If you do content marketing for law firms, you face a unique challenge. Lawyers usually want to project a conservative image. They strive to appear dignified, trustworthy, competent, and solid. Also, the attorneys’ rules of professional conduct put strict boundaries on marketing materials, which the rules consider attorney advertising. That means you have to make sure your content marketing for the legal services industry stays within certain limits.
At the same time, you need to keep up with the latest content marketing trends in the law industry, especially the new marketing opportunities that technology creates. You want your attorney clients to stand out from their competitors, which requires you to be flexible and creative.
How do you work within limits, while also trying new things? It calls for deftly combining the old and the new. By keeping an eye on the latest law-firm marketing trends, you can take full advantage of new technology while still projecting an image of tradition.
The Internet is the New Word-of-Mouth
Lawyers have traditionally gotten many of their new clients via referrals from existing clients. That’s still important, but at least one-third of potential clients are starting their search for attorneys online.
Many small and solo law firms are missing out. Just a few years ago, almost 40 percent of small law firms did not even have websites. The American Bar Association, in its most recent Tech Report, found that only 15 percent of sole practitioners and 25 percent of firms with fewer than 10 lawyers had blogs last year.
This presents a huge untapped opportunity for content marketers.
Mobile is a Must
The one essential trend dominating all online marketing for 2018 to 2019 is the increasing dominance of mobile. The shift from desktop to mobile is happening even faster than expected, with 63 percent of all internet traffic now taking place on tablets and phones.
Law firm marketers have to make mobile a top priority. Sites must be optimized for mobile, both to attract and retain mobile users and because Google ranks mobile-optimized sites higher.
Putting mobile first means visual design that is eye-catching on a small display. It means considering how people search with voice commands. It could mean encouraging lawyers to communicate with clients and potential clients via text and messaging apps.
Podcasts — the Next Frontier
A recent survey found that 44 percent of Americans have listened to a podcast, an increase of 4 percent over last year. Law firms that can create compelling and informative podcasts could build a loyal audience, increasing their reach and reputation. There’s lots of room for growth here, and firms that are relatively early adopters could have an advantage.
Podcasts can create a more personal bond between lawyers and potential clients. They also have the advantage of reaching people when they are driving, when there aren’t a lot of distractions (other than what’s going on in the road!).
Artificial Intelligence — It’s Not Science-Fiction Any More
You can’t turn over all your marketing tasks to Robbie the Robot — at least not yet — but artificial intelligence in marketing is already on the scene. Google, for example, uses AI in its smart bidding tool for AdWords. Artificial intelligence can also guide people through a website to the content they will find most useful. This may be out of the reach of small law firms at the moment, but keep an eye on it — the technology is moving fast and is likely to become both accessible and necessary soon.
LinkedIn is the most popular social network for lawyers, followed by Facebook. Twitter is an overlooked resource for small law firms, with only 11 percent of sole practitioners and 18 percent of law firms with fewer than ten attorneys using the platform.
Many law firms use social media to broadcast material, but they can turbocharge their results if they also interact with their followers. Creating an overall social media strategy is also a great way to improve results.
Beckon with Blogs
Big law firms have discovered the value of blogging, but small firms still lag behind. What they are missing is the chance to attract new clients at various stages of the buyer’s journey.
The trend now in law firm blogging is to avoid a hard-sell approach. Provide the answers to legal questions that people are searching for, or give updates on relevant news and legal developments. Always keep the target audience in mind. The writing should be easy to understand. Include a call to action, but otherwise avoid an overly “salesy” approach.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell one attorney website from the next. They may look the same or sound generic.
The remedy is to aim for freshness. You can do this without sacrificing the dignified image law firms want to portray. The key is to find out what makes each law firm unique or special and use that to inform both the website’s visual design and its written content to make the site pop.
One Thing That Never Changes
Digital marketing for law firms is a potent blend of the old and the new. Lawyers are starting to embrace cutting-edge technology, while still valuing tradition. One thing that never changes is the power of words. When you need writers who have mastered the challenges of law-firm marketing, you can find them on WriterAccess.
Marjorie R has written articles online for more than 15 years and has also written humor for American Greetings and crossword puzzles for the New York Times. She wrote an entertainment blog that was consistently in the top 5 in the Google search results, and at its peak was #1 out of a total of 66,499,997 results. She has a B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley, an M.A. in Creative Writing/English from SF State, and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law.