You have made a great first step in getting your business’s marketing to the next level by producing a website that really works in all the ways it should and by creating a partnership with a company you can trust. However, this is just the beginning of an interesting and exciting journey that never really ends.
What do I mean? Well, marketing is a lot like living a healthy lifestyle: the more you put into keeping yourself healthy, the better your body and mind will perform for you. If you eat right, practice moderation, exercise, and do a variety of activities to mix up your fitness, you will feel better every day until you have reached your optimal fitness level. Conversely, if you don’t get any exercise at all, drink excessively, and eat unhealthy food, your body and mind will ultimately suffer. This might not happen overnight, but there is a cumulative negative effect that happens over a period of time.
Maintaining a Healthy Online Identity
Your website and online presence need positive nurturing and maintenance, just as your body needs exercise and nourishment to stay healthy. Your online marketing is exercise and nourishment for your website that ultimately leads to the growth and success of your business. Your website needs your attention, and you can’t let it sit there doing nothing—just like you know you can’t simply do bicep curls every day and expect to have a completely healthy body. You can’t just do one type of web marketing—like adding content—ignore the rest, and expect your business to succeed. Think of your business as an apple tree with everything that can affect it as its root system. If you are missing one aspect of your marketing your business is not going to flourish.
Additionally, you don’t want to spend resources on marketing that gives you a great flood of new leads…and not be able to respond to them and convert these leads into actual clients. If your office can’t handle a huge influx of potential cases, it is not in your best interest to try and attract them. Essentially the apples on your business' tree are going to rot before you can take care of them.
We at Foster Web Marketing are truly invested in your success, which is why we have outlined our 10 Marketing Commandments—a proven model for how to give your website the exercise it needs to succeed. Please keep in mind that you can’t do just two or three of these things and expect to be at the top of your local market. You also can’t do all of these things poorly and expect to beat your competition. You need to do what you can do well, and continue to do it over time. It is a long process—just like exercising. As you know, it is a lot harder to get into shape than it is to stay in shape. If you have let your marketing efforts slide over the last couple of years and did not attempt some basic promotional work, you will have a much harder time getting your business back in the condition you want.
We will outline each one of these commandments and give you the keys to market your business successfully. These website “exercises” need to be done consistently with care, and you need to track your progress. If you don’t have the time to be a doctor or lawyer and a marketer, then don’t be. Support your business with someone who can take charge of these commandments and be your website “trainer.” We have considered a lot of different factors for these commandments, so pay attention and let’s improve your website’s health and fitness.
Commandment 1: Thou shall have overall VISION, GOALS, and STRATEGY
Setting goals sounds easy, but many people think it is a matter of randomly picking what they want to accomplish and doing it. If you go to the gym without a plan, you are likely to waste a lot of valuable time and not get the results you want.
It is helpful to answer these questions:
- What do you want, and do you really want it?
- Who are your perfect clients?
- How much are you willing to invest in your success?
- Do you need help to attain your goals?
- What are your potential roadblocks?
It is critical to map out the route you are going to take to success, and not just cross your fingers hoping you’ll make your way there. We covered goal setting and how to accomplish your goals in a webinar. Watch this webinar and complete the goal-setting workshop. This is not a motivational “get-it-done” speech. This is a step-by-step guide to help you actually accomplish the goals you want to reach.
Without vision, goals, and strategy, your website will be confusing and lack a strong base. You need to know who you are trying to attract, convert, and retain over time with your website content and visibility (where your website shows up in Search Engine Result Pages, or “SERPs”). Once you know what business you are trying to attract and who your perfect client or patient is, you can better develop content to reach those goals. Here’s a “perfect client” exercise that will be helpful to you.
Commandment 2: Thou shall update your website regularly
Your website is a representation of your brand. Content is a great way to make your website stronger over time, but you should never write content for search engines; instead, you should be writing content for your perfect client or patient. Content that provides answers that a potential patient or client can’t find elsewhere will create a level of trust before you have any interaction with that person.
Not all content is created equal, and you should never take shortcuts when developing content, or you could very easily find yourself on the wrong end of a Google algorithm update. The key is to write content that bolsters your goals and is a part of your overall strategy—not to write it for the sake of having it. Also remember to review what content is already on your site that might be outdated or stale.
What is Google’s goal with content? Google has developed a very successful business philosophy that speaks to its goals and mindset. What is at the top of its “Ten things we know to be true” philosophy? “Focus on the user, and all else will follow.” This is incredibly important to understand. If you are focused on providing useful, informational, and unique content to the people you want to attract to your website, you will be successful. There are tons of different types of content you can post to your website or other websites that will be great for your users. You can use blog posts, case results, FAQs, testimonials, videos, local pictures, infographics, articles, news items, or other resources to attract the patients or clients you want. But do not ever think these content pieces are search engine tricks or ways to rank for one keyword or another. Your content is meant to inform and eventually convert potential patients or clients. That is the best way to get the traffic you want to your website—not by using SEO or PPC keyword tactics.
Beyond those content pieces, you want to focus on your foundational pages and ensure they are welcoming, informative, easy to use, easy to read, and designed to convert readers! Is your home page welcoming? Most people focus only on their home page. But are your practice area pages welcoming as well? Remember that people enter into your website in a variety of different ways. Is each user getting the best first impression of your business? Do your forms and follow-up emails work? Does the page you just updated on your desktop still look good on your mobile device? Do your title tags and meta descriptions make sense in SERPs?
Commandment 3: Thou shall optimize local search/niche directories
Your website is not the only website available! You need to take advantage of local and niche directories to get your brand out there. Your competitors will most certainly have profiles on citation websites like Yelp, MerchantCircle, Yellowpages, Whitepages, Citysquares, Topix, and many more. You probably have listings too, but is the information correct? Does your profile stand out? These sites are very authoritative and rank very well for many search queries. A complete and an accurate local citation on these sites and others will help your local visibility immensely. However, you need to make sure you are using consistent NAP (name, address, and phone number) information, or you will confuse search engines…and you can disappear from local results.
These websites are also used for citation information by Google+, Yahoo Local, and Bing Places. These are the major Search Engine’s local services. They will often display “local packs” of these listings and dominate the real estate in SERPs for search queries with local intent. You want to ensure you have all of these profiles claimed and optimized because their information will provide key indicators to Google and other search engines about your business and what content your website provides.
The last group of citation websites is broken down into two categories:
- Niche citation sources for lawyers, which include Justia, Avvo, FindLaw, HG.org, and Lawyers.com
- Niche citation sources for doctors, which include HealthGrades, RateMDs, ZocDoc, DoctorDirectory.com, and Medicare.gov
Sometimes you can actually gain better visibility by having a high quality or promoted listing on these websites rather than trying to compete for the same competitive queries on your own website. These websites have been around for years, and they will be around for much longer. Don’t fight them—join them!
National practices and firms sometimes think they don’t need local citations. They’re wrong. Don’t miss out on local traffic because you think these websites are only for local visibility. They give your brand credibility, allow you to be found in more places, and give opportunities for patients or clients to leave reviews.
You may think that once you have all your local profiles and citation sources set up, you can forget them. Wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, you will find that the Internet is full of misinformation and mistakes. You want to audit these sites quarterly (and any others you can find) to make sure your listing is visible, fully filled out, and accurate. Many of these websites have some type of review component as well, and as we all know, reputation means everything. And that leads us to the fourth commandment…
Commandment 4: Thou shall create a sustainable review strategy
Reviews are important, and there is no way around it. Quality reviews will improve your rankings, conversions, and brand reputation. Bad reviews will hurt your business and be a not-so-silent killer. Many clients think there are problems with their website when business starts to dry up. But when you take a look at their reviews on external websites, you can quickly tell there is a much bigger issue. One great feature of DSS is our feedback module, which will help you drive clients down a positive review path and give you valuable feedback about your clients' experiences.
You may be the greatest lawyer or doctor on the planet…but if no one knows, what good does that do you? We can help you implement a sustainable review strategy, but in the end, your success has everything to do with how you run your business. Take note from the hospitality industry. They make a business out of pleasing people. You should always remember that every person who comes through your door could be the review that helps convert future patients or clients, or the review that could hurt your business for years to come.
Commandment 5: Thou shall create and promote excellent content
We talked about creating excellent content in the second commandment, but it is so important, we are going to talk about the next step that many businesses forget. You need to promote your content in some way. Share it on social media, share it with your herd, share it with your neighbor, share it with whomever, but you need to share it with someone. You may get lucky with some piece of content that fills a gap in information online, and you get a ton of traffic from that piece every month. However, you will find more ongoing success by doing something with the content you create. You spent time on it and it’s good, so why not share it with as many people as you can?
This does not mean SPAM people with your content.
You shouldn’t measure your content success by the number of pieces you produce every month; rather, measure your success by the quality of your content. Every business will post a varying amount of content each month, but live by one rule: don’t write content unless you have something interesting or new to say that your perfect client would potentially find helpful.
Don’t let your content sections become stale. As a rule of thumb, your website should have some kind of new content weekly, and you will find the very successful businesses provide more than that. If you need assistance to make your website content helpful, unique, and motivating, read how our writers make our content HUM.
If you create great quality content, other sites will link to your work. Any time you earn backlinks in this manner, it puts your content and website in front of new users who may benefit from your services and naturally helps your rankings. With this in mind, remember that although every piece of content should be interesting, useful, and unique, not every piece needs to be conversion-driven. You are providing great information, and that information is making its way around the web. It is a lot less likely for content to be shared and linked to if you are overselling your services. If you are earning links, then you are improving the overall link profile of the website. You are also getting brand recognition from the visitors to those websites.
Many of our clients pick up cases after someone found their website while simply looking for information on a specific medical condition or types of injuries resulting from a car accident. That person wasn’t looking for a doctor or lawyer but found one anyway. This sounds like sheer luck, but it’s not—it’s the product of careful content planning.
Your website should have content that speaks to your potential patients or clients at each stage—this includes the “gathering information” stage which is most likely well before the “looking for a doctor or lawyer” stage. If your content provides the information they need and speaks to them at that stage, you have an opportunity. You are in the position to tell them what to expect next, because you know much more than they might about their options and can help them avoid making mistakes. Giving potential clients or patients this “leg up” shows that you are knowledgeable about the topic they are searching for, and by telling them what to prepare for, you can gain big credibility points. They may not even know they need a doctor or lawyer or know how you could help them, or that others have gone through this situation before them and asked the same questions. You’ve just connected with a site visitor, assisted him at a time he didn’t know how much help he needed and opened the door for communication.
That’s what successful content planning is all about. It works.
Commandment 6: Thou shall promote community involvement
If you are involved in the community through charity efforts, your business and website can benefit from it. People like to see companies helping people in their local communities.
These charity organizations that you sponsor or donate time to usually have a good Internet presence as well as strong social followings. Use social media to engage with the local organizations you are involved with. Be a voice for them by sharing their posts and their upcoming events, and explain the way you are connected to them. It is the best way for those organizations to also become a voice for you and help spread your brand awareness.
You can share your efforts on social media, boast about them on your website, and ask for a link from the charity back to your website. You can be involved in your community in so many ways that it only makes sense to make the most of your charity efforts.
Commandment 7: Thou shall be social on social media
Please be social on social media platforms.
You’re not using your business Facebook account to its best advantage is you have only five followers. You’re not promoting your business right if you’re using an automated Facebook feed that runs at 5 p.m. every day. That’s just BORING (and more than a little sad). You will not build an audience or get “likes” this way. Those people who do follow you will have your posts hidden.
Social media is not just about getting “likes” or “upvotes” or similar merit badges. Those signs of mild approval are not as important as actually getting comments and engagement from people who follow you. When you like and follow local businesses, they usually will return the favor. Remember to cite your community involvement and create posts about these events. Remember to tag the charity organization to reach a larger audience.
Create a social media strategy and stick to it. You don’t have to be active on every social media platform, but you should be consistent with the ones you are active on. Social media is playing a bigger and bigger role in our economic lives, and it is hard to get away from it. Don’t be the business owner who thought websites would never catch on. Determine what your social media strategy will be before just jumping on the bandwagon. Keep in mind that social media is not just a place to promote your own website content; rather, it’s a good place to talk about what is happening in your local community and in the news, and it’s a great source for finding relevant content topics. When you have your “ears to the street,” as they say, it can help you find ways to target your content to what people are talking about, answer their questions, and keep your site content and social media profiles relevant and up-to-date. You can also promote your content on social media directly from DSS, so we make it easy for you to join the social media party.
Commandment 8: Thou shall nurture your herd with follow-up campaigns
The easiest and least expensive way to get more of the best kinds of patients or clients is to build and nurture your list.
What is “your list?” Well, you have contact information for prospective, current, and former clients—USE IT! There are a lot of ways you can nurture your herd, including the use of email newsletters, print newsletters, email campaigns for new leads, and sophisticated drip campaigns for contacts and offer requests.
When you’re implementing both email and direct follow-up campaigns, it is important to track how successful they are, and fortunately for you, DSS™ does this easily and automatically. Make sure you know what you are trying to accomplish with your follow-up campaigns and learn how to seduce your perfect client with them.
Commandment 9: Thou shall embrace PR and court the media
Public relations, or “PR,” is a great way to enhance brand visibility and awareness. It can also help your site’s backlink profile. Tout your professional accomplishments through press releases. Not everything is worthy of a press release, but don’t miss out on the events that are.
You’re an expert in your field, and the media are always looking for experts on certain subjects. They also need stories to report on. That’s your cue: give reporters a story on a topic they need or want. What are people talking about on social media? What’s going on in the news? Do you have an opinion or insight relevant to your specialty that would give the media a new perspective on an already popular topic? If you help a reporter out, he won’t forget you, and you could end up being a go-to source for commentary on specific subjects. A great resource is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Reporters are always looking for experts who can speak and provide validity to their journalism.
Your cases can be a PR opportunity as well if there is something unique about them. When a media situation suddenly presents itself, whether it is an important case or a news item your medical practice or law firm wants to take a stance on, it is critical to have a targeted media list readily available, so you can release your news within minutes.
Commandment 10: Thou shall respectfully and wisely use paid advertising
Paid advertising can be a great booster for your brand and your website traffic. The advertising channels you select should be tied to where your perfect client is most likely to find you. If you are considering advertising with a banner ad on another website, find out who its audience is, review its media kit, ask what kind of performance other ads are seeing, determine if you already get traffic from this website, and decide if this will help you increase that traffic (and if it’s the kind of traffic you want). Ask if you can test a couple of different ad designs to determine which one works the best.
Whether you are advertising using a third-party site, Facebook, paid search ads, display, remarketing, TV, or radio, pay attention to the results. Test different messages. Evaluate your ads, budget, targeting options, and cost per lead regularly; that will let you know what is really working and identify opportunities for improvement to ensure you are getting the most out of your paid advertising. When done correctly, paid advertising can really pay off.
The great part about paid search ads on Google, Yahoo, and Bing is that you can specifically target the keywords you know your potential clients or patients are searching for and track your efforts if you know what you’re doing; however, you need to have a plan. The keywords you think you should show up for are often different from the ones potential clients are looking for. For example, many attorneys want to rank for “personal injury” keywords, but most normal people don’t search for that.
Attorneys are also very competitive, so much so that they are the fourth most competitive industry on Google AdWords, and the average CPC (cost-per-click) for those keywords is over $47. It’s still possible to advertise in this space and make a good ROI, but you need to be very careful and targeted. Keep your costs down by finding less competitive keywords to bid on, using targeted ads and landing pages. Don’t just send your ads to your homepage or practice area pages. Create a unique landing page that speaks to that specific market, and it will raise your quality score, which in turn will lower the cost-per-click of your campaign.
Let’s Get Started
Now that you have our commandments, use them and get your website and marketing healthy!
We know that this can seem overwhelming, so take on what you can when you can, but don’t just ignore the need for marketing. These things need to be done, and your website won’t be successful if you don’t work on these efforts. Just like going to the gym, you need to get into a routine.
Good luck, and don’t forget that if you need help or don’t understand how to do something, please reach out to our customer service team at 1-888-886-0939. Remember, we provide one-on-one coaching with your license and will train you and your team. Take advantage of this service that is offered to you. We want you to be successful, and we will do just about whatever it takes to get you there. But you have to work at it, too.
Additionally, if you just don't have the time, need help, or just want us to do it for you, let us know. We have an entire marketing team of SEO analysts, performance managers, content writers, and video producers on staff ready to serve your needs. Just ask us.
Dedicated to Your Marketing Success,
Tom Foster and the entire team at Foster Web Marketing