Guest post – The evolution of marketing legal services

Guest post – The evolution of marketing legal services

In an increasingly technology driven and complex world, many industries have been revolutionised, but the need for high quality legal services is unchanged.

The difference is in how people are finding and choosing their legal professionals.

Word of mouth and personal recommendations have always been the main aim, but the opportunity to use technology to find new clients is enormous. Technology can act as an equaliser for those who can’t afford expensive adverts or campaigns and can reward those firms who are can establish a good online presence and reputation.

Marketing for the legal sector has changed, but that isn’t necessarily negative – there are four key areas where technology has impacted marketing and offered new opportunity:

The power of a recommendation

Before the internet, if someone was looking for a legal service, they would ask someone they knew. A friend would make a word-of-mouth recommendation, based on their own experience with a company.  One happy client could pass on multiple potential clients.

As a consumer, your trust in the company was actually trust in your friend – they made the recommendation. It was also easier than having to research or do any work in finding a company you knew nothing about.

But there were problems – what if the potential client didn’t want anyone to know he was looking for a divorce lawyer? What if his friend had made bad recommendations before? One good recommendation could only really go so far.

Now, we still value recommendations from others incredibly highly – we just take them from strangers on the internet. Research from Deloitte shows that 97% of people said reviews had an impact on their choices, and when asked said that reviews were tied first with recommendations from friends and families as a trusted source of information.

Reviews have always been of great benefit to the consumer, but companies have had mixed feelings. They fear the power of an unhappy client unfairly tearing down their team and work, but they also struggle to get people to leave positive reviews, even when they say they’re happy with the experience.

Using an intermediary platform that only allows reviews from people who have actually used your services can help with that, and providing a promotion, entry into a draw or other motivator for leaving a review can up your online profile. Studies by the Association for Psychological Science found that when given a choice between two products, people chose the one with more reviews, even if those reviews were negative.

Does this make sense? Not necessarily – choosing a company with a hundred bad reviews instead of the company with four great reviews isn’t likely to be a good choice. But it does speak to our desire for confirmation of standing, experience and trust – we live in a digital age that makes research easy, but with so much choice, we want voices and experiences from ‘ordinary people like us’.

Blind Searching

Alongside this desire for other people’s opinions, we consume information voraciously, and it is easier than ever for potential clients to make an informed decision – if you give them what they need.

Firms that don’t prioritise visibility and their online presence are missing out on people who would probably choose them if they simply knew how good they were. Reviews are a part of that, but they’re not the whole story.

Modern consumers are very comfortable asking the questions they need to be answered. Before, they may have searched for solicitor in the Yellow Pages, or looked on a local notice board.

Now, they know the service they need, the questions they need to ask and usually have access to background information on the company.

Technology has helped widen the net when it comes to being found by the right person at the right time. When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO), for example, you may be eager to find customers searching for ‘solicitors in Leicester’, but your potential clients may also be searching for information about writing a will, or how to choose the right solicitor for them. Using content marketing strategies alongside SEO and your reviews creates an online presence that speaks to your brand.

Answering the questions your potential customers are asking, being a source of authority and information, and showing how trustworthy you are can all be done online to bring in new clients.

Being in the right place at the right time

Finding the right company can sometimes feel serendipitous – someone needs to get around to searching for a service, and then suddenly a leaflet comes through the door, or they see an advert on television.

Modern digital marketing works in much the same way, working on that ‘right place and time’ feeling, but it’s much more sophisticated. Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising strategies work on finding the right person searching for the right phrase. Display adverts can be shown to those looking for your services. Facebook advertising and retargeting opportunities all work on finding that customer and showing them what they need at the time they need it.

With more and more people feeling comfortable searching out information online, there is so much to be learnt about your potential clients – not only demographics and the questions they are asking, but their concerns and what they consider most important.

The serendipity of ‘being found’ as a company was always about hard work – from the attractive signage over the door of your office to the leaflets, adverts or newspaper placements. That continues in the digital sphere, and the more you know about your customers, the easier it is to be discovered by them when they need you.

The value of transparency

Love them or loathe them, SRA transparency rules are encouraging legal firms to clearly state their prices to the benefit of the consumer. However, trying to explain the breadth and variety of your services can be difficult. You don’t want to be accused of misleading the client, but you also don’t want to understate your value. The scope of works can vary, changes can occur and being transparent isn’t always straightforward.

Before, there was no need for this and consumers would perhaps ring up to ask about prices directly – maybe you would get their business, and maybe you wouldn’t.

Digital marketing understands that users expect sophistication from websites – they expect a personalised response with the information they need, whether that’s through an auto-quote widget, or a chatbox. Listing an approximate price may not always be enough to convince them. They need transparency as part of the whole package – alongside instances of your expertise through content, multiple reviews to show your standing and a clear brand that makes them feel confident.

Where do comparison sites fit within this?

Comparison sites are often only considered from the consumer perspective – as a tool to save them time and money. The inversion of that, though, is that they are a powerful digital marketing tool for the partner firms they work with.

The main fear from companies who reject comparison sites is that it will encourage a ‘race to the bottom’ with regard to pricing. Actually, we’ve seen from our 20 years experience with reallymoving that customers don’t go for the lower price. The majority of conversions are not with the lowest price provider, they take into account location and reviews before making their choice.

This gives firms on the site access to a range of tools to help them promote themselves.

If companies tried to market digitally in all the ways we’ve listed above, they might find themselves at a loss. Both providing digital marketing services inhouse and hiring an agency can involve a high level of development, from creating quality organic content, to paid ads, growing a search engine presence, promoting through social media and presenting prices and reviews in a clear, accessible way.

That’s where comparison sites really shine as a marketing tool. They are designed to present the company to the right person at the right time– offering information, a neutral platform and the chance to research.

By the time a customer gets a quote they are ready to commit – this is a warm lead for the firm to follow up on. It’s the simple serendipity of being found by the right person at the right stage in their journey.

A comparison site also encourages a level of trust with the customer – they are being offered options and information, they can check how each company is vetted before they are allowed on the site, and the power is with the customer to choose what works for them. 90% of people surveyed by the Competition and Markets Authority said they were happy using a comparison site because they felt the sites were ‘unbiased’ and ‘there to help consumers’. Compare this to the 16% of people who felt that a company’s website was a trustworthy source of information.

Comparison sites are a natural extension of digital marketing strategies – they build your firm’s online presence, collate reviews only from validated customers, can sometimes offer an ‘auto-quote’ option on your website, and can promote you through content, directory listings and PPC.

All whilst reaching the right potential client at the right time.

The older ways of marketing aren’t done with, they’ve just adapted into faster, more detailed digital options. Whilst in some ways this can feel overwhelming, it actually offers new realms of opportunity for legal firms who are eager to grow their reputation, visibility and client list.

(Author: Andi Michael Content Marketing Executive, Reallymoving.com & The Law Superstore)

Reallymoving is a comparison site which generates leads for conveyancing.  The Law Superstore provides leads for 134 legal services.  Both offer free trials for new panel members.

Please contact Isa Gillen on 01727 238010 or partner-enquiries@thelawsuperstore.co.uk to discuss further.

“Create, Curate, Syndicate”

“Create, Curate, Syndicate”

This is my new my new mantra! Since working on the new SFE website, we have developed a whole library of original, relevant and informative content. The question is what more can we do with it?

Hence my new mantra “Create, Curate, Syndicate”

In other words, each new piece of content needs to be amplified. I was reading an interesting blog by Salvatore Trifilio, a content producer, who describes the creation of content as akin to building a bonfire. He states that “creating original high-quality content is the right place to start, but it’s only two-thirds of the battle. Content is the kindling you use to build your pyre and feed the fire. But, remember, your goal isn’t to build a campfire; you want to build a bonfire that can be seen for miles. And sometimes you need to throw a little fuel on the fire to really get a blaze going.”

So how do you do it?

Research carried out by Curata, suggests that a good mix is 65% creation, 25% curation and 10% syndication. However, each organisation needs to decide the best mix for itself.

First of all, we need to understand what each of the three elements are:

Creation – this is straightforward – the development of original, unique content

Curation – the gathering of high quality content on a single topic from other people, that is then re-organised and re-purposed probably put into a single article or post for the readership. The editor/content curator will normally highlight the golden nuggets for readers and add editorial and comment for readers. This is not plagiarism as full credit should be given to the original author. It is a way of showing though leadership and it augment the website as a source of knowledge. Content curation allows brands to share their thought leadership and become a greater knowledge resource for their site visitors. Furthermore, it can improve SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), as it allows for another section of your website to be indexed and provides more pathways to your own original content.

Syndication – this is the process of pushing your blogpost, article, video or any piece of web-based content out to other third-parties who will then republish it on their own sites. Clearly, this opens up your content to a new audience and you will get much wider reach. It also helps with SEO, particularly if your content is published on a site with much higher traffic than yours and some of that bigger site’s authority should be passed down to you.

So, in other words, you can take your original content and re-purpose it for new audiences and different formats. The ultimate goal would be to get visitors on the third-party site to visit yours and interact with you. Great syndicated content will increase your reach and has the power to generate new leads from perspective customers who may not have heard of you before.

So, here are six interesting things to do with your copy:

1 – change the title

Put it into a context that will make your new audience what to read it

2 – add an image

Research shows that curated content with an image generates 88% more clicks, particularly if you use text overlay (text on images) carefully

3 – Pull out quote

Highlight and pull out the most insightful quote from the article and make it stand out

4 – Add your own insight

In curated copy – add your own insights to the piece, showing your thought leadership

5 – Add social media sharing buttons

Make it easy for people to re-share your copy

6 – Add a call to action, if you can

Use the opportunity to turn a reader into a subscriber, but don’t insist they subscribe in order to read your content

So back to my mantra – “Create, Curate, Syndicate” – clearly original content is at the heart of everything we do at SFE. But we need to get clever about what we can do with it, how we re-purpose it for new audiences. As SFE clearly is a thought leader, we do have lots of material to work with, so getting it out there in new formats for different audiences, should be both challenging and fun.

(Author: Lakshmi Turner)