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As the year draws to a close, you and your colleagues at your law firm are probably thinking about ways to cut your marketing expenses for 2020, or at least to get a better return on your current spending on marketing. Now is a good time to review your current digital marketing plan and find out if you are spending money on services that are not bringing in new clients or improving the SEO rankings of your site. In the spirit of year-end lists of what’s in and what’s out for the new year, these are some outdated digital marketing tactics that ought to go the way of the Geocities site.

Focusing Too Much on Clicks to Measure Your Website’s Performance

The number of clicks on your site is not the most accurate indicator of prospective clients’ engagement with it. By themselves, clicks are cheap; anyone can click. Babies can click. Bots can click. Gig workers paid a pittance can spend their entire workday clicking. Certain enterprising geeks have set up “click farms” where dozens of phones of questionable intelligence click on websites, day and night, for a fraction of a cent per minute. These clicks are worth about as much as the people and devices who perform them get paid for them. Instead, you should focus on how much time visitors spend on your page and how many of them click “submit” on your “contact us” form.

Email Marketing

By 2019, most people have gotten used to ignoring promotional emails; Gmail even sends them directly to a glorified spam folder. Your marketing budget is better spent on building a mobile-friendly website and updating it regularly with genuinely informative content. You should send email only to people who really want it; people are much more likely to become paying clients if you personally write them an email in response to their query on your contact form than if you send out impersonal email blasts to everyone whose email address you have managed to harvest.

Black Hat SEO

Google has long since wised up to website owners’ attempts to game its search result ranking algorithm; in fact, every update to its algorithm includes new ways to get around strategies that website builders have found for cheating the previous version of the algorithm. The old black hat SEO tactics, such as typing a keyword dozens of times in a color of text that matches the background of the page are so outdated that it seems ridiculous that anyone would try them. If you plaster your site with invisible keywords, Google will be as impressed with you as you were with your Grandpa when he told you that he cheated on a test in middle school by sticking silly putty on the test paper of the kid next to him to copy his answers.

Legal Content Writers

You can count on Law Blog Writers to stay up to date on SEO and digital marketing trends and to use them when writing high-quality content for your law firm’s website.

Even people who love attention usually get butterflies in their stomachs when they Google their own names, especially now that so many people use the Internet as a place for the ugliest and most misanthropic parts of their souls to run wild. Most people don’t have to worry about what the Internet might be saying behind their backs; they only Google their names when they are about to have a job interview.

For better or worse, though, lawyers cannot run from their online reputations; it is usually the first thing that prospective clients see. Negative online reviews, which are theoretically visible to everyone in perpetuity, are such a source of anxiety for lawyers and practitioners of other reviewable professions that online reputation management has become a major industry.

The Old Ways Don’t Work Anymore

In the old days, it was possible to deal with negative online reviews by simply waiting for them to go away. The domain name might expire, or people might write enough positive reviews to boost your average score and push the negative review so far down the list that hardly anyone would read it. Today, web content is more permanent, and it is much harder to fool search engines with fake reviews. The negative publicity is much easier to find, so now you must deal with it instead of just trying to paint over it.

Telling Your Side in a Respectful Way

Getting involved in flame wars online is unbefitting of a lawyer. When a negative review misrepresents you, though, it is fine to write a respectful rebuttal. It is bad enough when a jury finds your client guilty, but it is worse when, the next day, you find an online review entitled “Branwell Bloggins Is a Lousy Lawyer.” The reviewer goes on to say that, because of your incompetence, her brother is serving a ten-year sentence for drug possession with intent to deliver. You, of course, know that the review doesn’t tell the whole story. You counseled the defendant to plead guilty and offered to try to get his charges reduced to simple possession. He had a previous possession conviction for which the charges could have been dropped if he had followed his previous lawyer’s advice and completed a pretrial diversion program. At trial, you made every effort to establish reasonable doubt, but the defendant was obviously guilty. For a variety of reasons, he might be eligible for parole or be able to get his time reduced.

In a Word document, offline, write what you wish you could say, all of it. The defendant was obviously guilty, but his sister is delusional about her brother’s drug problem. His previous lawyer didn’t do a good enough job of getting him into a pretrial diversion program and supporting him through it. A few days later, reread what you wrote, and edit out the parts about what the defendant’s sister and previously lawyer did wrong. Do say, “I advised this defendant to plead guilty, but he chose to exercise his right to a fair trial,” and then go on to explain the laws and processes of plea deals, pretrial diversion, repeat offenses, and so on. Meanwhile, on your website, highlight cases you have won.

Let Law Blog Writers Do the Writing

You can count on Law Blog Writers to produce engaging blog content that gives readers a refuge from the troll-infested swamp that is most of the Internet.

Eugene Schwartz died in 1995, but his career as a writer of advertising copy has made him a legend in the age of content marketing. Schwartz made most of his fortune writing text for advertisements sent by mail, and later in his career, he wrote ten advice books for writers. Schwartz operated in a world very different from the one in which today’s businesspeople vie for the attention of clients; when he died, the World Wide Web was in its infancy. Despite this, his guidelines for communicating your message succinctly, holding readers’ attention, and generating publishable prose quickly still ring true for the current generation of web content writers. Eugene Schwartz is a superhero for marketing professionals, but you are a lawyer first and a marketer of legal services second, so to what extent does his advice apply to you?

What Made Eugene Schwartz Such a Great Writer?

Eugene Schwartz mastered the ability of figuring out what his target audience wanted and offering them a product or service that would give it to them. He did this in relatively few words and so quickly that he once received a commission of $54,000 (in Eisenhower Era money) for an advertisement he wrote in a single afternoon. In one of his books, he outlined his “rules of great marketing” as follows:

· Always keep your ears open for what is on the public’s mind

· Write for short periods of time, giving it your full attention (a similar principle to the Pomodoro method)

· Concisely summarize information that you know inside and out, instead of creating new knowledge as you write

· Your message can never be too simple; the simpler your thesis, the better

· Show the reader how to get what they already want; don’t try to convince them to want something

· Show how your product meets readers’ needs; don’t just showcase its features

· Get to the point quickly

· You become an effective writer through trial and error

What Does This Mean for Lawyers?

You already apply some of Schwartz’s rules when communicating with clients in person and in writing. You are a good listener, and you know how to tell clients only the information they need to know about the law, without getting bogged down in all the details. You have developed productivity strategies.

You already know how to keep it simple, but in writing blog posts for your law firm’s blog, you could stand to keep it even simpler. In a consultation, you get to listen to your prospective clients’ questions, but in a blog post, you must anticipate them and answer them. Eugene Schwartz was writing about selling gadgets and household cleaning products, but his advice applies also to writing blog content to engage prospective clients of a law firm.

Hire Legal Blog Writers

Do you need to use your short bursts of productivity to write legal correspondence instead of blog posts? You can count on Law Blog Writers to produce engaging blog content that would make an old generation copywriter proud, no matter how puzzling he might find the word “blog.”

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