Over 90 percent of small law firms are now using online campaigns of some type as part of their overall marketing strategy. That means that if you're not already familiar with the basics of how to start an online campaign, there's no better time to learn than right now. The world of online campaigns is significantly different than it was just a few years ago, so even if you think that you know everything there is to know, you'll want to read this guide. You may be surprised at recent changes—some types of online campaigns that used to be successful are now considered off-limits for most businesses.
Online Campaign Basics: Who, What, Where, When, Why
Before you get started on creating online campaigns, you need to figure out what your goals are. Without goals, it will be difficult to develop advertising that actually meets your needs and it will be easier to be distracted by trends and fads that won't really fit your mission or your business needs. Start by thinking about the 5 W's: who, what, where, when, and why. Only after you've got these down should you start contemplating the “how.”
Who will be reading this online campaign? Some online campaigns are targeted at consumers, while others may be targeted at fellow attorneys in order to build a base for client referrals.
What do you want your marketing campaign to express? Is your online campaign about your law firm's longevity, or its creativity? Its experience, or its innovation? Only you can decide what you want your online campaigns to say about you.
Where do most of your clients come from, and where do those clients go on the web? Online campaigns are only effective when your online marketing materials are displayed to people who are ready to seek out legal services.
When do you want your new business to start flowing in? Some online campaigns, particularly those using free techniques, take quite a long time to really show results. If you need a quick infusion of new business, your online campaign may need to use pay per click advertising instead.
Why are you starting an online campaign? What are the goals you have for your online campaigns? Are you hoping to see a 2 percent rise in new business? 10 percent? Keeping your goals in mind will help you when it comes time to budget.
Incorporating Social in Your Online Campaign
In 2007, you wouldn't have been very likely to incorporate social media into your online campaigns unless you were ahead of the curve. But in 2012 and 2013, it's impossible to have a truly comprehensive online campaign without paying at least some attention to major social networks.
Get familiar with LinkedIn, because it's the social network that most attorneys already belong to. But also work on learning more about Facebook and Twitter, which are two social networks that are more consumer focused. These networks can help you build your brand presence online and interact with members of the public in ways that you wouldn't have been able to just a few years ago.
Monitoring social media for mentions of your firm or your online campaigns should also be part of your plan. If your online campaign is bombing, you need to know quickly. Social media can help be a great early warning system helping you to identify when your online campaigns are offensive or just not particularly good.
Using Video in Your Online Campaign
Online marketing campaigns for lawyers should also incorporate video and direct consumers to video answers for questions and concerns. The reason for this is that many consumers feel hesitant to ask questions of attorneys, but also feel uncomfortable reading an answer that may have jargon or technical terms. By answering questions carefully through video and explaining any potentially unfamiliar terms, you make it much easier for people to understand their legal situation—and make it more likely that they'll come to you for more specific legal advice and representation.
Target the Right People
Don't make the mistake of advertising as broadly as possible in your area and hoping that you'll get clicks only from people ready to make a call to your office. The truth is that it's very likely you'll waste money unless you're targeting people who are already likely to be part of your likely client base. You can identify the demographics you should target in your online campaigns by doing a survey of your existing client base. This will help you determine which websites typically attract consumers at the age and income level that your office specializes in.
Deploying Your Online Campaign
As you deploy your online campaigns, make sure you keep ad fatigue in mind. Ad fatigue sets in after just a few impressions, so make sure that you're changing the copy of your ads on a daily or near daily basis. You should also change the images that you're using with your advertisements. Make sure that the ads you're displaying have a clear call to action, because this is one of the key rules for making people click on your online campaign. Online campaigns without a call to action tend to have very low click through and conversion rates.
Analyzing and Changing Your Online Campaign
After you've had advertisements running for several weeks, it's time to analyze your various online campaigns to see which ones are working best and which ones are underperforming. Ditch underperforming campaigns as quickly as possible, and when you see something in common between several different campaigns that are working, consider making it part of the standard in your advertisements from now on.
You should also keep an eye on any feedback you receive about your advertisements. Even if the feedback is negative, this is good—it shows people are noticing and it gives you an opportunity to improve. Be responsive and apologetic if you have caused offense with your online campaigns—trying to deny responsibility is likely to lead to a public relations problem.