Stephen Fairley 2014-01-29 23:37:50
7 Awesome Things Blogging Can Do for Your Law Firm Two-time international best-selling author, Stephen Fairley is CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, LLC, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company specializing in marketing and lead conversion for small to medium law firms. Over 10,000 attorneys nationwide have benefited from learning and implementing the proven Rainmaker Marketing System. Over the last 12 years, he has become a nationally recognized legal marketing expert and been named, America’s Top Marketing Coach. He has spoken numerous times for over 35 of the nation’s largest state and local bar associations and has a large virtual footprint with his highly successful Rainmaker legal marketing blog and has over 150,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For more information, please visit www.TheRainmakerInstitute.com or call (888) 588-5891. For many attorneys, blogging is like eating vegetables – we know they are really good for us, but we just can’t seem to get all excited about them. But if eating vegetables was the best possible way to get your law firm coffers to overflow status, I bet you would be digging into a plate of them every day. And so it is with blogging, which is one of the best possible ways for you to dramatically increase your lead flow, improve your firm website’s SEO and traffic count, and build a sterling reputation online – all of which can lead to a healthier bottom line for your firm. Yes, blogging takes a commitment of time or money (you can spend either your time or your money to maintain your blog, it’s your choice), but all the research shows it is well worth your effort. In 2013, inbound marketing firm Hubspot released a report based on a marketing benchmark study of 7,000 companies and found that when it comes to blogging: • Companies that blog 15+ times per month get five times more traffic than firms with no blog. • B2B companies that blog at least twice a month get 70 percent more leads from their websites than firms with no blog. • Companies that increase their blogging from three to five times per month to five to eight times per month almost double their leads. • Companies that increase their total blog posts from 11-20 to 21-50 per month see a 45 percent increase in traffic. Many attorneys I speak with feel they should be blogging, but are not really sure why. Here are 7 ways that blogging can help your law practice: Increase client engagement. A blog provides an opportunity for you to open a dialogue with prospects and clients and share with them more about who you are, what kinds of legal issues you can help them with, and why they should hire you. Improve SEO rankings. Blogs are the number one way to add new content to your website, which search engines like Google reward with higher rankings. Over the last several months, Google has favored larger websites with more content over small websites. Humanizes your firm. People don’t want to hire faceless companies. They want to know they are cared for personally. Blogs provide you with the opportunity to tell the stories of clients you have helped (leaving out their real names and identifying information to protect the innocent), and nothing is better for putting a human face on your law firm. Include videos in your blogs to really humanize your firm. Showcases your areas of expertise. Regular blog posts keep your website up to date and relevant, letting prospects know you are on the leading edge of emerging legal trends. You can highlight the areas you truly specialize in. Market segmentation. If your law firm includes more than one practice area, you can segment this more effectively by creating blogs for each specialty area and speak directly to those targeted prospects. Repurpose content. Your blog posts can be effectively repurposed for free reports, e-books and in your monthly newsletters. Build trust. Current research shows that 80 percent of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs. Creating Your Blogging Strategy Blogs are one of the best ways to get to the top of Google for targeted search results. Google loves fresh content and when done right, a blog is the best way to push fresh content into the search engines. Blogs hold a unique position in the online media landscape because they have become an accepted source of information. When used properly, a blog becomes a clear, consistent voice for your practice. It entices prospects, referral sources, colleagues, clients and thought leaders to engage you in dialogue. It keeps you top of mind. It builds visibility among your target clients. Ultimately, it earns you more of the kind of client you most desire. So, are all blogs successful? No, and I will tell you why: the problem arises when you begin blogging without a clear strategy behind you. Blogging should be a part of, but not your entire law firm marketing strategy. It is your forum to connect with the community at large and to make it clear that you are an expert in your field. But to make it the highly effective medium you need it to be, your law firm marketing and promotion strategy should include: • A topic list designed to engage your target audience; • A list of social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) to promote it; • A list and schedule for article marketing services to add visibility and to feed it to reporters and thought leaders; • An up-to-date blog that includes unique articles (at least 350-500 words each) that are posted three to five times per week or more; • A search engine optimization formula to increase your page rank. How to Build an Audience for Your Blog If you build a legal marketing blog, will the readers come? That is a common question many neophyte law firm marketing bloggers must address – not just by posting and hoping, but taking specific actions to attract a following. Here are some tips on building an audience for your law firm marketing blog: Pick the low-hanging fruit. Send an email to all your current clients, contacts, family and friends letting them know about your blog. Make it easy for readers to share with friends by adding a share button feature to your blog. Include your blog address in your email signature as a subtle promotion. Create good quality content. The best way to grow readership is by creating high quality content that your readers value and will pass along to others. Make your headlines informational and relevant to your subject, instead of serving up sensational headlines that try to “trick” readers into following you. Write for a target audience. Pick your target and stick to it. Just as we encourage you to niche your practice to attract more quality prospects, you should be applying this same reasoning to your blog audience. Take every opportunity for SEO. Identify and use the keywords that will help your blog get found by search engines. Invite guests. Guest bloggers can provide a new unique voice, keeping your blog fresh, and can also direct their followers to your blog, thus providing you with a new source of readership. Just be sure you choose guest bloggers whose message is relevant to your core audience. Post consistently. Publishing your blog on a regular schedule helps build loyalty and makes it easier for your audience to integrate you into their daily readership routines. Be relevant. Blogging about topics that are top-of-mind – a celebrity divorce, a high profile criminal case, a controversial court decision – helps you connect with readers and encourages them to pass your blog along, which in turn increases your reach. Promote your blog through social media. Share a link to your blog posts through social media by posting it on your Facebook Fan Page, tweeting and posting on LinkedIn. Those social share buttons will also have your readers doing some of the heavy lifting for you. Make it actionable. Include offers of free reports, e-newsletter subscriptions, webinars or other “freemiums” that will encourage people to give you their email address, which is also known as a lead! Scour analytics for insight. How do you know if your blog is working for you? Look at your blog analytics. These provide important insight into how many visitors you’re getting, how many times they come back, how many subscribers you’re generating, which posts are the most popular, etc. Use what you’ve learned to improve every month. Sources of Inspiration for Your Law Firm Blogs Most attorneys find blogging to be cumbersome because of lack of time and lack of ideas for content. One of the best ways to hurdle both of these stumbling blocks is to create an editorial calendar for your blog. Here’s how: Create a template. Use a calendar template or an Excel spreadsheet, whatever works for you. Decide how many times per week you will be posting (three to five times is best) and try to plan at least three months out. Research content. Take your top keywords and create Google alerts for each one. This will funnel news items on these keywords directly to your inbox. Bookmark leading blogs in your practice area at www.justia.com. Scour legal directory sites like JDSupra and Avvo to see what kind of content is trending for your practice area. Check out www.lawprofessorblogs.com and www.lexmonitor.com for practice area-specific blogs to mine for content ideas. Schedule content. Fill your calendar with specifics for each posting day, including your topic, potential title and your keywords. Populate your calendar with special events and holidays you could use to theme relevant posts. If you’re publishing a special report or e-book, schedule posts to promote those. Leaving a few holes is fine, and will allow you to capitalize on newsworthy items – your calendar is a flexible tool, not something written in stone. Here are four sources of information you can use to get inspired for writing blog posts: Internet searches and alerts. Do a search for your area of practice on Google News and you will get a ton of the latest articles on what is happening worldwide. Set an alert to notify you by email or RSS feed when new articles appear. Do the same on the Google Blogs search and you’ll see what other attorneys in your field are blogging about – just be sure to borrow ideas, not the actual content. News feeds. Google no longer has a news feed function, but there are several services that do for free. One of the most popular is Feedly.com – there’s also Newsvibe, NewsBlur and DiggReader. These are content aggregators that allow you to get feeds from news sources and other blogs. They serve up a headline and a little bit of text, which makes scanning them quickly easy. Hashtags. Hashtags (#) used to be just for Twitter, but they have become popular on all the social media networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ – and allow you to learn what is being said in real time in your practice area. Your content. Repurposing content is common so look at any past articles, press releases or other content you have published for blog ideas. Review some of your past posts to see if there is an idea you can expand upon or update. Now you’re halfway to creating a thriving law firm marketing blog that will help you generate more traffic for your website and leads for your practice. The other half of the equation is, of course, actually writing the content. And if you can’t find time for that, we can certainly help!
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