Essential Legal Marketing Tips from the Suffolk University Law School Conference

Super marketing conference III Suffolk

The official name for the conference was The Super Marketing Conference III: Accelerate Your Marketing and took place on May 16, 2013.

Suffolk university law marketing conference

Yesterday I attended a great local law marketing conference at Suffolk University. Interestingly, just like at the Legal Marketing Association conference in Las Vegas recently, this conference was jam-packed with information on how to do content marketing. I found it interesting that there was very little talk of paid search advertising. As I have stated, we have seen a tremendous amount of leads come from paid search for law firms, but at the same time, there is nothing like free love from Google and social media sites.

The conference kicked off with a fantastic keynote by Mark Britton of AVVO. I could’ve left after his talk and been satisfied with the conference.

Super marketing conference III SuffolkThis is what Mark said in a nutshell:

10 Opportunities Lawyers Miss in Online Marketing

#1 You are not strategic enough.

You need to identify your target audience, time you will put in, budget, and what channels you will use, and create a marketing calendar. You can’t afford to blame your haphazard marketing on being too busy and focusing on billable hours.

#2 You’re losing clients to Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer.

They are eating lawyers’ lunch in the entry-level market, did $156 million last year, would be 163 on Am Law, and do hundreds of thousands of transactions. Their sales pitch also plays on making you look bad by calling you arrogant and expensive.

#3 Capture leads through inbound marketing and upsell them.

You need to engage in conversations as a real person, identify freebies like e-books, blog posts, and webinars/speaking engagements, and insert your content into the online conversation.

While you certainly don’t need to put prices up for everything you do, adding some limited pricing for some of the more basic needs can help you close deals with customers surfing for a lawyer online. An example is how Cavanaugh Law put pricing on their immigration attorney fees page:

Put up pricing table law firms example

Picture taken from here.

Once you close a deal from a customer online, you can start to upsell them. This is made easier if you use a CRM system like Salesforce or Avvo Ignite because you have the complete customer information, in addition to their lead source and their customer purchase history, and the ability to set reminders to follow up with them in one database.

#4 Leveraging ratings, ranks, and reviews.

Be aware of the many channels by which you get reviewed and take action. Mark says, “Don’t be shy about asking for reviews.”

Law Firm Ratings:

Avvo (Huge), Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Martindale (Struggling)

Law Firm Rankings:

Washington Top Lawyers, Top Business Lawyers, South Jersey Lawyer list, etc.

Law Firm Reviews:

Google, Bing, Yelp, Lawyer Ratings

Mark said that a lot of lawyers are hoping this trend will pass of being rated and reviewed, but it won’t. Google yourself to see what people are saying about you and set up Google alerts on your brand name. Engage with reviewers to say thank you for positive reviews and/or ask for an offline conversation to show them that you care enough to talk with them about any issue they might have had. Apologizing and offering to help can turn negative reviews into an opportunity to win customers over, so don’t be scared of them. It’s also important to have some negative reviews because if they are all positive, it looks sketchy.

Pick a platform that you are going to send people to from your website – could be your Avvo, Yelp, or Google review list – and be proud to send people there.

In a search for your firm name, it’s almost impossible to not be connected to reviews, as can be seen by a search for Breakstone, White & Gluck (lots of positive stuff – nice work, BWG).

Get reviews for your law firm

#5 Optimizing websites.

Nine out of 10 times your website is your core web presence (CWP). Therefore it is essential that you do at least the basics of search engine optimization to it, including making more pages for practice areas and blogging, etc. Also optimize for conversions. There are too many boring law firm websites with boring grays, blacks, and browns, and no clear call to action or information about what they do. Your number-one call to action should be how to contact you. And absolutely optimize for mobile using responsive design, as more people will be viewing websites on tablets and mobile phones than on desktops in the very near future.

#6 Optimize your “satellites” for conversion as well.

Your social media profiles, microsites, and other parts of your web presence outside of your main website should also be optimized for conversion. People often complain that they’ve never gotten a sale from social media, but it’s all too common that those profiles don’t have some kind of action item to go along with the free shareable content.

Below is an example of a Twitter description that includes a clear phone number and website link.

Example lawyer Twitter profile

#7 Response times. in a 2012 study found that after five to 15 minutes, if you don’t respond to leads, the desire to work with you goes to nearly zero. The absolute best way to get back to people is in the first five minutes because there is a 10x decrease in the value of the lead otherwise. I have been saying for years that you should get back to people at least within one hour, but this new study gives an even greater emphasis on response time. Not that anyone can be perfect, but you have to take steps to set the bar higher because you are losing and wasting a lot of money to get web leads if you don’t pick up the pace.

#8 Local optimization.

Local optimization is absolutely critical. Google actually tried to buy Yelp but failed. Some important local sites are as follows: Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Yellow Pages, White Pages, Super Media, and Yellow Book. Pay to get in when necessary.

  • Make sure your website is optimized for geographically related keywords.
  • Optimize your social profiles for local as well.
  • Submit to local directories.
  • Make sure your website is optimized for mobile via responsive and you’ll have better luck with mobile SEO.

#9 Google+.

Too many law firms are ignoring Google+, and that’s a bad decision. While it may never take over the reign of Facebook, it is connected to your ability to rank locally and gain Google author authority. Google also biases search results for people that are logged into Google based on Google+ activity, and in the future it may go further than that. Don’t leave it to chance and get serious about Google+ for your law firm.

#10 Tracking and Measuring ROI.

Mark said that if you are not building funnels to track where your leads are coming from, which ones are converting into great sales, and using that information to improve your marketing, you will get crushed by your competition. Mark used an example of his days at Expedia and said that started to beat Expedia in terms of analytics and it became a real problem for them. Mark says the exact same type of thing is happening in the law firm marketing space. Some law firms are excelling at tracking and reporting while others are completely lost and barely have the Google analytics tracking code installed. Make sure you are tracking not only your form submissions leads but phone leads, and ideally live chat as well.

After the keynote was a great talk on content marketing and numerous other insightful presentations during the day. I’ll do another recap soon on some of the great points about content marketing, SEO, and video, etc.

What is your big takeaway from this summary to help your law firm stay competitive?

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