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While plans roll out easing some of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, it will be a while before Australian law firms can fully engage in traditional marketing activities like face-to-face networking, social events, and seminars. Uncertainty is inevitable, but no matter how the situation evolves, law firms cannot afford to stand still when it comes to their online marketing efforts to move through, and beyond, the effects of COVID-19.

Why law firms need to think about online marketing now

Despite the impact that COVID-19 has had on individuals and businesses, when it comes to your law firm’s marketing efforts, it is worth considering these important points:

Everyone has been affected

Although the playing field may not be entirely equal, all law firms have been affected in some way. Now is not the time to take your online bat and ball elsewhere. In fact, the opposite is true. You need to reassure your clients that you are there for the long-haul – to educate and serve them and to protect their legal interests.

Legal services are still needed

People, families, and businesses still need legal services. The impact of COVID-19 will continue to be felt for a long time. Individuals will need help navigating employment issues and advice about contractual obligations that may now be difficult to fulfil. Businesses will need to negotiate commercial leasing arrangements or may face insolvency issues. People with existing or pending compensation claims will need advice and guidance. The Australian Consumer Law will be tried and tested, couples will continue to separate, and crimes will still be committed.

Many businesses will resume, survive, and thrive, and people who have been reinstated or found new work will eventually start buying property or taking on a new business venture. For some, the financial effects of COVID-19 may have been minimal and are already returning to a ‘business as usual’ mode.

Searches for law firms are online

Now, more than ever, people are searching online for a law firm to provide the advice and legal services they need. During isolation, people spent more hours than ever before online, a trend that is unlikely to change. While intermediate users of technology were honing their skills in Zoom and the like, amateurs were discovering the wonders of a Google search to find exactly what they were looking for.

How are you letting your clients and potential clients know you are there for them?

If you don’t have an online marketing strategy moving forward, now is the time to prepare one. Consider the following.

Refresh your website

The presentation of your website matters immensely. It should be contemporary, functional and reflect your unique brand and values. If your website is still showing images of staff that moved on three years ago, or the last time you posted something on your blog was in 2017, then it’s time for some TLC.

Don’t have a blog or news page?

If you don’t have a blog or news section on your website, then you’re missing out on an opportunity to share important content and updates with clients and referrers. When you post to your blog, you can share links encouraging visitors back to your website to find out more about you and the services you offer. Website traffic is also good for search engines.

Talk to your website provider about adding a news or blog page to your website and start writing, posting and sharing links to get maximum benefit from your content.

Make sure your website is hospitable

Like a good host, your website home page should welcome and greet visitors and guests, introduce who you are and what you do, and let your visitors know where to find important information. Navigation should be practical and purposeful. Outdated content should be updated or removed, and broken links fixed. Staff profiles and areas of practice should be updated, and new images added.

Add alert bars and landing pages

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many law firms introduced alert bars or dedicated landing pages and can now vouch for their utility as a marketing tool moving forward.

Alert bars sit across the top of the navigation on your website and can be used to announce important messages such as changes to business operations (i.e. remote working, availability of teleconferences or videoconferencing), office relocation, additional services and to advertise special promotions, online seminars, or events.

Landing pages are ideal for containing regular updates and information related to a particular or special topic of interest, attracting a segmented audience. A COVID-19 landing page is a perfect example, however landing pages can be used for various purposes – they can target specific industries and track updates to legislation and regulations that affect that group and contain useful links to external resources.

Create fresh content and communicate regularly

Whether you describe content as King, Queen, or something in between, your website needs it. Google loves new, quality content and content rich websites keep your visitors there longer while building trust and rapport.

What type of content?

Your clients and website visitors need current information that is helpful, addresses a pain point, and provides a solution, or points them in the right direction to find one (i.e. your call to action, invitation to call or download an e-book for more information).

Law firms should continue providing timely updates to clients and potential clients. Content should focus not only on COVID-19 issues but other important legal areas. Balance is key – while the impact and ongoing repercussions of COVID-19 cannot be ignored, many of your website visitors may be looking for industry-specific updates, or fresh information on other topics or areas of law.

Content can be in the form of blogs and news articles, updates and alerts, e-books and guides, webinars and podcasts. Smart law firms are taking time now to develop a content calendar scheduling the publication of content across key topics and areas of law and updates over the coming months.

This is also a good time to remove old posts or re-purpose stale content into something current and useful to your audience.

Use email marketing so your content reaches ‘the world at large’

Email marketing is a core element in your inbound marketing strategy and helps law firms build trusted online relationships with their audience and convert leads into clients.

Email marketing involves creating content, publishing that content to your website, then letting people know about it. You can do this by sending regular newsletters or occasional special purpose alerts to your contacts. Our recent article Supercharge your law firm blog posts with a newsletter explains how to get mileage out of your law firm blog posts by communicating regularly with your clients and referrers through email newsletters.

Update social media platforms

Social media marketing through platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook complement your overall marketing efforts by connecting and building relationships with clients and referrers and increasing your brand awareness.

You can use social media to share content and updates and drive traffic back to your website. When using social media, your professionalism and unique brand should be reflected across all channels.

If you’re new to LinkedIn, you can read our article LinkedIn: what does your profile say? about creating a profile.

If you are already on LinkedIn, this is an excellent time to tweak your profile, add new skills and experiences, update images, share links and contribute to discussions.

A Facebook business page is also invaluable for sharing content and connecting with your audience. You can share legal articles and important updates, invitations to seminars and webinars, as well as ‘firm’ news and photos about charities and special events, bringing a human element to your presence.

Key to your successful social media presence is engaging regularly with your audience and keeping content fresh and updated.

Search Engine Optimisation – for starters

Good SEO strategies take time and effort, and while there is no one-size-fits-all solution, you can carry out a few tweaks to improve your SEO. Below are three low-cost tips to get you started.

Optimise titles and headings

Label website pages and posts accurately so they are easy to find by search engines and help website users identify what the content is about.

Identify and use keywords (words that describe the content and help search engines with indexing) and use them at the beginning of the content and in your titles.

Optimise meta tags

Optimise meta tags on your law firm website for search. Meta tags are snippets that summarise the content for each of your web pages. They should be between 150 and 160 characters and contain keywords that visitors will typically search for and a unique description about the page.

Check your page loading speed

Page load speed is important for SEO rankings and website user experience.

Many factors that affect page loading speed are highly technical, but some are relatively easy to fix. You can check your load speed and get recommendations about improving performance by using Google’s free tool – PageSpeed Insights.

No matter how the playing field changes, dedicating time and effort in developing an online marketing strategy now will help you stay front and centre of your clients and referrers through difficult times and beyond.

If you need assistance with any aspect of your online marketing or just want some advice on how to get started, call us for a no obligation discussion. We help lawyers and law firms right across Australia, small and large, with their marketing needs. Email [email protected] or call 0407 018 109.

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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