As the trend of eschewing Yellow Pages ads in favor of using technology to attract clients continues, firms will increasingly notice new clients saying, “I found you online.” Generally, if more people are finding your firm online, that is a positive development. The Internet helps level the playing field between large firms with abundant resources, mid-sized firms, and smaller firms who like to focus their practice on a limited number of cases. Everyone can use online marketing to expand their footprint.
However, an important question to ask clients when they say they have found you online is: Where? Do not simply assume that prospects went straight to your website. Your name is likely out there in many places you are not even aware of. Some of them may be working for you, but others may be detrimental to your firm.
A successful online marketing strategy requires that you control your message and presence to the greatest extent that you can. Your firm must be reaching out to clients and peers consistently across all platforms, from your website to directories to social media interaction. In order to do this, you must be aware of where and how people are getting information about you.
The best way to start is to just Google yourself. See what shows up. Is your website the top listing? If not is that spot at least taken by a relevant resource within your control, like a LinkedIn or Facebook page? You may find that your name is in directories you have never even seen, and the information in online directories can often be incomplete or inaccurate. If someone finds you on a directory page that lists the wrong practice areas, or worse, the wrong contact information, you may never get the opportunity to speak to them.
Your website’s analytics can also provide good information about where people who visit your site are coming from and what searches they are using to find you. But you should also ask clients how they found you. Did they go to your website first? Was it helpful? Or, did they find you through some other resource? It is often difficult to step away from your own marketing and see it through the eyes of someone who is looking for an attorney. Having a simple discussion with clients about their experiences can provide you with a wealth of helpful information and perspectives.
Use the information you get from some basic research to help target your efforts. One mistake a lot of people make is attempting to be everywhere at once. Understand what works and what does not. If a directory or other outlet is not useful, get out of it. Plan your online engagement keeping long-term goals in mind.
Your website should be the centerpiece of your online law firm marketing efforts. It must speak clearly to clients and provide frequently updated, useful and relevant information. But ultimately, some of what clients see when they are looking for an attorney is out of your hands. To position your firm for success, you need to control as much of your digital footprint as possible.
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