Everyone these days has their opinion about the millennial generation. From entitled young people that don’t know how to live in the real world, to hyper-connected technophiles that are going to change the human race, you’ll find perspectives on both ends and everywhere in between.
When it comes to marketing, there are two important truths that one must first realize about millennials:
First, they are the first generation to grow up with the Internet and all the technology it has brought to us. They do not know a world without it. For them, it has always been there. They think about the Internet the same way most of us think about television, we weren’t part of the world before it existed.
Second, they need to be a major part of your marketing efforts. They are the new wave of consumers and clients that your law firm will need to cater to if you want to survive. They know their tech, and, more importantly, they use it for everything. They were not introduced to it, they were born with it.
Here are just a few tips to help you tune your marketing efforts to have a greater impact with the millennial generation.
Millennials Prefer Mobile
Millenials do far more with their mobile devices than with traditional desktop or laptop computers. If you want to reach millennials, you absolutely have to create marketing material that is designed to look good and be effective on mobile devices like tablets and, of course, phones.
Inbound Marketing is Essential
Some surveys have reported as much as 80% of millennials stating that they simply do not trust traditional advertising methods such as TV, radio, and print ads. In the mind of a millennial, these types of advertising campaigns are far too impersonal and centred too much on promoting the company instead of helping the customer.
To be successful now, and more so in the future, inbound marketing is a much better choice. Millennials know how to find what they’re looking for online. Your job is not to give them directions, but to be the destination. If you can provide the information they are looking for, they will trust you with their business when the time comes.
Social Media is the New Word of Mouth
Millennials share absolutely everything online. They will tell anyone and everyone what they like, what they don’t, and everything in between. Not only should you strive to create messages that are easily shareable through social media, you should be keeping an eye on what others are saying about you or your firm.
Customer Service Has Moved Online
Most millennials will prefer to deal with your law firm via text messages or through a platform like Facebook or Twitter instead of phone calls. Of course, some real contact will eventually be required, but during that “getting to know you” phase, they prefer to ask questions and receive answers through the online mediums where they are comfortable.
You should also think about the fact that they will be looking at how you’ve responded to others in the past, too. Online or offline, one thing that still holds true is that if good news spreads fast, bad news spreads even faster. It’s extremely important to stay on top of social media and take advantage of every opportunity you find. Help push the good news along and do everything in your power to turn the bad news around.
Strive to Provide the Best Information
Above all, your firm needs to provide real value to your target audience. Communicate with clarity and transparency. There is no magical mystery formula that puts the top brands on top. They are simply the brands providing the most value to and building trust with their own specific audience.
For lawyers, this means you have to go beyond what your firm can do for any given client and explain the why and how. Explain how the law works, why someone might need a lawyer, and show them your expertise on a deeper level. It may take some time, but it will build trust with your audience, and, in the end, your client list.
People who are following what is going on with Facebook will be aware, that Mark Zuckerberg announced radical changes which will come to Facebook soon. His aim is, for users to create more meaningful and personal connections. In times when marketing through social media plays a crucial role, Mark Zuckerberg new focus is fewer ads and more personal interaction. It seems the company’s objective is, going back where it once began: a platform which connects family and friends.
How will that be done?
Facebook will create a new algorithm, which in the future will prioritise personal posts and comments rather than focusing on brands, businesses, services or products. With other words, Facebook’s aim is for the user to spend more interactive time with friends and family, rather than passively reading article after article or watch videos, which are actually not on the user’s immediate focus.
The bottom line is cut clear: Public posts will take a back seat, while personal posts step into the foreground.
Will those changes affect your Law Firm?
While there will be changes to the news feed of Facebook, most people believe, that, with some adjustments, there are ways to get around. Most people, who understand the business of social media marketing agree that internet and social media marketing will always be of prime importance. If really all should fail, there is still paid advertising. And therein lies the catch: Without paid advertising, Facebook would cease to exist. The assumption is that in the future it might take a bit longer to build the traffic for your law firm, but Facebook will need its advertisers for the simple fact of surviving. Most likely you can continue with the advertising campaigns you have already in place without implementing any changes.
The new words for a new Facebook: Interactivity and shareability
Those people who follow your law firm already on Facebook still will see your posts in their news feed. The new challenge is, getting your posts to those people who are not following you yet. To make people speak about your posts and therefore getting your law firm to the top you will need a strong content. Content that engages people makes them talk about your law firm. The longer and more meaningful those posts are, the better for a boost.
Taking advantage of Groups
One can safely assume, that people within a certain Facebook group share the same or at least partly the same interests. As an administrator or a member of a group, this way you can introduce your content to many people in a short time. The idea is that your content is that engaging, that people start to discuss your post within the group. Other Facebook users, those who are not members of the group might stop by, just to see what is going on in this group. Another way, to share your content with strangers. As a Facebook user, you can set up a group for that particular page. Make sure your content stays strong and is updated on a regular basis.
Build your strength
Whatever the coming changes on Facebook will be, you hold the keys to your visibility on Facebook in your hands. Keep your quality content up; make it even higher if you can. Engage with your audience and give people an added value. If your content has a value, which resonates with people, they will talk about you. That will set you apart from your competition and keeps on top of the social media platform.
Legal practice is all about communication and information. Artificial intelligence (AI) enables improved and efficient use of information systems to commoditize basic and repetitive advice common to many legal issues. However, AI is misunderstood and has been the subject of a negative press. It has been wrongly associated with robots but robots occupy a special position in the “fear of the unknown” spectrum of human experience.
The thought of using algorithms to substitute for human decisions suggests an irreversible threat to democratic governance and the development of opaque decision making undertaken by computerized overlords.
The conclusion is just that – human decision making is fallible and can deliver outcomes that are perverse, wrong, expensive and often tragic.
Certainly, AI can provide more accurate data and do so better and faster than humans. If decision making is, as it should be, based on the objective accuracy and reliability of data, surely there is an argument for the decision-making process to call upon the systems that can deliver that data.
Experts define it to include technologies that seek to mimic cognitive functions humans typically associate with other human minds.
The deployment of AI into law has been with us for some time, and there’s an inevitable need to extend it further. AI systems will enable the smarter use of lawyer’s time and expertise. It will free lawyers up from repetitive tasks and enable far more targeted advice based on more accurate data analytics.
There are a number of ways in which AI can be deployed in legal practice; including:
Work Systems – a significant portion of a lawyer’s work is automatable. Therefore, if the work is automated and the processing of information is done by a machine it means that the lawyer’s time is released to attend to more nuanced and specialist advice.
Service Delivery – if a lawyer decides to automate certain processes it means that the client may have an alternative way of interfacing with the law firm. This way the interaction between the lawyer and the client can proceed without any hassle.
Client Interaction – instead of the traditional face-to-face model or the telephone or the use of e-mail, there is an additional facility, and it enables a lot of work to be done.
Legal expert systems are programs that replicate the thinking and actions of an expert on a specific question or task. A legal expert system is a domain-specific expert system that uses artificial intelligence to emulate the decision-making abilities of a human expert in the field of law.
Legal expert systems can also support administrative processes, facilitate decision-making processes, automate rule-based analyses and exchange information directly with citizen-users. The benefits for clients are improved outcomes, reduced risks, and reduced costs.
Legal expert systems are one part of a number of different AI applications. But what they do is that they allow the repetitive aspect of legal work – gathering information and applying fixed criteria to ascertain rule application – to be automated.
Predictive analytics is the practice of extracting information from existing data sets to determine patterns and predict future outcomes and trends. These tools add to a stable of technological innovation. Ravel Law focuses on easier, data-driven legal research, layering analytics on top of archives of case law data.
AI systems also introduce new alternatives for developing legal services or tools to provide answers to legal problems. This involves predictive analytics and intelligence augmentation.
Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. In general, machine learning algorithms are designed to detect patterns in data and then apply these patterns to new data in order to automate particular tasks.
The media often equate AI with robots. This raises the inevitable spectre that lawyers will be replaced by mechanical men carrying briefcases and certain changes will arise from AI as in, the elimination of the lawyer jobs etc.
Regardless of this perception, people should know that the greater use of technology will not at all reduce the requirement for lawyers since judgment is a skill.
The bedrock of growth of any organization is its sales and marketing team. Every business needs engaged customers who are abreast with the company’s latest offerings and the value that they can derive from the company’s products. It’s the sales and marketing team which creates an opportunity out of these prospects, or more aptly creates customers out of leads.
Traditionally, a progression from a contact to a Marketing Qualified Lead to a Sales Qualified Lead to a paying customer has been seen as a linear process. A new concept of Conversation Qualified Leads has become increasingly popular for two reasons:
Let’s take a closer look at this new phenomenon.
Communication between the marketing team and potential customers is focused on a broad range of topics. It’s the widest end of the sales funnel. Customers of all ‘hues’ come in via a variety of channels, both online and offline and enquire about the services.
This enquiry forms the first interface of leads with the company, and it’s the marketing team which handles these enquiries. The leads at this point in the sales funnel are called MQL, or Marketing Qualified Leads. These MQLs come in a large number and a portion of these customers actually end up buying the product after interacting with the marketing teams.
In the earlier days, i.e. prior to Internet-enabled marketing, customers had very limited information on their hands. In the best-case scenario, they would have product brochures delivered to them via postal mail. In the more common scenarios, the customers had to visit the company’s stores or outlets. And in many cases, the product information received via print, radio or television mediums was all they had.
One of the limitations of traditional marketing communications was the inability to customize the message as per end customers. It was, and still is in the case of traditional industries, a case of one message being doled out to all. In the end, the message aims to please the most number of people among the prospects. As a result, the undecided or the fence sitters were ignored. This was a clear loss of potential revenue.
The first step of interacting one to one with the customer started online with live chats. A customer would open the website of a company, read information present and then start a conversation with a representative. Traditional live chats, however, were limited in their applicability due to the sheer size of manpower required. Due to the simple reason that the number of prospects is generally huge when compared to the final conversions.
With Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Machine Learning(ML) coming of age, computers started getting good at communications. And once they started matching humans in their conversing capability, chat bots literally burst on the scene. The sudden and mass acceptance of chat bots lies in their being inherently low cost while at the same time constantly improving with ML and AI.
So, now with chat bots, each customer gets to talk to a company’s virtual representative one-on-one. With the capability of chat bots to smoothly transfer ongoing conversations to an actual human expert, makes their integration in marketing operations very smooth. With chat bots, all customers get a personalized experience upfront, get all their questions answered without even realizing (in most of the cases i.e.) that the employee they are conversing with is an intelligent agent and not a real person.
The ability to chat live is the first step of customer engagement. But chat bots core being a software provides unparalleled advantages. These include the ability to continue conversations from where they ended earlier and that too across channels. So, a customer who is qualified with a high-score for lead conversion is treated uniformly with the same focus across all channels – whether there is a human or an agent interacting with the customer. Unified communications bring in a whole new level of customer engagement.
From Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) which form the broadest end to Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) which are the opposite narrowest end of the sales funnel, chat bots can help engage a customer across the entire range. An SQL is a prospect who is almost sure to purchase the end product and is dealt with by the sales team.
Not only does the increased levels of customer engagement via chat bots, as the lead moves from being an MQL to being a SQL, ensures low drop off during this journey, the rich data which the chat bots generate specific to the prospect allows the sales team to close the deal much more efficiently.
Chat bots have already made their presence felt in online customer facing interfaces. With the improvement in AI and ML models, the bots are becoming more and more human like in their interactions. Chat bots are now not only saving millions in lead generation to customer acquisition cycle, they are also in the process optimizing and enhancing the entire marketing and sales setup of agile organizations.
Gaining competitive advantage and improving business process are among the top goals of companies implementing a digital transformation strategy, research has found. 40% of 800 organisations in 15 countries that were interviewed for Dimension Data’s Digital Workplace Report: Transforming Your Business attested to this.
Another insight in the report is that digital transformation is not just about adopting the technologies of the past: 62% of research participants expect to have technology such as virtual advisors in their organisations within the next two years.
In addition, 58% expect to start actively investing in technology that powers virtual advisors in the next two years.
Today, the digital workplace is no longer just made up of managers and those managed; co-workers collaborating with one another to complete projects, and employees interacting with customers and partners.
It’s increasingly populated by ‘virtual employees’ who do not exist in a physical sense, but nonetheless play an important role in the organisation.
While artificial intelligence (AI) technology is still in its infancy, it is sufficiently advanced to be working its way into companies in the form of virtual assistants, and, in certain industries such as banking, virtual tellers and virtual advisors.
Manifested as bots embedded into specific applications, virtual assistants draw on AI engines and machine learning technology to respond to basic queries.
“It’s no longer enough to simply implement these technologies,” says Kane Steele, Dimension Data end-user computing general manager.
“Organisations have grown their use of analytics to understand how these technologies impact their business performance: 64% use analytics to improve their customer services, and 58% use analytics to benchmark their workplace technologies.”
Meanwhile, around 30% of organisations say they’re far along in their digital transformation initiatives and are already reaping the benefits, while others are still in the early stages of developing a plan.
Steele says one reason that could be holding companies back from implementing a digital workplace is their corporate culture.
Often, technology and corporate culture inhibit – rather than encourage – work style change.
However, the number one barrier to successful adoption of new work styles was IT issues, and research participants cited organisational issues as another.
“The complexity of the existing IT infrastructure can present a major hurdle to implementing new collaboration and productivity tools to support flexible work styles.
Successful transformation implementations are achieved when IT works closely with line-of-business heads,” says Steele.
IT leaders were asked to rank which technologies were most important to their digital workplace strategies.
Harold Thng, Dimension Data Asia Pacific customer experience director believes that mobility is pivotal to a digital workplace.
“Business leaders and CIOs are switched on to the importance of mobility in the digital workplace, with an even mix of companies supporting company-provided and employee-owned devices in the work environment.”
Enterprises are also turning to new workplace technologies to drive increased customer service, with 45% of respondents saying they’ve improved customer satisfaction as a result of their use of digital workplace technology.
Today, clients find lawyers who have a decent website, are on social media, blogging and using these tools to build and grow a contact list, and then marketing to it. The Internet and social media are the fastest growing ways divorce attorneys are finding new clients. Small firms need to define their ideal client, use the terms that prospects are using to search for legal help on the Internet, and do the necessary marketing to make sure that those searching online find them first.
Here are seven rules that every attorney and small firm should know about social media. Use them to guide your efforts.
LinkedIn has more than 500 million users worldwide (128 million in the U.S.). The average household income for a LinkedIn user is over $100K. LinkedIn represents a group of highly educated, highly affluent professionals and a perfect place to connect with potential referral sources.
One of the best ways to use LinkedIn is to become active in groups. For example, if you practice family law and live in Los Angeles and want to connect with psychologists and marital and family therapists for potential cross referrals, there is a LinkedIn group with more than 3,000 members you can join – for free. There’s another group with a similar membership in Southern California with more than 6,000 members. Once you get involved in these groups, you can connect with the members in your local area and invite them to meet over lunch or coffee.
You also can use Facebook to connect directly with potential clients using Facebook’s pay-per-click (PPC) function. Pay-per-click is a common form of advertising first used by Google (known as Google Adwords). Each time someone clicks on your ad, you incur a predetermined charge, hence the term pay per click. We have clients who are generating five to seven leads per week directly from Facebook PPC by directly targeting people who express a need for their services. Social media allows you to build a larger platform faster than you ever could with more traditional networking methods.
To effectively use social media, you must have a deft touch. Too many attorneys simplistically view it as just another advertising medium to push their “Hire me! Hire me now!” messages. Social media is about engagement, building trust and establishing relationships, not ambulance chasing. While having a live chat button on your website or social media page to allow interested prospects to easily connect with you is a good thing, you must be careful not to see social media as just another platform for pushing those annoying ads.
The quality of the content you provide on social media is a direct reflection of how people perceive the quality of your law practice. When you put something out on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, it must be something your prospects and followers find valuable, informative and interesting. We recommend that 80 percent of your content be educational and nonpromotional. If you’re posting or retweeting another’s content – a great way to consistently add value – make sure that the content meets your criteria for excellence.
If someone posts a comment or response to your article or post, be sure to respond in kind. You must give as well as you get. The first word in social media is social! Don’t fall into the trap of only connecting with people you already know. Use social media to expand your sphere of influence.
Specializing in your area of practice helps you to build trust and authority, so focus on messages that reflect what your practice is about. If you have multiple practice areas, spend 80 percent of your time promoting the area that makes up 80 percent of your business.
Write for those people you want as clients or referral sources, not for other attorneys. Let your personality come through in your posts. I don’t care what other attorneys think of your website or your blog posts. I care about what your potential clients think and so should you.
Each social media network has a different culture, and most successful legal marketers know how to use it to their advantage. For example, LinkedIn is very professional and very different from the casual nature of Twitter. In general, focusing on two to three social media networks is a good idea for most practitioners – figure out where your target market spends most of their time and be there.
For most attorneys in small to mid-sized law firms, online lead generation and lead conversion have dramatically changed over the last decade. If the rest of the legal industry has yet to catch up, this creates an even greater opportunity for attorneys to use social media to generate quality leads and convert them into clients. Social media is a great tool for connecting with referral sources, keeping in touch with prospects, and driving more traffic to your website. If you follow these seven rules, you will be well on your way.
What happens when contract and document legal analytic software goes open source? Is RoboLawyer on the horizon? Are unmet needs to legal transactional services about to be fulfilled? Maybe some of both. LexPredict, a legal software company associated with Chicago-Kent law prof Daniel Katz, announced today that we are about to find out. The results should be of great interest to those of us who follow trends in legal tech. Below are some key paragraphs from the press release on the open-sourcing of ContraxSuite:
Over the last decade, we’ve spent many thousands of effort-hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars developing the contract and document analytics tools that we use with clients. These tools, based on enterprise-quality open source frameworks for natural language processing, machine learning, and optical character recognition, have allowed us to quickly and easily attack many problems, from securities filings and court opinions to articles of incorporation and lease agreements.
Today, we are proud to announce that we plan to open source our core platform for document analytics as ContraxSuite. This code base will be hosted on Github under a permissive open-source licensing model that will allow most organisations to quickly and freely implement and customise their own contract and document analytics. Like Redhat does for Linux, we will provide support, customization, and data services to “cover the last mile” for those organisations who need support or assistance.
We believe that the future of law lies in its central role in facilitating and regulating the modern information economy. But unless we start treating law itself like the production of information, we’ll never get there. We hope our actions today will help lawyers and other LegalTech companies accelerate the pace of improvement through more open collaboration.
* * *
The real challenge in contract analytics is to develop the so-called “training data” – the set of documents and labels used to “teach” the machine what separates a lease agreement from a purchase/sale agreement from a retirement benefits plan. Herein lies the true value of the current software and service providers. But, paradoxically, almost all providers get their information from one of two sources – either public sources of agreements, like the SEC’s EDGAR database or evidence from public courts, or private sources of agreements – their clients. Many organizations have therefore paid for the privilege to give away their own information so that someone else can profit.
By open-sourcing ContraxSuite, we hope to change this dynamic. The analysis and standardisation of contracts and corporate governance material is key to the transformation of our economy. But blockchain and Smart Contracts aside, there are significant improvements in risk management, compliance, and profitability that can be gained by treating contracts as valuable data. Until legal departments and law firms can be “sequentially motivated,” to borrow Professor Agarwal’s language, we will not see this maturation of the industry.
In the near future, we’ll be revealing more details about this open source strategy – including partnerships, support and customization services, and open-source license model. In the meantime, we hope to get everyone thinking fundamentally about how we do business in legal tech. What does the client really want – software licenses, or a real solution?
The full text of the press release is available here.
Alphaserve Technologies has introduced a version of its popular artificial intelligence consulting service for the legal market. The company offers data science as a service to improve law firm business processes, leveraging its own intellectual property including ITIL-based processes, a proprietary tool and more than 200 experts around the globe.
Upward of $10 million has been invested into Alphaserve’s institutional framework for AI and machine learning applications. The company’s data scientists use the platform to develop customized business process solutions based on each specific client use case. The tool is widely employed by financial services companies, but was only recently modified by Alphaserve engineers to be scalable for a wider customer audience, including law firms.
Alphaserve’s AI offering for law firms begins with a complimentary three-hour workshop. Lawyers from Alphaserve introduce firm leaders to basic concepts around AI and consult with them on how data a firm already has can be used to improve business processes. They then facilitate a brainstorming session to identify practical applications for AI within the firm, which Alphaserve uses to develop a customized solution as a proof of concept to demonstrate how the firm can gain value from AI.
“Most law firms cannot afford to employ their own data scientists or to invest in the technology required to effectively use the firm’s data for predictive modeling or other applications to improve business processes. And because AI is still new and often defined in different ways, many lawyers remain confused about what it is or where to begin, even if they want to explore it,” says Arup Das, CEO of Alphaserve Technologies. “By offering a consultative approach and delivering customized solutions, we are able to demonstrate to lawyers how AI can be used in a very practical way that truly provides value to their firm.”
By employing a team of lawyers to consult with clients on AI services, Alphaserve can begin by identifying real opportunities for business process improvement based on each firm’s practice areas and expertise. IT resources are then leveraged to develop the custom solutions that address each firm’s unique needs.
No one starts out in business to fail, but fail you will if you don’t recognise that while you may practice law, you run a business. To avoid running it into the ground, you need to avoid these six law firm management fails:
Failing to plan. To start and run any business, you need to focus on the big picture, but you can’t let that blind you to the importance of detailing the steps you need to take to make your firm a success. Having a plan helps you keep on track to achieving your goals and make important adjustments along the way.
Failing to create a team. You know the law, but they didn’t teach you how to run a business in law school. You need to create a team that will make your business successful, bringing the best people onboard in the different disciplines you need for financial management, marketing, sales, etc., and ensuring they succeed by investing in the latest technologies to support their efforts.
Failing to take care of business first. Too many times lawyers focus solely on their clients without focusing on the bottom line. The result is devastating: not sending out invoices on time, not raising your rates for years, not actively cross-promoting other services your firm offers, and not staying connected with former clients. Be sure to put processes in place for each of these important disciplines so nothing falls through the cracks.
Failing to hire the right people. Superstars are the currency of the new economy. You have a limited number of positions to fill in your firm and you can only afford to retain superstars in every position. If you find a position filled with someone who is “good enough,” either eliminate the person or eliminate the position. You set the standard. You raise the bar. Excellence is the only attitude you should allow.
Failing to invest in technology. Can you imagine practising law without a computer or the Internet? In 15 years, you will be saying the same about financial management and marketing technology. For the 21st century law firm, you must take advantage of advanced technologies that make you more efficient and effective.
Failing to track the ROI of your marketing programs. With the increased competition and level of sophistication in the legal marketing industry, to get ahead you must be faster, smarter, and more effective than your competitors. Your ability to leverage digital and social media marketing and automate your marketing system will allow you to dominate larger firms with bigger budgets; however, every dollar must be accounted for and every effort must be measured for ROI.