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Law firm marketing and business development strategies

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Networking Your Way to More and Better Referrals

Posted in Networking

Networking Your Way to More and Better ReferralsNetworking is about establishing mutually beneficial relationships, not a contest to see how many business cards you can collect. And to secure those mutually beneficial relationships, you need to be strategic about the people you meet. Not everyone who crosses your path will necessarily qualify for that role.

Here are some networking tips:

Join the right groups: Don’t focus on legal groups or groups where a lot of attorneys gather (unless you get a lot of your business from other attorneys). You need to go where the decision makers meet, not the gatekeepers.

Join elite groups: Groups that cost several hundred dollars a year are better than cheap groups; groups that require a member to sponsor you are even better.

Remember your primary purpose: Remember your primary purpose in going to networking events is NOT to get new clients. Your primary purpose is to build a relationship with potential referral sources and to offer yourself as a referral source to them. When you understand the real reason for going to networking events, it takes all the pressure to perform off and keeps you focused on a more productive purpose—building relationships with people you could help and who may also be of help to you.

Ask open-ended questions: Use the 80/20 rule when you meet them — 80% of the conversation should be finding out about them. Ask open-ended questions like: What do you like best about the work you do? What are the biggest challenges your business is facing? How would I know if someone would be a good referral for you?

Be intentional in your follow-up: It does absolutely no good to go to a bunch of networking events, talk to people, collect business cards, and not follow-up. You must have a plan and reasons for following up with people you meet. Your primary reason is to learn more about their business and see if you would be a good referral source for them.

The infographic below from Network Wise provides additional tips for building a strong network both online and offline:

How to Create a YouTube Channel for Your Law Firm [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted in Social Media Marketing for Law Firms, Video Marketing

How to Create a YouTube Channel for Your Law Firm [INFOGRAPHIC]We know that lawyers love words.  But your potential clients love video, and hosting your video clips on YouTube and Facebook is an excellent way to make your case to those potential clients as well as improve your SEO.

Whether or not you have video already on your website, you should create a YouTube channel for your practice that will do double duty for you: persuading potential clients why they should hire you, and boosting your Google ranking.  Here’s how:

Pick your specialty.  You’ve heard me say it before, but it bears repeating:  one of the biggest legal marketing mistakes attorneys make is generalization.  You need to promote yourself as a specialist (in the marketing sense) – you’re a divorce lawyer, or a car accident attorney, or an estate planning lawyer.  Choose 3-4 topics within your area of specialization and develop informational talking points (no more than 3-4 minutes each) that potential clients will find useful.  And remember, you are not shooting a commercial – make it short and informational.

Shoot your videos.  Your clips do not need to be Hollywood-quality productions.  You can get an inexpensive DSLR camera with a built-in USB connection so you can upload each video to your computer, edit it, and create a file for your YouTube channel.

Set up your channel.  With YouTube, you can create your own TV channel (see the infographic below for how-to instructions).  The website will also walk you through the process, including uploading and tagging your video.  Be SURE you title and tag your video with your keywords (i.e., “Atlanta divorce lawyer”) so you feed those search engines.  You will also need to add a description – be as specific as possible and use your keywords. You should add captions since most people watch videos online with the sound off.

Promote your channel.  Add your YouTube channel URL to all your social media pages – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – as well as to your email signature.  Have everyone in your practice add it to their social media and electronic signatures as well.  You can also search for relevant videos on YouTube and post a video reply linking your channel to those relevant videos.  And, of course, link your YouTube channel to your website and blog.

Online video is a great social media tool for your law firm marketing arsenal that can help you with SEO and attracting new clients.

7 Tips for Building a Better Law Firm Blog (& Why You Should)

Posted in Law Firm Blog

7 Tips for Building a Better Law Firm Blog (& Why You Should)Blogs hold a unique position in the online media landscape because they have become an accepted source of information. When used properly, a blog becomes a clear, consistent voice for your practice. It entices prospects, referral sources, colleagues, clients and thought leaders to engage you in dialogue. It keeps you top of mind and builds visibility among your target clients. Ultimately, it earns you more of the kind of client you most desire.

Here are the 7 key areas you need to focus on in order to develop a law firm blog that delivers qualified leads, including:

  1. Structure — organizing your blog for maximum visual appeal and ease of navigation is important for engagement. Remember, most readers scan, so break up your test for easy reading.
  2. Address the interests of your target market. If you’ve been practicing law for awhile, you should already know the problems that face your target market. Each problem becomes a database of ideas from which to draw your blog subject matter. Sprinkle your posts with your insights and experience and you create something of value to potential clients.
  3. Add other voices. Many of the most popular blogs have multiple authors. If you have partners and associates, ask them to contribute. If it’s just you, seek out other experts — perhaps strategic referral partners like CPAs, accountants, bankers, etc. – who would be willing to contribute to your blog. If you view your blog as a publication for the benefit of your target market, you begin to see more possibilities for adding valuable content from others.
  4. Call-to-action — showcase one clear call-to-action on your blog home page and position it on the page where it is easily visible.
  5. Social sharing — empowering engagement through social sharing — linking your blog to your social media pages and using Share plug-ins — allows users to pass along your content, thus doing some of the lead generation heavy lifting for you. (NOTE: If you use WordPress — the most popular blogging platform — you are now no longer be able to automatically share your posts on Facebook. To share your posts, you’re going to have to post directly on your Facebook page with a link back to your blog.)
  6. Page speed — page load speed is important since research shows more than most people will abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load.
  7. Capture email addresses. Email is still the #1 marketing tool for lead generation and will help you nurture repeat visitors to your law firm marketing blog. We have a standalone email sign-up form on our blog encouraging visitors to sign up for our monthly email newsletter and you should, too.

And if you think that blogs aren’t worth the time and trouble, then you need to be aware of these 7 stats about what blogging can do for business:

How to Use Targeted Facebook Ads to Zero In On Your Ideal Clients

Posted in Social Media Marketing for Law Firms

How to Use Targeted Facebook Ads to Zero In On Your Ideal ClientsSocial media is huge. Literally. There are billions of people on Facebook alone, so how can you be sure you are reaching your ideal client with your Facebook ads? Thankfully, this monster social media platform is doing more for business than ever before to help you find and target your ideal clients.

Here are four distinct ways attorneys can use Facebook to zero in on their ideal target market:

Life Events

Many legal practice areas correlate to certain life events. For example, an estate planning attorney in Los Angeles may want to engage with high net worth individuals who are newly engaged or newly married for asset protection services. Since most people tend to post major life events on their Facebook timelines, there are a lot of life events to choose from. Example: for that estate planning attorney in L.A., Facebook turned up 8,300 individuals with a net worth over $1 million who are either newly engaged or newly married. Or say you are a divorce lawyer in L.A. who wants to target newly separated individuals that may need a divorce attorney soon. Right now, Facebook says there are 2,600 of these people with net incomes of $100K-$500K.

Custom Audiences

This advanced feature allows you to import your existing contact list into Facebook so you can target your ads to current clients and prospects. You can also create a Custom Audience based on visitors to your website, Facebook video viewers, people who have engaged with your posts, and people who have liked your page. Once you have uploaded your contacts, there are additional targeting options so you can target ads by income, zip code, job function, net worth, marital status, interests, and more. This is an incredibly powerful targeting tool tailor-made for law firms that have a good handle on their ideal target market.

Lookalike Audiences

Once you have created a Custom Audiences list, the site has a feature called Lookalike Audiences that will target other people who are similar to those in your Custom Audiences list.

To create a Lookalike Audience, Facebook examines the common qualities of the people in your Custom Audience and then finds other people in the region you specify who best match the qualities of your Custom Audience. You can use any of the Facebook targeting options to narrow your Lookalike list.

Layer Targeting Options

One of the most powerful features of Facebook ad targeting is the ability to layer targeting options on top of one another to create a highly specific audience. For example, some of the categories include ethnicity (African-American, Hispanic-Bilingual, Hispanic-English dominant, Hispanic-Spanish dominant, Asian American, etc.), household composition (empty nesters, grandparents, new parents, new teen drivers, no children in home, veterans, working women, etc.), moms (“green” moms, moms of grade schoolers, moms of high schoolers, new moms, soccer moms, stay-at-home moms, etc.) industries, and many more.

Using these robust audience identification tools, you will probably find that Facebook ads typically outperform Google ads and are cheaper as well.

 

How to Optimize Your YouTube Videos to Rank in Search Results

Posted in Digital Marketing for Law Firms, Law Firm Marketing, SEO for law firms

How to Optimize Your YouTube Videos to Rank in Search ResultsMost people are not aware that YouTube is the world’s third largest search engine, where three billion searches are executed every month (compared to Google at 100 billion and Bing at 26 billion searches per month). YouTube has become so enormous that videos not optimized fully for search likely won’t find an audience.

Online video is a great way for attorneys to connect with prospects on your law firm website and on your social media platforms to effectively demonstrate expertise in your area of practice. But if you don’t take the necessary steps to optimize your videos, you won’t realize the many benefits of video for law firm marketing, including:

  • Better search results. According to Forrester Research, websites with video are 53x more likely than traditional websites to be found on the first page of Google search results. (Remember that Google owns YouTube)
  • Better retention. Forrester Research found that people retain 58% more with both visual and auditory stimulation.
  • More traffic. Forrester Research reports that over 60% of all web traffic comes from online video.
  • More likely to buy. People who view a video are 64% more likely to purchase (comScore).
  • Found in the C-Suite. 65% of senior executives say they have visited a vendor website after watching a video. 59% say they prefer video to text. (Forbes’ Video in the C-Suite).
  • More likely to be shared. Video has the best potential to be shared and go viral compared with other media.

The infographic below gives you actionable steps to take to optimize your law firm’s YouTube videos. It’s especially important for you to add closed captions to your video, since current research shows most videos are watched online with the sound turned off.

For even more tips, click on the image below the infographic to access my free webinar on the Top 10 Ways to Attract New Clients with Legal Video.

5 Tips for Getting 5-Star Reviews

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

5 Tips for Getting 5-Star ReviewsWord of mouth has always been important for lawyers to obtain new business — after all, what are referrals but informed word-of-mouth recommendations? Now that our lives are all online, it’s easier than ever for clients to post reviews of your services. And you can no more control that than you can order up a sunny day.

And potential clients are going to read those reviews. In fact, according to a recent BrightLocal survey, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Reading reviews when looking for a service provider is routine today.

You also have to face the fact that you are going to get negative reviews too, since studies show that people are three times as likely to leave a negative comment than a positive one. The best answer to a negative review is to get as many positive reviews to balance things out. You don’t do that by ignoring the system.

Here are 5 tips on getting 5-star client reviews:

  1. Just ask.  Most people enjoy sharing their experience with service providers, especially if it’s been a good one.  Just the simple act of asking a client to provide you with a review lets them know what they think is important to you – which makes them feel good.  You can start by contacting your old (happy) clients and asking them to provide a review.
  2. Create great client experiences.  Cultivating a culture of great client service is a must for gaining positive reviews. Think about the greatest customer service experiences you’ve had and try to emulate them in your firm.
  3. Implement a timely process for getting reviews.  Attorneys need to create a process for making good reviews happen. Always look for those moments in your relationships with clients to create a review opportunity – when you have won a case for a client, when you have helped someone avoid litigation – all opportunities for you to generate a great review. Make it easy for clients to review you by emailing them a link to post a review on Google. Better yet, create an autoresponder email with a built-in Google review form and send it to them at the appropriate time.
  4. Optimize your website content. To make it easy for clients to leave a review on your website, add graphic badges that quickly take visitors to your Google, Facebook or other online directory pages to read and post reviews. Be sure your site is optimized for mobile so people can access your content quickly and easily, and make sure your FAQs are easily discoverable since most visitors browsing a law firm website want quick answers to their legal questions.
  5. Repurpose good reviews. If you have received good reviews or testimonials, post them on your website, in your e-newsletter and anywhere else that potential customers are likely to stumble upon them. And be sure to ask whoever provided you with that great review if they would also submit it to Google so it shows up in search.

Your reputation is your most valuable asset. Don’t leave it to chance by failing to manage your online reputation.

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FREE WEBINAR for Attorneys: How to Manage Your Online Reputation

FREE WEBINAR for Attorneys: How to Manage Your Online ReputationA bad reputation could cost you everything, but this online training course on How to Protect, Build & Leverage Your Online Reputation will cost you nothing!

Take a moment right now and Google yourself. If you don’t like what you see, maybe you need to make more effort to manage your online reputation. And if you don’t have a clue how to do this, then this free online training session is for you!

Here’s what you’ll learn during this free one-hour online training session:

  • How to get feedback from 100% of your clients without risking a negative review online.
  • How to address both positive and negative reviews online so that both of them bring you business.
  • How to use online reviews to beat your competition, no matter what their marketing budget is.
  • A proven process for requesting and collecting reviews that will outperform anything you’ve ever tried.
  • series of word-for-word scripts that you can use to build your reputation today.
  • The top 5 ways to use your best reviews to boost conversion rate and maximize your marketing ROI.
  • How to put little-known best practices to work for you and gain from the experience of thousands of clients who went before you.

This online training event is presented by Michael Veinbergs, CEO of Local Marketing GeeksMichael is an online marketing expert, a well known speaker and the owner of one of the premier online marketing agencies in the country focused on helping attorneys build their practice. He is a UCSD graduate and a 28-year sales and marketing veteran. He started his first marketing agency in 2009, offering web development, SEO, PPC reputation marketing and more.

Register online now for the free online training on How to Protect, Build & Leverage Your Online Reputation. We’ll send you the link via email and you can share it with your staff and other attorneys in your practice.

4 Ways to Win More Clients

Posted in Lead Conversion

This post was originally published two years ago.  The importance of lead conversion for law firms has never been greater, so we’ve updated the post:

4 Ways to Win More ClientsEvery lawyer knows what it’s like to pursue a prospect and then have that live lead go dead. Maybe they chose another firm. Maybe they thought they could handle it themselves. Maybe their problem went away.

The reason that prospect went toes up really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you stop hoping to land new clients and start working these proven strategies that will bring them into your firm’s fold:

#1:  Make sure the prospect is worth the effort.

It’s human nature to get excited about a potential new client when someone shows interest in hiring you. But interest alone is not enough and you can’t let your emotions lead your business development efforts. If a prospect cannot afford you or your firm isn’t equipped to help them, chasing them is a waste of time and money.

To ensure you’re pursuing the right people, you need to develop your ideal client profile — a list of qualities that your firm can use to determine if that potential client will be profitable and sustainable. Start by reviewing your list of former and current clients and look for clients that provided your firm with its most rewarding business relationships. Write down the common attributes those successful relationships shared as the foundation for your ideal client list.

Now institute a qualifying process that will cull out those leads that don’t meet your criteria so you can disqualify them more quickly and move on to prospects with a better profit potential.

#2:  Nurture your leads.

You have a limited window of time to engage with your leads before they become missed opportunities. This is where lead nurturing comes into play.

According to inbound marketing firm HubSpot, companies with effective lead nurturing programs generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost. In addition, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. And companies that use marketing automation software to nurture leads experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.

Marketing automation makes you smarter, faster and more efficient. Among many things, marketing automation allows you to:

  • Identify, track and engage prospects online
  • Segment your prospects for targeted messaging
  • Nurture leads through drip email campaigns with no human intervention necessary
  • Create and manage lead-generating landing pages
  • Measure the revenue contribution of every email, e-newsletter or other marketing effort

#3: Narrow in on a niche

When people see you as a jack of all trades (the generalist approach), they also perceive you as the master of none. People will pay more for a specialist because they see you as an expert. People will refer more to a specialist because they aren’t afraid of you stealing their clients or competing with them. Contrary to popular belief, this approach does not limit you. It helps to focus your marketing and business development efforts.

Review your top 10 client list (either by amount of revenue/fees generated or in terms of how much you enjoy working with them). Then, look for any similarities. It may not be apparent at first, but keep asking questions and you will find it. Building a niche around a solid client base is one of the fastest ways to differentiate yourself.

Another way to help determine your niche is to track the inquiries from prospective clients to determine what’s drawing them to you and your law firm. See if they don’t begin to naturally fall into one or more groups. Becoming aware of these commonalities is a way to let your niche find you, helping you develop your law firm marketing. Once you niche your practice, you will find that referrals come more readily to you, since it will become clear in referral source’s mind just exactly what it is you do.

#4: Build your brand.

Back in the day, attorneys gained their reputations primarily through word-of-mouth and personal interaction.  Today, building a reputation online is crucial since this is where most people gather and interact in the 21stcentury. So you need to be where your prospects are on social media, with both organic and paid posts, as well as adding content regularly to your website and social media pages through blogging.

Prospects will draw conclusions about the quality of your legal services from your website, your blog, your marketing materials, your business card, your office space and even the way you dress. Assess your competition and identify areas where you are different and better, then communicate that difference to your prospects so they know exactly why they should choose you.

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Latest Google Updates Mean Your Law Firm Website Better be Fast & Mobile Friendly

Posted in Law Firm Websites, SEO for law firms

Latest Google Updates Mean Your Law Firm Website Better be Fast & Mobile FriendlyIt’s been two years since Google announced that it would be slowing rolling out their mobile-first index, a change that rewards sites for being mobile-friendly by ranking them ahead of desktop versions. That rollout has been underway for some time to the major sites on the Web, and is now making its way down to local, small business sites. (See my tips on how to ensure your site complies with Google’s mobile-first index.)

Earlier this week, Google rolled out Speed Update for all users, and sites that are slow to load will see a drop in their rankings as a consequence. While speed has played a factor in desktop rankings for some time, it’s the first time Google has used speed as a major ranking factor for mobile sites.

To improve page speed on your mobile sites, you will need to:

Optimize images. Large, high-definition images can really slow down your page unless the images are optimized. This is easiest to do by using a CMS plug-in that automatically compresses images on mobile sites while still delivering a high quality user experience.

Get rid of redirects. Every millisecond counts on mobile, so when a user clicks on a link that redirects them to another URL, there is a tiny bit of load time added to your page speed. Those can really add up if you have lots of redirects on your site. This is especially problematic for sites with lots of content that has been archived in order to direct users to top-level pages. You can check your site for redirects using this tool.

Reduce server response time. To improve server response time — the time it takes for your server to return a requested page — you need to be sure there are sufficient memory and CPU resources allocated. You may need to improve your server software or configuration as well.

Make visible content a priority. Not many people get newspapers anymore, but if you will remember, anything “above the fold” was considered more important than what was below the fold. On your mobile website, the content that appears first on your most important pages should all be “above the fold” content. It needs to be served up first and you can code in that preference to serve up the primary content first and then load the rest of the page in the background while the user is reading. This speeds up your page load time since the server is not trying to load an entire page.

These are just a few techniques you can use to improve page speed. There are more, so just be sure your website team is working hard to ensure your sites comply with these new changes.

How to Extend the Life of Your Digital Content [Infographic]

Posted in Digital Marketing for Law Firms, Law Firm Marketing

How to Extend the Life of Your Digital Content [Infographic]While the relevancy of content marketing has never been greater (research shows that it generates 3x as many leads than traditional marketing and costs 62% less), we all struggle with the reality that no matter how brilliant our content is, it has a finite shelf life. The great ideas and advice we give out today will be forgotten tomorrow…or will they?

The good news is that great content can have a very long shelf life if you know how to make it go the distance. With numerous online outlets and the varied ways you can present it — text, photos, infographics, video, etc. — your brilliant bon mots can travel far and wide across the Web.

The infographic below gives you 21 ways you can extend the life of your law firm marketing content. Not only will you be getting more eyes on your prized words or images, you will also be driving more traffic (leads!) to your main website and improving your SEO as well since high quality content is one of the most important ranking factors for Google.

Websites that are considered by Google to be high quality need sufficient expertise on a particular topic to be authoritative and trustworthy. According to Google, the standard for expertise depends on the topic of a particular page. Each page must have a purpose and then that purpose must be fulfilled with expert content — words, videos, etc.

For law firm websites, your information must be accurate, factual, clearly written and comprehensive. If the topic of the page is broad, the text is expected to have a lot of information on that topic. If the topic is narrow, the text may not be as lengthy. Both can still rank as high quality.

To summarize: write high quality content on topics of the greatest interest to your target market and then use the tips below to spread that content far and wide in various forms.