Thank you to everyone who joined me for my webinar last Thursday. As promised, I wanted to follow up with my list of Ten Tricks to Make Your Online Marketing Efforts Easier.
#1: Get Your Digital House in Order: Use an online password manager.
Let’s face it. It’s impossible to remember all your passwords. Invest a few hours to get all your passwords and logins set up in a secure password manager. If your rate is $200/hour and you spend 15 minutes a week searching for and resetting passwords, getting this information organized in 2016 can save you $2500 worth of time.
I use 1Password. I like that it has a browser extension and syncs across all devices. It will generate a unique password for you and stores other items like credit numbers and notes. Also, when you go to create a new login within the 1Password app, it populates suggestions of websites that you need to store. (See image below.) While you can try it for free, there is a $50 cost for the license after the trial period. But it’s a one-time fee, not a recurring cost like some other premium level password managers.
There are certainly other password managers, and free ones at that, available for you to use. PC Magazine recently posted this article on the Best Free Password Managers for 2016. It includes a helpful comparison chart. Check it out.
#2: Craft Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
You have 2.5 seconds to make a first impression online. Your website must clearly state who you help and how you help them – fast. The best way to do this is to craft your unique value proposition for the homepage of your website. UVPs are also helpful for your attorney bio and LinkedIn pages.
This is the article I referenced in my presentation. It covers what a good UVP is, what it is not, and a formula for writing yours. The formula includes a headline, subheadline or 2-3 sentence paragraph, 3 bullet points listing the key benefits of working with you, and a visual. Don’t underestimate the importance of a visual image in crafting your UVP. If it’s not you, the attorney, then what should it be? What style of photography communicates the image you want to portray? Good photography (or carefully selected, high-quality stock photography) is essential for an outstanding law firm website. It’s more difficult to execute on than you’d think.
I’d also add the importance of an immediate call to action on your homepage. What do you want the visitor to do? The call to action might be “Find an attorney” and one click would direct a visitor to your attorney landing page. You may also even want to install a search bar on the homepage so that people can get right to what they want. I am a fan of directing them with specific choices instead of the search bar. You don’t want a visitor to leave the page because they don’t know what search term to use.
#3: Identify Your Target Client: Persona Development
Google “persona development” and you’ll come up with a list of tools and articles available to help craft a persona for your target client. I like this list of 20 questions from Hubspot.
Two of the most important questions you can ask that will help guide your online marketing are: 1) What are my target client’s pain points? and 2) Where does he/she hang out online? The answers to these questions will guide your content development and distribution. Translated – you can write blog posts that address the pain points and share then on the social network (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) where your target client will be most likely to see them.
#4: Raise Your Visibility: Curate Content in 10 minutes a day.
So you don’t have time to create your own content? Well, at least you can join the conversation and start sharing. And then share other’s content (but not your direct competitor’s) that would be of interest to your target client. Check out my post on using content curation to stay in front of important contacts for a more in-depth overview.
I have three go-to tools for content curation. All three have apps for your phone, the ability to log in through the web, and browser extensions for easy sharing and saving of articles.
- Feedly: Feedly is a news aggregator application that you can customize with the blogs and news feeds that share content relevant to your target audience, and then easily share them with others. Feedly can be accessed through your web browser or the Feedly app. You can use Feedly for free, but I pay a few dollars a month for the Pro features. The Pro features I value are the ability to share articles via Buffer and save articles to Pocket. The Pro Features also state that you can share to LinkedIn with Pro. One catch with Feedly is that you can share to LinkedIn with Pro, but only via the web (if you are logged in to Feedly.com through your browser.) The Feedly app doesn’t allow sharing to LinkedIn via the app, but there is a work around using Buffer that I cover in this blog post. [Honorable mention: Flipboard.
- Buffer: Buffer is amazing. And I’ve covered setting up your Buffer account in the post here. Buffer allows you to schedule posts across social networks. There is plenty of power with the free version. One of the greatest Buffer features is your secret Buffer email address. Add it to your contacts and you can share articles from Flipboard and Feedly to a variety of social platforms. You can also track analytics on your posts like how many shares and clicks they receive.
- Pocket: Pocket is a helpful tool that allows you to save articles of interest to you. If am scanning through Feedly, Flipboard, or social media and come across an article that I want to either 1) read later; 2) share on social media; 3) write about in a blog post; or 4) use for an upcoming presentation, I will save it to Pocket. Once a day, I will scan through the articles I’ve saved, and read, share, delete, or tag the article for reference later.
As you share your own content, even other’s content, your contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook will begin associating your “brand” with the headlines they see next to your picture in social media. Even if they don’t read the articles you share, the headlines associated with your name and picture will have an impact!
One best practice that many people don’t take the time to do, but helps build your following on social media, is to tag the author by name, either by writing his or her name or using his/her Twitter handle. People appreciate you sharing their work, and will oftentimes like your posts, follow you back, publicly thank you for the share or some combination of those – all which increase your visibility.
#5: Blogging: Generating Ideas for Posts
During the webinar I discussed a few different ideas on what to blog about:
- Write down the 5-10 most frequently asked questions from prospective clients and use these as your first posts.
- Track down all your old PowerPoint presentations and articles. Repurpose those into shorter content that is more consumable on the web.
- Those pain points you identified for the persona you developed? Write about them.
- Write a follow-up post about something you learned at a conference you recently attended.
- Write about a recent update in the case law.
- Go back through the content you’ve curated on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook and write a post about an article you’ve shared.
I also mentioned that writing for the web is different than the way we learned to write in law school. My number one tip? Write your first draft and move your closing paragraph to the beginning. That’s where we finally get to the point as lawyers, and that’s what needs to be the opening of your article. You won’t keep readers’ attention until the end.
#6: Non-designer’s Guide to Creating Visual Content
Canva is the program that I mentioned easily allows you to create appealing visual content for your website, social media pages, or blog. One way to jump in and use Canva is to create the cover image for your firm’s Facebook page or the header image for your Twitter profile.
Much of the content is free – some images cost $1 to use but they are clearly marked. Small Business Trends published this helpful walkthrough of Canva a few months ago.
#7: Tools to Improve Your Online Writing
Writing for the web is pretty much the opposite of what everything we’ve been taught as lawyers. One tool I recently started using is the Hemingway App. It costs $9.99 to download to your computer or you can use the web application. Below is a screenshot of this article (up until this point) when I pasted it into the editor. The editor shows you the word count, readability score, sentences that are hard to read, VERY hard to read…you see the list. Not a bad investment for 10 bucks.
Another popular tool is Grammarly. I haven’t started using Grammarly yet, but will write about it when I do. If there are other tools that you have found helpful for writing for the web, share them in the comments below.
#8: Make Sure You are Mobile Friendly: Is Google Penalizing You?
In April 2015, Google began labeling website pages for mobile-friendliness and using it as a ranking signal. If the pages of your site are optimized for mobile, it will rank higher on searches from mobile devices. This is a page by page change, not site by site. You can read more from Google on this here.
To qualify as mobile-friendly, a website:
- Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
- Uses text that is readable without zooming
- Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
To test the mobile-friendliness of your site, enter your law firm’s URL in this tool available on Google’s site.
Hubspot published a good article on this update and how you can respond. The article discusses “Responsive Design.” Responsive design means the site will optimize viewing and interaction for the user regardless of the device: mobile, tablet, or desktop. This is Google’s #1 recommendation for mobile-friendliness because you aren’t creating two copies of the same site.
My belief is that responsive design is a required feature for websites today – for a developer to build a site that is not responsive would be a “malpractice” of sorts. Web development companies that charge more for responsive design, or use it as a big selling point on why you should hire them, raise a red flag for me.
#9: Installing Google Analytics: Track How Visitors Interact with Your Site
These next two points cover very basic information for lawyers just starting with analytics. There is much more detailed information available online, but it is beyond the scope of this article.
This article provides a good step-by-step walkthrough for setting up analytics on your website. It is important to check that Google Analytics is set up properly. I’ve talked to more than a few law firms whose web development vendors said it was set up properly only to find it wasn’t. Even if you have no desire to review analytics information at this point, still set it up so you can start collecting the data.
#10: Metrics that Matter: Beginner’s Guide to Measuring Success
One of the biggest challenges in getting started with digital marketing is understanding metrics, how you’ll measure success, what to change and when. The first metric to measure is content creation. As I mentioned in the webinar, it’s important to set up a consistent content creation calendar for your practice and stick to it. Whether it’s one blog post a week, or a monthly newsletter, set the goal and make it happen. Creating the content is the most difficult for lawyers and firms.
A side note on content creation: if your firm’s content creation responsibilities are divided among several lawyers, it is important to establish how everyone will be incentivized to and held accountable for doing their part. A good first step for larger firms who track their attorneys’ business development and marketing activities is to create a nonbillable number for content creation. If they can put it on their time sheet, it’s more likely to get done.
Conversions are another metric to track before even looking at Google Analytics. We talked about developing a comprehensive piece of content that people would be willing to trade their email to download. Or maybe you want to have a sign up for a newsletter on your site. If people aren’t signing up for what you are offering, you’ll want to change the format or wording of your call-to-action. Depending on how your forms are set up on your site, you can set it up to receive an email notification anytime someone fills out a form on your site.
One of the frustrating things for me when I was on the client side was when I would have a monthly metrics review of a website and my vendor would just read the Analytics Report to me. That doesn’t do you any good. Three of the metrics I started reviewing (and their definitions from Google Analytics) are:
- Bounce Rate: “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).”
- Pages/Session: “Pages/Session (Average Page Depth) is the average number of pages viewed during a session. Repeated views of a single page are counted.”
- Average Session Duration: “The average length of a session.”
Basically, I wanted to make sure they visitors were finding helpful content on the site and checking out different pages. Perhaps they visit a practice group page, but then see a blog post related to that practice on the page and click to read it. You can use a “related content widget” for your blog post pages that will provide them with other posts they might be interested in reading after they finish one post. (See below this post.) Attorney bio pages are the most visited pages on law firm websites so make sure your site visitors can find them easily from the home page and other pages.
Thanks again for joining me for the webinar. I hope that this follow-up information is helpful for you. I could write several blog posts on each of these ten topics, so let me know in the comments if you have particular questions I can answer. If you have any other questions about your website or online marketing efforts, don’t hesitate to reach out.