Remember that amazing course at law school on how to start a legal practice? Remember how they walked you through the steps to acquiring regular clients, how to leverage SEO and the importance of growing an email list? Of course not, neither do I.
My memories of law school mostly revolve around learning the complexities of substantive law and trying to get 6-8 hours of sleep per night. It’s no surprise that I wasn’t lectured on the power of SEO or Facebook Ads. After all, many of my teachers didn’t even have a Facebook account.
Yes, the gold old days of fountain pens and bankers lamps are behind us. The digital age has taken over. People expect more than a leaflet in the mail or an ad in the Yellow Pages. They want authenticity, valuable information and respect.
The power of online marketing can produce limitless value to your law firm. If you fail to take advantage of it, your competition surely will.
Fortunately, most lawyers can get their head around marketing. After all, they’re pretty clever.
With that in mind, let’s get the ball rolling with a super-fast crash course in law firm marketing. At the end of this article, you will have a rudimentary understanding of how the pieces fit together.
The first thing you should consider is a marketing plan. It should include the following components:
“You can’t score without a goal!”
I wish I could say my rugby coach told me that. He didn’t. I heard it in a movie once.
Ask yourself, ‘What do I want to achieve?’
Do you want more clients? What types of clients? Maybe you want to improve your reputation in the legal community so you can receive more referrals? Do you want to work on your SEO so you can receive regular leads? Perhaps you receive plenty of leads but your conversion rate is low?
I suggest you define your expectations first. This will form the basis of an intentional and effective marketing plan. Otherwise, you risk throwing money down the drain. For example, if your firm wants more qualified commercial litigation clients, PPC marketing isn’t ideal. It’s better suited to high-volume consumer-oriented cases.
Goals are great, but we need to measure our performance. Otherwise, we don’t know if we are achieving our goals.
Metrics = Accountability.
First, establish your benchmarks. Where are you? How did you get here? What day is it? Kidding. Seriously though, how many leads are you getting each month from your different channels? Figure this out first.
Second, set goals for your metrics.
The numbers will vary depending on your business. I also suggest you reassess your metrics regularly. This will ensure they are both challenging and realistic. Your numbers will also naturally increase as you become more adept at marketing your firm.
Have you been following along? Great. You’re ahead of the pack. Why? Most firms ignore Goals and Metrics. They get really excited and dive headfirst into Channels. For example, SEO, PPC, Facebook Ads, website development and so on.
Maybe a close friend said something like, “ya gotta do Facebook Ads, mate”. So they pump thousands of dollarydoos into Facebooks Ads, with minimal ROI (‘return on investment’). The same could be said for PPC or SEO.
I advise against this.
Without goals and metrics, you risk focussing on the wrong things. If you’re going to do this right, follow this guide from start to finish.
The most common law firm marketing channels are:
- Referrals and word-of-mouth
- Search engine optimisation
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Content marketing
- Speaking engagements, webinars, and workshops
- Email marketing
- Social media
Let’s break it down.
Referrals and word-of-mouth
This is probably your bread and butter. I enjoy original western star salted butter. Spread it generously on a slice of rustic sourdough, lightly toasted, and you’re all set.
Most firms can engage in this marketing channel. It’s generally low cost and high ROI. Take this a step further by using a CRM (‘customer relationship management’) tool to keep track of your contacts and communications.
How do you feel about networking? You’re probably in one of two camps. Love it or hate it. Here’s my advice: if you genuinely dislike networking, don’t do it. Chances are you won’t commit and you might do more harm than good.
Here’s an example:
We all know a person who attends networking events to ‘tick a box’. They hand out their cards, have brief and meaningless conversations, explain they are simply attending because they have to, and cap it all off by asking for referrals. This type of behaviour is transparent and ineffective. Spend your time and energy on other marketing channels.
Search Engine Optimisation
SEO will improve the visibility of your website in organic (unpaid) search results. Chances are, the firm’s that perform well in this area have hired an SEO agency on a monthly basis. This ensures the website’s position in search results and protects it against the competition.
The competition for this keyword is fierce. I suspect these firms use professional SEO experts to maintain their ranking. The pay-off is substantial. The top spot receives 577 monthly visits off their organic (unpaid) listing.
On the other hand, it’s less challenging to rank in search results in a small city.
If you practice in a smaller city, do some keyword research to find out what people are looking for. Hobart might have more search volume for broader keywords (e.g. Hobart Lawyers – instead of ‘Hobart family lawyers’)
Obtaining a top Google ranking is an investment. It takes time and patience. In fact, Google will “sandbox” a new website for a few months while its algorithm becomes familiar with it. As time goes on, the ranking generally improves. Rising to the top spot can take more than a year, depending on the competition. The results can be substantial, ensuring regular warm leads, with a higher conversion rate than the average Google Ad.
Remember this: SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
Is SEO a good fit for your law firm?
It generally works best for consumer-focused areas like family law, personal injury, bankruptcy, criminal defense, immigration, etc. Generally, SEO is great for practice areas with a high volume of searches. Conversely, SEO is less effective for broad commercial-focused practice areas. This is mostly due to the lower search volume. That being said, most commercial practices do not usually need a lot of new cases each month.
LegalSites is happy to advise you on the best marketing channels for your law firm. If SEO is one of them, it’s best to leave it to the experts.
Google Ads (PPC – Price Per Click)
This is the fastest way to receive regular traffic from Google. In competitive practice areas and locations, Google Ads can ensure you ‘enter the game’ incredibly quickly.
There are numerous options for customising your campaign. For example, you can direct leads to specific web pages, target keywords and include your phone number. While many of your competitors will slap together a basic ad, your firm can receive a high ROI with a carefully targeted Google Ads campaign.
PPC is especially useful for firms in consumer-facing, high search volume practice areas. Including family law, personal injury, workers compensation, criminal defense, traffic offenses and bankruptcy.
As you will see in the image below, the monthly search volume is rather high. This is reflected in the CPC (cost per click).
A few things to note.
First, if you set it up yourself, Google will probably call you. The operator will offer to “make your life easier” by creating a campaign. They have a tendency to construct incredibly broad campaigns. This means your ad will appear in the wrong search results and receive clicks from the wrong people. Extracting your hard-earned money and putting it into the coffers of a billion dollar corporation.
Second, a successful PPC campaign requires the following elements:
- Keyword analysis to ensure your ad shows up for the right keywords and none of the wrong keywords. For example, if you’re targeting family law clients, you don’t want your ad showing up on searches for “jobs at family law firms”.
- Effective copywriting that compels someone to visit your website and ignore the rest
- Stunning landing pages that transform leads into conversions
- Conversion tracking so you can monitor the success of your campaigns
- Analytics so you can fine-tune your ads
Google Ads wants you to believe that anyone can create a successful campaign. Whilst this is technically true, it’s unrealistic.
Truth be told, most law firms burn through their budget and give up quickly. This is because they lack the experience and expertise to create an effective campaign. They also don’t know how to budget for a PPC campaign. For example, you really need to understand a number of factors: average LTV (life time value) of a client, Maximum CPA (cost per acquisition – this should generally be no more than 1/3) and your conversion rates (this requires data crunching from Google Analytics and other tools).
If your head is spinning, that’s normal. Or maybe it’s not. I’m not a doctor.
The point is, PPC can be incredibly profitable if it’s executed effectively.
Leave it with LegalSites so you can focus on what you do best.
This is the art of creating free media to engage with your audience online. Including: articles, videos, webinars, guides, e-books, podcasts and so on.
Why should you bother?
First, it helps with SEO because your content can show up in search results. Content can also improve your ranking because it will keep people engaged on your website for longer and reduce ‘bounce’ rates. That is, the number of people ‘clicking off’ because they got bored or didn’t find what they wanted.
Second, downloadable content can be used as a ‘lead magnet’ to obtain a visitor’s email address. This is a great way to build your email list and turn warm leads into conversions.
Third, content marketing builds trust with your audience. For example, a video can show visitors that you’re actually a really nice person who know’s their sh*t.
Important note: Content marketing should be consistent and high value. It takes time and experience to do it well. Don’t start a blog or a YouTube channel if you suspect you might miss a few weeks. Chances are you will start with plenty of vigour and quickly run out of time. If someone sees that you haven’t maintained your consistency, it looks unprofessional.
LegalSites can handle your content marketing and keep the train moving.
Speaking Engagements, Workshops, and Webinars
These are a great tool for engaging with a large audience of potential clients. Provide free information upfront and generate warm leads as a result.
It’s especially effective for estate planning firms. You can do seminars at local libraries or retirement communities who are looking for more information on how to plan their wills and estates.
Webinars are a more tech-savvy spin on workshops. Whilst you might not reach many retirees, you can open yourself up to a new marketplace. For example, some firms are eliminating ‘free consultations’ and replacing them with free webinars. This lets them leverage their time to reach an unlimited audience.
There are many ways to do this. A common approach is sending a monthly newsletter to an email list of colleagues and clients. It’s a cost-effective way to stay ‘top-of-mind’ with your referral sources and client-base. In other words, you might not receive repeat business from everyone your list, but it might remind them of someone who needs your services.
Your newsletter should clearly state the type of information contained and how often it will be distributed. This gives the audience an expectation for quality and consistency. Otherwise, it might be construed as a lazy attempt to grab their email.
People are overloaded by spammy marketing these days. They’re sick of it. Stand out from the pack by offering tremendous value.
Email marketing can also warm up potential leads into clients. For example, create a ‘lead magnet’ in exchange for an email address. Here at LegalSites, we offer a 5-day email course on SEO. This provides outstanding value to our leads and demonstrates our expertise. It’s also more accessible because a daily email is easier to commit to than a bulky e-book. As a result, our leads are more inclined to hire us because we have proven our expertise and trustworthiness.
Also, the average attention span is probably dropping on a daily basis! For example, most people will click off a website if it doesn’t load fully in three seconds. This is why you need to offer value straight away. Providing a quick reward in exchange for an email address is an effective way to increase leads. It will also encourage the same people to return to your website. More traffic = better Google ranking = more leads.
This is possibly the most under-utilised marketing tool in the legal industry. Chances are your competition think it’s ‘just for kids’ and a ‘waste of time’. If so, you’re in luck. Let them dig their heads in the sand while you reach an untapped audience.
Leverage social media to display your skills and expertise. Achieve this by posting informative articles and communicating with your audience. If a post is well-received, ‘boost it’ with advertising. Let your audience know that you care about their concerns and you’re ‘one of them’.
Don’t stick to articles. Experiment with visual and audio. The data shows that video is taking over social media. Therefore, try a few things and see what sticks.
Also, consider your channels. If your audience is mostly over 30, focus on Facebook. If you’re targeting millennials, try Instagram. And if you specialise in the media industry, hang out on Twitter. Or perhaps you have interests in numerous practice areas. If so, dominate all relevant platforms.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. That’s why the top law firms are leveraging social media marketing agencies (SMMA’s) and hiring in-house. Consider contacting LegalSites to see how we can help.
4: Law Firm Marketing Tactics
Tactics = how
For example, if you want more referrals, you might need to attend one networking event per month and organise your contacts in a CRM. Perhaps you want to improve your presence in Google search results? You can have a go yourself or hire an expert. Did you know that LegalSites use a premium SEO tool to analyse what our client’s competitors are doing? This helps us skyrocket our clients to the top of Google search results. It’s totally up to you though.
Here’s a quick example of how everything fits together (goals, metrics, channels & tactics):
Jessica wants to sign up 2 new clients per month for her criminal defense practice. In 12 months, Jessica wants to hire a new solicitor. This new member of staff will mostly handle ‘first time offenders’ and Jessica will work on the more complicated cases.
Jessica is receiving regular referrals but her website is ranking poorly on search results. She paid a friend of hers to build a Wix website and ‘do her SEO’ but the ROI has been underwhelming. It looks like her friend was ‘out of their depth’ and it’s time she hired an expert.
She suspects that she can tap into the market of ‘first time offenders’ and people who are new to the criminal justice system. Jessica just needs to improve her Google visibility.
LegalSites is hired by Jess on a monthly retainer to work on her website and SEO. They use a variety of premium software tools and SEO strategies to boost Jessica’s ranking. It’s time consuming and challenging to execute. However, the ROI is essentially limitless.
Legalsites is dedicated to the success of Jessica’s firm because it helps her and reflects well on them. Therefore, they consistently optimise and work hard on all the weird ‘techy’ stuff that is required to succeed in a competitive marketplace.
You’ve come a long way today. Congrats. It’s good to have you here.
Chances are that you know more about lawyer marketing than 99% of your peers. That’s pretty cool.
If you want more information on how LegalSites can leverage digital marketing for your law firm, get in touch.