Internet marketing is a broad landscape - one that is unchartered territory for many, if not most attorneys. However, as more and more potential business clients research their legal questions online, they find attorneys through their websites, on directory sites, through legal content aggregators such as Lexology Navigator or through social media. It's an undeniable fact that in today's highly competitive legal market, any law practice that wants to attract new clients must have a strong online presence.
Without a strong online presence, a firm will fail to reach a sizeable audience of potential clients, virtually handing them over to competitors on a silver platter.
"Oh, come now," you may say (or the partners in your firm may say, if you are their new marketing manager); "we built this firm on our standing in the community and the strong relationships that we have formed with our clients through the years. We are listed in several online directories and we've done radio ads - isn't that enough?"
Not only is it not enough; unless you make substantial, ongoing efforts to forge your online presence, you risk being swallowed up by savvy competitors which have learned how to harness the power of the Internet to establish a following and a strong reputation. The truth is that you simply cannot rely solely on traditional methods of marketing your law firm if you want to remain competitive and relevant in today's business world.
What is online marketing?
Online marketing (or internet marketing, as it's also called) is a diverse and evolving set of techniques that use the Internet to reach a specific, highly targeted audience. These techniques include content marketing, websites, blogs, search engine optimisation (SEO), social media, online video, email marketing, paid search and more.
These tools work best when used together because they build on each other. That's because the extent to which you rank highly in search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing depends in part on the number and quality of the sites and social networks that link to your website. For example, publishing educational content about your practice areas on your firm's blog and then sharing a link to your blog post on your Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile increases your exposure, builds your 'value' to the search engines and increases the likelihood that more people will read and share your blog post.
Another example of leveraging different online channels to build your online presence is posting your firm's videos on your YouTube channel and your LinkedIn company page, in addition to your website. This technique of capturing prospects' attention on one online channel and then leading them to additional channels strengthens your online presence, improves your SEO and helps to drive up your website's ranking for online searches on that specific topic. The phenomenon builds on itself because the higher you rank, the more traffic you drive; and the more traffic you drive, the higher your rankings.
For example, if you want to build your online presence as a subject-matter expert in real estate law, you may decide to write on that topic for Lexology Navigator, to showcase your unique perspective and expertise. Your content then attracts Navigator subscribers who search on terms related to that topic - the same subscribers who may also be looking to hire legal representation that specialises in real estate law. After reading your article, they are impressed by your knowledge and click through to your firm's website. Here, they spend time on your website watching your YouTube videos, skimming over your attorney profiles, reading about your specialty areas and checking out your blog. Then they conclude their visit by going to your contact page, where they fill out a form to request a phone call.
Through one post on Lexology Navigator, you have established yourself as an expert to a potential client, then received clicks on various pages of your website, blog and YouTube channel, thereby increasing the value of each in the eyes of Google and other search engines. This is the power of online marketing: this complex ecosystem can help your firm to achieve greater visibility and credibility.
Your online presence won't be established overnight; it takes time and careful nurturing. By focusing on web destinations where potential customers often visit, you can lay the groundwork for a solid online presence.