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.Lawyer Domain Names

September 24th, 2014

Skunkworks Creative Group

.Lawyer Domain Names

Lawyer Domain  Names

We routinely advise lawyers on domain name selection. My boilerplate recommendations are:

  1. Think about your email address first and your website second;
  2. Don’t be a slave to search engine optimization (SEO);
  3. Don’t register dozens of domain names if you only need one; and
  4. Choose something distinguishable from your competitors.

There are, however, occasions when new questions emerge. The introduction of .Lawyer and .Attorney generic top-level domains (gTLDs) presents just such an opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Digital Marketing, Google, Law, Law firm websites, Marketing Strategy, SEM/SEO | Comments Off

Put Your Firm on Display

September 23rd, 2014

Skunkworks Creative Group

Put Your Firm on Display

What is display advertising?

You’ve likely noticed banners including text, logos, pictures or rich media when visiting some of your favourite websites. These are referred to as display ads. Imagine a traditional magazine ad with a few unique advantages. Google Display ads allow for flexible ad formats, targeting options to connect with your audience, and a price-point that scales down to small businesses. Another key advantage -you can track the performance of your campaign to measure your clicks and conversions. In terms of advertising, hard numbers beat a “pay and pray” approach. Finally, if someone wants to know more about your firm, it is as easy as a click through to your website. Google Display Network Sample Ad

Sample Ad for Google Display Network

Personal Injury Ad for Taylor & Blair Personal Injury Lawyers

Google Display Network Sample Ad

When should I use display advertising?

The Google Display Network (GDN) allows advertisers to place ads on sites across the Internet ranging from the New York Times, to cooking blogs, to cat videos on Youtube. With Google’s acquisition of Doubleclick in 2007, the GDN became the largest ad-serving network on the Web. As such, the GDN is an appealing way to expand your online presence, build brand awareness, and test creative efforts prior to traditional print campaigns. Viewers of GDN ads tend to in browsing mode – whether catching up on news or reading an article they found on social media. Accordingly the key here is to create an ad that will gain the attention of your desired audience. In most cases, actual traffic through to the site of professional services firms will be incidental to brand awareness efforts.

What about those ads that follow me around the Internet?

Perhaps you visited a website last week and now an ad for that website is showing up when you are browsing other sites. This is called remarketing. Remarketing is a powerful way to connect with individuals who have already shown an interest in your service and can help bring your brand to mind when they are ready to buy. If this makes you weary because you’ve had a remarketing ad follow you to the point where it is creepy, annoying, or both, you will be happy to know you can put a cap on how many times an ad shows. The reason that Google offers this service and that companies pursue remarketing is because it works. That said, we advise firms to use the technology sparingly to avoid alienating prospective clients. There is a happy medium.

Why is the google Display network good for gaining brand awareness?

1) The GDN is big. Really big. While the placements change on a daily basis, there are currently over 2 million sites in the GDN. This means that there is a good chance that we can find appropriate sites to run your ads without having to contact individual websites for ad buys.

2) You won’t simply be shooting in the dark. If you are providing a legal service, it doesn’t do much for you to have your ad showing up on blogs about baking. Google understands this and allows you to target your ads based on audience characteristics, website groupings, or specifically selecting sites where you’d like your ads to show.

Google Display Network Leaderboard Ad

Kelly Russ Vancouver Family Lawyer Display Ad

3) By appearing on sites that are popular amongst your target audience, you are able to familiarize people with your brand. For example, they may not need a family lawyer when they see your ad, but your brand will be familiar if they subsequently separate from a spouse and start making inquiries about hiring a family lawyer.

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***** Best Lawyer in Town — Managing Law Firm Reviews

May 21st, 2014

Skunkworks Creative Group

***** Best Lawyer in Town — Managing Law Firm Reviews

Reviews Rule

According to Google:

97% of consumers research products and services online before buying locally.

90% of customers say that buying decisions are influenced by reading online reviews.

55% of small businesses have zero reviews on the web.

The Best Lawyer

These numbers suggest that besides a website, attracting positive reviews should be a top priority for your firm. You want to be known as the best lawyer in town.

Not so easy. Lawyers in British Columbia cannot advertise as being the “best” because it is inherently unverifiable. Even if you could, prospective clients are not going to give you much credibility for such self-serving marketing bumph. Despite this explicit guidance, the legal marketing directory Best Lawyers (a peer-reviewed system) remains a common sight in the legal community. Is it enough if other lawyers confirm that you really are the best? Does this make it verifiable?

Public reviews are governed by similar standards, with the Law Society offering specific guidance on client testimonials. Testimonials must be true and verifiable. This applies to all marketing materials produced by the firm, including the website or any print materials. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Risks of Redesign

March 11th, 2014

Skunkworks Creative Group

The Risks of Redesign

The thing about change is that it is value neutral. Despite a commonly held assumption that change is for the better (see also progress), one of the risks of change is that things may actually get worse. This risk is certainly applicable to web design. In redesigning a website, what if you make it worse?

Some good examples are currently front page news…literally. Both The Globe and Mail as well as The Guardian (you’ll have to opt-in for the beta site) are undergoing major redesigns. My personal opinion is that the Globe looks terrible while the Guardian offers a best-practices example of modern web design. Change is a mixed bag.

 Globe and Mail Home Page

The Guardian Home Page


Without being familiar with their exact motivations for the respective redesigns, my guess is that they were doing their best to keep-up with the fragmentation of device screen sizes. Between Apple’s Retina Displays (2880 x 1800) and the most common resolution at 1366 x 768 (not to mention several other relevant considerations relating to the actual display of the pixels), what is the best way to display your website such that it looks good to the most number of people? This is increasingly one of the fundamental challenges faced by web designers. It also offers a very good motivation to pursue a redesign.

The Globe opted to pursue a “boxed” approach with a narrow middle column that is scaled to fit relatively low resolution screens. High resolution displays will simply have large white margins. In contrast, the Guardian is pursuing a “wide” approach using all screen real-estate and a responsive design platform that re-arranges content to fit the size of the screen. The latter is harder from a development perspective, but offers a cleaner layout. 

The choice of boxed vs wide alone won’t determine the success of a redesign. In my view, The Globe failed the redesign by cramming too many puzzle pieces together. The result is overwhelming and practically illegible. It actually looks a lot like a poorly executed version of the New York Times (which I gather provided the inspiration). This brings me to my tenets of website redesign:

  1. Don’t make it worse. Developers will develop and designers will design. If you have something good, be very careful when you instruct your design team. They will inevitably be more inclined towards change. In contrast, your users/visitors will inevitably avoid change and would prefer incremental modifications. You’ll need to balance the two.
  2.  Beta, Beta, Beta. While all large websites will be tested internally and with focus groups before launch, allowing for an opt-in beta design or a limited application of the new site will provide important insights. Google has made this type of opt-in testing a feature that their customers actually get excited about.
  3. Be prepared to fail. In my book, The Globe has failed this redesign. This creates a difficult management decision: should they roll-back to the old site? Management is not an easy job and making this kind of executive decision is tough.
  4. Follow trends. Everyone wants to do their own thing when it comes to design, but trends exist for a reason. Most redesigns are currently leaning towards the wide format because it looks amazing. This shouldn’t be determinative, but it should give you a strong push in that direction.  

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YouTube Video Creates National Exposure for Skunkworks Client Watson Goepel LLP

March 19th, 2013

Skunkworks Creative Group

YouTube Video Creates National Exposure for Skunkworks Client Watson Goepel LLP

About a month ago Skunkworks – working with Vancouver-based multi-practice firm Watson Goepel LLP – launched a YouTube video-campaign focused on upcoming changes to BC Family Laws. You can read previous blog posts discussing this advertisement by clicking here and here. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Agency News, Client News, Digital Marketing, Things we like | Add a Comment »

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