What is Digital Body Language and What Does It Mean for Law Firms?



...digital body language of clients and prospects provides insight into the problems they’re trying to solve and the solutions they’re considering...

Just as physical body language communicates what people think: their interest in a particular topic, agreement and disagreement, willingness to listen, etc., digital body language – the aggregate of all online interactions, from opening email newsletters to visiting websites to downloading content – provides a broad perspective on what an individual thinks of your firm.

And that’s valuable data. Because the digital body language of clients and prospects provides insight into the problems they’re trying to solve and the solutions they’re considering, it allows you to situate them on their journey to retaining the firm for new or additional work.

A quick look at the stages of what’s commonly called ‘the sales funnel’ will add some context to that. Many of you are no doubt already quite familiar with these concepts, but it’s useful for everyone to be on the same page – see also this piece for more on the sales funnel:


This is where your target audience becomes aware of what you do and how you can help them solve their problems. Their awareness is more specific than merely knowing that your firm exists and practices corporate law, for example: at this stage, your prospect generally knows that they have a particular problem to solve, and determines that you provide the services they need to overcome that challenge.


Prospects who move into this stage begin to take an active interest in the solutions you provide. They read your articles and whitepapers, attend your webinars, and share your firm’s content with their colleagues. They look at the bios of lawyers who might be able to help them. In short, they’ve become interested in your skills and experience for solving their problem.


At this point, your prospect begins to engage with you – they start asking questions during your webinars, for example, and sign up for automatic delivery of your content.

They might even email to tell you about their problems, opening the door for you to propose solutions. An engaged audience begins to trust your insight and perspective, might even start comparing your answers to the guidance they’re getting from other service providers.


This is the stage where your audience takes action: prospects hire you for new work and current client retain the firm for work outside the scope of your existing representation.

This background helps us appreciate how reading the digital body language of your clients and prospects is critical to your ability to turn them into clients and even bigger clients. When you understand the cues they leave – with every online interaction – you can develop tailored and personalized approaches to help move clients and potential clients down the sales funnel.

Digital body language can tell you, for example, when to:

  • Send an email to the GC of a major client: “We’ve noticed that your HR people are reading a lot of our cybersecurity content. Would you like us to put together a program for your team on issues at the intersection of data security and employment law?”
  • Organize a webinar featuring a top banking regulator because you’re seeing an uptick in reader interest in a new federal banking rule.
  • Include a European M&A lawyer on the team visiting a potential new client because people at that company have recently read and shared your article on EU mergers.

Stay tuned to future posts for more on what digital body language tells you about client and potential client concerns and how to turn that information into actionable intelligence. In the meantime, start collecting, evaluating, and including digital body language in your marketing and business development strategies.

How are you using digital body language to understand your clients and prospects and grow your business? I’d love to hear about it.


Katie O'Rourke is Regional Vice President, Sales, at ON24. Connect with her on LinkedIn; follow for her latest writing on JD Supra.

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