COVID-19 has impacted nearly every industry in its own unique and disheartening way. The virus’s immediate impact is magnified by shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders that affect businesses differently depending on the industries they serve, and the states in which they are located. Some businesses, like medical offices, grocery stores, pharmacies, and others are deemed “essential” and may continue to operate as usual. Others, like movie theaters, clothing stores, and gyms, are considered “non-essential” and must close their doors or transition to a fully-online business model. In some states, like North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Iowa, there is still no order to stay home as of April 5, 2020, allowing most businesses to run as usual in contrast to the rest of country.
Since the beginning of March, we’ve been arranging projects and processes for getting our clients prepared for operating during COVID-19, and really any other crisis that may come their way in the future. A checklist of sorts has arisen from it, consisting of:
- Implementing another layer of communication and scheduling software, like Calendly and Zoom
- Understanding and using the language potential clients want to see for assurance you’re operating at 100% during a crisis, along with what current clients expect from their law firms
- Best practices for social media at this time (no, it unfortunately may not be dumping money into ads because they happen to be cheaper, but establishing yourself as a “community caretaker” and working on your branding and position in your locality)
- Doing the general upkeep on your website and other digital assets, such as updating NAP, testimonials, reviews, case results, verdicts, settlements, FAQs, and more
You can see how we’ve been updating all that here: https://www.marketmymarket.com/updates-and-resources-during-covid-19/
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I’ve been somewhat frustrated with the confidence and swagger of marketers, most specifically in the legal industry, that have been very quick to announce marketing approaches that lawyers need to be doing at this time to save their firms from collapse. It’s a combination of fear and urgency (Marketing 101?), along with fairly baseless statements that are relatively easy to debunk when taking another step or two in the marketer’s thought process, such as:
Less Competition -> Lower Costs -> More Visibility in Front of Target Audience -> Opportunity
When in many instances it has been:
Less Competition -> Lower Costs -> More Visibility in Front of Target Audience -> Target Audience Has No Intent to Use Your Product/Service During a Crisis -> Not Really an Opportunity
I was reading an article this morning of April 6th, when our federal government was discussing hydroxychloroquine as something that is readily available and showing some promise for those afflicted with COVID-19. Being that doctors were facing the question of “what is working now, if anything?” there was an apprehensive consensus that hydroxychloroquine — an antimalarial drug — is the “most effective therapy” for coronavirus at this time. Actual vaccines with their clinical trials are looking at a standard approval timeline of 12-18 months, which is a daunting notion right now.
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s take on this resonated with me since I feel that this is how I could put into words the surge in “do this, do that” in the very evident and uncharted territories of marketing everyone is navigating simultaneously.
“Thirty-seven percent of doctors feel that it’s beneficial,” Fauci said. “We don’t operate on how you feel. We operate on what evidence is and data is. I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug. We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention, not just this one, …is truly safe and effective.”
Believe me, you don’t have to research your marketing approaches for 12-18 months. But dedicating a few hours wouldn’t hurt to know why your options are present through and through. Your marketing mix has never been one thing to begin with; hopefully, it has been a variety of SEO, Google Ads, social media, directories, and a few other initiatives. That wouldn’t change now, as one approach to marketing hasn’t suddenly emerged as a new “knockout drug” or “golden opportunity.”
As we’ve learned from many reputable business journals, such as Forbes and the Harvard Business Review, marketing during a recession or crisis isn’t about going all-in into anything in particular, but more about maintaining your course and making appropriate adjustments to what you’re already doing.
On a scale from 1-10, 1 being much less and 10 being much more (and 5 as neutral), how often have you been on social media since around March 1st?
I asked this question once already during our extensive look into Social Media Marketing in Are Social Media Ads The Way to Go at a Time Of Social Distancing?, but I wanted to ask this question again in order to:
- Confirm one of the most important aspects of this aforementioned topic, since we want to be positive that people are spending considerably more time on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
- Confirm that Mechanical Turk has consistent respondents that have reliable contributions when engaging in these surveys. Indeed, it has, since we last asked roughly 5 days ago and received the following similar data for the exact same question:
At first glance, this completely justifies anyone considering allocating more of their marketing to social media. If you’re looking for enhanced engagement as a law firm during this time, you would think you found it on social media based solely on the fact that more consumers are present on these platforms. Keep in mind that this may ultimately be worthwhile for lawyers looking to establish credibility, awareness, authority, and branding. However, it is not a “knockout” strategy for a sudden surge in lead generation at this time. This could be considered a long play.
On a scale from 1-10, 1 being much less and 10 being much more (and 5 as neutral), how much would you say the ads you’re receiving on social media have come from different businesses than they were prior to March 1st?
The last time we asked this question, we asked if people have been receiving more ads during this time, which was a faux pas on my end since the number of ads should always remain consistent. What changes are the industries that are engaging in paid ads. Either way, respondents basically said they haven’t seen a change in the types of ads they’re receiving at this time, even though there are industries that have certainly pulled back.
On a scale from 1-10, 1 being much less and 10 being much more (and 5 as neutral), how often are you clicking through on the ads since March 1st?
This question was originally phrased, “How often are you interacting with ads you’re seeing on social media?” where it got a “much less” designation with a weighted score of 2.63.
On a scale from 1-10, 1 being much less and 10 being much more (and 5 as neutral), how often have you been performing searches on Google for products/services since around March 1st?
With this question, we finally move on to how people have been searching organically. In the same vein that people are spending their extra time scanning social media for news and connection, evidently there’s a slight uptick in the amount of people using their free time to find products and services. This doesn’t mean that there’s an impetus to make a purchase or commitment at this time, but the awareness and the motive may still be there.
On a scale from 1-10, 1 being much less and 10 being much more (and 5 as neutral), are you using this time to catch up with some important personal tasks, like doing taxes, finding professional services, doing your finances, etc.?
On a scale from 1-10, 1 being much less and 10 being much more (and 5 as neutral), how much time are you spending researching products/services before making a purchasing decision since March 1st?
The last two don’t need my additional commentary. What it means for me is simply there is no drastic difference in people feeling the necessity to take care of important outstanding tasks, and they may take slightly more time researching it because of the additional time they have available.
We have one last bonus question, but the answer was mostly “Games” and “Education.” Hopefully, it wasn’t just because of the Power of Suggestion.
If you’ve been receiving more a specific kind of ad lately, what industries have they been? (Education, entertainment, leisure, games etc.) since March 1st.
Out-of-work people tend to become receptive to education and finding new opportunities during an economic downturn, while other people just want to pass the time until it’s all over.
Google Trends: As Reliable as Google Keyword Planner?
If you’ve used Google Keyword Planner for your Google Ads in the past, you probably saw that the data being presented may not even be considered subpar. We just used it yesterday and the project CPCs and volumes are hard to believe. So when we use Google Trends for analyzing organic trends in searches, there’s always a grain of salt to take, but we may confirm some projections within reason. Let’s look at a few legal-related keywords, updated as you’re viewing them since they are direct embeds from Google Trends (also good for resting some of those “lawyer” vs “attorney” debates):
To confirm if some of these trends are using valid data, let’s do some searches for industries we know would have a downturn at this time:
(Have to love that uptick right at the beginning of March when the deals started and then people thought “never mind”)
So, that means injury attorney/lawyer is definitively up as of April 6th. Interesting.
What Have We Learned So Far?
Morgan and Morgan, one of the largest B2C law firms in the country with over 50 offices nationwide, basically writes the book on business development for law firms and is a juggernaut when it comes to absolutely every form of marketing – from branding to billboards, from bus wraps to digital displays. Their numerous in-house and hired consultants will tell you that SEO is on the forefront of numerous campaigns, along with their own spinoff agency work. While SEO is by nature the most nebulous form of digital marketing, with an even more intense learning curve, I think most veteran SEOs would agree that “just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work”.
That being said, the law firm also has a very robust Facebook Ads campaign as well (again, everyone should have a solid marketing mix):
Who would have known that this marketing powerhouse is focused strictly on campaigns for:
- Lyft and Uber driver compensation
- Courier companies
- Underpaid wages
- Termination of employment because of a mistake on a background check
- 3M Earplug lawsuits
- Cast Iron Pipes Lawsuits
Maybe there’s a reason they aren’t targeting locally for personal injury and car accidents.
Marketing should be maintained. That being said, some action items we have up to this point based off of the data gathered are as follows:
- Google Ads could be worth exploring, even if you’re not doing them now, if your practice area and market makes it viable: https://www.marketmymarket.com/2020-legal-ppc-trends/
- Even though Social Media ads are cheaper right now, user intent is drastically down on most platforms, so don’t expect your “knockout” to happen there in the form of lead generation, but perhaps strengthening your authority and branding in your community, especially in the form of answering questions via blogging and videos
- Now’s your chance to produce content for today and tomorrow, coming up with a strategy for being positioned well when potential clients will be more actively searching for you, and creating traffic by answering the pressing legal questions people are searching now.
Studies have shown time and time again that during a time when businesses across the country are slowing down, putting a pause on marketing, or cutting back, may be detrimental. You may need to reconsider how your clients are finding you or research what services they need more of, which is something a comprehensive marketing team can help with. If you’re reevaluating your legal SEO game, come talk to us for a risk-free marketing consultation.