Law firm marketing in the modern era is nothing like it used to be a few decades ago. Today, potential clients have the ability to find a lawyer with just a few short clicks on their smartphone or computer, a far cry from finding a lawyer in a phonebook.
Moreover, the legal industry as whole isn’t being left behind during the digital era either. A survey conducted by the American Bar Association (“ABA”) in 2020 found that 67% of attorney-respondents reported having to stay abreast of technology’s benefits and risks as a part of their firm’s core competency requirements. But the depth of technical knowledge required to practice law isn’t the only thing that’s changed over the years. The various methods lawyers use to market their practice has changed as well.
As it stands now, law firm marketing involves the use of multiple, sophisticated means of disseminating information, and it’s simply not enough to hand out business cards or even brochures anymore. Your clients not only need to know who you are, but also, they expect you to educate them as to what exactly it is that you do.
Consequently, regardless of whether you’re a member of a large firm with hundreds of associates or a solo practitioner, your clients expect for you to decimate high-quality, interesting information in places where users search for that information, and to do that, you are going to need to utilize the most advanced law firm marketing techniques available, which is why the members of the SMB Team have assembled a power-packed list of advanced marketing techniques that will give you the tools you need to grow your practice in the modern age. So let’s get started!
10 Powerful Law Firm Marketing Strategies that Facilitate Law Firm Growth!
Currently in the United States, the ABA estimates that there are over 1.3 million lawyers located throughout the nation, and the Bureau of Labour Statistics (“BLS”) estimates that the employment for lawyers is set to grow at a rate of 4% from 2019 to 2029, about the same as every other industry.
However, the BLS also found that we are producing attorneys faster than we are creating jobs for them. These statistics combined indicate that your law firm has a lot of competitors and that we will soon be approaching a saturated legal market, assuming we aren’t experiencing one already.
The situation as whole is synonymous with what we saw following the real estate collapse of 2008 when an army of law students were left scrambling to find jobs, and we’re not the only ones who think so. Above the Law just released an article making a similar prediction.
What does all this mean for you?
It means that clients are becoming a commodity, and now is the time to invest in a law firm marketing strategy that ensures that you will have a steady stream of work in the future. To accomplish this, you’re going to have to harness a legal marketing strategy that is creative, concise, and driven by cutting edge marketing technology, but first, you need to create a marketing plan for your firm.
1. Utilize Strategic Law Firm Marketing Techniques, Not Just “Advertising.”
Gone are the days when law firms could just run an ad in the newspaper or on television and expect to acquire more clients than they could handle. Most law firms today realize that traditional marketing channels are slowly dying because they are inefficient, costly, and imprecise.
For example the Super Bowl, arguably the most highly televised sporting event in the United States. About 91.6 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl in 2021, and the cost of running a 30-second in-game advertisement was about 5.5 million dollars. When you break down the numbers, this means that a company would spend roughly $17 per viewer to reach 91.6 million people.
However, when we start to ask some questions, the flaw in this type of mass advertising becomes apparent.
For example, how many of those viewers are children? How many of those viewers actually saw your ad? Were they eating or having a conversation when it played? Are they even the type of person who could in theory purchase your product? You would agree that it wouldn’t make sense to advertise legal services to a child or family law services to an unmarried adult with no children correct?
Strategic Law Firm Marketing vs. Advertising
These questions demonstrate the imprecision associated with traditional advertising channels. In contrast, strategic law firm marketing allows you to utilize multiple marketing channels to target a specific group of people based on their geographic location, age, interests, and more!
Moreover, as opposed to simply spending a lump sum of money in hopes of reaching a group of people, strategic law firm marketing allows you to control how much money is spent on each marketing medium based on its performance. In addition, the “strategic” element of this type of marketing begins with the creation of a legal marketing plan that outlines, in detail, how you are going to implement your strategy. This plan should include, among other things:
- A target customer profile that identifies the type of clients that you are trying to reach in each practice area. For example, if medical malpractice cases are more profitable than dog bite claims, target medical malpractice leads. If older car accident victims tend to have higher damages than younger victims, target elder car accident victims.
- A complete marketing scheme that identifies all of the marketing channels you intend to use that year and a budget for each channel.
- A content calendar to schedule when you plan to release new content
- A performance review schedule to track the performance of each marketing channel you utilize, so you can modify your approach on an ongoing basis.
2. Create a Law Firm Marketing Budget that Complements Your Marketing Strategy
It may seem elementary to tell you that you need to make a budget, but the hard fact is, 37% of law firms with 10-49 lawyers, 68% of law firms with 2-9 lawyers, and 86% of solo practitioners do not take the time to make an annual marketing budget according to the ABA.
According to the them (and we agree), the creation of a budget is the logical first step to bridging the marketing gap among small law firms and their larger counterparts, but we would take it a step further and argue that you need to a create a budget that complements your law firm marketing strategy based on the value generated from your law firm’s marketing efforts. In other words, the size of your marketing budgets should reflect that you are investing in long-term growth, and you should think about cases almost as a commodity, in terms of costs and projected profits, when you are creating your budget.
Crafting Your Legal Marketing Budget: Tips and Tricks
Say that you are a personal injury attorney from Florida, for example, who wants to increase the number of car accident claims you handle each year, and you’ve decided to invest $50,000, a little less than $5,000 per month, in marketing over the course of the next year. You know that most auto-loan lenders require their borrowers to carry $10,000 in bodily injury coverage in your state and that your standard pre-suite fee in a car accident case is 33%, or $3,300.
With this information in mind, you can calculate or project how many actual cases your marketing budget needs to generate in order for you to make a profit. To recoup your investment and make a modest profit, your marketing budget needs to generate at least five qualified leads, i.e. clients with legitimate car accident claims that you are willing to accept, per month or $16,500 in revenue, which would allow you to recoup your $5,000 investment for the month and have $11,500 left for other expenses.
This type of budgeting allows you to see your marketing dollars grow and make informed marketing decisions, but it’s not possible if you don’t have a way to track how many cases are being generated by your marketing budget. To do that, you need data!
3. Use Data Analysis to Craft Your Law Firm Marketing Strategy
User data is the lifeblood of any legal marketing strategy, and there are a host of different tools offered by Google that you can use for free to gather information about the potential clients that visit your website. For now, we are going to focus on Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Put simply, Google Analytics is a program that gathers data about the users that visit your website and organizes that data into reports for you to review. The reports themselves look something like this.
Google Analytics is a powerful program that will gather user data from every page on your website, and it allows you to see, among other things, the type of device that users use to visit your site, their general geographic location, how users found your website (such as through social media or a search engine), and how they long spent looking at content on your website. Moreover, Google Analytics also provides you with data on metrics that can affect your website’s ranking on Google such as your website’s bounce rate.
Google Search Console for Law Firms
In contrast, Google Search Console provides you with data on how your website performs such as which search terms a user has clicked on to visit your site, whether Google has crawled specific web pages on your website, and whether your website is mobile-friendly. Significantly, you can allow both of these programs to share information through a process called association, which is simply the process of connecting certain Google programs together to facilitate the sharing of data between them.
The data that these programs gather can then be used to make informed decisions concerning your law firm’s marketing strategy. Lastly, if you are worried that you aren’t knowledgeable enough to effectively use Google Analytics, Google has you covered because they offer free Google Analytics training for beginners.
4. Use Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Develop Your Law Firm’s Reputation Within Your Local Community
Marketing, in general, is a great way to reach potential new clients, but word-of-mouth marketing (“WOMM”) is one of the most powerful means of marketing available, especially for attorneys. As you know, your clients don’t just want a lawyer; they want the best lawyer that can deliver the best resolution possible in their case. WOMM ensures that when this need arises, your law firm is the first thing that comes to mind.
WOMM in the Legal Marketing Context
Have you ever asked a friend or colleague about a service and received the response, “I have someone I use for that?” Maybe you were asking about an accountant or perhaps a mechanic. Either way, that response is word-of-mouth marketing.
Put simply, WOMM in the legal or lawyer marketing context is the process whereby past clients actively promote your practice to their friends, family, and acquaintances, and it is powerful because in most cases, this type of conversation will only occur if the person inquiring actually has a legal claim.
In other words, most of the leads generated through WOMM are qualified leads, and you have probably already experienced the fruits of this process in the past. However, WOMM involves more than simply hoping that clients will make referrals; it can be manufactured by the way you treat and engage with your clients. In the context of WOMM, you need to have what marketers refer to as the three E’s: engage, equip, and empower. When you harness these concepts, the net result is that you have built a customer-centric law firm.
What is a Customer Centric Law Firm?
Customer Centric firms specifically focus on surpassing their clients’ expectations as much as possible and going out of their way to provide impeccable customer service. Customer centricity is interconnected with the three E’s because the three E’s are a necessary ingredient in having a customer centric mindset.
For example, engagement is precisely what it appears to be engaging with clients by providing them with superior legal representation. As you probably already know, the practice of law is a business that is built on relationships and social interactions, attorney and client, plaintiff and defendant, etc. Engaging with clients clearly informs them of the depth of your knowledge and the superiority of the services you provide over that of your competitors.
Equip, however, differs from engagement in that at this step, you are giving clients something to talk about or brag on. This is the step where some attorneys fall short. Ask yourself, how long does it take for your clients to schedule a telephone conference with you or to reach you by email? If a client called your office right now, could they speak with someone to get a status update on their case or to answer a case-related question immediately? These are the areas where your office can shine and equip your clients with information to talk about (a big settlement or court victory doesn’t hurt either). But the point is, you need to dedicate your time to delivering an effortless customer-service experience to clients, so they have positive things to say to their inner circle.
Empower is the final and probably easiest step because you can control it. It involves giving your clients a place to talk about your services. This could be accomplished through social media campaigns, leaving reviews, or website testimonials.
5. Create Useful and Informative Content for Your Law Firm’s Website
When a client visits your website, they aren’t just looking to hire an attorney. They are also looking for information, so your website should serve as a tool that clients can use to educate themselves on the law that is applicable to their claim. Moreover, Google ranks websites based on their “expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a given topic.” The problem with the legal marketing strategy that most law firms implement is that their websites look and appear more like a sales pitch than an authoritative source.
How do you fix this? It’s easy.
You’re a lawyer with a large amount of knowledge concerning your areas of expertise, so write and create content that reflects that. For example, according to the ABA’s 2020 Websites & Marketing Report, about 27% of law firms don’t maintain a blog, but this is an excellent place to post useful, authoritative information that will attract clients and achieve high rankings with search engines like Google.
Create Content that is Authoritative and Unique!
Moreover, regardless of who is creating the content for your site, make sure that it is written using proper legal terminology, citations, and references. So, don’t just write “if you have been involved in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation.”
Rather, you should write that “most car accident claims involve an allegation of negligence. In a negligence action, you may be able to recover what are called compensatory damages, and they come in two forms, economic and noneconomic damages.”
Terminology such as negligence, compensatory damages, and economic and noneconomic damages is unique to lawyers and is associated with authoritativeness, so use them in a manner that is authoritative but not so complex that your clients don’t understand the topic being discussed. Moreover, less than 20% of your competitors incorporate outside legal articles, outside guides or forms, and links to administrative or court websites into their website according to the ABA, so capitalize on these weaknesses by incorporating these resources into your site for your clients to access.
6. Structure Your Law Firm’s Website to Enhance the User Experience
In addition to offering content that’s authoritative and useful, your website should be structured to enhance the overall user experience. To do this, you’re going to want to focus on three key areas: navigability, useability, and content diversity. Navigability refers to a user’s ability to navigate your website with very little or no effort searching for what they are looking for. Some aspects of gauging your website’s navigability are obvious such as placing content where a user would expect to find it. For example, most users would expect a menu option titled “patent law” to take them to a page with information about, you guessed it, patent law.
Similarly, most users expect for there to be a “contact us” button or link at the top and bottom of each page or for the search bar to be located near the top of each page in the left or right-hand corner, but other aspects of your website’s navigability are more nuanced. Remember, the goal is for the user to be able to effortlessly navigate your website, so you may consider adding additional content that increases the site’s overall navigability such as sidebars with links to related pages that change depending on which page a user is viewing or an additional menu at the bottom of each web page that allows users to navigate your website with ease.
Harnessing Usability and Content Diversity as Legal Marketing Tools
Useability refers to a user’s ability to actually use some of the tools your website offers. The most common tool in the legal marketing arena is a contact form. Have you ever wondered if your contact forms ask for too much information? Do users get annoyed by having to answer multiple questions on your site? If the answer to these questions (which Google Analytics can help determine) is yes, then you have a useability issue and need to make your forms easier to fill out. Other useability questions that lawyers might have to consider include whether clients can access videos, documents, or issue payments through their website.
The next step in your website analysis involves considering the various types of content offered on your website. Offering written content and media, such as videos and pictures, keeps users engaged because many users might become bored if all they can do on your website is read. They expect a variety of engaging content, and the more engaging the content you offer is, the higher you will rank on Google.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are excellent tools for gaining insights into your site’s navigability, useability, and content diversity, so begin your analysis by checking some of the key metrics for your site such as your website’s average session time, each web page’s average page time and bounce rate, and whether your site has any broken links or is generating any media errors. If these metrics are poor, you may want to consider speaking with an SEO specialist about your website’s performance.
7. Integrate Comprehensive SEO Strategies into Your Law Firm Marketing Plan
As it stands currently, Google is processing about 2 trillion searches per year worldwide and about 40-60 billion searches per month in the United States. Moreover, of the users that search for a particular term, about 27% click on the first organic search result, so it’s pretty clear that search engine optimization (“SEO”) is something that your business should be investing in.
However, SEO encompases more than just simply creating a website that “gets on” Google; it is a comprehensive process that encompasses multiple facets of your website’s performance and interaction with Google and clients. Consequently, the SMB Team has gathered a list of quick tips to help you get your website ready to rank #1 on Google.
Law Firm Marketing through SEO: The Fundamentals
It’s first important to understand the basics as to how Google works. Google uses a software called crawlers to analyze and index web pages. Significantly, this program is analyzing computer code, media such as pictures or videos cannot be analyzed by the program unless they have some text associated with them for the crawlers to analyze in an effort to try to understand what the image or video is about.
Moreover, the crawlers themselves follow each aspect of a webpage, so if you include a link to a source or to another webpage on your site, the crawlers will follow and analyze that webpage. Once a page has been crawled, Google will choose whether or not it wants to index the webpage. These concepts bring us to our first set of tips for optimizing your website:
- Make sure you are incorporating relevant keywords into each web page on your website by conducting keyword research. You can accomplish this by creating a free Google Ad Words account and utilizing the keyword planner function (which is discussed in detail in the targeted advertising section of this page).
- Always include a metadata description for each webpage on your website
Create unique titles and headings for each webpage that incorporate your keywords
- Each web page should have a logical heading structure that resembles an outline (h2, H2, H3, etc.)
- Always write descriptive alt text and file titles for your images
- Always link to authoritative, trustworthy sources. You’re always safe linking to government, educational, and well known news sources.
- Actively check your website for broken links. Remember, websites change over time, so if you linked to a source a year ago, check to make sure the webpage is still available.
- Use both internal and external links in your webpages. Internal links, i.e. linking one page on your website to another, allows both users and Google to easily navigate your website, whereas external links, those leading to other authoritative sites, show Google and users that your website is authoritative by the fact that you only utilize authoritative sources
The list above is not extensive and only covers some of the basic technical SEO techniques you should incorporate into your website. As in most cases, you should always speak with a law firm marketing specialist who can outline precisely what you should do to fully optimize your site!
Use Local Listing Optimization to Maximize Your Law Firm’s Local Presence
Whether you know it or not, you’ve already seen local listing optimization in action more than once. Simply put, local listing optimization is the process of ensuring that all of the information posted online about your law firm (address, practice areas, hours of operation, etc.) is consistent across all of your marketing channels. This allows your practice to capture as much local business as possible based on each user’s proximity to your geographic location. One of the biggest tools to help you accomplish this is a free Google My Business account. You may recognize what a Google My Business account looks like from your own online shopping.
Google My Business is a free service offered by Google that allows you to post information about your practice and collect data on how users interact with your profile. You can include directions to your office, a link to your website, a call button for users to contact your firm, and even a place for customers to leave reviews. However, like every other SEO tool you will utilize in your law firm marketing campaign, you need to make sure that:
- You keep all of the information on your Google My Business profile accurate and up to date including your practice areas, addresses, phone numbers, and photos of your office.
- You consistently respond to Google reviews regardless of whether they are negative or positive
- The information on your Google My Business profile matches the information posted on your website and across social media.
Remember, the goal of local listing optimization is to ensure that your contact information is consistent across all platforms, so if you maintain any profiles through your local bar association, on social media (which we will discuss momentarily), or any reputable online directories, you need to make sure that the information listed across these platforms is the same down to even the most minute detail. But be careful. You do not want to post your information on online directories that are considered spam, which can hurt your online presence. So choose wisely when you create an online profile, and if you are ever in doubt, contact a law firm marketing specialist for some advice.
Your Law Firm Marketing & SEO Strategy Should Utilize All Social Media Platforms
Announcing jury verdicts, posting contact information, and keeping clients engaged and involved with your brand are just a few of the law firm marketing tasks that can be accomplished through social media.
Moreover, maintaining a profile on each major social media platform is free, and you should ensure that all of the information about your practice within your social media profiles is the same as the information you have posted on your website and your Google My Business profile.
To begin with, start with the largest social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. From there, you can branch out to platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok. Significantly, you need to use these platforms strategically as a means of gaining immediate traffic for any piece of content you release.
Strategic Social Media Management
A company like Facebook has roughly 1.8 billion daily active users, and these users represent an opportunity for law firms. By posting each piece of content you create on social media, you are immediately inviting your followers to view your content. Moreover, it’s effective. According to the ABA, 29% of lawyers who use social media for professional purposes report receiving at least one client from their social media profiles.
Moreover, the more content you post on social media, the more users will engage with that content, as long as you are focusing on creating useful, engaging content that users want to read. Social media posts also keep your brand in the minds of your past clients, which is, of course, the way you encourage those clients to turn into repeat customers or to make personal referrals.
Make Mobile SEO Techniques a Large Part of Your Law Firm’s Marketing Strategy
Beginning in July of 2019, Google announced that it would be implementing a mobile-first indexing strategy. Meaning, that mobile-friendly web pages would be indexed prior to and given preference over web pages that were only designed to fit a desktop computer screen. This announcement caused the entire online industry to move towards responsive web design, which means that your website adapts to the screen that the user is viewing it on. This shift occurred for a host of reasons.
First, most users utilize mobile devices in some form to view websites online. About 53% of users worldwide operate mobile devices, whereas 47% of users worldwide operate desktops. Unsurprisingly, this ratio for Americans specifically is much higher. According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans own a smartphone, and three quarters of adults now own a laptop computer. Second, users are actively using their mobile devices to make purchasing decisions.
According to Google, nearly 1 out of every 3 mobile searches are related to location, nearly 2 out of every 3 mobile searchers are likely to buy from companies that offer mobile content that’s specific to their geographic location, and 76% of mobile users who search on their smartphone for something nearby (for example “criminal attorney near me”) visit a business within one day. In short, mobile SEO is the future and will become the industry norm soon, if it hasn’t already.
Like traditional SEO, mobile SEO involves the implementation of a set of best practices, and the SMB Team has compiled a list of tips and tricks to get you started:
- Only use high-quality photos that have been compressed and optimized for load speed based on Google’s best image practices
- Present content in short concise paragraphs (normally not more than 250 words) that are easy for users to read on a mobile device.
Provide high quality thumbnails for your videos and utilize a video format that Google supports
- Regularly check the mobile friendliness of your website on Google Search Console and promptly fix any errors such as broken links or missing information from images or videos.
- Regularly check each web page’s load speed and performance with Google Page Speed Insights
- Always use a responsive coding language for your website or maintain two separate websites, one mobile and one desktop version
Mobile SEO is complex, and it is often necessary to confer with an SEO specialist who focuses their business on law firms specifically for advice. Consequently, building an ongoing relationship with a law firm marketing agency is always a good idea.
8. Market Your Law Firm Through Targeted Ads, Not Traditional Ads.
Targeted advertising allows you to specifically focus on a subset of the population that is most likely to be in need of your services. This focus can be based on a host of different factors such as geographic location, age, profession, or other user demographics. Moreover, with the creation of the pay-per-click (“PPC”) model and the cost-per-view (“CPV”) model used by Youtube and other video advertisers like Facebook and Instagram, targeted advertising is far more cost-effective than its traditional counterparts.
Targeted Advertising Through Law Firm PPC
Many of these platforms offer a traditional PPC format, which simply means that you will only be charged if a user clicks on your ad. However, video ads come in a host of different formats. For example, you will only be charged for a skippable video ad on youtube if the user actually watches the entire ads, whereas non-skippable video ads must be viewed by the user before their chosen video will play. Regardless of which type of ad you choose, you need to create a free Google Ad Words account. When you create the account you will be asked for your credit card information, but once you have gone through your initial introduction to the platform, you can pause the first campaign you made, which will stop you from being charged anything. This account will allow you to:
Conduct keyword research using Google’s keyword planner. The keyword planner allows you to see what keywords potential clients are searching for in your area.
Gain insights into keywords that are gaining popularity by utilizing the keyword planner’s forecasting function
Create ads for both Google Search and Youtube
Gain insights about the interests of the users that visit your websites each month by associating your Google Analytics account with your Google Ad Words account, which allows you to create ads that are tailor-made to your audience’s interests
Create a monthly PPC and video ad budget that fits your law firm’s needs and allows you to control how much you spend on ads each month
Google also utilizes an attribution model that allows you to determine the efficacy of each of your ads. In most cases, a user might see your ad more than one time before clicking on it. In the past, the credit for a click was attributed to the ad that the user clicked on, but the attribution model allows you analyze the efficacy of each ad that the user interacted with to determine which of your ads was most effective in actually getting the user to click on it. This allows you to continuously evaluate existing ads and gain insights for creating new ads.
Law Firm PPC on Social Media
All of the major social media platforms offer targeted online advertising options, and like Google and Youtube, they all allow you to set a monthly social media budget to ensure that you can control how much you spend. Facebook is by far one of the most effective social media platforms for law firms to advertise on followed by Linkedin, but Facebook is particularly important because of the number of people who use the platform daily and the vast amount of information it gathers about its users.
This allows Facebook to offer ads that are targeted based on a host of demographics that in some cases can even be more specific than Google. Once you’ve ran some ads on social media and Google, don’t be afraid to make some adjustments. Testing targeted ads across multiple platforms allows you to determine which ads are most effective in terms of performance and cost.
9. Maintain an Ongoing Relationship with Your Clients Through Social Media and Email
Most attorney resolve a dispute, send a closing letter to their client, and move on to the next claim, but this practice represents a missed opportunity because old clients can still be repeat clients in the future, good referral sources, and users who may still visit your website and read your content, which helps your rankings on Google.
Due to this, you need to make client engagement one of the central tenants of your legal marketing strategy and actively take steps to engage with past clients. Wish your clients happy birthday on social media. Actively share and post information from your website that clients will find interesting. Or send emails with a quarterly newsletter that updates clients on relevant changes in the law in your areas of expertise.
The goal is to maintain ongoing, long-term relationships with your clients, so they will utilize your services in the future or immediately think of you when they are referring a friend in need of legal services.
10. Track the Progress of Your Marketing Campaign Each Month
The key to any legal marketing strategy is to implement the strategy, evaluate its performance, and modify your approach to maximize your ROI, so your law firm marketing plan should include a regular evaluation schedule. Significantly, you’re going to have to determine what your law firm defines success to be.
For example, if you can see that your website’s getting plenty of traffic but people aren’t actually contacting your firm through your sight, your SEO is effective, but you may need to do a conversion rate optimization analysis. Consequently, the success of each technique you utilize is a fact-specific determination, but if you regularly evaluate your law firm’s marketing strategy, you will be able to not only determine what is effective but also, constantly improve your overall approach and gain more leads.
The SMB Team: The #1 Name in Law Firm Marketing
Still have questions? The SMB Team is ready to help! The SMB Team has help hundreds of lawyers just like you achieve their marketing goals and get on the pathway to growing their practice, so if your thinking of launching a legal marketing campaign, are in need of marketing coaching, or just need some advice on how to best promote your legal practice, contact the SMB Team now!