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Digital Marketing for Law Firms: Our Comprehensive Guide

At LaFleur, we’re committed to educating and empowering law firms. We publish blogs, webinars, newsletters, and podcasts that teach lawyers and law firms about digital marketing, branding, and other tools that can boost their practices and help them capture the right leads. Now, we’ve taken it a step further: we wrote a book.

Digital Marketing for Law Firms: The Secrets to Getting More Clients and Better Cases, published by Trial Guides, is our comprehensive guide to legal digital marketing. We’re incredibly proud of this resource, and we hope you’ll find it to be a powerful tool.

Keep reading to learn why we wrote the book — and what’s inside!

Turning Decades of Experience Into a Legal Marketing Treatise

Chip LaFleur founded our agency with a not-so-simple mission: to provide exceptional, data-driven marketing strategies to law firms and act as their partner, educating and empowering legal professionals. Since then, we’ve helped firms across the country harness the power of digital marketing, helping them build their brands and get better cases.

Our approach is grounded in four core values:

  1. We commit to excellence: At LaFleur, we’re a driven team of lifelong learners. We take immense pride in our work and our commitment to our clients. We are responsive, creative, and tireless.
  2. We invest in what matters: LaFleur sees itself as part of a greater community that includes our team, neighbors, and those in need. We do our best to respect our teams’ health, wellness, and personal needs. We also give back to the community with our time, skills, and financial support.
  3. We value relationships: We’re committed to building lasting relationships with both our employees and clients. LaFleur believes that transparency, mutual respect, and shared goals are essential to building these bonds.
  4. We act in good faith: You should never have to doubt your marketing agency’s motivations. At LaFleur, we believe that honesty and integrity are paramount.

Our first published book is a reflection of these values and our approach to digital marketing.

Chip and the LaFleur team worked tirelessly on Digital Marketing for Law Firms, taking our decades of shared experience and perspective and turning it into an easy-to-use resource that explains complex concepts like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, website development, and organic search engine optimization (SEO) in plain English. It’s also filled with real-world examples, checklists, and samples that help inform and improve any law firm’s digital marketing plan.

What You’ll Find in Digital Marketing for Law Firms

You’ve probably experienced a client or jury’s epiphany when you’re able to clearly explain a complex legal theory or fact pattern to them. Suddenly, they can see the circumstances clearly and make better decisions. Our book aims to do the same thing for legal marketing.

From the essentials of branding to evaluating how your key performance indicators (KPIs) impact your return on investment, Digital Marketing for Law Firms guides readers through the essential elements of any well-built marketing plan. The 436-page book covers a wide variety of topics, including:

  • Legal branding
  • Identifying your firm’s target audiences
  • Website design and development
  • Building content strategies
  • Social media
  • Newsletters and email automation
  • Networking and brand ambassadorship
  • Paid advertising
  • Data analytics

Rather than just churning out marketing jargon, which can rival legalese in its complexity, we carefully walk readers through each step, using a fictional law firm and its clients to help illustrate our strategies and tactics. The book also contains a roughly 20-page glossary that defines and explains most of the marketing terms you’ll encounter as you construct your firm’s digital presence.

Digital Marketing for Law Firms was a labor of love,” says Chip. “Our team has seen first-hand how the right lawyer can positively change a client’s life. Unfortunately, many lawyers don’t know how to maximize their marketing investments and miss out on these opportunities. We’ve worked hard to educate the law firms we partner with, but the book lets us reach a much broader audience.”

Advice for Both DIY Marketers and Law Firms in Search of an Agency Partner

Your law firm deserves more than a one-size-fits-none website and marketing plan. Instead, your marketing solutions should be tailored to your precise needs and goals. For some firms and sole practitioners, that might mean DIY marketing — using your in-house resources to create content, nurture leads, and build a client experience. As you grow, however, you may find that hiring a marketing partner makes more sense.

Our book serves both populations (and everyone in between) by explaining legal marketing best practices, showing examples of what (and what not) to do, and discussing “red flags” that indicate a marketing agency isn’t acting in your firm’s best interest. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to accurately assess your internal marketing capacity, build effective strategies, and select the best digital marketing partners.

“At LaFleur, we reject the ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach to agency-client relationships,” notes Chip. “While there’s an art and science to digital marketing, many of the fundamentals are easy to understand, once someone’s taken the time to explain them properly to you. I know that when lawyers get these fundamentals, they can make significantly better decisions, invest more wisely, and select the best possible agencies for their goals and budget.”

Ready to Boost Your Marketing Reach? Connect With LaFleur

In addition to ordering Digital Marketing for Law Firms, you can always reach out directly to the LaFleur team. We can answer your questions about your legal marketing plan, suggest ways to improve its reach, and educate you about our approach and solutions. To reach Chip and the team, you can either complete our online form or call us at (888) 222-1512.

When Marketing Your Law Firm, It’s Best to Begin at the Beginning

Are you advertising and distributing marketing content for your law firm without a clear marketing strategy? If you are, don’t worry. You’re not alone. In fact, 26% of marketers have no clear strategy in place. This means that more than a quarter of marketing professionals are blindly using valuable resources with no plan at all.  (more…)

The Importance of Lead Tracking Within Legal Marketing

If you have a steady stream of potential clients visiting your website and referring others to your firm, that’s great! But do you know where they’re coming from? Can you track their interactions with your firm from their initial visit through the resolution of their legal issue?

Most firms are don’t recognize the importance of tracking their leads and are missing out on a big opportunity. This is a major problem and often leads to significant wasted marketing spend. (more…)

LaFleur Providing AMP Pages Free of Charge

Note: This is the second in a series of posts to give you a deeper understanding of what you receive when you sign on with LaFleur Legal Marketing. One of our core values is transparency, and we want to make sure that each of our clients understands where and how their valuable marketing dollars are spent and how it benefits your firm.

When hiring a marketing agency like LaFleur to handle your law firm’s marketing efforts, a lot of work happens behind the scenes that you may not be aware of.

For example, when you receive a finalized version of a blog post, the piece is so much more than just words thrown on a page. Completed blog articles represent hours of carefully considered topic ideation, research, drafting, writing, and editing. Additionally, if you sign on for a paid search campaign, you’re not just gambling on a few keywords related to your brand and website. Your paid search administrator will carefully analyze your firm’s position, competitors, relevant keywords and placements, creative in the form of search and display ads, key performance indicators, and goals. And when you work with LaFleur to build a new website, you’re not going to receive a static, useless, and broken site. What you will receive is an engaging, intuitive, and beautiful website designed to increase user experience by incorporating innovative information architecture ― resulting in more and better leads who align with your firm’s established personas and eventually become great clients.

We know your time and resources are valuable. When first presented with a new case, you and your colleagues don’t simply compile and file requisite paperwork and then settle the case. Instead, you engage in initial discovery, you research the evidence at your disposal, depose relevant witnesses to collect their testimony, and create the best course of action for your client. In short, you work exceptionally hard behind the scenes to achieve your goals, and we want our marketing efforts to work as hard and as well as you do for the clients who trust you.

One of the ways we will begin adding value in our relationship and to your firm is by including Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for the content of your website.

What Is AMP?

Webpages on mobile devices that are coded for desktop can load very slowly, which can prevent users from seeing your content if they don’t want to wait for it to load completely.

In this modern age governed by the insatiable need for instant gratification, about 40% of mobile users bounce from a webpage within three seconds if it fails to load quickly or properly. Websites and webpages built for desktop computers are often filled with code to animate the page, track activity with analytics, load advertisements, show vibrant photos, and more. All these items together or individually can significantly slow loading times on a mobile device.

Think of AMP as a light-weight page that renders content quickly. It is essentially a stripped-down form of HTML used to create the most basic pages—no forms, streamlined CSS, and off-the-shelf JavaScript from a dedicated library. This basic, alternative code controls each page and can prioritize its elements.

AMP was created as an open-source, crowd-funded initiative built with collaboration from numerous big-name partners, including WordPress, Adobe Analytics, Twitter, and Google, as well as respected news publishers such as The Washington Post. AMP’s open-source code allows for collaboration from top web developers and is constantly being enhanced and updated for improved user experiences.

Each Accelerated Mobile Page is designed to be hosted on Google’s servers (for free). This is where the reduced loading times come into play: Once each AMP is cached, Google no longer needs to go get the content from your site, because it has already been indexed and is available on the search engine.

Why Does AMP Matter?

Smartphones have become an extension of our very being. We use them for everything at all times regardless of where we are. From looking up random factoids on Wikipedia to downloading our favorite music on Spotify, smartphones have become second nature, and their pervasiveness has transformed us into a species determined to find the information we need quickly and easily (and abandoning any search that doesn’t jive with those two characteristics).

In fact, our culture has become so reliant on mobile devices that October of 2016 marked the first month that more users accessed the internet through mobile devices (including smartphones and tablets) than those on a desktop or laptop. Recent numbers indicate that smartphone usage accounts for nearly half of all website visits, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, as 80% of internet users own a smartphone. In short, the smartphone has become an ingrained aspect of modern society and informs how we navigate the world ― physically, emotionally, and mentally.

With the mobile use rate this high, people who own websites need to pay attention. Mobile users expect vibrant and defined graphics, smooth scrolling, fast loading times, and slick animations when searching the internet on their smartphones. Having Accelerated Mobile Pages is so important if you want to make sure that your readers are engaging with your content, and LaFleur Legal Marketing is on top of this industry trend.

Law Firms and Accelerated Mobile Pages

As mentioned before, LaFleur will now convert each of your firm’s blog posts into Accelerated Mobile Pages as part of your marketing package. These pages can make a huge difference in the amount of traffic your site receives and the duration of the average user visit.

For example, let’s say you’ve recently posted a blog on the most important actions to take immediately following a car accident. Someone who has just been in a car accident might do a Google search for this exact phrase on their smartphone while waiting for the police to come to the accident scene and find your article immediately.

Another example might be a piece on best practices for ensuring the success of a workers compensation case. An individual who has recently been injured at work might use his or her smartphone to search this while waiting at a doctor’s office.

If these posts are optimized for mobile search, there is a much better chance of your content showing up on the first page of the search engine results page and having a mobile user click on your link.

LaFleur Legal Marketing: Your Long-Term Marketing Partner

Within the digital marketing realm, content is king. Creating high quality content and making it easily viewable through Accelerated Mobile Pages is just one way we are going above and beyond to grow your firm. And with a team of dedicated writers producing original, informative content for your website and other web properties, the staff at LaFleur uses expertise and experience to create a valuable web experience for your potential clients.

We hope that prospective and current clients alike both learned a little more about Accelerated Mobile Pages from this post, but if you have any more questions we would love to hear from you. Current clients can contact their account manager at any time, and interested parties who aren’t yet working with us can call (888) 222-1512 or complete the brief form on this page to speak directly with one of our representatives.

We can’t wait to speak with you further about how we can help you grow your firm!

Related Articles

References

Chaffey, D. (2016, October 26). Mobile marketing statistics compilation. Smart Insights. Retrieved from http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/

Heisler, Y. (2016 November 2).  Mobile internet usage surpasses desktop usage for the first time in history. Boy Genius Report. Retrieved from http://bgr.com/2016/11/02/internet-usage-desktop-vs-mobile/

Six Mad Men Marketing Tips (or, What Would Don Draper Do?)

As seen on AMC’s spectacular series Mad Men, fictional 1960s advertising exec Don Draper was an adulterer, an occasional misogynist, a military deserter, a wretched father, and a fall-down drunk. In short, he was arguably the most morally bankrupt protagonist in the history of television. (more…)

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

Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool, but sitting down with it for the first time can feel like climbing into the cockpit of a 747. When you open up your Analytics homepage, you’re greeted with graphs, charts, percentages, and figures for a wide range of metrics, and a menu with an overload of options. There’s also not a lot of on-page help to let you know what’s what.

Don’t feel intimidated, though — things aren’t as overwhelming as they seem at first glance, and you don’t need to master every single tool and feature to get lots of value from Google Analytics. In this article, we’ll go over some of the basic tools and metrics you can use to figure out how your law firm’s online content is performing and optimize your content marketing strategy going forward.

First Things First: Why Do I Need Google Analytics?

If you maintain a website for your law firm (which you most likely do if you’re bothering to read this), you must have wondered at some point how your site is performing: How many visitors do I have? Are they actually reading our content? Which pages do they arrive at most often? Where do they come from, and what do they do once they’re on our site?

Google Analytics can give you data-based answers to all of these questions — plus dozens more that you’ve probably never even thought to ask.

Setting Up Google Analytics for Your Law Firm’s Website

Before you can get started with Google Analytics, you’ll need to set it up for your firm’s website. To do this, you’ll need to go to google.com/analytics and select the option to create an account from the sign-in page. From here, Google Analytics will give you instructions on how to add your website to your Analytics account and how to install the bit of tracking code that Analytics uses to gather data from your site. (Google allows you to keep up to 50 website properties under one Analytics account, so if your firm has multiple websites — for example, if you’ve got a specialized mini-site for a particular practice area or type of case — you can feel free to add them all.)

Like many digital marketing tools, Google Analytics offers both free and paid versions of its services, but unlike many of them, the choice here is easy: the paid version of Google Analytics costs $150,000 a year. Unless your law firm is a large multinational corporation, Analytics’ free services will meet all your needs and then some.

Getting Started with a Look at Your Website’s Data

Unfortunately, Google Analytics begins tracking data the moment you install its code on your website; it can’t go back and gather information from before this point. This means that while you can look around Google Analytics and familiarize yourself with it right away, you won’t have any meaningful data to look at until you let it do its work for a while. (You may want to bookmark this page so you can come back to it in a few weeks or so when you really begin to dive into your site’s data.)

On the homepage for your website within Google Analytics (titled “Audience Overview,” which you should see in bold in the top left), you’ll see a graph of activity with seven key metrics listed underneath. The graph that you see is examining one of these metrics over a period of time (it starts on “sessions” by default), and you can adjust which metric it displays with the tab at the top left of the graph, under “Overview.” Meanwhile, you can adjust the date range for the graph and the metrics in the top right of the page, opposite the “Audience Overview” header, and you can adjust how often the graph plots a data point (hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly) with the tabs on the graph’s top right.

audience-overview-legal-marketing Some of the metrics on this page are pretty self-explanatory, while others aren’t as intuitive. We’ll go over all of them here, going into a little extra detail with the less-obvious ones.

  • Sessions are visits by an individual user to your website. Google marks a session as beginning when the user arrives at your site and ending when the user doesn’t interact with your site for a period of 30 minutes. A session can cover an individual user visiting multiple pages of the website.The same user can also have multiple sessions on your website. For example, let’s say a user visits your site, checks out a few different pages, then takes a 45-minute break to eat a sandwich. After eating, they pick up where they left off and look at a few more of your site’s pages. Because the 30-minute window of inactivity expired, the post-sandwich browsing marks a new session, even though the user is the same — two sessions, one user.
  • Users are individual visitors to your website. Google Analytics tracks these users by installing cookies into their browsers, so whenever the same device reappears using the same browser, Google treats it as the same user.Of course, this tracking isn’t perfect — if the same person visits your site using multiple browsers or devices, Analytics doesn’t have any way to recognize this. Still, the users metric is a good rough estimate of how many unique visitors your site sees in a given period.
  • Pageviews is the total number of pages viewed by users over the given time period.
  • Pages/session tells you how many pages a user visits on average during a session.
  • Avg. session duration is how long a session on your site lasts on average.
  • Bounce rate is the percentage of your website visits in which the user leaves without any interaction with the site. Essentially, a bounced user arrives at your site, but leaves without even bothering to read or view anything on the page. (Don’t be alarmed if you see a bounce rate in the 40s, 50s, or even 60s in terms of percentage. Typical bounce rates vary by industry, type of content, and all sorts of factors, but for law firm sites, bounce rates of 60%-plus are very common.)
  • % new sessions is the percentage of sessions on your site that are first-time visits to the site. (This number should match up with the figures displayed in the pie chart to the right, which shows the proportion of new versus returning visitors to your site.)

Finally, underneath this list of metrics, you’ll see a series of demographic options in the lower left, which adjust the ranked report to the right. You can use these tabs to see what languages your users have set in their browsers, what country and city they’re browsing in, what browser and operating system they’re using, and more.

Using the Audience Overview

You can learn plenty about your website and its users right from the Audience Overview page. Right off the bat, by adjusting the date range to a relatively long window — say, six months to a year — you can see long-term trends in your site’s traffic. You can gauge whether your traffic is increasing, decreasing, or staying relatively stable, and you can also see whether your site receives more traffic at certain times of the year than others. Conversely, by setting the date range to a smaller period, you can see how your site performs over a given month, week, or day. (You can even separate your site’s audience into different segments using the “add segment” tool above the graph, but that’s probably a little advanced for right now.)

While this site-wide overview is a good start, it is somewhat limited in what it can tell you about the performance of your content. For example, if you published some great blog content in June that you felt extra proud of and you see a bit of a spike in your site’s traffic in June, you might be inclined to think that your top-notch blogging was responsible — but how do you know for sure? In the next section, we’ll show you how to dive in and get a clearer picture of how individual pages on your site are performing and which pages are driving the most site traffic.

(If you want to navigate back to the Audience Overview page at any time, you can do so using the menu bar at the left; simply click on the “Audience” option, and the first option under the dropdown menu, “Overview,” will bring you right back.)

Digging Deeper: Examining Individual Page Performance

To learn more about how individual site pages (including blog posts) are performing, you’ll want to navigate to the “Behavior” tab in the menu on the left, then choose the “Overview” option from the drop-down.

behavior-overview-law-firm-marketing The page that greets you looks a lot like the Audience Overview page from before and functions similarly, but you’ll notice a few new metrics here:

  • Pageviews is the total number of pages viewed by users over the specified time period. Repeat views of the same page by the same user are counted.
  • Unique pageviews is similar to pageviews, except that repeat views of the same page by the same user aren’t counted.
  • % Exit is the number of exits from your site divided by the number of pageviews. (This is a useful metric for individual pages, since it can tell you what percentage of users that reach the page exit the site without navigating to any other pages, but it doesn’t tell you much here in the Overview section.)

Underneath these metrics, you’ll see a ranked list section, much like in the Audience Overview page. Here, however, the list shows a ranking of your individual site pages by total number of pageviews over the specified window of time. By default, it shows the top 10 pages from your site in terms of pageviews. On the left, you can click on “Page” to view these results by their URL or on “Page Title” to see the titles of the pages instead. (Don’t worry about the “Search Term” and “Event Category” tabs for now.)

To see more than the top 10 pages, you can click on the link that says “view full report” in the bottom right of this section. (This is also the same as navigating to “Site Content” > “All Pages” under the Behavior tab in the sidebar menu on the left.)

all-pages-report-google-analytics Here’s where you can really dig in to figure out whether your content marketing plan is working the way you think. In front of you, you’ve got a full ranked report of all your site’s pages, and you can click the individual columns to organize the results by total pageviews, unique pageviews, average time on page, entrances (the number of times visitors entered your site through a given page), bounce rate, and % exit. (Don’t worry about the “Page Value” column for now.) Meanwhile, you can use the date range drop-down at the top right, across from the “Pages” header, to adjust the window of time for which you’re viewing data.

Not only can you view the rankings of your site’s pages, but you can click on any individual page — such as a blog post, for example — to pull up an individual result for that page, including the adjustable graph of its pageviews (or any other metric you want to look at). In addition, within the page’s individual report, you can click on the “Navigation” tab (next to “Explorer”) to see which pages users viewed immediately before and after the page in question. This can help you better understand your site users’ behavior and also get an idea of which pages are driving conversions (for example, by checking the Navigation info for your firm’s contact page and seeing which other pages lead users there most often).

What to Do with All This Data?

Okay, so now you know how to look at the Audience Overview for a big-picture snapshot of your site’s performance, and how to use the Behavior tab to pull up a report that lets you see your analytics data for individual pages. But what do you do with all this newfound data at your disposal?

To help you understand what the numbers you’re seeing mean, we’re going to divide the metrics you’ve looked at so far into two broad categories: consumption metrics and engagement metrics.

  • Consumption metrics tell you how many people have viewed or accessed your content. This category includes metrics like sessions, users, and pageviews.
  • Engagement metrics give you information about how your audience is interacting with your content. This category includes metrics like bounce rate, average time on page, and average number of pages per session.

When using Google Analytics to gauge the success of individual pages for content marketing purposes, it’s important to consider both types of metrics. If a given page has tons of pageviews, for example, but also has a very high bounce rate or exit rate, all those pageviews aren’t generating much value — you’re succeeding at getting users to navigate to the page, but some aspect of that page is driving almost all of them away before any meaningful interaction occurs.

Wrapping Up: Key Questions to Ask

Now that you understand how to generate reporting for both your site-wide content and individual pages over any period of time you’d like to specify, you can use the resulting data to make some critical evaluations about your content marketing strategy and the results it’s yielding. For instance, you’ll want to ask yourself questions like:

  • Do the site pages and types of content that I think create the most value for my audience actually show strong traffic and engagement numbers in Google Analytics?
  • What do the pages on my site with the highest and lowest traffic and engagement numbers have in common? What about the pages with high traffic but low engagement, and vice versa?
  • Which pages on my website are sending users away? Do I need to optimize or redesign these pages or restructure my site to address this?
  • Do my top-performing pages represent aspects of my law firm’s brand that I most want to emphasize? If not, how can I better emphasize and optimize the pages that I really want users to see?

As an example, if your firm handles both personal injury and family law cases and you want to get more personal injury clients, but your family law-oriented content is roundly outperforming your personal injury material, then it may be time to rethink your content strategy. Perhaps you need to redouble your efforts in terms of personal injury blogging, posting more frequently on PI topics and using Google Analytics along the way to refine your choice of topics so you can focus on the areas that generate the most engagement and traffic.

On the other hand, you may want to consider the opposite strategy — perhaps personal injury-related web traffic is hotly contested in your area, but family law traffic is much easier to come by. It could be that you’ve just identified an opportunity in family law that your firm can capitalize on with even more content. There are no hard and fast answers to these questions, but the important thing is that you’re asking them and using analytics data to inform your conclusions.

Of course, this is just a beginning point in terms of using Google Analytics to shape your law firm’s content marketing strategy. As you can probably guess by the number of options in that lengthy left-hand menu bar that we didn’t even touch on here, Google Analytics is a very deep and robust platform with a huge range of options for tracking and reporting.

Just for a few examples, setting your site up with Google Analytics will allow you to:

  • Use the “Customization” tab in the menu bar to create a personalized dashboard that can show you your most important analytics data at a glance, without having to navigate among the various menus and manually customize the reporting each time.
  • Set analytics goals that specify which pages you’d like users to navigate to, how long you’d like them to spend on those pages, and more.
  • Use the “Events” tool to track form fills, including how many your site is receiving and which pages are driving them.
  • Use the “Acquisition” tab to figure out which websites are referring users to yours and vice versa.
  • Evaluate your traffic from both organic and paid search, including which keywords are bringing users to your site.

We’ll delve into some of these features in future blog articles, but for now, you should at least have a solid grasp on how to look at basic metrics in Google Analytics and use these metrics to inform your decisions about creating future content and optimizing what you’ve got already. Or, to put it another way: you may not be ready for a solo flight in that 747, but you at least know how to start the engines and taxi around a bit — and that’s exactly how every great pilot starts off.

LaFleur Legal Marketing: Your Analytics Experts

While we want to help every law firm understand more about the incredible power of analytics and data-based decision making, it can also take months or even years to master the art of gathering analytics data and applying it to marketing strategy. We realize that not every law firm has time to dive into this long journey on top of legal casework, day-to-day office administration, professional networking, and continuing education. That’s why we work with our clients to track analytics and provide comprehensive, easy-to-understand monthly and annual reporting that lets them understand what’s going on behind the scenes of their websites without distracting them from the legal work that matters most to them.

Whether you’re looking to implement analytics tracking for the first time or take your use of data to a deeper level, LaFleur Legal Marketing is here to help. Call us today at 888-222-1512 or fill out our convenient contact form and we’ll get in touch with you promptly. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Related Articles

 References

A practical guide to content marketing metrics. (n.d.). Digital Marketing Institute. Retrieved from https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/blog/understand-effectiveness-guide-content-marketing-metrics

Kuenn, A. (2014, June 18). Content marketing strategy: 3 ways to measure success with Google Analytics. Retrieved from http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2014/06/content-marketing-strategy-google-analytics-measurement/

Sidko, A. (2016, March 23). How to use Google Analytics to improve your content strategy. SEMRush. Retrieved from https://www.semrush.com/blog/how-to-use-google-analytics-to-improve-your-content-strategy/

Best Practices for Infographic Ideation, Development, and Design

Infographics play a crucial role in generating brand awareness online. In 2016, 37% of marketers said visual marketing was the most important form of content for their business, second only to blogging (38%). (more…)

3 Benefits of Live Chat

The scope and sphere of digital marketing can be a bit overwhelming. Generating web traffic, increasing phone calls, and bringing in quality leads is difficult enough, but then you also have to track all these measurements to gauge your shortcomings, successes, and new opportunities. With all the options available, it can be difficult to know where to begin or how to effectively and efficiently expand your law firm’s current marketing program. (more…)

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!

Related Posts:

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

Is Paid Search Right for Your Firm?

Full disclosure: the question asked in the title of this piece is rhetorical. Regardless of your firm’s size, marketing budget, or practice area(s), pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is a no-brainer if you want to keep pace with or outperform the competition. Whether it’s just a small branded campaign or a dense, coordinated matrix of targeted strategies, your firm should be leveraging paid search. If you’re not, you’ll want to act quickly — but carefully — to capitalize on paid search opportunities before the market becomes completely oversaturated.

Many of you might have heard that legal keywords are consistently among the most expensive to bid on successfully in Google AdWords, and this is definitely the case. In fact, according to Search Engine Land, of the 100 most expensive Google AdWords keywords (as of May, 2016), 78 were related to the legal sector, including 9 of the top 10 overall. So it might seem reckless to get involved in such an expensive and risky game, right?

Well, yes and no: Haphazardly entering a dozen or so keywords into a nondescript ad group redirecting to an irrelevant landing page on your existing site without performing a complete audit beforehand will not result in success. It will, however, result in wasted spend and a misinformed aversion to paid search, which is a perception we encounter with new clients time and time again.

Successful paid search initiatives depend on how your campaigns are structured and maintained relative to your firm’s budget and goals. You don’t have to bid on $200 keywords to be successful with paid search, but you do have to carefully research the medium, your firm’s capabilities within this medium, and how your competitors are approaching this digital space. You then have to proceed with caution, implementing best practices and taking calculated risks.

Let’s take a look at some common strategies that we recommend depending on a firm’s size, scope, budget, and marketing goals.

Protection from Conquestors

The practice of conquesting ― a marketing strategy employed by rival firms to bid on keywords specifically related to your firm’s brand ― is what makes the titular question rhetorical. If you and your firm are not protecting your web properties from the competition, you’re vulnerable and exposed to brand manipulation. Thankfully, protecting yourself from conquestors is relatively easy.

By creating a campaign in which you bid on terms exclusively related to your firm, you can protect your brand online and discourage this form of B2B bullying. Even if a firm has already begun conquesting prior to your firm creating a branded campaign, once you do so, the competitor(s) will likely realize their game is up and that the costs incurred to capitalize off your firm’s name aren’t worth the benefits. This is because the rival firm’s campaigns will lack relevancy due to inconsistent keyword correlation between the search terms they are using (i.e., terms related to your brand) and their web properties, forcing them to pay more in order to achieve an optimal ad ranking.

Lastly, be sure to register a trademark and copyright for your firm’s name and other valuable branding elements, such as your slogan and logo. Once you have these legal protections in place, rival firms are legally prohibited from incorporating elements of your firm and branding into their marketing strategies. This is an inexpensive process, but it can be lengthy, so be sure to register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office immediately if you haven’t already.

Search Campaigns

For those firms looking for more than just brand protection from conquestors, we recommend developing a conservative search campaign that gradually compounds into a more aggressive approach once you determine which keywords are the most cost-effective. Again, legal-specific keywords are among the most expensive in the PPC landscape, so you should use digital tools to conduct thorough research before launching a search campaign.

Among those that we find the most helpful are SpyFu, SEM Rush, and the Google Keyword Planner, which can be utilized within the AdWords platform. These tools allow the user to project overall costs, clicks, impressions, and cost per click (CPC), among dozens of other vital metrics.

They also allow you to get a sense of how your competitors are structuring their campaigns and which keywords they are bidding on most frequently. Additionally, using these tools to research potential search campaigns helps you establish a baseline PPC budget, as well the chance to discover “long-tail keywords” ― longer and more specific phrases that are built as extensions of more general keywords.

Finally, in order to keep costs down and optimize your return on investment, you should pay close attention to keyword match types when structuring your campaigns. These include:

  • Broad Match appears whenever a user searches any keyword you’re bidding on in any order. This match type can generate a lot of irrelevant traffic, so use it sparingly and keep a watchful eye on all of your broad match keywords.
  • Broad Match Modified allows more control over your user audience by including terms within the larger key phrase that must be included in a search query in order for your firm to appear on the search engine results page (SERP).
  • Exact Match is the optimal match type for firms that are looking to mitigate wasted spend. Implementing this match type with your keywords ensures that your firm will only appear on the SERP when a potential client searches a query including those exact terms in your predetermined sequence. We recommend using exact match for all key phrases when initially launching your campaign — and then expanding match types as you determine which terms are having the most (and least) success.
  • Phrase Match is like broad match modified, in that is allows for more specific targeting than broad match and less than exact match. Phrase match key phrases will only appear when the search query is entered in the exact sequence of your choosing, although other terms can be included before or after the phrase. It’s a flexible match type that should highlight the essence of your firm to capture a wide yet targeted audience.

Display and Remarketing

Compared to search campaigns (branded or more aggressive), display campaigns are relatively inexpensive, which again stresses the rhetorical nature of the question posed in the title of this piece. Whereas legal search term CPC can extend well into the hundreds of dollars, display placements (the websites on which your display ads are placed) rarely exceed $4-5 dollars. And while search campaigns are more likely to reap trackable conversions, display ads significantly increase brand awareness through innumerable impressions and hundreds of clicks to your firm’s website or other web properties. And this substantial uptick in clicks, calls, and form-fills are destined to bring results with an effective traffic management strategy in place.

A vital extension of display advertising is remarketing. Remarketing ads appear on various websites after a user has already visited your website or other web properties on which you’ve placed a remarketing tag. Best practices dictate that you should create banner ads for your remarketing campaign that maintain brand guidelines but are distinct from the messaging of your display ads.

Whereas display ads should be more general in nature (redirecting to your homepage) or divided by practice area (redirecting to corresponding webpages), remarketing ads should focus on providing tangible benefits to the potential client and redirect to dedicated landing pages where the client can then capitalize on the offer. In most instances, this includes offering a free downloadable whitepaper or infographic expressly related to their legal issues (“Steps to Take Following a Car Accident,” for example) in exchange for minimal contact information (email address, first name, and possibly an optional phone number).

The digital assets you’ll need to create and launch a successful remarketing campaign (banner ads, whitepaper or infographic, dedicated landing page(s), etc.) can be a bit pricey depending on the production value of these elements. When properly built and executed, however, you should expect to see a significant return on your investment while also building consumer confidence and trust by enhancing your firm’s perceived value as a thought leader in your respective practice areas.

Contact LaFleur Legal Marketing for a Free PPC Consultation

At LaFleur Legal Marketing, our paid search marketing strategists are certified in Google AdWords and have a wealth of experience specifically in the legal sector. Our experience has taught us to take a cautious approach to PPC (especially in the highly competitive legal vertical), and our first priority is to do no harm — we abhor wasted spend and structure all of our clients’ campaigns to optimize ROI.

If you’re interested in learning more about our past success, please click here to read our most recent case study. If you like what you see, we would love to set up a free consultation during which we can discuss your firm’s needs and how we can help.

Please call us today at (888) 222-1512 or complete this form to speak directly with one of our marketing representatives about paid search or any other form of digital marketing, including content development, search engine optimization, social media marketing, automation, and many other tactics we employ on behalf of our valued clients.

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References

Da Cunha, M. (2016, November 20). Law firm marketing: 9 tips for winning more clients with PPC. Wordstream. Retrieved from http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2015/06/29/law-firm-marketing

Lake, C. (2016, May 31). The most expensive 100 Google AdWords keywords in the US. SearchEngineLand. Retrieved from https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/05/31/the-most-expensive-100-google-adwords-keywords-in-the-us/