Every year, more attorneys and more law firms recognize the potential of well-done internet marketing. What will be the trends in internet marketing for lawyers in 2017? Little is certain, but one thing that’s always sure is that technology will advance and keep changing the ways we use the internet. There’s also the certainty that lawyers will continue to be competitive, which means they’ll try new approaches to internet marketing and new ways to sell their services.
Additionally for 2017, it’s certain that user-focused content, already a predominant theme in internet marketing for lawyers, will improve and expand in the new year. Keeping up with the competition is getting tougher, because it’s no longer enough to have a website, to have an active presence on social media, or even to write lots of articulate and engaging content. Let’s take a closer and more precise look at the emerging trends in internet marketing for lawyers in 2017:
1. BLOGS AND VIDEOS WILL BE LONGER
Despite all of the talk and fear about attention spans and three-second videos, every indication is that longer content, over time, is one of the easiest and best ways to raise a lawyer’s or firm’s Google ranking. Of course, that content must be engaging, high-quality, and useful to readers and viewers. It also has to be entirely original, valuable, and unique, and it must meet the expectations and needs of your online visitors. Candidly, the trend toward longer content is good news for lawyers and law firms, because it’s not easy to explain anything about the law in 200 to 300 words.
2. VIDEO MARKETING WILL BECOME ROUTINE FOR LAWYERS AND FIRMS
Video makes the “emerging trends” list every year, but for a good reason; every year, it’s increasing in importance. Video may in fact be the very best marketing tool for establishing trust, connecting “personally” with your audience, and offering sound explanations and recommendations to prospective clients. One key to success with videos is to upload them virtually everywhere. Your YouTube channel is only the beginning. Upload your videos to your other accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even your own blog site. It’s not rocket science – distributing your content across more platforms increases the chances it will be found.
And while there’s nothing wrong with pulling out your smartphone to make a short impromptu video, the reality is that as more lawyers and firms use video, quality is going to become more important. Good lighting, effective editing, and superior sound must be considerations. There’s a huge variety of video software available, or you can have a good internet marketing agency create your videos and handle those details for you.
Finally, the biggest and most surprising development in online video marketing in 2016 was the growing popularity of live streaming. There’s something compelling about going live that focuses a viewer’s attention and increases intimacy and immediacy. Live streaming may or may not be right for you or your law firm, but you can’t know until you try. When your stream is over, the video becomes part of your YouTube channel archives, so it can be viewed later by anyone who missed it live.
3. THE LOOK OF YOUR SITE – “THE VISUALS” – WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT
Has it been two or more years since you revised your website’s look? If so, it’s time. While blogs and videos will be longer in 2017, that length won’t help if your website isn’t visually appealing. Break up big blocks of text. Use creative headers. By breaking up your text with interesting headlines, you’ll give visitors a quick sense of what the page is like, and you’ll keep them longer. Making your pages more visually appealing also improves key metrics like the amount of time on a page, bounce rate, and views – as well as actual conversions. Don’t hesitate to experiment with charts, graphs, widgets, and anything else that’s appropriate, useful, and visually appealing.
4. SOLO ATTORNEYS AND SMALLER FIRMS WILL DO MORE THEMSELVES
With the many resources and tools that are now available to everyone – and easy to use, too – more attorneys will try handling their own internet marketing efforts. And rather than having an internet marketing agency handle all of their online marketing needs, many attorneys and small firms will retain a marketing agency only for special – or complicated and time-consuming – projects while personally handling their own day-to-day online marketing chores.
5. REVIEWS WILL BE INCREASINGLY VALUABLE
One survey shows that 68 percent of consumers are more likely to hire a lawyer or firm when they see positive online reviews. Never stop gathering reviews. You need them on Facebook and LinkedIn as well as on your own site. Recent reviews are the most effective, but it can’t hurt to have dozens of reviews going back a few years. Tools such as ReviewPush and ReviewTrackers track reviews across the internet and notify you whenever a new review is posted.
6. MORE LAWYERS WILL PROMOTE CHARITIES AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH
From Little League to breast cancer awareness, lawyers have always been “pillars of their communities,” so as lawyers become increasingly aware of the need for “branding” and the value of making a positive impact in their communities – and a positive impact with potential clients – involvement with charities and community groups will grow, and that involvement will be an important part of a lawyer’s or firm’s online marketing.
Provide details of your involvement with charities, community groups, and social causes. Link to their sites. Provide pictures and video. Choose causes that you genuinely care about. And generally speaking, keep it local. It’s admirable to raise money for national and international causes, but your potential clients can actually see the new youth center you help to build or the new clinic that you’ve supported for low-income families.
One fun strategy that some lawyers now use is to pick an important cause and post on Facebook that you’ll donate a dollar for every like you get in the next 24 or 48 hours. Having plenty of positive, charitable, and community events and causes on your pages will genuinely bolster your brand and your internet presence, and it tells people that you care about more than merely your bottom line.
7. THE IMPORTANCE OF TAKING ACTION
These are only a few of the important internet marketing trends for lawyers that are emerging for 2017, but knowing the trends can’t help you if you don’t take some action. With a new year upon us, it’s probably time to arrange a meeting with some internet marketing professionals who can assess your current efforts and perhaps offer some valuable insights and suggestions. Even if you are doing it yourself in 2017, you’ll need some feedback, and if you’re already doing everything right, it’s important to know that too.