It’s fairly accepted in a modern law firm marketing environment that traditional marketing and promotional techniques will only get a firm so far. For many firms, markets are no longer restricted by ‘location’, meaning firms – via digital methods – are able to supply legal services anywhere in the world.
Operating in this environment law firm marketers have to continue with long term strategic plans. Law firm marketing has rarely ever been about creating immediate, emotional transactions – it’s about building reputation long term, demonstrating capabilities and showcasing credibility. But there has been a demographic shift. Law firm marketers need to be aware of the increasing numbers of ‘generation X & Y’s’ among their target audiences – generations that have grown up using the internet, with smart phones and search and social media being the norm.
These generations expect law firms to be deploying digital marketing as the norm.
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Many law firms are ‘doing digital’! Many firms are using digital effectively, and some are getting decent results. But many firms are still missing out on opportunities, or suffer from the common challenges that can plague professional service firms.
A digital strategy is essential before embarking upon any online marketing activity. A strategy helps you to identify and formalise who your online target audiences are, what they want to hear from you, what you want to say to them, how you intend to say it, how you are going to measure the effectiveness of your activities, and where you go next.
Using digital marketing without a strategy is however quite common. But without a digital strategy you have no direction – and you run the risk of spending your budget without the means of showing any return on your investment.
Many law firms suffer the same issues:
1) The digital marketers within professional service firms often lack a foundation understanding of law firm marketing.
2) Digital marketing is often reduced to a very tactical interpretation or extension of ‘communications’.
3) Often digital marketers within professional service firms focus on the digital technology or the platforms and not the ‘digital client behaviour’. As often consumer or client behaviours are borne out of the new technologies, it is their behaviours online that are more important.
Why a law firm needs a digital strategist
Some may think a ‘digital strategist’ is just a fancy title for someone who ‘does digital stuff’ and ‘looks after’ LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook for the firm. But it’s not. A digital strategist with solid digital marketing experienced gained in a professional services environment should help your firm do several things:
1) Help the firm create a long term vision and help communicate to the firm’s management the transformation needed for success
2) Define the high level goals to show how the firm will benefit from digital marketing
3) Align digital goals with the firm’s overall goals
4) Define the key performance indicators to ensure the firm is on the right track
5) Evaluate and communicate the digital marketing results
6) Continually optimise digital processes and performance
1. Help create and define your firm’s vision
A digital strategist can help your firm create a long term vision for digital marketing, and help communicate to the firm the transformation needed. A vision will help the firm establish where the focus of digital marketing, its investment and placement of its resources should be.
A digital strategist can help create your vision by:
1) Showing how digital marketing can transform your firm in terms of efficiencies and profitability
2) Showing where your firm should focus your resources and efforts by linking vision to specific goals
3) Inspiring the firm’s employees by detailing the future potential of digital marketing and communicate its strategic priority within the firm
A vision is important. This vision will ensure your firm has a consistent approach to digital marketing which will act as a keystone, a valuable point of reference, to ensure digital marketing helps grow the firm and support its audiences needs.
2. Define high level goals
A digital strategist provides the firm with focus in relation to its digital marketing activities by developing a robust digital marketing management system which helps the firm set, review and control performance across all of the firm’s digital marketing activities.
A digital marketing strategist will help define:
1) How digital marketing will contribute to sales, lead generation and business development
2) How digital marketing will enable the firm to engage with and get closer to its clients
3) How digital marketing ill increase client knowledge of the firm’s products and services
4) How digital marketing can save money through a reduction in traditional marketing spend or reduction in service costs
5) How digital marketing adds value to the firm’s brand online
3. Ensure digital goals are aligned to the firm’s objectives
A digital strategist should ensure the goals for digital marketing should not only support the marketing strategies, but also the firm’s overall goals and objectives.
A digital marketing strategist will be able to communicate to the management board:
1) How digital marketing contributes to the firm’s growth objectives (Growth)
2) How digital marketing will contribute to client retention objectives (Client retention)
3) How digital marketing will contribute to converting leads into new work (Conversion)
4) How digital marketing will contribute to client acquisition (Client acquisition)
4. Define the key performance indicators
A digital strategist is able to define the digital measurement frameworks to ensure the firm has focus. A digital strategist will:
1) Select the right key performance indicators for your firm
2) Ensure the key performance indicators are aligned to your firm’s objectives
3) Create and utilise human resources so that the right individuals are responsible for key performance indicators
4) Ensure the reporting mechanisms are fluid, clear and understandable by the firm’s management
5. Evaluate and communicate the results
A digital strategist will ensure that objectives and measures are tracked accurately, and communicated regularly for the management board. In my previous article post: Content marketing for professional services: Gaining senior buy-in I suggested that the best way to show returns is to break down the returns into primary, secondary and user metrics:
As primary metrics:
1) How is digital marketing driving business for us?
2) How is digital reducing costs?
3) How is digital retaining clients?
It’s these questions that primarily need answering.
As secondary supporting metrics:
1) How is digital improving lead quality?
2) How is digital increasing lead quantity?
3) How is digital making sales cycles shorter?
4) How is digital increasing client awareness?
5) How is digital increasing cross-selling opportunities?
6) How is digital driving positive client feedback?
There are also user metrics that help support the secondary indicators:
1) How is digital increasing web traffic?
2) How is digital increasing page views?
3) How is digital reducing bounce rates?
4) How is digital producing re-tweets or social shares?
5) How is digital increasing our search engine ranking?
6. Continually optimise digital processes and performance
The final building block of a digital strategist’s success is optimisation. This is about taking action on rich data and content to deliver the highest return on marketing spend for the firm and its efforts. A digital strategist will:
1) Try to do more with less
2) Understand what is working and is not
3) Identify which channels are falling short and which ones could do better
4) Continually reinforce and communicate digital’s contribution to the firm’s success
The overall objective of law firm marketing is to create a sustainable firm based on meeting a serviceable demand. The principles of a successful digital marketing strategy are to ensure value and quality is built, and to help the firm remove price as a differentiator.
Compelling digital propositions can be created to help the firm build upon its reputation, its expertise, adaptability, service and create added value.
Put simply, digital marketing works. By investing in ‘digital people’ with credible experience, firms can take the leap to becoming relevant and successful in a digital age.
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