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.

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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?" »

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What Email Elements Are Tested the Most?

MarketingSherpa recently released the results of a study asking close to 1,500 marketers what email elements they test frequently or plan to test -- using techniques such as A/B split or multivariate testing -- in order to improve the effectiveness of their email marketing campaigns. 

The chart below shows that subject lines remain the most frequently tested element, but that other items such as "calls to action," send time and creative/copy, are being tested nearly as frequently. MarketingSherpa speculates that the reason for broader testing is that "tweaking" elements based on testing can produce dramatic improvements in campaign results and has proven to be well worth the time and effort required.

Interestingly, B2C marketers test all email elements more heavily than B2B marketers.

Of course, firms must work with email services providers that offer "testing" capabilities (performing A/B testing, for example, requires the ability to segment large lists randomly into two smaller equal-sized lists).

Email_testing_elements

Read more about the study on MarketingSherpa. 

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Law Firms That Continue to Distribute Emails to Non-Responsive Subscribers Endanger Their Email Deliverability

A recent study by Return Path, a company that offers resources and tools to help companies maximize email deliverability, warns that email marketers who continue to distribute emails to non-responsive subscribers (i.e., subscribers that haven't opened or clicked over a prolonged period), risk endangering their overall email deliverability. 

The risk is two-fold. First, when non-responsive subscribers receive a steady stream of emails, or in some cases an increased frequency of emails, they will often begin reporting those emails as spam driving up the marketer’s complaint rate. 

In addition, some ISPs are increasingly paying attention to whether or not their users respond to commercial mail. If a marketer is mailing at a high frequency and receives a disproportionately low response or no response at all over a consistent period of time, their sender reputation could be negatively impacted. This could lead to having all of the company’s email end up in the spam folder or, worse, having it blocked outright. 

From the standpoint of ROI, disinterested recipients skew response patterns and email metrics (e.g., bring down open rates), thus making it harder to obtain an accurate picture of the success of one's email marketing programs. 

Finally, since most email service providers charge based on email volume, there's an out-of-pocket cost associated with continuing to distribute emails to non-responsive subscribers. Ask your email services provider about whether they provide subscriber engagement reports to help "clean" your lists of non-responsive subscribers.

Click here to download a free copy of Return Path's study.

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Farella Braun+Martel Policyholder Perspective Blog Named Top 50 Insurance Blog

Congratulations to the insurance coverage lawyers at client Farella Braun+Martel. Their Policyholder Perspective blog, addressing legal trends and developments related to commercial insurance coverage, was ranked by the LexisNexis Insurance Law Community as one of the Top 50 Insurance Blogs for 2009.

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MoFo2Go Update: MarketingSherpa Checks in on Morrison & Foerster's iPhone App

Morrison & Foerster made headlines earlier this year with an announcement that it had built an iPhone application called MoFo2Go, providing clients and other contacts access to:

  • attorney bios, contact information and practice areas
  • firm articles, press releases, and alerts
  • a firm location finder; and 
  • a maze game.

Recently, MarketingSherpa interviewed David Harvey, Senior Marketing Manager at Morrison & Foerster, about the outcome of the firm's bold marketing experiment. Harvey reported that there have been more than 1,500 downloads of the app, in addition to enthusiastic feedback from clients and numerous press mentions.

Harvey also shared six key questions other law firms should ask in deciding whether a branded iPhone app has a place in its marketing and communications mix: 

Question #1. Are your customers and prospects using the iPhone? 

Key issue here is the mobile phone platform most commonly used by your target audiences. The iPhone garners alot of buzz, but Android and Blackberry are also popular with business users. MoFo's strong presence in Silicon Valley led the firm to the iPhone platform, but other firms may find their key client segments are not big iPhone users. 

Question #2. What types of features can you offer app users? Consider what kinds of features and functions you can provide through an iPhone app. MarketingSherpa advises checking out what iPhone apps, if any, your competitors might be offering. In MoFo's case, few large law firms or other professional service providers were offering apps, so the firm didn't have much to go on. In the end, it settled on the four functions noted above, which Harvey's team felt would be useful to clients on the go. 

For answers to these four additional questions:

  • "How will your app support iPhone functionality?"
  • "Who will develop the app?" 
  • "When do you need the app to be launched?"
  • "How will you promote your app?"

Read the full article on MarketingSherpa (free access until August 29th).

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Are Your Social Media Efforts Unfocused or Distracting You From Developing Other Lawyering Skills?

In the past, we've wondered how a lawyer is meant to devote time to all of the various social media channels, and still find time for servicing clients (and enjoying a personal life). They say "law is a jealous mistress." Is social media any different?

The key, says MarketingSherpa, is to avoid engaging in social media for social media's sake, which leads to unfocused efforts. That is, it's not about building a Facebook page for the sake of having one up. Rather, the more effective tactic is to search out social networks populated by your target audiences and focus efforts on building visibility with those audiences.

On a related note, in a post published last Friday, our colleague, Jayne Navarre, asks: "Is Social Media Distracting Lawyers?" The concern raised is that the ease of social networking is causing younger attorneys to ignore honing the more difficultly acquired networking skills necessary for business development success in face-to-face settings.

Continue... "Are Your Social Media Efforts Unfocused or Distracting You From Developing Other Lawyering Skills?" »

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Delivering Targeted Content Tailored to Subscriber Interests is Most Effective Email Marketing Tactic

MarketingSherpa recently released results of a study showing that the most effective email marketing tactic is to deliver targeted content tailored to subscriber interests.

While dividing up distribution lists into targeted segments can be somewhat time-consuming (depending on the internal CRM system in place), law firms that adhere to this "best practice" should see higher click and conversion rates than their peers who distribute content to broader audiences not necessarily interested in each topic discussed in the emails received. And stronger subscriber engagement typically leads to lower unsubscribe rates.

See the chart below for other tactics viewed favorably (or not). Click here to see a larger version.

Highly_effective_email_marketing_tactics
 

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How Social Media is Changing Email

We recently explored the (simplistic) question of whether social media is killing email, and showed how the two channels are not mutually exclusive, but complementary.

For those looking for resources addressing the issue of how email marketing is changing in light of evolving Internet habits and preferences, we recommend this treasure trove of links to online articles on the subject titled tongue-in-cheek "Email is Not Dead."

One interesting quote: "Email is not dead because people want to write to one another, using their email accounts, in more than 140-character bursts." This is so true - I frequently find myself struggling to squeeze an important message into the 140-character limit of a text (and using all sorts of abbreviations like "c u @ wrk" and "r u going 2"), and then realizing, "Hey, I know (or have) this person's email address," and then quickly switching to Blackberry email mode to compose a more intelligent missive.

Obviously, there other insights are provided as well. See the articles at the link above.

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Law Firm Flash Holiday eCards for 2010 - Go Green!

The summer is almost over - which means the 2010 holiday season is around the corner. Not too early to start thinking about Flash eCards for the coming holiday season.

Flash holiday eCards are "green" and eco-friendly (no paper waste!), as well as tech savvy. Your clients will love them on all fronts.

See six law firm holiday ecard samples below designed and animated by our Flash programming partner from prior years ranging from Custom, Semi-Custom, and Stock. Click a screenshot or link to view any animation. All come accompanied by holiday music.

And this year, for the first time, we are offering the following premium features:

  • Personalized eCards - your attorneys can add personalized messages that display in the card itself to recipients as the animation plays (view personalized sample).
  • Analytics - administrators can view who distributed what cards to whom, and how many views were recorded

Contact us for more information.

Goulston

Goulston & Storrs

Arnold & Porter

Arnold & Porter

Milbank

Milbank

Dewey LeBoeuf

Dewey LeBoeuf

(featuring multiple languages)

Faegre & Benson

Faegre & Benson

Winthrop

Winthrop & Weinstine

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Start Sounding Like a Social Media Maven With the Social Media Dictionary

Feeling ignorant of the ever expanding list of social media "terms"? As in "what's a 'hash tag'?" Or a "mashup?" How about "bit.ly" - what is it exactly that they do? (ever hear of TinyURL?)

Well, you no longer have to feel like a social media neophyte. To the rescue is HubSpot with its Social Media Dictionary, listing 101 basic social media and other online marketing terms you ought to know.

The list is far from comprehensive (focusing a bit too much, IMHO, on brandname services), but it's a start.

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Will Social Media Kill Email?

Pundits have been predicting the demise of email marketing for years. Culprits have included, at various times, spam, RSS feeds, blogs, texting, and now, social media. We've addressed the fallacy of these predictions before here and here.

An interesting perspective on this issue was recently provided by Mark Brownlow on his Email Marketing Reports blog.

Brownlow observes that while the highly simplistic "is email dead?" question often garners headlines, more sophisticated marketers realize that email marketing and social media are not mutually exclusive options, and so will consider how they should adapt their email marketing strategies and tactics to changing online behaviors and preferences. Let's explore some of these adaptations, whether with respect to social media or other Internet trends.

Continue... "Will Social Media Kill Email?" »

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The Top RSS to Twitter Tools

One of the beauties of blogging is that you can write the content once and then have it distributed across multiple social media channels (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) automatically and instantly, thereby broadening your audience by many times. Sort of like hub-and-spoke (with the blog being the "hub" of content, and the "spokes" being the various social media channels through which the blog content is fed).

A key tool in the distribution of blog content through social media channels is the RSS feed. For example, LinkedIn has an application that will monitor your RSS feed and add new blog content to your profile whenever your blog is updated.

When it comes to Twitter, there are some blogging services (like Typepad) that will automatically connect directly to your Twitter account via a web services API.

Another option (for those using blog services that can't connect to Twitter via an API) are various RSS-to-Twitter applications that will monitor your RSS feed, and publish any blog updates on Twitter at appropriate intervals.

This December 2009 article on BlogTips does a great job of reviewing the various RSS-to-Twitter tools. Of particular interest was the news that Feedburner (the #1 RSS feed management tool acquired by Google) now offers a tool called "socialize" that will monitor your RSS feed and publish new blog posts to Twitter. Given the efficiency of using a single interface, we're going with Google going forward. But I can say we've had a good experience with TwitterFeed.

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American Lawyer Media Publishes Our Article on Team-Authored Law Firm Blogs

We're happy to announce that American Lawyer Media has published our article on team-authored law blogs in the August 2010 issue of Marketing the Law Firm: http://bit.ly/TeamAuthoredBlog.

A key point of the article is that many lawyers needlessly shy away from blogging because they are concerned about the time commitment required to publish regularly. The solution is to adopt a "team" approach to blogging under which several attorneys in a practice area collaborate on a blog according to a publication schedule overseen by an editor. This lessens the burden on individual attorneys while still allowing a practice group to secure the benefits of blogging in terms of thought leadership and search engine and media visibility.

Some of our own clients that have successfully adopted this approach include: Farella Braun + Martel with their insurance coverage blog; Pomerantz Haudek Grossman & Gross with their PomTalk blog for institutional investors; and Meyers Nave with their Public Law News public agency blog.

Of course, the "team-authored" approach will only work at mid- to large-size firms where there are several attorneys working in a particular practice area that lends itself to blogging. Busy solos and small firms may still need to turn to a law blog ghostwriter.

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Does Your Law Firm Tie Leads to the Appropriate Marketing Touchpoints?

Here's food for thought for law firms seeking to trace the source of new leads, and determine which are their best marketing tools.

A recent study found that nearly half (44%) of B2B marketers surveyed said their highest level of lead generation measurement capability was to give all credit to the last marketing touchpoint.

In a law firm, this might mean giving full marketing credit to the lawyer(s) who pitched a prospect and successfully persuaded the prospect to retain the firm.

But how did the prospect find that lawyer (or the firm) in the first place? Did anyone ask?

The study further found that some B2B firms were able to employ more sophisticated techniques that would more accurately attribute lead generation across multiple touchpoints.

In a law firm, this would mean that if an individual received an email newsletter from the firm, clicked a link to read an article, and then contacted the lawyer who wrote the article, someone will record that the lead resulted from the initial click through from the email newsletter.

In short, employing a more sophisticated approach to lead tracking can help law firms better understand which are their most successful marketing vehicles.

Read more about the study on eMarketer.

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Donna Senft of OberKaler Launches Medicare for Geeks Blog

Congratulations to Donna Senft, a partner at client Ober Kaler (a leading Maryland-based law firm) who recently launched Medicare for Geeks, a new blog focused on legal issues related to Medicare enrollment, including PECOS compliance. The blog is running on a customized installation of Drupal.

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Another Reason for Law Firms to Authenticate the Domain Used for Their Email Marketing Campaigns

One of the trends in the email deliverability space is increasing implementation of domain-based reputation by ISP's and other organizations as an anti-spam and filtering tool. Briefly, for a long time, a particular sender's reputation was tied primarily to the IP address from which their email was sent. Now, a sender's reputation will also become increasingly associated with the domain from which the email is sent. 

As explained by George Bilbrey in his article "The Myths (And Truth) About Domain Reputation," one of the consequences of the trend towards domain-based reputation is that marketers looking to maximize deliverability need to authenticate their domains with Domain Keys (DKIM) in order to take advantage of what domain reputation has to offer. In other words, authenticated domains is what the new reputation systems are assigning value to.

At the same time, Bilbrey also notes that the rollout of domain-based reputation won't necessarily save marketers from the risks of using a shared IP - very common among the cheaper email blast services. This is because IP-based reputation systems will remain in place. So if you are sharing an IP with other entities that engage in spammy activity, your deliverability will likely still suffer even if you have a stellar domain reputation.

eLawMarketing's clients who take advantage of our premium sender authentication package will continue to enjoy the best of both worlds - a unique private IP address untainted by the activity of any other entities, and an authenticated domain.

Download our advanced email deliverability and authentication brochure to learn more.

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SpamAssassin Announces New Release

SpamAssassin is the most popular open source spam filtering software. It has won numerous awards, and has been incorporated into many commercial filtering applications. 

So it's important for law firms seeking to maximize deliverability to keep an eye on the tests used by SpamAssassin to assign scores to email messages. 

At the end of January, SpamAssassin announced version 3.3.0, their first major update since 2007. The new release contains many of the already familiar tests (e.g. assigning points for use of the word "Viagra"). But there are some interesting ones - for example, you can be penalized if your email contains the following: 'Dear (something)' - so much for personalization. 

Also interesting: the word "free" in the body doesn't appear to earn a penalty, unless spaced oddly (or capitalized).

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What Law Firms Can Learn About Online Video From the Pink Glove Dance

Happy holidays and New Year to all of our readers - we're back in action after a month-long hiatus (very busy December! Sorry we fell off people's radar screens!).

It's unfortunate that so many law firms are ignoring online video - it offers so many opportunities to creatively promote a firm.

As but one illustration, play the video below produced by a hospital in Portland to promote breast cancer awareness. Dubbed the "Pink Glove Dance," it has become a YouTube sensation (viewed over 5 million times!), no doubt garnering much positive publicity for both the hospital (even if only as a great place to work!), and the cause of breast cancer awareness. I can envision a law firm, say, producing a video about "going green."

For any law firms or lawyers that want to take the plunge into online video in 2010, we've partnered with a video production firm - we can handle directing, lighting, editing, etc. - download our online video brochure to learn more.

Enjoy!

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Businesses Increased Email Marketing Spend in 2009

In an effort to find cost effective ways to dialogue with customers and prospects, businesses are continuing to increase spending on email marketing.  A chart recently published by MarketingSherpa showed that a substantially higher percentage of companies across multiple industries increased their email marketing budgets rather than decreased them.

The reason for this trend is that email marketing has an established reputation for delivering a strong ROI. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email's ROI in 2009 was $43.52 for every dollar spent on it!

Law firms should be encouraged by these trends to continue investing in email marketing campaigns that reinforce their expertise with clients, referral sources and other contacts.

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Attention Solo Lawyers and Small Law Firms: You Need to Spend Money to Make Money

Faced with a difficult economic environment, many solo practitioners and small law firms have slashed their marketing budgets. Indeed, I recently spoke with an attorney practicing in a specialized niche that is currently doing poorly - shopping centers - who declined to invest in a blog because "times are tight." I told him I thought this was a big mistake, and advised that the right time to invest in a blog was when business is slow and he had "downtime" to spend researching and writing posts. Over time, the blog posts would reinforce his expertise and reputation for thought leadership in the area of shopping center law, and thereby help him develop a readership of prospective clients that could convert into new business when the real estate industry turned around.

Happily, this advice was recently corroborated in an article on eMarketer, which dicussed a report showing that increasing marketing spending in a downturn can help a company prosper when the economy improves. According to the report (from Hurwitz & Associates), there is a correlation between small businesses that had raised marketing spending and businesses that expected increased revenue. The lesson? You need to spend money to make money.

That is not to say, however, you need to spend lavishly. The report also found that small businesses are shifting marketing spend to less costly online marketing tools such as social media, e-mail newsletters and search engine strategies.

Go here to read the full article.

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Developing a Team-Authored Blog at Your Law Firm

It's well-established that blogs are a great way for lawyers to promote their expertise, and to create keyword-rich content for search engines. But managing a law firm blog with multiple attorney contributors can pose challenges. An excellent recent case study on MarketingSherpa explored how one small accoustical consulting firm got eight of their engineers to begin contributing on a regular basis to a blog that now accounts for more than 50% of natural search-generated visits to the firm's website. Since this consulting firm sells expertise (to architects, building owners, etc.), their step-by-step tactics are useful for law firms.

In a nutshell, here are the steps that the firm followed (to read the full case study entitled "Create and Manage a Team-Authored Blog: 8 Steps to Reap SEO Gains" visit MarketingSherpa; subscription required for access):

Step #1. Establish a goal for the blog

The firm settled on two primary goals for the blog: (i) to educate readers about major issues in the acoustical engineering industry, and thereby position the company as a thought-leader without being excessively self-promotional, and (ii) to create a new source of keyword-rich content to complement the SEO strategy for their website.

Step #2. Develop keyword lists to incorporate into blog posts

The company developed a list of their target audiences -- architects, engineers, building owners, and attorneys -- and then identified the different phrases used by each group to describe their acoustical consulting needs. The blogging team also developed keyword lists of different phrases associated with their major industry sectors, such as: healthcare, auditoriums, industrial, education and worship.

Continue... "Developing a Team-Authored Blog at Your Law Firm" »

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Sharing Compelling Email Content on Social Sites Makes Sense

Rather than competing, seems email and social media are complementary tools. According to a recent Marketing Sherpa survey, about 80% of marketers agree that sharing email content on social media sites "extends the reach of email content to new markets," and "increases brand reputation and awareness." So it makes sense to embed social sharing tools within your email marketing campaigns (similar to how the "forward to a friend" option has long been included in emails).

See the chart below then click here to read more about the survey.

Do You Agree or Disagree That Social Sharing...

Chartofweek-10-27-09

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Why You Should Always TYPE the Subject Line for a Law Firm Email Alert or Newsletter (Instead of Copy and Paste)

Let's face it. We are always looking for efficient and quick ways to assemble email marketing campaigns. One of the most common shortcuts is the copy & paste function (good 'ol "ctrl-c" then "ctrl-v"). However, if you create subject lines for campaigns in your email marketing software by copying and pasting content from programs like MS Word, you may end up distributing emails that display strange characters in the subject line when viewed by recipients. Why does this happen and what can you do about it?

Continue... "Why You Should Always TYPE the Subject Line for a Law Firm Email Alert or Newsletter (Instead of Copy and Paste)" »

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Is Social Media the End of Email As We Know It?

With each new collaborative technology adopted by the masses - yesterday it was RSS, today it is social media - the pundits have predicted the demise of email as a marketing and communication tool. However, once again, reports of email's demise are exaggerated. As per a chart recently released by MarketingSherpa summarizing the results of a survey on how people share information, email remains a key communication tool utilized in tandem with social media to "increase engagement, deliver relevant content and build contact databases."

As an example, the survey reports that when asked what methods they use to share something from the Internet with their friends or family, such as a video, link or article, 78% of consumers responded that they forward a link to the content via email. Only 22% cited social media as their "sharing" method of choice. 

Click here to view a large, printable of the chart displaying the results of the survey.

Click here to read MarketingSherpa's complete analysis.

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