This is an exciting time to be in legal industry digital communications. From Foley and Lardner’s embrace of forward-thinking UX on their website, to the explosive growth of content delivery platforms like JD Supra, it feels like we’re on the cusp of big things. Combined with advances in digital tools available to lawyers and marketers – such as blogs and social media – and the ever increasing reliance of our clients on the web for research and credential checking, digital communications is finally taking its rightful place at the center of the biglaw firm strategic marketing mix.
In light of the potential and with the 2013 planning season upon us, I put together this list of the top-of-mind strategies that legal industry digi-comms types should be thinking about. Many of these strategies represent multi-year commitments of time and resources, but are must-haves for law firms as our clients become more digitally savvy themselves.
If you’re not sure where to start, look at your firm’s Content Management System – a state of the art upgrade will provide many of the features and capabilities listed below.
Top 6 big digi-comms strategies for 2013 and beyond
Personalization – Implicit and explicit personalization allow your site to surface relevant content for your visitors, based on their browsing history or expressed preferences. This is a must-have for large sites and firms with multiple locations and service offerings. Personalization requires a best-of-breed CMS and, for explicit personalization, some means of logging in to the site. (I know that you know this requires cookies and as such will require a disclaimer on your site if you do business in the EU, so I won’t go into that here.)
To develop a personalization strategy, you should start by developing a set of personas. What are your site visitors looking for and what do they hope to accomplish during their visit? Next, ask yourself – What else do I want them to see while they’re here? Personalization allows you do do more targeted cross-selling.
COPE – Create Once, Publish Everywhere – More and more, we are asked to deliver our content into external environments and websites – everything from firm-branded microsites to internal applications, client extranets and client-hosted intranets. Key to COPE is the deployment of a state-of-the-art CMS that can support content governance, workflow, production and promotion – and easily integrate with other properties via web service or API.
Mobile – Does your firm need a mobile site or a mobile app? Do you know the difference? I gotta confess – I’m still trying to master the distinction. One way to cover yourself – at least when it comes to people browsing via mobile devices – is to use responsive design on your main site. This will allow your site to look great across a variety of devices by dynamically reconfiguring the site layout based on the site visitor’s screen resolution. The downside is extensive up front design exploration and development of at least three versions of each major template on the site. The decision to build an application requires answering some questions: is internet required? What about device features such as camera and location? Got a lot of money? Willing to deal with having your app approved by the App Store?
Lead Generation – The number one question I get is whether or not the website and social channels have led to new business. Other than anecdotal evidence, I don’t have much to offer. One easy way to get more concrete data would be to map site visitors against the new business development funnel by asking for email addresses at various points in the browsing and content consumption process. Easy peasy, right? Examples: request proposal button, click to chat, simple registration forms. For some reason, not many law firms are doing this, perhaps because of the investment that processing and acting on this information requires. To get consensus, mine your traffic reports and social sharing stats for insights into how they affect new business development.
Social media integration and management – I going to assume that you have share buttons on your content and that you’ve got your social media accounts prominently linked. I’m also going to assume you’ve got a social media calendar and you know how to run campaigns across your channels. What’s next? Enterprise wide social media management that will allow your lawyers and staff to tap into a library of content for their own accounts – which can even be firm branded and centrally managed. For examples enterprise social media management, look at Socialware, Hearsay Social, Hootesuite Enterprise, Buddy Media (now part of SalesForce) and PeopleLinx.
Big beautiful brand – Dear law firms – it’s time to be more visually engaging! Again, look at what Foley and Larnder is doing with their site – unique long scrolling homepage with CSS3 features, responsive filtering in interior pages, big beautiful fonts for easy reading. For out of industry examples, I love GE.com, GoldmanSachs.com, Bain.com, and GM.com (although I loathe auto-play videos).
So there are the 6 strategies to have on your radar. Some of you may have already implemented some or all of these. Let me hear about it in the comments!
written by Molly Porter