8 June 2015 By Northern Lights
The internet is levelling the playing field for Yorkshire’s corporate law firms with the mid-tier solicitors dominating the online world, a major new research programme by communications agency Northern Lights has revealed.
In a definitive Top 100 ranking of how Yorkshire’s law firms appear online, Lupton Fawcett Denison Till has taken the top spot, meaning it has the strongest online brand in the region.
Making up the rest of the top four are other mid-tier firms Clarion Solicitors, Irwin Mitchell and Taylor & Emmett. The only legal giants to appear in the top ten are Squire Patton Boggs and Eversheds.
The Northern Lights research discovered that 98% of law firms in Yorkshire had some social media presence and more than 60% had invested or were investing in their website in the past six months as they aim to seize new online opportunities to win business. Crucially, those who have invested most in their website, content marketing and social media are dominating the rankings and are already winning business through their online channels.
The research has been compiled by Northern Lights Communication Director Ben Pindar who says professional service firms are best placed to take advantage of online opportunities, social media and content marketing.
He says: “Law firms and all other professional service businesses are built on relationships. Social media breaks down barriers and puts you in the room with the decision makers. It’s a hugely powerful tool for initiating and building relationships and law firms are beginning to recognise this.”
Northern Lights is a PR, social media and content marketing specialist and decided to carry out the research after meeting with a “silent giant” – a £30m turnover firm with no real knowledge of the major local law firms – who simply used Google to find a lawyer that could help it plan for an exit.
Ben says: “The way people buy professional services is evolving. We worked with Huthwaite International last year who said that 80% of a buying decision is now made online before a business even contacts a professional services provider.
“Clients want to know who they will be dealing with and what values a law firm has before they buy and they do that by visiting the website or reading blogs and social media updates. If you’re not communicating that effectively online, they’ll go to your competitor.”
At the City Region level, Squire Patton Boggs topped the rankings for the Leeds City Region, Irwin Mitchell claimed top spot in the Sheffield City Region, Gosschalks was number one in the Hull and Humber and Walkers Commercial was the top ranked firm in York and North Yorkshire.
The research programme looked at law firms in the B2B sector, studying Google rankings around key words and phrases and analysing social media profiles and engagement before then applying points to create a ranking system.
Ben says: “The research threw up quite a few surprises with a lot of big names languishing at the bottom of the table and a few smaller players really making a big impact online. Online tools have really levelled the playing field for professional service firms.
“By creating a strong online profile, law firms are competing for business alongside some of the biggest legal names in the world.”
As part of the research programme, Ben met with more than 30 law firms around the region to gauge their appetite for social media and online branding. While all recognised that their website now had to be much more than an online brochure, few had really embraced the potential for using these channels to create new business.
The top ranked firm, Lupton Fawcett Denison Till, has invested substantial amounts of money in online branding and marketing and recently announced record profits.
Managing partner Richard Marshall says: “Your online presence is now a device for creating a funnel of work. We use social media and blogs to create calls to action, make it easy for people to find out who we are, what we do and how to engage with us. Crucially, blogging has generated fee earning enquiries and is turning into work.”
The research shows that, while social media won’t become the sole channel for new business development, it is now an integral part of a modern day professional services firm. Social media and other online channels play a crucial role in building and developing relationships and getting found online.
Ben concludes: “For professional service firms, social media is all about demonstrating and sharing your expertise, creating valuable and trusted relationships and positioning your brand. The professional services sector is in an era of unprecedented change but it’s still all about relationships.
“To have any relationship in today’s ever-changing business landscape you need to be social.”
To download a copy of the research, visit https://www.next-up.com/blog/downloads/