Monday, July 8, 2013

"Call to Action" Paragraph -- You Don't Really Need Them

If you search Google for tips on writing a legal blog you will undoubtedly find a huge list of articles, blogs, and entire websites devoted to the subject.

But a quick word of warning: identify WHEN the advice was written.  The online marketing world has changed significantly over the past few years.  Reading about "best practices" from three years ago may not only lead you down a useless path, it could be a harmful one--with Google penalties.

The most obvious pieces of advice that were doled out consistently in the past but are dangerous today relate to search engine optimization.  If you read an article three years ago about SEO for lawyers, ignore it.  All of it.  Sure, some may still be relevant, but a lot of it won't be..and there is too much good, new advice out there to tread on old stuff.

For example, you undoubtedly were told in the past (and may still be told) about the need to use a lot of "long-tail" keyword phrases (i.e. Florida injury attorney") with a link from the post to your website.  This is no longer true.  It doesn't really work, looks spammy, and is not necessary.

Call to Action
Similarly, there are endless articles out there about the importance of "call to action" paragraphs at the end of blog posts.  This is supposed to represent the "big sell" -- turning the reader into a calling potential client.

In some respects, this makes sense.  Entire sales books have been written specifically about closing the deal--giving the prospect a concrete task.

But is important not to confuse each individual blog post as a sales call.  A post is not (or shouldn't be) just a 500 word version of a sales pitch.  Going in with that mentality is the surest way to produce a low-value piece of content.

Instead, view the post as exactly what it should be: a way to provide some information that is interesting or informative, without pretense.

Sure, it may not hurt to have one sentence after the post indicating the firm's location/services.  But nothing more is needed.  And there really is not a need to incorporate the "call to action" in the post itself.

As always, just remember the basics:

* Write useful content
* Make that content readable and easy to digest
* Write consistently so that readers have a reason to come back

Monday, July 1, 2013

SCOTUSblog on Legal Marketing

This week saw publication of perhaps the most widely shared piece in recent memory on legal marketing.  There is little wonder why it is so popular--it comes from wildly successful online legal blog guru Tom Goldstein--the creator of SCOTUSblog.

If you do not follow SCOTUSblog, you must.

Last week represented one of the high water marks for the widely respected site, as it was ground zero for all those looking for information on the U.S. Supreme Court's breaking decisions in the most high-profile cases of the term--gay marriage, Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, and more.  It was even more popular last year around this time when half the country was waiting with bated breath to see if the Court would uphold the Affordable Care Act (Spoiler: It did).

Goldstein on Legal Marketing & Law Firm Blogs
Goldstein's tips are not geared only to online marketing, even though he is best known for his work on SCOTUSblog.  But his thoughts are worthwhile for firms of all sizes, particularly small and medium firms who are engaged in the seemingly endless battle to attract clients with personal injury cases, criminal issues, bankruptcy matters, estate planning needs, and other common community legal dilemmas.

If you are interested, you can listen to Goldstein's entire podcast at the ABA Journal HERE.

But for those who only have time for the Cliff Notes version it is this:

*** Blog about what it interesting, not only what you or your firm are doing.  Do not make it only about marketing.
*** If possible, be specific. Don't have a general practice blog that covers every topic under the sun.
*** Don't dwell on "common" selling points of your firm--just focus on building a relationships with a potential client.  Believe it or not potential clients don't care all that much about where you went to school, your awards, or even past cases.  They care about you as a person and their ability to build a relationship of incredible trust with you.

Translation for legal content writers and law firm copywriting...

Write informative, interesting content on a specific issue with the potential client in mind.  Do not dwell on every minor detail of SEO--just add to the useful things to the Internet consistently.