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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.

How to Adjust Your Legal Marketing Budget for Seasonal Fluctuations

Many law firms experience slow seasons and learn how to plan their business around them. However, they sometimes forget to adjust their marketing strategies to match. If your marketing tactics and budget don’t align with the cyclical nature of your practice, you may be wasting time and resources.

At LaFleur, we know you need different legal marketing strategies at different times of the year, and we understand how to use your budget to maximize results. In this article, we’ll give you a roadmap for building an effective marketing plan that accounts for seasonal changes in business.

Identify Your Busy Seasons for Client Intake

Some practices area, like tax law, have an inherent and obvious seasonal component. However, most law firms experience seasonal fluctuations in business. For example, research suggests that most people file for divorce in the early spring and fall, after families have wrapped up the holiday season or summer vacation.

Many lawyers also anecdotally report a summer lull. And some practice areas, like bankruptcy and debt collection, experience booms during a recession or when unemployment rates are high.

However, when we talk about your firm’s “busy season,” we’re not necessarily focusing on when you settle the most cases or bill the most hours. After all, even though many insurance companies rush to settle claims before the end of the year, your relationship with those clients and their claims probably started months or even years before. Instead, we’re interested in when your client intakes and conversions hit their highest rates.

If you don’t know when most potential clients are searching for legal representation, you’re missing an opportunity. Take a look at your intake data and ask yourself:

  • Are there certain times of the year when we consistently pull in more leads?
  • Can we identify any factors that might be causing these high-intake periods?
  • How much of our marketing budget do we spend during these high-intake times of year?
  • Where are our leads during peak times coming from?
  • How many of those leads do we convert into clients?

Hopefully, you can identify some of the triggers that lead to an influx of calls or an uncomfortably quiet office. Then, you can prepare for them and build a seasonal marketing plan around them.

Quiet Periods Give You Time for Goal-Setting and Website Improvements

During a boom, it’s hard to focus on website improvements and goal-setting — you’re too busy turning all those leads into clients! However, a seasonal lull offers a great opportunity to audit your website’s performance, evaluate site design issues, and identify improvements that will help you reach even more potential clients.

If it’s been a while since your law firm performed a keyword and competitor analysis, identified your best- and worst-performing pages and blogs, or evaluated your site’s loading speeds or usability, now is a great time to perform these essential tasks.

Then, based upon your findings, you can implement improvements, set marketing goals, and refine your year-round strategies.

Consider Incentives and Promotions During Quiet Times

A lot of marketing companies encourage lawyers to offer incentives or promotions during their quiet times. However, we think you should approach this strategy with caution.

First, free consultations are standard for some legal practice areas like personal injury, so there’s no way to get new clients in the door with a discount. Second, a poorly framed offer or incentive can damage your brand and value proposition. If you’ve marketed yourself as your city’s premier divorce practice and you specialize in property distribution for high net worth clients, then suddenly offering a bargain fee structure could undermine your brand.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s no way to create incentives for new and existing clients during slower periods. For example, if you’re an estate planning attorney, it may make sense to offer complimentary estate plan audits for both new and existing clients during a lull. These one-on-one meetings can strengthen your relationships, attract new leads, and convert those leads into clients.

Work on Community Building and Networking During Lulls

During your quiet season, you should take some time to improve your community outreach strategy, rethink your networking efforts, and build on your referral relationships. At LaFleur, we believe in the positive impact that community engagement has on marketing efforts. When you volunteer, offer scholarships, and engage with your community, you build goodwill and name recognition, all of which can lead to more referrals and conversions (not to mention good karma).

Start by considering your neighbors’ needs and how you can help. For example, years ago, when I was still working as an attorney, I realized a nearby community had unmet legal needs. While the city had robust programs for individuals with disabilities, it didn’t have a single attorney that focused on Social Security claims. Instead, residents with disabilities had to travel up to an hour to get high-quality representation, which many people couldn’t afford.

So, based on my urging, the law firm I worked with started collaborating with the community’s stakeholders, holding free Q&A sessions, and scheduling appointments in the local public library’s conference spaces. Within a matter of months, we had become the community’s go-to disability law firm.

During your quiet times, reconnect with your referral sources and meet with community members over coffee to ask them about the challenges they’re facing. Conversations like this can help you identify your city or region’s unmet needs and find a meaningful solution.

RELATED: Law Firm Experiences Impactful Increase in Conversion Rates

During Your Peak Season, Increase Your Paid Advertising

Most likely, your busy season matches up with the hectic periods of other law firms in your industry. So, during that same time, every one of your competitors is out there trying to wrangle every client possible. To compete, you need to target your ideal clients aggressively. Paid search and social media ads are a great way to reach them.

One 2014 study from Google found that paid advertising could result in an 80% increase in brand awareness. And business-to-business (B2B) paid advertising resulted in even higher growth. At LaFleur, we’ve found it most effective to use a multi-pronged approach that’s designed to build name recognition, promote informative content, and encourage conversions.

With paid advertising, you can push your law firm’s message to specific audiences based on their age, geographic location, interests, income, and many other factors. This degree of focus helps you communicate targeted messages to people who share characteristics with your most valuable leads and clients.

For example, banner-style display ads have relatively low click-through rates in the legal industry — 0.59%, according to WordStream. However, when you combine display ads with well-built paid search ads and social media campaigns, the cumulative effect of showing multiple ads to your most valuable potential clients can lead to much higher conversion and click-through rates.

RELATED: Creating and Optimizing an Effective PPC Campaign for Law Firms

Email Automation Can Streamline Client Communications

Automated emails can do much more than deliver monthly newsletters. You can build new client and drip campaigns that answer people’s most common questions and free up your team’s time for more pressing or high-skill tasks. This extra bandwidth becomes even more valuable during your peak season.

At LaFleur, we’re proud to be one of the few legal marketing agencies that is a SharpSpring Platinum Partner. Our email automation team can help you build seamless email campaigns that educate and empower your leads and clients without placing extra demands on your staff.

RELATED: How to Use Automation Tools to Improve Productivity, Sales, and More!

Produce Relevant Content Year-Round

Your digital marketing strategy should always include a strong content marketing component that emphasizes publishing high-quality content and nurturing early-stage leads. Research repeatedly shows that the long-term ROI on content marketing exceeds almost every other tactic. When you produce consistent, high-quality, and evergreen legal content, it will continue to attract readers month after month, year after year.

However, the one caveat is that content marketing rarely delivers instant results. But while paid campaigns can offer quick returns, a robust content strategy will build steam over time as search algorithms and readers discover your content. That’s why you need to write and publish original content on a consistent basis.

Help Maximize Your Marketing ROI With LaFleur

If you’re ready to strengthen your marketing strategies both in and out of your busy season, we’d love to hear from you. We’re committed to helping law firms improve their marketing strategies and understand their return on investment so they can make informed decisions. To learn more about our approach and get advice about strategies that can benefit your firm, complete our simple online contact form or call LaFleur at (888) 222-1512.

References

Bach, D. (2016, August 21). Is divorce seasonal? UW research shows biannual spike in divorce filings. University of Washington. Retrieved from https://www.washington.edu/news/2016/08/21/is-divorce-seasonal-uw-research-shows-biannual-spike-in-divorce-filings/

Content marketing ROI. (n.d.). Kapost / Eloqua. Retrieved from https://www.oracle.com/webfolder/mediaeloqua/documents/Content+Marketing+Kapost+Eloqua+ebook.pdf

Irvine, M. (2019, August 27). Google ads benchmarks for your industry. WordStream. Retrieved from https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/02/29/google-adwords-industry-benchmarks

Lam, B., & Verma, K. (2014, June). Search ads drive brand awareness. Think with Google. Retrieved from https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/search-ads-drive-drand-awareness.html

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…)

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…)

Big, Smart, Profitable: How to Leverage Data for Your Law Firm

A Brave New World

In the not-too-distant past, all it took for an attorney to build a large and profitable client roster was to run a successful, ethical practice while generating inbound referrals and quality word-of-mouth advertising from past and present clients.

While this remains an effective way to operate your firm, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to thrive in today’s competitive legal atmosphere without digging into the data to determine where your practice’s strengths and weaknesses lie, what your ideal client type is, and what the most effective marketing strategies for your firm and practice areas are.

1 Furthermore, failing to collect, analyze, and leverage relevant information from your digital marketing strategies and your daily operations limits your firm’s potential for growth, and it also adversely affects your revenue by directing your resources toward the wrong locations, practice areas, and demographics.

Now don’t get nervous: the sky isn’t falling (yet). There’s still time to adapt to this new paradigm, as the legal industry is surprisingly one of the last to hop aboard the data train. And you don’t have to be a tech wizard or a mathlete to get caught up to speed, either. Analyzing and incorporating data really isn’t all that difficult if you have the right platforms and processes in place. From there, it all boils down to developing common-sense solutions to glaring inefficiencies. Read on to find out how.

The Tools of the Trade

Before you can begin to track data, you need to install the proper tools that will help you gather and organize it. The best place to start is with the granddaddy of them all: Google Analytics.

When installed properly on each of your web properties, Google Analytics allows you to track every bit (or byte, if you’d rather) of vital information, including site visitors, traffic sources, and bounce rate, among dozens of other helpful metrics. This information can then be segmented according to demographics, technology, behavior, date of first visit, time of day, date ― the list goes on.

Once you’ve put effective and accurate tracking methods in place, you can alternate preferred reporting settings to get real-time information regarding your marketing campaigns. Click here to view an excellent series of tutorials on this subject, straight from Google themselves.

If your firm is running a paid search campaign — which you likely should be, if for no other reason than to protect yourselves from conquesting (which is when opposing firms capitalize on your name) — then you’ll want to sync your Google Analytics with Google AdWords. (You can now also track your Bing Ads campaigns in Google Analytics by installing Universal Event Tracking ― UET.) 2

As a standalone tool, the AdWords interface is a great resource to track clicks, impressions, and conversions. Without adding the Google Analytics component, though, you’ll lack access to other important metrics derived from paid search campaigns, including bounce rate, pages per visit, average visit duration, and percent of new visitors.

By using Google Analytics to determine which landing pages aren’t performing, you can either work to optimize those pages or delete them altogether and switch your emphasis to the areas where you’re achieving the most success. Even better, when you drop landing pages that aren’t working, you can transfer the search terms or display ads associated with them to landing pages that are performing. (However, be sure to update the verbiage of your advertisements and existing landing pages before undertaking any drastic changes to the campaign. Adding irrelevant or superfluous information can drastically influence your AdWords Quality Scores and Ad Ranks, so take the time to update your campaigns across the board ― from keyword creation to landing page copy.)

Lastly, you’ll want to take a long look at your competitors’ marketing efforts and stay up to date on industry trends and best practices. One great tool for keyword research ― for both organic SEO and paid search ― is the aptly-named SpyFu. This inexpensive resource allows you to peek behind the curtain and get a comprehensive understanding of how your competitors are approaching search.

Among other things, SpyFu allows you to view the keywords that competitors are bidding for in paid search, the keywords that are generating the most traffic to their websites, information regarding cost-per-click and search volume for their keywords, and projections for what they’re spending on their campaigns. By leveraging this data, you can create a robust and effective list of organic and paid keywords and also determine your firm’s keyword costs for successful campaigns in the future.

Data Mining: Clairvoyance and Client Acquisition

2016 saw the release of two great television programs that relied on the dual premises of clairvoyance and the supernatural to advance their complex narratives: Stranger Things and The OA. And maybe it’s because I recently binge-watched each of these in rapid succession that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how collecting quality data and then using that data to predict future outcomes has become something of a modern-day magic trick ― the sort of sleight of hand that can make even the most inept charlatan appear to be a powerful sorcerer to the untrained eye.

3 The truth is that this sort of predictive analytics isn’t magic at all; it’s based on nothing more than a willingness to set assumptions aside in favor of the story told by objective data. For instance, if you keep losing out on what initially seem to be promising leads, it’s probably not because of that rival attorney across town who’s vengefully poaching your clients because you received a higher score on your Mass Torts final in law school.

Or maybe it is. But you won’t know either way unless you are actually tracking the data. There are plenty of other explanations for why leads don’t consistently turn into clients: maybe your support staff isn’t following up with your leads in a timely (which really means immediate) fashion. Maybe your email drip campaign open rate is suffering from a precipitous decline that started with the hiring of your new freelance copywriter. Maybe your paid search campaign is receiving hundreds of clicks, only for those clicks to redirect to a broken landing page. Whatever the case might be, don’t automatically assume that a particular tactic is failing or succeeding because you see short-term plunges or spikes. The name of the game here is determining direct causation, not coincidental correlation.

By undertaking a thorough audit of your former clients within the last three to five years and cross-referencing that information with the profit (or loss, as the case may be) your firm leveraged from each client, along with the amount of time and resources that went toward achieving those profits, you can develop a data matrix that helps you ascertain exactly who you should be targeting with your marketing efforts. From there, it’s a matter of adopting the proper targeting strategies to achieve success and tracking the data (always tracking the data!) gleaned from your chosen strategies to build on your success.

Putting Data to Use When Practicing Law

In addition to lead generation and client acquisition, data continues to expand its impact on the actual practice of law. Still, many attorneys, even despite the high-tech tools available to them, tend to rely exclusively on their skill, experience, and intuition when practicing their craft. While these are no doubt valuable attributes, though, they simply aren’t enough in a modern context — especially when more lawyers are getting on board with data-driven tools every day.

Instead, you need to supplement these timeless skills with clear and objective information from automation and analytics tools that have been designed to optimize the legal profession. From case result projections to improved e-Discovery to client engagement, leveraging the data at your disposal streamlines work processes and improves not just your digital marketing results, but actual client outcomes as well.

For instance, many firms are now providing reporting to their clients in real-time via customer portals with individual logins and case profiles. This practice can benefit your firm in several ways, but the two that come immediately to mind are: 1) Such reporting increases client satisfaction by allowing clients to access the progress of their case and measure that progress against pre-established key performance indicators (KPIs) when they want; and 2) It decreases the amount of time and effort that you, your colleagues, and your support staff must expend reaching out to your clients to answer questions, inspire confidence, and quell an 4 xiety. Clients appreciate the transparency and convenience of customer portals, and they free up your staff to focus on legal case work and lead follow-ups with prospective clients.

Emerging data technology can also assist the day-to-day legal operations at your firm through more efficient e-Discovery. Without assistance from technology, reviewing this massive amount of information (sometimes hundreds of gigabytes) can overwhelm you and exhaust valuable resources. Certain analytics tools, however, can scan the text and metadata of these digital documents to determine how often they have been viewed, updated, or redacted, as well as identifying the use of key words and phrases most relevant to the case in question ― possibly bringing out the importance of a document that you might have otherwise assumed to be inconsequential.

Ask yourself: Would you rather have your best paralegal or a bright and innovative associate attorney manually searching massive databases one query at a time, or would you like to automate this process with the use of content analytics capable of near-document grouping, concept searching, and assisted review? The answer is obvious: harnessing the power of big data in your daily operations drastically reduces wasted time, liberating your staff from tedious work so they can focus on the aspects of your caseload that truly require a subjective, human touch.

LaFleur: Data Is Our Middle Name

OK, so technically our middle name is “Legal,” but you get the gist. We predicate our marketing strategies on automation platforms that allow us to expedite and optimize our clients’ campaigns. At the same time, we track massive swaths of data, even while these platforms continue working to bring in new leads that subsequently become quality clients for your firm.

Additionally, we are committed to streamlining the daily operations of our clients’ firms, and we regularly consult with them to find new ways of improving their practice. Our thoughtful and well-researched suggestions have trimmed expenses and created new opportunities for many of our clients, and we thrive when working as a team with key stakeholders to uncover and execute sensible solutions to complex problems.

If this sounds like the type of marketing partner you’ve been looking for, we’d love the opportunity to speak with you. Please contact us by completing this brief form or by calling (888) 222-1512. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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References

What does “Big Data” mean in terms of e-discovery? (2016, October 13). FindLaw. Retrieved from http://technology.findlaw.com/electronic-discovery/what-does-big-data-means-in-terms-of-ediscovery-.html

Steiner, D. (2016, April 28). Data analytics and your law firm. Law Technology Today. Retrieved from http://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2016/04/big-data-law-firm-data-analytics-influencing-cases/

Vallaeys, F. (2014, August 13). These 10 analytics reports will improve your AdWords results. SearchEngineLand. Retrieved from http://searchengineland.com/10-analytics-reports-will-improve-adwords-results-198918

Q&A with Chip LaFleur, President of LaFleur Legal Marketing

Although he rarely seeks the spotlight, Chip LaFleur is the intrepid leader and mentor behind the LaFleur Legal Marketing team. To put a stamp on the resolution of LaFleur Legal Marketing’s second calendar year of growth and success, we decided to sit down with Mr. LaFleur for a special interview to discuss what he’s learned so far and what he sees for the legal marketing world going forward.

LaFleur Legal Marketing: Let’s start with how you came to legal marketing. How did that happen, and why did it make sense at the time?

Chip LaFleur: It really started with a relationship I had with an attorney, which started two agencies back. I had worked with him at that agency, but he wanted something different that my former agency couldn’t provide. When I left, we worked with him at the new organization and we did better, but we still couldn’t provide everything he needed.

When I created LaFleur Legal Marketing, I started to kind of craft who I wanted to bring in based on what this client’s needs were. And the more we worked with them, the more we realized a generalized agency couldn’t effectively serve someone like that. There’s just too much nuance in the law, too many rules the bar associations give you, and too deep of an understanding that you have to develop over time.

So, working with that first client, having a lot of conversations to find out their needs and what they wanted to see in an agency — that’s really what shaped the company early on. And then we started to craft that approach further and formed LaFleur Legal Marketing to make sure the focus was going to stay on legal marketing.

LLM: When you started to put together an initial core team for a legal marketing agency, what were you looking for? What kinds of skillsets and personalities were on your radar?

CL: Well, the focus specifically was on finding great writers. People who were not just good writers but who had good training, who were well-rounded as writers — partially because I expected that the attorneys we work with would be very specific about what they want. They’re not going to want to find typos or grammar issues. So we wanted writers who could reflect the branding of the firms we work with and meet exacting expectations.

Also, that had been a point of contention at previous agencies on the occasions I had worked with attorneys. Previously I had worked at an SEO firm, and the biggest pushback there was often the quality of the content, because it was not written by someone who really had a deep understanding of the law or who could speak to the nuances. So it was this very surface-level, superficial content, and I knew we were going to need more than that if we wanted to succeed with a focus on content marketing.

LLM: When setting your vision for this company, were there things you knew you didn’t want to or didn’t need to do to create a successful agency based on your past experiences?

CL: In terms of culture, when you see this huge focus on working 50, 60, 70 hours a week, we don’t have that. I’m a big believer in making conclusions based on data, and there’s a lot of data that makes me believe you can get as much done in 40 hours consistently as opposed to working 60 hours week in and week out. The data says that after a couple weeks of that pace, you’re less productive than someone who’s working 40 hours.

LLM: There’s a big culture around that in startups, though. It’s almost a badge of honor or a rite of passage when it comes to putting in those 60-hour work weeks. It takes a little bit of courage to push back against that.

CL: I think it’s fair, though, too. I know what I want, which is to be able to actually spend time with my family and have my own interests and pursuits and things like that. The company is certainly my interest and my pursuit, but I like woodworking. I like spending time with [my wife] Sarah and [my son] Lucien.

LLM: I’m sure that, like any startup company, you’ve encountered challenges in these first two years. Can you talk about some of those challenges, especially those that you feel are unique to the legal marketing field?

CL: Well, quite a few of our clients work in personal injury law, and that presents a marketing challenge because personal injury law is not a fun thing. The attorneys we work with are there to help people, but their clients often come to them having just been through a terrible situation. And it makes sense that they want clients who have come through the worst of situations because that’s where they can do the most good. But it still doesn’t make anyone feel good when they go to Facebook and see that there’s a major wreck. So we want to make people understand, “Look, these are the people that can help you, but at the same time, there’s a huge stigma around trial lawyers and personal injury. And I feel very strongly that that’s a manufactured stigma, but it is something we need to be aware of and sensitive to.

Another big challenge is that with personal injury law, anyone can get injured. Some of our clients have had clients who were VPs in major national corporations. Another client might be basically homeless, completely different age and background – the only thing that ties them together is that they’ve been injured. So it does make it more challenging to segment, although for many of our clients, we can narrow things down a bit based on certain types of cases they want. Even then, though, most of these things can happen to anyone, and it’s a lot broader audience than with a lot of other products and services.

Obviously for things like tax law and family law, you can get a little more specific, but in general, drilling down to find the audience in legal marketing tends to be one of the biggest challenges.

LLM: How do you address that, then?

CL: Well, we try to define the audience as much as we can, and one way we address that is by building referral networks. We still do paid media, we do display and search advertising — search helps, but it’s also prohibitively expensive for a lot of our clients.

But I think one of the things that we’ve done that’s most effective is building email lists, marketing to those lists, and just keeping the firm in front of people as much as we can. By doing that, we can continue to message them and be the attorney in their mind, so that when something does happen, they’ll say, “Hey, I know this attorney.” And that does help us define a client’s audience since it’s geographically targeted, and we’re able to reach them again and again, which isn’t feasible with something like paid search.

LLM: We tend to emphasize the holistic nature of our services here at LaFleur Marketing. Can you talk a little bit more about that — what it means to you, and whether you always had that understanding of digital marketing services?

CL: I think at the beginning, we kind of had people specialize in — you know, this person handles social and this person does content development; this person is on the paid search side; and so on — and we didn’t always have perfect communication between those. Over time, we’ve moved to bring social media underneath the content umbrella so we’re promoting content as we post it.

That’s just one example, and even though it seems like a given, it takes some coordination for the number of clients we carry, and I think we’ve got some good systems and processes in place to accomplish that. Using project management effectively, building out those processes —nothing ever works just because, right? Anytime you bring something to scale, it’s a challenge to get all the pieces to move and work together in the same way. We’ve got a great project manager, great project management tools, and great processes that have been rolled into that. I don’t take a whole lot of credit for that, necessarily, other than knowing I wanted that to be built and bringing in the right people who could help us build that.

Of course, the holistic approach can create a challenge, too. Because everyone naturally wants to be able to say, “Hey, what grade did you get, an A, B, C, D?” And we do so many different things that there just isn’t this one data point that you can look at and judge the success of what we’re doing. What we want to do is help our clients understand how we’re doing along all relevant metrics, where we can track the data appropriately.

LLM: So far, you’ve served as the de facto leader on the technological side of things for LLM. What are some of the things you’ve learned along the way?

CL: One of the big eye-openers at the beginning was marketing automation. That was one of the first things we rolled out that was new and different, and we took that really seriously right out of the gate.

That’s a big change for most law firms — certainly most small to mid-sized firms still aren’t using marketing automation. And it’s just been huge for some of our clients to be able to craft messaging at various points in the consumer journey that happen automatically and consistently. And it’s also a matter of looking at your audience and being purposeful about using the information you get [from analytics], and that’s been a learning curve for me.

LLM: What are some of the big successes you’ve seen at LLM — moments that made you say, OK, this plan, this vision is working?

CL: Just our growth in general, first of all. We’ve grown very quickly in a short time. Of course, there are a number of ways to measure growth — do you measure it by revenue, the number of people we have working for us? If it’s the number of people, I think we’ve built an amazing group of people that I love working with, and I feel really good about the way we’ve recruited and brought people in through extended networks and things like that, where we’re very confident right from the beginning about what they bring to the table. And with some of the additional team members we’ve added, our capabilities are skyrocketing.

Our client retention has been excellent, and that’s been very important to me. When we get people in, they generally stay with us, and we’ve had a very good track record with the established firms that have chosen to work with us.

And really, it comes down to client success. We’ve had a number of clients who’ve been able to rank for some pretty significant terms within a very short period of time, and organically. Things like that are what I come back to when I think about our success.

LLM: What are you excited about for the future — both for LLM and for the legal marketing field in general?

CL: I think the next thing on the horizon now is predictive analytics and machine learning, and we’re looking at a few different way to roll those out, and some of those marry up with marketing automation and help us to use that better and more effectively. But I think that’s going to change the landscape in such a huge way. Using predictive analytics and machine learning is going to allow us to hyper-target based on audience segment and on people who are actually in the process of making a decision, which we can determine based on certain patterns of web browsing and things like that. And attorneys right now are just not using this stuff ― even a lot of the big firms aren’t there yet.

Everywhere you look, companies that are implementing this stuff are begging data scientists to come work for them. And how cool is it that we live in a world where, like, this in-demand position includes “scientist” in the name? So I think that’s a huge change, and it might be a little scary for some people, but for me, I love technology, and it’s something I’m really excited about.

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5 Ways to Increase Referrals for Your Law Office

Too often, digital marketers focus almost all of their attention on the most challenging marketing objective there is: turning complete strangers into strong leads through content marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and email drip campaigns. The reality is, though, that most of the attorneys we work with at LaFleur Legal Marketing don’t get the majority of their cases this way, and they never will.

1 In fact, leads generated from scratch tend to follow the Pareto principle (or the 80/20 rule, as most people know it): They take up 80 percent of the resources, but only produce 20 percent of the total results.

That’s not to say, of course, that generating new leads and guiding them through the sales funnel with digital marketing tools isn’t important. That hard-earned extra 20 percent can make the difference between a profitable business and an unprofitable one, between a law firm taking on a new partner or letting one go, or between scaling your business up or scaling it back. Most firms would be thrilled to get a 20 percent boost in new clients at any given time.

What it does mean, though, is that maximizing your referrals from existing clients and peer firms should be a priority for your business and its digital marketing strategy at all times. Compared to the process of generating leads from scratch, it’s relatively simple and produces an enormous return on investment. If you’re not focused on maximizing referrals, you’re essentially forsaking the easy money — the grease that makes the rest of the digital marketing gears glide.

In case you’re not sure whether your firm is making the most of its referral opportunities right now, we’ve compiled a list of five essential tips that can boost your referral rates and provide jumping-off points for other ideas, too. And of course, if you need help executing any of these ideas or are already employing them but aren’t getting the results you want, the dedicated team at LaFleur Legal Marketing is only a click or phone call away.

(What won’t make our list of points here, by the way, is the one that should go without saying: If you want referrals, create an experience that you would refer to someone. Provide a great service to your clients and be the professional advocate and expert they want to recommend to a friend, co-worker, or peer. Pay attention to the details, from the way you greet clients and the effort you put in to make yourself accessible to the amenities in your office. Find ways to let the people who hire you know that they matter, and do it in a way that’s honest to your firm’s brand and your personality.)

Assuming you’re delivering a great product accompanied by excellent customer service, then you’ve got the foundation that every referral starts with. Next, try implementing these tips to elevate your firm’s reputation and drive even more referrals for the future.

#1: Send a Regular Email Newsletter 3

If your firm is following digital marketing best practices for law firms, then content marketing should be a cornerstone of your strategy, and you should be producing plenty of quality content for your prospective clients and peers to digest. Packaging this content into a monthly newsletter is an excellent way to drive engagement with existing clients and bolster your reputation as an active and vibrant thought leader among your peers.

In general, an effective newsletter should include images, links, and overviews for some of your strongest recent blog content. Older blog articles aren’t off-limits, either, especially if they’re in-depth and merit a second look, or if they pertain to legal issues or current events that are ongoing or have seen important developments recently.

Your newsletter should also share any recent news or announcements from the firm that your audience might find interesting or relevant. This can include important professional developments like case results and events that your attorneys are attending or sponsoring in the legal world, but don’t underestimate the power of “slice-of-life” information that briefs people about daily goings-on in the office and shows off your staff’s personality, either. Content like this tends to give your communications a more personal touch and make people feel invested in the real human beings behind your firm’s brand.

Of course, you won’t have much to publish in your newsletter if you don’t have a robust content marketing strategy in place. If your firm’s blog and social media presences aren’t active, then you’ll want to get these critical content sources up and running before you worry about leveraging them to drive referrals through a newsletter.

#2: Keep in Touch with Existing and Past Clients

Many attorneys that we work with simply keep in touch with clients as a matter of course. Checking in with clients even after their case concludes is a natural outgrowth of the close relationships that attorneys and their clients often forge during complex cases, and it’s an excellent way to drive referrals in an organic fashion, too.

When case workload gets heavy or a trial comes around, however, it’s easy to let relationships with past clients fall by the wayside amidst the deluge of legal work. Automated email campaigns and monthly newsletters both provide a way to keep past clients up-to-date about your firm’s latest news and to remind them of your relationship — although they should never be used as a wholesale substitute for personalized, one-to-one interactions over the long term.

Another aspect of client follow-up that many attorneys struggle with involves soliciting reviews from satisfied clients. Not only are reviews on sites like Yelp, Avvo, and Google Places an important part of your web presence, but they also create engagement among reviewers — a client who takes the time to write a review of your business and publish it is much more likely to feel invested in your firm and to actually recommend your services on additional channels or in conversation.

Of course, no one likes to hassle clients for reviews, especially if it requires follow-up and multiple requests. Unfortunately, in the case of soliciting reviews, we find that automated email follow-up rarely yields satisfactory results. In this case, there really is no substitute for a personal request (and additional follow-up if necessary) from you or a member of your team. Often, the point when your firm delivers a check from a successful financial recovery is one of the best times to broach this subject, as the person’s case and the details of their relationship with you are as fresh in their mind as they will ever be.

#3: Create Relationships with Other Businesses

Other law firms are the most obvious source of referrals, and we’ve seen several clients who sustained their business for years almost exclusively by receiving referrals from their peers. However, other firms can only refer cases to you if they know about you and think of you when the time comes, and they’re far more likely to do this if they interact with you, your firm, and your brand on a regular basis. 2

To this end, you need to form relationships with other firms who aren’t direct competitors and keep them in the loop when it comes to your team’s activity. This can be as easy as sending them your newsletter with your most recent content and announcements (as we outlined above), but corresponding via Facebook or LinkedIn to congratulate your peers on important professional developments or comment on their content can create an even more lasting impression. Even just sending a quick greeting or warm regards on an important day, like another attorney’s birthday or a firm’s anniversary, can make an important difference in strengthening the types of professional relationships that can lead to referrals.

Remember that referring cases is a two-way street. Other firms are far more likely to send valuable cases your way if you’ve done the same for them in the past or if they believe you’re likely to do so in the future. You may even want to establish a formal partnership with another firm you respect in which you agree to refer certain types of cases to each other.

Other law firms aren’t the only types of businesses that can provide referrals, either. Non-competing businesses with overlapping client bases can be an extremely important source of referrals. For example, attorneys who specialize in personal injury law can create a valuable channel for referrals by building relationships with local healthcare professionals, including physicians, physical therapists, and chiropractors.

#4: Connect with Local Organizations

Local trade groups, volunteer networks, nonprofits, schools, and other community organizations provide a great opportunity to raise your firm’s profile in your area and expand your local network. Most attorneys that we work with find giving back time to their community extremely gratifying, and doing so will provide you with even more positive activity to report in your firm’s monthly newsletter, too. When your peers and past clients see these activities, they’ll be that much more likely to think of your firm when a referral conversation comes up, as will the staff members and volunteers at these organizations.

When you and your staff do engage in volunteer work or other community engagement activities, don’t be shy about publicizing it on your firm’s blog and social media profiles, either. Informing your audience about your firm’s positive contributions to the community isn’t about bragging or trumping up your accomplishments — it’s simply a matter of providing valuable information to your peers and prospective clients, who generally want to know as much about a firm and the character of its staff as possible before they make a referral or hiring decision.

#5: Show Your Appreciation for Clients Who Refer You

One of the best ways to make sure that clients and peers who have already referred you keep doing so is to show your gratitude for the effort they’ve taken to help your business. This appreciation can be as simple as a hand-written thank-you card with a personalized message, but it could also extend to a small, thoughtful gift.

Make sure that you understand and abide by your state bar association’s rules, however, when it comes to giving gifts for referrals — especially items like gift cards that have clear monetary value. Many state bars have restrictions on this sort of gift-giving. For example, the rules on lawyer advertising and solicitation from the Virginia State Bar forbid attorneys from giving anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services, but make an exception for “nominal gifts of gratitude that are neither intended nor reasonably expected to be a form of compensation for recommending a lawyer’s services.”

In other words, not only does thanking people and giving tokens of appreciation for referrals not have to be expensive or extravagant, but it probably shouldn’t be if you want to stay on your state bar’s good side. When it comes to gift-giving, think useful items like branded mugs, apparel, and office supplies, and avoid trinkets that will just get tossed out. If you want to be a bit more creative, consider the sort of useful everyday items that people never purchase or think about until they need them (umbrellas, anyone?)

If you or someone in your office is feeling craft-y and has the time, you could even assemble a small decorated and personalized package of candy and snacks; Pinterest has lots of great ideas to get you started (as long as you remember to keep it simple and avoid falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole). You could also enter clients who submit reviews into a raffle for a bigger-ticket item (within reason) if you don’t think the small stuff will appeal to your clients.

Ready to Take the Next Step in Driving Referrals? Contact LaFleur Legal Marketing Today

The tips we’ve outlined above are just the starting points for an effective strategy to drive referrals. At LaFleur Legal Marketing, we help our clients generate new leads and referrals from existing clients through innovative solutions like automated email marketing campaigns, charitable donations and community partnerships, and responsive engagement with social media.

If you’d like to learn more about how your firm can maximize referrals and network more effectively with other businesses, call us today at (888) 222-1512 or complete our quick online contact form, and we’ll get in touch with you right away. We can’t wait to hear from you.

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References

Virginia State Bar. (2016). Rule 7.3: Direct contact with professional clients. Professional Guidelines. Retrieved from http://www.vsb.org/pro-guidelines/index.php/rules/information-about-legal-services/rule7-3/

Power Converters: 4 Steps to Creating Content that Drives Conversions

If you’re like most attorneys that we work with, you don’t just want content that informs and enlightens your audience. Sure, those things are important, but if you’re paying for content or spending your valuable time to write it, you want to create content that converts — meaning it turns leads into real, tangible cases.

Of course, getting there is easier said than done — especially when it comes to legal blogging, which has to walk a fine line between being approachable and being technical. To help, we’ve laid out the four steps that can help you evaluate your current legal marketing content and see whether it follows the best practices that can move readers to take the plunge and choose you to handle their legal issue.

1. K.I.S.S. — Keep It Simple, Smart Guy

One rule for conversion-oriented writing that almost every marketing expert agrees on is that your writing should be clear and simple. Experts say that you should aim to write for a 10- to 13-year-old audience if you want to create content that really drives conversions.

In general, this translates to everyday language and short paragraphs, but it doesn’t mean that you need to publish copy that’s dumbed-down. If you haven’t interacted with a fifth-grader in a while, they can actually understand quite a lot (which, if memory serves, is the idea behind a popular game show). And if your content can’t hold the attention of a 12-year-old, at least through the initial paragraphs (where you should be front-loading your most important points), you’re probably not writing clearly enough to maximize your conversions.

One tool that can help you determine your content’s reading level is the Fleisch-Kincaid scale, which is designed to measure the difficulty of a given passage to read and understand, then assign it a score that indicates the passage’s readability. You can also use the score to figure out the approximate educational reading level (5th grade, 8th grade, college-level, and so on) of your content.

Of course, the Fleisch-Kincaid scale has its detractors — but that’s a tangent for a different blog post. Just remember to treat it and any other readability scale as a guideline, not gospel. You can use this online tool to get the Fleisch-Kincaid (F-K) score (along with some other similar metrics) for a passage or piece of copy.

Of course, if I’m going to call on you to use these tools, I need to take my own medicine, as well. I ran this piece you’re reading through the same online readability assessment and got an F-K score of 62, good for an 8th-9th grade reading level.

On the other hand, I put in this blog article that I wrote a few weeks ago and got an F-K score of 14.6 (ouch), which translates to a college graduate reading level. Try comparing the two pieces yourself and see if you can sense the difference in readability.

2. Get to the Point

The second step is closely related to the first one. Just as you need to be clear and concise with your language, you have to be ruthless with your content’s structure. This holds true for all good writing but especially so for digital marketing content that’s intended to create conversions.

There’s an enormous amount of evidence to show that no matter how compelling or easy to read your blog article or web copy is, a certain segment of people — 5 to 10 percent or maybe more, depending on the context — will never scroll down past the fold (the point where the screen stops when the page first loads). This means that for a healthy portion of your audience, you’ve only got one chance to get them to convert, and it’s right at the top.

One tried-and-true story structure method that journalists have long used to hook readers with short attention spans is called the “inverted pyramid.” It involves putting the foundation of your content — the core bit of information that you’re weaving an article or piece of web copy around — at the top of the piece, then developing that idea with supporting information and additional facts as you move toward the bottom.

This way, readers who make it all the way through the piece will have a deep understanding of the issue you’re trying to break down. But even those fickle folks who tend to bounce without scrolling will at least grasp the one key takeaway you want them to know.

Legendary advertising executive David Ogilvy — often described as “The Original Mad Man” and “The Father of Advertising” — once said that five times as many people read the headline as the body copy of an ad, and the most up-to-date research regarding online content shows that he’s still right.

Recently, the editors at The New York Times pulled back their curtain to reveal some of the testing processes they use to evaluate headlines for their online articles. They found that headlines with a conversational tone and clear, powerful language — including precise facts and figures — can create big surges in traffic to a piece of content.

For example, in March of this year, the Times tested the following two headlines for the same article:

Measuring Trump’s Media Dominance

$2 Billion Worth of Free Media for Trump

Any guess as to which one did better?

The second headline created a 297% increase in readers compared to the first. According to the Times, these kinds of headline tweaks routinely create huge differences in traffic.

Of course, for certain types of stories, various offbeat headlines can work too: Puns and plays on words, teasers that tantalize, intriguing questions. Especially for a legal blog, though, you should avoid bait-and-switch headlines that don’t give the reader what your headline promises.

Instead, try to stick with direct, conversational headlines that make an instant impression. Then, you can hit them with your most important point and a fast call-to-action to leave an early and lasting impression.

3. A-B-C-I: Always Be Creating Images 

Writing great marketing materials has always involved creating images and putting together a narrative for the reader. In the case of legal marketing content, though, this doesn’t necessarily have to involve lots of flowery language or poetic descriptions.

Instead, it just means that you need to apply some visual appeal so you can hook your audience, and so you can create a vivid story in their mind of what it’s like to work with you and how their legal issue will play out when you represent them.

The simplest way to do this, of course, is with actual images and video. The statistics that demonstrate how important pictures are to digital marketing content could make a mountain, so we’ll just pick a few off the pile:

• Researchers at Xerox found that colored visuals increased people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.
• Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.
• When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.

Even though pictures are indispensable for online content, writing with the intent to create images in the reader’s mind can be powerful too — especially when it’s paired with real pictures that support those images.

For legal writing, this might involve describing a real-life or theoretical story that illustrates the concept you’re trying to talk about, or grabbing the reader’s attention up front with what content marketers call “power words” — colorful story-telling terms like “disastrous,” “startling,” and “instantly.” 

Of course, we can’t talk about creating powerful language in a legal blog without touching on the passive voice. For whatever reason, attorneys seem to suffer a special plague of passive-voice writing. In other words, they write about things being done by people, not people doing things.

For example, a lot of attorneys tend to write like this:

A lawsuit was filed by the plaintiff. (passive)

Instead of writing like this:

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit. (active)

I could go into all sorts of speculation as to why this is — perhaps they think it sounds authoritative or scholarly? — but that’s really not important here. What you do need to know is that the passive voice is the opposite of powerful, conversion-oriented writing: it creates a bleak world of people being driven by their actions instead of an exciting one of people making choices.

Don’t just take it from me, either. In his memoir and writers’ manual On Writing, best-selling author Stephen King devoted a special section to waking up writers who stay stuck in the passive voice. With 350 million books and untold millions of movie tickets sold from his work, King probably knows a thing or two about creating content that converts.

“The timid fellow writes ‘The meeting will be held at seven o’clock’ because that somehow says to him, ‘Put it this way and people will believe you really know,’” King writes. “Purge this quisling thought! Don’t be a muggle! Throw back your shoulders, stick out your chin, and put that meeting in charge! Write ‘The meeting’s at seven.’ There, by God! Don’t you feel better?”

4. Use Jargon Sparingly

Legal jargon is a double-edged sword for an attorney’s or law firm’s blog: Cut it out completely and you risk seeming unprofessional — people expect a certain amount of learnedness from their attorney, after all. On the other hand, too much legalese can choke a blog like waist-high weeds, making it look boring, ugly, and intimidating to an average person.

One good rule of thumb that can help you figure out where to cut down on jargon is to ask yourself: “Can I replace this term to a reasonable degree of accuracy and with relative ease by using everyday language?”

For example, here are a few terms that could be considered “legal jargon” that you’ll find in frequent use on the legal blogs we create for our clients. Sometimes we’ll define these terms in a piece of content if we think it’s needed, but other times we assume the reader can figure them in context or look them up.

Either way, these terms put fairly complex concepts into concise terms, and explaining them through plainspoken language often ends up creating wordier sentences and bogging down written content.

Litigation > the process of taking legal action, conduct of a lawsuit
Negligence > failure to exercise reasonable care
Lien > debt-related claim against property/funds
Damages > the amount of loss suffered that can be recovered in a lawsuit
Liability > responsibility for damages

On the other hands, here are some examples of jargon that you won’t generally find in our work. We avoid these terms because the average person won’t immediately understand them, and because the core concept can easily be explained with a few everyday words — at least to a degree that’s precise enough for an informative article (remember, your legal blog doesn’t have to hold up in court!).

Tort > harmful act
Tortfeasor > wrongdoer, defendant, negligent person
Litigant > plaintiff, defendant
Continuance > postponement, delay
Disclaim > deny

And while we’re on the topic of legal jargon, remember that to a general audience, every phrase in Latin pretty much translates to the same thing: “stop reading now.” Latin may live on in legal documents, but it’s better left in the dustbin when you’re blogging for the general public.

LaFleur Legal Marketing

Of course, these tips are just the beginning when it comes to creating content that drives conversions, and even if you do apply them, it takes time and care to do it right. If you’re ready to create leads and conversions through better content but don’t have the time or in-house resources to maintain your own blog, contact the legal content professionals at LaFleur today by calling (888) 222-1512 or completing the brief form on this page.

We’re ready to show you just how much a full-service legal marketing partner can do for your business.

References:

Bulik, M. (2016, June 13). Which headlines attract most readers? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/13/insider/which-headlines-attract-most-readers.html
Hangen, N. (n.d.). David Ogilvy’s 7 tips for writing copy that sells. KissMetrics. Retrieved from https://blog.kissmetrics.com/david-ogilvy/

King, S. (2000). On writing: A memoir of the craft (pp. 122-124). New York: Simon and Schuster.

Lee, K. (2014, February 7). 189 powerful words that convert: write copy that gets your customer’s attention every time. Buffer Social. Retrieved from https://blog.bufferapp.com/words-and-phrases-that-convert-ultimate-list

Mawhinney, J. (2016, January 13). 37 visual content marketing statistics you should know in 2016. HubSpot. Retrieved from http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy#sm.0000zr0qyzndudgrwhm1j8n92bg55

Manjoo, F. (2013, June 6). You won’t finish this article. Slate. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2013/06/how_people_read_online_why_you_won_t_finish_this_article.html

Saleh, K. (2016, June 5). 13 surprisingly effective tips for conversion-oriented content. Content Marketing Institute. Retrieved from http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/06/tips-conversion-content/

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