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Influence Your Potential Clients’ Decisions Through Strategic Digital Marketing

Your Clients Use the Internet to Make Decisions

Legal prospects are increasingly reliant on the internet for information about law firms and legal services, which means your potential clients are already researching you online. But simply publishing a website isn’t enough to engage today’s more sophisticated audiences. You need a robust, multi-platform marketing strategy that is engaging, fosters brand loyalty, and tracks user data.

The statistics are stunning:

  • The internet is the top influencer in consumer decision-making
  • Facebook influences 52% of consumer’s online and offline purchases — more than any other social media platform
  • Between 2014 and 2016, LinkedIn content consumption increased by 21%
  • Half of people surveyed follow a brand on social media
  • Searches from mobile devices now surpass traditional computer-based searching
  • 88% or more of consumers rely on online reviews when they make decisions, and the same number of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation

From quickly looking up a phone number to carefully researching a product or service, nearly every consumer’s first touchpoint is the internet.

How People Encounter Your Law Firm Online

People are using the internet to find your firm, assess potential solutions to their specific needs, and read what others are saying. To attract your ideal clients, you need to maintain your online presence comprehensively and strategically, so you can put your best foot forward before prospects make contact.

The simple truth is that the vast majority of your prospects have used the internet to make their decision before they ever actually communicated with someone at your firm on the phone, via chat, through email, or in person.

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Legal Marketing Strategies That Are Cost-Effective and Simple to Implement

Many attorneys seem to be under the illusion that many (or even most) of their new clients come from word-of-mouth referrals. While this may have been true just a few years ago, it’s no longer the case. From 2005 to 2014, the percentage of people using the internet to find an attorney jumped from 7% to 38% while the percentage of people who asked a friend or relative dropped precipitously from 65% in 2005 to a mere 29% in 2014. And even those who do first learn of an attorney from a friend or relative will likely use the internet to find out more before they make contact.

When prospective clients use a search engine to learn more about a lawyer or firm, they do a lot more than just retrieve a phone number. Here’s the breakdown of consumer behavior after first learning of a firm:

user-behavior-breakdown

29.5% visited the firm’s website 

27.6% read the firm’s reviews on Google 

18.4% read reviews elsewhere on the internet

10.6% viewed the map to see where the firm was located 

4.1% looked at photos and the firm’s description on Google

9.8% call the firm first

  • 29.5% visited the firm’s website
  • 27.6% read the firm’s reviews on Google
  • 18.4% read reviews elsewhere on the internet
  • 10.6% viewed the map to see where the firm was located
  • 4.1% looked at photos and the firm’s description on Google

How many people first called the firm for more information? A mere 9.8%. In fact, over 90% of your future clients will check the internet first before they reach out.

Nearly half of all legal consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 go to the internet first to research an attorney or firm. For those between the ages of 35 and 44, 41% go straight to the internet. And aside from those age 65 and older, every age group favors using the internet over asking a friend or family member. There’s no intuitive leap required: the internet is only going to become more important as a means of attracting new clients for your law firm.

Take Control of Your Digital Marketing and Online Presence

The fact that so many attorneys, perhaps including your major competitors, are holding on to the belief that the internet is secondary when it comes to lead generation presents an opportunity to seize a competitive edge — and quickly. Yet attorneys remain among the lowest investors in marketing. The average marketing budget for law firms ranges from 2.4 to 2.8% of gross revenue, while the industry average for businesses with less than $250 million in revenue is 9.1%.

Of course, digital marketing usually only accounts for a fraction of that total marketing budget. In our experience, the digital marketing budgets of many firms often misallocated on ineffective strategies with minimal ROI.

RELATED ARTICLE: Bright, Shiny, and New: Interpreting and Utilizing the New Google Ads Interface and Functionality

When you invest in a strategic digital marketing approach, you can monopolize on an industry-wide misunderstanding — not only of how clients end up on a law firm’s doorstep but also of the importance of online marketing in a modern context.

Build an Immersive and Agile Client Journey

At LaFleur, we love focusing in on the client journey, which is the process that leads a casual user to a promising lead to a loyal client. While much of this process happens organically, establishing strong marketing and client experience strategies can encourage clients to contact and retain your firm.

RELATED EBOOK: Your Potential Client’s Journey: Building a Comprehensive Approach to Digital Marketing

A strategically-planned client journey builds trust and loyalty. Prospective clients get a clear picture of your law firm’s values and culture across multiple platforms — including your website, your social media feeds, and various review sites. And when they reach out by completing a digital form, leaving a comment on social, or calling your firm directly, your response should be prompt and consistent with your brand.

However, many law firms have a scattershot digital marketing strategy. They buy an ad here or there. They occasionally blog, but they’re not always sharing their work across their social media feeds. They haven’t segmented their email drip campaigns — nor do they know where to even begin

And while your clients and leads expect attentive service (both face-to-face and online) a lot of law firms aren’t meeting these expectations. 42% of law firms take three or more days to respond to an online contact form fill, and 26% don’t track their leads at all! This gives you a remarkable opportunity to embrace a modern marketing strategy and build a robust client base.

In 2015, McKinsey & Company outlined five core functions that ensure a digital marketing operation’s success:

1. Consumer Insight:

You need to track and understand your leads and clients by building a comprehensive data set that can help you tailor your marketing strategies to their unique needs.

2. Exceptional Customer Service:

From the very first stage of a client’s journey, you need to offer personalized and attentive service.

3. Measure Your Performance:

Set key performance indicators and monitor them carefully, test your marketing strategies, and respond quickly to poorly-performing assets.

4. Set Clear Policies and Procedures:

Make sure everyone understands how to implement new systems and how law firm staff should interact on digital platforms.

4. Adopt Innovative Marketing Technologies:

Implement powerful systems that help integrate your digital marketing platforms and create a cohesive client experience from start to finish.

The McKinsey report went on to note that companies typically excel when they have a digital marketing “center of excellence” — a team of professionals who help track personas, build effective client journeys, and distribute their messaging across multiple platforms.

LaFleur: Your Law Firm’s Marketing Partner

At LaFleur, we work alongside our clients, helping them build brilliant websites and intuitive client journeys. We can help you with your comprehensive marketing needs, including email automation, lead tracking, social media strategy, paid advertising, and content marketing — among others. Our skilled team can serve as your law firm’s marketing center of excellence and help you reduce your marketing costs per lead.

From attorneys who haven’t yet created a website to lawyers with misgivings about their current marketing agency, we have helped law firms across the country realign their marketing efforts with the reality of user behavior in the internet age. Using best practices and data-driven innovation, we can help you take your marketing efforts to the next level and produce tangible results from your digital marketing strategy.

Call LaFleur Legal Marketing today at (888) 222-1512 or complete our convenient online contact form to learn more! We look forward to hearing from you!

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References

2012 Digital Influence Index shows internet as leading influence in consumer purchasing choices. (2012, January 31). Fleishman Hillard. Retrieved from http://fleishmanhillard.com/2012/01/31/2012-digital-influence-index-shows-internet-as-leading-influence-in-consumer-purchasing-choices/

Anderson, M. (2014, July 7). 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Search Engine Land. Retrieved from http://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reviews-much-personal-recommendations-195803

Internet is now the most popular way to find and research a lawyer, says FindLaw survey. (2014, April 7). Thomson Reuters. Retrieved from http://thomsonreuters.com/en/press-releases/2014/internet-lawyer-search-survey.html

McCarthy, J. (2015, April 24). Facebook influences over half of shoppers says DigitasLBi’s Connected Commerce report. The Drum. Retrieved from https://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/04/24/facebook-influences-over-half-shoppers-says-digitaslbi-s-connected-commerce-report

McDonald, C. (2014, August 20). Get real with law firm marketing — 5 observations. Above the Law. Retrieved from http://abovethelaw.com/2014/08/get-real-with-law-firm-marketing-5-observations/?rf=1

Olenski, S. (2012, May 7). Are brands wielding more influence in social media than we thought? Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2012/05/07/are-brands-wielding-more-influence-in-social-media-than-we-thought/

Sterling, G. (2015, May 5). It’s official: Google says more searches now on mobile than on desktop. Search Engine Land. Retrieved from http://searchengineland.com/its-official-google-says-more-searches-now-on-mobile-than-on-desktop-220369

Tsakalakis, G. (2013, April 30). How do people find and hire attorneys? Lawyernomics. Retrieved from http://lawyernomics.avvo.com/legal-marketing/how-do-people-find-hire-attorneys.html

Zook, C. (2015, July 30). The one hundred most expensive keywords on Google [infographic]. WebpageFX. Retrieved from http://www.webpagefx.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/most-expensive-keywords-infographic.jpg

Two Crucial Reasons to Keep Your WordPress Site Updated

If You Have a Website, There’s a Good Chance It’s a WordPress Site

WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) out there. It is used by over 25% of websites across the globe and an even higher percentage of websites in the United States. To put that a different way, every month: 

  • 23.6 billion WordPress pages are viewed (by over 400 million people) 
  • Nearly 70 million new posts are created in WordPress 
  • 46.8 million new comments are posted on WordPress pages 

Here at LaFleur, we have built and managed sites on a variety of platforms — such as Expression Engine and Adobe Experience Manager — but most of the websites we build and manage for our clients are WordPress sites. From independent bloggers to major content providers like ForbesThe New Yorker, and the BBC, a huge variety of people and businesses use WordPress for their websites — and with good reason. 

RELATED: How to Get More High-Quality Website Traffic — Today 

The Benefits of Using WordPress

There are a wide variety of benefits associated with using WordPress as your CMS. Some of the major reasons we tend to favor it at LaFleur include: 

  • Affordability: Everyone knows you can get a website for free from a lot of different venues, so people tend to expect their website to be affordable. WordPress has a free version (though you’re still required to pay for hosting and other costs), but most people don’t want a site that looks identical to their competitors, so we prefer to customize our clients’ sites using a suite of tools that work with WordPress to create a unique design, a dynamic user experience, and pragmatic functionality that helps further the primary goals of our client. 
  • Scalability: Whether you are self-employed or have 500 employees, WordPress is a flexible, scalable platform that can suit the needs of many different sized businesses as well as many different types of businesses — from law firms to healthcare organizations and more. 
  • Ease of Use: WordPress has a very intuitive interface. Tasks that routinely need to occur on a website — like posting new blog articles — are easy to execute by people who don’t have a long history of working with websites. Most people can figure out how to create a new blog post by poking around a little. This is great for us because literally every person on our team can hop in and make a quick change if they notice that something needs to be updated. And it’s great for our clients because they can use it themselves (even if they decide to part ways). 
  • Customizability: Because WordPress is such a popular CMS, new features and integrations are coming out all the time. Some of these features are pushed out by WordPress themselves, while many, many others are created by individuals and companies to expand the capabilities of WordPress. With so many different widgets, plugins, themes, and tools available, WordPress is incredibly customizable and versatile. 

There are, of course, many other reasons that WordPress is a good choice for your CMS, but those are some of the most important.  

And even though we enjoy working with WordPress, we are also willing to remain platform-agnostic until we have completed an in-depth discovery session with a client to determine their specific needs and goals for their website. Although WordPress is often a good choice, sometimes it makes sense to use a different CMS. 

Every Website Needs to Be Updated — Much to Everyone’s Chagrin

Maybe you’ve had this experience before: You’ve been working on your phone, tablet, or computer when a message pops up on your screen that says you need to update. It seems to always happen at the worst possible time. While you can put it off, you might notice your device slowing down, doing weird things, or even crashing if you don’t update in a timely fashion. 

Well, the same situation exists for your website, regardless of what platform you’re on. There are some risks associated with updating your WordPress site. For example,  

  • An update can interfere with your site’s functionality 
  • An update can temporarily shut down your site at a bad time 
  • An update can crash your site (but that’s unlikely) 
  • You will need to spend time testing your site after an update to make sure everything is working properly and that the design has not been affected 

Despite these issues, the benefits of keeping your site updated far outweigh the risks. 

Below, we’ll discuss two of the most important reasons why you should keep your WordPress site up to date and why an “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach is not the right choice for managing your website. 

Reason #1 to Update Your Website: Security! Security! Security!

Along with weak (or compromised) passwords, outdated software is the easiest way hackers can manipulate your site. There’s no better way to lose trust and credibility with your clients and customers than having them see your site taken over by some prankster, but there are also many other security risks that exist by letting your site go stagnant. For example, what if the threat is less obvious? What if every time someone submits their confidential information on your site, it gets captured by another party without you knowing? 

Security should be your first priority, especially if you are collecting user data in any way on your website. If you don’t update your WordPress site, your security is at risk. It’s that simple. 

Reason #2 to Update Your Website: Ensuring Optimal Functionality

As you might have noticed with your phone or computer, you may still be able to use it without updating, but the longer you wait, the harder things get. Your device slows down. Sometimes programs won’t open properly. You may experience crashes more often. 

Similar symptoms exist when you go too long without updating your site, and they can have real consequences. Users today are incredibly impatient — 47% of users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less. If your site is slow, they will leave. Additionally, your site speed affects your rankings in search engines like Google, so if you have achieved great rankings (or are working toward them), keeping your site up to date is crucial for your success. 

RELATED: How to Improve SEO on Your Law Firm’s Website Today 

In addition to keeping your site function to users, updating your website also keeps it functional for you. New features come out all the time that make it easier to manage your website and offer new capabilities you can take advantage of. If you don’t update, you’re missing out. Similarly, updates roll out to fix bugs. So if something isn’t working properly already, an update can fix it.  

(Sidebar: I once went an entire year without a garage-door opener, ducking under the door and over the sensor whenever I needed to close it, so I understand the impulse to stick with a workaround. But you can trust me when I say that having things work as they are intended will save you time, energy, and sanity. Bugs are meant to be fixed — and garage doors are meant to be opened remotely.) 

While it is sometimes fun and interesting to figure out a workaround for a bug, you can save a lot of time and energy (not to mention your sanity) by using software that works as it is intended. 

LaFleur Keeps Your Website Up to Date — And More

For most people, keeping their website up to date is the worst kind of hassle because it feels unnecessary. It takes time to do it properly. It takes time to test your site after an update. It takes time to troubleshoot when things aren’t working right after an update. And what’s the one thing almost everyone is short on? Time. 

At LaFleur, we have a maintenance plan for all our clients that includes updating their website, themes, plugins, widgets, and more. This proactive approach helps our clients save time and money by avoiding the major pitfalls associated with update avoidance, such as site crashes and security breaches. 

We also include a few free hours of additional site work each month to adjust the little things that come up. Maybe a staff bio needs to be updated. Maybe you’ve won an award and want to get a badge implemented on your site to show it off. Maybe you want to change the verbiage somewhere or make a couple design tweaks. That’s great! We can help. 

We’re not here to bilk our clients for every billable minute of website work; we want them to have a fully functional website that they are proud of and that gets them the results they are looking for. 

If you’d like to talk about updating and managing your website — or if you need a new site built from the ground up — give us a call at (888) 222-1512. You can also fill out a convenient contact form, and we’ll get back to you right away. We look forward to hearing from you! 

And even if you’re not looking to hire someone to manage your website, please keep your site up to date! It may not seem important when everything is working fine, but everything always works fine right up until the moment it doesn’t, so be proactive and avoid the real headache of trying to get a broken site back up and running again! 

RELATED: The 10 Essential Elements Your Law Firm’s Website Needs 

References 

Munford, M. (2016, December 22). How WordPress ate the internet in 2016… And the world in 2017. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/montymunford/2016/12/22/how-wordpress-ate-the-internet-in-2016-and-the-world-in-2017/#446f9ec8199d  

Work, S. (2017). How loading time affects your bottom line. Kissmetrics. Retrieved from https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/