For years, businesses across every sector—including the legal space—have been in the process of reducing their print footprints and expanding into digital. While the speed at which various industries have evolved varies, the trend toward digitization continued to pick up steam. A digital-first future has seemed a foregone conclusion. But it was still just that: the future.

And then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Suddenly, digital-first wasn’t just an aspirational goal. It was the only game in town.

The transition to digital in the legal sector has, up until now, been relatively slow. The same may be true of your organization, too. You have a website, sure, but can you really characterize your organization as digital-first? If yours is like most law firms, the answer is probably a resounding no. In fact, you may still rely on print for a good deal of your marketing efforts (not to mention your business operations).

Today, however, your law firm has a unique opportunity—an opportunity to accelerate rapidly toward the digital future that is already commencing. The truth? If you want your firm to remain competitive for the long haul, that’s exactly what you need to do.

Now is the Time to Invest in Digital Marketing and Communications

In these uncertain times, you may be tempted to batten down the hatches when it comes to your marketing and communications budget. But spending less in this key area is a short-sighted decision—one that could very well undermine your firm’s position and growth moving forward.

As the Harvard Business Review reports, companies that have historically recovered most rapidly from past recessions have maintained or even grown their marketing budgets during economic contractions.

Many of your competitors will reduce their marketing spend in the coming months. Commit to going against the grain. Lean more deeply into marketing. By continuing to invest in a robust marketing and communications strategy, you can propel your firm to the head of the pack at a time when each marketing dollar goes further.

Keep in mind, however, that continuing to invest in your law firm’s marketing doesn’t necessarily mean business as usual. If your primary marketing focus hasn’t been digital, it’s time to shift gears. That starts with a modern marketing website and extends to a robust content strategy, paid media and social channels.

The upside? A smart digital marketing strategy may actually result in lower costs—and higher-impact results.

Your Website is Your First Priority in the Shift Toward Digital-First Marketing

Your website forms the hub of your law firm’s digital marketing activities. It’s your law firm’s “front door”—the first place your prospective clients will go to learn about your firm and your individual attorneys. More than that, your website represents the first touchpoint or interaction most of your prospects will have with your brand, period.

In order to truly advance your firm, your website must be more than just a static brochure. It must be a strategy-driven business development machine, drawing in and cultivating prospects and potential hires alike. To do that, your website must:

If your website wasn’t designed and built with these strategic objectives in mind (or if it’s more than a couple of years old), chances are good it’s not putting your firm’s best foot forward.

Tips for Transitioning from Print to Digital

If your law firm has remained mostly print-centric up until now, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind as you refocus your energies on digital.

Digital isn’t just print published online

It’s an entirely different medium. As digital technology evolves, people (especially millennials) interact with digital content in new and different ways. As a result, the emerging digital design best practices are different from that of print media.

Print is static, slow, one-dimensional. Digital, on the other hand, literally moves (figuratively, too). It’s a fast-paced, multi-message platform, one that constantly pushes the boundaries to new limits.

The takeaway? Don’t expect that transitioning from print to digital will be as simple as migrating your existing marketing assets to the web. For example, let’s say you’ve produced a timeline of your firm’s groundbreaking legal cases for print. On a printed page, it made perfect sense for your timeline to move from left to right. But in a digital context, this same design may be cumbersome to navigate, especially on a mobile device.

Another key difference? Print facilitates deep reading, while digital typically encourages scanning. Many organizations make the mistake of writing too much and overwhelming their audiences. When it comes to digital (with the exception of your thought leadership content), less is more.

Your prospects expect a first-class design experience

The move toward a digital-first culture is precipitating a breakdown of silos that traditionally enabled some industries to be much less design-forward than others. Today’s consumers expect all leading brands, regardless of industry, to demonstrate design excellence.

If your website and other digital marketing communications look stuffy and outdated, your prospects will associate those qualities with your firm. High-class digital design is a mandate, not an option.

There’s no such thing as “above the fold”

Print newspapers put a lot of thought into what content appears “above the fold”—or on the top half of the front page, above the literal fold. In the early days of website design, everyone applied the same concept to digital. The content that appeared “above the fold” or before the user’s first scroll, was deemed critically important.

Today, however, that concept is outdated. Everyone fully expects to scroll, especially in a mobile context. In fact, a more common approach is to have a fully “scrollable” website, in which users rotate through each of the main pages in the site menu simply by scrolling down.

You must tend to accessibility concerns

In the world of print, you probably hadn’t put much thought to how accessible your marketing assets are for people with various disabilities, such as vision problems, hearing loss and so on.

But accessibility is a major issue of growing concern and importance in the digital world. In fact, the web is increasingly regulated when it comes to online accessibility. Making your website and other digital marketing assets accessible to all users isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s a legal requirement.

Start by learning which laws and regulations apply to your website. Learn what you need to do to be compliant. At the same time, invest in adopting current web design accessibility best practices. For example, you need to ensure that your website’s color palette is high contrast enough for users with low vision to easily read your content.

By embracing digital more fully in this unprecedented time, you can protect your law firm’s share of market in the immediate future — and lay the groundwork for a sustained leadership position in the years to come.

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