Stephen Fairley 2016-03-07 23:54:47
Leads, Leadership and Leverage: How to Get All 3 Using Your Law Firm Blog A law firm blog is one of the best ways for attorneys to generate leads, demonstrate leadership and gain leverage online by improving search engine results. There is no doubt that blogging helps your firm get to the top of Google for targeted search results. This is because Google and other search engines love fresh content and a blog is the best way to pump out that fresh content to search engines. In addition, social media research by HubSpot shows that companies with blogs generate 67 percent more leads than companies that do not have a blog! One of the best ways to capture leads is through educational marketing and your blog plays a singular role in this regard. Blogging allows you to initiate conversation with prospects that are having the exact kind of problems your law firm solves. Once you establish your expertise and gain their trust by providing relevant content, they are much more likely to take the next step to engaging you, usually by visiting your website or landing page that you are using in your blogs to direct your traffic. Some more key benefits of blogging for attorneys include: • A blog provides fresh material that can be posted on social media sites, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. • Sharing blog posts “socially” will increase your visibility, drive inbound links to your firm’s website, increase traffic to your website and lead to improved SEO results – meaning your law firm’s website will rank better in search engine results. • A blog establishes you as an industry thought leader and expert in your field, as well as builds awareness about your practice and your firm, increasing client engagement and generating potential business leads. • The more frequently you blog, the more online assets you build and the more credibility and visibility you gain. 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. Your law firm blog is your forum to connect with the community at large and to make it clear that you are an expert in your field. However, to make a blog the highly effective marketing medium you need it to be, you need: • An up-to-date blog that you write articles for at least three to five times per week. Each article should include clear calls-to-action with relevant offers to aid you in capturing email addresses. • A topic list designed to engage your target audience. • A content calendar with specifics for each post – title, keywords, calls-to-action, etc. • A list of social media sites to promote your blog – LinkedIn and Facebook should be at the top of this list. When you have all these things in place, you will be well on your way to having a blog that can easily anchor many of your law firm marketing efforts. The Hard Part of Blogging: Finding the Time According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing 2015 Report, the time it takes to write a typical 500-word blog post is one to two hours. While this may sound like a lot of time, it isn’t. The first 10 or 20 blogs you write will come fairly easy. It’s after you’ve been writing about your practice for two or three months every day that you will start having to do a lot more brainstorming and researching. Trust me, I know. HubSpot interviewed 4,000 marketers around the world for their 2015 report. In North America, a majority of the respondents (38 percent) spend one to two hours writing a post. Approximately 29 percent said they spend two to three hours per post, 29 percent spend over four hours and only 8 percent said they spend less than an hour per post. This data doesn’t necessarily mean that any particular amount of time is the “right” amount to spend writing a blog post. It just points out what is typical for a 500-word post, which is generally the optimal length to achieve your goals of blogging. To get the most out of your law firm blog, you should be posting to it nearly every day. We update our blog seven days per week and have for years. There may be some attorneys who have seven to 14 hours per week dedicated to writing for their blogs. I just don’t know that many of them. There are some who say that if you can’t write it yourself, you shouldn’t have a blog. I have and continue to disagree with that line of thought. That’s like saying, if you can’t figure out QuickBooks, you shouldn’t review your financial statements. In fact, there are several scenarios that should compel you to call in a pro. No. 1 – You’re not a good writer. Good writers love to write, but if you’re not in that group, there are plenty of people out there for you to hire or partner with in creating great content for your law firm. Yes, we do this for our attorney clients. There are also some great freelancers or maybe someone at your firm has this hidden talent. Find it, invest in it and reap the benefits. No. 2 – You don’t have the time. You went to law school to practice law, right? Creating content for blogs, social media and websites takes consistent effort and the investment of someone’s time, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be your time. You must ask yourself if this is the highest and best use of your time. No. 3 – You need expertise you don’t have. If you’re not up to speed on the latest SEO practices for maximizing online content, you need to either educate yourself or find a good writer with this expertise. Maybe you can write blogs, but you need help with your e-newsletter or free reports – this calls for a specialist with a particular skill set for creating content that will entice prospects. No. 4 – You can’t see the forest through the trees. Most attorneys are great at writing ... for their clients. Yet, when you are called upon to market yourself, promote your achievements, highlight your results, or educate potential clients, you may be too close to the subject and lose sight of the end goal. I personally struggle with this one and that’s why I usually work with one of our senior copywriters when putting out a press release or redoing our website copy. No. 5 – It’s too important. If you’re convinced of the importance of having the best possible messaging going out to your prospects and clients, and building your online reputation, leaving the development of that content to chance is a sure way to screw up. Bad copy can kill your credibility. Whether you do it in-house or hire a professional copywriter, remember that you are always in charge of your messaging. Your writer should be your marketing partner, understanding your firm and your target market, as well as the legal ethical standards you are held to and maintain your high standards. Even if you are not doing the actual work, the final responsibility for your legal marketing rests with you. 10 Ways to Get More Eyes on Your Blog Getting a sustainable source of traffic for your blog is another challenge and takes a concerted effort over time to build an audience. Market research tells us that there are some very effective tactics you can use on your website and blog to get more subscribers for your blog. Here are 10 of them. Home Page Opt-in Form. Place at least one opt-in form on your home page in a prominent location that asks readers to sign up. This could be for your monthly newsletter. Great Offer. Make a compelling offer of a free report or e-book that visitors to your blog can download by providing you with their email address. Blog Opt-In Form. Place another opt-in form at the end of each blog post and in the sidebar. We have found this to be a major tool in obtaining more leads. Dedicated Landing Page. Have a landing page on your site that is dedicated solely to collecting new blog subscribers. This content for this page will be your offer of a free e-book or report and will include a “Subscribe Now” box for your e-newsletter. Call-to-Action. Have a crystal clear call-to-action that gently nudges visitors to sign up. This could be to sign up for a free consultation or to connect with you on LinkedIn or like your Facebook page. Fewer fields. The most successful opt-in forms are those with the fewest fields. Use no more than three or four – first name, last name, phone number and email. About Page Opt-In Form. The “About” page is one of the most visited pages, so having an opt-in form on this page can convert some of those visitors to subscribers. Pop-ups and Sliders. Having a pop-up or slide-in form can increase sign-ups significantly. Testing. Test headlines and calls-to-action to see which words or phrases resonate with your target audience. Social Media. Pitch your blog and e-newsletter to followers on your social media pages. Some of these will perform better for you than others, so keep testing and tweaking until you strike the right balance that interests your prospects enough to sign up. Done correctly, your law firm blog can be an engaging online platform that allows you to educate potential prospects, stay connected with clients, show referral sources what you can do and position yourself as a credible expert to the media. Bottom line: blogging can be great for increasing your bottom line! Two-time international bestselling author, Stephen Fairley is CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, LLC, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company specializing in markeing and lead conversion for small to medium law firms. Over 15,000 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.
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