Crafting a Low-Stress Digital Marketing Strategy for Your Small Firm
If you write and interact online or on your phone — which is everyone — you’re engaging in digital marketing. Why not put some strategic thinking behind your efforts to get more leads and clients?
“But it seems daunting,” you say. “I don’t know where to start.” I empathize. There’s a lot of information out there, some of it even good. And, frankly, you’d rather spend the time serving your clients. The thing is, you can do both. Here’s a look at a low-stress digital marketing effort to get you started.
The Five Elements of Digital Marketing
Sounds like a science class or a Bruce Willis movie, but it’s just your basic content, optimization, social, advertising and metrics. And I mean basic. You can go deep on each of these elements, and as you grow you may consider getting help. But, for a DIY solo or small firm lawyer starting out, save time and lower your stress by sticking to the basics.
Let’s go through each of the five elements and identify your minimum level of investment to get the results you’re looking for.
“Content is essentially everything your customer or prospect touches or interacts with,” proclaims Ann Handley in her book “Everybody Writes.” This includes your website, blog, newsletter, e-books, white papers, infographics, case studies, webinars, video, podcasts and so on. These are your content assets.
But don’t be overwhelmed. Start with a blog.
Commit to writing once a week. A practice I’ve developed is to write a draft on Sunday night, sleep on it, and polish it on Monday before publishing. Make writing a habit-forming process.
What should you write about? Content that speaks to the issues your clients and prospects are facing. Over time, your library of content will build trust, enhance your expertise and influence and, ultimately, drive business.
Your blog content can then be repurposed to other digital marketing assets using the concept of COPE: Create once, publish everywhere. A particularly resonant blog post can be expanded into a webinar that is recorded and divided into bite-size videos across related pages on your site. This can be done inexpensively by hiring a freelancer from a service like Upwork.
A compilation of your blog posts and other content becomes your monthly email newsletter. This is important. People generally need legal help only a few times in their lives. It is critical to stay stop of mind for when those moments arise.
- Minimum effort to get results: Blog and newsletter.
2. Search Engine Optimization
Write it and they will not come. You need some eyeballs on your great content. You do this by optimizing for search, through SEO. This scares people, and I’m not immune. Best to keep it simple when you’re handling your own optimization.
First, use WordPress for your website and blog. This is a no-brainer. The software is optimized and ready to go right out of the box and allows you to easily add and edit content. There are also plugins to extend the capabilities and functionality of your site. Like the Yoast SEO plug-in. Go ahead and install it.
Next, make a list of five to 10 keywords you want to rank for. This is what your niche practice is all about. Then, when you create any piece of content from blog posts to webpages, optimize for one of those keywords. This includes the SEO title and meta description. SEO-degree-holding experts are probably wringing their hands by now as this stuff gets much deeper and complicated, but these few basics steps will go a long way toward getting your content read.
- Minimum effort to get results: Use the WordPress platform and Yoast SEO plug-in with a 10-keyword optimization strategy.
3. Social Media
First and foremost, social media is about engaging and sharing and building relationships. This includes sharing your own content. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the obvious big three. But depending on where your clients engage online, you may want to consider other platforms. Beware the slippery slope. Social media platforms can quickly become a drain on your time. And, your clients sure as heck don’t want to see you appearing in their feeds every minute instead of working on their cases.
- Minimum effort to get results: Facebook, LinkedIn, and the occasional Twitter. Use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.
4. Digital Advertising
Sometimes referred to as SEM or PPC or any number of acronyms, this is simply paid online ads. These keyword-driven mostly Google campaigns can be set up quickly and generate immediate results to a landing page. But you’ll need some help with this. Instead, try paid social.
Facebook advertising has taken off. It allows you to zone in on your target audience and it’s super easy to do. Just enter your credit card, choose how much you want to spend (start with a $50 test), create a target demographic and boost your post. Yep, it’s that simple. Can it get more complicated? Sure, but start small. Remember, we’re trying to keep this low-stress.
You can test a paid effort on LinkedIn and Twitter as they also allow you to create finely targeted campaigns from a simple post or tweet.
Great benefit: This also helps to meaningfully grow your follower count.
- Minimum effort to get results: Post a link on your Facebook page to a page on your site, preferably one where the visitor can take a desired action like submitting a form for a consultation or to download an e-book or white paper or register for a webinar. These submissions then become leads that you can nurture with your newsletter.
Even with this low-stress effort, you need to know what’s working and what to change. Use Google Analytics. The deep level of analytics available would make a statistician grin ear to ear. But you don’t need to go crazy here.
In Google Analytics, look at Behavior: Session, Users, Pageviews, New Visitors, Average Session Duration, Page per Session, Bounce Rate, and Acquisition: Channels, and Referrals. Together these numbers will provide insight into which posts and pages are resonating, who’s reading them, what’s getting visitors to your site, and how readers are navigating your content.
- Minimum level of investment: Review your Google Analytics dashboard weekly and monthly and make content decisions based on the monthly analysis.
There you have it, a low-stress, DIY digital marketing effort for solos and small firm lawyers who are starting to build their practice.
Tim Baran is the Chief Marketing Officer for Good2bSocial. He writes and speaks about how to use digital marketing strategies and technology to manage and grow small firms and legal startups. Tim is the author of several publications including "The Lawyers’ Guide to Evernote," and was named to the 2016 Fastcase 50 honoring the law’s innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders. Find him on Twitter @tim_baran.
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