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To assist your firm in planning for success for the year ahead, we have put together a New Year marketing checklist for law firms that ensures you can implement a marketing plan that not only attracts new clients but also retains existing clients and builds brand loyalty.

Your Law Firm Website

Not only is your law firm website your most essential marketing asset, it is also the online window to your practice and should embody the level of professionalism your legal practice aims to represent.

Often website designers allow their creativity to run away with them and pay too much attention to the aesthetic appeal of a website – to the detriment of user experience and functionality. Yes your legal practice website needs to be pleasing to the eye, but it’s important that you put yourself in your clients’ shoes when considering the look, feel and practicality of your website. The user experience will dictate whether a visitor stays on your site or abandons it.

Research conducted by Statistic Brain Research Institute shows that the average attention span of humans is 8 seconds. That’s all the time you have to make a first impression on your visitors and influence their decision to stay on your website, your website visitor must immediately feel that both the design and content on your website merits their time.

An online presence is not a set-and-forget approach, but rather an ongoing commitment from your law firm that requires nurturing and regular attention. Your website and blog are the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal and should be treated as such.

If you haven’t set up a website for your practice yet you are leaving money on the table, you should make this your priority. If you already have a website, you must always strive for better – better quality content, more engaging content, better quality images, video and audio, enhanced design features taking into account user experience, all the while improving your SEO results.

Client Communication

We’ve spoken many times before about communicating regularly with your clients and referrers through a professional, informative and high-value e-newsletter.

The power of regular client communication should never be under-estimated. In fact, according to research conducted by Gartner Group, “80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers”. You should be building a client database and ensuring you nurture a trusting, long term relationship with them through value added communication.

Customer loyalty requires a commitment to communication that motivates your clients to trust you. When a client trusts you, it becomes more difficult for them to switch their loyalty towards a competitor. Therefore, to garner the trust of your clients, you must be effective in proactive communication i.e. providing high quality information to them that they are interested in and look forward to receiving from you regularly.

Quality Content Creation

Creating high-quality content that appeals to the interests of your clients is a key ingredient for a successful online marketing strategy as it will invoke a connection that your clients will resonate with – thereby building an emotional rapport.

The bottom line is to create content for your audience – content that is of interest and value to them.

If your law firm has the time and skills in place, you could choose to create high-quality content yourself. Alternatively you could outsource your content creation to specialists whose core competency is to create high-appeal content. That being said, remember that one pillar of building customer loyalty is to provide reliable and engaging content that adds value to the lives of your customers. Therefore, you should only choose to outsource your content creation to a service provider that is experienced in the legal industry. This way, you can be confident that the information they create resonates with your audience.

Whichever option you choose, it’s imperative that you share quality content that is not lost in the noise of a content-saturated world.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is the process of optimising your website architecture and content such that your law firm website ranks as high as possible in the search engine results for your chosen keywords. The higher you rank, the greater the traffic that visits your website, the more prospective clients you will attract – the more revenue you will make.

The goal of search engines, in particular Google, is to provide searchers the answers they are looking for, as quickly as possible. Every year Google improves their algorithm to continuously improve upon their goal.

To boost SEO rankings and gain traffic to your law firm website, you need to have high-quality content that compels your audience to want to visit your website. Adding new up-to-date content to your website on a regular basis will make the search engines your friend. They love to crawl websites that regularly add fresh content and since quality content results in customer engagement too, you’ll be further rewarded with improved search engine results.

Marketing Database

No marketing checklist for law firms is complete without talking about your marketing database, if you’ve spent any time implementing online marketing it’s likely you’ve heard the phrase “the money is in the list”. The list being referred to is your client and referrer database and forms a fundamental basic for every law firm’s marketing plan. You can easily just start with a spreadsheet, depending on the functionality in your practice management system and there are various contact management systems available in the market today, ranging from cloud-based systems to software you can load on your internal network. Depending on the size of your law firm, a sophisticated solution is not necessarily a requirement.

As a minimum you need to capture a prospects first name, surname and email address as this gives you sufficient information to use the ‘personalisation tags’ feature in your email marketing software to personalise each email for the recipient.

According to Bain and Co, “a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%”. Now that’s an impressive reason alone as to why your law firm should be growing your marketing database at every feasible opportunity.

Social Media Presence

We’ve covered the importance of having a website presence and publishing regular high-quality content for your law firm blog and e-newsletter. It’s now necessary to promote this valuable content and one of the most effective means of doing this is through social media. You should consider the following:

  • Which social media channels are your potential and existing clients using – and use these
  • Research your audience on each social media platform you decide to engage with – understand their demographics and behaviour and create content that speaks their language and that resonates with them

Once you have set up your social accounts, content creation needs to be engaging and relevant to each audience. Depending on your social audiences, content placed on Facebook may not be relevant to your audience on LinkedIn. Or perhaps the content is relevant, but needs adapting for a better suited message. Furthermore, you need to plan a publishing schedule for each platform for the year ahead – and commit to this schedule.

Finally, you should be monitoring your social accounts and identifying those pieces of content that drive high engagement – and create more of a similar theme. You should also measure the effectiveness of publishing content on different days and at different times to identify the best time for maximum exposure and engagement. Also pay attention to comments made and ensure you respond accordingly.

In conclusion, whether your law firm is new to marketing or already a marketing aficionado and just needs a refresh or action plan – by implementing the elements of this New Year marketing checklist for law firms you will stand your practice in good stead for a structured approach to your marketing plan for the year to come.

Embrace the advantages technology has to offer, stand out from the crowd and make your customers feel valued and important – for the year ahead, and every year thereafter.

About the author
Peter Heazlewood

Peter Heazlewood

Peter Heazlewood is a management and marketing consultant, he specialises in helping law firms develop their practices using business planning marketing and performance reporting techniques refined in his own successful law firm. Peter lives in Sydney with his wife and is the father of five adult children.
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