Many law firms see a mobile app as just another item on the list of desirable marketing tools. Once it’s built, they cross it off the list and don’t think about it again, even if it attracts very little attention. They don’t realize that an app needs a marketing plan of its own to really succeed.
If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.
Getting your law firm’s app in the Google Play or Apple store will not independently yield downloads. You have to convince people that your app offers something they can’t currently get from your website.
As a lawyer, knowledge is your product. People pay you for what you know and for the time you spend using that knowledge on their behalf. When someone goes to a doctor, they want to feel better. When someone goes to a lawyer, they want information and action.
You can draw people to your firm by offering tiny free samples of your knowledge on your app. You could start with exclusive content that are only available to app users, like chapters of an ebook, a monthly video tutorial, or lists of quick tips.
You probably shouldn’t lay out a comprehensive guide to setting up a trust, but you could outline the top 10 mistakes resulting from do-it-yourself will creation. Don’t tell people how to enter into bankruptcy on their own, but you could provide a debt calculator to help them determine their qualification.
When planning for your app, focus on content that is slightly more in-depth than what you would publish on your website, but not as in-depth as the information a potential client would receive in a face-to-face consultation.
Make sure your app is worth their time.
Be sure you create an app with built-in value: offerings and qualities that are specifically helpful on a mobile platform and in app form. If your app is simply a static copy of the information on your website, few who see it will download it. And those who do aren’t likely to recommend it to others (or even use it themselves).
App development deserves a post of its own, but here are a couple of ideas to jumpstart your planning process or enhance what you’ve already got.
A great, simple feature to add is a navigation tool. Navigation tools can help new clients get to your office or to the courthouse without leaving your app, and they can offer specificity that a general navigation program like Google Maps wouldn’t. This is a pretty easy feature to set up, and the GPS functions you need are already built into your users’ devices.
Also, think of ways to improve your clients’ connection to you through your app. For example, you could add a direct, secure way for clients to organize, collect and send you documents and images on the app.
Get the downloads you’ve earned.
Once your app has built-in value, you are ready to shift to marketing.
- Include app logos on all advertisements. Whether advertising your firm online, in a magazine, television, or seminar, everything you do should include a mention of your app. You can download the “Get it On Google Play” badge at https://developer.android.com/distribute/tools/promote/badges.html and the “Download on the App Store” badge at https://developer.apple.com/app-store/marketing/guidelines/#downloadOnAppstore. Only use official logos provided by Google and Apple. Using unauthorized graphics to advertise your app could get it removed for failing to follow trademark guidelines.
- Add your app to your pay-per-click campaigns. Google offers add-ons to your pay-per-click campaigns that will connect your app to your Adwords ads. They can even run mobile ads exclusively targeting app users. The ads that display are based on the end user’s device. So an Apple user will see an add linking to the App Store, and an Android user will see ads linking to the Google Play store. These ads are generally very inexpensive, averaging $3-$4 per click.
- Reach out to your clients for feedback. Once your app is available for download, email your existing clients and encourage them to take it for a test drive. As a focus group, your clients can provide valuable input on the user experience and give you ideas for new features. Plus, in the future, they’re much more likely to use an app if they’ve already explored and thought about it.
- Focus on including the app in your newest relationships. Your newest clients will be easiest to convert into app users, since they can begin their relationship with you through the tool. They don’t have habits they are used to in working with you, and it will enhance their experience at your firm. Guide them to the app to tackle specific problems or find particular information.
With thoughtful features, some simple marketing efforts, and your responses to feedback, your app can become a solid part of your law firm’s marketing and client management process. Before you decide to build an app, make sure you have a plan in place to get people to use it.