I will not be deterred.
This time last year, I shared my 20 goals for 2020. Some of those things happened, some did not, and that is OK. 2020 was an extraordinary year. One I am happy to put behind me.
But I will not be deterred from setting goals this year. Setting goals keeps my digital marketing activities focused on a set of common objectives and on a clearly defined path. Setting goals helps sift through opportunities to choose the ones that are most likely to help me accomplish what I want to do.
Setting goals keeps me motivated and moving forward.
Here are my suggestions for what you can add to your 21 in ’21 goals.
1. Undertake a content audit.
Maybe you have already undertaken a content audit. If so, good for you. If you have, just remember that this is not a once-and-done process. Now is a great time to review and update it.
For those of you who have not, a content audit is a comprehensive review of all the marketing content you have already produced that influences and shapes the marketing efforts of your firm. Once you know what you already have, you can work to repurpose existing content or fill in holes with new content.
2. Build out your content calendar.
Once you have completed your content audit, look for areas you want to grow in 2021 that may not have as much – or any – existing content. A simple Excel spreadsheet is all you need (you can download one here) and you can start scheduling when you will create content, when you will post it to your website, and when you will share it on social media. Make sure that when you create your content calendar, you are sharing new content, evergreen content, and your own thought leadership.
3. Write one additional blog post each month.
I know, I know, last year I asked you to write two blog posts a month and that is really hard to accomplish when there is billable work to be done – and a global pandemic, isolation, and virtual schooling. If you managed to do this, great. Schedule just a few more hours each month to create content that focuses on a practice area you really want to grow in 2021.
If you were only able to get one post done a month in 2020, adding one more will get you to two blog posts a month.
If, like many of our clients, you cannot make this happen, hire a ghostwriter. As an attorney, you should be focusing on billable client work. Hiring a writer with experience practicing law and distilling legal concepts for a legal and non-legal audience takes most of the burden off of you.
4. Produce one case study for each area of your practice.
The work your firm does is really interesting – and you are really good at what you do. Let the world know! If you don’t toot your own horn once in a while, who will?
A case study is the best way to do this. It shows your authority in a particular practice area while giving prospects peace of mind that you have experience handling issues like the ones they are experiencing. (Just make sure you get your client’s permission first!)
5. Add video to your marketing mix.
In 2020, we had to get comfortable seeing ourselves on video. Creating a marketing video is not all that different than getting ready for a Zoom. Set up your webcam, your light, and a high-quality microphone and hit record. Search engines (and social media sites) love video, video can increase conversions on your website, and videos build trust with prospects and clients.
6. Review the calls-to-action (CTAs) on your website.
You have gotten people to your website, convinced them to fill out a form, or sent them an email for the first time. Great! But now what? Your prospect might be wondering that as well. Every piece of content you produce requires a compelling call-to-action. The goal of content is to compel a reader to take the next step so there must be a clear and concise path to do that. Make this easy and obvious to your reader.
7. Evaluate your current search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing (SEM) plan.
How does a prospective client decide whom to call when they need an attorney? Consumers typically start the process by searching online. (And sometimes businesses do too!)
The higher your firm appears in the organic rankings and/or paid search results, the more likely a prospect will reach out. Optimizing the content on your site, claiming local citations, and possibly executing targeted search engine ad campaigns all have a role to play. Make sure you can be found.
8. Conduct a client survey.
Communicating persuasively with both firm clients and prospects involves speaking their language, identifying their pain points, and offering solutions for the problems they have – not just the practices you have. How do you know this information? Through client surveys.
Client surveys are a wealth of information – from testimonials you can use in your marketing, to honest feedback on your firm, to insights into how your clients think and approach their day-to-day lives.
9. Or research your target audience.
Some attorneys are skittish about doing client surveys. If that’s the case at your firm, another way to approach this is to research your ideal client and create – or update – your target personas. If you haven’t yet, creating an ideal client profile is a methodical process and can shed light on what motivates your client, thereby helping you better target your communications and outreach. Need help? Check out our worksheet in the LISI Resource Center.
10. Spend some time segmenting your contacts.
Now that you know more about your clients, you probably realize that they are not all the same. Especially in a firm that has a variety of practices. Spend some time segmenting your contacts into lists related to the solutions you provide. Additional segmentation across geography, industry, relationship score, or seniority are also worthwhile considering.
11. Craft content that is tailored to specific segments of your clients and prospects.
There was a point to segmenting your contacts. Now that you have similar contacts grouped together, structure marketing communications that speak directly to your target audience. You can send different contact lists different emails, you can show different pieces of content in a newsletter based on the list a contact belongs to, or you can tailor the content a visitor sees on your website for specific segments of contacts. The more targeted and personalized your communications, the better impact they will have.
12. Get on board with email automation.
Email automation might be the best thing to happen to marketing since sliced bread. (Wait, that’s not right.) Email automation allows you to set it and almost forget it. With email automation, you create campaigns to send emails to your prospects on a designated time table, factoring in what does and does not resonate with them, and making sure they get the right message at the right time. Bonus – many marketing automation systems can automate other tasks, too – saving you valuable time.
13. Create gated content.
Creating gated content is all about producing content that is valuable enough to a prospect that they will give you their email address. But once you have the email address, you can send them additional email communications, including newsletters, legal alerts, and automated campaigns. Studies have shown that prospects will view between three and five pieces of content before they make a decision. Having an email address allows you to control when and where they receive your messages.
14. Make sure your website is ADA compliant.
Just like your office building needs to be compliant for people with disabilities, your website needs to be, too. A website optimized for accessibility creates a positive user experience for a wide range of visitors. This is an area we expect will only increase in importance in the coming years.
15. Test your website for broken links and other errors.
Broken links, “404 Not Found” messages, and other errors are annoying at best – and could cause prospects to abandon your website at worst. There are several tools you can use to aid in this process. We recommend Site Improve to make this easier, but there are other options available:
- Dead Link Checker (Free)
- Broken Link Check (Free)
- Screaming Frog (Paid after trial – requires download)
- Ahrefs (Paid after nominal fee for trial)
16. Initiate a review of your competition.
Which firms are you normally competing against for work? Pick the top five and spend some time reviewing their website, calls-to-actions, social media messaging, online reputation, and search terms. What are they doing well? What are they doing that you are not?
17. Undertake a SWOT analysis.
Was the last time you created a SWOT analysis in business school? Do not fear – creating a SWOT analysis is as easy as remembering strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and will help your firm make long-term plans and important strategic decisions. This process enables the firm to leverage its strengths while carefully improving weaknesses that could damage growth. The most important thing to remember is to be honest.
18. Conduct a white space analysis.
If you have never created a white space analysis, it is easy. Put your clients down the first column of a table and your practice areas across the top row. For every practice area where a client currently works with your firm, fill in the box. The white spaces left at the end show areas you can target for client expansion opportunities.
19. Map your client lifecycle.
A client lifecycle map can guide you and your team through all the stages a client will engage with your firm. Understanding how a client engages with your firm, before, during, and after engagement will influence the messaging you use at different points of the life cycle. Look for opportunities to unexpectedly delight clients as they move through the stages.
20. Define the stages a prospect goes through before retaining your firm.
Part of your client lifecycle will be the stages a prospective client goes through when deciding which firm to hire. Dig deep into this area and define what makes a contact merely a subscriber to your marketing content, a qualified prospect getting ready to make a final decision, and everything in between. Tailor your communications accordingly.
21. Formulate an analytics program to maintain long-term success.
You cannot track what you cannot measure, making strong analytics tracking a necessity. Creating a framework for collecting data, correlating it to your goals and tactics, and sharing it throughout your firm will allow you to see what is working (and double down in those areas) – or what is not (so you can pivot.) Building an effective analytics plan will set you up for long-term marketing success.
That list may seem like a lot to accomplish in one year, but if you break it down into manageable parts (try to check four or five things off each quarter), you will set yourself up for success in no time.
Let’s do this! Our Resource Center has several templates to get you started.