Conversational Marketing for Lawyers – Engage and Retain More Clients

The Ultimate Guide to Conversational Marketing for Law Firms

Today is a world where you can find a highly-rated local restaurant from Siri, order your food through an automated customer service app, and have a conversation and find out where your order is based on what a chatty AI bot has told you.

Aside from the great uses of technology, the world has also changed in the way that people feel and encounter the world around them. As humans, we’re looking not just for information, but also for engagement. From getting food delivered to how we interact with our loved ones, AI has fundamentally altered the way that we experience the world.

So what does this have to do with you as a lawyer?

AI and robotics are coming into their own when it comes to how you manage your legal practice, and even how courtrooms are managed, so it’s important to understand how conversational marketing can help you.

So if you’re looking to engage more clients, as well as retaining the ones you already have, this guide to conversational marketing will show you how chatbots can be an invaluable strategy for ensuring that you’re always on hand when your clients need you.

What is Conversational Marketing?

IN THIS SECTION

  • How Conversational Marketing Works
  • The Steps of Conversational Marketing
  • The Benefits of Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing is a powerful and quick way to encourage potential customers through your marketing and sales funnels using the simplest form of human interaction: real-time conversation. It allows you to create and build a relationship with somebody before you’ve ever met them and leaves a powerful impression.

Gone are the days of lead capture forms that people fill out and send off in the hopes of someday getting a response. Instead, conversational marketing uses targeted messages and chatbots to allow people to interact with you from the moment they access your website.

This helps you convert leads faster, have happier customers, and as a result, a happier business.

How Conversational Marketing Is Changing the Way Your Customers Buy

Conversational marketing subverts a lot of what we traditionally understand about how we market and sell our services.

People want answers, and they want them now – and the easiest way to offer this is through careful use of AI and robotics. In fact, according to a 2016 Twilio study, 90% of consumers would prefer to use messaging to interact with a company rather than email.

So instead of fighting this, why not lean into it? Conversational marketing doesn’t make you have to change everything. Instead, it just offers up a simple and easy framework to generate new leads.

THE STEPS OF CONVERSATIONAL MARKETING

The conversational marketing framework steps are simple: Engage. Understand. Recommend.

1. Engage

If people are reluctant to fill out forms on your website, conversational marketing gives another opportunity for you to contact them before they bounce.

This typically increases your conversion rate, offers more opportunities, and provides a more personal experience.

For example, if a visitor goes to your website and clicks on your services, you can use a bot to start a conversation with them. Asking questions about why they’re there – or what they’re looking for – is a great way to make sure that the information your potential client is looking for is readily available.

This allows you to move people through your sales funnel instead of asking them to fill out a form and wait an indefinite period of time for a response.

Intelligent chatbots are the equivalent of having someone on your website 24/7, ready to offer information and advice for a potential client. Instead of having them wait for you, the interaction has already begun before you’re even aware of it.

Targeted messaging also allows a chatbot to interact with your visitor before they initiate conversation. Do you want to offer help? Or you can check in with repeat visitors to see if they need more information.

Engage with your potential clients in the minute that they’re on your website. Catch their attention. Say hello.

2. Understand

The typical approach to qualifying leads takes days of marketing automation and nurturing emails. But according to a study from Harvard Business Review, companies just aren’t responding quickly enough to customers responses. In fact, if you don’t respond within five minutes of the initial contact, you’re likely to have the chance of a lead decrease by 400 percent.

Instead, a bot can help you by asking qualifying questions, to help you understand what it is that your lead is then looking for. These can be similar to the questions you already ask via forms or through initial calls, while offering the potential client the best next steps for the person engaging.

Thanks to the intelligence of bots, they can also understand who may or may not be ready for a sales conversation, so these warmer leads will already be more likely to convert to active sales by the end of their conversation.

3. Recommend

It’s important to remember that while bots can be great at engaging and understanding the early needs of your leads, nothing is going to beat human interaction to close a deal.

Intelligent routing allows bots to direct leads to your sales team, allowing your reps to focus on providing the right information to seal the deal. Intelligent routing can also always make sure that the right leads go through to the right person, allow a lead to book a meeting or organize further conversations with a human being which increases the opportunities available to close the deal.

THE BENEFITS OF CONVERSATIONAL MARKETING

So when it comes to conversational marketing, the act of conversation is a great way to turn potential customers into guaranteed leads. Here are the other five biggest benefits of using conversations to capture your clients’ attention.

1. A more human buying experience.

Particularly when people are in need or looking for your help, conversational marketing stops your website from feeling like an empty storefront or generic catalog. It gives you the opportunity to reach out to your visitors at the best time – a time that’s convenient for them.

2. Putting people in context

While you can collect information from a lead form, it’s difficult to put that information within the context of the person. Yet a conversation can let you know everything from how and why a client came to your site in the first place, what their challenges are and what they’re looking for, and why they have need of you. Compiling this information gives you an invaluable insight into your client base and how it is that your offerings are being perceived.

3. More leads, better leads

Conversational marketing catches those who would never consider filling out a lead form or making a telephone conversation in order to get through to you. This can prove vital at capturing a completely distinct client base.

4. Shorter sales cycle

Conversation qualified leads – ones which have been directed through your conversational marketing – typically close faster than more traditional lead generation methods. So you can cut down the time it takes to turn an interested browser into a client.

5. Increased sales pipeline

RapidMinder, a leading data science platform, reveals that it has influenced 25% of people entering their pipeline thanks to conversation. In monetary amounts, that’s worth over $1 million to them.

So while it might seem like a novel idea to introduce conversational marketing to your website, it also begs the question: can you afford not to?

From Conversational Marketing to Chat Bots

IN THIS SECTION

  • What is a chatbot?
  • The data you need
  • What your bot needs

While the new language of sales can seem as though this is brand new, the core of conversational marketing is relationship marketing. It is as simple as learning what your clients want, and being able to anticipate their needs.

If your entire focus is on creating this relationship with your clients, in a way that makes their lives better, they will be more willing to share information with you and allow you to anticipate their needs. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to use a chatbot.

What Is a Chatbot?

If conversational marketing is the method, then a chatbot is how you deliver. Simply put, a chatbot is a program which can automate a conversation or task, across a wide range of applications.

The first chatbots were created in 1964 at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. ELIZA was a natural language processing program which used pattern matching and substitution to give the illusion of the robot “understanding” conversation.

At its essential structure, the nature of a chatbot has been the same ever since then. Contemporary chatbots use natural language to identify user intent and to match it against a script of dialog. What has fundamentally altered in the past 50 years is how cheap and easy it is to not only create chatbots, but also that chatbots can push and pull data from wider sources.

So if you want to know what the weather in London is going to be like on Thursday, your chatbot can check in with a weather service and then return the focus. If you want to know what time a flight to Dallas leaves, the chatbot can find out by accessing open source records. Think of anything that you might ask Alexa, or Google, or Siri. A chatbot can access this information too, which means that the only limits on how much information you provide potential visitors is the limits of your imagination.

The Data You Need

Think about which conversations you’d love to automate, so that the information is always there because you know people are going to ask it. This is what a bot can do for you.

While the advancements in conversational marketing make the bots seem like they are offering up much more information, at its heart, a bot is creating a conversational pattern – so its vital that a bot should provide the information necessary.

Which means you need the data, so that you can program your bot to be able to answer questions, or to move somebody along your sales funnel. Some of these insights will be natural to you, and you may already have a list. Others may seem less intuitive, or you might not have considered.

Here are a couple of effective ways to gather data for your bot:

Onboarding

Learn from your onboarding process the questions and issues that your clients often face. The goal of your onboarding should be to find out your customer’s needs and wants, and to give you information to know whether or not you can help them. Breaking down the individual steps into choices allows you to build up data based on their behavior, and give you insight into what they need.

Once you’ve done this, your customers should understand how the chatbot works based on the way the bot interacts with them. This is the best way to deliver a personalized and individual experience where the conversation already shows the potential client the benefits and value you can bring to their life.

User behavior

Every time your customer interacts with your website, you can learn about them – these seemingly minor actions are telling you something about a potential client. When they click one picture instead of another, they are telling you that something is more compelling or more interesting.

All these actions can easily be mapped, and with the data you can work out the personas and characters that you often interact with. This is a great way to personalize content based on the visiting patterns of personality types.

WHAT YOUR BOT NEEDS

To be able to run testing

Your bot should be running A/B tests all of the time, in order for you to learn even more about the individual personas. You want to know what they’re interested in, what their needs are, what they need from you. Think of the most vital questions you need to answer, and then create a test for your bot that can answer them. Through doing this, you can use machine learnings to make predictions about future behaviors – and learn what works for your particular practice. This kind of information and data is something usable not just for the bot, but also across all of your marketing.

The power of small talk

When it comes to how people interact with chatbots, personality is huge. You might think that you need to be the voice of reason, or a formal tone. However, the personality of your bot is going to influence the personality your potential client associates with you. The ability to handle small talk, and to learn what is needed from the bot when people chat to it, is a great way to develop and understand conversational patterns. These are all ways of developing a deeper understanding of your clients and website visitors, and none of it requires any extra work performed by you.

The potential for voice skills

It helps to think like a content marketer when considering what your bot can do. There are a number of ways that you can use voice skills within your practice, such as creating direct solutions. These bots allow you to access SMS or Facebook Messenger chatbots in order to create an experience for your customer that means they’ll be more likely to invest in their time and energy in your company.

Everything to do with a chatbot is about establishing and building strong relationships with your potential customers. So while the nature of chatbots might seem revolutionary and new, the reality of the situation is that it’s a way of coming back to a fundamental understanding of grassroots marketing and customer interactions. It’s really no more and no less complicated than that.

Chat Bots, Conversational Marketing & The Law

IN THIS SECTION

  • What a bot can do for you
  • Ways you can use a chatbot
  • Scripting your best practice

So now that you understand the world of conversational marketing and chatbots, it’s time we take a look at how these can help you in your practice. To do that, it’s important we look at where you’re at with your practice.

The truth is that most practicing lawyers are busy with work for existing clients, but need new business in order to survive. Trying to juggle both of these can be a challenging thing to do, and may leave you in a difficult situation.

After all, you know that you need to write briefs under strict deadlines to file, but if a potential new client calls you have to choose between your ethical duty and the theoretical possibility of a new client, new case, and new income.

As we’ve already established, the new client won’t wait. Instead, they will continue to work through their google list until they find a lawyer who can work with them, or at the least have booked a consultation.

And in case you think that this is all just anecdotal hyperbole, it has in fact been backed up by the data. In a 2017 report, the legal practice management software Clio found trends in the data it accumulated from over 150, 000 lawyers and law firm customers.

Clio discovered that in an eight-hour workday, around six hours of the day were “missing”.

By missing, we mean not-billable hours. According to the 2017 report, lawyers used 2.3 hours for legal work of which 1.9 hours were billable and ended up collecting just 1.6 hours, which means that in an eight-hour workday, more time was spent working, ostensibly, for free.

And this was fundamentally an idealized workday. We all know that hours at the office can frequently rack up into the 10, 11, 12-hour range for any number of reasons, from missing staff to an impending trial date. In which case, that may be more than six hours a day. It seems instead that around 75 percent of the time spent at work is actually unpaid.

When you start to look at the numbers, around 48 percent of the time is spent on various administrative tasks, and 33 percent is dedicated to winning new business.

In the 2018 Clio report, it was found that consumer expectations are shaped by other consumer experiences, and therefore client expectations are shifting. So not only do you now have to dedicate time to getting new customers and developing new experiences for today’s legal consumers, but there is still the question of those lost hours.

Something at this point has to give.

What A Bot Can Do For You

Historically, the answer for lucky firms is to throw more resources at the law firm in order to hire more people. Bringing in staff to handle the administrative and marketing sides of a law firm is an excellent idea, but if you don’t have the financial resources to back this up, or are trying to run a more profitable practice, you’ll find this an impossible ask.

If you could only automate the parts of your law firm’s marketing to allow you a greater reach without hiring additional staff, you might be able to free up some of those hours in your day. Or if you already have a marketing department, automating the routine parts of their day could help them focus on drawing in higher value clients and creating an even better experience.

This is what a bot can do for you and your legal practice.

The 2017 Clio report found that around one in four legal professionals are interrupted over 10 times a day, and one in three are interrupted between six and 10 times a day. If you’re trying to hold a conversation or work on complex issues while constantly being interrupted, this takes a heavy toll on your mental health and productivity.

Research from the University of California, Irvine has demonstrated that it takes knowledge workers 23 minutes to resume work after being interrupted by an unrelated task, text, or email. So if you’re one of the one in four lawyers who are interrupted 10 times a day, that’s almost four hours of lost work.

By establishing an automation system, you can effectively clone the part of yourself that has to deal with the mundane, repetitive parts of your day. None of this is disparaging the integral work and value that a lawyer offers to their client, but if a robot can do it for you, then now is a great time to explore how a robot can do it for you.

Performing work that requires focus and attention to detail is part and parcel of being a lawyer. Yet without new clients, there won’t be any work to do – and time is the most precious commodity in a work office. A bot helps you to focus on what you excel at while assisting you and your staff with their marketing efforts.

Ways you can use a chatbot

When it comes to what conversational marketing and chatbots can do for you, doubtless you’ve already had several ideas on ways to make it work for you.

Incorporating chatbots into your law firm interaction with new clients is perhaps the most effective way to market you and your law firm.

  • Chatbots can be employed across virtually any social media channel, especially Facebook and Twitter.
  • You can virtually staff a live chat widget via your website. Most widgets are easily installed through small pieces of code that your web development company can install for you.
  • You can conduct preliminary intake interviews with clients: this allows you to give valuable information to your potential clients, while also identifying high-value cases.
  • By using a chatbot, you can “staff” your live chat widget 24/7/365 without interruption.

The joy of a chatbot is that you can also train it to do more as you collect the information and data necessary to advance. Say you notice that you are getting an increasing number of questions about one particular area – you can then develop the chatbot to answer these questions in a way which generates a larger number of leads.

Is there a question that the bot doesn’t know how to answer? Looking through the conversation logs will help you to develop what it is that your customers are asking, and give you a specific insight from the real visitors to your site – not the theoretical people you hope are visiting.

Chatbot logs you help you to identify key points for improvement and then quickly fix them, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.

Scripting Best Practice

The scope of a chatbot’s interactions with a potential new client is really up to you – it can be as narrow or as broad as you would like it to be, and can be increased or limited depending on what ROI you’re experiencing.

The best practice for your initial scripts is to focus on key areas that visitors want to know about. This can include:

  • An explanation of services
  • Pricing
  • Attorney biographies
  • Office hours
  • Directions
  • How to book a consultation

You can also script in questions that might disqualify a visitor from using your service, when you know that you cannot help in their particular case. In this way, you can refer the visitor to the local county lawyer referral service instead.

The scalable capacity is where an automated solution really begins to take over. Back in the ideal world of limitless time, staff, money, and capability, a live member of staff manning your chat widget on your website, or on social media, is the best of all worlds. Unless you have five, or ten, or twenty people who are looking for answers. You can’t just continue to hire staff, even in the ideal world.

If your other marketing ventures, such as advertisements, news stories, or radio and television spots increase interest in your website simultaneously, a human-staffed solution isn’t tenable. A chatbot, on the other hand, can easily respond to every kind of question, simultaneously. It also means that your law firm is always there at the first point of contact – no matter if that’s at 4am, or 2 in the afternoon on a busy day. Your potential new clients will never be kept waiting.

Another way in which chatbots shine is they produce insights and data that a human-operated live chat widget can’t quite handle. By asking the right questions, you can find out how it is that people have found your practice, and what on your website is pulling in more people. Are you unexpectedly reaching a different jurisdiction than the one you serve, or are people explaining that they were looking for something that you didn’t seem to offer. The joy of a chatbot is that it invites people to give feedback and information in a transparent way – and you can then use this information to shape future interactions.

CONCLUSION

Chatbots are by no means nothing new, and there’s nothing about them that’s the wave of the future. Instead, they are a solid and reliable way for you to extend your reach without extending your resources to breaking point.

That being said, if you’re looking for an easily employable fix with little to no maintenance, then a chatbot is unlikely to be able to help you. As an integral part of a marketing strategy and data analysis, it’s an invaluable way to find out everything you wanted to know from your potential clients. Chatbots will give you an informed and experiential way to control the first impression that your law firm makes, and the message that you’re sending to prospective clients.

So before you start trying to strategize about putting another ten hours in a day, or dreaming about employing a legion of administrative and marketing staff, take a look and see whether or not conversational marketing and chatbot engagements can provide you the extra help – and hours in a day – that you need in order to help keep your law firm flying.

Schedule a Call Today and we can discuss how your Law firm can best utilize conversational marketing to complement your current marketing channels.