In 2016, most lawyers accept that a law firm’s online presence can play an important role in reaching potential clients. The problem is that lawyers often struggle with establishing an effective–and ethical–online marketing plan.
The good news is that there are experts who can help you figure out the best ways to market your law firm online. Three of those experts recently presented on that very topic at ABA Techshow last month during a session titled “Truth and Lies of the Internet for Lawyers.”
During this talk, Jennifer Ellis, Gyi Tsakalakis, and Conrad Saam covered everything you need to know in order to establish an effective online presence for your law firm, while Stephanie Crowley took visual notes of this session on behalf of MyCase. The visual notes from that session can be found below along with some of our favorite tips and links to sites that provide further information (click to view larger image):
1. It’s not relationships or the Internet, it’s relationships and the Internet
Oftentimes lawyers forget that online relationships can be just as important as offline relationships. The Internet is more than simply an online billboard for your law firm–it’s one more way to connect with other lawyers, referral sources, and clients. The key is to ensure that your online interactions help to establish relationships and then, whenever possible, take those relationships offline.
You can learn more about effective networking, both online and offline, from this post on the MyCase blog.
2. Never let someone else register or own your law firm’s domain name
Because your website is your firm’s online home base, it’s important that you always have control over its content. When you allow someone else to register or own your firm’s domain name, you give them absolute control over your law firm’s online presence. If a dispute ever arises between you and that individual who set up the domain name, you’ll be at their mercy when it comes to your firm’s website. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that you, and only you, control that information.
Of course, the process of setting up a domain name may seem intimidating if you haven’t done so before. But never fear–it’s much easier than you might think! Just follow the steps listed here and in no time flat, your law firm’s domain name will be set up and ready to go!
3. When it comes to online content, it’s all about value and relevance, not volume
Sometimes lawyers get so caught up in the idea of creating content to maximize search engine optimization (SEO) that they lose sight of the most important reason they’re creating an online presence: to connect with and create offline relationships with actual people, not search engines. In fact, the key to creating online content that works is to make it interesting for your target audience.
Kevin O’Keefe, attorney and legal blogging guru, explains it best in this post at his blog, Real Lawyers Have Blogs:
Find your passion, listen to your heart and speak to the people who can identify with your interests. Blogging is more about connecting with people than penning the treatise on an area of the law or covering every development in a niche.
Traffic is much less important than relationships and trust. By expressing yourself and giving insight of value in a real and authentic fashion in a focused area of the law and/or locale, you’ll attract folks with relevant interests. Relationships there count.
Superficial content is cheap and plentiful in the law. Reach for something better.
4. If conduct would be unethical offline, then it’s unethical online
Online behavior is simply an extension of offline behavior. In other words, the medium doesn’t change the message. This is such an important concept for lawyers to understand and implement whenever they interact online.
That being said, in order to understand whether your interactions both online and offline are permissible, you must have thorough knowledge of your jurisdiction’s ethical regulations governing attorney conduct. Once you have that necessary foundation, you’ll be in a position to assess whether your online conduct is, in fact, ethical.
Of course the online world sometimes presents situations that are not easily translated into offline conduct, especially when it comes to utilizing social media sites to obtain evidence for a case. In those cases, your options can sometimes be tricky. Fortunately, we recently hosted a webinar with attorney and social media evidence consultant, Scott Malouf, who covered the issues lawyers encounter when using social media in litigation or discovery. You can watch a recording of the webinar here.
5. Google Analytics is a valuable measurement tool
And last, but not least, don’t forget to track and analyze traffic to your law firm’s website. The data provided by analytics programs can be incredibly useful, both in terms of tracking traffic and understanding the types of content that work–and which ones don’t.
One of the best ways to measure the performance of your firm’s website is with Google Analytics. This tool provides powerful, in depth analytics, but can sometimes be tricky to implement and the data is often difficult to understand if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Fortunately there are resources available to help you better understand the data that is collected by Google Analytics. This guide is a great place to start.