If your law firm is not looking to grow, does not need more clients, is not interested in being found online, and wants to lose business to more savvy competitors, then videos are not right for you.
Otherwise, your firm absolutely must use videos to improve your presence online. Here’s why.
Oft-repeated statistics show that videos improve discoverability and conversion on your website, YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter pages, LinkedIn and Avvo profiles, and email campaigns.
Your website is your most important way of communicating online with clients and prospects. It’s the only platform that you completely control under your brand, unlike social and professional networks, where you appear with other attorneys from other firms. Yet, unless you are using videos on your website, you will not speak to your clients and prospects in a way they want to communicate.
People prefer videos to text-based communication. People watch videos; they avoid reading. They spend far more time viewing videos on YouTube than reading books on their Kindle. That’s because video is a more engaging medium. Most businesses understand this. Check the website of almost any major business and you’ll find videos. But most lawyers don’t get it. Why?
Because lawyers are typically slow to adapt.
Fifteen years ago, few lawyers had websites. Today, most lawyers have websites (although they were about five years behind most other industries in their rates of adoption). During the last 15 years, even the most advertising-averse lawyers came to understand that a website is crucial to their overall marketing campaigns. They came to realize that you can’t do business without a website.
That same thing is happening now with videos. Just five years ago, few law firms had videos online. Today, some do. Soon, all will. Just like websites in the last decade, videos in this decade are quickly being recognized as a necessary element of any effective law firm website. Law firms no longer see videos as bells and whistles. They see their competition using videos and realize they need to do the same.
Videos increase traffic to your website. Videos are content. A large volume of content makes it more likely that your website will appear on a Google search results page for a specific search. You can capture the valuable long-tail search queries by producing content that matches more searches. People are searching for legal information online, and videos provide the answers they’re looking for.
Videos increase conversion on your website. A conversion rate, for those unfamiliar, is the percentage of visitors to your website who take any kind of affirmative action to contact your firm, such as calling, sending an email, or completing a contact form. The main purpose of marketing online is to generate conversions. Websites with videos are far more likely to drive conversion than those without videos.
But, it’s not just about traffic and conversion. Video also helps protect business that comes to your firm from purely offline relationships. If you, like many lawyers, believe that you don’t need to pay much attention to your website, and especially to videos, because you generate most or all of your business from referrals, you are in for a rude awakening. The way people make and receive referrals has changed dramatically with the increased acceptance of websites and videos. In the past, prospective clients would blindly call you after receiving a referral. Today, they Google you, even if the referral came from a trusted source. When they Google you, they’ll also see your competitors. If your competitors have videos, they will be one step ahead of you in connecting with the prospect.
So now you may be thinking, “I get it, I need videos on my website.” That’s correct, but that’s not the end of the story. Not all online leads will come from your website.
Some lawyers get more leads from YouTube, or social networks, or Avvo than from their websites. Websites are even becoming second fiddle in the marketing efforts of some forward-thinking law firms. That’s because they realize that online legal searches are fragmented. Clients are looking for lawyers in new and different ways.
The most under-appreciated asset in the legal marketer’s toolbox. It’s the second most queried search engine after Google (its parent company). But, more important, YouTube is the number one search engine for “how to” and “what if” questions. When people have a legal question, or any question for that matter, they are more likely type that question into YouTube than anywhere else.
If you want some of that YouTube-generated traffic, your firm must have videos, and they should be videos that answer questions about the law (FAQs or frequently asked questions). When someone has a legal problem and is searching for information, all they care about is getting an answer from an intelligent, articulate, informative attorney who has a personality to which they can relate.
Far less important than YouTube for publishing your firm’s videos, but it shouldn’t be ignored. If your firm has cultivated a meaningful following on Facebook, you certainly should use videos to communicate with your audience (for the same reasons that videos trump text on all other platforms). And, if your firm is trying to increase the size of its Facebook following, videos can help.
The same goes for Twitter, especially since Twitter recently began to embed videos directly in the body of the tweet. Videos are powerful content to include in a Twitter feed if you have a decent base of followers. When posting videos to Twitter, use your 140 characters to make sure the reader understands why the videos matter to them and why they should stop scrolling the feed to watch the videos.
You will never be overwhelmed by the amount of new business generated with Facebook and Twitter. And you likely won’t see immediate results from your investment of time. However, social networking by businesses is about building relationships over time and gaining audience mindshare. The more you get in front of someone on social media, the more likely they’ll remember you when they or someone they know needs a lawyer. Videos help you get that attention.
Depending on what type of law you practice, LinkedIn may be more meaningful to your practice than Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn is great for business-to-business relationships. If your clients are businesses, or if you rely heavily on referrals from other lawyers, you should be active on LinkedIn. Posting your videos to LinkedIn will help set you apart from the flood of content on the platform.
Even more important, especially for consumer-focused lawyers. Avvo has emerged over the last few years as the number one lawyer directory. Lawyers who embrace Avvo are finding success on the site. The best way to engage with Avvo is to complete your profile and contribute content. Avvo allows lawyers to post videos in its Legal Guides section. The millions of people who search for legal answers every month on Avvo will be exposed to your videos. Even better, lawyers who post videos earn “contributor points” on Avvo, making it more likely that their content and their profile will be displayed to Avvo’s users. It’s like free advertising for your firm.
One of the most under-used, yet most effective, tools of legal marketing. An effective email marketing campaign is one of the best ways to stay relevant to your referral network, current and past clients, and prospects. Every person you meet and every client you serve should be added to your email marketing list (legally, of course). Then, when you send your regularly scheduled emails, include a video. Emails with video content embedded in the body are far more likely to be read that emails with just text-based content.
Let’s review: (1) more people will find your website and call your firm if you have video on your site; (2) referrals will be more likely to hire you if they can watch you on video, online; (3) YouTube is one of the best ways to be found online, especially with people who have legal questions; (4) if you are active on Facebook and Twitter, you should be using videos to engage your followers; (5) videos on LinkedIn and Avvo will help you gain attention with business and consumer prospects, respectively; and (6) people are more likely to open emails that have video.
That said, let’s discuss when video is not right for your firm.
First, some firms can’t afford videos, no matter how important videos are to their firm’s growth and no matter how impressive the ROI. As much as video marketers believe that every firm, without exception, should use video, some firms just don’t have the money. Law firms with limited budgets should focus first on the essentials of marketing in the 21st century: namely, a website. For some firms, the website alone eats up the entire marketing budget. If that is the case, video isn’t an option. But, if you still have room in your budget after building a sufficient website, video should be next. After all, why build a website if you’re not going to communicate your message in the preferred medium of the audience?
Second, if you’re not going to do a good job integrating the videos into your online marketing campaigns, it’s not worth the cost of producing the videos.
Third, if you’re going to shoot bad videos, you’re better off shooting no videos.
If none of these three potential pitfalls apply to your firm, go ahead and shoot videos. Produce a large number of short FAQ videos that help people better understand their legal issues and familiarize them with your firm. Pay close attention to the lawyer advertising rules in your state. And put those videos everywhere that people are searching for lawyers or legal information online.
You’ve seen the polls that come out every year ranking the legal profession with care salesmen and politicians as among the least respected. You can do something to improve that perception. Use videos to show the public that you, a lawyer, are someone they can trust, someone they can relate to, and someone who can handle their most challenging problems.
All of this advice applies to corporate firms. Videos aren’t just for consumers. The people making decisions at the corporate firm level are increasingly relying on the internet and videos. The style of videos will be different, but the need is the same.
About the Author
Brian Albert is an attorney and the founder/president of THELAW.TV, a producer of marketing videos for the legal profession. He can be reached at 561.299.3130.
(Image Credit: ShutterStock)