The Marketing Challenges Facing Legal Businesses
For businesses operating in the legal sector, as with most sectors, marketing is an essential component of operation. But it’s also one of the most expensive and frustrating. Trying to identify, reach out to, and then engage with your future clients is time consuming, costly and sometimes just doesn’t feel worth it.
The highly competitive nature of the industry, as with the insurance & consumer credit sectors, drive up marketing costs and sometimes means the smaller, regional or local businesses are driven to more traditional or less effective means to source their clients.
Many of these traditional forms are hard to measure, and sometimes it feels as though you may be flying blind. One of the biggest things I promote, is the importance of measuring ROI. I’m breaking out into a cold sweat even talking about it. If you don’t know what return you’re getting, how do you know it is worth it and you aren’t just pissing in the wind (for want of a better expression). That is why I love digital marketing. Every click, view & conversion is measured and reported, so you know exactly how much each client cost from flash to bang.
On top of all that there is the issue of remaining compliant and legal yourself. It’s sometimes a struggle walking the tight-rope of making a profit and following the rules to the letter. Lead generation companies are now no longer allowed to solicit and pass on client details to legal firms, although some are finding ways around this.
If you are lucky enough to have an in house marketing manager or team, they will be all too aware of this constant struggle. But they will also have honed their senses and be able to walk that tight-rope with their eyes closed. They’re an asset, but the very thing that makes them one, their knowledge of your sector, also means that often they aren’t current with other forms of marketing or are blinkered into a way of doing things. That is perfectly understandable, and unavoidable. We simply can’t know everything, be up to date on all the latest developments and be a specialist in every field. That is why I always preach the value of collaboration and synergy. “Of course you would say that” I hear you shout. Well yes, but there is nothing to be lost from learning. However, many within these marketing departments are cynical or apprehensive to work with an outside company, they may see it as a threat or challenge to their job. I would say that that outlook is more of a threat to their job than anything. We all need to embrace each others talents, specialities and skills, learn from them and use them to work towards a common objective. It is certainly not my intent when I reach out to legal businesses, to take anyone’s job. In fact quite the opposite! I don’t have the time or skill set to perform all the tasks required. I just want to get in there, get the job done, do what I do best and work alongside someone who is essentially an subject matter expert for their business.
I regularly give advice, conduct audits and generate plans with businesses in the legal sector, at no charge, on the hope that they will implement it, see it works and then come back to me when they do need some specialist work doing….and they often do.
So whether you are a partner in a firm, a lone wolf, the marketing manager or even just someone perusing these blog pages, if you take anything away from this it is that firstly There is nothing to be lost from learning, and secondly that collaboration and synergy promote growth. If you want to know more, just get in touch! Press the contact button at the top of the page.
Check out my quick 5 minute presentation on marketing for legal businesses HERE.
You’re sat in your office when the phone rings. On the other end, a salesperson from a marketing firm is asking you whether your small business has a SEO strategy, and, if not, would you like one? For those on the outside, SEO can be a bit of a daunting subject, filled with unknown factors. This article hopes to shed some light on the subject, meaning that when you decide on how you’re going to approach your SEO strategy, you’ll be empowered to make a much more informed decision.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. In it’s purest form, SEO is the process in which a website improves its ranking on a search engine, such as Google. If you’re searching a specific term on a search engine, the likelihood is that you’ll probably check the results in the order that they come up. Improving your ranking on a search engine means that you’re more likely to be clicked on, and hence your website gets more views.
How does this help me?
Whether you’re a small business or a large one, bringing extra traffic to your site is never a bad thing. Extra traffic means more people seeing your message, product or service which, provided that your website is up to scratch, can easily convert to more sales. This means that good SEO can actively assist in boosting your sales, so it’s definitely worth investing in. In order to gain as much traffic as you can, it’s important to keep on top of your SEO to improve your ranking.
What does SEO consist of?
Search Engine optimisation consists of multiple factors which all combine to give you a great ranking on a search engine. We’ll cover this section in more detail in a later blog, however, general guidelines to follow are to put as much time in making sure your website consists of the highest quality content and site structure and has high quality links pointing at it. If we use Google as an example, one of the ways in which it judges pages is through analysing the content on there, however, it will also judge your page by the links on it as well as its pagerank, something we’ll also discuss in a later blog.
Too long; didn’t read
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of achieving a good rank on a search engine which increases traffic. SEO is done by high quality content and site structure, as well as good link building. Over the next couple of blogs, we’ll be diving into the world of SEO and explaining some of its core principles and how it can help you, whether you’re a freelancer, small business, or big firm.
The importance of being organic (in your SEO!)
Whenever I’m asked about the best way for businesses to reach that coveted number 1 spot in Google, my answer is always the same: Organically. Stating that as a one word answer often receives rather confused looks, so I usually have to explain myself.
Organic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about building your website’s search rankings up. Major search engines do not let you pay for high rankings in the organic sections as they use complex algorithms for a better user experience. Generally, the process is longer but a lot more effective in the long run. It’s all good paying a fair amount to get your business to the first page, but if it’s not going to stay there, what’s the point?
As a test, I want you to think about the last time you actually made it to the second page on Google when you were looking for something. After doing some research on this myself, I can say that, if you answered somewhere in the region of “never” to “maybe once when I was desperate” then you aren’t alone. A lot of sites reckon that on average, between 80-90% of us don’t. That’s a lot of potential traffic that you aren’t getting to your site. More traffic means more potential to convert.
“But I’m using Adwords!” You might answer; “I’m already on the first page of Google, why do I need to build my site up organically as well?” It’s simple really. Adwords is a great tool for marketing your site, but it only goes so far. There are over 10,000,000 users of the top two ad blocking apps on the google extension store for Chrome. With this in mind, do you think that your advert, now blocked from being viewed, is being as effective as one that isn’t blocked? In short, Adwords is a great short term solution if you want to boost traffic but building your search ranking up organically will mean that your site can be viewed by all those searching for your keywords with that pesky ad blocker installed.
For the small business owner, Adwords is a great way to target traffic while you’re building up your site organically so please don’t think this is an article warning you against using Adwords. The best approach is a balanced strategy focusing on both Adwords and organic SEO in order to maximise the traffic that your site should be getting.
Organic SEO is important for your site in the long run but don’t underestimate Adwords as a balanced approach is the most effective strategy for your site to perform well in the long term.
If you own a big or small business that’s been around for more than 5 minutes, the likelihood is that calls about your SEO are rivalling the number you get about reclaiming your PPI. While you appreciate that optimising your site to increase your traffic is probably a good idea, you’ve heard so many horror stories about different digital marketing companies, that you’re not overly sure where to go for it. It’s dangerous to go alone, here take these questions.
- Do you guarantee results?
Believe it or not, the answer you really want is no. As soon as you hear the words: “We can guarantee you ___ many ranking keywords in the first 6 months.” You should give up on them immediately. SEO, by its nature, can be very unpredictable and any digital marketing company worth its salt should happily admit that.Using Google as an example, the only way to guarantee results would be to know the algorithm that they use. Seeing as only a select few senior staff at Google actually know it (and understand it!), it’s very unlikely that the digital marketing company you’re talking to, has access to that sort of information.
On top of this, if they are still insisting that it will be very easy to get you ranking on keywords that they’ve given you, this probably means that these are very low competition keywords that will have little or no affect on your traffic numbers.
Overall, a good SEO agency will have a solid short, mid, and long term strategy that can be implemented for your website. Make sure that you establish this before signing on the dotted line.
- What are you charging?
While this seems like a pretty basic question to ask, it’s actually quite important. Finding out what and how a SEO company charges actually says a lot about the company. The key aim here is to find a company that is the best value for money. In the most cases, this will be going for a company at the top or just above your budget.
Why? It all comes down to the industry itself. Being such a vast and changing industry, there will always be someone who can do it cheaper for you. In his blog, Digital marketer Andrew Doyle pointed to this Australian forum which shows what can happen to people who go for cut rate agencies. You want a company that knows what they’re doing the first time round. Usually this may mean spending a little more, but ultimately, if stops you from being sent to SEO hell when Google rolls out a new update, it’ll be money well spent.
Another part of choosing your digital marketing agency is how they charge you. Some companies do an hourly rate, some charge you monthly/yearly, some even charge by results, what you chose will depend on your financial situation and the sort of work that you want to company to be undertaking. An example of this is that, if you’re only looking for the odd thing every now and again, an hourly rate may be cheaper for you in the long run, whereas, if you’re looking for more regular maintenance on your site, a monthly/yearly payment might be more suited.
- How will you show me results?
While results are never guaranteed in the digital marketing, tracking progress is something that all reputable firms should be able to do for you. Ask them for reports on a regular basis and you should be able to see the work they are putting in and the results it is getting. It’s important to remember that results may not happen straight away and it may take a while for things to fully kick in, but, in the meantime, a digital marketing agency should be able to give you reports on at least some of the following:
- Changes in your keyword rankings
- Changes in your search visibility
- Any improvement or otherwise on your domain rank.
- How much you’re being charged per click
- Your bounce rates
- Your click through rates
Overall, be savvy. Do your research around the company. Don’t be afraid to ask their sales team questions, it’s their job! It’s always worth getting it right the first time rather than having a cheap company ruin your chances of not ranking. Whether you’re just after advice on PPC or a full blown SEO campaign, asking these questions will assist you in choosing the right agency for you.
I’ve worked with a wide range of clients, across numerous sectors, and whilst I try my best to avoid generalisations and assumptions (there’s always an exception to the rule!) I can tell you instantly which owners/directors/managers/CEO’s see the value in, and effectively measure ROI, that’s Return On Investment for those that aren’t quite sure. Understandably my clients in the financial sector are all over it and well informed, as are those in professional services, but there are a number of people I deal with who have little understanding of its importance. There is no shame in that! This isn’t a criticism, it is an intervention!
It is something most people have an awareness of, even those outside of business circles in everyday life. If you buy something, you want to know what you get for your money. Are you spending £30k on a car that is going to last you a year, chugs fuel and is going to depreciate in value, or a quality reliable vehicle that is going to last you years? It’s a simple principle that we nearly all do. Yet I am forever seeing people spending money, without any real appreciation for what they get in return, and wondering why their marketing campaigns haven’t worked! As someone who values my clients and strives to do my best for them, I am forever drilling in and educating on ROI. I have some clients who come to me ‘knowing’ what they want to do, and what channels they think are best for their business, but are unable to give me any hard evidence as to why when I ask the question.
To me it makes sense to educate and inform, and to save my clients money, make them happy and make them the largest possible profit. Other than my altruistic good nature, there’s no bones about it and I will unashamedly say; a happy profitable client is one who will come back and spend with me again, so it’s a no brainer from a business perspective.
Measuring ROI isn’t just about some competitive percentages and figures, it is about knowing what your money is buying you. It is about knowing in advance how much fuel your car is going to drink per week, and how far it is going to get you. By understanding how many pounds you are getting in return in relation to how many you have invested, you can make educated decisions on what is feasible, what you would like to ramp up and what isn’t working. It just makes sense!
This is why I love digital marketing so much. The level and depth that the different channels allow you to analyse ROI is a marketer, and business owner dream. ROI can be measured in real time, and adjusted accordingly! And whilst traditional mediums do play a valuable role to certain companies, the days of having to commit weeks or months in advance to an untested traditional campaign are long gone. We are in a golden age of marketing and measurement, with digital as the flag bearer.
If you aren’t already tracking your performance and ROI, or aren’t even fully utilising the digital world to drive more customers and engage with them on an unprecedented level, it’s about time you did! Only by knowing what works and what doesn’t can you ensure a profitable growth for your company.
Welcome to the new Invoke Media website!
The Invoke Media project has been a long time in the making, and it is nice to finally have so many ideas come to fruition. As a business we have a strong focus on customer acquisition and lead generation for businesses big and small, but that isn’t all we are about.
In the coming weeks this website will be a treasure trove of free resources and content for the business operator to access at will, so keep checking back!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for viewing the site, and invite you to get in touch with any questions, comments or feedback.