With over 1 billion users, Facebook is clearly a social media site that's here to stay for the foreseeable future. However, if you've got a limited law firm marketing budget (and who doesn't?), you need to know which other new online marketing methods are going to be around in the future and which ones have a short shelf life. In this guide, we'll take a look at the bandwagons that your law firm should consider jumping on. These methods all have tremendous applicability for most or all law firms, and can be expected to still be relevant for the foreseeable future.
Bandwagon #1: Quantitative Testing
For a long time, most law firm marketing and advertising depended not on quantitative A/B testing of different possibilities, but of what amounted to guessing with a good helping of talent and intuition. While the old way of doing marketing could work passably well, today, you can augment any talent with quantitative testing that will help you identify exactly when your marketing is bringing in clients.
Internet technology has made it easier than ever for businesses to learn what clients are responding to. Only a few decades ago, when advertisers wanted to see if consumers were reading, they'd have to include cut-out coupons to mail in. These were somewhat inconvenient and couldn't be used effectively by many types of businesses. Today, you can see exactly what ad made someone click on your website, and whether anyone clicking from that ad is actually calling pr emailing your firm to set up an appointment.
Bandwagon #2: Mobile Marketing
For the first time, in 2013 smartphone connections to the internet in the United States will actually exceed internet connections from desktop and laptop computers. This means that even if your firm hasn't been great about interacting with mobile clients in the past, today is the day to start changing that. As more and more people access the internet from their smartphones, it will become more difficult to stay competitive as a firm that is steadfastly against mobile marketing.
Begin your mobile marketing ventures by starting to make your content mobile friendly. Having smartphones redirect to a mobile website is a good idea. You should also make sure that any emails you plan to send are viewable not only on dekstop and laptop computers, but also smartphones with Android or iOS.
Bandwagon #3: Client-Responsive Websites
If your firm has several practice areas but someone came to your firm's website because of an advertisement for DUI defense services, you will be wasting your time telling them about all of your firm's other services. Having websites that actually are based on how your clients got there, and that change based on how your clients interact with them, are the wave of the future when it comes to legal marketing on the web.
This kind of website specialization might not yet be feasible for some smaller firms, but keep an eye out. As technology for creating client responsive sites improves, prices will drop, and you may be able to get the kind of site that will start converting 100-200% more viewers than the site you have today.
Bandwagon #4: The Rise of Agencies
Because online advertising and marketing is becoming increasingly important and, in some critical ways, increasingly complicated, more and more firms are considering having some or all of their marketing services outsourced to agencies. In fact, the number of online marketing and branding agencies has doubled in the last year alone.
If you're having a difficult time understanding how to position your brand in your local market, or you're just not seeing a way to find enough time to maintain your website and create new content marketing materials on a regular basis, you should consult with one of these agencies. They can help you to find a plan that will suit your firm's needs and budget, and that will provide the marketing assistance you need. Whether you need someone to update your Facebook wall from time to time or just want someone to manage your PPC advertising budget, agencies can help you with whatever you're having the most difficulty with.
Bandwagon #5: Locally Based Marketing
Because it's very likely that the vast majority of your law firm's clients come from a 20 mile radius, what good does it do your firm to advertise to many, many people who will never be able to come to your office for a consultation? Locally based marketing is a great way to save money over national marketing, all while making sure that you're targeting the potential clients who are most likely to convert.
Not all locally based marketing is actually online. For example, sponsoring local events or teams can seriously improve your reputation in your community. However, you should make sure that when you do locally based marketing in your community, you're also discussing it in your online marketing materials. You can also make sure that you're being listed in local directories, including any online listings offered by your local chamber of commerce or bar association.
While locally based marketing with tagging services like Foursquare and Gowalla seemed promising in 2011 and 2012, today it appears that these services have actually become significantly less popular in recent months. You should consider discontinuing your use of these services unless you're still seeing results from them. It's possible that in your city or neighborhood, Foursquare could be going strong. If so, keep up your use of it as long as it's still benefiting your firm.
Bandwagon #6: Relationship Building
Keep in mind that the real purpose of social media platforms isn't for you to use them as a bullhorn. It's to build longer-term relationships with clients in a way that isn't inconvenient in the same way that continuous phone or email contact can be. A brief post on Facebook linking to something and giving enough information about whether it will be interesting to click on won't offend anyone, as long as you're not making that kind of post more than once or twice a day and the content will genuinely interest a significant number of your friends or subscribers.