 5.59% of clicks

If you do a Google search for “How to write a blog post,” you’ll get “about 118,000,000” results. Of those millions upon millions of pages, about 77% of people are utilizing the first 30 results in Google. And Moz’s numbers may actually be low. A different study from Chitika in 2013 concluded that 95% of search traffic flows through the first page of Google.

This doesn’t necessarily mean those other 117,999,970 results consist of entirely worthless content, but it should give you pause as you consider the idea that blogging more is better.

The truth is that blogging better is better. Here’s how.

Step 1 for Writing a Blog Post: Start with a Great Idea.

Writing a great blog post the right way begins with a great idea. Developing a great idea is a multifaceted process, and the more effort you put into creating and developing an outstanding idea, the more likely it is that your eventual blog post will be a success. If you write about something just to write something, you’re almost certainly going to end up disappointed in your blog’s performance.

Here are a few tips for finding a good idea for your next blog post:

  1. Tip: Choose a topic that relates to the product or service you provide so your eventual blog article will support the main goal(s) of your site.
    Example: This blog post supports our specific services of blog content development and content marketing, talks back to our core value of transparency, etc.
  2. Tip: Choose a topic you’re uniquely qualified to discuss so you can deliver unique insights.
    Example: I’ve been teaching writing for over a decade, I’ve been writing personally and professionally for even longer, I have piles of data about our own (and our clients’) successful blog posts to review, etc.
  3. Tip: Discover what has already been said about your topic so you can find something new to contribute.
    Example: There are plenty of pages and even websites dedicated to discussing how to write a blog post, but very few of them are written by writing experts who will be flagrantly honest with you about how difficult it is to create a successful blog post (and give you truly rock-solid and comprehensive advice for how to do it).

Those 3 tips will take you a long way toward writing a successful blog post without over-analyzing or missing the forest for the trees. Additional keyword, trend, audience, and competitor research can help clarify your topic and the direction your piece should ultimately take. A close analysis of your blog and site performance may also help as you craft a topic. What brings visitors to your site? What compels them to reach out? What topics do well and what topics are underperforming on your site?

Regardless of how much data and analysis you have at your disposal, the important thing to remember is that a successful blog post begins with a great idea.

Step 2 for Writing a Blog Post: Follow the Writing Process.

I’ve written before about how to manage content development with a team of writers; however, I’d like to share the same writing process I teach to my students and my own team here at LaFleur Legal Marketing. We follow every step of this process to craft successful blog content for ourselves and our clients.

  • Phase 1: Brainstorming and Pre-Drafting

Once you have an idea, it needs further development before you should dive into the actual writing. The most basic form of pre-drafting is to create a scratch outline to plan out the general trajectory of your piece. You may further develop your scratch outline by including facts, sources, and main ideas you want to make sure you include (or avoid).

If you’re having trouble putting together a coherent scratch outline, you likely need to step back a bit and do some more thorough brainstorming. Conducting some more research, freewriting for 5-10 minutes about your topic, and/or creating a freeform concept map may generate enough talking points to then develop a serviceable scratch outline that will serve as your guide as you draft.

  • Phase 2: Drafting

Most people have a good idea of what drafting is. It’s the process by which you take those scrap sheets of paper, files, reports, and online bookmarks you’ve been using to collect ideas and turn them into something that resembles a formal piece of writing.

For online writing in particular, you’ll want to consider utilizing headings, subheadings, bullets, lists, and visuals more so than you would for something in print. Keep in mind that people online have incredibly short attention spans and simply do not read online like they do on paper. Keep your points concise and poignant wherever possible.

Kyle McCarthy, another one of our expert writers, developed a brief series on writing for the web that can assist you as you create your draft:

Drafting is best done in long, focused stretches of time. Silence your phone; close out email, chat, and other distracting programs and windows; and get all of the materials you need in one place. If you think you can multitask, you’re wrong. Any interruptions or distractions will negatively impact your writing; it’s that simple.

  • Phases 3 and 4: Revising and Editing

In a furious dash to get more content on their websites (and with a misinformed attitude about people’s willingness to tolerate writing errors online), content writers and publishers rarely give much thought to revising and editing. But consider the last thing you enjoyed reading online and that you read all the way through: how many mistakes did you find? Chances are good the answer to that question is “surprisingly few, if any.”

As I’m fond of telling my students and writers, errors in grammar, punctuation, and mechanics are like distractions at a theater — the movie you’re seeing may be great, but the experience of watching it is easily ruined by cell phones going off, a creaky seat, talkative moviegoers, and numerous other distractions. No matter how great your topic and ideas are, the experience of reading about them will be ruined by typos, repetitive syntax, nonstandard grammar, and uninspired word choice.

In short, the importance of quality writing online cannot be understated.

The best way to revise and edit is to step away from your piece for a period of time. Any amount of time will do — even 15 minutes in a crunch — but I recommend at least 1 day away from your writing before coming back to it. Read it once through specifically for revising concerns at the section and paragraph level. Are your ideas in the best order possible? Are they fully developed? Have you taken out anything that is not especially relevant to your primary discussion? Are you missing any concepts or details that would defuse objections and cement the internal logic of your piece?

Once you’re done revising, take some more time away from your piece so you can come back with fresh eyes for another read through. This time, focus more narrowly on editing concerns at the sentence and word level. Are you using the most poignant words possible? Can you make your explanations more concise? Have you eliminated redundancies? Did you vary your sentence structure and diction? Did you obliterate needless passive voice?

If you’re going to cut corners, proof while you edit. If you want to be able to sleep at night knowing you did the best possible job you could on your blog post, take some time away after editing and then come back to proof. Make sure everything is spelled correctly. Keep a keen eye out for misplaced modifiers, mixed metaphors, confusing shifts in tense or perspective, and parallelism errors. Be sure you can justify each use of any type of punctuation.

At any point while you revise, edit, and proof, the input of others can be helpful. A second or third set of eyes on a piece will inevitably catch something you missed. Despite my editing prowess, I always have another team member at least proof any piece I write because it’s difficult to get enough distance from your own work to truly be an outstanding self-editor.

  • Phase 5: Publishing

The final phase of the writing process is to publish your work online. When you do, you’ll want to get fundamental search engine optimization (SEO) elements (title tag, meta description, and H1 tag) in place. At a minimum, you’ll want to find a relevant image to include in your post with alt-text. Your formatting online should have a clear hierarchy based on the headings, subheadings, and other structural features in your original document.

Ideally, you will also include a clear call to action. Encourage visitors to fill out a form, call your office, visit other pages, download a resource, or accomplish another action that will further the goal(s) of your website and/or business.

Once those crucial foundational elements are in place, you may then consider adding additional features and implementing complementary strategies to bolster the success of your copy. Featured quotes, graphics, charts, and other visuals or design-based elements can keep finicky online readers engaged. Creating high-quality video content related to the post can also increase engagement across platforms. Promoting your piece via email can give you the best chance of reaching the people who matter the most, and promoting your work on social media can help you reach new audiences.

Step 3 for Writing a Blog Post: Monitor Your Performance

There’s no easy way to say this: not every post you write, even if it is truly outstanding, is going to be a success. Online readers are fickle and highly unpredictable. If you polled our most experienced writers and editors to ask which pieces are the best on our site, their lists would likely share a few blog article titles, but no one’s list would align 100% with the actual performance of our blog pieces.

To provide a little insight here, I’d like to share what our top 5 blog pieces were this past month (from December 15, 2016 to January 15, 2017); I’ve also included when they were published:

  1. Don’t Be a Fool at Your Office Holiday Party (December 2016)
  2. Q&A with Chip LaFleur, President of LaFleur Legal Marketing (December 2016)
  3. Digital Marketing Ethics: Where to Draw the Line (February 2016)
  4. Now and Later: Forecasting Your Law Firm’s 2017 Marketing Budget (October 2016)
  5. Why Write? The Relevance of Good Writing in the Internet Age. (October 2015)

The two at the top of the list come as no surprise to any of us: they were promoted via email and social this past month. However, several other posts were promoted in the exact same way and had more time to acquire unique page views in this past month, but they got beat out by other posts, one of which is well over a year old.

Granted, unique page views are a bit of a vanity metric and don’t say a whole lot about the quality of the content, but it’s a starting point for analysis. If I were to do a deep dive into assessing how our blog content is performing, I’d probably consider unique page views, time on page, and conversion success to get started. After all, a page with 1 view that gets you 1 new client is almost always better than a page with 1,000 views that gets you 0 new clients.

Now let’s take a look at our top 5 posts of all time as far as unique views are concerned:

  1. Digital Marketing Ethics: Where to Draw the Line (February 2016)
  2. Optimizing Your YouTube Videos for Impact: Titles and Descriptions (June 2015)
  3. Twitter Marketing: Best Practices to Make It Work (January 2016)
  4. Why Write? The Relevance of Good Writing in the Internet Age. (October 2015)
  5. The Importance of Trust: An Etymological History of “Legal” and “Loyal” (July 2015)

Again, unique page views are just one way to look at the data, and there plenty of confounding factors here: these posts have been around longer to accumulate more views, they have been promoted more often, etc. However, the key takeaway here is that the most successful pages on our site are, in many ways, an ongoing source of surprise, and yours likely will be too.

What shouldn’t be a surprise is the ROI your successful blog posts bring. While the topics that have done well are delightfully surprising to us, every one of them has brought us success, from likes and shares to form fills and phone calls, and your truly outstanding content, if executed properly, will ultimately do the same. And it’s easy to see from the sampling of successful posts above that your best content will pay dividends for weeks, months, and even years after it is first published.

Blogging more isn’t going to bring you that success on its own. Instead, what succeeds and what fails on your blog needs to be a guide as you strategize and develop ideas for your next post or content marketing initiative. Should you riff off of a successful topic (perhaps with a new approach, another level of depth, or a discussion about a closely related issue) to increase your authority, or should you explore new areas to establish your knowledge and experience? Should you update a post that has failed (or gone stale) or remove it and move forward with something brand new? Should you consolidate several posts on a similar topic or break a large piece up into a series?

These are difficult questions to answer, especially when the only data you have available is your own (if you’re lucky enough to have the time and capability to collect and analyze that data intelligently). And that’s where LaFleur Legal Marketing comes in.

LaFleur Legal Marketing: Blog Writing Experts and Content Marketing Aficionados

At LaFleur Legal Marketing, we not only have a uniquely talented and qualified staff of exceptional writers, but also a wealth of experience specifically in the legal sector. We can use the data from past successes to inform our approach to your unique situation as we customize a blend of the specific tools and tactics that make the most sense for you.

Whether you’re looking to improve and expand your content marketing efforts or you’re exasperated with the mediocre work your current marketing agency keeps delivering (or failing to deliver), you should contact LaFleur Legal Marketing. Call us today at 888-222-1512 or fill out our convenient contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!

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References

Petrescu, P. (2014, October 1). Google organic click-through rates in 2014. Moz. Retrieved from https://moz.com/blog/google-organic-click-through-rates-in-2014

The value of Google result positioning. (2013, June 7). Chitika. Retrieved from https://chitika.com/google-positioning-value

Total number of websites. (n.d.). Internet Live Stats. Retrieved from http://www.internetlivestats.com/total-number-of-websites/#ref-1