The Biggest Legal Marketing Trends in 2018, According to 12 Industry Experts
12–15 minutes to read
Have you considered which rising legal marketing trends you’re going to include in your 2018 marketing strategy?
With the arrival of a new year comes the expectation that you’ll do things bigger and better than the year before. Oftentimes, that means trying out fresh new strategies while auditing or abandoning the ones that just aren’t making an impact on your bottom line.
The Crisp team reached out to 12 legal industry experts to get their perspective on what they think will make the most impact on legal marketing in 2018.
Here’s the question we posed to them:
“What strategies, programs, or tools (new or old) do you think will make the biggest impact on legal marketing in 2018?”
Here’s what they had to say:
Ben Glass, Founder of Great Legal Marketing:
The real secret to having the biggest impact on your practice and your life is being smart about the business side of the practice of law and being willing to take responsibility for your weaknesses. You begin by making an honest assessment of where your practice is right now.
Here is what the best are doing at each stage:
Firms needing more cases have a:
- Differentiating message (“we are aggressive” is NOT differentiating)
- CRM software
- Script for phone answering
- System for getting online reviews AND getting prospects to read them
- A website that is “sticky”
- Referral system
- Monthly mailed print newsletter
- Niche-specific, automated follow up system
Firms where getting leads is not the problem but who are looking for growth:
- Make sure they have the right people on the bus, sitting in the right seats.
- Train on firm culture
- Have operational systems for everything
- Understand the “money flow”
- Have “client happiness” systems in place in order to deliver a “wow” experience
Elite Level Firms – Make More Money, Deliver BETTER Services, and Work Less because Owner:
- “Gets out of the way” to let his great people and systems work
- Continues to work on being a better CEO and leader
- Coaches the team to an even higher level
- Looks for additional ways to leverage their knowledge and experience
Ken Hardison, Founder of PILMMA
There are three strategies that will have a significant impact on legal marketing in 2018: Texting; Video; and the use of Google Business reviews. And, I’ll tell you what I mean by each.
First, I see texting as a medium that becomes increasingly useful in signing up new clients – without them ever having to come into your office. We grew from a mobile phone culture to a texting culture almost overnight.
Think about how quickly and easily you can communicate a message to someone over text, without having to make a phone call, talk to a receptionist or wait “on hold.” People like immediacy and texting can provide that. Research tells us that text messages have a 98 percent open rate, with 90 percent of all messages read within three minutes of receiving them. I see this as a powerful tool for engaging new clients in a space they’re already comfortable using.
Second, and you may think I’m crazy, but I see YouTube soon overtaking Google as the No. 1 search engine in the world.
Why? Because video is versatile, shareable and engaging. In fact, more than 75 million people watch video online every single day (likely including some of your current and prospective clients). In another year or two, experts believe that internet video traffic will account for about 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic. It’s not surprising. Why? Because vision is our most dominant sense.
Simply put, if you’re not using videos in your marketing mix, you will be left behind the pack – and soon.
Third and finally, something I’ve been talking about for a while now is the importance of Google reviews in getting your website listed organically on the front page of the world’s most frequently-used search engine (for now). The importance of reviews – both to customers and businesses – cannot be overstated. Statistics show that 90 percent – 90 percent! – of consumers read reviews online before visiting a business, and almost as many (88 percent) trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
With Millennials soon becoming the biggest share of the market, these reviews and others (like those on Yelp) are going to become that much more important when this generation is choosing their law firm.
Larry Bodine, Senior Legal Marketing Strategist at LawLytics
Research shows that most new law firm clients will research an attorney online first before calling the office. By writing blog posts, attorneys can optimize their websites so that the lawyer who gets the call is you — and not your competitor.
People love reading blogs. 77% of internet users read blogs, and in fact, they read them more than once a day, according to Hubspot. A potential client who is visiting an attorney’s website will naturally click the link to the firm blog to see if the attorney has posted something relevant to the client’s problem.
A blog makes your website rank higher in Google search results. Put another way, blogging is the most effective method of search engine optimization. According to business2community.com, businesses with active blogs generate 55 percent more site visits and get their web pages indexed by Google 434 percent more often.
Blogs have an exceptional return on investment. A little-known secret is that the more you blog, the more clients you get. Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5 times more leads than companies that published 0-4 monthly posts.
The perfect blog post may be a longer post. Posts that take 7 minutes to read — or 2,100 words — will capture the highest total reading time on average, according to Medium. That said, there is no ideal length for a blog post. A concise 500-word post will take less than two minutes to read, because the average American reads about 300 words per minute. This is a good length for today’s short attention spans.
Denny Newberry, Director of Sales at Captorra
A huge part of marketing is actually being able to capitalize on the investment. Too many firms throw more and more money at marketing hoping for results while not focusing on actually converting on the leads that are generated. A huge ROI increase can be experienced without actually spending additional marketing dollars by improving their conversion process.
Tanner Jones, VP of Business Development at Consultwebs
As we enter into a new year, it’s important to know what is poised to make the biggest impact for your firm in 2018. An important element in your marketing plan this year should be on developing a digital marketing campaign that incorporates paid advertising, organic search marketing, social media and video that all work together to reach a common goal – more signed cases.
One area in particular that you should keep an eye on this year will be programmatic video ads. There are a multitude of video advertising platforms available, with YouTube being the top contender. With the shift in how the public is now consuming TV and video, it is no surprise that this platform is on the rise. You can find endless targeting opportunities that ensure you are reaching the right person at the right time.
Also, the uprise in voice search doesn’t seem to be changing, especially with mobile browsing booming! Whether people are using their mobile device or their smart home device to search for businesses, you need to be prepared for how your organic search will be impacted. Continue to focus on natural language search with your optimization strategy and you will stay ahead of the curve.
Lastly, we continue to place great value on branding your law firm through social media. There are tremendous opportunities for firms who have grown their following, built their brands and gained reviews, particularly on Facebook.
Gyi Tsakalakis, Co-Founder of AttorneySync
In 2018, with respect to legal marketing, plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes.
Legal services consumers will continue to turn to people they know, like, and trust to find lawyers. However, what has changed, and what will continue changing, is where and how they have these conversations.
Here are a few 2018 impact-maker prognostications.
First, search will get more personalized, local, and finally go mobile-first. If your site isn’t fast, secure, and mobile, you’re way behind. Pay particular attention to Google My Business updates (Q&A, posts, maybe even video).
Second, your next clients will expect to be able to contact you beyond phone and email. Be prepared for legal services consumers expectations to shift toward text, messaging services, and chat. Lawyers that resist these changes are losing to competitors.
Third, speaking of video, video’s role will continue to grow. But we’re not talking, “republishing your television commercials to YouTube.” Instead, give your next clients a view into your practice. Use live streaming video to not only share your knowledge, skill, and experience but also to tell people who you are. It’s likely you have interests outside of practicing law. Let people know about them! They might share those interests too.
In 2018, one thing is certain: the web will continue to be a fantastic tool for creating, nurturing, and solidifying professional relationships.
Mark Weinstock, President of MileMark Media
MileMark Media believes the local and mobile influence on search results and website design will continue to grow into 2018 and beyond.
Legal marketing agencies will need to continue to innovate in the local optimization area to ensure their clients stay competitive in local map/GPS searches. Once the law firm’s site is found, their clients and potential clients will benefit from cutting-edge mobile friendly designs that heighten the mobile user experience thereby resulting in higher conversion rates.
In addition, the growing emphasis on consumer reviews has provided some firms with a competitive advantage and will require legal marketing professionals to establish a review process with their clients.
Chad Henkel, Director of Marketing at Nifty Marketing
The most important (and underutilized) tool for most law firms by far, is call tracking.
92% of firms don’t know their cost per lead (CPL) and 94% of law firms don’t know what it costs to acquire a new client (CPA) (2017 Clio Legal Trends Study).
Wouldn’t it be nice to know for a fact that your video, SEO, PPC, social media campaign, TV ad or radio ad are definitely bringing you new clients?
Furthermore, wouldn’t it be awesome to see these costs drop over time?
Starting today, you can measure your success on both fronts incrementally over time. At a minimum, we recommend measuring these metrics month/month, quarter/quarter and year/year. Too many law firms are counting manually (or not at all) and are looking at their top line to determine what is working.
The technology exists to track everything digitally starting at right around $30/m. Finally, you can dial in what channels you’re using profitably, and not so profitably, making it easy to prioritize your marketing dollars and get max ROI.
Our preferred solution, CallRail, measures first-time callers, length of a phone call, dates, and times. It can even record calls so you can understand how well your phones are being answered. If you find yourself in the same boat as 94% of law firms, take the path less traveled and market smart, not hard, by putting data behind your marketing efforts.
Daniel Decker, Founding Partner at Spotlight Branding
I believe that the single biggest missed opportunity for most lawyers is a regularly-sent email newsletter.
An email newsletter is an incredible tool for creating referrals and repeat business, and it’s a tool that every single lawyer should be taking advantage of. You will make more money in 2018 if you send out an email newsletter at least once per month!
But there’s an important concept you need to understand:
Your email newsletter isn’t about YOU – it’s about your readers. The primary goal of your newsletter is to provide value for your audience. You accomplish this goal by educating your readers, by offering practical tips, by helping them improve their life. This gives them a reason to stay engaged and look forward to your newsletter each month, while positioning YOU as an authoritative, credible expert.
So who should get your newsletter? It’s simple: anyone who is in position to hire you, refer work your way, or spread the word about you and your practice. This includes current clients, past clients, prospective clients, colleagues, friends, family, and just about everyone else you know. Some lawyers are squeamish about adding people to their email list because they don’t want to be “annoying” – but as long as your newsletter provides value to your readers, don’t overthink it. They can always unsubscribe!
If you don’t have an email newsletter, make it happen in 2018! If you’d like some more information, take a look at this blog entry – it’ll help you get started.
Tom Trush, President of WriteWaySolutions
In 2018, if you’re looking for a strategy, program or tool to make a big impact on your marketing, you’re focusing attention in the wrong places. This type of thinking puts you on an endless hunt for shortcuts.
These days, your best bet is to shift your mindset. Rather than someone who provides legal services, start seeing yourself as a helpful resource who meets a demand for an audience in need.
You see, today’s prospects hold all the power. They dictate what they want, how they want it “served,” and what they value.
Keep in mind, too, legal services have become a commodity — and so is most of the content attorneys use for marketing. Almost all attorneys now know the importance of creating and distributing educational content. So it’s no longer a key differentiator.
In fact, neither is extensive experience, a dedication to fighting for your clients’ rights or superior service.
In 2018, you must be better than your competition at meeting your niche clients’ needs — before they even become clients. Doing this well doesn’t involve just a single strategy, program or tool. You must be available to meet demand in many ways and in multiple places.
The fact is, the gap between the law firms doing well and those struggling just to stay in the game keeps growing. Those succeeding now adapted to changes in client demands and positioned themselves as authorities in a niche that’s different from the industry norm.
Jared D. Correia, Esq., Founder & CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting
Small business owners, especially, are time-sensitive. And, that extends to lawyers marketing their law firms. Oftentimes, marketing takes a backseat to just about everything else in the law firm.
Substantive work has always taken precedence for lawyers; and, more often than not, business management decisions related to technology and process management trump marketing, too. For most lawyers, the work just sort of comes in, and they abide by the mystery.
Of course, anyone with any kind of marketing chops whatsoever will tell you that you need to understand how you acquire and convert leads. On a very basic level, it literally pays to know where your work comes from. That can be, however, a double-edged sword, because most law firms looking at their revenue streams would realize that they maintain too few. And, smart lawyers are extending their reach.
It took some time, but social media is now becoming a popular venue for law firm marketing; and, in 2018, that focus should only increase. But, for lawyers and staff, the thing is finding the time, slotting social media management into everything else the law firm has to do.
Managing multiple content schedules and platforms can be so onerous as to knock down the best efforts before they even bear fruit. So, it makes sense to use a platform to schedule and share content across services. Buffer and Hootsuite are free options for doing so, but these do not represent an exhaustive list of tools.
Seth Price, Managing Partner of Price Benowitz LLP
I would say the number one thing someone should focus on in 2018 for local search is your Google My Business profile and making sure that you’re taking advantage of all the bells and whistles Google recently rolled out, including posts and chat, as well as appointment setting—and furthermore, making sure that you are monitoring your reputation management and building a raving fan base through reviews.