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Posted by Nick Salloway on 09 June 2016

We highlight some common mistakes - and suggest ways to avoid in the future

Question: What is worse than a law firm not having a digital marketing strategy?

Answer: A law firm having a digital strategy that hasn’t been thought out, is badly created and poorly integrated!

Given the major business benefits that can be gained as a result of adopting a highly focused and integrated digital strategy, it’s not surprising that we are seeing a significant rise in the use of digital marketing within the legal sector.

However, alongside this growing trend in the legal market, we believe many firms are making a number of potentially costly mistakes that could negate the effectiveness of their digital campaigns.

In this post I'm going to highlight five of the most common errors we've come across in the world of legal sector digital marketing - and provide some guidance that will hopefully help your firm avoid them in the future.

1. The ‘Misalignment Misconception’

Digital marketing success isn't achieved by simply deciding which activities will be undertaken and jumping straight in.  It starts by clearly defining the business goals and objectives that the marketing strategy will help deliver.

In our experience, too many professional firms embark on their digital marketing activities before they fully understand how they align with the overall business objectives of the firm.

You need to know what business success you are striving for in order to effectively plan a digital marketing strategy - knowing what success will look like is key. I’m reminded of the Cheshire Cat’s response in Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do”.

That approach can prove to be both costly and risky...

2. The ‘Measurement Misunderstanding’

Often as a direct result of above, or due to a lack of resource or digital measurement knowledge, many legal firms fail to generate regular, meaningful and actionable analysis from their digital marketing efforts.

The power of digital data can never be underestimated but it's also important to understand what to measure - in practice almost anything can be measured but not everything that can be measured matters! 

Used correctly, the information that can be gathered from your digital marketing activities can provide real insights into how well (or not) your strategy is working - questions to ask include;

  • How are website visitors behaving on your site?
  • Is your content generating real engagement with your clients and prospects?
  • Is your social media strategy resulting in profitable actions?

Collecting, analysing and acting on the results of the myriad of data available is the smart way to leverage your digital marketing return on investment.

Do more of what is working, and eliminate the activity that isn’t.

3. The ‘Content Correction’

Content generated for the sake of generating content is a huge waste of effort, and may even negatively affect your digital marketing activities.

According to Greentarget’s 2014 digital and content marketing survey, just a quarter of law firms had a documented content strategy.

In addition to many firms not having a targeted, documented content strategy, John Corey, Greenmarket’s co-founder, also outlines other specific issues faced by law firms when generating content. He suggests that because most law-firm marketers have, “A treasure trove of intellectual insights to draw from”, that they can be guilty of generating content that is, effectively, gobbledygook as far as non-lawyers (e.g. clients and prospective clients) are concerned.

Remember, the main objective of a content marketing strategy is to drive profitable customer actions by providing relevant, targeted quality content that adds value. The execution of this requires a carefully thought out approach.

Your firm should be seen as;

  • Helpful and informing - not overtly pushing your competences
  • Providing useful insights - rather than boasting
  • Giving valuable information - rather than advertising

4. The ‘Social Medial Miscalculation’

If your social media strategy isn't generating genuine opportunities to stimulate conversation with your clients, new and existing, then chances are that you’ve fallen short of the full benefits that a strategic approach to social media can offer.

Just being ‘on-Twitter’ isn’t good enough anymore, everything about your social media strategy should have purpose, otherwise it becomes merely a one way broadcast channel.

Your firm’s social media strategy needs to be exactly that - strategic.  It should be linked to your overall business objectives and clearly focused towards your target audience - points to consider include;

  • Is the content useful and informative?
  • Have you clearly defined who you really want to talk to?
  • Do you understand what interests your ideal client?
  • Do you know which buyer journey stage they are at?
  • Have you identified the relevant social media platforms?

The Law Society notes on the business benefits of social media to law firm marketing are unequivocal, “Social media activity is beneficial for engaging with clients and other professionals”, but, it also warns of the “potential risks involved”. The message is clear; your firm must take your social media activity very, very seriously.

Make sure that your firm’s experience is positive and effective, not negative and un-professional.

5. The ‘Buyer Journey Blindness'

In the pre digital world a client looking for a legal service might have browsed their trusty local Yellow Pages until a particular advert caught their eye. Their decision on whether to engage (and stay) with a particular firm then depended on how their enquiry was handled by receptionist staff, legal assistants and solicitors thereafter.

In the digital era, selection, particularly, is likely to be made through online research and contact methods. To understand exactly the selection process travelled through, consideration must be given to the customer journey stages;

  • Awareness stage – the prospect is experiencing and expressing symptoms of a problem or opportunity
  • Consideration stage – the prospect identifies the problem and begins to research potential solutions
  • Decision stage - the prospect decides who to buy from
  • Advocacy stage - your customer chooses whether to buy again, and whether to actively recommend your firm

The communication required at each of these stages is different, ranging from education and guidance early in the process, to specific law firm and service comparisons in the latter stages.

Understanding the journey which your customers take is crucial to ensuring that your messaging, method of delivery, and level of automation is best suited for each stage, and therefore most likely to bring results.

Getting the process ‘right’ is pivotal to creating an excellent ‘Customer Experience (CX)’ which, in turn, is fundamental to achieving so much of why your firm invested in a digital marketing strategy in the first place.

Ignore the importance of the experience that your digital marketing strategy delivers at your peril!

Hopefully this summary will have provided some helpful direction in avoiding some of these common pitfalls.  We would love to hear your views though - do you know of a law firm who have carefully navigated their approach to digital marketing and successfully avoided these mistakes? Please do comment on this post with your thoughts. 

If you've missed our earlier blogs focused on digital marketing in the legal sector - you'll find links to them below.  To keep updated on future posts simply subscribe to the Status blog and you'll get an email alert every time we add a new post.

 And if you would like a chat with us about how your law firm can improve its digital strategy then please get in touch.

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