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Posted by Nick Salloway on 19 May 2016

Learn which digital marketing activities your Legal Firm should be focusing on

With the legal sector becoming more competitive by the day it's not surprising that law firms are recognising the vital role which a well constructed digital strategy plays in helping to achieve their business development objectives.

A strategic approach to digital marketing will help them stand out in an increasingly crowded market, improve their brand and market positioning, and crucially place less emphasis on the need to compete on price alone.

By focusing marketing efforts on developing client-centric content law firms can become thought leaders by providing interesting, valuable, engaging content and knowledge to clients and prospects. 

All sounds great, doesn't it? But how does your law firm decide which digital marketing areas to focus on? Which tactics will bring the best return on your digital marketing investment?

Digital marketing focus for 2016

With so many different digital marketing options available, and new ones continuing to emerge every day the digital marketing landscape can appear to be pretty confusing.  

To help we've compiled a list, based on the latest research as well as our own extensive digital experience, of exactly what we think your legal firm needs to focus its digital marketing strategy on to maximise results.

Here are the first 5 of the 10 Most Important Digital Marketing Trends that we believe should inform your 2016 activity. Part two to follow in our next blog post;

1. Mobile Optimisation

Although this list isn’t in order of priority, our experience tells us that embracing a mobile-friendly philosophy is a priority for any law firm’s digital marketing strategy. The statistics are compelling with mobile searches (‘phones + tablets) out-performing desktop devices in many countries. Optimising your website and other relevant delivery platforms for mobile searches is no longer optional, it’s mandatory.  

One crucial decision to consider, is whether to opt for a standalone mobile site or responsive design? There are technical and user experience merits to both solutions and this in covered in one of our earlier blog posts if you would like to delve into further. In April 2015, Google announced that their search algorithm, the clever stuff that determines ranking of sites, was to change to ‘penalise’ non-friendly sites. This further supports the importance of mobile, particularly for law firms who rely heavily on local search results, where 95% of users search using their ‘phone.

2. Content Marketing

Research carried out by Econsultancy last year identified that content marketing is viewed as the most effective digital marketing discipline for law firms. The importance placed on content marketing by law firms as part of their digital marketing mix will only increase throughout 2016. Delivering relevant content is how law firms can clearly demonstrate competitive difference in service provision, build engagement with clients, and become a trusted brand.

Content marketing is all about having a keen understanding of the issues your potential (and existing) clients have and then writing about them in a, non-legal jargon, manner that encourages feedback, requests for more information, or other engagement. And, it’s not just words that work, visuals, video, and infographics can share your ideas and concepts in a highly engaging manner. In fact the more creative (not complicated) you can be with your content and its distribution, the more effective it’s likely to be.

Importantly, content marketing should be closely mapped to your potential client’s buying journey, with pieces strategically planned to align with their needs, and delivered to them in a highly targeted manner, via appropriate distribution channels such as social media, which leads nicely on to our third recommendation...

3. Social Media Strategy

On the back of the first two trends mentioned (mobile and content marketing) a strategic social media strategy is crucial.

Just as “having a website” is no longer enough for success (due to the need for ongoing search optimisation, measurement, refinement and regular updating to be effective), similarly, social media needs to be a strategic element of your overall digital marketing. You need to ask questions such as:

  • What are the most appropriate distribution methods for your valuable content?
  • Which social platforms should your law firm use? 
  • How will your posts create engagement through ‘conversation’? 
  • How can you ensure you are engaging with your audience and not simply broadcasting to them? 
  • Which channels are most appropriate for visually rich content? 

Instead of just focusing on well know platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, consider other options such as LinkedIn, SlideShare, YouTube, Pinterest, or, perhaps one of the new up and coming platforms like Blab, Storehouse, or Cyfe.

Ultimately, the key is to understanding exactly how your audience behaves in order to learn how best to reach them.  Our recommended approach would be to conduct audience research to identify exactly what social channels they use, what research tools do they turn to when making a decision?  By gaining this valuable insight into how your audience behaves and what topics they are interested in you can develop an informed strategic social media approach. 

4. Digital Analytics

All marketing activity has one ultimate aim; to generate additional business opportunities for your legal firm.

A clear benefit of a strategic digital marketing approach is the valuable reporting data available which is often not possible with traditional marketing methods.  This brings improved visibility of marketing return on investment (ROI) and significantly increases the measurability of your marketing activities.

Consider allocating time, resource and budget to three key areas in ratios appropriate to your overall strategy and objectives:

  • Data collection
  • Data reporting
  • Data analysis

The first two should, wherever possible be automated, but the third should be closely focused on by your marketing team.  The value to the success of your digital marketing strategy of analysing data, understanding the business implications, generating actionable insights, and implementing the changes demanded is huge.

In fact there’s only one thing worse than gathering data for the data’s sake, and that’s not gathering data at all. Useful and easily accessed data could include, website visits (unique and repeat visitors), time spent per page, length of sessions, social shares, blog subscribers, followers on social media, conversion rates etc.

Investing time in analysing this data will allow trends to be identified and action taken, the value of continous measurement and refinement of your digital marketing strategy can not be ignored. 

5. Marketing Automation

Another significant benefit that comes from a smart digital strategy is just how much of your activity can be automated. Email, social media, website visits, and many more interactions with clients and prospective clients can all have an automated element.

Let’s say someone visits your legal-blog and signs up for regular updates; automatically they could receive a personalised response from the managing partner, or a lawyer in a specific department. Depending on the client’s response, a series of automated ‘if-this-then-that’ (IFTT) follow-up can be triggered.

Automation is also useful for repetitive tasks, improving efficiency and minimising human errors. Using marketing automation is an ideal way to gather, report on, and analyse the effectiveness of a digital marketing campaign across a range of media.

If you would like more information on automated platforms then as a Hubspot Certified Partner we would recommend taking a look at Hubspot, an all-in-one marketing platform that helps businesses and organisations attract visitors, convert leads and close sales.

Next blog coming soon

We hope you've found this a useful read - stay posted for more as this is the first of a two-part article outlining important key trends for digital marketing in the legal sector. A further five trends will follow in our next blog post.


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