Competition in the legal sector is fiercer than ever, and trading conditions remain tough. Last year, the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) announced that over 600 firms ceased business in the UK.
In April 2019, the SRA also implemented its first ‘random web sweep’, selecting 500 law firm web sites to check for compliance with its transparency rules. 75% of these law firm websites were in breach of these regulations and whilst the SRA was lenient that first time, it has made it clear that, in future, any transgressions will meet with disciplinary action. And, as the Civil Liability Act which will affect firms handling injury cases comes into force, challenging times remain for the sector.
However, there’s lots that law firms can do to future proof their businesses, and one of the first places to start is by boosting their online presence and taking advantage of digital marketing techniques to help raise brand awareness and effectively capture online enquiries.
Today, we live in an age of reference, so it’ll come as no surprise to learn that nine out of 10 online searches for legal assistance begin online, with many consumers unwilling to make a buying decision before they’ve checked what customers have to say about different law firms. If you’re looking to boost your online presence, it can be difficult to know where to start, so here we share our top tips:
Website – Is it aesthetically pleasing and easy to read and navigate? Visitors to your website should be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, if they can’t, they might be tempted to leave. Think about having a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section on your website to help visitors quickly find the information they’re looking for. A good search facility on your website can also help visitors find the information they require quickly and efficiently.
Also, try and ensure your website is friendly and personable. Approaching a law firm for the first time can be a daunting experience for consumers, so try not to use too much jargon on your website and make sure information is explained in simple terms. It’s also worth including short profiles and head shots of key members of staff so they feel more approachable and ‘human’ to site visitors.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) – Converting existing website visitors into customers is just as important as attracting them to your website in the first place. There are numerous ways to boost CRO including emphasising links to important sections on the site, and using different prompts, button sizes and colours to work out which combinations will achieve a better click rate. Keep an eye on Google Analytics for full visibility over your website performance, that way you can see how any enhancements you make are contributing to CRO.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) - Considered to be a bit of a dark art by many, SEO is important as it can have a real impact on how your website performs in searches. However, getting it right isn’t as complicated as you might think. For example, an easy way to boost organic search rankings is to create regular, quality content such as blogs or company updates. Blogs should be short, original and appeal to your target audiences.
It’s also important to optimise use of your ‘keywords’ e.g. ‘personal injury’, but make sure they’re used naturally. Search engine algorithms aren’t easy to fool, and they will detect artificial attempts to shoehorn keywords into blogs or news announcements that don’t naturally fit. Also, try tagging pages and blogs so they’re categorised, enabling accurate site searches.
Pay Per Click (PPC) - PPC allows law firms to use specific search terms and keywords to target potential customers with key messages, paying a fee each time an ad is clicked on. It’s an extremely effective digital marketing tool but can be expensive to experiment with, so it’s well worth leaving it in the hands of a specialist agency.
Social media – It’s important to consider which channels your customers are likely to use most, but typically it will be Facebook and Twitter for consumers or LinkedIn for businesses. Once you’ve decided which platforms will work best to communicate your key messages, it’s important to then post regularly, ensure posts are interesting and engaging and not overly promotional.
However, if you want to be promotional, you can pay to target specific groups. Facebook, for example, already knows a lot of information about your audience e.g. their interests, location, age, gender etc. It’s a powerful audience profiling tool that can allow you to target audience groups. Be mindful however that costs can quickly mount up, so it’s important to set a firm budget for this activity and analyse any results to improve future targeting.
Instant messaging – Avoid losing visitors to your site by ensuring live chat is available to answer queries any time of day or night. Chatbots can help reduce the need for human conversation and help convert website visitors who visit your site late at night, or who simply don’t want to talk to a human. It can take a while for the Artificial Intelligence behind a chatbot to learn how to respond to prospects but once it does it’s an extremely beneficial tool to have on your website.
WhatsApp Business and Facebook Messenger are also useful tools to encourage new business enquiries and are particularly useful for people wanting to make contact with your business informally.
In such a competitive sector, the ease of use of your website and accessibility of information can make a big difference to your efforts to generate new business leads. Law firms have nothing to lose and everything to gain by boosting their digital marketing capabilities.
"Today, we live in an age of reference, so itll come as no surprise to learn that nine out of 10 online searches for legal assistance begin online."
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