Foresight is a real thing, and it comes from insight. The more insight you have into a market, the more foresight you acquire into that market’s future.
Law firms that spend a lot of money on marketing want to make sure every dollar counts. After all, as lawyers, you’re not in the marketing game because you’re passionate about marketing—you’re investing because it helps you reach more people and increases your bottom line.
So, which digital marketing efforts will get you the biggest bang for your buck in 2018? We’ve made our predictions below.
1. Digital Marketing Isn’t Just Important, It’s Essential in 2018
For years, marketing agencies like ours faced an uphill battle in one area: convincing the analog world that digital marketing matters. This is true in the legal field, where decision makers are often accustomed to pre-internet traditions.
But the march of time has been on our side. Experts like Jonathan Gabay, one of the world’s leading voices in brand psychology, predicts that 2018 will be the year the old holdouts will give in: digital marketing is effective, and there’s simply too much proof for any firm or company to ignore it anymore.
2. Bigger Budgets for Digital Marketing
Marketers across the U.S. plan to increase their digital marketing budget in 2018. That means more money allocated for:
- Content writing
- Search engine marketing & optimization (SEM and SEO)
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Social media marketing
- Content diversification (text, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc.)
- Web design
Digital marketing budgets have consistently increased year-over-year, and marketing agencies are already confirming that 2018 will be no exception.
3. TV (Still) Reigns Supreme
Important as digital marketing may be, TV advertising will remain the single most powerful and effective means of reaching a potential client or customer base in 2018.
In fact, according to the Nielsen total audience report of Q117, time spent watching TV continues to lead all major media. Americans now consume more than four hours of television every day. Critics and market analysts alike regard the current era as a new “golden age of television.”
In contrast to last decade’s rumblings of an impending decline in TV advertising, the opposite has proven to be true: marketers are getting more out of their TV ads.
4. Creativity Distinguishes Successful Attorney Advertising
As one of the leading attorney TV advertising agencies, Network Affiliates has been pushing law firms toward creative, authentic, and outside-the-box television messaging for years.
No one wants to see a lawyer read a cue card into a cheap digital camera in front of their firm’s biggest bookshelf. It’s a waste of time and money and hurts your brand.
Instead, your firm should focus on film-quality law firm ads with a unique message and a creative spin. New data backs this up. A recent study shows that 75 percent of a TV ad’s impact is determined by how creative it is.
There is a right way and a wrong way to advertise your law firm on television. The difference is defined by dollars earned, not necessarily dollars spent. TV advertising doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective—but it does have to be creative.
5. Siri and Alexa Are Changing Search
Far from novelties or toys, new devices like Siri and Alexa have become access points for your clients. People use voice technology to run Google searches or find local contact information. (“Alexa, find me a personal injury lawyer nearby…”)
Here are a few voice-relevant guidelines to keep in mind:
- Content must be written with readers and listeners in mind
- Traditional organic search is still important, but so are other disciplines like local search.
6. Content Must Beat the Competition
As more law firms incorporate digital into their marketing efforts, and as the legal industry increases its spending on TV and digital marketing, you’ll need better content on both fronts to stand out. That means:
- More creative TV messaging than your competitors
- A voice that defines your firm’s brand as something identifiably different than your biggest competitors’
- Better writing — more authoritative, more knowledgeable, more authentic, and more reader-friendly
7. #FakeNews Will Be a Challenge
“Fake News” wasn’t in the vernacular two years ago, but it’s an everyday term now — and is quickly becoming an everyday challenge.
Even as web users are hungry for content, they’ve become deeply skeptical of the content they find online. If they don’t already know your brand, you’ll have to convince them your content is credible, authentic, and reliable.
Hard sales pitches will have a negative impact on your content. Instead, create content that’s helpful, knowledgeable, skillfully crafted, and trustworthy.
8. Google Will Pop the Pop-Up Bubble
Google has already cracked down on intrusive pop-ups. (We explained this game changer in great detail last year.) We expect this trend to continue in 2018, putting pop-ups to an end — or at least the worst kinds of pop-ups.
This is important because a lot of law firms still use pop-ups on their websites. Once upon a time, doing so was even considered a “best practice.” Not anymore.
Here’s the catch: social messaging is projected to become more important in 2018. And while most law firms aren’t actively engaging clients on, say, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, many do use pop-up chat features to make real-time contact with incoming leads.
This is important because web users, especially Millennials, value social messaging. It appeals to two of their top desires: authenticity (they can tell if you’re real by talking to you) and immediate gratification (instant messaging is just that… instant).
Fortunately, there are ways for your law firm to integrate pop-up chat and stay in Google’s good graces. Make sure you’re using those features the right way.
9. Don’t Forget Distribution and Social Media
In the crowded legal space, you can’t simply create a lot of great content and hope people find it.
You need multiple mechanisms for distributing your content, and that concept will become even more important as more law firms begin to compete digitally.
We are particularly interested in the way social media is changing the way we used to think about social sharing and distribution. For a long time, social media was a great way to:
(A) engage directly with your client base and community, and
(B) share links to your website’s content.
But increasingly, social media is emerging as a publication platform all its own. Twitter just doubled its character limit, for instance, meaning you can now tweet whole paragraphs at a time. That’s content, and it should be treated like content marketing.
At the same time, the lines between a platform like YouTube and a platform like Snapchat are blurring. Brands are now starting to produce original video content for Snapchat — something they’ve already been doing for YouTube.
As a general principle, it is wise to create multiple kinds of content across multiple channels. Social media publishing and distribution will likely make it easier to do that in the coming year.
10. Addressable TV Ads Will Be All the Buzz
On the TV side of things, we expect addressable TV ad spending to account for a bigger part of a media buying strategy.
Addressable advertising means you only show your ad to the relevant part of an audience. For example, if a million people are watching a show on Hulu, but you only need to address the ones in your state, it’s increasingly possible to target those viewers directly.
Consider, for example, that industry-wide, Spectrum (one of the biggest forces in TV broadcasting) projects a 141 percent growth in U.S. addressable TV ad spend from $1.26 billion in 2017 to $3.04 billion by 2019.
11. Your Design Needs an Upgrade
Visual aesthetics are crucial to building an authentic and identifiable brand. Part of your brand’s message needs to be that you’re current and progressive—millennials are especially aware of this as they browse the web.
Web design sends an immediate message to the public as to whether your firm is living in the past or in 2018. No one wants to hire a lawyer who can’t handle new technologies or understand emerging trends.
We know, of course, that you can handle new technologies and trends… but does your web design agree?
Remember: design trends change every year. Is your look due for a refresh?
Money matters in 2018, and with our help, you can spend every marketing dollar with intention, backed by a team of legal marketing experts who specialize in digital & television marketing for attorneys.
It’s the beginning of a new year—are you ready to turn these predictions into action?