In the last issue of the Newsletter, I made a case for individual lawyers cutting back on use of social media. Let’s now consider some alternative marketing techniques to which firms’ social media budgets can be diverted, which may deliver more bang for the buck.
You may expect a copywriter to extol the virtues of blogs and articles, but website content is still the most important determining factor for search engine ranking. One well written blog carries far more weight than links from a dozen short tweets, and longer form content is generally a more effective tool of communication for complex subjects such as law. A few regular blogs each month can deliver tangible SEO results over time, but social media activity is unlikely to have much direct effect on Google rankings.
Yes, these may seem a little retro now, and companies became wary of using them post-GDPR, but the humble email newsletter is still one of the most effective ways of staying in touch with existing clients. There are around 4 billion email users compared to around 2.6 billion Facebook users. And because email is a standard format, you only need to run a single campaign, compared to multiple social media campaigns over different channels. Furthermore, emails can be customised so that salutations (eg Dear [CUSTOM NAME]) are personal – but social media posts cannot be personalised in this way.
Advertising and sponsorship
Although some firms have tried advertising on TV, this is not generally seen as an effective strategy. Local radio and press had been a more traditional channel, but these days the most effective advertising techniques for law firms tend to be online. Google Ads is one of the biggest targeted advertising channels currently available. Sure, Facebook Ads has more options in terms of micro-targeting, but pretty much all internet users are using Google search, whether they are on Facebook or not.
More traditional publishers such as niche online magazines can also be highly effective in terms of getting a message across to a specific audience, either in the form of traditional banner ads or through “advertorials” and “messages from our sponsor”. (We offer this of course at the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers: contact me or Nick to discuss sponsorship.)
Some firms also sponsor legal events in order to gain exposure; these have switched to sponsoring Zoom conferences since the start of lockdown.
This is more tricky post-Covid, but attending various events and organising “business breakfasts” often yields better results than online forms of marketing, as it involves face to face communication. Video calling – or possibly even virtual reality events – may need to suffice while the pandemic is ongoing, although this significantly reduces the ability to effectively network (ie there are no drinks and snacks after the talks – where the networking tends to take place).
In theory, since pubs are now open, an event could be held online and participants could then choose to meet up in a pub afterwards for the networking portion – but in practice the social distancing measures, fast changing situation of the pandemic and the level of risk means that it’s very unlikely an event organiser would encourage this.
Snail mail and telesales
Personally addressed postal marketing is becoming increasingly rare these days. It is expensive (compared to email) and perhaps not the most environmentally friendly method, but receiving a letter in the post which is personally addressed (and which is not demanding payment) has the advantage of being a novelty in 2020. Why not go one step further and write a letter by hand using good quality paper and envelopes to really make your marketing really stand out from the crowd?
Telesales is a more tricky proposition due to the sheer volume of scams and also because direct phone calls are now considered more of an intrusion than they were 20 years ago. Apparently one of the challenges to Covid Test and Trace is that many people refuse to answer the phone from an unknown number. However, if contact is made in another way first, a follow-up phone call can often be a useful tool in establishing a relationship with a potential client.
Although not marketing per se, spending some time analysing how traffic flows through a law firm’s website can help determine how to allocate marketing spend. For example, if certain blogs are bringing in the bulk of visitors then these can be expanded – or if there is a very high bounce rate then it may be necessary to improve calls to action. Sometimes there can be bottlenecks on websites which means that potential clients browse but don’t make contact; looking at the analytics data can help to figure out what is causing the bottlenecks and improve the conversion rate.
Alex Heshmaty is technology editor for the Newsletter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.