Trust First, Rankings Second

Legal blogging works best when it builds trust. Fortunately, so does SEO (at least that's the theory).

Look, blogs can be exceptionally effective for lawyers. However, without trust, blog (website) traffic is completely worthless. If people who land on your posts/pages don't like what they see, they'll leave. Most won't ever come back.

This is the thing that a lot of lawyers don't get.

They call us up asking about rankings. Can you get me to rank? Can you get me to the number one spot in Google? How fast can you do it?

If we can't show them the error of their ways, we don't work with them.

I would trade 1,0000 visitors for 1 conversion every single time.

Conversions require some level of trust. Most people will mindlessly click around the web.

On the other hand, in order to get people to engage with a page, you have to give them something that they deem worthy. To get them to convert, you have to build trust.

The good news is that search engines are trying to calculate trust in their own way too. Therefore, building trust isn't just good for conversion, it's also good for your precious rankings. Just look at all of the trust-related questions Google's Amit Singhal recommends:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

Now look at your posts/pages.

Trustworthy?

With some limited exceptions, most lawyers don't think about their posts/pages like this. Instead, they're thinking goes something like this:

The more pages I create with variations of my keywords, the more visitors I'll get, thus the more clients!

Then, when it doesn't work, they conclude that the internet doesn't work for client development.

Online Legal Marketing Minus BS

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Lawyerist's Sam Glover on the subject of online marketing.

I thought I'd add some key takeaways here and expand on a few ideas that came up during the podcast.

Hype, Confusion & Slime

For many folks, online marketing is still relatively new. Google was founded September 4, 1998. Facebook was founded February 4, 2004. The initial release date of WordPress was May 27, 2003.

In 2008, the year we founded AttorneySync, when I would try to explain to people what our company did, most people would glaze over. Even today, when I talk about SEO, most people have a vague notion of what that really means.

My point is that there remains a considerable gap in knowledge on subjects pertaining to online legal marketing.

As is the case with other knowledge gaps, this void of information has been filled by the self-styled gurus.

You see, it's easy to sound-like an online legal marketing expert.

You can read a couple of blog posts, download a few .pdfs or buy a couple of books and get a hang of some of the popular jargon.

Soon, you will be able espouse your expertise across the global interwebz.

And many people, who don't have the time or interest to learn about this stuff, will gaze in bewilderment as you dazzle them with your mastery of acronyms like SEO, SEM, SMM, PPC, etc.

If you were so inclined, and lacked scruples, you could probably persuade some lawyers to pay you to help them.

After all, unlike for lawyers, there is no search engine marketing code of ethics (but there ought to be).

However, armed only with your cursory understanding and glossary of terms, you'd probably fail to generate results that would be worth it.

This is the main reason why there is so much hype, confusion and slime in the world of online legal marketing consultants.

The only true solution to this problem is for more people to actually spend some time learning how this stuff can work.

Start With "Just Marketing"

People use the word marketing in all sorts of ways. Here's a definition from the American Marketing Association that I prefer:

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. 
(Approved July 2013)

If we apply this definition to legal services, we might get something like:

Legal marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings for legal services that have value for clients and society at large.

Many of you are probably reading this and thinking, "this doesn't jive with what I typically see as the way that lawyers marketing their services at all."

For what it's worth, I completely agree with you!

Most lawyers and legal marketers tend to ignore the, "have value for clients and society at large," part.

But the most successful ones don't.

If we take this idea of communicating the value of one's legal services to the web, what we get looks very different from what we see when we look at the stuff lawyers, and their marketers, are doing online today.

Relationships & Reputation

When you approach online legal marketing from the perspective of communicating the value of your legal services, you realize that client development depends, primarily, on your relationships and reputation. Further, your ability to develop relationships and reputation flows from your ability to regularly impress people.

The "do great work and clients will come" crowd, is generally right. However, I might amend this to: do great work, provide remarkable service and make it easy and obvious for people to find evidence of these and clients will come.

Hopefully it's obvious that being a competent lawyer is merely table stakes for client development. If you're a terrible lawyer, it's going to become more and more difficult to earn new clients. If you're a competent lawyer, congratulations, you're a head of cattle in the legal herd. If you're truly impressive, and are actively and eloquently marshaling the evidence of your impressiveness, getting new clients will become much easier.

How to "Do This" Online

First, you have to work on the impress your clients part. Remember, it all starts there. What processes, policies and procedures do you have in place to impress your clients? How are you regularly receiving and acting on client feedback?

Keep in mind that being impressive doesn't only mean achieving outcomes for clients. In many instances, clients don't even really know what a good legal outcome looks like. On the other hand, they are likely very familiar with what great service feels like. They know what being empathized with feels like. They know what being treated with respect feels like.

Second, you should be actively encouraging people who know, like and trust you to sing your praises online. This doesn't mean sending out mass emails requesting that people review you on Avvo.

It does mean finding ways to appropriately motivate people to share their experiences with your service.

Again, don't reduce this solely to asking clients to post about the, "million dollar verdict you achieved." Your next clients will care more about how they are likely to be treated in making their decision of whether or not to hire you.

Second, demonstrate your knowledge, skill and experience through online publishing. If you can write, maybe you should start a blog. If not, maybe you could host a podcast. If you're not good at these things, practice. Get some help.

Third, publicize your impressiveness. If there is one myth about online legal marketing that I would like to dispel it is this:

If you merely write it, they will come.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Like a lost Shakespearean sonnet, buried at sea, writing alone will not cause people to come.

If you write it, and it's remarkable, and the right people see it, share it and link to it, they will come.

Finally, let's stop the debate between whether you should focus on traditional notions of client development (i.e. reputation and relationships) and the web. Much like the battle between nature and nurture, this is a silly, narrow-minded view. The correct answer is: both.

 

How to Market a Law Firm Website

You did it! You planned, designed, developed and launched a fast, mobile-ready law firm website that showcases the real law firm stuff you're doing. Yay! You're done. Just kidding. Now comes the hard part, marketing it.

Maybe you're a bit averse to the word marketing. You ought not to be. However, if you are, instead of marketing, let's call it, getting your website in front of the right people.

Hopefully, it's obvious that in order to get your website in front of the right people, we need to understand a few things about who the right people are.

If you're like most lawyers, you likely thought to yourself: duh, potential clients.

Let's not get crazy here. Sure, you want to get people who might hire you to your website. At least some of those people.

But what can you say about those people beyond the fact that you want them to call and hire you?

What do these people tend to do for a living? Where do they live? What problems are they facing that cause them to think that they might need a lawyer like you?

These are just a few basics. We could dedicate several posts to the subject of audience research. And you should spend a lot of time thinking about your target audience beyond the simplistic idea that they think they need an xyz lawyer.

In fact, at least some of the people who you might want to get to your website might not need a lawyer at all. For example, if you just launched a new site (congratulations again, I know how much of a pain it can be) you might want to share it with people you know. Hopefully, if assuming you're proud of your new site, you'll be eager to share it with family, friends and colleagues.

You might be surprised how the simple act of sharing your new site with people you know can actually generate new clients. I've seen it happen. It might be that one of these people was actually considering calling a lawyer like you, however, they hadn't yet thought of you. They might also know someone else who recently suggested that they might be dealing with a situation that could use your particular set of skills (I will find you).

You can get these people to your website simply by telling them the address. Unless, of course, you went with an excessively long and complicated keyword-dense domain that no one will ever remember or be able to enter into their browser (whoops).

Hopefully, you use email. Hey, there's another way to get people who know, trust and maybe even like you, to visit your website. Look at you go, you're marketing!

If the people you know use social media (hint: they probably do), you might also consider sharing your site with them there. But be careful here. There's a good chance that at least some of the people with whom you are acquainted on Facebook don't really care about you new website. So, don't plaster their feeds with it. Maybe you pick a few close friends, family and colleagues to share with. You should also ask these people what they think about your new site.

Admittedly, it's not likely that you're going to be able to cover your expenses merely sharing your new website with people you already know. You want to get people who don't know you to learn about you.

Let's assume people in your target audience use Google to research answers to their questions related to the type of legal services you offer. There are three main ways you can get these people to your website:

  1. AdWords - You pay Google when people click on your ads.
  2. Local Pack Results - You get your firm listed in Google's local organic results.
  3. Traditional Organic Results - You get your firm listed in Google's traditional organic search results.

The hardcore search marketers among you might throw out a few other ways, but these hit the main ones.

AdWords

AdWords is Google's paid search advertising platform. In a nutshell, you pick words you think that your target audience is likely to use to find a lawyer like you. You write ads that are relevant to these keywords and create landing pages for them to land on after they click your ad. Seems pretty simple, no?

The problem is that, if you don't know what you're doing, this can be extremely expensive very quickly. There are a bunch of ways that you'll screw-up your AdWords advertising, creating tons of waste with very little to show for it. Ultimately, you'll probably conclude that AdWords doesn't work for lawyers like you. You might be right. But more likely, you just didn't do a very good job of creating, managing and optimizing your campaigns.

Frankly, if you want to advertise with AdWords, you should hire someone who knows what they're doing. Alternatively, you can put in the time to really learn how to manage paid search campaigns properly. However, I've got to tell you, this is one of those weeks to learn, a lifetime to master deals.

Local Pack Results

There are a multitude of factors that go into the process that Google uses to show businesses in local pack results. Even worse, Google don't share their secret sauce. So, people who do this for a living share what they're seeing and try to loosely agree on what works. One great place that folks come together to share their experiences is Moz's Local Search Ranking Factors.

I'm not going to go through all of the factors here, but let's break the major ones into three buckets:

  • Stuff you can do on your pages (i.e. HTML, schema, internal link structure, etc).
  • Making sure that your business information, particularly your Name, Address and Phone (NAP) is complete and accurate across the web, particularly local data sites that search engines use.
  • Getting people with relevant, quality sites to link to your pages.

Moz has some great learning resources on local SEO, I suggest you check them out. You can also learn a lot at the Local Search Forum. 

Again, you would probably benefit from having someone who knows what they're doing take a look at your website and local business listings. Unfortunately, local search rankings are fragile. One small violation of Google's local business guidelines and "poof" you're invisible in local search results.

Traditional Organic Search Results

Getting to the #1 organic spot on a relevant search engine result page that your target audience is actively searching for is considered, by many, to be the Holy Grail of search engine optimization (SEO). This is largely misunderstood, but for our purposes, it will suffice.

Similar to local search results, there are a ton of factors that Google use in their black box to rank pages. Further, like local search ranking factors, the traditional organic ranking factors can be separated into two main buckets:

  • On-Page Factors - Stuff you can do to your pages to help them rank.
  • Off-Page Factors - Stuff you can do everywhere else to help them rank (largely getting quality links).

There's already tons out there on this subject, so I'm not going to try to cover too much here. If you have a specific SEO question, post it below.

I will say that you should spend a lot of time learning about what Google is ultimately trying to do. Despite what you're likely to read around the web, it's not as simple as creating great content.

Needless to say, these are just some of the most basic ways to get your website in front of people who might hire you. Of course, getting them to your site is only one link in the chain. Once there, you have to motivate them to take an action, ideally contact you. Then you have to communicate to them why you're the right lawyer to represent them. Perhaps we can dive into those subjects next time.

Start with Conversions

Instead of starting with traffic, start your web marketing planning by defining and tracking conversions.

People involved in online legal marketing tend to plan campaigns around traffic. If you write it, people will come. If you buy clicks, you'll get visitors. The problem, of course, is that traffic doesn't equate to fees.

Instead of starting with traffic, what if you worked backwards from fees?

For most lawyers, in order to get a fee, some type of contact must be initiated by a potential client. Today, these contacts tend to come via phone calls and emails. For our purposes here, let's call these inquiries conversions.

Hopefully, it's obvious that not every phone call or email from a potential client will lead to a fee. There are a host of reasons why you might get hired. In fact, many times, it will be because you voluntarily choose to turn down the potential client. That's just being smart in terms of choosing who you want to work for.

But if you're working to attract the types of clients you want, some inquiries will turn into paying clients. In other words, these phone calls and emails will "convert."

If you're smart about how you perform client intakes, you already ask potential clients how they found you.

And you'll probably get responses like, "I was referred by so-and-so," or, "I found you online."

While this is a decent start, there's a lot of information missing. This is particularly true of potential clients that find you and initiate contact you with you online.

The good news is that this problem can be fairly easily solved with software. There are a variety of ways to track phone calls, emails and web form fills to their source. In fact, in some instances, you can track them to the keywords they used in a search engine, an online ad or link they clicked from another website.

This information is imperative in terms of guiding your marketing and advertising.

Generating loads of visitor traffic online without connecting that traffic to conversions, and ultimately, fees is completely meaningless.

I can't easily count the number of times I've spoken to lawyers who say things like, "I'm getting tons of traffic, but no clients."

Upon investigation, we learn that their "traffic" primarily consists of user sessions from:

  • Bots
  • Visitors outside the jurisdictions in which they practice.
  • Existing contacts (clients, opposing counsel, the court).
  • People at the firm "checking out the website."
  • Solicitors

None of this traffic has any chance of converting into a new client.

Conversions are Web Marketing Metrics that Matter

Understanding your real traffic is the only way to connect your marketing strategy, campaigns, time and money to new client fees. It's the only way to calculate return on ad spend (ROAS).

Legal marketers tend to toss around a variety of web metrics. But not all of these metrics really matter. Furthermore, the metrics that matter for one firm might be much different for another.

Different lawyers take different approaches to the business of law. Some lawyers are able to build extremely lucrative practices by developing only a very few new client relationships per year. Other lawyers survive by building practices that require a regular stream of new clients each and every month. It should be obvious to you that these different practices will have very different metrics that determine whether they are effectively meeting their client development objectives. Likewise, they should have much different approaches to client development.

No matter what your practice and client development approach look like, starting with conversions and working backwards tends to be more effective than starting from the opposite direction.

 

For What Are My Clients Searching?

If you want to earn meaningful attention from potential clients via search engines, you have to know something about them and how they're using search engines.

Not enough time is being spent by lawyers understanding their audiences. Most lawyers tend to assume that their potential clients basically use the internet and search engines the same way. Oversimplified, the assumption follows the pattern that when most people think that they need a lawyer, they search something like this:

city + practice area + lawyer 

This causes lawyers to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money creating, optimizing and marketing web pages for searches like these.

Now please don't misunderstand me, some people do use search engines like this find lawyers. But a question that you have to ask yourself is whether the clients you want use search engines like this.

The only way to truly know the answer to this question, unfortunately, is to bid on these keywords and track clicks all of the way to legal fees.

Actually, regardless of whether you are using paid search engine marketing or not, you ought to be tracking visitors to fees. Just keep in mind that search engines aren't going to give you the overwhelming majority of your keyword data from organic searches.

Instead of battling for the searches that everyone is going after, why not work smarter. Here's an idea: Talk to your existing clients.

If they're willing, put them in front of a computer and ask them to start searching for answers to their legal questions. Heck, don't limit it to just legal questions.

Pose situations to them and watch how they search.

Don't have clients willing to do this? Ask family and friends.

My guess is that you might be astonished to see how vastly different one person searches from another.

Once you get a sense of how your target audience uses search engines and the internet, you can begin to explore how you can put pages in front of them that will earn their attention, motivate them to take action and inquire about your services.

 

Real SEO Marketing for Attorneys

Warning: Rant Ahead.

 Yuck. Most law firm internet marketing is ridiculously bad. Which shouldn’t really be surprising since most of the search engine optimization advice for attorneys on the web is simply atrocious.

For a few minutes, I request that you clear your mind of SEO pollution. I want you to take a trip back in time. A time before search engines and the internet existed.

I want you to think about how lawyers earned new business back then.

Primarily, it was through word of mouth referrals.

Lawyers “did good work” and their clients told other people.

Lawyers developed reputations in their communities, and people talked about them.

Now let’s come back to the digital age. Would you like to know a secret? This is still how lawyers earn new business today. The difference between then and now is that people have a new wonderful tool to have these conversations and recognize the good work of lawyers. Yes, I’m talking about the internet.

Unfortunately, along the way, something went terribly wrong. Lawyers were led astray. They were told that the internet is nothing more than the latest broadcasting platform. That it is merely a new place to inundate people with crappy legal advertisements.

With regard to appearing in search engines, they were told to “use keywords and build links.” Without regard to how their activities might appear to the very people they were trying to attract.

And so, the overwhelming majority of lawyers now pollute the web. They churn out thousands of completely worthless websites. They create pages and posts for every variation of relevant search query that they can think of. The pay attorney SEO consultants to leave comment spam across the web.

They think they’ve outsmarted Google, one of the most resourced, educated and technologically sophisticated companies in human history.

And no doubt some of them have, at least for a little while. But at what cost? Are they measuring their return on investment? Most aren’t. Have they considered how many potential clients they have lost due to their lousy web content, social media solicitations and cheap marketing messaging? They’ll never know.

So, before your next post, tweet, link, like, share, etc, ask yourself: 

Who are you trying to attract?

How do these people use search engines?

What can you offer them?

Why should they care about you?

How can you motivate them to take action?

How are you measuring success?

Does what you do online match up? 

Should I buy a bunch of legal domains and link them together?

One of the most spamtastic SEO techniques that attorneys seem to love is buying a bunch of legal-keyword-rich domains and linking them all together.

It's crazy how prevalent this tactic is throughout the online legal marketing space. 

This year (2013) at Avvo's Lawernomics conference, I can't tell you how many times attendees talked about having 10, 50, 100+ websites. It was like there are building sites for every keyword phrase that they can think of.

We've been telling lawyers this is a bad idea for years. But don't take my word for it, in a recent Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts, Google's Head of Web Spam answers the question: If I have 20 domains, should I link them all together?

 

Interestingly, Matt specifically talks about a legal example. Maybe this is an indication that they're taking a close look at the online legal space.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, this tactic still largely works. Which is part of the reason that it's been so widely adopted by law firms. 

It's cheap. It's easy. 

But so long as lawyers can generate enough business through these sites from search engines, it's likely not going anywhere. 

I think a lot of the reason this is still working is Google's dial for exact match domains. Which is supported by Moz's 2013 search ranking factors correlation study.

They found EMD correlations to be relatively high at 0.17 (0.20 if the EMD is also a dot-com). Which is just about the same as they found in their 2011 study. However, upon a deeper inspection, they found a see-saw pattern in their data which they attribute a recent EMD update which allegedly removed a lot of EMDs from results.

It's worth noting that other studies have also calculated high correlations for EMDs. 

Whatever the reason, you don't have to be a search scientist to realize that there are a lot of exact match domains in results. Especially in legal search results.

So, the questions becomes: Should I engage in this tactic? 

If you're looking for some short-term bang for your buck, maybe. But you've been warned. Google has its eye on this. They have publicly stated that they're trying to weed this stuff out. They're not perfect. But they've been getting significantly better.

In my opinion, organic search marketing is a longer term play. Build sites that offer something valuable to people. If you do a really great job and get these sites in front of the right people, I bet you'll find they're more effective in earning the kind of attention you want.

How Much Should Lawyer Websites Cost in 2013?

One of the most common questions we get is:

How much should a website for my law firm cost? 

There are a lot of ways to break this question down. Here are just a couple. 

In my opinion, a lawyer's website is just one arrow in her marketing quiver. It's not a magic bullet into which all of a lawyer's marketing budget should be sunk. 

In fact, with some basic research, you'll find that you can create a professional-looking website for your firm for basically the cost of web hosting. 

The Almost Free Lawyer Website

You can register a domain, create a hosting account and install WordPress for next to nothing. Domain registration costs around $10-$15 per year. A decent host costs between $10 and $20 per month (of course a dedicated server hosting account can be much more expensive). WordPress is open-source, so it's free. 

Of course, you'll be the one responsible for choosing a theme (which gives your WordPress site its look and feel), writing page content (the actual words on your pages) and adding plugins (which add a variety of functionality to your site). 

If you have a technical background, you probably will find launching a website to be really easy. However, you might find choosing a theme and writing page content to be challenging.

Typically, I recommend the almost free lawyer website to those lawyers who are extremely cost sensitive, have some basic technical and marketing background.

You could also pay someone else to build you an almost free legal website. How much should you pay for this service? I suggest not more than a couple of hundred bucks. 

The Premium Theme Lawyer Website

Following basically the same approach as above, you could also add a premium WordPress theme to your site. In a nutshell, premium themes have been built by WordPress designers and developers that they sell.

I think you'll find that most premium WordPress themes can be purchased for under $100. I'm sure you'll be able to find exceptions to this guideline. 

A premium theme will help you distinguish your site from others that have chosen to go with a free theme. 

Again, lawyer websites that choose the premium theme option are those that are putting budget very high on their list. 

While premium themes can help make your website look more professional, they're still template based themes. It's likely that you'll run into other sites that are also using the theme you've selected. 

On the other hand, most premium themes come with support, maintenance and updates. This is especially important in terms of security patches (some hackers find ways to get into WordPress sites through their theme files). 

The Custom Theme Lawyer Website

Stepping-up from premium themes, we move into the area of custom theme lawyer websites. Custom themes are designed and developed from the ground up. 

Custom themes give you maximum control of the look and feel of your legal website.

So, how much do custom themes costs? They're really all over the map. 

In my experience, you can get a very professional custom theme designed and developed for around a couple thousand dollars. 

Most of the really impressive custom lawyer websites that I've seen probably fall in the $4,000 to $10,000 range. 

Additional Lawyer Website Costs

So far, we've primarily discussed costs related to the look and feel of your site. While you can get your site up and running with just a domain, hosting account, WordPress and a theme, there are some other key website components that you're going to need to think about. The first of those is imagery. 

Legal Website Imagery

Many lawyers choose stock imagery for their websites. While informed stock imagery choices can be effective, most of the time, stock imagery comes across as cheap, tacky or worse. 

Avoid using traditional legal stock imagery. You know, gavels, court buildings, scales of justice, law books, etc. 

Instead, if you're going to use some stock imagery, use it sparingly in a way that evokes themes and emotions related to your practice. 

Stock imagery can be purchased from a wide variety of stock imagery sites online. Images generally range from $1 for smaller images, to $100 for large high resolution vector images with exclusive licenses (meaning no one else can use your images). 

You can also find images released under licenses that allow you to use those images for free. Sometimes the license also requires some form of attribution, so make sure you understand the conditions attached to the various licenses for the images you are using. 

For lawyers, I usually recommend getting some professional photographs taken. Real pictures of the lawyers, staff, the office, clients, etc, are much more effective than stock imagery. A professional photo shoot will probably run you around $500 for a single day.

I strongly encourage the use of real professional photographs. 

Legal Website Content

Your web pages are only as effective as the words they contain. If you have a background in writing and marketing, you may be able to craft your own content.

Most lawyers don't. But they think that they do. So their web page content isn't very effective. 

But what's worse than lawyers who can't write? Lawyers who outsource their page content to people who can't write. 

You page content is probably the place you want to make the most significant investment. Perhaps even more so than you invest in your theme. 

If part of your marketing strategy includes earning business through your website, you're going to need web content that engages people and motivates them to contact you. This is really where the rubber meets the road.

You should expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $100+ per page.  The important thing is to get samples of your prospective web copywriters' work. Ask questions about their experience writing specifically for law firm websites. Read what they've written elsewhere. Are you impressed with it? Like really impressed? Don't settle for mediocre web content.

Legal Website Video

Online, video can be one of the most effective ways for lawyers to communicate with prospective clients. However, poorly executed video content can be more of a liability than an asset. Fortunately, with advances in video production technology, web video marketing content doesn't have to be cost prohibitive.

On the affordable side, you can shoot video with a web cam, smartphone or fairly inexpensive video recorder. In fact, with some basic editing skills, you can produce some really quality video content without spending a lot of money on the recording device. 

Perhaps even more important than video quality is sound quality. Most basic video recording devices don't produce very good sound without some help. If you're going to invest in hardware to produce your own videos, spend some money on a decent microphone. 

When all is said and done, you should be able to produce your own videos for a couple hundred bucks. 

If you'd rather hire a professional, you should work with someone who has experience producing video for professional services providers. 

It's important to keep in mind that you don't merely want to produce internet advertisements. Instead, produce videos that provide helpful information to your target audience. 

A good legal video producer will help you craft video content that will earn viewer engagement. 

How much should legal web video content cost? If you're working with a professional to design the campaign, shoot the video content and edit it, you're probably looking at between $2,000 and $10,000 for a 1 day shoot. The cost may vary depending on how many lawyers are involved, how much editing time is needed and whether it's single or multiple takes. 

A Better Question: What's the purpose of your website? 

As you're probably starting to realize, website costs can vary wildly. Instead of focusing on the cost your website, focus on the purpose and goals. 

What are you trying to do with your website? Are you merely trying to provide information for people who look you up online? If this is the case, you might not need a full website at all. You may be able to use sites like About.me or LinkedIn. 

Even if you're trying to earn new business from the web, a traditional law firm website might not be your best approach. Traditional law firm websites tend to be dry, boring and read like advertisements. People don't like advertisements.

Instead, you should build your web presence around delivering information that your target audience actually wants.

Read that again. 

Not what you want to give them, but what they want. 

Which means, you have to learn what it is that they want first. Which means you have to listen. 

Businesses that listen to what their customers and clients want are the ones who have the most success online (offline too). 

Most of the time, a fancy, expensive law firm website is built for the lawyers, not the people the lawyers want for clients. 

Don't make cost the driving force of your decisions for building a web presence.

Make it your prospective clients. 

Free Consultation Abuse

Some lawyers publicize that they offer free consultations. One theory is that offering a free consultation is likely to motivate people to contact the lawyer who wouldn't be motivated if they had to pay for the initial consultation.

The purpose of this post isn't to debate whether or not to advertise free consultations. Instead, I'd like to discuss something that's becoming more and more of a problem. And that's free consultation abuse.

Whether it's on blogs, email signatures or twitter profiles, many lawyers have concluded that they should plaster their web presence with free consultation offers. 

Aside from just looking tacky, overusing the free consultation call to action can also defeat its very purpose, i.e. to motivate people to call.

You see, most internet and social networking users aren't in "hiring mode." In other words, they're not surfing the web, reading blogs, engaging on twitter, etc. to find and hire lawyers.

And so, when you plaster your ad for a  consultation all over your website, your blog and your profiles, you'../ibl-blog/lawyers-and-social-media-outbound-vs-inbound-marketing/2013/5/1">inbound marketing tools into outbound advertisements. 

And this doesn't work. 

 

Lawyers and Social Media: Outbound vs Inbound Marketing

Listen. This might be the most important marketing tip you've ever heard. Did you watch the video? Did you understand what Mark was saying?

Outbound Marketing

Lawyers get billboards. 

They say things like, "I'm a great lawyer, you should hire me."

It's not their fault. It's what they learned.

Inbound Marketing

You give something of value. Someone gets a positive impression of what you've contributed.

E-book. Blog post. Speaking engagement. Interview.

No dancing gavels needed. No yellow pages ads needed.

Social Media

Now they're tweeting and updating facebook statuses to say, "I'm a great lawyer, you should hire me."

That's not engagement. That's not social.

I still don't get it.

Let's try this a different way. You're hanging out with friends. Two of your friends are talking about who has a better football program, Michigan or the school in Ohio (duh).

You walk up to them and explain that you're a great lawyer and they should hire you.

How would they respond?

If your friends are like my friends, they'd probably say something like get the hell out of here. Maybe they'll think you're making some weird joke that they don't get. Maybe they'll just ignore you. Maybe they'll think you're not feeling so hot.

But they're your friends. After some jabs, they'll probably let it go.

Get it yet?

Well let's take the same scenario but instead of your friends, let's say you're with people you hardly know. Perhaps other lawyers. Maybe at a seminar.

If they're polite, they'll simply walk away. If not, they might just tell you to go away. Some might even insult you. But it's only fair. After all, you insulted them with your interruption.

I'm going to assume you understand now.

Now let's take the same scenario but instead of being at seminar, you're online, for all the world to behold.

And so, you want to tell the world, "I'm a great lawyer, you should hire me."

So you sign-up for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and maybe even Google Plus.

And you toss your important message into the void.

And it largely goes answered.

And anyone who was potentially interested in you has no blocked you.

And that's how social media works. And that's why it doesn't work for you.