Congratulations to Raymond Burke of Ober Kaler on Being Cited as an Authority by the Maryland Court of Appeals

Congratulations to Maryland condo lawyer, Raymond Burke, a partner at client Ober Kaler, who was recently cited as an authority on Maryland condominium law by the Maryland Court of Appeals in its recent decision, MRA Property Management, Inc., et al. v. Armstrong, No. 93, Sept. Term 2007 (filed on October 25, 2011), holding that (i) the resale certificate disclosure rules in the Maryland Consumer Protection Act apply to purchases of condominium units, and thus (ii) where a council of unit owners and its property management company violate the resale certificate disclosure obligations imposed by Md. Real. Prop. Code Ann. Sec. 11-135, “they engage in unfair and deceptive trade practices ‘in the sale of consumer realty.’”

The court cited to Ray's publication entitled Developing and Managing Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations, National Business Institute (2007) (co-authored with Kathleen M. Elmore and Cynthia Hitt Kent), in which he wrote:

”Md. Com. Law Code Ann. Sec. 13-408(a) establishes a private cause of action for damages sustained as a result of an act prohibited by the Consumer Protection Act. The Act is specifically applicable to ‘consumer realty,’ and, accordingly, representations made in connection with the sale of real property may constitute unfair and deceptive trade practices where they are misleading.”

Bookmark

How to Get Your Law Firm Email Blasts Delivered and Not Filtered

It's one of our oldest mantras - email marketing is not just about sending emails, but getting them delivered.

Unfortunately, too many law firms sacrifice deliverability on the altar of savings (i.e., pennywise, pound foolish) by using cheap email blast services that attract hordes of small businesses (and some "bad guys" too) who don't follow best practices and hurt the reputation of all the other companies using the same mail server IP addresses.

So what can law firms do to maximize the likelihood of getting their email alerts and newsletters delivered, and avoid filters?

Consider this quick list of law firm email deliverability tips published by one of our clients, Cyndy McCollough, Senior Manager of Marketing Technology at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, on her new legal marketing blog (Law Marketing Geek). Among the recommendations - regular monitoring of the IP addresses and domains you are using in your emails (a service we provide to Dickstein Shapiro and other firms as part of our sender authentication package).

Bookmark

Client DeMont & Breyer Launches New Law Firm Website Running on Drupal

We'd like to congratulate the law firm of DeMont & Breyer LLP on the launch of their new website.

DeMont & Breyer is a leading intellectual property law firm with a strong focus on patents for highly specialized technologies such as electromagnetics and optics.

Running on Drupal, the website features a number of cutting edge features, including a navigable Javascript slideshow on the homepage with strong visuals highlighting the firm's successful track record in various high tech industries; a patent "expertise" section with links to download copies of numerous patents that the firm has helped prosecute; and "About Us" pages in multiple foreign languages.

Bookmark

Client Ober Kaler Launches New Intellectual Property Law Blog

We'd like to congratulate the intellectual property group at client Ober Kaler, a leading Maryland-based law firm, on the launch of their new blog - Ober IP Watch - Fueling Innovation.

The blog will focus on intellectual property issues of importance to clients in the technology, healthcare, education, media and arts industries.

The blog is running on WordPress, and part of our customization included programming of special access rules to facilitate multi-lawyer blogging.

Bookmark

Flash Holiday Cards for Law Firms for 2011

It's that time of the year again - with Labor Day now past, it's time to start planning for Flash holiday cards for the 2011 holiday season.

Flash holiday cards are a great alternative to traditional print cards that help brand a firm as:

  • innovative
  • tech-savvy
  • "green" and eco-friendly

Please take a moment to view Flash holiday card samples from last year (see links to samples in the lefthand sidebar).

If you are interested in a Flash holiday card option for this coming holiday season, please contact us.

Bookmark

New York Times Study on Social Sharing Finds Email Still Rules

In a result that will come as a surprise to devotees of Twitter and other social sharing tools, a recent New York Times study found that e-mail remains the most popular tool for sharing Internet content.

Specifically, in an online survey of 2,500 self-identified "medium-to-heavy content sharers," respondents said they often preferred email for sharing content because they viewed email as more secure and private and therefore more "personal." Apparently, email is used when people want to have a more intimate, one-to-one conversation about news they find compelling instead of a one-to-many interaction. Respondents also noted that a post can get lost in the shuffle of a Twitter or Facebook stream, but content shared via e-mail definitely will get seen and thus more likely elicit a response.

Legal marketers should keep this insight in mind when adding "sharing" functions to law firm email alerts and newsletters such as "forward to a friend" (which employs email as the sharing mechanism) and social sharing icons.

Separately, the study garnered some interesting insights into the psychology of social sharing with respondents disclosing their motivations for sharing content across various media:

  • 75 percent said sharing helps them better understand and “process” the news they’re interested in;
  • 94 percent share because they think a link would be helpful to another user
  • 68 percent share as an advertisement for themselves, to give others a better sense of who they are.
  • 78 percent use links to stay connected to people they may not otherwise be in touch with.
  • 73 percent say sharing helps them find people with common interests.

Click here to read more about the study on PaidContent.

Bookmark

The Top 10 Law Firm Website Best Practices

We're happy to announce the release of our latest white paper - The Top 10 Law Firm Website Best Practices.

Websites remain a mainstay of a law firm’s online presence. Whether via Google, a referral, or other source, prospective clients come to your website to learn more about your firm’s experience and track record, and to determine whether your attorneys have the expertise to meet their needs. Indeed, in a recent survey of general counsel, 100% of respondents indicated that they always review a firm's website when evaluating and purchasing legal services, while 90% reported that lawyer biographies are the most important section of a law firm's website.

A law firm website that is well-designed, easily navigated, and populated with useful content projects expertise, attention to detail, and technological savvy – key qualities that clients look for in a law firm.

On the other hand, an outdated, poorly designed website is, as one general counsel aptly remarked in a recent survey, "like showing up to a meeting in a crumpled suit."

Deploying a law firm website that attracts visitors, holds their attention and converts them into leads, requires compliance with "best practices."

Our white paper discusses the following top 10 law firm website best practices:

  1. Highlight Expertise on the Homepage 
  2. "Deep Link" From the Homepage to Content on Interior Pages  
  3. Comply with SEO Best Practices 
  4. Support Sharing of Content Across Social Media Channels 
  5. Integrate Multimedia Content 
  6. Import Content from Outside Sources  
  7. Display Related Content Together With Contextual Sidebars 
  8. Simplify Navigation 
  9. Encourage Continued Engagement With Forms 
  10. Monitor Site Traffic

Download your free copy of the white paper today.

If your firm is interested in building a website that complies with "best practices," please contact us.

Bookmark

Interview on Drupal-Powered Law Firm Websites Published on Law Marketing Blog

During the past year, we've begun designing and developing all of our new law firm websites on Drupal - a leading free open-source content management applications now powering tens of thousands of websites worldwide (including the White House website).

Due to the huge developer community (now exceeding 10,000 individuals worldwide) constantly extending and refining Drupal's core capabilities, and contributing value-added modules, we find that we can deploy sophisticated website features at low cost that might otherwise be out of reach for law firms operating on a tight budget and working with a proprietary, closed content management system.

We are thus grateful to Larry Bodine for publishing to his Law Marketing blog today our recent interview with him concerning the benefits of developing a law firm website on Drupal. The interview walks through a number of "power" features available on Drupal such as:

  • compliance with SEO best practices, such as generation of search-engine friendly URL's, and editable meta title and description tag fields
  • contextual sidebars
  • automatic homepage refresh with deep links 
  • javascript slideshows
  • user-friendly WYSIWYG editor for site updates

Enjoy!

(note: we don't recommend Drupal for law firm blogs. For blogs, we prefer development on Word Press, which has numerous key blogging features built into the software and available out-of-the-box. Perhaps that will be the subject of a future interview ; - ).

 

Bookmark

Shifting From Flash to Javascript for Law Firm Website Interactivity

When we speak with law firms about developing and designing a new website, many express the wish for some interactivity on their website homepage. The goal is to highlight, for example, certain success stories, or industries where the firm has expertise, and interactive applications (like Flash) do a good job of drawing visitors' attention to such content.

Alas, it's been over a year since Steve Jobs' penned his famous "Thoughts on Flash" explaining why iPods, iPads and iPhones don't run Flash (which is still the case, although there are apps available for the iPad that allow users to view Flash).

Given the popularity of Apple devices, and the obvious importance of catering to the broadest audience possible, we've started recommending that firms avoid Flash and use Javascript instead to create interactive slideshows if they want some pizzazz on the homepage of their website. See examples of slideshows on our websites at http://www.emonlinemedia.com and http://www.elawmarketing.com.

We've got two law firm websites in production that will feature even  more impressive slideshows.

Of course, for some applications, like Flash holiday cards for law firms, the animation desired is so complex that one must resort to Flash. In which case, when a firm distributes a link to a Flash holiday card to clients via email, we'd recommend a little disclaimer that the card won't run on an Apple device, and thus should be viewed on another computer or device.

Bookmark

LinkedIn Tips for Lawyers

We recently provided an online workshop to the marketing staff at one of our clients on how their lawyers can best use LinkedIn for marketing and business development.

To be sure, because different lawyers have different business development styles, lawyers will tend to gravitate to the social media platform that most appeals to their personal style.

Personally, I like LinkedIn, which is focused more on "hands-on," practical networking - less conversational than Twitter, less casual than Facebook. It's just my preference.

Anyway, here's an outline of the LinkedIn tips and tricks we prepared for the client's attorneys. Lawyers can consider these guidelines and see if LinkedIn works for them.

Continue... "LinkedIn Tips for Lawyers" »

Bookmark

New Data Shows Social Media Actually Driving Increased Email Usage

Earlier this year, comScore’s “2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review” report highlighted a decline in time spent with web-based email among all US internet users under 55 (with, not surprisingly, users ages 12 to 17 showing the steepest decline in usage, down 59%).

Is social media finally killing off email as the "pundits" have been predicting of years? Hardly.

As an article on eMarketer from late February 2011 observes that, with the proliferation of mobile devices, web-based email checked at a desktop computer is only one slice of all email communications. Further data cited in the article shows a more nuanced picture.

Specifically, 87% of internet users checked personal email daily in 2010, a number that has changed little since 2007. And among those with a separate email account for commercial email - i.e., the B2B crowd - 60% checked that account daily, down just 1 percentage point since 2008.

Moreover, the data shows that social media users are significantly more likely than other internet users to check their email four or more times per day, and less likely to check infrequently. So one could say that social media is actually boosting email usage.

So don't discard your email addresses just yet. Instead, as always, the key is to use email marketing and social media synergistically. For example, on our own email marketing platform, we recently rolled out the ability to insert social sharing icons, as well as a Facebook "Like" button, so that readers can easily share a law firm's email alert, newsletter or invite content with their social network and/or on their Facebook wall.

To read the full eMarketer article, click here.

Bookmark

Legal Marketers Need to Focus on Key Factors Affecting Email Deliverability

Return Path, a leading provider of solutions to boost email deliverability, released a report last month that highlighted key factors affecting deliverability of email marketing communications. Two key factors worthy of legal marketers' attention:

1. Reputation: the reputation of a sending server's IP address can have a significant impact on deliverability. The reputation of an IP address suffers when the lists used to distribute emails from that address contain relatively high numbers of unknown users and "spam traps" (i.e., seemingly valid email addresses that haven't subscribed to any communications, and therefore anything they receive is presumed to be spam).

Accordingly, proper list hygiene is a critical component of maximizing deliverability. This means obsessively monitoring the source of email addresses to make sure they belong to legitimate clients or other contacts with whom a firm has an existing business relationship, and quickly pruning bad addresses from subscriber databases.

It also means avoiding cheaper email blast services that cram hundreds of customers on a single IP address, many of whom may not be practicing good list hygiene, and thereby damage the reputation of the IP address for all other legitimate accounts.  As we've previously noted, sharing an IP address with spammers (or even mom-and-pop businesses with poor list hygiene practices) is like sharing a social security number with a deadbeat.

2. Infrastructure: receiving mail systems search for signals that a sending mail server is not legitimate such as reverse DNS issues, and failed or non-existent authentication. When these items are not addressed properly, a sender looks unsophisticated and possibly malicious.

Therefore, the report recommends making the proper implementation of authentication and other protocols a high priority.

For firms with existing email marketing programs, a thorough reputation analysis can identify IP address and infrastructure issues.

Click here to download a copy of the Return Path report.

Click here to learn more about our own advanced deliverability solutions

Bookmark

The Basics of Link Building for Law Firms

Most legal marketers are aware that inbound links to their law firm's websites and blogs from third party websites can have a major influence on their search engine rankings.

That said, there are many myths and misconceptions about how link building works. Recently came across an excellent blog post on Yoast.com that summarizes the basics of link building.

The post first explains why inbound links help:

  • "It adds value to the "receiving page", allowing it to improve its visibility in the search engines.
  • It adds value to the entire receiving domain, allowing each page on that domain to improve its rank ever so slightly.
  • The text of the link is an indication to the search engine of the topic of the website and more specifically the receiving page.
  • People click on links, resulting in so called "direct traffic"."

These benefits guide the steps a marketer should take (or avoid) when executing a link building campaign. In particular:

  • Evalute the strength of a site and/or page to provide the link using criteria such as PageRank
  • To the extent you can influence the "anchor text" that will comprise the link, choose keywords related to the topic of your website for which you want to boost your ranking (albeit Yoast does advise not to always shy away from "call to action" anchor text such as "click here," which won't provide any value in terms of identifying the subject matter of your website, but could boost traffic)
  • Do NOT get involved with link schemes (Google will eventually penalize you)

Click here to read the full post - I highly recommend it if you're seeking a better understanding of the basics of link building (see also Google's discussion of what makes a quality link).

Law firms interested in search engine optimization (SEO) of their website and/or blogs using link building and other SEO strategies should download our Website Audit and SEO brochures.

Bookmark

Client Lauren Stiller Rikleen Launches New Website for the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership

We'd like to congratulate our client, Lauren Stiller Rikleen, founder of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, on the launch of her new website.

Lauren is a nationally recognized expert on developing a thriving, diverse and multi-generational workforce. She founded the Institute to provide training, speaking, and consulting services designed to help employers create a more dynamic, inclusive, and strategically aligned workplace. Through its innovative and research-based programs, the Rikleen Institute helps transform workplaces by expanding the pool of future leaders and creating an inclusive work environment that is responsive to changing demographics and a changed economy.

The Institute's new website runs on our customized content management software, and employs SEO "best practices" in URL structure and meta tagging.

Bookmark

What Email Marketing Best Practices Can Law Firm Marketers Pick Up From the B2C Space?

The Return Path blog recently listed some email marketing "best practices" that B2B email marketers can learn from their B2C brethren.

Perhaps the most important was integrating social media with your email marketing program. For example, if you publish a blog, are you repurposing some of that content for your email marketing campaigns? How about content from LinkedIn discussions?

Similarly, many email service providers (including yours truly) now offer a feature called social forwarding that allows recipients of law firm email alerts and newsletters to easily forward the content in those emails to their social networks on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Are you taking advantage of this feature?

Continue... "What Email Marketing Best Practices Can Law Firm Marketers Pick Up From the B2C Space?" »

Bookmark

Download Google's Updated Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

For law firm marketers interested in learning more search engine optimization (SEO), we recommend downloading Google's updated Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, which was released late last year.

Many people seem to think that SEO is rocket science. It's not. In its guide, Google walks readers through essential SEO best practices, including unique and contextually accurate title and description tags, search-engine friendly URL's, composing anchor text in links, etc.

Of course, execution of these "best practices" is a different story, and for that step, it makes sense to work with a vendor offering software that complies with them.

Anyway, Google's guide should be required reading for anyone involved with optimizing a law firm website or blog. Download your copy at the link above today.

Bookmark

Client Diserio Martin O'Connor & Castiglioni LLP Launches New Website

We'd like to congratulate our client, Diserio Martin O'Connor & Castiglioni LLP - aka "DMOC" - on the launch of their new website.

DMOC is a leading Connecticut law firm of about 20 attorneys with multiple practice areas (including corporate, real estate, litigation, intellectual property and trusts & estates) focused primarily on the Connecticut business market.

The site runs on and is managed by our customized content management software, and employs SEO "best practices" in URL structure and meta tagging.

Bookmark

Should You Host Law Firm Blogs at Custom Domains or Within Your Law Firm Website?

There's been an ongoing debate within the legal marketing community whether it's better to host law firm blogs at custom domains, or subsume them within a law firm's website.

Our view has always been that to maximize the SEO benefits of a blog, the “best practice” is to host the blog at its own custom domain. This will allow the blog to develop its own ranking within Google’s index in connection with a narrow topic instead of getting lost within the broader range of content at the website domain. Hosting a firm blog and website at separate domains also enables both the blog and website to earn “inbound link” credit with Google by linking to each other.

As an example, see a leading blog on corporate governance, Pomtalk.com, published by Pomerantz Haudek Grossman & Gross, which is deployed at a custom domain different than the firm's website (which provides a more general overview of the firm's class action litigation practice focused on institutional investors).

Continue... "Should You Host Law Firm Blogs at Custom Domains or Within Your Law Firm Website?" »

Bookmark

Pinch Pennies and Your Email Deliverability May Suffer

Many prospective law firm clients often ask us why they should pay more for our email marketing software than for software offered by one of the cheaper email blast services (we all know who they are).

The answer is simple - we offer clients a platform that increases the likelihood that their emails will get delivered instead of blocked. In short, email marketing is not about sending emails, but about getting them delivered.

Our reputation monitoring service has proven this point time and time again. In fact, just last week we distributed the same exact email to the same exact domains (the first distribution was an original invite for an event, and the other was a reminder) - except the first distribution was sent from a cheaper email blast service (to remain nameless), and the reminder was distributed on our platform.

The distribution sent by the cheaper blast service was blocked by recipients using the Postini filtering service. Why? Our reputation monitoring service indicated the domain name used by the service had a "grey" listing on a domain blacklist service - URIBL-GREY - which means it may have been used by spammers. This listing meant there was an increased risk of a higher spam score in a content-based spam filter such as SpamAssassin. A high enough score, apparently, to offend Postini.

So that's the bottom line - the cheaper blast services can charge less because they cram thousands of accounts on to their servers. Some of those accounts may be spammers, which is bad news for legitimate email marketers because the ISP's, filtering services and corporate IT folks are increasingly judging your email reputation by the company you keep on your mail server. You can follow "best practices," but if some of the folks sharing your IP address and/or domain are "bad apples," your own deliverability will suffer (sharing an IP address with spammers is like sharing a social security number with deadbeats - you won't get a loan no matter how stellar your credit record).

Alas, in email marketing as in life, you get what you pay for.

Bookmark

Successful Law Firm Video Strategy: Poke Fun at Yourself

The video below produced by the personal injury law firm of Trolman, Glaser & Lichtman in New York is a good example of a law firm video that is refreshingly creative and innovative - essentially, the video pokes fun at personal injury lawyers by acknowledging - "tongue in cheek" - the public's perception that personal injury lawyers commence lawsuits on the flimsiest grounds (in the video, a prospective client is claiming he suffered "pain and suffering" when power was lost during a stellar performance on his favorite video game; he now wants to sue the utility).

A firm that can produce a video like this that promotes its expertise with humor is going to have a winner.

Interested in producing a creative law firm video? Download our brochure on lawyer video marketing services.

Bookmark

Why Are Law Firm Email Newsletter Open Rates Dropping?

Open_RatesIn our recently released report on "The State of Law Firm Email Marketing", we noted that, based on an analysis of nearly 7 million law firm emails over a two-year period, open rates had dropped from a mean of 27.94% in the second half of 2008 to a mean of 21.42% in the first half of 2010. Perhaps you're also seeing your own open rates dropping for your own email marketing campaigns? Cause for concern?

As per the report, there are technical and cultural reasons behind these declines, which (in most cases) should reassure a law firm email marketer experiencing declines that they are not due to a loss of client interest in the firm's email marketing communications. The two key issues at work are:

  • Increased use of image blocking
  • Inbox “overload”

Continue... "Why Are Law Firm Email Newsletter Open Rates Dropping?" »

Bookmark

eLawMarketing Will be a Lead Sponsor at LMA's 2011 Annual Conference in Orlando

We're proud to announce that eLawMarketing will be a lead sponsor at LMA's 2011 Annual Conference in Orlando on April 4-6, 2011. Our logo is now up on the LMA Conference website.

We look forward to greeting all of our clients and readers who will be attending.

Bookmark

Free Report for Legal Marketers: Law Firm Email Marketing Benchmarks and Best Practices

Law_firm_email_marketing_report Law firms are heavy users of email marketing.

But until now, legal marketers had no industry benchmarks to consult to measure how their email marketing campaigns were performing against their peers.

Indeed, clients regularly ask us, "What's a good open rate for a law firm email newsletter?" "A good clickthrough rate?" "A bad bounce rate?"

To address those kinds of questions, today eLawMarketing is releasing a new free report - The State of Law Firm Email Marketing: Benchmarks, Trends, and Best Practices - documenting benchmarks for five key performance metrics generated by campaigns aggregating 6,896,610 emails distributed by law firms of all sizes during four consecutive 6-month periods running from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2010.

Law_Firm_Report_Open_Rates_Screen Legal marketers can use the report to:

  • Gauge and improve the performance of their firms' email marketing campaigns
  • Discover how their campaigns are performing relative to the campaigns of their peers
  • Learn more about “best practices” in the creation and distribution of law firm email marketing campaigns

Click here to download a free copy of the report.

Bookmark

Do You Know How Your Law Firm Blog or Website Looks to Google?

In the past we've written about why it's better to display keyword-rich content on your law firm website or blog as HTML text instead of Flash, notwithstanding Google's constantly improving ability to index content in Flash files.

There's a technique you can use to see how Google views the HTML text on your website or blog. First, search for your website or blog in a Google search. Then click the "cached" link. Then, on the next screen, click the "text only version" link on the far right. The resulting screen will show you how the text on your site or blog appears to Google.

As Google explains, if important content isn't visible in the text-only version of the page, it may be because it's embedded in an image or otherwise unavailable to search engines. But, of course, to maximize search engine visibility for various keywords, you want those keywords to be as visible to Google as possible. So the ideal remains to display them as text on your website or blog.

Bookmark

What Are the Top 5 SEO Ranking Factors?

We're often asked by law firm marketers to advise on the top factors to focus on to optimize a website or blog for search engine visibility. Sorry to say, but there's no secret formula or silver bullet, and any self-professed "SEO consultant" who tells you otherwise is selling snake oil.

SEOMoz, a leading provider of SEO tools and resources, polls the top SEO experts around the world every two years to obtain their insights into the top positive (and negative) factors for search engine optimization. The 2009 report, which surveyed 72 experts, identifies the top five positive factors.

Continue... "What Are the Top 5 SEO Ranking Factors?" »

Bookmark

LawBlogNetwork

  • An Affiliate of the Law.com Network
    From the Law.com Newswire

    Law.com
    View a Sample

GoogleSearch

  • GoogleSearch

EmailSubscription

  • Enter your email address
    for regular updates via email: