If your law firm is not on the web, then it is probably not visible to the 7 million or so affluent South Africans who are connected and who use the internet to find information, get advice and purchase services and goods. Putting your law firm online is easy and affordable. Here are some pointers on what you need to consider.
Have a user-friendly website
The cornerstone of any online presence is your website – your online “office”. Your website should be professionally designed and developed so that it reflects your firm’s image, looks visually appealing and functions well for the users. Opt for simplicity and clarity over complexity and information overload; it’s possible to design a sleek and minimal website with everything your visitors need. A well-designed website incorporates many calls to action – phrases or icons that show your customers what they should do or where they should go next – and must be built to funnel your customers to the most important information.
Position yourself as an expert
One of the benefits of the internet is that it is easy for anyone to publish content – leverage this to position yourself as an expert in your field, which will lend you credibility and increase your number of interested and actual customers. You can start a blog – an online journal or article repository – where you write about your specific legal field, give advice, and provide explanations. Sharing this sort of information is hugely beneficial to your audience and indicates your competency. You can also consider filming video presentations about certain topics, for example, or having a weekly audio podcast about developments in the legal world. Creating useful, valuable and informative content positions you as the go-to expert in your specific field.
Use online tools to become more efficient
There are many versatile online tools you can use to streamline your web presence and to make it easier for your customers, current and potential, to contact you. For example, use Google Maps to show where your office is located. Try an openly accessible, up-to-date online calendar to make and schedule appointments – clients will be able to see your availability and plan accordingly. Use Skype video calling as an alternative to telephonic or in-person meetings. Provide free templates, forms and legal documents on a file-sharing service like Google Docs – this will save on time as, for example, a client can print and fill out a legal form before coming to a meeting. The list goes on – everything from online billing to automated emails can help make you more efficient.
Online advertising tools allow an unprecedented level of targeting and control, meaning you can easily find exactly the right customers for your specific services. This is especially powerful if you have a niche or specialist practice. Tools like Google AdWords allow you to bid for specific keywords and to target, for example, only people in your city or country. You only pay for the advert if someone clicks on it, meaning that you only spend your budget on qualified leads and people genuinely interested in your business. Pay-per-click advertising is usually extremely affordable (unless the keyword in question is hotly contested) and the platform should allow you to set a monthly or daily budget. On top of that, you can change your advert on the fly to experiment with new angles or to respond to current affairs.
The part-time University of Cape Town Internet Marketing course starts on 26 March 2012. Call Amy-Jane on 021 447 7565 or visit www.GetSmarter.co.za for more information about the course.