As we launch into a new year, I’m looking forward to seeing what marketing tools are adopted by lawyers and how changes in technology change the way lawyers do business. Here are four trends I think are worth watching in 2012.
Social media engagement and integration
Law firms and individual lawyers have becoming more active on social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and now Google Plus. As participation increases, law firms will need to become better at integrating their social media activities into their overall marketing plan, cross-linking each of the firm’s activities with one another to help increase the firm’s reach and visibility. Including links to social media pages and profiles in email signatures and email newsletters, including social media plug-ins on firm blogs and linking blog posts and other web content to social media platforms are all part of a good marketing and branding plan.
Law firm social media activities should be part of a plan that harnesses the potential of social media for increased visibility and engagement with clients, strategic alliances and potential referral sources. Firms will need to become better at tracking and monitoring social media activities by individuals within the firm.
To effectively integrate social media into law firm marketing plans, firms will need to determine what their unique message is and to ensure that the message is being broadcast consistently across all of the firm’s social media activities and platforms
QR codes (or “Quick Response codes”) have been around for a while, but in 2011 they have become more universally recognized and used. The square codes can be seen on everything from store signage to websites to brochures and business cards. Smartphones equipped with a code reader app take photos of the codes which then can open links to website landing pages, automatically download a V-card, display a message, or even auto-dial a telephone number.
Vizibility did a study of QR codes in legal marketing in the summer of 2011 and their results are contained in an infographic, a portion of which appears below.
But the real question is whether firms will see significant results from their use of QR codes in 2012.
Video has become the medium of choice for information. It’s the next best thing to being there in person, and it helps potential clients and referral sources get to know you before they ever meet you.
According to the mobile cause blog,
- Of the 2 billion people who are online, 70% routinely watch videos
- By 2013 more 90% of Internet traffic will be video-based (in 2010 it was 30%)
- The addition of a video increases landing page conversions by 55%
- The presence of an optimized video makes top page search results 53 times more likely
- Incorporating a video into an e-newsletter nearly doubles click-thru rates
- People will remain on a website at least two additional two minutes after viewing a video
According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2010–2015, two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2015, and mobile video will more than double every year between 2010 and 2015, with mobile video having the highest growth rate of any application category measured within the Cisco VNI forecast as February 2011, when the study was released.
Given the above, lawyers would do well to take video seriously as a marketing tool. Watch how the use of video by lawyers in their marketing efforts changes in 2012. Some law firms make the same mistake with video that they do with other marketing initiatives: focusing on the attorney or the firm, rather than focusing on the client and their problems. But Informational videos posted not just on lawyer websites but also elsewhere on the web, can be especially effective if they keep the client’s needs in mind.
Another emerging law firm marketing trend is the development of mobile sites or apps for smartphones. According to the Law Firm Mobile blog, 19% of firms on the AmLaw 200 list have mobile sites. Many of those currently using mobile have simply developed mobile versions of law firm websites, giving access to the firm’s practice area, attorney and contact information in a format easily read on a smartphone as opposed to a full computer screen. But some law firms are developing apps as resources for their clients, and this is the real trend to watch.
The Cisco Visual Networking Index mentioned above predicts that there will be 788 million mobile-only Internet users by 2015. The mobile-only Internet population will grow 56-fold from 14 million at the end of 2010 to 788 million by the end of 2015. That means that by 2015, many internet users won’t even be bothering with traditional computers, and lawyers whose information cannot be easily found and viewed on a mobile device may be left behind.