When you practice law, there are strict ethical standards regulating what you can do and who you can talk to. There are also some unspoken rules that most lawyers abide by that keep in good standing with judges and peers. As lawyers, you are trained to know and understand these rules and regulations. Years of experience help you identify the nuances of these tenets to optimize your performance in the courtroom and streamline your workflow.
As you can probably imagine, Internet marketing has its own set of rules. Marketing today is a complex labyrinth of links, apps, metrics, likes and keywords. There is not much formal training available and even if there were, the field is so dynamic that rules can change several times within a year.
Since Web traffic and leads generated by your site rely heavily on third parties — Google, Facebook, Twitter, Bing, Avvo and Yelp to name some— you have to make sure your content and Internet marketing strategy is compliant with each services’ standards and regulations. It’s complicated, and there are unethical ways to drive your name to the top of each, but be warned, ethics in legal Web marketing are crucial to your firm’s long-term success. Here’s a brief overview of just how far you should go to achieve lasting success on the Web.
Not Far Enough
Good, bad or indifferent, the Internet is saturated with websites. According to some experts, there are quite possibly several trillion Web pages in existence today. The growth of the World Wide Web in recent years can be attributed to the fact that just about anyone can build a website for their business or pay very little to have one designed. So the days of “just having a website” won’t do much for drawing in visitors or garnering leads (potential cases vital to keeping a business healthy and successful). In order to attract new visitors on a regular basis, you need to continually generate interesting content for search engines to index and readers to absorb.
Today’s consumers expect more. Not only do websites have to be aesthetically pleasing, but they have to be programmed well to avoid any potential technical glitches and easy to navigate. From a business standpoint, a website should be all of the above, but most importantly be built to convert with persuasive and search engine optimized copy, effective calls to action, free downloads and permission marketing lead capture capability. If a website is not adding to a business’s reputation, credibility or bottom line, what’s the point? Businesses must participate in activities that will aid in converting fans, followers and subscribers into paying clients.
Business owners who believe they aren’t doing enough are probably right!
We see this happen all the time – businesses that don’t give their online marketing initiatives a chance to be successful. Unless a business is engaging in paid marketing campaigns, they should prepare to wait several months before realizing any significant gains for their organic efforts. On the flip side, some businesses take it too far. They either: 1) exploit what could be a successful strategy; or 2) wander outside of the boundaries of ethical Internet marketing.
An example of this is black hat SEO. Tactics like keyword stuffing content, using redirects and doorway pages providing false search results and sending visitors to different pages — are well documented on the Web and familiar to search engines like Google. At one time, stuffing a page with keywords or buying spammy links was an easy way to get traffic and spur a few phone calls to your office. Today, sites can be penalized for these actions.
While there will always be unethical ways to boost search engine rankings, businesses should avoid these maneuvers. If you hire someone to help with your search engine optimization, ask specific questions about his or her strategy. The quick fix isn’t worth the long lasting consequences of being penalized by Google or Bing.
When it comes to the audiences you have already earned through social media or an email newsletter, it’s critical to respect the trust they have given you. Don’t tweet too much and when you do, don’t try to sell your followers. The amount you tweet should correlate directly with how much content is on your website. Content is fuel for your social media engine. In general, five to ten tweets per day is enough to keep followers engaged without annoying them. In that same vein, be cautious about how many emails you send because overdoing it is a surefire way to lose subscribers.
Leverage analytics to communicate with your audience at the right frequency and at ideal times. While Tuesday mornings used to be a great time to send an email, mobile devices have blended work and personal email to the point that off hours could be better. Experiment by sending your emails on different days at different times to find what works best for your readers.
If you have even the slightest hesitation about your approach to Internet marketing, slow down!
The right balance can sometimes be difficult, though not impossible, to achieve and can only be discovered through trial and error, as well as much practice. The balance shifts as your audience grows and as new platforms for communications ebb and flow. You might find that Twitter is driving traffic to your site one month and not the next. What changed? How can the process be improved? To be effective on the Web, you need to answer questions like this each and every day.
Here are some of the key elements to developing an effective, long-term Web marketing strategy today:
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Free offers (e.g. e-books)
- Customer Service/Follow-Up
Each element should be scrutinized to make sure it’s achieving the desired result. Content, for example, has to answer the questions your potential clients ask frequently and free offers should be compelling. Emails should go out regularly, but not too frequently and your customer service — perhaps the most underrated marketing strategy — should be stellar. That means treating everyone who calls your office with the utmost respect and making it as easy as possible for potential and current clients to find the information they need.
As you begin to find the right balance, you will see results. Visitors become leads and eventually leads become cases. When the process is well executed and running smoothly, it’s a thing of beauty to watch.
If your firm is interested in learning more about how to leverage the power of the web to generate cases, get a free copy of our new book 10 Reasons Your Site Doesn’t Generate Sales.
To learn more about our web content services and the discounted starter packages available to new clients, contact us today at 1-888-521-3880.