Roberta M. Gubbins, Esq.
I Write Content--You Practice Law

Draft Three / blog

Links and Your Website

Links are the mainstay of the Internet. They are what make it work; when you are browsing and you come across a blue highlighted word it’s a link. Move your cursor over it and the arrow turns into a little hand. Click on it and you will quickly go to another web page.

Why are the links blue?

One story is that Tim Berners-Lee, the main inventor of the web, is the man who first made hyperlinks blue. Mosaic, a very early web browser, displayed webpages with a gray background and black text. The darkest color available at the time that was easily distinguishable from the black text was that blue color. A practical reason is that blue is visible to most people even the color blind.

Types of links:

·      Internal link: A link between two webpages on your website. Your website depends on those links for navigation throughout the site.

·      External link: A link from your webpage to another site. If there were no external links, there would be no Web since the World Wide Web is a network of webpages. You use external links to provide information to add to your content.

·      Incoming links: A link from another website to your site; also called a backlink. The quantity and sources of the backlinks to your web page are among the factors that Google uses to evaluate your page ranking.

Using links:

Internal links attract the reader’s attention causing them to click through to other pages on your site, satisfying their need for information while staying on your site. Start with great content then add links to other articles, interesting videos, infographics or images. Consider what information is most important to your potential client and then use internal links to provide what they want.

Internal links also help search engines find your pages. Links should include descriptive words that are relevant to the destination page. This helps the search engine understand what your pages are about so they will be considered as part of the answer to the prospective client’s query.

Incoming and back links directing traffic to your site bring in more visitors. Links to your site from other sites are editorial votes telling the Internet community that your site has valuable information. Some ways to get others to link to you include:

·      Volunteering in your community—being listed on their website includes link to your website.

·      Use guest bloggers who will in turn link to your blog

·      Write an article that includes a link to more information—that source will link back to you.

·      Write about current events such as adding some thoughts to interesting trial that made the news. Being a regular source on current events will earn links.

Lastly, check your links to be sure they are working properly. Error responses will send mixed signals to your readers causing them to move on.

 

 

 

Roberta GubbinsComment
5 Thoughts on Selecting a Web Designer

You are a lawyer. You are not a website designer, nor do you desire to be one. And, using your sister-in-law’s geeky son who knows “everything” about websites, is just not working. It is time for professional help.

How do you select the best designer for you?

Define the goals for your website.

Are you trying to increase brand awareness or looking for new leads for your practice? If you’re a criminal defense attorney, your website should focus on conversion of site visitors, return on your investment and building a client base. If, however, you’re an insurance defense practice, you may be more focused on brand awareness rather than getting new leads. Know your goals before you begin the search process.

Check out the competition.

Visit the websites of your competitors and leaders in your area of practice. Look at the features, navigation and overall layout of their site. How do they convert a visitor into a prospect by getting them to click on the contact us button?

Finding some you like, look at the last line of the site to find the web designer. Go to the designer’s site, share some of their designs with members of your firm and support staff. Get their opinions on sites they find appealing and are easy to use.

Compare the cost with long-term value.

You want a website that will last a few years, will be easy for you and prospective clients to use and will fit within your budget. Saving money by going with the lowest bidder may not be a savings if visitors quickly leave the site without seeking contact.

Choose a website developer that works with lawyers.

Lawyers sell a service, a solution to a legal problem. A design company that sells widgets will not understand the marketing of legal services. First of all, the services you’re marketing are “needs based.” The prospective client needs a lawyer to draft a will, handle a divorce or register a patent. Second, your web designer must be aware of the ethical rules that place constraints on how you can market your practice.

The website that offers high quality content and makes it easy for consumers to make contact will hold their attention and lead to a new client. General information, written in plain English, will keep consumers coming back and referring others to your site.

Select a designer who looks at your complete marketing plan.  

Your website is but one part of your marketing plan. Your designer should examine all of your marketing both online and offline to insure the message is consistent, the brand holds constant and that your marketing approach is paying off.

Your website designer should educate. Just as you educate your clients about the law, your designer should explain the strengths and weaknesses of the strategies being suggested. If your designer is not listening to you or is not educating you on the process, it’s time to move on to the next name on your list.

Finding the right web-designer, like finding the right lawyer, may take time but will pay off with more contacts, more business for your firm and peace of mind.

 

Roberta GubbinsComment
The Importance of One

Joe Girard, a car salesman, is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the #1Retail Salesperson. How did he get this title? He sold more cars than any other car salesman. 

What was his secret?

Early in his car selling career, he attended a Catholic funeral. The funeral director was passing out Mass cards to all those in attendance. 

“How do you know how many Mass cards to have printed?” Joe asked the man.

 “I print up about 250 each time since that’s usually how many people show up for a funeral,” he answered. 

Soon after that, Joe sold a car to a Protestant funeral director. When he asked how many people attended his funerals, he got the same answer “About 250.” He soon learned from another minister that about 250 people usually attended the weddings in his church. 

From this informal research, Joe developed his “Rule of 250.” The basic principle is that most people have about 250 people in their lives that will show up at their funeral or wedding. There are exceptions, of course. Some have more, some have less. But the average seems to be 250. 

How did he use this information?

•    He realized that if he did a great job selling a car to one person, he could potentially gain 250 more customers

•    But, if he did a crummy job, he could possibly lose 250 customers.

Joe sold cars. You, on the other hand, are selling a legal service, not a product a client can touch like a car or a toaster, but a vital service they need but may not be pleased about purchasing. The concept, however, is the same. 

Each time your service produces a satisfied or accepting client; you could potentially gain 250 more clients. How does that happen? With referral and repeat business. Satisfied clients come back for more work and refer others to you. 

Some referral related tactics include:

Follow up with your clients. You can do this with a thank-you card, a call to see how things are going, ask if they have any questions and, if all is well, ask them to remember you when their friends ask ‘if they know a good lawyer.’ If there is a problem, attempt to fix it. 

Use CRM software or keep a file on each client listing personal information such as names of children, what they did for a living, birthdays, etc. You can use this information when you talk to them. 

Stop by their business or take them out to lunch. Your goal is to keep and maintain a relationship with this client.

Make sure they know every service your firm offers. Ask for their e-mail address and get permission to send them the firm newsletter or occasional updates.

Send cards for holidays and thank-you notes for referrals. Send information they can use, not a sales pitch. They will need legal work someday and they will turn to you. And refer you to one or two of the 250 people they know. 

Remember the Rule Of 250 every time you meet new people, whether at an event or standing in line at the coffee shop line. (I once acquired a great client standing in line at Target.) Every person you meet could be a potential client. And they could bring in 250 more. Keep this in mind and soon you have a thriving business. 

The Mysterious World of #Hashtags

Definition of hashtag: word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text, such as a tweet. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

For most of us, the # icon is a symbol of measurement. It stands for a pound as in 1#. But, for many, it is type of label used in social media to make it easier for users to find messages with specific content. The hash (#) character is placed in front of a word or phrase (tag) used for description and placed either in the main text or at the end of the message. 

Historically, the pound sign was first used in information technology to identify a special meaning. Over time, some suggested using it on microblogging sites such as Twitter and it took off in 2007 after it was used in tweets relating to the San Diego forest fires. Internationally, it became a writing style for Tweets during the 2009-10 Iranian election posts. Now #hashtag is also used on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and many more. 

Hashtags are not registered or controlled by any one user or groups of users. They live in perpetuity and don’t contain any set definitions, which means that any hashtag can be used for any purpose and by anyone. It is also important to think about which hashtags to include with your post since they can have a huge influence on who finds or fails to find what you are writing about. Going to the wrong audience can cause great content to be lost in Internet land. 

Keep your hashtags short. Limiting them to one or two words is best. #thisisaverylonghashtag is too hard to read. 

Hashtags on Twitter

Because of their expanded use, hashtags have become valuable. Adding a hashtag in your Twitter post will make your content noticeable by anyone with an interest in your topic or word. For example, #unbundling. If it is mentioned and hashtagged in your Tweet, anyone searching for that word in Google or in Twitter could find you regardless of whether they are a follower or not. 

Hashtags can appear anywhere in your Tweet—beginning, middle or end. Tweets with hashtags get more retweets and favorites than those without. Keep it simple, however, don’t use more than two hashtags per post. In other words, don't #spam #with #hashtags and only use hashtags that are relevant to the topic.  

Clicking on the hashtagged word in your Tweet shows you all the other Tweets marked with that keyword. Twitter reports that hashtagged words that become popular are often included in trending topics. 

Hashtags on Instagram and Pinterest

For those who like to post and tag photos, Instagram and Pinterest are the places to be. Unlike Twitter, use as many hashtags to categorize your photos as you want since using them will increase your followers. 

Hashtags on Facebook

Hashtags are not as popular on Facebook. When you add a hashtag to your post, the people you’ve shared your post with can also see it in that hashtag's feed. For example, if you share a post with a hashtag with Friends, they can see your post in that hashtag’s feed. Remember, if you use a hashtag in a post you share to Public, and allow people to follow you, your post will appear on your public profile and in that hashtag's feed.

Hashtags on Google+

Google+ is not Twitter so it’s important to remember that a Twitter approach will not net the same results. Google recommends that you pair your hashtags with images since photo sharing is the most popular activity on Google and limit yourself to 2-3 hashtags per post.  

Hashtags are an organizing tool. Using them well on your social media sites can identify your content, bring more readers to your posts and expand your network of possible clients. 


 

Roberta GubbinsComment
Finding Legal Needs in Your Community

If you’ve decided to add a new legal service to your practice but aren’t sure what that service should be, your first step should be to analyze the people and businesses in your community. Second, determine their legal needs. Finally, decide which of those legal needs you wish to satisfy.

A good place to start is with the information available from local, state and federal government. The US Census through the American Community Survey provides data on household income, age distribution, education levels and languages spoken as well as information on area businesses and geography. These facts can help you decide what areas of law are needed. For example, if the population is aging, elder law may be the right choice while a rise in birth rates could foreshadow more family and juvenile law needs.

If your area has a large number of immigrants such as Spanish speakers and you want to attract that business, you might add a bi-lingual lawyer and translate a portion of your website to Spanish.

To find your community’s’ business needs, check your local Chamber of Commerce directory for local listings. Businesses wishing to use an assumed name must file with the County Clerk who periodically posts those new business listings on-line. If your community has a number of new businesses, it may be you want to focus more of your legal practice on their issues, such as taxation, business plans or other business transactions. If there are a number of writers or publishers, adding intellectual property could bring in new business.

If new industries are coming into the community that will be hiring more employees, there could be a need for an employment or worker’s compensation lawyer. Crime statistics are important to those wishing to practice criminal law.

When there are a number of local, county, village and city communities in an area, there is a need for a municipal lawyer who can help with a wide range of issues, including everything from police power, zoning, education policies, and property taxes. A look at the map of your area and a check on the websites of the municipalities will give you the information you need.

Volunteering at local events, sitting on Boards of corporations and non-profits or doing Pro Bono work through your local Legal Service organizations is a way to give back as well as learn more about your community. Listening to the citizens will enable you to learn of their concerns.

Whether you plan to add a new service or are just starting out, spending time researching the composition your community and assessing the resultant legal needs will enable you to make well-reasoned plans for 2106.

 

Roberta GubbinsComment
How to Reach Rural Consumers in Michigan

Recently, I talked to Cathy Church, Church & Korhonen, who has a bankruptcy practice in Marquette. Her clients come from the Upper Peninsula, which is mostly rural. As we spoke, she mentioned that many of her clients come to her from Facebook.

This is not surprising since a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center (Mobile Messaging and Social Media), which compared several different demographics and how they use social media, showed that, while rural users use social media less than urban Internet users, Facebook is their most popular site. Sixty-seven percent of them sign on to Facebook.

Michigan covers 56,804 square miles, with a 2016 estimated population of 9,928,300 people – 1,796,678 living in rural Michigan (USDA-ERS). Thus 67% or 1,203,774 of Michigan’s rural users sign on to Facebook. And those folks, per the US Census, live in the northern half of the state, the thumb and the Upper Peninsula.

How do you reach rural Internet consumers?

·      Facebook: If you want to separate your personal Facebook presence from your business, create a Facebook page which is a public profile specifically created for businesses, brands, celebrities, causes, and other organizations. Unlike personal profiles, pages do not gain "friends," but "fans" - which are people who choose to "like" a page.

·      Your Website: A website builds trust and credibility, creates a good first impression and helps consumers make that call. Consumers are often anxious when calling a lawyer. However, those that visit a website, see your picture, read your profile, get to know you a little, feel emboldened and are more likely to call. And you can announce publication of new material to your website on Facebook.

·      Your Blog: Two basic reasons for writing a blog are to keep your name top of mind for your current clients and to attract new clients. Your blog should provide interesting, informative and entertaining information in your area of practice that is useful to current and prospective clients. And you should announce the publication of your new blog on Facebook and your Website.

Connecting with the other 33%.

With rural consumers who aren’t Internet users, other marketing techniques must be included. Remember face to face networking to be sure that everyone you know or meet are aware that you’re a lawyer and the type of law you practice. Other techniques include running ads in the local papers, high school football program and weekly church bulletins.

Include a picture of yourself on your website, blog, billboards and ads in the local newspaper. Don’t be surprised if you’re recognized as you move about town. Be ready to talk about your practice and the services you offer. Be careful that your conversations don’t respond to individual legal scenarios, as you don’t want to create a prospective client-attorney relationship

 Also, remember the ethics rules.

And, remember to keep the ethics rules in mind when posting, particularly MRPC 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3. Put together an ethics guide for your firm to follow, including the applicable rules and links to relevant ethics opinions available on the State Bar’s ethics webpage. Communication that you start with someone you don’t know and without invitation, e.g., online chats, is analogous to ethically prohibited direct solicitation. Don’t give legal advice—stick with news and informational posts in your area of practice to avoid the potential of creating client conflicts. When in doubt about the ethics of your Facebook, blog or website communication, call the SBM ethics helpline at (877) 558-4760 before you post.

 

Podcasts—What are They and Why You Should Have One.

Podcast--a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.

The newest and fastest growing entrant into the digital marketing world is the podcast. Edison Research conducted a study that found that podcast listening grew to 40% of the population in 2017.

Why the increase in listening?

The answer is simple—mobility. Sixty-four percent of podcasts are being listened to on smartphones or tablets. People listen on their commute to work, on their evening walk or morning run or while completing mundane tasks.

Should You Have a Podcast?

Adding podcasts to your website or blog increases your reach to other audiences. Not everyone learns visually so for the listeners among us, the podcast is the perfect medium. Having a podcast is an effective way to differentiate yourself from other lawyers and to demonstrate your expertise in your area of practice.

Podcasting is cost-effective and efficient and offers the opportunity to improve client education. It is particularly appealing for small and solo practices.

Things to consider for your podcast:

Know your audience. Not everyone listens to podcasts. If your target audience is the younger audience who want to control how, when and where they get their information, then the podcast is for them. If, on the other hand, your goal is to bring in more senior executives, you’d be better off visiting their workplace and forget the podcast.

Create great content. Clients refer and are loyal to lawyers they trust; and trust is created by offering good well-researched and easy to understand information. Your podcast should not be comments on your last family vacation; your podcast must convey the right image and be of interest to your target audience. Interesting, informative and entertaining messaging creates a great podcast.

Have a co-host. Radio shows and podcasts work better is there are two speakers. It’s more interesting and fun to have someone to talk with. On your own? Invite guest speakers and use the Q and A format to add interest and liven up your broadcast.

Know how your audience listens.

Much of your audience will listen on your website, rather than downloading the podcast to their smartphone or tablet. Decide where the podcast belongs on your site—a spot of its own, under a practice area or a new developments section. Podcasts can add to the value of your site for prospective and current clients.

Try to Release Weekly Episodes:

In the ideal world, you would release on the same day and time every week. Your listeners will appreciate knowing they can tune in every Thursday at 4 p.m. to hear your latest update on the state of the law in your practice area.

Keep it short and simple:

Make it as short as you possibly can. Half an hour is the longest it should be—15 minutes is better. If the topic is complicated and needs more explanation, save it for your blog or a speech or article. Podcast listeners are working out or in their car so they won’t listen to a long or complicated narrative. Podcasts can convey passion, the personality of the lawyer and a limited amount of content

Finally, a great podcast needs listeners. Announce it on your website, on social media and on the events section of your SBM member directory profile. The value of your podcast will increase as it is included in your overall marketing plans.

 

 

 

 

E-Mail Campaign---Effective Marketing Tool

“I think we should add regular e-mail campaigns to our marketing schedule,” said Dick to partner and sister, Sally. Sliding into the client chair across from her desk, he continued, “The marketing experts say that e-mail marketing is a very effective way to reach our clients and prospective clients.”

Dick and Sally are right. E-mail marketing campaigns are the best way to deliver a targeted message to a particular and receptive audience. While it’s true that many e-mail messages are deleted after reading the subject line, it’s also true that e-mails with a message of value will be read.

As a lawyer, there are two kinds of e-mail campaigns you can use:

  1.  Newsletters sent to those who have given you permission to contact, and
  2. Targeted e-mail messages sent to your selected group.

Newsletters:

Newsletters can be sent to present and past clients of the firm who have agreed to receive them. The content should be of interest to that particular client. For example, a Family Law attorney might send information about a recent Friend of the Court decision; an Elder Law lawyer could discuss considerations in selecting a patient advocate; a Tax Law lawyer could publish a recent IRS update.

The idea is to tailor the writing to the reader who wants the news. You want to be seen as an expert in your field--a lawyer to whom clients and prospective clients will turn when in need of your service. Provide valuable information and they will keep reading. On the other hand, information about firm changes, new attorneys who have joined the firm and big wins are not seen as valuable messages. Consider including them at the end of the substantive message.

Targeted e-mail messages:

These messages are designed for a specific group. Perhaps some of your clients are in the transportation business and the spring thaws are starting so you want to update them on the Frost Laws in Michigan. A quick message to that group will do the job and will be read.

Other readers might want to learn about trusts for pets or any changes in the DUI law.  There are any number of topics that only appeal to a particular consumer. You can use a targeted e-mail message to send them a quick alert.

What are some best practices for an e-mail campaign?

  • Only send e-mails to those who have agreed to receive them,
  • Send your e-mail on a consistent basis—once a month, every two months, quarterly—establish a routine that works for you,
  • Keep the “from” name consistent—your name or the firm name,
  • Use clear, concise subject lines,
  • Don’t use ALL CAPS (considered shouting) or fancy fonts that are hard to read,
  • Include an easy to find way to opt-out of receiving future e-mails, and
  • Be sure your contact information is clearly displayed.

Pay attention to your analytics—how often are your e-mails opened? How often do readers click through to your website? Are people subscribing to your e-mail? Answers to those questions can help you plan a successful marketing campaign.

E-mail promotions, when done well, are effective. They keep your name and expertise prominent in your client’s mind, leading to more referrals and more business. However, as always, remember when posting to the outside world to be aware of your ethical obligations. When in doubt about the ethics of your e-mail communications, call your local bar association ethics helpline before you post.

 

6 Ways to Protect Your Online Reputation

Your reputation and identity online are vital to your practice. It matters not if the information on the Internet is true or false, who you are in the that community becomes reality to the consumers searching for a lawyer. To protect your reputation, it’s important to know what’s being said about you.

The following steps can help you be sure your online reputation is not costing you clients and damaging your reputation.

1.     Check Search Engines Monthly: Consumers are searching for lawyers online in record numbers. To discover what people are saying about you on review sites, in blogs and in social media, search your name and your firm on all the major search engines. The results are presented in the following order of appearance:

  • LinkedIn profile
  • Law Firm web bio
  • Facebook profile
  • Twitter profile
  •  Images of you from around the web
  • Articles and blogs about you or written about you.

Review each, particularly the first four; edit as needed. It is very important to keep your profiles up to date. Every time you write an article or complete a court case, update your bio and you’ll help your page stay up in the rankings.

2.     Set up a Google Alert on your name. This is a great way to see when your name appears in search engines. To create an alert, go to the Google Alerts home page and type your name in the “Create an alert about ____” box. You can select if you’d like to receive e-mail alerts when your name appears once a day or once a week.

3.     Protect What You Can: Check your social media privacy settings and change as much as you can. Next look at your personal networks and eliminate language and photos you don’t like.

4.     Register Your Name as a Domain: If you haven’t already, register your name as a domain to prevent anyone from taking it from you. Even if you don’t use it right away, it will be protected for the future. Also secure your name on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

5.     Publish Regular and Informative Content: Although you can’t control everything that is written about you, you can control the content you provide. Regular and informative articles, blogs, podcasts and features on your pro bono work all help to keep your reputation online positive.

6.     Address Negative Reviews: First, realize that consumer research shows that a few negative reviews improve the credibility of the positive postings. Second, a negative review could reveal an office procedure that needs changing. Finally, your response to the review restating your commitment to client service sends a powerful message to potential clients reading the review.

Protecting your online reputation is an important part of building and sustaining your practice. Being aware of what’s out there and correcting any problems will go a long way to ensure your online reputation isn’t costing you clients.

 

Roberta GubbinsComment
Community Outreach--Good for Your Firm and Your Community

Community Outreach: An activity of providing services to populations who might not otherwise have access to those services.

Adding local community outreach events to your strategic business plan can benefit both the firm and the community. Supporting local community events is a way to increase brand recognition, create happier employees, gives you an opportunity to offer much needed assistance and builds your reputation and presence in your community. 

Increase Brand Recognition, Grow Networks:

It’s easy to see how being involved in a community event yields greater recognition in the community. Connecting to good works builds trust, cultivates a sense of belonging and can increase your network to include people you might not find in your advertising campaigns.

As an added benefit, when you sponsor an event, you will receive a back link to your website from their site.

Outreach Engages Employees Beyond the Billable Hour:

A recent study by Deloitte found that employees and executives who participate in community outreach programs are “more likely to be proud, loyal and satisfied employees,” and while the study didn’t target law firms, you can be sure that this is true of the legal community as well.

Engaging employees in volunteer opportunities shows that the firm management cares more than just the dollars earned—that the employees are worth more than their billable hours. These activities bring the group together in a new and satisfying way, makes employees feel respected as individuals and can be proud of their firm. And, getting out of the office to support a local event can help avoid burnout.

How to Create a Community Outreach Strategy

Start with your State Bar and Local Bar Associations. Your State Bar has a pro bono program that you can support and your local bar may have a foundation that donates to local non-profits. To find community organizations, take advantage of some of your local social services programs. Contact them to determine area of need that you can fill. The United Way can also help in your selection.

Once you decide where you want to donate your firm’s time and treasure, find the outreach that fits your firm’s interests and capabilities. Some suggestions:

  1. Make a financial donation,
  2. Offer pro bono services,
  3. Offer mentoring to local students,
  4. Volunteer with a social service agency, or
  5. Offer to host a community event at your office.

Once you’ve decided on an event, you’ll want to promote it. Update your blog and social media profiles with information about your efforts. Create a blog post with details of the event and link to the post with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and your SBM member directory.  After the event, create a follow up blog and post your pictures.

Community outreach, whether a big or small effort, is worth your consideration. It will bring increase your brand, build your reputation and create a more well-rounded firm.  

 

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

Sally Consumer is an active user of the Internet. She uses it to find coffee shops, restaurants, doctors and lawyers. More often than not, her searches take place on her phone or her tablet. If your website or blog loads slowly, doesn’t fit the smaller screen forcing Sally to pinch or zoom in order to read the content, she will move on to a more responsive or mobile friendly website.

Google has long been aware of Sally’s search habits and has decreed that its search robots will include a website’s “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal. This means that site pages that can’t fit comfortably on the smaller screens will see a downgrade in ranking.

How do I know if my website is mobile-friendly?

Ever efficient Google has created a website where you can enter your webpage URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or web address to test it. Find and click on the Mobile-Friendly Test, enter your web address and you will quickly know the results. If you fail the test, contact your web developer or website host to find out how to make your website responsive or mobile friendly.

What is a mobile-friendly design?

A mobile-friendly website is one that is designed to work the same way across all devices. A website with no usability concerns regardless of whether it’s being viewed on a phone, tablet or laptop is mobile friendly. If your website, like most law firm websites, is basic with few navigation drop-downs and no animation, it may pass the test.

The key features of a mobile-friendly website are: Static content that doesn’t change, Simplified navigation, Images display smaller, and it’s Not reliant on a particular operating system to work properly.

What about a responsive design?

A responsive website is one that changes based on Sally Consumer’s needs and the device she’s using to conduct her search. With responsive design, text and images change from, for example, a three-column layout to a single column display. Unnecessary images are hidden so they don’t compete with the more important information on the smaller display.

The key features of a responsive website are:

  1.       Content changes,
  2. ·      Abbreviated navigation,
  3. ·      Improved images, and it’s
  4. ·      Reliant on a particular operating system to work properly.

Which do I need?

A simplified mobile friendly site will give you a consistent website experience across all devices. If you don’t have a large mobile audience (less than 35%), your site is simple with mostly text and images and your picture sizes are small, allowing for quick loading, a mobile-friendly site is for you.

Consider a responsive site if more than 35% of your web traffic is on mobile devices, your website content is complex or has features that are difficult to use on a phone or tablet or you want your website to appear up-to-date longer. Be aware that a responsive design takes expertise, proper planning and a larger budget.

Sally Consumer is in a hurry. She wants to solve her problems now. She will quickly pass by websites that load slowly and are hard to navigate on her phone or tablet. To be sure your website is the one she picks, test it for mobile-friendliness and make any necessary adjustments. i

 

Roberta GubbinsComment
Finding the ROI on Your Website and What it Means

You've redesigned your website and it's been up since the first of the year so now is the time to track, compile and analyze its data. Measuring your website's Return on Investment (ROI) is the key to assessing the effectiveness of your Internet marketing efforts.

Google Analytics, which is free, can be incredibly useful to track the behavior of the traffic to your site. It can tell you how many people visit, how they get there, how long they stay, where they live and how many fill out the contact me form. With this information, you can find the under-performing site content and it can help you determine your ROI.

In order to get a clear picture, we have to enter the world of numbers. Experts recommend using the following categories of information:

Number of Visitors: Track the volume of visitors to your website within a set period of time. Use a longer period of time for more accurate results.
Conversion Rate:  A conversion happens when a client completes the contact form or sets up an appointment. Calculate the conversion rate by dividing the number of conversions by the total number of site visits. 
Leads: Visitors times Conversion Rate = Leads. Knowing this figure can help you determine whether what you're doing is effective or not. (Example: 4500 visitors x 2% = 90 leads)
Closing Rate: Divide the number of people who buy your service by the number of visitors. Example: 100 sales divided by 5000 visitors equals a 2% closing rate. Experts say 1 to 3% is good. 
Lifetime Value: Lifetime value is how much money the client brings in over the course of time. The client who needs frequent legal services is worth more. 
Delivery Costs: That figure is the cost of your website. It is a rough figure which includes the total development costs, if this is a new site and that cost has not already been accounted for, and the monthly costs of operating the website, which includes costs like hosting and any monthly fees for 3rd-party tools you use. 

Calculate the ROI of Your Website:

The number we're seeking is the number of consumers that became clients solely through the website. This means they scanned your site, sent a contact me form or set up an appointment. 

Once the information is collected you can calculate your website's ROI. Using the formula below will give you a rough idea: 

ROI = (Sales - Cost)/Cost)

It's typically expressed as a percentage, so multiple your result by 100. 

Figuring the ROI on your website helps you to make educated website decisions; keeping the things that work and reworking the areas that don't produce as well. Often small changes can make a big difference in your results.
 

Roberta GubbinsComment
The Importance of Bar Associations

Many practicing attorneys are members of State Bar. These organizations, in addition to administering  licensing requirements, provide a number of services to its members. However, there are 35 other local and specialty bar associations in  such states as Michigan.

What are they and what services do they provide?

First, there are local bar associations that serve lawyer members in specific counties, cities and towns. Many provide practice benefits including:

  • Substantive information on practice trends,
  • Affordable continuing legal education through its practice sections,
  • Fostering relationships among members,
  • Referral services for the public,
  • Mentoring—both as mentor and mentee, and
  • Cultivating camaraderie and professional respect.

Successful bar associations have members who dedicate real time and effort to the organization. By doing so, members can develop relationships they need to grow their business. An example is the Ingham County Bar Association, to which I belong, begun in 1895 and still providing networking opportunities including awards banquets, fundraisers, a luncheon lecture series, a newsletter and a bench/bar conference.

Second, there are specialty bar associations which serve attorneys who work in a specific practice area. They can be a source for information about your chosen niche practice area. Examples in Michigan are:

  • Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan--Hosts two yearly conferences to update its members on developments in the practice of criminal defense.   
  • Michigan Creditors Bar Association—provides education on collection law,
  • Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association—sponsors social events, career panels at law schools and a luncheon speaker series.
  • Michigan Association of Justice—one of the largest specialty groups, its goal is to help the working class of Michigan if they are wrongfully injured.

Finally, there are bar associations that serve specific groups of people such as:

  • National Association of Women Lawyers which strives to secure the full and equal participation of women in the legal profession,
  • Wolverine Bar Association, established in the 1930’s for African-American attorneys in Michigan addressing the unique and distinct needs of their community for legal service, representation, and protection, or
  • Catholic Lawyers Society sponsoring several events for its members throughout the year.

As you can see, bar associations are as varied as the profession itself. Deciding which association to join can be difficult and may change as you progress through your legal life. Many lawyers begin with the local bar association and then move on to add a niche practice area or specific group of people. Each provides benefits; only you can decide if those benefits will help you and your practice

Roberta Gubbins
Understanding the Language of the Internet

Each discipline has its own language. The law has a rich history of words that lawyers like to use and few outside the law understand. The Internet, too, has special words, many borrowed from other fields or invented by the users in the heat of creation. Understanding that language will help you communicate with those raised with electronic devices and your marketing director.

When you start your day, you boot up your computer. The term is a shortening of the word bootstrapping, which was the name adopted by the early computer scientists in the 1950’s to refer to the start-up process of the computer. They thought of it as the computer pulling itself up by the bootstraps.

To access the Internet, you use an Internet Service Provider, which can be wireless (Wi-Fi) and is provided by a company or organization. Once there, you use a web browser, a free software program included on computers and mobile devices at time of purchase. The browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) let you view online content.

Some basic terms:

      Internet Protocol (IP) Address A set of unique numbers that identifies every computer and device that connects to the Internet.

       E-mail Mail that's electronically transmitted by your computer.

       Homepage The first page that is viewed when the browser starts.

       Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) It is the set of rules by which Web pages are transferred across the Internet.

       Link or Hypertext Link An underlined word(s), phrase(s), or graphics on a Web page that transports the reader to additional or related information on the Internet.

       Uniform Resource Locator (URL) An addressing scheme used to locate you and other resources on the World Wide Web.

      File Transfer Protocol (FTP) The standard method for downloading and uploading files over the Internet.

      Web Page A single hypertext file or a page that is part of a Website.

      Website A collection of Internet pages or files.

When Sally Consumer searches the Internet and lands on your webpage, she can get there in two ways—organically or directly. Organic Traffic is not traffic unfertilized with chemicals but unpaid traffic from search engines, social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, referrals from other sites which happens when Sally clicks on a link on another website such as your SBM profile. Organic traffic is what you want to attract using keywords in your content such as Traverse City Family Law Attorney so when Sally types those words in a query your site appears.

Direct Traffic—Sally types your URL into a browser, immediately connecting with you.

Lately, we’ve heard the word “Troll.” While in folklore a troll was a mythical giant or dwarf that caused harm such as the trolls that took over the public bridge in “The Three Billy Goats Gruff,” 

Wikipedia defines the Internet Troll as: "Someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.” Be wary of the trolls under the bridge or on the Internet.

 

 

Labels: internet language

Creating a Content Marketing Publishing Strategy for Your Firm

 When Walter Consumer has a legal problem, his first reaction will be to turn to the Internet. At this point he is not looking for a lawyer, he is looking for information. He might ask “What is personal injury?” or “What is a Power of Attorney?” Providing content that answers his questions helps you connect with him early in his search. To be sure that you are on target with your content marketing you need a publishing strategy.  

A well-developed law firm publishing strategy improves the firm’s profile and supports its business development. The reason to publish great content is to increase business so be sure your publishing strategy fits with and furthers your business strategy.

A Publishing Strategy Includes:

Your market: Your first consideration is your market. If you are a solo practitioner, you may have one type of client. Larger firms, however, could have several practice areas with specific client types you want to reach. Try to be as specific as you can when describing the prospective client. For example, if your personal injury cases are limited to motorcycle accidents, you would write for those readers.

Your Content: Consider the needs of your proposed reader and plan your content accordingly. Content can include frequently asked questions, case summaries, discussion of current legal events, how to guides or legal business updates.

 Your Format: There many ways to publish content on-line. You can write a blog, a feature article, a newsletter or an e-book. Other formats include videos and podcasts. Each one has its benefits. Which you use depends on your reader and your skills at communicating.

Your Schedule: As was said in Mice and Men, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” This especially true of writing marketing content. To stay on track, set a schedule, put the dates in your calendar and when the time comes, sit and stare at the blank screen until the words emerge. Keeping a regular publishing schedule is the best way to retain readers and be recognized by the search engines.

Your Budget: Your budget will include two types of expense. First, moneys spent to hire a staff person to write content or to hire a freelance contract content creator. Second, for the lawyers responsible for producing content, account for their non-billable time in their personal development plans.

Finally, how do you know if the plan is working to bring in more business? Try to set goals that are measurable such as percentage of new work from existing clients, number of new clients or more speaking requests for a particular practice group.  
  

Roberta Gubbins
How to Increase Your Referrals in 2018

The oldest, most reliable form of generating leads for lawyers are referrals. In fact, it is probable that your very first client came to you via a referral, who, in turn, referred the second client and so forth. The 2017 Clio study found that 62-percent of people find their attorneys through referrals from family or friends. How can you increase your referrals?

Do Good Work: The best referrals come from satisfied clients and doing good work for those clients is the very best way to get those referrals. Clients notice the small things—being on time, listening to what they say, explain and explain again until they understand, even when they don’t get all they want. Those contented clients will remember you and will send others your way.

Expand your e-mail list: Be sure to ask for a new client’s e-mail and permission to send information via e-mail. Assuming your website has content, use that content to send out a periodic e-newsletter. Your newsletter should include great content, images, links and overviews. It doesn’t need to be long, simply well-written and attractively formatted. And don’t forget to include bits about the daily goings-on in the office that shows off your staff’s personality. Such content gives a personal touch and makes people feel invested in the people behind your brand.

Create and maintain relationships with other businesses: Forming relationships with businesses that complement your practice such as, for example, accountants, investment advisors, realtors, or health professionals can also lead to referrals. Keep them up to date with a newsletter and remember to refer business their way when appropriate.

Out of the Office Activities: Lawyers donate a lot of time to their communities. Most find such work gratifying. Report about it in your newsletter. Remember that clients and peers who know more about the firm are more comfortable making a referral. 

And, finally, show your appreciation for clients who refer work your way. This can be as simple as a hand-written thank-you note to show your gratitude for the effort they’ve taken to help your business. Even if you don’t take the matter and refer it to another lawyer, be sure to thank the client. They will remember, refer other matters and your business will grow.

Roberta Gubbins
Face to Face Networking--You Need It

“Are you ready?” Dick asked sister Sally. “I have to be there early to help set up.”

Sally sighed, “I’ve been talking all day. I don’t have any words left.”

“You’ll be fine. You like these events and you said you want to meet the new probate Judge,” said Dick as they walked out together on their way to their bar association networking event.

Dick was right. Sally was the type who enjoyed their face to face networking efforts while Dick was more comfortable when he had a task to perform. Both, however, realize the importance of attending networking opportunities.

Why You Need to Network In-person.

Lawyers, like the majority of humanity, are social beings. That means despite all your Internet social networking efforts, you need to get out of your office and go out into the world.

Meeting people face to face, sharing experiences, ideas and interests is a valuable opportunity to keep your name and practice a step ahead. Meeting in person lets your online acquaintances put a face and personality to the name they see on the blog or e-mail or website and helps build trust while creating a positive rapport for future discussions.

Your reasons for attending an event will vary with the type of audience. Dick and Sally are attending a bar association event. As Elder Law practitioners, they receive a number of referrals from other attorneys and make referrals to lawyers in other areas of practice. Thus, their goal is to renew old acquaintances and meet new members. If they were attending a community event, they would want to meet new people and find a way to assist the group.

How to succeed.

Once you’ve decided why you’re attending this particular event, here’s how to make the most of your time:
        • Pinpoint your networking goal,
        • Discover who will be there, decide who you want to meet and ask yourself what you want to know about them,
       • Have a 10 second introduction ready. People want to know both your name and area of practice, and
         Think about what you have to give to others.

Now you’re at the event, it’s the cocktail hour, everyone is milling around. Some of you are naturals at these events—you can schmooze with the best of them. Others need help. People like to talk about themselves so a few questions can get the conversation going.

1. How long have you been a member of this organization?
2. What keeps you busy outside of your practice?
3. What got you interested in ________________?
4. I read your book, blog, article …,
5. I just saw on LinkedIn that we went to the same college.

Don’t monopolize the conversation and leave gracefully. Introduce the person to a new arrival if known or simply comment on how much you’ve enjoyed talking with them and excuse yourself. Then move on.

You aren’t done simply because the event is over. If you promised a follow-up, do it within a week of the event or you will lose credibility that you can never get back.

A healthy network is made up of contacts from all parts of your life. Face to face networking added to your Internet campaign will help your practice grow.
 

Roberta Gubbins
It’s Time to Update Your Profile

The About Us or Profile page is the second most visited page on your website. Consumers find the Home page and then, to learn about you, they click on your profile. Often these readers are under the stress of a legal problem so they want and need to connect with someone who can help. Therefore, your profile page, as the place where they can learn about you and your practice, is a significant part of their decision-making process.

Because your profile page is so important, it is vital that you review and update it every three to four months. The following are items to consider:

Your name, title and contact info should be right up front and easy to see. Prospective clients don’t want to work hard to find that information. They will navigate away from your profile or website before spending time searching.

Your photo: Readers want to see the person they will be working with. Make sure the photo is current and professionally done. A selfie won’t do the job.

writing your profile-old school

What you do for your clients: Writing in plain English and avoiding legalese and jargon, tell the reader what type of law you practice. Write in first person (I) if possible—some large law firms use third person (Lance Lawyer) and use pronouns. Tell the readers what it’s like to meet with you and how you will work to help them with their problem. If you have added a new service this is the place to let the readers know about it. 

Write a compelling lead: If your lead starts like so: I. M. Lawyer is a shareholder in the firm…it needs to be re-written. Better to write: ‘As an elder law attorney, I help older persons with issues about their future care as well as their estate planning needs.’ This tells prospective clients seeking this type of help that they are in the right place.

Interesting Facts about you: Think about what makes you excel at lawyering. Maybe you’re really good at explaining law to clients or helping them reach a solution to their problem. Tell the readers what you like most about your area of practice, describe your hobbies and include your latest community relations activities.

Once your profile page on your website is up to date, check your LinkedIn Profile and any others that are out there that need review. Keeping your profile current is one of the most effective marketing efforts you can do to bring in more business.

Posted by Roberta Gubbins at 10:01 AM No comments: Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest

Labels: profile update

Roberta Gubbins
Find Clients Using Niche Marketing
 Niche Market: a focused, targetable portion of a market. It is a narrowly defined group of potential customers that have specific needs. 

      A law firm that focuses on a niche is addressing a need for a service that is not being addressed by mainstream providers.
      Lawyers, like other professionals, can no longer be generalists. Because the law is too complex for you to be all things to all comers, it is necessary to select a specialized area of practice that suits you and your firm. Once that decision is made, your marketing should be selective—aimed at your niche market.
      A niche market is a defined, target market that can be classified by demographics such as age, location, gender, by socioeconomic factors or by industry or hobby. It can be as narrow or as broad as you want as long as it is well-described part of the population with the same wants, needs or behaviors.

How do I select a niche? 

      You begin by visualizing your ideal client. If you’ve been in practice for a while, think about the clients you liked working with, the ones that made you smile. Who would benefit from your legal services? What area of law are you passionate about? If you’re new to the practice of law, think of the legal specialties you liked in law school, the people you met in internships and create a description of the type of client you want to attract.
      You can narrow your field of law down to a particular type of individual, socioeconomic group or even industry. For example, if your area of practice is criminal law, you could specialize in DUI or the new marijuana laws or homicide. Or, if you like working with businesses, you narrow the field by the type of business, Internet or brick and mortar or by size such as start-ups or businesses with more than 50 employees.
      Once you narrow the niche down, search the Internet to determine the size of your market. You also need to look at the competition. How many lawyers are competing for the same clients in the same location? Don’t be discouraged, simply be aware so you can offer something the others don’t.  

Why should I Niche Market? 

      Using a narrow approach can help you focus your marketing efforts to a specific group or industry so that you become known and recognized in that group. Niche marketing is cost-effective. Rather than mass marketing to a large audience, you are concentrating your time and money on one area of the market thus saving both precious commodities—time and money. You can become an expert in that group; the go-to lawyer for their legal needs. With the use of social media, your website, blog and networking, you can become known as the industry expert whether you’re a solo or a partner in large firm.


Yes, Virginia, You do Need a Business Card

Antique business card 
The business card is one of the most compact business marketing tools in use today. It fits in your pocket, sits in card files, card cases and desk drawers, you can make notes on it and it never needs charging.

Cards first appeared in England and France in the late sixteenth century. Bearer cards, calling cards and trade cards were the three main predecessors of today’s business cards. They were early forms of advertising as well as symbols of status. Present-day cards are also forms of advertising and should be part of your marketing plans.

Three reasons why the business card is a valuable business tool.

1.     Not all clients have digital devices. You can’t rely on a smartphone for transferring contact information; not everyone has a smartphone, and, if they do, it could be incompatible with your phone or the person could not be tech-savvy. An easy exchange of business cards can be followed up with an e-mail to provide digital information.
2.     Exchanging business cards is quicker. The quickest and easiest way to swap information is with the business card. Multiple cards can be handed out at a networking event in a short period of time.
3.     Business cards essential in international business. Business cards are not only essential in some business cultures but they are treated ceremoniously. In Japan exchanging business cards is a ritual and is considered a formal introduction. In India, business cards are also used in social situations and are handed to the person face up with the text facing them. The backside of your card should include your information in the native language.

The design of your business card.

Your business card should be simple and match your other marketing products. Don’t use elaborate fonts; instead use the same font you use on your letter-head. Fit the tone of the design with the nature of your practice. Examples of business cards can be found at the ABA gallery of business cards

Keep your business card relevant. Include your name, the firm name, your phone number and your e-mail address. Add your business address if there is room and if you have a logo include it unless it will make the card too cluttered.

How to use the business card.

While we don’t follow the elaborate practices such as those of Bahrain where the card can’t be exchanged using the left hand and must be looked at before putting it carefully away, we still observe the right moment to offer the card. It should naturally follow as a conclusion to a conversation. After the meeting, you can take a moment to write notes on the back of the cards you received to follow up the next day.

While written communication is often paperless, business cards are still an essential part of business communication. Keep yours up to date and fresh in a card holder ready to use when the right moment arrives.

Roberta GubbinsComment