Category Archives: Marketing

8 Effective Online Marketing Techniques Used By Lawyers

Lawyer’s with websites need marketing techniques to introduce prospective clients to their legal services.

Whether you’re small- or medium-sized law firm, the techniques in this article can be used by you or review with your team to create an effective marketing strategy.

Take some time to decide which techniques are worth your time and efforts. You can always get one started and begin testing another later on.

The marketing strategy you create for your law firm will be completely unique to you.

Content Marketing

Content is the key to attracting visitors to your website and generating leads for your firm. Here are a few ways to use your content more effectively:

  • Offer Downloadable PDF. This is a simple way to capturing contact information from those visiting your website. Simply write a guide are common legal concerns, your area of expertise, or a course of action to take in situations requiring legal services. Putting your contact information inside the guide is a great way to encourage readers to contact your firm.
  • Write Quality Content. This can be difficult. Writing blog content that connects with your readers can entice them to share your content on their social media, thereby increasing your exposure and readership. Try focusing on the common concerns your prospective clients may be facing. As well, don’t be afraid to add a “share this with your friends” at the end of each article.
  • Share Your Content. For your content marketing to succeed, you have to share it in different places. Join Facebook groups, online forums, and answer questions on Quora. Once there, you can write responses and insert relevant links from your website.

Online Discussions & Groups

As mentioned previously, joining online communities, active forums, and places like Quora is a great place to share your content. In addition, you can also establish yourself as credible and reliable.

Instead of blasting out promotions to your content and links, maintain an active presence and build relationships with those online. Start by choosing just a few places to dedicate your time like LinkedIn, Facebook Pages, and other forums where discussions are regular.

Social Media

If you don’t have a social media presence, start now. As you share your best legal information online, having a place to reach out to prospects and build a community around you can minimize significant time and resources.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are still leading social media platforms where you can provide a place to build your online community.

The people who like your page or follow your accounts are likely genuinely interested in your services. Share content directly with them, they are your closest supporters.

Email Marketing

Lawyers using contact forms to collect leads can nurture those prospects through email marketing.

Email marketing is one of the lowest marketing costs and can lead to the highest ROI.

As you build your list of prospective clients, consider sending text-based emails only. Most people are familiar with opening emails from friends, families and business associates.

Emails that appear too noisy or filled with distracting images can immediately lead to the garbage bin, or worse, marked for spam.

Make A Video

In today’s media-rich world, video tends to be the dominating trend for both entertainment and sharing messages with others.

Creating videos can range from expensive high production features or your law firm to simply flipping on the camera and talking about your legal knowledge.

If you’re already blogging, consider turning your blogs into a full feature discussion involving you in your office. Having both videos and content related to the blog is appealing to a wider audience as well as boosts your credibility.

Facebook Ads / Google Adwords

Wondering how to increase your following on Facebook or boost traffic to your free consultation landing page?

Facebook Ads provide a range of possibilities to target prospective clients. You can set up your Facebook Ad account in a few steps. After that, you can begin to explore the demographic targeting feature to share your ads with specific audiences.

You should start with a low budget then adapt your ad campaign according to which ads are returning the most.

With Google Adwords, you can push your website to the top of search engines. Unlike Facebook Ads, your ads will be triggered based on relevant keywords that people are using to search online.

Knowing which keywords people are using can help your marketing attract more visitors to your website. However, something to keep in mind is that these keywords can be very competitive causing the price per click to be very high.

Before starting your first ad campaign, you may want to consider these Ethical Rules that lawyers must follow by the ABA.

SEO

If you’re a lawyer unfamiliar with how websites are ranked by search engines,  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

There are both on-page (i.e. modifications to your website) and off-page (i.e. your activities away from your website) which can influence where your website appears in search results.

Improving the SEO on your website is a great alternative to paying for advertisements because this can get you free traffic. However, the SEO changes you make today may not take effect right away.

Some things you can start doing to improve your SEO are:

  • Creating more backlinks to your website (i.e. sharing your content and pages on forums and other places online)
  • Improve the quality of your articles
  • Perform keyword research and use the appropriate words on your web pages and articles.
  • Improve your website’s page speed (page speed is an important factor that search engines use to rank your website)

Note: As you publish more content on your website, you’ll organically improve your SEO.

Live Chat

 Imagine being able to communicate with your visitors while they’re on your website.

Adding a live chat messaging system to your website can enable you to capture more leads and convert more visitors into clients.

Live chat works by triggering a message like, “How can we help you today?” whenever a visitor arrives at your website. Either you, your staff, or an outsourced agent can interact with that visitor.

During after hours, your live chat can continue to collect leads by providing information to contact you via email. You can return to office the next day and respond to any messages in your inbox.

There are a variety of live chat services dedicated to lawyers which is a consideration to ensure confidentiality and privacy of information shared over the chat system.

Slow Drip Is Better Than A Big Splash: Consistency Is King

Lately we have received several questions revolving around the difficulty of maintaining a consistent marketing presence without having to spend all day doing marketing instead of client work.

Most attorneys have heard the advice that they need a consistently updated marketing presence, but you’re already busy with your client cases and maintaining the business. Taking time away from the work that pays the bills to “work on marketing” is a tough ask without even considering that most of the time, it’s not always clear what needs to be updated or how often.

Here at AmazeLaw, we’re trying to take the generic guru-ish marketing advice that experts spout like gospel, and deconstruct it to teach attorneys what it really means and how they can use that advice to grow their firm.

The point of this post is to show you what consistency really means and how mastering it can benefit your business. Not only will we tell you what consistency online can do for you but we will also help you to keep up online while you keep up with your busy schedule.

What does it mean to be consistent?

What it means to be consistent varies depending on the activity, but the general goal, is that any time a prospective client stumbles upon your firm, either through your website, a facebook page, a tweet, etc, it needs to look like you’re on top of your marketing.

There are some technical reasons why this is beneficial, but let’s focus on the feels.

As a prospective client of your firm, I want to know that I’m going to be working with someone that I can relate to. Someone that’s on top of the latest trends in the area of my problem. And having marketing that’s up to date checks both of those boxes for me. And as a tip, another signal it sends, is that you’re not an overwhelmed solo. It shows a position of friendly strength. That you can afford to spend time teaching people about your craft because you’re good at what you do and you’re confident in it.

Consistency online helps to build professionalism, clarity, and trust from your viewers while also boosting your google standings. When your viewers are on your pages and you have only updated some of the content or haven’t updated in a really long time it looks as if you don’t care about the details.  As a solo the details can make or break a referral so keeping up online sends a message to your current and potential clients.  Your viewers will respond well to your commitment to be consistent online and take it as a sign that you are willing to commit to their issues and build a bond of trust.

So now you know you have to be consistent but you need to know how consistent do you need to be with each avenue that you have online. Does that mean every day? Every week? Every month? Well, it depends on the activity, so let’s break it down.

Social Media

Putting content on your social media posts can be simple and easy. An original thought everyday. Do you have more than one? Post it! Do you want to promote something more than once? Schedule it! Social media is a way to draw the attention of everyday viewers into things that you are mutually interested in. The idea behind social media is to constantly be grabbing the attention of  people online. Social should be part of your everyday morning routine. Get up, stop at Dunkin Donuts, get to the office, POST.

But it’s easy to say “Do social media every day!” That’s where most gurus stop. We put together a detailed 20-minute daily marketing plan, so check it out and commit to it for just one week.  

Blogging

Ah blogging, ranking second just behind social media for the buzzwordiest marketing advice that never gets into the details.

We’ll cover a simple plan to get you started in a few seconds, but let’s talk about what consistency means when it comes to blogging.

First off, the idea isn’t necessarily to drive a ton of traffic to your site today (though it’s possible and can be a nice side benefit), the idea is to build up your blog like a long-term savings account. And the easiest way to do that, is to make small weekly deposits. Over time your bank account (your website) will grow enough to the point that it has a large number of pages. And just like compounding interest, as a site grows and ages, it’s ability to attract more traffic increases as well.

We recommend weekly blog posts, mostly because it makes it easier to keep up with. Two weeks in between posts and you’ll get out of the groove, and blogging will remain that “activity I’ll get to later when I have lots of free time.” Twice a week can work even better, but we’re also trying to be realistic. It’s hard to set aside that much time every week.

Pick your slow day of the week if you have one. Friday is my favorite. Make a recurring weekly appointment on Friday morning (avoid the afternoon because we all know what happens to tasks relegated for Friday afternoon) to draft a blog post.

I would allocate an hour.  And all you do is spend one hour answering one common question you get from clients in the simplest terms possible. It might feel like you’re giving away your secret sauce. You’re not. The clients that take your info and try to run with it on their own, were never going to be clients anyways. The clients that look at it and say, “Whoah, she knows what she’s talking about and I really don’t have the time or the expertise to handle this on my own” are the clients you’ll love.

Alright, back to it, spend one hour answering one of your common client questions. The headline can be verbatim what clients usually ask, i.e. “How often should I update my will and what should I be looking out for?”

If you’re happy with the post after that hour, go ahead and post it you’re done. If you think it’s a bit rough, put it away and schedule 20 minutes of time on Monday to edit it.  You’ll find that having a weekend for the thoughts to settle in your head can really add to the clarity of your answers.

There’s no rocket science to blogging, and we could go into all sorts of advanced advice, but that plan will make it easy to get started, and could provide you many months of great blog posts.

Email Marketing

There aren’t many firms out there that are using email marketing to their advantage. And in an industry where you’re typically not needed until you’re really really needed, having a medium that puts you in front of prospective clients on an ongoing basis can be key to making sure that you’re top of mind when they do have the need.

We’ll be posting an epic email marketing tutorial soon that will go over all of the how’s and why’s of email marketing, but for the sake of completeness, we recommend that you’re emailing your list anywhere from once to twice a month.  More than that, and it’ll be tough to keep your newsletters stocked with great content, and any less and your list will go stale. Meaning your readers will start ignoring your emails, or perhaps even forget why they’re getting the email in the first place.

Don’t have an email list yet? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that soon. Better yet, sign up for our marketing bootcamp and you’ll get a weekly email that explains the whole process.

Consistency Is The Golden Ticket

It really is. Over time a consistent marketing approach will be out the best marketing campaigns or PPC ads, or TV commercials. So look at your schedule and see where you can add those small marketing nuggets to your daily, weekly, and monthly routine so that you never have to think about what to do next.

And if you need help, sign up for our Marketing Bootcamp,  and we’ll walk you through the basics and turn marketing your firm into a habit.

6 Reasons Why Lawyers Should Use Facebook Ads

Getting your law firm noticed can be one of the most challenging parts of your legal service. While traditional methods of advertisement (i.e. newspaper, radio, etc.) may still have some effect, in today’s smartphone-driven world, lawyers using Facebook Ads can give them an added advantage.

Before getting started, you may want to review this article about Facebook Ads. It’s an overview of Facebook Ads and can help you get started.

In this article, let’s look at the reasons why lawyers should be using Facebook Ads and how it can benefit the firm.

Access to Prospective Clients

Facebook is more than just a place to communicate with friends and share cute videos of cats. Many businesses are using Facebook because of the possibility of building strong relationships with their customers and clients.

Start with a Facebook page. Then share relevant content that people will want to read. Let your law firm website be the place where you advertise your services and your Facebook presence be where you establish a connection.

Facebook is a huge marketplace where people are sharing personal information about their daily lives. From their upcoming divorce to a recent car accident, Facebook gives you access to many prospective clients.

Target Specific People

Looking at the advertising potential of Facebook, the ability to create demographic specific ads allows you to target more people likely to use your legal services.

Facebook Ads has evolved significantly in recent years. They continue to make modifications and improvements to the way you can set up your ads.

For local businesses, the benefits are big. Being able to target specific regions of a city or groups of people experiencing similar problems can guide you toward a more effective Facebook Ad campaign.

Unlimited Customization

Aside from the targeting abilities Facebook Ads provides, you also have unlimited potential for customizing your ad campaigns.

Consider creating a unique landing page on your website that directs people clicking your ad. Send them to an email list subscriber or request a phone call right away.

The most important thing to do is to have a landing page that is related to the Facebook ad you use. Here are a few things you can put on your landing page to improve your ads performance:

  1. A short (~2 minute) video detailing your legal services
  2. 4 to 7 pieces of important information
  3. Your call to action (i.e. submit your email or give us a call).

Keep your landing page short and to the point. The purpose of Facebook advertising is to direct prospective clients toward contacting your law firm. If you have too much on your landing page, it can be overwhelming and cause visitors to leave right away.

An alternative to the landing page approach may be to send those who click your ad on your Facebook Fan Page. When they’re there, you can offer a valuable piece of content for their contact information.

Affordable

Unlike Google PPC, which has competitive keywords costing more than $100 per click, Facebook Ads can be very cost-effective.

If you’re doing the advertising yourself, it may take some time to find the right combinations before you discover an effective ad result.

In contrast, there are many digital marketing services that can offer their expertise in creating a campaign that fits your budget.

Whether you want to spend a few hundred dollars per month or significantly more, you can set up a campaign and measure the results. Knowing where your budget is going and evaluating the return on investment is just another get advantage that Facebook Ads has for lawyers.

Share Your Expertise

Let’s face it, people are using Facebook to be entertained and stay connected with their loved ones. They don’t enjoy being bombarded by advertisements selling products and services.

If you’re going to be using Facebook Ads to attract clients to your law firm, you’ll have to provide valuable information.

If you’re a personal injury lawyer, consider sharing an article like:

  • Car accidents occur daily and studies have shown that most accidents occur because of these major reasons.We discuss 7 reasons how personal injury lawyers help and how you can reduce the stresses that come with getting in an accident.

If your focus is a divorce lawyer, you may want to try:

  • Studies show that children live unsatisfying lives and perform poorly in school when their parents are conflicting at home.We discuss 5 reasons why children can benefit from divorce and live happier, more successful lives.

Providing posts like these for Facebook users allows you to interact directly with prospective clients. Instead of selling your services you can create a relationship that makes you an expert on the legal practice you specialize in.

Build Community Awareness

Even though you are sharing content and providing valuable information, people may not inquire about your legal services right away.

From a consumer’s perspective, it takes multiple encounters with a brand before they make the decision to purchase. With the impacts of marketing and the skepticism of today’s consumers, that number continues to increase.

As you build awareness within the community, you’ll be able to stand apart from other law firms that don’t offer additional information to those on Facebook.

Facebook Ads is just one way to get people to recognize your legal services. When people start reading your articles, they may have questions related to their situation. Having other tools on your website, such as a Customer Response Management app, can help answer their questions and set up a consultation at your office.

Check out this article on CRMs for lawyers to use in combination with your Facebook Ad campaigns.

Lessons In Marketing For Solo And Small Firm Attorneys From A Solo Attorney

Hi, I’m Katie.  I’m an employment attorney.  I like what I do, and I’m good at it.  Oh, you want to hire me?  Great!

If only it was that easy.  I’ve been a solo attorney for a little more than a year and a half.  I’ve learned so much about attorney marketing, especially marketing online.  I know I’ve probably only scratched the surface of everything that I should know, but I’ve made huge strides.  I get calls from other attorneys telling me how much they like my blog.  Clients find me online.  Am I always on the first page of for the search terms I want?  No.  But I’m getting there.

I was lucky that I have a husband who understands all this stuff, but I still had to learn a lot of it myself, and I had to make a ton of mistakes along the way.  If you’re reading this, you might be where I was when I first started.  Let me help you by sharing a few of the lessons I’ve learned.

  • It’s hard and it takes a lot of time.  Sorry.  I know you were looking for lessons that are going to make your life easier, but let’s start with the principle that’s going to carry you through all of your marketing endeavors.  No one teaches you how to do this in law school.  If you started your career at a firm, the firm paid someone else how to do this.  So now not only are you starting a completely new business and lifestyle, but you have to learn another skill.  But that’s okay, because you can do it and there are ways to make it easier, but let’s just all accept that as lawyers, marketing is a skill that does not come easily to most of us.
  • Take time to figure out who you need to reach.  When I first started out on my own, I felt like I needed to get in front of anyone and everyone.  What if I missed out on an opportunity?  I need blogs that reach every audience.  I want to send my email updates out to everyone and their brother (and somehow find a way to be interesting to everyone on that list).  Then I realized that I only have so many hours in the day, and that I need to be efficient, effective, and focused.  Who are your best referral sources?  For me, it’s HR professionals and other attorneys who don’t do employment law, so my marketing efforts need to be specific to those groups.
  • Figure out the best way to reach them.  The people you want to reach may not always keep you top of mind, but your online presence can help with that.  I try to write blog posts and email newsletters that attract HR professionals (day-to-day information that helps them do their job) and other attorneys (legal changes/important cases).  I also only send my email newsletters to people who have expressed interest.  And it works.  I’ve actually gotten emails back from readers thanking me for putting the email together.  How often do you get a mass email and decide that want to thank the author?
  • Find the right tools to help you.  Everytime I write a blog post (shameless plug – it is so easy to do this through AmazeLaw), I make sure to put it out on social media.  I use Hootsuite and autoschedule.  I don’t have to think about the best times to post, and I only have to post once for it to go to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook.  I also use Mailchimp to manage my email lists (more shameless plugging – AmazeLaw integrates with Mailchimp).  Yes, it took a little for me to learn how to use these early on, but now I cannot imagine marketing without them.

I know that I’m not an expert on marketing, but I’m learning and finding a way to make it work for me.  As a solo attorney, I can’t justify spending money on marketing consultants when I know I’m smart enough to figure it out for myself.  I became a solo attorney in part for the flexibility, and I’ve built my firm so that I can make time for marketing because it’s worth the effort.

If you’re looking for more information on marketing, AmazeLaw has a great email marketing bootcamp that you can sign up for at  amazelaw.wpengine.com/#newsletter.  And if you have any questions about your firm’s marketing efforts, you are always free to email me with questions at info@amazelaw.com.  Good luck!

Your Guide to Finding the Best Topics For Your Law Firm Blog

One of the hardest things about law blogging is consistently coming up with topics that resonate with your audience.

Are you struggling to find decent topics for your blog?

Does it feel a bit like reading the tea leaves?

It doesn’t have to. In fact, today I’m going to share with you several ways to find the best topics for your blog, no divination necessary.

Would you like a list of potential topics for your legal blog? Check this out!

Know Your Clients

Understanding who your clients are and what they want most is the first step to finding relevant topics for your law blog. Your blog should serve as a resource of information for your target client. So, the first question to answer is:

Who is your target client?

You may specialize in real estate law, and more specifically landlord tenant law. If you do, come up with housing law topics that these types of clients would be most interested in. These topics may include posts on landlord rights, tenant rights, how to terminate a lease in your state, the eviction process, and/or privacy laws.

It’s tempting to make general and superficial posts that only parrot state law and not much else. However, I recommend that you challenge yourself to give a thorough treatment of each topic that you tackle in your blog. The reason is that your blog will serve as a marketer for your services. If a prospective client comes to your blog via a Google search and finds it useful and authoritative, he or she will view you as someone who:

  • Knows the law
  • Knows the problem the client is facing
  • Knows the solution

You need all of these three components to build trust with your prospective clients. By creating in depth blog posts that appeal to what your specific clients need at the moment, you’re showing them that you know who they are and what they’re going through. That’s the beauty of a blog post done right.

Not sure what type of content your target clients want to know about? Here are a few questions to help you figure it out:

  • What is the most important concern for your clients?
  • What law-related questions do they search on the Internet?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are the most common questions you get from your clients asked over and over again?

Make a list of the answers to these questions, and you’ll start to see a list of potential blog topics develop. Then, start generating blog post idea around each topic. It may help you to break each blog topic down into a series of questions. Keeping with the landlord tenant example earlier, here’s what the process may look like:

Topic:
Security Deposit

Potential Blog Posts:
Is a security deposit the same as last month’s rent?
How much can a landlord deduct from my security deposit for cleaning?
How can I dispute a security deposit deduction?
When should I expect my security deposit?

Ask Your Clients

If you already have an established audience, don’t miss the opportunity to ask them what type of content they’re most interested in. Periodically poll them to research future blog topics from the exact audience you’re hoping to reach. Use all the channels available to you to discover the learn about the topics your audience wants to learn about.

Let’s discuss where you can survey your clients, and how.

Survey Your Site Visitors

Did you know that you can ask for blog post feedback right on your site? My favorite way to do this is with a tool called SurveyMonkey, although there are plenty of other great options available. I like SurveyMonkey because the first 10 questions and 100 responses are free, and if you need more, they have an affordable monthly pricing plan, too.

With SurveyMonkey, you have the option to embed the survey on your blog, show a quick popup survey, or invite readers to participate in a longer survey.

For the purposes of idea generation, I’d recommend keeping it short. Go with the embed survey or quick popup survey.

Survey Your Email Subscribers

If you have an email list, let’s put them to work. You can send surveys along with your newsletter. Directions vary depending on your email newsletter service provider. However, if you use MailChimp, SurveyMonkey integrates perfectly.

Follow the instructions here to create and send your email subscribers a link to your survey.

Ask Your Followers on Social Media

SurveyMonkey to the rescue again!

In your survey creation dashboard, select the “Collect Responses” tab to determine how you’ll gather answers to your survey. In this case, select “Post on Social Media”. This option will give you a short link that you can post across all of your social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

surveymonkey collect responsesImage Courtesy of SurveyMonkey

What Should You Ask?

The next step is deciding what to ask. I suggest you go with a multiple choice. Ask something like, “What type of blog posts would you like to read from us in the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts!” Then, give them a choice list of between three to five blog post topics.

Analyze Which Blog Posts Do Best

Another way you can find out which blog posts resonate best with your audience is to look at the data. There are two ways to do this:

If you already have content on your blog, take a look at your blog’s analytics. Which posts are the most popular?

The second option is to discover which blog posts do well for your competitors. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find out which posts are the most shared. Search for a keyword phrase related to the topics you feel most qualified to write about. In this example, I’ll use the phrase “landlord tenant law”.

buzzsumo landlord tenantImage Courtesy of BuzzSumo

With BuzzSumo, you can narrow the search field by date, such as past year, week, or within the last 24 hours. You can also find out the latest news surrounding a topic (more on this below).

Other Ways to Source Blog Topics

Let’s discuss other ways to generate topics for your blog.

Let the News Guide You

Is there some interesting case that’s popular in the news right now? Analyze a hot topic case for your blog. You can highlight it as a cautionary tale, add your expert opinion on the facts of the case, or attach a do and don’t guide to help readers who may be in a similar circumstance.

Another idea is to discuss new laws or trends that affect your clients that they may not be aware of. Consider yourself a teacher who simplifies the often complex issues in the law by using stories to illustrate your point.

Create a Regular Series

You can create a regular post series on your blog such as “Ask a Lawyer” or “Your Legal Questions Answered.” Once a month, answer a commonly asked question. Hey, when you think about it– it’s only 12 questions a year, but you can cover a lot of ground.

Another benefit to creating a series around commonly asked questions is now you’ll have a place to direct those questions when they come through your email and social media. You can even link to them on forums, too.

Visit Legal Forums

Another great way to find topics for your blog is to scour legal forums. Look for popular questions that are asked (even if they’ve already been answered). To determine the popularity of a particular question, look at the amount of views it has received. This indicates that a lot of people have a vested interest in the same topic.

expertlaw viewsImage Courtesy of ExpertLaw

You probably know quite a few legal forums already, but these are among the most active:

If you’d like more information on creating an engaging blog, check out this post here: 8 Steps to Creating a Law Firm Blog that People Want to Read.

Remember to download our list of potential topics for your legal blog!

Why Should Lawyers Use Live Chat On Their Law Firm’s Website

If your firm has a law website, having a way to instantly communicate with visitors can increase your firm’s intake of new clients.

Live chat software is a smart solution when it comes to your online marketing and advertising efforts. When a visitor engages with your live chat, you can quickly and immediately address their questions or schedule a consultation.

Before going on about the benefits live chat provides a law firm’s website, there are ethical issues to consider. While you may be eager to use clever marketing techniques to convert visitors into your next client, the American Bar Association has outlined some ethical rules for lawyer’s websites.

With an understanding of what you can and cannot do, the following five points will review the top benefits of using live chat.

Easy to Get Started

Worried that installing live chat on your law firm’s website will require technical knowledge?

Many live chat services can get their software running on your website in just a few clicks. Whether you have computer knowledge or not, once live chat is installed on your website, the next thing to do is to get ready for visitors to your website.

When a visitor arrives at your website, they will receive a notification that you (or qualified staff) is standing by to offer assistance. If the visitor engages with the live chat messenger, you will be immediately notified and a live chat session can begin.

All live chat services offer varying packages and features. Some can provide pre-scripted bots which allow you to direct visitors using prompted questions, toward providing their contact information.

Establish Trust and a Good First Impression

In a lawyer’s line of work, you know that most people do not enjoy the legal process. When it comes to finding a lawyer for their situation, people want to alleviate their problems and quickly as possible.

Live chat allows you to set a good impression the moment a prospective client lands on your website. You can quickly engage in a conversation and build trust by addressing their needs. You can respond to visitors specific needs and prepare them for intake.

When your prospective clients end the live chat session, they will feel listened to and relieved. This is a much better alternative to filling out contact forms and waiting anxiously for your phone call.

Differentiate Your Legal Services

Law firms are constantly searching for new ways to differentiate themselves from their competition. With live chat, law firms can provide a 24/7 reception and continue to collect leads for prospective clients after hours.

In certain situations that require legal services, prospective clients are often enduring emotional situations and want immediate assistance. Those recovering from a personal injury, going through a divorce, or on the brink of bankruptcy are looking for a solution as soon as possible.

Imagine being frustrated, sad, or extraordinarily angry, if you can’t find what you’re looking for on a website within a few seconds, you’ll likely go to another lawyer’s website with the solution.

Having live chat on your website is a sure way to address the immediacy and urgency of your prospective client’s situation.

Reduce Intake Time

In case you find yourself preoccupied with client’s cases and your staff is busy with administrative tasks, you can still use live chat to continue intaking.

Some live chat companies offer a unique service allowing you to have 24/7 live chat on a per-lead-basis. This means that whenever a visitor comes to your website, uses the live chat, and provide their contact information (i.e. e-mail, phone number, etc.), you pay the live chat company.

This is both time efficient and cost-effective as you won’t have to hire another receptionist or staff to handle inquiries at odd hours. Often, people are too preoccupied during typical work hours to contact your office. Live chat allows you to collect leads even after you have closed the office.

Another beneficial feature is that should the live chat provide a lead or begin intaking a client, you can receive an immediate notification. This allows you to respond either by email or phone call to that prospective client following their inquiry to your law firm.

Increased ROI and Conversion Rates

This is likely to be the most valued part of any live chat software. When you have a successful website with traffic coming in, converting them into clients is the next thing to do.

All that money you invested in web design, hosting and creative advertisements would be for nothing if visitors weren’t becoming your client. Live chat has a proven ability to increase conversion rates on websites.

Obtaining answers to problems is a high priority for people browsing online. Instead of wasting time search through help forums, FAQs, or irrelevant articles, live chat solves problems quickly.

In addition, live chat providers offer fair pricing and may even go so far as to guarantee an increase in conversions or your money back. Having this kind of promise allows your website to focus on what matters most: finding new clients.

Final Thoughts

If you’re using Facebook Ads or Google Adwords to promote your law firm the live chat icon on your website can improve your ROI. However, the American Bar Association (ABA) has stated a few rules about using live chats on a law firm’s website. To review these ethical rules, please see ABA Rules for Websites and Advertising.

crumpled up law blog

Solo Lawyers Can’t Afford To Be Law Bloggers

You are not a law blogger. Go ahead, say it out loud if you’re not at a coffee shop where people would look at you weird. It’s that important.

So much of the advice bandied about on the internet regarding how attorneys should blog, is for lack of a more-perfect term, crap. It simply doesn’t apply to you as a solo or small-firm attorney. Here’s why.

Law Bloggers use their blog to increase their status and credibility among other lawyers.

When you’re just starting out, this seems like the easy, logical place to start.

After all, you know the law, you can provide deep commentary on the law that other lawyers would appreciate, and that Small Firm Inferiority Complex is a powerful beast that is always thinking of ways to justify to your big-firm brethren that just because you’re small, it doesn’t mean you’re not an expert.

Here’s the thing though. Your clients don’t care. If they were interested in learning the nuances of law, and could understand that deep analysis, they wouldn’t need your help.

They want to know how the nuances of law affect their daily life. How do they solve that one nagging problem that they’ve ended up at your site trying to solve? And can you explain that problem, that pain, to them better than they could explain that pain to themselves. That’s how you win a client’s trust. Not, by being the most vocal fish in a small pond of blogging lawyers, but by doing the legwork to convey true understanding of your clients’ day-to-day problems.

Now, I won’t deny that there’s certainly value in convincing other lawyers that you’re worth a referral, and sometimes it’s valuable to provide a unique insight and circulate it among your peers. But make no mistake about it, writing for lawyers should be considered a rare guilty pleasure, not the focus of your firm’s marketing plan.

Law Bloggers consider their blog to be a separate entity from their firm.

Law bloggers often see their blog as an extension of their personal brand; a sort of hedge against becoming too synonymous with their parent firm lest they decide one day that they want to move on. That’s a great strategy, and I’d recommend that strategy to any associate (or partner) at a big firm.

But you’ve already taken that leap. There’s nothing left to hedge against. Your blog is the marketing arm of your firm, and they should be so intertwined as to be indistinguishable to any potential clients (and Google). Worrying about driving visitors from your blog to your firm website is a fool’s errand. Your blog is your firm website.

What’s more, if you were to separate your firm website from your blog, you’re effectively making sure that none of the SEO value generated by all of that effort is transferred to your firm. Having them both under the same domain is critical to ensuring that your firm and its blog rank well in Google.

Blog posts don’t pay the bills, clients do.

Your blog isn’t about you. It’s about your clients. Everything you do needs to be geared toward their needs, their desires, their pains. Every marketing activity you spend time on need to be focused on one of two things. One, getting more prospective clients to your site. And two, convincing them that you’re so deeply in tune with their problems that they absolutely can’t afford to not contact you for your expertise.

In short, you need to focus on blogging to get business, not being in the business of blogging.

To that end I would strongly recommend looking outside the law industry and into small business marketing for your marketing advice, as your small-firm’s marketing is much more closely related to that of a pool salesman* than a law blogger.

* Marcus comes off a little “marketing-guru” at the beginning, but trust me, you’ll love him by the end. One of the more genuine applications of business blogging I’ve ever seen and a simple framework you can always fall back on when you’re searching for what to write about, or even why you’re bothering at all.

 

Photo Credit: HPUPhotogStudent used under CC

How to Find Qualified Clients

Whether you have a small or medium-size law firm, one need remains the same: clients. But not just any warm body will do. You need to find clients who are qualified and have a need for your services. That’s a tall order, but one that we’ll fill by the end of this post.

Stick around to find out how you can use the magic of the Internet to find qualified clients for your legal practice. Let’s discuss!

Would you like a worksheet for finding the perfect client? Subscribe to receive this extra resource.

Identify Your Ideal Client

The best way to start is by identifying your ideal client. To aid in this, I’ve provided a list of questions to help:

Who are they? Include basic demographics such as age, gender, location, and income.

What do they need from you? How likely are they to reach out to you?

Why do they need your service? If you offer more than one service, consider creating a client persona for each.

Where do they live online? Are they mostly on Facebook, Google (everyone’s on Google), Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp, Avvo Law, or Pinterest? If you’d like to know which platform you’d be more likely to find clients, check out this post on Choosing the Best Social Media Platform for your Law Firm.

When do they research lawyers? Does your target client wait until the last minute? When they do reach out, what time do you get the majority of your calls? Is it 10 AM? 3 PM? This can indicate a lot about your average client.

Create a Website

Now that you’ve compiled a client persona, it’s time to create a marketing strategy to welcome those clients in.

When trying to find and nurture clients, always start with a website.

Remember, it’s not the 90s anymore. Folks use the Internet (not the Yellow Pages) to find everything from appliances to Zumba. As an attorney, you’ve got to make sure that your services are represented online, too. The way to do that is with a website.

A website is like an “always on” salesperson. Your website works for you even at midnight and on holidays. If you plan it right, your website can provide just as much information as your front office staff (but don’t tell them I said that).

On your website, be sure to create a blog that people actually want to read. Blogs are a powerful tool that can help you educate your site visitors and establish yourself as the knowledgeable pro that you are.

Use Paid Advertising

We’ve discussed how to use paid advertising before, so I won’t rehash it here. Check out how to use paid advertising to dominate the local search listings. Be sure to click on that link because there we discuss what SEO and search advertising really means for your law firm. I also give you the exact formula for how to get on a first-page listing on Google’s search results.

Create a Call-Only Ad Campaign

Have you ever searched on the Internet with your smartphone? Chances are, you’ve seen a little call button to the right side of the top few listings. That’s little button is going to transform your online marketing campaign, and here’s how:

People who search for lawyers with their smartphones are motivated to go beyond “research mode” and into results mode. They want to speak to a live person. Instead of directing them to a webpage, you should offer a call button for quick access.

This is known as a call-only ad campaign.

It costs the same as a regular headline click, but you’ll have a much more engaged prospective client who wants to act now.

In the order of things:

website < phone call < consultation < representation

add-phone-number

Here’s how to create a call-only ad campaign with Google.

By the way, don’t forget about Bing. While Google is the undisputed giant in Internet search, Bing does have 20% of the market share. You can follow these same steps on Bing to find qualified clients there, too. And it may even be cheaper.

Provide Enhanced User Experience

Did you know that a bad first impression of your website can lower your chances of getting clients? It’s true that you can lose site visitors just by a slow website– and by slow, I mean a site that takes three seconds or longer to load.

Three seconds.

No one wants to wait for answers. You’ve got to make sure that your website is fast load and provides all of the answers your prospective clients need immediately.

Even worse than a slow-loading website is one that’s completely disorganized and hard to navigate. If your site visitors have to click a lot of links trying to find the answers they’re looking for, they’re going to give up and hit the back button.

Here’s how to prevent a disorganized website:

Get clear about what information you’d like to share on your website. Here’s a good idea of where to start:

On your Homepage: Discuss what services you offer and who would benefit most from them. Keep it short, simple, and clean.

On your About page: Discuss who you are but keep it client-focused. Craft your About page to help the prospect understand why they should choose you. It’s good to underscore the kind of cases and clients you often work with in this page.

On your Services page: Be very clear about what services you offer and then break it down even further. Remember, your prospective client probably doesn’t know much about law, they just know that they need a lawyer. Use language they would understand. Oftentimes, a layman doesn’t know exactly what something’s called. Here’s your chance to educate and empower them to figure out what service they need from you.

You may also find it helpful to create a separate page for each service that you offer.

Prepare a Thorough FAQ Page: A lot of folks head straight for the frequently asked questions page, if you have one, to decide whether they need your services. This is yet another golden opportunity to answer common questions that you’d normally discuss over the phone. It’ll free up your phone lines for more specific questions, and provide a valuable resource to online prospective customers who are searching for answers.

faq

Image Courtesy of Thurman Law

Follow Up Immediately on the Phone

There are times when you’re just not available. For example, maybe the caller left a message after hours. Perhaps you’re on another line. Whatever the case, don’t let that prospect fade– be sure to follow up immediately whenever possible.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind: a prospective client who doesn’t reach you will oftentimes go to the next attorney on the list. Boo. But, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re out. By calling that person back in a reasonable timeframe (by the end of the business day), you may be able to persuade them to choose you – especially if you’re presenting yourself as friendly and helpful.

Unlike emails and voicemails, phone calls are great for gauging interest.

Push the In-Office Consultation

Of course, you don’t want to give away everything in a phone call. It’s so crucial to get the caller into an in-office consultation. This is where you’ll be able to separate those who just want free legal advice from actual paying clients.

Should you offer free or paid consultations?

There’s compelling opinions on both sides. The benefit of offering:

A free consultation – You’ll definitely set more appointments because everyone loves “free”. You’ll also separate yourself from your competitors because they’re more likely to charge for consultations.

A paid consultation – You’ll get more motivated prospects. People who are willing to pay an initial consultation fee are more likely to sign a representation agreement.

A happy medium? Consider charging a consultation fee but then crediting it back to their account if they choose to retain your services.

You can also explain your process over the phone and on your website to help drive the in-office consultation.

Polish Your Profiles

By now, you know how important it is to have a website, but that’s not the only way to represent your law firm online. You also need to expand to social media networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter

We’ve actually covered this in-depth here: Choosing the Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand. If you need help figuring out which platform to use, be sure to check out that post.

Being on a social platforms helps you extend the reach of your online marketing. You can start amassing followers and then updating them through your social platforms. While they may not always come to your website, they can always be connected to you through your social media updates.

Also make sure you’re fully utilizing online review sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Avvo. We’ve also gone in depth on those topics here: Pick Me! Your Beginner’s Guide on How to Attract Local Clients Via the Internet.

Prospective clients may head to these review sites first before even starting a Google search. What will they find once they get there?

Negative reviews are one thing; negative reviews without a follow up from you are a death sentence. Don’t make that mistake. Follow up on all reviews, trying to resolve those that you can, but acknowledging everyone else with a heartfelt thanks for their feedback. No sarcasm, please. Remember– you’ve got an audience.

Final Thoughts

Remember how we discussed that a website is fundamental to finding qualified clients? We can help with that. Let’s talk about building you a site that you can be proud of.

Would you like a worksheet for finding the perfect client? Subscribe to receive this extra resource.
Google Setup Guide

The Ultimate Small Firm Google Setup Guide

Everyone knows Google is the ruler of the roost when it comes to search. In this guide, we’ll take you through the steps to make sure your firm’s Google setup is a firm foundation for the rest of your marketing efforts.

What a lot of small law firms miss out on is the fact that Google provides a number of free tools to help site owners (that’s you) adhere to best practices that can help Google better understand what your content is about. And when you make Google’s job easier, it can only help your prospects of ranking for important search keywords.

We’re going to walk through the setup of each of these tools to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the free stuff.

Your Google Account

First thing’s first. You need to have a Google account. If you use gmail, you’re probably familiar with all of this, but I would highly recommend setting up a separate Google account specifically for your firm. It’ll make things much easier down the road.

If you use Google Apps for your firm’s email, awesome, you already have a Google account, and you can use that email and password to sign in.

If you don’t use Google Apps, you can still create a Google account using your business email address, just use this form.

Google Analytics

Google analytics is a tool that keeps track of who’s visiting your site and when. It’s a very powerful tool that we’ll get into in more detail at a later time, but for now, let’s just get your site set up and verified.

First, log into google analytics by going to http://www.google.com/analytics. Once there, you’re going to create an account by clicking on the “create an account” link in the top right corner.

Google analytics is structured by accounts and then by property. Accounts act as a grouping of websites (properties). For most firms, you’ll only have one property, but if you have a law blog on a separate domain, like blog.myfirm.com, or myfirmblog.blogger.com, you may want to manage multiple sites.

Let’s start by following Google’s instructions for setting up your firm’s account.

Click on the ‘Admin’ link at the top of the page. From here you should be able to create a new account. Fill it out as follows (let’s assume your firm is called AmazeLaw Firm and your website is amazelawfirm.com):

Account Name: AmazeLaw Firm
Website Name: Main Website
Website URL: http://amazelawfirm.com
Industry Category: “Law and Government”
Reporting Timezone: Select your timezone
Data Sharing Settings: It’s ok to leave the defaults here, but for the paranoid, you can uncheck “Anonymously with Google and others” and “Account specialists”.

When you’re ready, click ‘Get Tracking ID’ and accept Google’s Terms & Conditions.

Congratulations, you’re now staring at a rather techy looking page that contains the code you need to add to your website in order to get tracking up and running.

If you use a content management system like WordPress, Drupal, or AmazeLaw, all you need to do is authenticate with Google Analytics and it will suck the code in for you. For example, on WordPress, if you go to Plugins > Add New and search for “Yoast Google Analytics” you can install a plugin that will allow you do suck in your code. There’s even a nifty video over here that will show you exactly how to set it up.

If you use AmazeLaw, just log in and go to your dashboard, there should be a giant button asking you to authenticate. Clicking that will automatically suck in your tracking code.

Now if you don’t use WordPress or AmazeLaw or if you need a developer to add the code for you, here’s a sample email you can send your developer that will instruct them on how to add it to your site. By the way, this should be an amazingly simple task for any competent developer so don’t let them charge you for more than an hour’s time to do it (it’ll likely take less than 10 minutes depending on how they’ve set up your site.)

Hi <Developer’s Name>,
I would like to add google analytics to my site. The following code needs to be added to the <head> tag on every page on my site.
<Copy and Paste the tracking code here>
Thanks!
<Your Name>

That’s it! You can verify whether the tracking is installed by going to Admin > Choosing your account and property, and then .js Tracking Info > Tracking Code. Next to your Tracking ID, you should see “Waiting for Data” or “Tracking Installed”.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google doesn’t provide much direct control when it comes to how your site appears in search, but what little control it does give you is controlled from webmaster tools.

In order to log in to Webmaster Tools, just visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home. From there, you’ll be able to add your site and verify ownership.

When you log in, if you don’t have any sites set up, you’ll see a welcome video and a simple text field where you can put your domain to add your site. Simply enter your domain, and click ‘Add Site’.

If you followed the steps in the Google Analytics section above your site should already be verified. If not, follow one of the procedures Google outlines in order to verify your ownership of the site. Unfortunately, it may require help from your developer.

Google+ Authorship

Google+ may not be poised to take over Facebook any time soon, but it’s generally accepted that having a Google+ profile set up (if not actively updated) is a best practice for SEO. Google has indicated that going through the process of verifying the authors of content on your site will act as a quality signal in search algorithms. In other words, set up a Google+ account for yourself, and link it to your website.

If your email uses the same domain as your website (it does right!?) then the process is simple. Just log into Google+ using your firm email address and then go to this link and submit your website.

If you don’t have an email address for your domain, something like myfirm@gmail.com or awesomelegalsolutions@hotmail.com, then it requires a bit of effort to get authorship set up, and honestly, your time would be better spent signing up for Google Apps for business and moving your email over there. After all, bill@awesomelegalsolutions.com is a lot more professional than awesomelegalsolutions@hotmail.com.

Google Places

And finally, it’s time to get you on the map. This is absolutely key to making sure your firm is available for Google to list at the top of localized searches. You know, the ones that show a map and a list of 5-10 businesses.

Signing up for Google Places is quick and easy as well. Go to the Google Places signup page and click “Get on Google”.

In the map that appears, search for your business, either using the name or your office address if you have one. If it appears in the search box, click on the business to claim it. If not, just select the “None of these match. Add your business” link at the bottom of the search results to create yours in the system. Now, if you don’t have a Google+ page for your firm, this will go ahead and create the page for you as well.

There are a few fields worth noting when you get to the point that you need to enter your address information. The first is, well, the actual address. Many solo’s don’t actually have a physical office, and even if you do, it’s likely that you want to serve an area larger than the city in which you live. If you don’t have an actual office, enter your home address (you’ll be able to hide the address later). But whether you have an office or not, make sure you check the box that says “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location.”

And finally for the “Category” field, you could put the general “Legal Services” or if you have a specialty try that. Search along the lines of “Family Law Attorney” or “Employment Attorney” to select your specialty.

Once you have filled out that information, it’s time to let Google know where you operate. If you checked the box above, you’ll be given the option to list out cities, or choose a radius around your office. I would suggest a radius, but that’s entirely up to you. If you want your office to also appear on the map, just check the box “I also serve customers at my business address”.

When that’s done, you’ll be prompted to create a Google+ page for the business and sign Google Terms of Service.

You’ll be asked to verify your business by mail, and you can then go ahead and edit your Google+ business page.

Whew!

That’s it! Take a break. Now you can edit your site knowing that you’re all set with Google.

Was that too much? Want help?

This stuff can get super hard to keep track of. That’s one thing we pride ourselves on here, is our ability to stay on top of best practices on the web, and then building it into our system so that you don’t have to worry about it.

If you want to spend more time being a lawyer, and less time tinkering in HTML…

Sign up for a free trial at amazelaw.wpengine.com

 

Photo Credit: Carlos Luna used under CC

Email Marketing For Attorneys

I am not a lawyer. There. I said it. But I am married to a wonderful employment attorney who’s just recently hung her shingle. Like most solo attorneys out there, she’s found that building a client base is a constant exercise in hard work, ingenuity, consistency, and persistence.

I happen to be a really nerdy guy that has a background in building digital marketing platforms, so we sat down one night to figure out what ONE THING we could focus on that could get her the most bang for her buck in terms of getting in front of her ideal clients right now, and staying top of mind for when they actually had a need for her help.

We tossed SEO, as you’re not going to get to the first page in Google for anything but your name in the first few months of starting a firm. Anyone that tells you otherwise is peddling snake-oil. So what’s one to do when faced with the long-game that is internet marketing? Well, you have to get a little scrappy, and go places that most of your competitors won’t.

I’ll share what we came up with, and walk you through every step of putting this in place for you. And as long as you’re not an employment attorney in Southern NH, I’ve been given the green-light from the Mrs to let you in on the goods.

The Case For A Weekly Newsletter Over Say, Twitter or Facebook

The one constant over the last 20 years of the internet (besides cat photos of course) is email. Everyone has an email address. Everyone checks their email multiple times a day.  Everyone gets a nice little dopamine kick every time an email comes in and their phone beeps or vibrates in their pocket. In short, it’s the most ubiquitous way to insert yourself into a person’s weekly routine.

But you know all that. The real beauty of an email newsletter is twofold.

One, email is easily shareable. We’re used to forwarding an email, and we don’t have to leave our browsers to do it. No fancy “Share This” buttons, no URL shorteners, just a simple forward to a friend is all it needs to spread, and spreading is what you really want right now.

Two, email generates a feeling of reciprocity. Our species has a hyper-developed urge to return favors given to us. If you’re able to provide enough value to your readers on a regular basis in the form of insights, aggregated interests, etc, when it comes time to seek legal advice in your area of expertise, you’re the one they’ll have that urge to go back to.

I promised two, but I’ll give you a bonus reason. Email is not controlled by another company’s desire for you to pay them money in order to reach your audience. It’s been shown that Facebook posts are seen by less than 6% of a brand’s followers, and internally, Facebook wants to see that number drop to 1%-2%. Why you ask? Because they need money in order to satisfy their share-holders, and the only way to do that is to be the gate-keeper (read: toll-keeper) between you and the audience you’ve painstakingly built on their platform.

So if you want to actually build that audience, you’re now going to have to use their Facebook ads platform to do so.

Own your audience! An engaged newsletter subscriber is orders of magnitude more valuable than a Twitter follower or Facebook fan.

Now that begs the question, who should your audience be?

Choosing an audience

Deciding who your newsletter is for is largely dependent on how you define your ideal client. In the example of my wife’s employment law firm, her ideal clients are small business owners and HR managers in larger companies. For her, it makes sense to market directly to those folks with updates about the changing HR landscape.

But, when coming up with your newsletter audience archetype, clients aren’t the only option. In fact, in many cases, you may want to skip writing for clients at all, and instead focus on the natural referral providers that make sense for your practice area. For example, if you focus on trusts and estates, you might consider writing a weekly update for financial advisors in your state, that would keep them in the know, and ready to hand out your business card if their clients have more complicated estate matters that the financial planner can’t handle on their own.

Choosing your content

Now that you have your audience decided, it’s time to figure out what content we can provide on a regular basis that will ensure that your email is always valuable to that audience.

It’s tough starting from a blank canvas, so I’ll outline a few items that should work for most audiences. But don’t be afraid to get creative and get inside the mind of your ideal client. Remember, this is about them, not you. If you have other ideas, please share in the comments!

An Editorial Forward

I wouldn’t spend more than one paragraph on this. Give the readers an overview of what they’ll find in the update, and perhaps a light call to action. Suck them in.

Interesting Reads

You no doubt spend a lot of time reading the latest news related to your practice area. When you come across an article that you want to share on twitter, place it in your email template as well. Be sure to add a one or two sentence takeaway from each that informs your reader why it matters to them.

If you want to link to one of your own blog posts, that’s fine, but limit it to one per newsletter. You don’t want to come across as spammy. This newsletter isn’t meant to drive traffic to your blog, it’s about keeping your readers informed.

Events

Curate a list of networking events in your geographic area. Make sure to ask readers to let you know about any events they’re sponsoring or attending as well. Highlight the events going on that week, and then list out a calendar of events spanning the next month.

Reader Questions

Solicit questions from your readers. If they have a particular problem that others in the group might be interested in, ask if you can publish your response to the group. Obviously, you should be careful to disclaim that the email doesn’t constitute legal advice.

Blog Posts

If you do want to have a place for all of your posts from the week, place them in their own section, and toward the end. Follow a similar format to the “Interesting Reads” section above.

Footer

This is essentially your business card. Make sure your readers have a way to contact you, and how to find you on your various social media accounts. Also, this is a good spot for a disclaimer if you have anything in the newsletter that might be construed as legal advice. Also, a good place to let folks know that replying to you doesn’t constitute an attorney-client relationship.

Constructing your list

Normally, in the world of email marketing, there’s a hard and fast law that you never email someone that hasn’t specifically opted in to receive your newsletter.

For this one time, and this time only, I’m going to advise ignoring that rule, mostly because we’re going to be following the intent of law, if not the letter.

We are going to be creating a weekly newsletter that your readers will WANT to look through every week. If we don’t reach that level of awesomeness, then this whole endeavor won’t be worth it anyways.

So, for your initial list, we’re going to build a list of people you know in person that would genuinely be interested in your content. This is not a “dump my address book” into a list type of exercise. This is a painstaking process of going through your address book, your Linkedin contacts, your Facebook friends, etc and asking the following questions:

  1. Does this person know who I am personally?
  2. Does this person fit my audience archetype?
  3. Would this person likely look forward to this email every week? (Be brutally honest)

If the answer is “yes” to all three (and a real “yes” not “maybe” or “possibly”, a hard and fast “yes”), then you want to add them to your list in the following way:

  1. Create a spreadsheet in google docs. You can do this in excel as well, but we’re going to do this using Google Docs because everyone has access to that tool, and particularly for marketing activities like this, Google Docs can be a lifesaver.
  2. In Column A, put the email address. In Column B, put the person’s first name.
  3. Rinse and repeat step 2 for every person that fits.

When you’re done, we need to download your list so we can import it into your email provider of choice. To download the file in the correct format in Google Docs, click File> Download as…> Comma-separated values (.csv, current-sheet). Remember where you place that file, we’ll need it later.

Now that we have a list, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Tools

There are a TON of email providers out there. There’s MailChimp, Constant Contact, Emma, Campaign Monitor, and I could go on and on and on. They’ll all work and if you have one of them in place already, stick with it. Better to work with the one you know. If not though, I always recommend MailChimp for two reasons. One, it’s free for up to 2000 subscribers, which is more than enough for every firm I’ve ever worked with. Two, it has all of the features you’ll need, is easy to use, and it works on every device so if you have a few minutes of downtime, you can work on your next week’s digest without having to bust out a laptop.

We’ll be walking through how to implement this using Mailchimp.

Setup

Head on over to mailchimp.com and sign up for their free plan.

Once you create the account, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Just follow the link in that email to continue with the setup. Fill out the form related to your business size and whether you have a list (feel free to select “No” for now, we’ll build one later) and hit submit. You should now be staring at your Mailchimp dashboard.

We’ll start by creating an empty list. Click on the “Create List” button on the dashboard to get started.

MailChimp - Creating Your List

Creating Your First Email List with MailChimp

Just click “Save” and congratulations, you now have your first email list.

Importing Your List

Now that we have a list, we want to make sure all of our readers receive it. We need to import them from the list we created before. So go ahead and click on the import subscribers link, and then select “Import From a CSV or TXT File.”

MailChimp Importing Subscribers Step 1

How to import subscribers from a CSV file in MailChimp.

Now, find the file that you downloaded in the “Constructing your list” section above. Once you import that file, you should see a screen where Mailchimp is going to match up the columns in your list with the custom fields that Mailchimp uses to customize your emails to each reader.

MailChimp Importing Subscribers Step 2

Selecting which file to import your subscribers from.

If it works, it should look like this:

MailChimp Importing Subscribers Step 3

Making sure your data lines up with MailChimp’s dynamic fields.

Once you click then ‘Next’ button, you should see a confirmation screen. The defaults are fine, just click ‘Next’ to complete the import.

MailChimp Importing Subscribers Step 4

Finalize your import.

Congratulations! You now have an email list. Let me be the first to say that this immediately puts you in the top 5% of solo attorneys in terms of internet marketing expertise.

So pat yourself on the back, and now let’s talk about how we actually send to the list, and come up with a plan to make it a regular part of our marketing strategy.

Building your first campaign

Alright, now that you have a list, we need to build a campaign. Campaign is just another word for sending out an email to your list. To start the process, click on “Campaigns” in the sidebar then in the dropdown on the next page, click “Regular campaign”.

MailChimp Creating a Campaign

Starting your first campaign with MailChimp.

When you do that you’ll be placed into MailChimp’s campaign creation workflow. In the first step, just select “Send to entire list” and click “Next.” The next step is where you start to define what this particular campaign (or mailing) is.

You’ll need to create a name for the campaign. I would chose something that can be easily modified in future campaigns since this is going to be a regular thing. In this example, I chose to name it after the newsletter, and then give it an issue number. That way, in the next campaign, all I have to do is change the issue number and they’ll be easily identifiable. You could use the date you plan to send it instead of an issue number too. I’ve seen that work nicely as well.

Once you have the name, it’s time for the subject line. Now I’ve always found the subject line to be a little hard to write before you’ve written anything about the content. So for right now, put in something generic about your newsletter and move on. We can change the headline later (before we send) to make it more specific to the actual content you put in the newsletter.

And the final change I’d suggest is putting *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|* as your “To:” field. Whenever you see *|SOME_CODE|* it means Mailchimp will replace that SOME_CODE with the data in your list that matches “SOME_CODE”. In the case of FNAME and LNAME, that’s the first name and last name of each recipient that was matched up when you imported your list.

As for the tracking section, you can leave that at the default values. If you use Google Analytics, you can go ahead and check the box there so that the campaign name will appear in your Google Analytics account as well.

Here’s what your screen should look like:

MailChimp Campaign Settings

How to choose your campaign options.

Choosing a Template

Once you’ve set up your campaign, it’s time to decide how it will look. MailChimp provides a number of Basic Templates which allow you to build out your email, and they also provide pre-designed themes that have a bit of design to them.

I would stick to single column layouts to minimize complexity, but find one that works for you. It’s hard to go wrong here, so have fun! If you’re concerned about which one to pick, click “Themes” and search for “Minimal”. It’s organized into nice sections that you can customize to match the content you decided to include earlier.

While a template is one of the fun parts of setting up your marketing campaigns, be careful not to fall into analysis paralysis. There are a number to choose from, and you can always change it later. But for now, just pick one that’s simple and clear. After all, you want your readers to focus on what you’re writing, not the template that wraps it.

Writing your first email

And here we are, staring at a blank canvas. Intimidating right? I felt the same way. It gets easier, particularly once you find a format that really starts to resonate with your list, but for now, we wrote up an epic newsletter template that you can use to get yourself going on the right track.

Don’t get stuck on what to write.

We took care of the ideas for you, so you can focus on getting started. Click that green button there and you’ll have that template to use for whenever you’re ready to write your first newsletter.

Scheduling your first campaign

You’ve now created your first email and you’re ready to hit send. That’s awesome! Now, when it comes to sending email marketing campaigns, you don’t want to just hit send when you’re done with it. You’re going to want to schedule the campaign to optimize for actually getting read.

Let’s face it, while our goal is to create an email marketing newsletter that readers actually look forward to, folks are busy. Think about the day-to-day business of your clients and try to schedule the campaign to go out when your readers will be able to sit down and read it.

For example, if your clients are HR managers, mid-afternoon on a Friday might be great, as they might be killing a bit of time waiting to punch the clock for the weekend. Every list is different, so feel free to experiment.

Sending your first campaign is only the first step…

Sending your first campaign is a really really big deal. You should be proud. You put yourself out there, and that’s the first step to allowing you and your firm to be found online.

Now, let’s take advantage of that momentum and talk about how to grow your list and how to keep pumping out great content.

Getting new subscribers

That first group of readers is going to be the easiest. You already know them. Getting folks you don’t know to sign up will be a lot harder. But alas, we’ll talk about a few ways to get started. The first two require little to no technical ability. You can start doing it today and to be quite honest, you’ll likely have your best results there.

Ditch the business cards, sign them up for your list in person.

We all know the value of meeting industry folks face to face. Attorneys are some of the best networkers I’ve ever met.

All of those events, the hours of chit-chat, the passing of business cards, all with the hope that one day someone will remember your firm when they have the need.

What if they didn’t have to think back to that charity dinner 18 months ago, and instead only had to remember the person that emailed them two weeks ago?

That’s the real power of email marketing. So now that you have a newsletter, you can use it to stay in front of all of those people you’re investing time to meet with.

So rather than saying “Here’s my business card, call me if you ever need help.” you can say, “I have a newsletter that goes out every other week or so that will help you with <problem they might have>. Would you like to sign up? It’ll only take a few seconds.” And then whip out your phone, go to Lists, choose your main email list, and then in the upper-right corner click on the button to add a subscriber and just enter their name and email address. You could even hand them the phone to have them enter it themselves. Done!

Or, if you don’t want to have to pull out your phone, just keep a pen handy. When you ask about the list, if they say yes, make a quick note on their business card, then manually invite them to the list later that evening when you get home.

And don’t forget to email them personally to say thank you for signing up.

Ask for forwards…

Your loyal readers are also a great source of new subscribers. After all, they’ve already gotten to know you and the value you’re providing them. And, like most networked professionals, they probably know others just like them that might also benefit from your newsletter.

So, once a month, or once every other month, depending on how often you email your list, let everyone know that you’re on the lookout for new subscribers. Let them know the effort that you put into the list. Maybe even pull on their heart-strings a little bit by reminding your readers of all of the value they’re getting FOR FREE. And then ask if they’d take 30 seconds and consider forwarding your email to friends or colleagues that might also benefit from the information you send out.

MailChimp has a handy little merge tag for a forwarding link that will allow your readers to forward your email and have the recipients be prompted to sign up for your list as well. Just highlight your call to action (the sentence that’s asking folks to sign up) and click the link button. Select “Web Address” and set it to *|FORWARD|*.

MailChimp forward link

Creating a link that will help your readers forward your campaign to a colleague.

Mini Contests

Another way to entice folks to forward your email is to run a little contest. For example, you could raffle off say, three $20 amazon gift cards, or maybe a copy of a book that’s pertinent to your audience. Then ask them to email you with the names of folks they forwarded your email to. For each one that signs up, enter them in a chance to win.

Worst case, you have 3 folks sign up and you spent $60. Might seem expensive, but the beautiful thing about email marketing is that you have time to make that money back. If even one of those clients calls you for a 30 minute consult in the next 18 months, you’ve likely made your money back.

Get your website to drive new subscribers…

It’s fairly easy to get a signup form onto your website. If you use WordPress, just add the Mailchimp plugin. Follow the instructions to add the form as a widget in WordPress.

If you use AmazeLaw, just go to Email Marketing, and click “Connect Mailchimp” button and you’re done.

But, like sending out that first campaign, adding a form to your site is not enough. You also need to actively promote your list in order to entice new signups.

Obviously, “promote your email list” is the type of pithy advice run away from here at AmazeLaw, so here are some easy, concrete ways to promote your new list on your own website.

Landing Page

A landing page is just a dedicated page whose sole purpose is to get a visitor to perform an action. In this case, the action is to get someone to sign up for your email list.

Create a page in WordPress or AmazeLaw, and give it the same name as your list. The content is pretty simple, you don’t even need a picture:

[Headline: Big benefit they’ll see from signing up]

This is a paragraph about what your life will be like after you’ve signed up and are reaping said benefit. Imagine how easy life will be. No more worrying about missing the latest news and getting caught unaware.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Easy to digest updates about [your practice area]. No legalese! We promise!
  • Curated industry news so you don’t miss the best content out there.
  • No spam. Ever.
[Signup Form]

Pretty easy, huh?

Protip: Add a link to your landing page in your email signature with a simple call to action. Something like “Sign up for our free bi-weekly employment law update.” or “Free estate planning tips in your Inbox every week.”

Post/Page Footers

Having a signup form on your contact page, or home page is a great first step, but often times, visitors to your site won’t be coming through the front door. A good percentage of your traffic, particularly search traffic, will likely go directly to your blog posts where visitors are looking for a very specific answer to the problem they’re searching for.

They’ll likely never see your homepage, and unless you do a bunch of cross-linking (linking to other posts or pages on your site), they may not see another page before they move on with their day, armed with the answer to their query.

But what a perfect time to start a relationship. By answering their question you’ve provided value and built trust. It’s the perfect time to remind them that, hey, if you want more quality advice or analysis just like this, sign up for my newsletter!

So, long story short, at the bottom of every blog post, add a simple paragraph that explains that if they found the post useful, that they can sign up for your newsletter and add a link to your landing page where they can sign up.

Keeping it going…

Alright, time to recap. We’ve gone from nothing to:

  • Signed up for a free MailChimp account.
  • Created our first email list
  • Built and sent our first email campaign
  • Set up our website to attract new subscribers by using landing pages and blog post footers
  • Learned to leverage our existing contacts for new referrals

Staying consistent

Now that you’ve setup your email marketing essentials, we need to create a system for consistently delivering little knowledge bombs to your subscribers.

And consistency isn’t just how often you email your subscribers, but your ability to consistently deliver something that your readers value.

Steve Martin quipped in his autobiography that it wasn’t the ability to kill it on a given night that set the great comics apart. After all, most comics could kill it every once in a while with the right audience. It was the comics that could produce a great show night in and night out that were truly successful.

And just like Steve Martin, you need a system to deliver consistent value.

How do we do that?

Creating a schedule you can stick to…

We talked a bit about scheduling your campaigns so your customers are most likely to read your posts. Now let’s talk about how to schedule your campaigns so that they fit within the constraints of a busy attorney’s calendar.

You know it, I know it, so let’s not pretend that your email list is going to top your list of priorities for the week. So let’s just acknowledge it up front and figure out how to move forward anyways.

If you’re like me, you might tend to overestimate what you can accomplish, and that’s doubly true for todo items that aren’t sitting atop your priority list. So, if at this very moment, in your excitement over setting up email marketing for your firm (you’re totally psyched right? Right?!) you think that you could handle a weekly email campaign, let’s adjust that right now. Take your totally logical and reasonable estimate and cut it in half. Make it every two weeks, or make it monthly if your estimate was bi-weekly.

This will help you avoid the trap of committing to an unrealistic goal, missing it, and then bagging on the whole thing when a month has gone by and you missed your deadline.

And now that you’ve given yourself that break. Commit to it. You have no more excuses.

Set a recurring calendar reminder for 5 days prior to your campaign. Spend 30 minutes compiling your content. Don’t worry about being perfect. Just get a bunch of content in there.

Three days prior to the campaign spend another 30 minutes refining that campaign to make sure that the content is actually worth interrupting your audience for.

Forget for a moment that you’re an attorney and that you’re actually interested in the law. Forget that you want more clients. Forget every inclination you have to talk about yourself.

Just imagine your ideal client reading your email and constantly asking the question “What’s in it for me?” and “Why do I care?” If a sentence or bullet point isn’t written to answer those two questions, cut the sentence or rewrite it so that it is.

And finally, one day before your campaign is to go out, spend 30 minutes and perform the following exercise:

Read the following articles that summarize some simple techniques for coming up with headlines that inspire action

10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work
41 Classic Copywriting Headline Templates

Now, set a timer on your phone for ten minutes. Turn off your wifi, and just start listing out subject lines for your campaign. Don’t worry about how good it is, just get it out and move on to the next one. The goal here is quantity.

When the timer goes off, look over your list. From the perspective of your ideal client, which one do you think would inspire them to skip the ‘delete’ button and actually read that email?

There’s your subject line.

For example, here are 10 subject lines I came up to use in an email that would describe this exercise using those formulas. Which one resonates with you?

5 subject line secrets that will get your email read…
7-Minute brainstorms that WILL get you new clients…
Write subject lines like Don Draper, even if you’ve never written a word of copy…
Send emails that get read 50% more than ‘real marketers’ with 10 minutes of work
Write emails your clients WANT to read…
Don Draper couldn’t beat your copy if you follow this one simple exercise…
5 minutes could mean the difference between being spammy and being awesome
How to avoid writing subject lines that make your email invisible…
Are your subject lines wasting the effort you put into your newsletters?
What professional copywriters do when they can’t think of headlines

That was 10 minutes of work. Some of those headlines are clearly better than others. Some are repetitive, and that’s ok. But you’ll notice, the odds that the first subject line (the one you would’ve used had you not done the exercise) is the best one is slim.

This simple exercise will routinely get you two or three times as many opens on your campaign.

And that means two or three times as many opportunities to get in front of your clients, which means two to three times the ROI for all of this effort you’re putting in.

How to come up with (great) content

It can be hard to come up with something to say week in and week out. And it’s even harder when you only have 30 minutes between client meetings to do it.

So rather than setting yourself up for 30 minutes of staring at a blank page, let’s create a simple system for building up that hopper of great content throughout the week, so when it comes time to write, you just need to pull items off your stack.

First, we’ll need a central place to accumulate all of these notes.

Everyone’s style is different, so I’m sure you can come up with a tool that works best for you. But the whichever method you choose, the key is to optimize for being able to take a note as quickly as possible whenever the thought strikes.

I prefer to use Evernote. I just keep one note and add newsletter ideas to the top of it as I come across them. My wife uses Trello, creating a new card for every idea. I’ve seen folks use Google docs. I’ve also tried using a Word document or even writing in a notebook, but those two options make it hard to access from my phone on the go, or lack the ability to quickly copy and paste a URL for a link I want to remember to share.

So, over the course of the day, any time I think of something that might be worth sharing with the email list, I write it quickly at the top of the note. And at the end of the week, I have all sorts of items I can pull from to write the actual campaign.

What sort of things should you be on the lookout for? Here are just a few:

  • Common questions from clients that you could answer in a paragraph or two
  • Events that your clients might find valuable (even if they’re not valuable to you)
    • If you happen to be attending them, mention that and invite readers to come say hello.
  • Legislative changes (but only those that, upon learning about would cause your ideal client to say “Oh man, I’m really glad I know that, I’m going to change X…”)
  • Articles that your potential clients would want to read
  • Anecdotes that can bring a little levity to the newsletter
  • Interactions with readers that could benefit others
  • Positive news about those in your readership. Did someone just win an award? Did they get some positive press?
    • Take note and share it. And then invite others to share their good news when hey have any.

If you get into the habit of taking note of these tidbits, you should find that when you sit down to write your newsletter, you’ll spend more time figuring out what should be left out, than figuring out what to add.

That’s it!

This isn’t rocket-surgery. It just takes patience and practice. If you have any questions, please let me know. And if you take this advice and create your own newsletter, be sure to add bryan@amazelaw.com to your subscriber list. See! You already have an audience!

Now quick, go write your first campaign. I’ll be here, looking forward to reading it.

Psst! Don’t forget to grab the starter template to get your email marketing started without a hitch!

Further Reading:

The “From” Name: Perhaps Your Most Important Email Marketing Decision
The background on why you want your from name to be your law firm and not your name.

10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work

41 Classic Copywriting Headline Templates
When you’re stuck and need to come up with headlines or subject lines in your emails, these articles will get you unstuck right quick. It’s like mad-libs, except instead of laughs, you get tons of clicks 🙂