By Jabez LeBret
As a judge for the past four years of the Legal Marketing Association’s Your Honor marketing awards, we continue to gain insights into the state of legal marketing. Here are a few themes that stood out during the judging of law firm websites this year.
Go Big with Website Images
From home pages to attorney bios, websites are increasingly using large images. Obvious challenges include load time and image file size. We’ve written at length about site load time and the importance of that on your SEO. There is also possible issues with mobile responsive rendering. If you can get past those issues there is a certain amount of inspiration that large images can create. Avoid rotating images at all cost! If you must have more than one image for you homepage try using dynamic images that reload and change every time the page is updated. Like with most design strategies be careful to monitor if this becomes a fad. Certain types of designs come and go so be prepared to redesign over time.
Your Case Work Shouldn’t Be Sloppy, So Neither Should Your Website
Graphics that hang over text or text that is impossible to read because of the color. These sort of things make your website look sloppy. When a user is navigating your website they are judging your abilities to represent them. If they get a sense that your work lacks attention to detail this could make converting that lead more difficult. This is not suggesting you need to be perfect, just not sloppy.
Website and Marketing Materials Get Personal
If we could go one year without seeing a website with a gavel, or courtroom steps, or a law library I would buy the entire judging committee a drink. That never happened. Stock photos are still too common and we are strongly encouraging everyone to move to real images of locations or associates. This includes your website images, collateral, and all external marketing images. By using images of your associates and staff you create a more personal and genuine marketing messaging. Using images of your region helps you connect with your prospects as well. Marketing strategies are moving towards authentic messaging, images go a long way.
Programs Including Young Associates
Firms of all sizes can benefit from attracting new talent. Not completely new to a firm’s operational dynamic, but the involvement of marketing departments with young associate’s initiatives was staggering this year. It sends all the right messages if you are working to attract junior hires. This can be highlighted in your marketing efforts. One piece missing with most of these programs was a social marketing component to expand the awareness of these activities.
Video on The Rise
As we’ve written at length video is on the rise. Law firms are in a unique content position – they have knowledge that prospects want and are willing to pay for. The quality of the video production should be better than say five years ago. We recommend good audio and a non-shaky video. Three major areas of video are being integrated into marketing campaigns: short content, long form accredited video content and video in place of images. Many websites are integrating video in various locations including homepages and practice areas. Continuing education courses are being offered to attract new clients. Video is really moving into all sides of marketing. Plus there is the added social media benefit of using video…networks like Facebook love video and give you increased reach for your organic posts.
What’s Next in Law Firm Websites?
Although it is impossible to predict the future, the current trends provide some guidance. Firms are getting better at creating content that prospects want, but they are falling short at utilizing the power of social media to its full extent.
*Sigh* But at least we are no longer talking about the importance of going mobile…