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What’s on Tap for 2017 In Digital Law Firm Marketing?

It’s the start of a new year—and the time for some reflection. During the coming days and weeks, your law firm should look back on your digital marketing efforts from 2016. What worked? What didn’t work?
Of course, you should also look ahead to 2017. You need to ask, “What can we do to stay ahead of our competition?” In the constantly changing world of digital marketing, you will need to keep pace with emerging trends. In this article, we discuss the latter.
As a company that concentrates on digital marketing for law firms, we want to share our thoughts on seven areas (in no particular order) that we believe your law firm should focus on as you embark on 2017. For additional information and resources beyond this post, please register for our free upcoming Webinar, “7 Resolutions for 2017 to Grow My Caseload From the Web.”

1. THINK MOBILE
Don’t look back: The future of digital marketing will focus on mobile device users.
During the coming year, you should expect to see a growing number of people use their smartphones and tablets to search for lawyers to help them with their legal needs, whether it involves a car accident claim, criminal charge, divorce or other matter.
A Google announcement in November 2016 drove this point home. In the announcement, Google Product Manager Doantam Phan wrote that the search engine “will eventually use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”
In December 2016, our own Marketing Consultant, Amanda Wiebke, described how law firms can stay on top of this trend by:

  • Using responsive site design
  • Focusing on PageSpeed
  • Ensuring content is mobile-friendly
  • Increasing local search visibility

In short: If you fail to make “mobile-first” a central focus of your digital marketing efforts in 2017, you could quickly fall behind the rest of the pack. This article by our Lead Senior Consultant, Grant Brott, explains the mobile-first changes you need to be aware of.

2. INCREASE YOUR SPEED
One of the offshoots of the shift to mobile-focused marketing is the need to cut down on the time it takes for your website’s pages to load for users. In March 2016, our Director of Strategy, JR Oakes, discussed how slow loading times can hurt your law firm’s digital marketing campaign in two major ways:

  • It can reduce your conversions.
  • It can lower your search rankings.

As JR pointed out, even a 1-second delay in response time can cause a 7 percent drop in conversions, according to Kissmetrics. Additionally, our own analysis across nearly 130,000 service industry-ranking URLs revealed a “strong correlation between your website’s load speed and rank in Google.”
Google uses PageSpeed Insights to measure how fast a website’s pages load for users. You can read more about the program here, including PageSpeed scores. As Google notes, “A higher score is better and a score of 85 or above indicates that the page is performing well.”
(We are proud to say that, due to the hard work of our team, all active Consultwebs client sites average 90-plus in Google PageSpeed Insights for both mobile and desktop sites, with a two-second average load time.)
As you head into 2017, we hope you give ample attention to your website’s PageSpeed.

3. GAIN POSITIVE ONLINE REVIEWS
The signs indicate that more people will use online reviews to make their decisions as consumers in 2017, including the decision of which lawyer to hire.
For example, 91 percent of the consumers who participated in a 2016 BrightLocal survey reported that they “now actively read online business reviews,” with 10.5 percent reading online reviews of attorneys.
Additionally, the BrightLocal survey revealed that:

  • 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
  • 74 percent trust a local business more based on positive reviews.
  • 73 percent believe that reviews which are three months or older lack relevance.
  • 59 percent look at two or three review sites before they make a decision about a business.
  • 54 percent will visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews.
  • 32 percent believe that reputation matters when choosing an attorney.

It will be crucial in 2017 for your law firm to actively generate positive online reviews across multiple platforms. In addition to social proof, online reviews will also factor into your
search rankings.
To learn more about what your firm can do to obtain these reviews, check out this recent article by our Director of Marketing, Mike Zellmer. You should also feel free to download our client reviews bundle.

4. GRAB USERS’ ATTENTION THROUGH VIDEO
You can expect the importance of video in your law firm’s digital marketing campaign to continue to grow in 2017 and in the years that follow.
As Cisco projects, the world’s “IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020, up from 70 percent in 2015.”
Make sure to read this excellent overview of how to make full use of video content in law firm marketing by our Social Media Strategist, Travis Haney.
In addition to posting recorded videos on your firm’s website and across other platforms, you should use live video to grab prospective clients’ attention and to promote your firm. Get started by reading about Facebook Live here.

5. REACH OUT TO YOUR COMMUNITY
In recent years, we have found that our clients’ digital marketing campaigns benefit greatly from reaching out to their communities.
Community outreach can lead to acquiring high-quality backlinks that boost your website’s search rankings. They also effectively promote your law firm’s brand.
Reaching out to your community can involve sponsoring a scholarship essay or video contest. It can also involve a social responsibility campaign such as the highly successful Fraternities4Family initiative that we organized for the family law firm of Charles R. Ullman & Associates in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Corrie Benfield, a member of our Content Team, provides a list of ideas that can get your law firm started on reaching out to your community in 2017.

6. PROVIDE IN-DEPTH, RELEVANT AND VISUALLY APPEALING CONTENT
Earlier this year, Kissmetrics reported on a study by serpIQ which revealed a strong connection between the length of a page’s content (in terms of word count) and its position in search rankings. In fact, the highest-ranked pages featured 2,000 words or more of content, according to the study.
In 2017, your law firm should move toward publishing long-form static content and blog articles on your website. The challenge will be to ensure that the content is well-written, informative and relevant. It should also be easy on a reader’s eyes.
You should strive to feature content that answers the questions that prospective clients commonly pose about their legal issues and your law firm’s services. (Pay attention to the fact that many searches today are conducted by people talking into their mobile devices.)
You can make the content visually appealing by blending in graphics, trust badges, testimonials and case results. You should also display the content in a conversion-oriented design that features eye-catching banners and prominent calls to action.

7. REFINE YOUR CLIENT INTAKE SYSTEM
The success of your law firm’s digital marketing campaign in 2017 may very well depend on what your law firm does after the campaign generates leads.
Katie Johnson, a member of our Marketing Consultants team, pointed out in a recent article that the intake process at a law firm can make or break a firm’s ability to sign a case and maximize its return on investment.
“Often, problems with intake aren’t for lack of caring—it’s more a matter of unrefined processes,” Johnson wrote.
During the coming year, evaluate what your firm is doing with its intake process and explore ways you can improve your ability to convert clicks to cases.

Guy Loranger

Guy Loranger is the Web Content Editor for Consultwebs.com. His role allows him to interact regularly with clients on developing website pages, press releases, blogs and other Web content that promotes their firm’s practice areas and enhances their search engine rankings. He is also Google Analytics IQ certified. www.consultwebs.com.

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Filed Under: Featured StoriesPersonal Development

About the Author: Guy Loranger is the Web Content Editor for Consultwebs.com. His role allows him to interact regularly with clients on developing website pages, press releases, blogs and other Web content that promotes their firm’s practice areas and enhances their search engine rankings. He is also Google Analytics IQ certified. www.consultwebs.com.

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