Make Sure You Choose The Right Marketing Partner

As a law firm, keeping your digital marketing strategy on track can be challenging. Understandably, most of your efforts are devoted to serving the needs of your clients. But you won’t have a law firm for very long if you aren’t generating new business and engaging new clients.

Legal marketers are also faced with the stark reality that Google changes its algorithm with alarming regularity. So what can rocket you to the top of the search results one day may not work the next or at least be less effective.

All of this means that you need help. But where is a busy law firm supposed to start? Here are some of the things to consider and look for so you get the right law firm marketing partner that will meet your needs.

  1. Define Your Goals and Priorities First

Before deciding whether one or another legal marketing firm is the best match for you, it’s a good idea to spend some time assessing your goals and priorities. After all, how can you expect someone to meet your expectations when you’re not sure what those are?

This is a valuable exercise for any law firm. Start at the beginning and ask yourself some key questions:

  • Who is your target market?
  • How many leads would you like to target in the next month, quarter, or year?
  • How many new clients would you like to sign up during these periods?
  • Do you have the support on hand to handle additional leads?
  • How would you like your brand to be perceived?
  • What areas do you see as needing the most attention? Website? Content?
  • What are your firm’s revenue goals?

Once you have this information in hand, you’ll be better prepared to have a conversation with a legal marketing agency about your expectations.

  1. Look for an Agency With Legal Marketing Experience

It’s a common misconception that all marketing is basically the same. It’s not. When marketing legal services, it’s particularly important to build credibility and trust with your audience while emphasizing things like experience, results, compassion, and accessibility.

The digital marketing agency you partner with should be able to understand your firm’s differentiators and ensure that those characteristics come through in every aspect of your campaigns. Likewise, law firm websites need to be simple to navigate, fast-loading, mobile-friendly, and include plenty of calls to action so that visitors know how to reach your firm.

When you interview potential agencies, ask questions pertinent to their experience:

  • What are some best practices you follow for law firm websites?
  • What keywords do you typically target for your law firm clients?
  • How can you help our firm rank better in local search results?
  • Do you represent any other firms in my area?
  • Can you show me proof of results with other clients?
  1. Thoroughly Examine the Services Offered

When one of your potential clients is looking for a law firm or lawyer, they want to know about service areas. Specifically, can your law firm help them get a divorce, fight a DUI, or apply for disability benefits? The same scrutiny should hold true when you are looking for a legal marketing agency.

Does the agency provide the services you want and need the most? If you require a new or refreshed website, is this something they do? Do they specialize in SEO (they should)? What about video marketing, paid ads, or social media marketing?

Find out about the scope of their services so that you don’t run into any surprises. For example, if a marketing firm only puts together a strategy and then expects you to execute the action items, this may not be something you’re prepared to take on.

  1. Ask About Work Processes and Reporting

Before you team up with a digital marketing agency, you need to make sure that they will be the right partner to execute your legal marketing strategy. No one wants to be just another number. First, make sure they have the capacity to handle your firm’s work and will be able to give you the personalized service you deserve.

Provided the agency can deliver what you need, will they do so in a way that works with your day-to-day operations? In other words, will you work well together, or will your approach create conflict? Here are a few questions to ask:

  • How will your agency track the performance of our campaigns?
  • How will we be kept in the loop on legal marketing campaigns and results?
  • Will we have a dedicated account manager or deal with a team?
  1. Ensure They Understand Legal Advertising Rules

Many of the things that your legal marketing partner will do, such as legal content writing, fall under the category of “advertising” for your law firm. This makes these actions subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct.

When you place your trust in a legal marketing agency, it’s critical that they have your best interests in mind and act to protect those interests. For example, many state bar associations prohibit language that refers to an attorney as an “expert” or that guarantees a particular case result.

  1. Check the Fee Structure and Legal Contract

As an attorney, you know how to read and interpret contracts, so make sure you are paying attention to anything that has to do with marketing your brand. Before you commit to working with a legal marketing agency, ask some pertinent questions:

  • Is there a minimum contract length for services?
  • How can we end the partnership if we aren’t satisfied with the results?
  • How are fees assessed, and are they consistent or variable?
  • What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) do you use to gauge success?
  • Can we adjust services as needed?

No one enjoys being caught off guard by unclear terms or language, so avoid leaving any questions left unasked.

Want to learn more about what Sundown Marketing Group can do as your law firm marketing partner? Check out our case studies that illustrate how we create custom, functional websites for clients designed to produce results.

Contact us today online, or by calling (800) 649-1764, to schedule a free consultation, and we’ll begin with a no-risk professional evaluation of your current website and marketing strategy.

How Well Do You Understand Search Engine Optimization For Your Law Firm

When you are eager to see your law firm’s digital marketing efforts perform well, you might be willing to try just about anything. But there are many SEO myths that won’t get you the results you want, or worse, could result in a penalty from Google. Here is what you need to know about some top law firm SEO myths so you don’t go too far down that rabbit hole.

First, what is SEO? Search Engine Optimization is the practice of getting organic (free) traffic from the search engines to your website. Most consumers today use Google to find and connect with brands, so your law firm’s goal should be to achieve high search engine rankings on Google as well as additional positions on page one through local search, social media, and featured snippets.

Why the First Page of Google is Important

How Google derives it’s search results is becoming more complex, with local results, videos, answer boxes, knowledge panels, and more. With so many ways for your firm to stand out, focusing on SEO to garner some of these top spots is worth the effort.

Here is why ranking high in Google is vital:

Better Click-Through Rates

It’s a fact that the higher you rank, the higher your click-through rate will be. One study concluded click-through rates were 36.4% for the top result, falling to 12.5% for position #2. These click-throughs are going to boost your website traffic and leads.

Improve Your Visibility

You can improve your brand awareness with a top search result. The more people who see your name, the more likely you will engage them if they need your services.

Establish Authority and Trust

One of the best ways to earn new business is to establish authority and trust. You can accomplish this by taking the steps necessary to achieve high organic search engine rankings.

5 Myths About Law Firm SEO

We’ve established why you want to make your firm’s SEO a priority. But which parts are of SEO are more important than others? This is where it can get confusing. Here are five common myths about legal SEO that help you steer you in the right direction.

Myth 1: The More Times You Use a Keyword, the Better

This was true in 2003. If you decide to try “keyword stuffing” today, Google views this as a negative ranking factor, and it could hurt your efforts.

There’s no doubt that conducting careful keyword research is still essential to successful SEO. But, how you use those keywords in your legal content is just as important.

Here are a few facts about keyword integration in content:

  • Your keyword density should remain at around 3%.
  • Keywords should be used in the copy where they flow and fit naturally instead of being forced to get a page to rank.
  • Using related keywords and phrases in your content can help your SEO efforts just as much.

Myth 2: The Content Doesn’t Matter As Long As You’re Targeting the Right Keywords

It’s a common misconception that keyword targeting should take priority over content. Simply sprinkling the right keywords throughout terrible or mediocre content isn’t going to get you the results you want. In today’s online environment, the quality of your law firm’s content matters more than ever.

Google has placed significant emphasis on the user experience and even uses an AI-powered engine called RankBrain to ensure that consumers are getting what they want from the search results. If you want to rank a web page for “DUI penalties in Georgia” and place that search term throughout a page that doesn’t actually list the DUI penalties in Georgia, the user experience will probably be subpar. Your bounce rates (people hitting the “back” button) will go through the roof, and Google will take notice quickly.

Instead, it’s vital that your content addresses the subject matter thoroughly and is well-written and engaging enough to capture your audience’s attention and improve your rankings.

Myth 3: You Just Need More Backlinks to Outrank Your Competitors

This is another falsehood that could get your website in trouble with the search engines. Years ago, it was a common practice to search out low-quality, spammy links to quickly rank a website. Google caught on to the technique and put a stop to it.

You still need high-quality backlinks for SEO, but the emphasis is on quality over quantity. Buying links is explicitly against Google’s policies and could get your website penalized.

The best approach is to continue creating high-quality content that others will want to link to naturally. There are some other legitimate methods for achieving quality backlinks that your legal marketing firm can discuss with you.

Myth 4: Having a Secure Website Isn’t Important

Even if your law firm’s website is only informational and you don’t store client data, having a secure website is vital for SEO. And this isn’t anything new.

As far back as 2014, Google announced that it wanted to see “HTTPS everywhere,” meaning websites needed to start thinking about getting an SSL certificate installed. Not long after, the search engine giant began using security as a ranking factor. Specifically, sites that have an SSL get a ranking boost, and those without security appear to get penalized.

It’s a simple enough adjustment, and your clients will appreciate it as well. More consumers now notice site security and could make a decision about your law firm based on this factor.

Myth 5: SEO is a One-Time Thing

If only this were similar to Google “ruling” once that your website was worthy of a top search engine ranking and the case was closed. Unfortunately, Google re-assesses the merits of your case many times each day, so you might have top billing in the morning and find that it has slipped by dinnertime.

SEO is an ongoing process similar to healthy eating and fitness. If you neglect it, there’s a better than good chance that you’ll see your results erode over time. This happens for several reasons:

  • Google changes/updates its algorithm.
  • Your content is no longer as “fresh.”
  • Your competitors are working on their SEO harder than you.
  • You begin to lose backlinks.

Instead, you should be consistently following up on your online marketing strategy to maintain and improve your results.

Discover the Truth About Law Firm Marketing

It’s simple enough to get caught up in the various myths surrounding legal marketing. But you’re probably busy enough as it is and just want someone to give it to you straight. You might get a few short-term benefits by applying a few questionable tactics, but the long-term results may not be what your law firm wants or needs.

Sundown Marketing Group is dedicated to helping its legal clients achieve results with proven digital marketing solutions. There is a significant amount of time and effort that needs to go into your firm’s digital marketing strategy, and our goal is to be a partner you can trust to separate the true from the false.

Contact us online or call us today at (800) 649-1764 to schedule a free consultation.

Is Your Law Firm Creating The Right Content For Your Website

In recent years, law firms have begun to realize the importance of establishing their brand in the digital market. Historically, law firms received the bulk of their leads through networking events, referrals, and traditional ad space channels (billboards, Yellow Pages, etc.).

But the most successful lawyers are now dominating the search engines and social media with content and even establishing themselves as thought leaders in their field. This has only become possible through focused content marketing campaigns that deliver engaging content and follow a long list of legal content marketing best practices.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the practice of creating engaging and useful content that is aimed at a particular online audience. For law firms, content marketing involves the creation of original content, such as blogs, white papers, and web pages. The content is posted on your website and shared in a way that promotes your legal practice’s services.

The goals of content marketing will vary. But to be successful, your firm’s content should aim to fulfill at least one of these goals:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Establish expertise and thought leadership
  • Generate leads and new clients
  • Create an online community

The type of content you post will vary depending on your goals and the needs of your target audience. When done right, content marketing can be a valuable addition to your digital marketing strategy.

The Importance of Content Marketing for Law Firms

Content marketing is a big deal for any business, but it is particularly vital for law firms. The average consumer has become blind to traditional advertising methods like print, television, and even some online ads. This constant noise drastically reduces the chances that one of these tactics will sell your service to a prospect.

But content marketing can succeed where other methods fail. When a person has a legal issue that they need to solve (or any issue, such as needing last-minute dinner reservations), they are more likely than ever to turn to Google for their answer. This is where you have the greatest opportunity to connect with a prospect in the most meaningful way through your useful and targeted content.

Some of the ways content marketing can benefit your law firm include:

Content Marketing Improves Your Reach

Content marketing allows potential clients to find you who otherwise might not have. That person that is worried about the potential “DUI penalties in Alabama” or wants to know “How to appeal an SSDI rejection” might find your recent blog post and contact you.

If your content is useful and interesting, they might also share it with friends and social media followers. Someone that wasn’t searching for your law firm will see your name and remember it later when they do have a need.

Legal Content Can Improve Your SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital to the success of your online marketing efforts, and content marketing can help improve your website’s organic rankings. When you have a lot of informative content on your website that begins to pull in traffic, Google will notice and reward you accordingly.

Local search is essential for law firms that serve a limited geographic area. By adding your city, county, or other location data to your content, you can improve your local search rankings. So, when a person looks for a “personal injury lawyer near me,” you are more likely to get one of those top spots.

Blogging Establishes You as an Authority

People want to hire a law firm that knows what it is doing, and you can establish your authority through content marketing. A frequently updated blog gives you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge on a topic while you are addressing some of your target audience’s most pressing concerns.

A blog is also an effective way to promote your practice among your peers. When you establish authority in your field, you are more likely to get referrals from other firms that are outside your area of practice or geographic region.

Getting Your Law Firm’s Content Marketing Strategy Right

Content marketing differs a bit from traditional advertising. When most people think of law firm advertising, they picture a lawyer’s face on a billboard or bus stop imploring them to call some version of 1-800-ACCIDENT. Content marketing for law firms is a bit more subtle and can be far more effective than traditional advertising when approached correctly.

It is simple enough to produce a few blog posts and send out some tweets and then label that as your law firm’s content marketing efforts. But, to build your brand and get the most out of content marketing, you need a focused strategy.

Some of the things your legal content marketing strategy should include are:

  • Defining Your Audience – Who are you trying to reach with your content, and for what purpose?
  • Optimizing Your Website – Is the content already on your website optimized for your target audience and the search engines? Can you repurpose any of your best-performing content to extend your reach?
  • Producing a Content Marketing Strategy – Your content marketing strategy should include keyword research and a content roadmap to plan your approach.
  • Creating Compelling Legal Content – The next step is to research, write, edit, and publish content that targets a specific practice area, audience, and set of keywords.
  • Marketing Your Content – Some content ranks quickly organically, but you can also “share” content on social media sites and promote it to get it in front of the right audience.
  • Assessing Your Results – Every content marketing campaign should carefully track progress and assess results to determine what is working and what might require some adjustments moving forward.

Quality Legal Content That Sets Your Law Firm Apart

At Sundown Marketing Group, we create content that helps our clients express their brand’s voice. While you focus on running your firm, the content our team creates for you will drive traffic to your website and convert visitors into new clients.

Some examples of the results-driven content our copywriters create include:

  • Practice area pages
  • Blogs
  • White papers and resource articles
  • Press releases
  • Staff biographies
  • Newsletters

Every piece of content you receive is well-researched, SEO-optimized, and 100% unique to address your needs and the most pressing concerns of your target audience. Contact Sundown Marketing Group today at (800) 649-1764 or online to connect with us for a free consultation.

Geo-Targeted Content – The Difference Between 1st Page Rankings And Irrelevancy

The most important online content for law firms is the area of practice (AOP) page. These pages help give your website a strong foundation that you can build on with consistent monthly content. Practice area pages serve two primary purposes; to explain in detail what areas of law you practice, and to let legal consumers know which geographic locations you serve.

An attorney or firm should produce AOP pages for each area of specialty, starting with the most general and drilling down from there. For example, if you are a personal injury lawyer who does mostly traffic-related accident cases, you would want to produce pages for:

  • Personal Injury
  • Car Accidents
  • Truck Accidents
  • Bus Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents

This is just a starting list. Over time, you might want to add pages for more subtopics, like “serious/catastrophic injuries” for example. In addition, will want to add several specific types of injuries that fall into this category, such as “traumatic brain injuries” and “spinal cord injuries”.

Once you know which area of practice pages you need to produce, it is time to decide which geographic locations to target. Creating geo-specific practice area pages for your law firm is extremely important, because consumers tend to prefer locally focused content, and search engines reward geo-targeted AOP pages with better search results. Ultimately, this means more prospects landing on your page, which in turn means more clients from your website.

Building Geo-Specific Attorney Practice Area Pages

The keys to an effective geo-targeted practice area page are to create pages that will be highly relevant to a local consumer search along with text and design that shows authority and professionalism and optimizes client conversions. The headline should include the keyword phrase you are targeting along with the local area in which you are marketing.

Continuing with the personal injury firm example, let’s say you are in the Chicago area. In this case, you will want pages with titles like “Personal Injury Attorneys in Chicago” or “Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyers”.

As you might guess, in an area like Chicago, there is going to be heavy competition for keywords such as “Chicago personal injury lawyer”. This is why it is a good idea to drill down to areas of personal injury law that you specialize in, like “motorcycle accidents” or “nursing home abuse”. Create the personal injury page as the “parent” page and create the more specialized pages as the “child pages” in your linking structure.

If you are in a medium to large sized metro area, another thing you should strongly consider is creating geo-pages that are targeted toward nearby localities that you practice in. For example, let’s say your office is in the northwest side of Chicago near O’Hare International. In this case, you would want to target nearby suburbs like Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, and Elmhurst. Making geo-targeted pages for these suburbs creates more potential doorways through which prospective clients can find your website.

Best Practices for Geo-Specific Practice Area Pages

There are a lot of variables that go into creating geo-targeted area of practice pages that drive results. Here are some of the most important guidelines to follow:

  • Develop a Consistent Message: It is critical that your message remains consistent across all of your web properties with regards to the name of your firm, the focus of your practice, your location, and similar information. When you are building an online brand, there needs to be congruency with the design, the images you display, and the messages that you convey.
  • Distinguish Yourself and Your Firm: Your geo-specific practice area pages should highlight why you are different from the hundreds or perhaps thousands of other lawyers in your area with the same or similar areas of specialty. Is it your extensive trial experience? Your success with high-profile cases? Recognition by reputable legal organizations? Large verdicts and settlements you have secured for clients? Highlight the things that distinguish your practice and set you apart from your competition.
  • Write with Authority: One way you can show that you are a good choice for legal consumers is by creating authoritative content that showcases your expertise. So, if you are a DUI defense attorney, for example, tell readers the important points about the DUI laws in your state, when they Are likely to face jail time, what they have to do to keep their driver’s license, and some of the most effective defenses. Content like this helps establish you as a thought leader in your area of practice.
  • Make Your Content Readable and Useful: Along with authoritative content, your content should be readable and include useful information. Use short paragraphs with lots of subheadings and bullet points to make it easier for your readers to scan the content quickly if they want to. Also give them information that will be helpful to them and make them feel like it was worth their time to read your page. For example, you could include a section like “What to Say and What Not to Say When You Speak to an Insurance Adjuster.”
  • Be Careful About Overusing Keywords: Focus on creating quality content and don’t worry as much about integrating keywords. Keyword stuffing is a disgraced practice that Google no longer rewards, and in fact, the overuse of keywords could actually hurt your rankings in some cases. As a general rule, if you write authoritatively about your area of practice, your targeted keywords and related keywords will show up often enough for Google to recognize your page as a relevant search result.
  • Make it Easy for Your Prospects to Engage: Your geo-targeted area of practice pages should include a call to action and a chat box in case the reader would like to engage with your firm right away. With these features in place, you will convert more targeted visitors into clients.

Don’t Have Time to Create Geo-Specific Practice Area Pages? Sundown Legal Marketing is Here to Help

Maybe you are saying to yourself, “all of this makes sense, but who has time to create area of practice pages?” We get it. A lot of lawyers are simply too busy practicing law to worry about building their online presence, and that’s where we come in. At Sundown Legal Marketing, we specialize in helping law firms by reviewing their current online footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan and implementing every aspect of that plan.

We work with attorneys and legal practices in whatever capacity they need us. For some, we just build a professional attorney website and host it for them while they do their own blogging and other online marketing activities. For others, we implement their entire marketing strategy – from website construction to SEO to content marketing to social media, paid advertising and beyond.

To find out how we can help your firm, call us today at (800) 864-1764 or message us online for a free website evaluation and internet marketing assessment. We look forward to serving you!

Video, Video, Video…OK, Have We Said It Enough!

Whether you are an established law firm or new firm, you probably know that video marketing is a big deal. But it has never been more prominent than it is today. More people are staying home to stay safe, and most outside entertainment options have been postponed or canceled.

YouTube engagement is at an all-time high, with up to 30% more views of video content and Instagram reports a 70% jump in live streaming. The demand for video content has soared, as has its importance to digital marketing.

People will always have legal issues to resolve, so they are going to need your services. If you want to connect with them in 2021 and beyond, it is vital that video marketing becomes one of your priorities.

Why Include Video in Your Law Firm Digital Marketing Strategy?

There are many reasons why your law firm should include video in its digital marketing strategy. First, some data:

Beyond the numbers, here are the reasons why video should be an essential part of your firm’s digital marketing strategy:

Videos Attract Attention

Infographics, photos, and informative posts still have their place. But a video can capture a visitor’s attention in a matter of seconds and hold it if you have a strong message.

Google Loves Video Content

Research clearly shows that video content increases the amount of time a website visitor stays on your site and when you can keep people on your website longer, your search engine rankings will benefit. Google will notice that people are spending more time on your site and reward you for having engaging content.

Law Firm Video Builds Trust

Consumers have grown understandably suspicious of businesses and marketing in general. When you “show” them who you are through video content, it can help instill trust and create a lasting connection.

Legal Consumers Want Video Content

People have become accustomed to seeing video content online and expect it on both websites and in their search engine results.

Video Explains Things Better

Sometimes, difficult concepts are easier to explain through videos. You can use a whiteboard or tell stories in your video that give your audience a better understanding of the subject.

Video Boosts Conversions

Since most consumers claim that video helps them make purchasing decisions, you can leverage this to attract new clients with targeted content.

Video Encourages Sharing

Social media networks, email, and even text apps are equipped to allow users to share videos seamlessly.

How Law Firms Can Use Video in Web Marketing

Video can be a powerful way to market your law firm and its services. Now that video is one of the most popular mediums online, how can your firm harness it to create awareness and produce results? Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Introduce Your Firm

Use video on your “About Us” page or homepage to tell people about your firm, your practice areas, and introduce the attorneys that will help solve their legal issues.

  1. Post Explainer Videos

Written content is still vital, but you can supplement this and broaden your reach by also posting some videos. Explain different legal issues and the ways your firm addresses them.

  1. Testimonial Videos

Before hiring an attorney, most potential clients want some validation that they are making the right choice. You can provide this on your website with testimonial videos from prior clients that let them know what they can expect when they hire your firm.

  1. Case Studies

Your firm can use videos to show potential clients that you have successfully handled cases like theirs in the past. This can instill confidence in your firm’s ability to achieve a positive outcome.

  1. Live Streaming

Having “live” on-camera dialogue with others has become more commonplace over the past year. Law firms can leverage this by live-streaming topic-specific webinars and Q&A sessions to connect with current and potential clients.

Four Video Marketing Trends to Watch in 2021

There is no doubt that video is powerful. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that you don’t necessarily need to meet face-to-face to get things done. Everything from classrooms to work to court cases are being handled through platforms like Zoom and social media channels.

When you market your business, using images helps boost engagement, but video can be even more memorable and effective when done right. Here are a few video marketing trends to watch for the coming year:

Google Search Emphasis on Video

Have you noticed that Google now includes a row of videos in many organic search results? This presents a golden opportunity for law firms to create videos that answer the questions that people are asking. If you can grab one of these spots, it can bring additional traffic to your page and clients to your firm.

The Rise of the Webinars

Online (or “web”) seminars, also called webinars, are another way to market your law firm with video content. You can use webinars to establish yourself as a trusted expert (for example, in estate planning) or to give the public useful information, such as how to file for bankruptcy or get a divorce during a pandemic.

More Omnichannel Video Content

Have you ever mentioned a Facebook video to someone, only to hear that they already saw it on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn? This has become incredibly common because consumers often have a multi-channel diet that consists of many networks. So, when you post a video, it makes sense to do it across several digital channels.

Increase in Video Live Streaming

Posting live video streams is not new, but it has become much more popular as a video marketing strategy. In the past year, people have become used to attending live streamed yoga sessions, music performances, and cooking demonstrations.

This level of comfort with live video has opened new ground for marketers. You can use this medium to post “breaking industry news” or have regular chat or Q&A sessions via your website or social media profile.

Contact Sundown Legal Marketing Today To Discuss Law Firm Videos

At Sundown Legal Marketing, we specialize in helping our clients make the most of every opportunity, to create awareness and drive results. Contact us today, and let’s start a conversation about how our team can make video marketing one of your most effective channels in the coming year.

Build Your 2021 Marketing Plan Today

If you are hoping to see a return to marketing as normal in 2021, that’s not looking likely. But businesses have proven to be incredibly resilient during this prolonged period of strangeness, and the hope is that the coming year will be no different.

We have already witnessed a fundamental change in how organizations approach sales and marketing. The idea of being available and helpful to potential clients has become even more vital over the past year as people struggle to cope with financial and other changes.

But what about moving forward? Here are some ways you can continue to adapt, and some of the most important elements you’ll want to include in your 2021 marketing plan.

Do You Need a Marketing Plan?

In short, yes, you do. Approaching digital marketing without a plan is a terrible idea. As a business owner, it is vital that you have a way to connect with potential clients at various stages in their marketing journey.

A typical marketing funnel consists of several stages – awareness, engagement, conversion, advocacy. Since few businesses close a sale with the first contact, your digital marketing strategy should include elements that will engage consumers throughout their journey. This is tough to accomplish without a plan.

Five Most Important Elements in Your 2021 Marketing Plan

Most businesses were happy to say farewell to 2020, but what’s on the table for the coming year? Here are five strategies that you should include in your 2021 digital marketing plan:

  1. Prioritize Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) continues to be a moving target, and this won’t change in 2021. But there are few trends in SEO that can help your business in the coming year:

  • User Experience (UX) – Google now factors “UX signals” into its rankings, so it is essential that you consider things like page load speed, navigation, and content quality.
  • Semantic Search – This refers to “how” people search for information online. It’s changing, and Google wants your content to match the user’s intent.
  • Zero-Click Search Results – At least some of your content should be optimized to capture Google’s featured snippets, video carousels, and knowledge graphs that can help build brand awareness.
  • Google My Business – Every local business should have a claimed and fully-optimized GMB profile to target audiences in local markets.
  1. Focus on Video Marketing

2020 has changed the way consumers use video, and brands approach it as a digital marketing channel. According to Deloitte, 80% of U.S. consumers now subscribe to a video streaming service, and 78% watch videos online at least weekly.

Watching videos on mobile devices has become particularly popular, and viewers report retaining up to 95% of a message when it’s consumed via video.

If your business or law firm hasn’t focused on video marketing in the past, 2021 should be your year. If you have, keep posting video content and innovating to build brand awareness, instill trust, and drive conversions.

The good news is you have a ton of options when it comes to video content. For example, you can use demonstration videos to showcase services or products. You can post brand videos to share your company’s vision or mission. And you can create educational or frequently asked question (FAQ) videos to help customers better understand concepts or the benefits that you provide.

  1. Use Google Local Service Ads (LSAs)

Google might have international reach, but if you’re a local service business, you probably want to make a bigger impression on an audience within driving distance. Searchers want a personal injury attorney, a restaurant “near me,” or a plumber to fix an urgent leak.

This is why optimizing for local search through Google My Business profiles is vital. But Google also launched a new service last year that can give your business an even bigger advantage over its competitors – Local Service Ads (LSAs).

With LSAs, your listing will show up as a trusted professional in the area, nestled just above the traditional paid search ads. An LSA will show your business name, your GMB star-rating and number of reviews, your business phone #, hours, and a green check mark with the words “Google Guaranteed.”

LSAs are available for a growing list of service industries and ad regions. If your business is eligible, this is something you should integrate into your 2021 marketing plan.

  1. Leverage Social Media

Since COVID-19 started, people have been spending more time on social media, and brands have been dedicating more of their budgets to engaging those audiences. According to Marketing Charts, social media budgets rose to 24% of total marketing budgets in 2020, up from 13% the prior year.

This shift in consumer behavior gives your business a twofold opportunity. First, you can use social media to build brand awareness and expand your customer base. Second, you can leverage social channels to re-engage with long-time customers and increase your retention rates.

Social media marketing involves a commitment of time and resources. You’ll want to create a content plan, post on social channels regularly, monitor and respond to customers, and build trust. If you’ve put off social media or not made the most of it in past years, now’s the time to change that.

  1. Post Informed Content

Personalization has been a hot topic in digital marketing circles over the past several years. When it comes to the customer experience, this can refer to meeting your customer where they are in their journey to find a service provider, such as in the awareness stage vs. the advocacy stage.

Going even a step further than personalization, consumers are now placing a high value on informed content. What does this mean? Depending on your industry, it can mean several things.

In the age of COVID, political unrest, and situations that just change “fast,” consumers place trust in brands that keep them informed. It can be as simple as a timely post or video about a new law taking effect that is relevant to your target audience.

If your brand sells goods or a different kind of services, consumers are placing more value on things that would once seem intrusive. Many people “like” it when a brand anticipates what they might want to buy next, sometimes before they know it themselves. You can send out these suggestions in the form of targeted ads or emails.

Ready to Take Your Digital Marketing Strategy to the Next Level?

There is little doubt that the past year has rattled a few cages, but consumers and businesses alike have learned to pivot with impressive speed. According to McKinsey & Company, 77% of Americans have tried out new brands, places to shop, and shopping methods over the past year. Consumers are no longer passively returning to the same brands, which could provide your business with opportunities in the coming year.

As your business or firm seeks to boost awareness, create value, and drive results using these marketing methods, find out how we can help. Sundown Marketing Group specializes in results-driven digital marketing solutions. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We can be reached at (800) 649-1764.

Blogs Are A Must If You Want Your Website To Rank Well

There is wide agreement among online experts that blogging is one of the core strategies that should be integrated into an effective digital marketing plan. This is true for virtually every industry, but it is especially the case for law firms. People encounter all types of legal trouble, and these days, one of the first places they go to try to make sense of their legal issues and solve them is the internet.

Before a typical legal consumer contacts an attorney, they will want to read as much as they can about the issue that they are dealing with so they at least have a basic understanding of it, and so they will know what questions to ask a lawyer when they finally contact one.

Attorneys and law firms that take the time to produce content that answers consumers’ questions stand out from their competitors by sharing free information with the public and demonstrating their knowledge of the law. Done correctly, blogging will drive targeted prospects to your web properties, a certain percentage of which should become clients. Dollar for dollar, this is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow a legal practice.

Developing an effective blogging strategy is not really all that complicated. It does, however, require a time commitment and consistency. A small to medium-sized law firm should be willing to produce at least one to three blogs per month. This could take three to 10 hours or so of your time to write the articles, edit them, and post them to your website.

If you or someone in your office is willing to put in the time, then you can turn blogging into a winning strategy that will grow your clientele. The traffic will trickle in at first, but if you stick to it, your website visits will begin to multiply, and you will produce successful long-term results.

To help ensure that you write a good blog post every time, here are six steps to follow:

Understand your Audience

It is very important to understand who you are writing the blog for and what its purpose is going to be. Primarily, a law firm blog is written for legal consumers (as opposed to other attorneys, etc.) because they are the ones who may eventually become your clients. So, when you prepare to write a blog article, put yourself in their shoes and think about what they are going through. What are their pain points? What kind of resolution are they hoping to obtain by reading your post?

The best kind of content for a blog post is content that connects with your audience and speaks to their concerns. For example, someone who was injured in a car accident is likely to be under a great deal of stress about the medical bills they have to pay, being out of work, and how long it will take to resolve their legal claim. Someone who was arrested for drunk driving is probably worried about the heavy fines they will have to pay, losing their driving privileges, the possibility of jail time, and maybe even losing their job.

By identifying your audience and understanding what they are concerned about, you will be better able to produce content that is compelling and engaging. This will help you establish an emotional connection with them, which will keep them interested in what you have to say.

Write for Topics over Keywords

You have probably heard a lot about search engine optimization (SEO) and the role it plays in getting your content found on the Web. Ranking for keywords that your target audience is searching for is one of the major goals with blogging, but you should never allow the quality of your content to be compromised for this purpose.

“Keyword stuffing” is a practice from a bygone era, and thankfully, it is no longer an effective SEO strategy. Google’s algorithms are far more sophisticated these days, and they are better able to interpret the context of an article and its relevance to various keyword queries.

The best approach for writing legal blog posts is to choose topics that your target audience cares about. One way to do this would be to make a big list of the most frequently asked questions you get from your clients and write blog articles that answer these questions. You could also look in places like Yahoo! Answers and Quora to find some common questions that are being asked.

Create blog posts about topics that are relevant to your target audience, and do not worry as much about keyword phrases. If your content addresses their most important issues, the search engines will reward you for that and your posts will be found.

Make your Content Coherent and Understandable

As a lawyer, you need to project a professional image for you and your firm. As such, you need to make sure that the content you write flows smoothly and is grammatically correct. At the same time, however, make sure it is not overly technical. Remember, much of your audience is not familiar with a lot of the legal terms that are part of your everyday vernacular. When you write a legal blog that is geared toward average consumers, your job is to make complex legal concepts understandable to your target audience.

Make your Content Informative and Useful

Your readers should be able to understand your content, and further, they should find it interesting, informative, and useful. Sure, your ultimate goal is for them to contact you and become a client, but you should not be continually trying to sell that within your post. Instead, give your readers practical information that they can take away from the article and put directly to use, so they believe that it was worth their time to read it.

Show Yourself as an Authority

Avoid talking too much about yourself within the article and instead show your expertise by discussing the legal topic and providing helpful information to the reader. The place to talk in more detail about your credentials is on the area of practice (AOP) pages of your website. Blogs can direct readers to AOP pages when appropriate, and you should do this from time to time. But within the blog post itself, show readers your in-depth knowledge about the subject. This will help establish you as an authority in your area of practice, which builds trust among your target audience and makes them more likely to become clients.

Include a Call to Action

You should end your blog with a paragraph or two that moves the reader toward a desired action. This is one place where you could discuss your credentials while inviting readers to contact your firm for more information and to schedule a consultation. If you are writing a fairly long post, you could also insert a brief call to action in the second or third paragraph for readers who know they need legal help and/or do not have the time to get through the entire article. This is optional and it is entirely up to you.

About Sundown Legal Marketing

Now here’s our call to action. We know that for a lot of attorneys, even fitting in an extra five to 10 hours a month for blogging and other types of digital marketing can seem like an impossible task. And this is where we come in. Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms by reviewing their current online footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan, and implementing every aspect of that plan.

We work with attorneys and legal practices in whatever capacity they need us. For some, we just build a professional lawyer website and host it for them while they do their own blogging and other web marketing activities. For others, we implement their entire marketing strategy – from website construction to SEO to content marketing to social media, paid advertising and beyond.

To find out how we can help your firm, call us today at (800) 864-1764 or message us online for a free website evaluation and internet marketing assessment. We look forward to serving you!

The Importance of Client Reviews and the Most Effective Way to Get Them

In law school, the last thing that you were likely thinking about was how to market yourself as an attorney. Instead, you probably assumed that by doing good work and providing effective legal counsel, as well as by establishing or working for a reputable firm, clients would come to you. But the days of word-of-mouth marketing are all but are gone; today, more people than ever before are turning to online information as a resource that influences their purchasing decisions of various types, including who to hire for legal representation.

If your law firm is still relying on out-of-date means of client retention and acquisition, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to reach more people. At Sundown Legal Marketing, our legal marketing team can help you to understand the importance of client reviews and the most effective way to start cultivating reviews today.

Why Are Client Reviews So Important?

When it comes to understanding why client reviews are so important, the following statistics say it all:

  • Those who are in need of a lawyer aren’t just going to ask around to find one; instead, 75 percent of consumers seeking an attorney will use online resources to identify who they plan to hire. Again, by not having online information about your firm, including online client reviews, you could practically be sending clients to your competitors.
  • Not only are ¾ of people who need a lawyer using online resources to look for one, but nearly ⅔ of people say that online reviews greatly influenced their decision in selecting an attorney.

The bottom line: people are using the internet to learn more about a business before making a purchasing decision – this includes those who are in need of legal services. By failing to provide information to potential clients about your business in a variety of forms, including client reviews, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with a potential client in a valuable way; this opportunity will likely be snatched up by other attorneys in your field.

The Most Effective Ways to Get Client Reviews

Now that you understand just how important client reviews are for your legal practice, the next consideration is how to start building a collection of client reviews on your website.

Lawyers often fail to get reviews for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that they don’t maintain the right spaces for clients to leave reviews (i.e. Facebook, Google, etc.). Second, lawyers often fail to ask clients for reviews, which is a critical step in the process of actually getting reviews. Third, if a lawyer does ask a client for a review, they often go about it in the wrong way. To get more reviews, consider the following:

  • Choose the right platforms. The first thing that your law firm needs to do is ensure that the right platforms for client reviews are in place. Facebook and Google are both great options – Facebook has more than one billion active users, and consumers say that Google reviews is their favorite source for online reviews. In addition to Google and Facebook, also consider using Avvo, which is a review site specifically for lawyers.
  • Start asking for reviews. It’s not just about having the right platforms in place; you’ll need to actually ask your former clients for reviews. This can be daunting and even feel uncomfortable, but there is a way to do it appropriately and effectively.

How to Ask Clients for Reviews

As you start to ask clients for reviews, there are a few key things to keep in mind for maximum effectiveness.

  1. Make sure your reviews are current by asking clients to leave you a review as soon as possible after representation has been completed.
  1. Ask for reviews from clients who had a positive experience – the goal is to have positive reviews reflected on your website and the various review platforms.
  1. Make it personal by asking for a review in person or by picking up the phone and calling them. Simply sending a generic email to a client you’ve been working with isn’t nearly as effective as personalizing it. If the client agrees to leave you a review, then you can immediately follow up with an email containing the relevant links to review sites.

Know How to Make Reviews Work for You

Finally, once reviews start coming in, you’ll need to know how to make these reviews work for you. Make sure that positive reviews are shared on your website in an area that is easy for prospective clients to find. Show recent reviews first.

Another tip for making reviews more effective is to respond to former clients’ reviews, both positive and negative. Be honest, empathetic, and use a negative review as an opportunity to admit fault when appropriate and highlight how much you care about your clients.

Work with a Professional Digital Marketing Team Today

At Sundown Legal Marketing, we are experts at helping law firms like yours improve their online presence and start attracting more clients. Not only are we skilled digital marketers, but we also understand the unique rules and regulations that you face as a lawyer, including client confidentiality rules and the consequences of fake reviews. To learn more about how we can help your firm, reach out to our legal marketing team by phone at (800) 649-1764 or online today.

How to Get Reviews from Clients

Getting reviews isn’t something you can sit back and trust people will do. You have to actively have a review-requesting plan in place, and train their staff – from managing partners down to their receptionists – in the best ways to ask satisfied clients for reviews.

Here are a few suggestions:

In Case-Closing Letters

Do your clients send a final letter to their clients with their settlement checks or copies of final judgment documents? Include specific instructions on how to leave their firm a review within these letters.

If your client sends copies of these letters via email, include direct links to their review profiles to make it easy.

In Text

Part of the problem with getting clients to leave reviews is them knowing how to. Remove those barriers by texting a link to their business’s Google profile. Here’s how.

In Person

The most powerful way to ask for a review is in person where your client can say, “I appreciated working with you. It would really help more people who need my help find me if you would leave a review online.”

Follow up this conversation with a texted link.

How Can Law Firms Responsibly Voice Social Concern

While “activist” might not be the first word most attorneys would use to identify themselves or their firms, engaging in matters critical to our time has become almost necessary for a brand’s survival. Today, most businesses – and that includes law firms – are taking social, cultural, and political stands that would have been unthought of just a few short years ago.

From police brutality to racial injustice to immigration and climate change, organizations are being called upon to draw their lines in the sand and declare and stance on a long list of divisive issues. And now, law firms are adding their voices.

The Age of Corporate Social Justice and Responsibility

Giving back to the community is nothing new. For decades, corporations have dedicated themselves to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, and for good reason. Research shows that companies with effective volunteer and philanthropic efforts are more profitable than those without.

But businesses have traditionally taken a neutral stance on political and controversial matters – until now. Both consumers and employees are raising the bar on what they expect from the businesses they hire and work for.

The past year has done nothing but accelerate the public’s idea that brands have a greater responsibility to take a stand on political and social matters. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial justice movement, and the U.S. election, a new form of corporate social justice is emerging, where businesses can lend their voices and resources to groups that are disadvantaged or harmed by society.

And aren’t lawyers uniquely trained and positioned to do just that? As professionals with knowledge of the law, attorneys and their law firms can use their skills and resources to further important causes and advocate for change.

Considerations for Law Firms Engaging in Social Activism

When the world around you seems to be on fire, there is a certain danger in taking a “business as usual” approach. In other words, not taking a stand is, in itself, making a statement.

With some groups, that will be heard loud and clear. One study revealed that two-thirds of consumers want brands to take a stand on important issues. So, if you haven’t done this yet, how do you fill that gap?

  1. Walk the Talk

You don’t have to wait for the next big controversy to start advocating for what is just and right. But, before you take a stand, make sure your own house is in order.

Statistically, law firms are some of the least diverse organizations. If you plan to advocate for immigrants’ rights for example, take a look at the diversity within your organization first. Some of the programs meant to improve diversity within the legal industry include JOIPYear UpStreet Law, and Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair.

  1. Encourage Your Team to Get Involved

Work with your team at every level to create some missions and policies that will make it easier for members of your firm to be more socially and politically active. Simply by volunteering their time to causes they care about, members of your team can be some of your biggest brand ambassadors.

For example, global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright gave employees time off this year to attend protests. National firm Katten Muchin Rosenman created a “Day of Reflection,” a paid day off encouraging staff to engage in a meaningful cause. Other firms are providing free legal advice or services to people arrested during peaceful protests.

  1. Be Honest About Any Past Missteps

Maybe your firm hasn’t been the most inclusive in the past. Or perhaps you supported a cause or candidate that you now view as a mistake. If you’re going to take a stand on any social or political issues and want the respect of your employees and clients, you need to be honest.

People will know if you’re just paying lip service to something because it is the “cause du jour.” This is part of walking that talk.

  1. Thoroughly Understand the Movements You Support

Before you jump into a movement, be sure you understand it first. What might seem like a simple enough issue on the surface may be much more complex once you get all the information.

The leaders of any movement can make mistakes, but social activism works best when it is well-organized. For example, if you want to participate in a social media campaign that makes a statement, collect the critical information so that your efforts will have the biggest impact.

  1. Communicate Internally First

Before you release statements to the public or decide to support a cause that might be sensitive or controversial, speak with your team first. They deserve to have input on your firm’s social and political activism choices.

Be available to staff to answer questions about your firm’s plan. No one should feel caught off guard by a brand’s public communication. Instead, they should be ready to stand behind your choices because they helped create the strategy.

  1. Align Your Activism With Your Firm’s Values

Every firm should have a mission statement that drives its interactions with clients and the public at large. Discuss your firm’s mission with staff at every level to see how you can put your stated values into action.

For example, it’s not uncommon to have core values relative to inclusivity. Are there social causes you can support to make your community more inclusive? If you value the environment, make sure your activism and support of any political issues align with those values.

  1. Create a Resource for Staff and the Public

Whether you decide to wade into the trenches on an issue or simply voice your support, you can also serve as a source of vital information for the public. Instead of listing items that are subject to change, give your readers some valuable e-sources.

As lawyers, you are in a unique position to help both clients and the public at large bring about meaningful change. No matter where your firm stands on certain issues, getting your message across to the public can be challenging at best.

If you would like help communicating your firm’s stance and values as well as the action steps you are taking, contact Sundown Marketing Group at (800) 649-1764. We specialize in helping law firms reach their greatest potential through creative legal marketing solutions.

The Importance of Working with a Professional Web Designer on Your Website

As a law firm, you operate a unique business type that is very distinct from others. Indeed, you’re not merely offering a product; you’re offering a service that could be life-changing for your clients. But regardless of whether or not your law firm is in a class of its own, there’s one thing that’s just as true for your firm as it is for other businesses: website design is a critical part of your marketing strategy. At Sundown Legal Marketing, our legal marketing team offers superior website design services with built-in search engine optimization (SEO) services. As your law firm seeks to attract more clients, having an effective website will be a key part of the process.

Why Is the Design of Your Website So Important?

How your website looks, its usability, and its content are all critical elements that can have a direct effect on whether or not prospective clients choose your law firm for legal services.

The first important thing to know about having a website is that today, nine in 10 American adults use the internet. What’s more, the use of the internet is often directly tied to purchasing decisions, and the internet is now the most popular way for a person who needs legal services to find and research a lawyer.

This means that prospective clients will be searching for law firms like yours online – your website needs to contain the right information to draw users to your site and then keep them there. With effective website design, you have an opportunity to:

  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors by providing unique information and visuals;
  • Maximize your conversions by not only attracting people to your site, but then guiding them in taking meaningful action (i.e. scheduling a free case consultation) ;
  • Improve your site rankings and move your page to the top of the search results page, resulting in more targeted traffic;
  • Provide potential clients with valuable information about your firm and legal services that will influence their decision to hire your firm;
  • Establish yourself as an authority in your field by providing valuable information to users;
  • Build trust and credibility with easy site navigation, a positive user experience, customer reviews, and effective content; and
  • Education your audience by offering blogs and pages with information that they need to know in order to make a smart decision about what steps to take next.

Bad Website Design and Bounce Rate

Bounce rate refers to the rate of people who leave your website before performing a desired action, such as traveling to another page on your website. Essentially, bounce rate is a representation of the users you had an opportunity to connect with, but lost.

Bad website design is associated with a high bounce rate. To be sure, consider the following:

  • Display matters. Whether a prospective client is accessing your website on a computer, laptop, tablet, or phone, your website needs to be responsive and display correctly. Hubspot found that 93 percent of people have left a website because it didn’t display properly on their device. 
  • Delays can be ruinous. Visitors to your website have an expectation for fast load times – delays can result in users leaving your site before ever interacting with it. Like improper display, over 90 percent of people have left a website because it didn’t load quickly enough. 
  • User experience is king. In the marketing world, the phrase “content is king” is one that most marketers stand by. While we agree that good content is a critical element of an effective digital marketing campaign, the first thing that you need to be thinking about is user experience (UX). If a user lands on your site only to be bombarded with ads, overwhelming graphics and displays, chat and email subscribe buttons, and general poor design, your bounce rate will increase. 90 percent of people have left a website because it was badly designed.

Hire a Professional Legal Marketing Company for Your Website Design Services

In order to attract more users to your website and maximize your impact on those users, partnering with a professional website design company is key. Our legal marketing team understands the important features that your website needs to have in order to be effective, including responsive design, content that incorporates search engine optimization, ease of navigation, client testimonials, distinct practice area pages, attorney pages, a blog, visually appealing content and layout, plenty of white space, strong calls to action, and more.

If your website is outdated, unresponsive, slow to load, or otherwise poorly designed, you could effectively be sending potential clients straight to your competitors. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that website design doesn’t matter, or that taking a do-it-yourself approach to website design will be sufficient.

Call Our Legal Marketing Team Today for Website Design Services You Can Trust

As a lawyer, your primary responsibility is to your clients – the design of your website isn’t something that you should be trying to tackle on your own. Partnering with an experienced, professional legal marketing team to manage the design of your new website offers peace of mind and convenience.

To learn more about Sundown Legal Marketing and our web design services, please reach out to us by phone at (800) 649-1764 or online today. We provide custom web design services based on your firm’s needs.