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The key to your digital marketing is in your hand. Mobile phone usage now accounts for 51% of all time spent on digital media. Smartphones and tablets combined account for 69% of all time spent on digital media, according to comScore.
Today's digital marketing is happening on mobile devices. Viewing law firm marketing through this mobile lens makes decisions easier concerning SEO, content marketing, social media, podcasting, webinars, email outreach, blogging, video and downloadable content.
The Mobile Web
The average person spends 2 hours and 51 minutes per day on a mobile device, and 35% of smartphone users check their phone more than 50 times per day, according to AdWeek. This means that your most visible marketing initiative, your website, will be seen primarily on a 2½ by 5½-inch screen.
Check your site now on your cell phone. Does your website look like a giant document crushed down to an unreadable, tiny display? Worse yet, does it display a boring, boilerplate listing of practices, profiles, and addresses?
The optimum approach is to create a mobile moment for visitors. For a large-firm example, see Sidley.com, which has a 2:25-minute video intro, another about pro bono, and a story about its China practice. For a small-firm example, see Manzurilaw.com, a four-woman firm with a cannabis practice. Marketing by educating, the site explains the new California recreational marijuana law, marijuana crimes, and cannabis businesses licenses.
SEO and Content Marketing
72% of marketers say that relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic, and I'm one of them. The goal of SEO is to get your website to rank high in search results. The way to achieve this is with content.
Yet many law firms fall prey to SEO weasels, who claim quick results from on-site optimization and off-site link-building tactics. They use obsolete practices like sending press releases with the website address, violating Google rules by using content farms, getting devalued links from directories, contriving link trading offers, and fabricating performance reports. (For the definitive 11,000-word article on SEO, see www.lawlytics.com/seo)
That's why the only time I hear lawyers talk about SEO is when they complain that it isn't working or that it costs too much.
Smart law firms get SEO results by building their web content organically -- by uploading abundant, comprehensive answers to client questions. A good example is www.shouselaw.com, the site of California criminal defense attorneys whose website has a Crimes A-Z library, and a list of crimes by Code section. The site has 4,650 pages indexed by Google. It generates bountiful business for the law firm.
Blogging is another highly-effective approach. 53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority, according to Hubspot. And it's true that the more you blog, the more clients you get.
- 70% of companies that posted 2-3 blogs per week say they acquired a customer from their blog.
- Put another way, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got 4.5 times more leads than companies that published 0-4 posts per month.
Schmidt & Sethi, a five-lawyer personal injury firm in Tucson, AZ, has a frequently-updated blog covering everything from the Equifax data breach to fixing potholes at www.azinjurylaw.com/blog. The firm also has 2,240 pages on its website indexed by Google. As a result, the firm appears on the first page of Google search results for “insurance bad faith Tucson,” one of its key practice areas.
A vibrant blog will increase a law firm's visibility, bolster its reputation, and communicate the firm's expertise. Business-to-business buyers want content with input from thought leaders, and they'll read 3-5 pieces of content before contacting your firm. A current blog is the best way to deliver.
Many law firms have social marketing initiatives. These same firms also waste money in other ways, on charity event tables, advertising in college sports programs and buying ads in the yellow pages.
It's also true that mobile users waste a lot of time on Facebook unless they are sharing photos of their grandchildren.
However, social media ranks at the bottom of “most valued content created by law firms,” according to the Greentarget and Zeughauser Group survey of in-house corporate counsel. Only 4 percent of corporate clients pay attention to law firm tweets and Facebook updates.
If you need to be convinced, read Jayne Navarre's manifesto “Law firm social media is a waste of time, and here's why” at http://bit.ly/2therCV.
Webinars and podcasting
I'm a big fan of webinars, which are the digital equivalent of lunch-and-learn programs. They are excellent vehicles to get email addresses from engaged attendees. But it's a technology that's been around since the 1990s, and webinars don't display well on little mobile screens.
Only 13.5% of high-growth businesses have a significant investment in conducting webinars, according to the Hinge Research Institute.
The hot new trend is podcasting. One in four Americans has listened to at least one podcast in the past month, according to Edison Research -- up from 21% a year earlier. 69% of monthly listeners say they tune in on a mobile device, subscribing to one to five podcasts.
Part of the reason is that traditional radio is losing its audience, especially now that it is a toxic mix of advertising and classic rock. Today's listeners want on-demand content while driving or exercising. It's easy to play a podcast over a car's speakers or earbuds.
I personally enjoy the New York Times podcast “The Daily” and catch up on local politics in a podcast by reporters from the local newspaper. The best podcasts are not one-person broadcasts -- instead, there are regular shows that present an interview or a conversation.
Another advantage of podcasts is that they don't require a lot of production to create a high-quality recording. All an attorney needs is a studio microphone and Camtasia software. For inspiration, search for podcasts on iTunes or Google Play.
63% of B2B marketers say that email is the top channel for producing revenue gains in digital marketing, according to Demandwave. Research from Hinge and TEKsystems also bears this out. Most marketers use mass email blasts to stay in touch with clients and prospects.
Mobile fits into this initiative nicely: two-thirds of emails are read on either smartphones or tablets, according to Marketing Land.
Law firms should invite website visitors to give their email address in exchange for informative email updates. The idea is to start a relationship and nurture it, because a visitor may not be ready today to hire the firm.
To get that email address, attorneys must offer something useful in exchange. The best option is a downloadable e-book. People like educational e-books, and in fact, 61% of books now sold on Amazon.com are e-books.
An e-book can be a concise, highly-designed, 10-page PDF document. In exchange for an email address, Attorneygrossman.com offers a 23-page e-book, “Does every divorce need a shark?” at http://bit.ly/2xY51yE. Bellevuetrialattorney.com offers a 1,000-word e-book “7 Things You Need to Know Before You Choose a Personal Injury Attorney” at http://bit.ly/2vSQXG1.
Writing “drip” email campaigns is an art form, which begins with a friendly introduction, proceeds with messages with practical information, and gradually ramps up with stronger calls to action.
To turn a website into a business development machine, law firms can use marketing automation systems like Marketo, Salesforce, and Infusionsoft to automatically send a series of pre-written messages.
Mobile commerce makes up 30% of all U.S. e-commerce, according to Internet Retailer. Getting a piece of that business involves a mobile-friendly website, content building, frequent blogging, podcasting and email relationship-building. After you've contacted your ride via Uber and have answered your texts, take a minute to explore the web as your clients do. When they find your firm on their cell phone, make the visit worth their while.