Law Firm Internet marketing

5 Powerful Strategies To Use in 2020

Written By: Bill Hauser
@thesmbteam

If you’ve been trying to keep up with the latest best practices for law firm internet marketing in the past few years, then you might be feeling a little overwhelmed at this point. Sometimes, it seems like the world of digital marketing is moving faster than you can ever hope to catch it.

Here’s something that will make you feel better, though: you don’t have to focus on every single strategy this year to be successful in promoting your business. No law firm is executing every marketing strategy perfectly in 2020, especially all at once.

In fact, if you try to do too many things at once, then you’re going to be spreading yourself too thin and you won’t do any of them well. It would be like trying to read a case file while taking incoming calls and answering emails at the same time—you technically can do them all at once, but you’re not really getting anything done in the end.

The secret to effective law firm internet marketing in 2020 is to identify the most important strategies for your firm specifically and to become laser-focused on implementing them to the best of your ability. To help you accomplish this, we’ve used our extensive knowledge of law firm marketing to pull together the top 5 most powerful strategies that law firms can use this year to attract new clients.

Remember: The Basics Stay the Same

If you’re overwhelmed by all of the new marketing techniques and tools available for law firm marketing, stop for a moment and take a breath. Specific techniques and technologies might change, but the principles of marketing always stay basically the same. Knowing who you are trying to target with your marketing and speaking to the specific needs of those clients will always be the most important factor in your success.

Furthermore, even though digital marketing has changed a lot in the last few years (goodbye and good riddance to keyword stuffing), many of the same strategies are still being used today, just with different best practices. Keeping up with the latest best practices just means tweaking your approach based on market conditions—not reinventing the wheel every single year.

With that in mind, here are your top 5 law firm internet marketing strategies to get more cases in 2020.

Strategy 1: Overhaul Your Law Firm Website Design

It’s 2020, and there’s no excuse for a website that looks like it’s straight out of 1999. In the past, you could get away with a very basic site because not that many lawyers even had their own websites. Today, though, you need to step it up. Your website is your online storefront, and you need to be absolutely sure that it’s making a great first impression for prospective clients.

If you’re not 100% confident that your website is optimized to meet the needs of your ideal client, then a law firm website design overhaul should be at the top of your marketing to-do list this year. Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan your redesign.

Make it Easy to Make a Quick Decision

The number one thing to keep in mind as you plan your website design is not how fancy it should look. Instead, think about making it easy for prospective clients to take the next step in the buyer’s journey.

What action do you want people to take after they’ve visited your site? Whether you want them to book a consultation via your contact form, pick up the phone to call you, or get on your email list, it’s crucial to make that next step as easy as possible.

Create Focused Goals and Craft a Simple Message

To create a law firm website design that brings in new cases, you need to start with a clear goal. What do you want your website to do for clients? What’s the next step in the process after a prospect visits your site and how will you guide them to take that action? These are questions that only you can answer since your law firm operations are unique to your business. The answers will help guide you during the design process.

Think about your market. Does your practice work in a fast-moving niche like personal injury, where people are making decisions about which firm to hire right away? Or are you in a slower-moving niche like estate law, which might require extra nurturing during the research phase? Your design should reflect your niche and your calls-to-action (CTA) should be appropriately urgent

Once you’ve settled on a goal, keep your message simple and focused. People don’t want to spend a lot of time reading when they visit your site. They want to find out how you can help them as quickly as possible. If you have a lot of text on your homepage, chances are good that your visitors are only going to skim your content or give up altogether. Keep the message simple and client-focused.

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Get it Designed Professionally

It can be very tempting to skimp on website design. After all, it’s more important to serve your clients well than it is to shell out for a professional design, right? In theory, yes. In practice, you need to remember that your website functions as that all-important first impression for your business.

If you step your law firm internet marketing game up to bring in more traffic, then most of your site visitors won’t have heard of you before. Make the investment and get your website designed professionally.

When you start to look for a designer, it’s important to consider your options and to look at examples of a designer’s previous work before you make a decision. It’s always best to go with a firm, agency, or freelance designer with experience in law firm website design specifically.

You MUST also ask about whether or not you will “own” your website after you’re done working with an agency or designer. You don’t want to be stuck with exorbitant buyout fees at the best and no website at all at the worst, should you ever decide to cut ties with your designer.

Show Faces & Connect

People don’t buy from you because of your professional accolades and how many badges you’ve put on your website. They want to be able to trust a real person and they’re almost never interested in reading pages of bland content.

If you want to connect, put your picture on your website. If you want to really connect, make some high-quality videos that address your clients’ most common pain points. You’ll establish that all-important trust quickly and compete with a modern medium that most lawyers aren’t using in their marketing yet.

Don’t Make it About You

When it comes to the content on your site, it’s important to know two things. First, more isn’t better. People don’t read anymore; they skim. They want to make the decision about whether or not to contact you quickly and they don’t want to feel like you’re wasting their time. Just say no to big blocks of text. Make it short and sweet.

In the content you do include, it’s important to remember that it’s not all about you. If you only talk about you, your firm’s accomplishments, and what YOU do, people aren’t going to contact you. They want to know how you can help them and what sets you apart from other firms.

Ask yourself a few questions before you overhaul the copy on your site. What is it that your clients love about you? How are you able to meet their needs? What questions do they ask you? By answering these questions, you can come up with copy that’s client-focused and doesn’t look inward.

Think About Your Colors & Commission a Unique Logo

If you hire a qualified designer who has worked with law firms in the past, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the design itself. You should never sign off on anything without looking it over and thinking about it first, but if you define your site goals carefully, you can leave most of your law firm website design in the hands of your designer.

With that said, you should pay extra attention to two major design elements: your colors and your logo. Most law firms incorporate stale and played-out imagery like gavels or partner names in their logo design, or simply don’t have a logo at all. Instead of going that route, work with a designer to come up with a fresh logo that reflects your brand. Yes, every law firm is a brand and your logo should give clients a subtle taste of what they can expect from you.

When it comes to color, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your call-to-action (CTA) buttons should be in a contrasting color from your main website color scheme. You want those CTAs to stand out, but you don’t want to be forced into using a color that looks odd simply because you needed to use a contrasting color.

Make it Mobile-Optimized

There’s no getting around it: the world is going mobile. Just because you’re usually accessing your site at your desk doesn’t mean that your potential clients are doing the same. They’ll be looking at your website while they’re in line at the grocery store, on the bus, or on their lunch break.

Desktop sites look clunky on a mobile device and will scare some potential clients away. On top of that, Google’s algorithm has moved to “mobile-first” indexing, which prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in the search rankings.

When you start your law firm website design overhaul, communicate with potential designers about the importance of creating a mobile-friendly site. Most designers today default to making their designs mobile-friendly, but it’s important to double check.

Load it Fast

It’s something so simple, yet easy to overlook: your website’s speed. Let’s face it, most people have the attention span and patience of a goldfish, and they don’t want to wait more than a second or two for your website to load. It’s really shocking how quickly people lose patience and click away, but we expect a level of load speed these days and it’s important to live up to those expectations.

Site speed also factors into the next strategy we’re going to talk about. SEO (search engine optimization) ranking factors include your page load time. If your page isn’t fast enough, your search engine ranking could take a hit.

Strategy 2: Get on Top of Your SEO Strategy

SEO, or search engine optimization, is hugely important for lawyers and is the main source of organic traffic online. It’s a long-term strategy that can lead to more phone and email inquiries month after month, without paying for ads or other types of exposure. Though the algorithms powering search engines like Google are always evolving to make searches more useful for users, SEO continues to be a key strategy in law firm internet marketing.

You might think that successful lawyer SEO is all about using the right keywords, but there are also many other factors that go into optimizing your firm’s online presence. Keywords and keyphrases are important, but you need to consider other ranking factors if you want to create an effective lawyer SEO strategy. In 2020, focus on these SEO-boosting activities.

Leverage Google My Business

Most law firms operate within a specific geographic area. If you’re practicing in Philadelphia, then there’s no point in marketing to people in Austin. Unfortunately, general lawyer SEO rankings have websites from all over the world competing for the same few top spots in the search results. Even if you’re part of a large and prestigious firm in your area, you’re probably not going to rank above those huge, national legal sites.

There is some good news, though. Google My Business (GMB) offers more ranking opportunities for companies that operate in a specific region. It’s sort of like a modern-day phone book—the listings show up above the general search results and under a local map when people search for keywords in a specific geographic area. The competition is much lower within GMB and the traffic will be more relevant to your goals.

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Search results and under a local map when people search for keywords in a specific geographic area. The competition is much lower within GMB and the traffic will be more relevant to your goals.

Searchers don’t even have to be specifically adding terms like “in New York” to their search query—location data can also trigger Google My Business listings. GMB gives you an edge over the huge national sites at the time it matters most: when potential clients in your area are ready to make a call and are looking for the right firm to help them.

Google My Business has lots of great features that make it easy for clients to find you and learn more about why you’re the best choice for their legal needs. In addition to your business hours, phone number, and specific legal niche, you can accrue powerful reviews that build trust and boost your search rankings.

You can even create posts within Google My Business that can be used to promote your content, special events, and other news involving your firm. It’s like the Yellow Pages—but much, much more.

Get Serious About Content Marketing

Speaking of content marketing, it’s an important strategy for SEO that you should be investing in throughout 2020 and beyond. Now, you don’t have to personally spend hours every week creating content—that’s probably not the best use of your time. But it is true that your SEO rankings will improve with a consistent content marketing strategy. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to think about delegating content creation so you can focus on other aspects of your business.

One of the best ways to get started in content marketing is to generate a list of questions that your clients ask you and then answer those questions as thoroughly as you can to fuel content for your blog (yes, you should have a blog). You don’t have to write these down; it’s okay to record them as if you were speaking to someone across the desk from you. It can feel a lot more natural that way.

Once you’ve made a recording or typed out the list of questions and answers, hand that project off to a writer. It’s never been easier to hire someone to create your content, and a good writer should be able to turn most of your Q&As into their own individual blog posts. That should give you enough content to last for months.

Think about your audience when creating content—again, it’s not about you. What words do your clients use? What do they need from you? How can you solve their problems? Even if you’re delegating your content, you need to provide your writers with an angle and an audience to target.

You should also start creating posts and publishing photos on your GMB listing at least a couple of times a month. You’ll be promoting your content and also helping to boost your local SEO rankings, ultimately leading to more leads and more clients.
Content marketing doesn’t have to be difficult or fancy, but it does need to be consistent. Once you start to produce quality content on a regular basis, you’re likely to notice some additional benefits. People will start to see your firm as an authority in your niche, and your social media profiles might get a boost from shares.

Focus Your Keywords and Keyphrases

In the world of SEO, it’s all about knowing the competition. Keywords are the foundation of SEO since every search starts with a word or phrase. When it comes to lawyer SEO, all firms in your niche are going to be thinking about different terms and phrases that make the most sense for the leads they’re trying to bring in.

Competition for terms like “lawyer” is insanely high. With big national legal sites in the mix, there’s really no way to compete for those terms. You’ll be buried on page 10, if that. Instead, it’s best to focus your SEO efforts on long-tail keywords—longer phrases that people search for. Not only is the competition lower for these keywords, but they’re much more specific and are more likely to generate leads that will ultimately convert.

Obviously, if you try to rank for a keyword that only five people are searching for a month, then you’re not going to get great results. But if you can find keywords that are relevant to your firm’s practice area and get several hundred searches a month, then you have a good chance of rising to the top of the search engines for those terms and bringing new clients in the door.

Go All In On The Essentials

SEO involves so many different factors and potential strategies that it can be hard to narrow your focus enough to build an effective plan. At SMB Team, we always advise attorneys to spend time on the essentials instead of trying to do everything. We created the 5-in-2 Technique to address this common problem because we found that in just 2 hours of work each month, 5 basic techniques can create 80% of SEO results. The extra 20% is just the icing.

Build Your Own SEO Plan to Get More Leads

Some of the big directory sites allow firms to buy leads. While this might seem like a good shortcut, it’s important to remember a couple of things. First, these directories aren’t pulling leads out of thin air. They’re getting them the old-fashioned way—through SEO!

Yes, SEO is an investment. But it’s far cheaper than buying leads in the long run and it helps to build your online reputation and credibility. It’s always better to build your OWN SEO plan that gets you leads. You’ll avoid the ethical gray area of buying leads in the first place, build a strong foundation for your brand, and get leads in the months and years to come.

Strategy 2: Get on Top of Your SEO Strategy

SEO, or search engine optimization, is hugely important for lawyers and is the main source of organic traffic online. It’s a long-term strategy that can lead to more phone and email inquiries month after month, without paying for ads or other types of exposure. Though the algorithms powering search engines like Google are always evolving to make searches more useful for users, SEO continues to be a key strategy in law firm internet marketing.

You might think that successful lawyer SEO is all about using the right keywords, but there are also many other factors that go into optimizing your firm’s online presence. Keywords and keyphrases are important, but you need to consider other ranking factors if you want to create an effective lawyer SEO strategy. In 2020, focus on these SEO-boosting activities.

Leverage Google My Business

Most law firms operate within a specific geographic area. If you’re practicing in Philadelphia, then there’s no point in marketing to people in Austin. Unfortunately, general lawyer SEO rankings have websites from all over the world competing for the same few top spots in the search results. Even if you’re part of a large and prestigious firm in your area, you’re probably not going to rank above those huge, national legal sites.

There is some good news, though. Google My Business (GMB) offers more ranking opportunities for companies that operate in a specific region. It’s sort of like a modern-day phone book—the listings show up above the general search results and under a local map when people search for keywords in a specific geographic area. The competition is much lower within GMB and the traffic will be more relevant to your goals.

Searchers don’t even have to be specifically adding terms like “in New York” to their search query—location data can also trigger Google My Business listings. GMB gives you an edge over the huge national sites at the time it matters most: when potential clients in your area are ready to make a call and are looking for the right firm to help them.

Google My Business has lots of great features that make it easy for clients to find you and learn more about why you’re the best choice for their legal needs. In addition to your business hours, phone number, and specific legal niche, you can accrue powerful reviews that build trust and boost your search rankings.

You can even create posts within Google My Business that can be used to promote your content, special events, and other news involving your firm. It’s like the Yellow Pages—but much, much more.

Get Serious About Content Marketing

Speaking of content marketing, it’s an important strategy for SEO that you should be investing in throughout 2020 and beyond. Now, you don’t have to personally spend hours every week creating content—that’s probably not the best use of your time. But it is true that your SEO rankings will improve with a consistent content marketing strategy. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to think about delegating content creation so you can focus on other aspects of your business.

One of the best ways to get started in content marketing is to generate a list of questions that your clients ask you and then answer those questions as thoroughly as you can to fuel content for your blog (yes, you should have a blog). You don’t have to write these down; it’s okay to record them as if you were speaking to someone across the desk from you. It can feel a lot more natural that way.

Once you’ve made a recording or typed out the list of questions and answers, hand that project off to a writer. It’s never been easier to hire someone to create your content, and a good writer should be able to turn most of your Q&As into their own individual blog posts. That should give you enough content to last for months.

Think about your audience when creating content—again, it’s not about you. What words do your clients use? What do they need from you? How can you solve their problems? Even if you’re delegating your content, you need to provide your writers with an angle and an audience to target.

You should also start creating posts and publishing photos on your GMB listing at least a couple of times a month. You’ll be promoting your content and also helping to boost your local SEO rankings, ultimately leading to more leads and more clients.
Content marketing doesn’t have to be difficult or fancy, but it does need to be consistent. Once you start to produce quality content on a regular basis, you’re likely to notice some additional benefits. People will start to see your firm as an authority in your niche, and your social media profiles might get a boost from shares.

Focus Your Keywords and Keyphrases

In the world of SEO, it’s all about knowing the competition. Keywords are the foundation of SEO since every search starts with a word or phrase. When it comes to lawyer SEO, all firms in your niche are going to be thinking about different terms and phrases that make the most sense for the leads they’re trying to bring in.

Competition for terms like “lawyer” is insanely high. With big national legal sites in the mix, there’s really no way to compete for those terms. You’ll be buried on page 10, if that. Instead, it’s best to focus your SEO efforts on long-tail keywords—longer phrases that people search for. Not only is the competition lower for these keywords, but they’re much more specific and are more likely to generate leads that will ultimately convert.

Obviously, if you try to rank for a keyword that only five people are searching for a month, then you’re not going to get great results. But if you can find keywords that are relevant to your firm’s practice area and get several hundred searches a month, then you have a good chance of rising to the top of the search engines for those terms and bringing new clients in the door.

Go All In On The Essentials

SEO involves so many different factors and potential strategies that it can be hard to narrow your focus enough to build an effective plan. At SMB Team, we always advise attorneys to spend time on the essentials instead of trying to do everything. We created the 5-in-2 Technique to address this common problem because we found that in just 2 hours of work each month, 5 basic techniques can create 80% of SEO results. The extra 20% is just the icing.

Build Your Own SEO Plan to Get More Leads

Some of the big directory sites allow firms to buy leads. While this might seem like a good shortcut, it’s important to remember a couple of things. First, these directories aren’t pulling leads out of thin air. They’re getting them the old-fashioned way—through SEO!

Yes, SEO is an investment. But it’s far cheaper than buying leads in the long run and it helps to build your online reputation and credibility. It’s always better to build your OWN SEO plan that gets you leads. You’ll avoid the ethical gray area of buying leads in the first place, build a strong foundation for your brand, and get leads in the months and years to come.

Strategy 3: Invest in Law Firm PPC

Law firm internet marketing doesn’t always have to involve a big investment. But you also have to realize that if you don’t put any money or time into your marketing strategy, then you’re not going to get the results you’re hoping for. SEO is the long game—you’re going to have to be patient and wait at least several months to start seeing results. Law firm PPC (Pay-Per-Click), on the other hand, can get you much-needed leads quickly while you build up your other marketing channels.

What is PPC? Essentially, it’s the term for the text-based ads that pop up in Google searches. When someone searches for a term like “personal injury lawyer,” text-based ads will display in addition to the organic, SEO-based search results. The ads display above the first organic results, making people more likely to click on them. You only pay when they click, though, which will make your budget go further and hopefully filter out unqualified leads who are never going to hire you. Paid search ads occupy valuable real estate at the top of the page, making them perfect for grabbing the attention of people who are looking for legal help right away.

PPC is one marketing strategy that will always involve a financial commitment up front, but it can be a great way to get new leads quickly when your other marketing efforts are still building momentum. Advertising has changed a lot as consumers have become savvier and less patient with ads. But many people will still click on unobtrusive text-based ads within Google search results, making PPC a great addition to any law firm internet marketing plan.

Know Your Market, Know Your Clients

Before you can create an effective law firm PPC campaign, you have to once again shift the focus to your clients. Who is your ideal client, and what are they looking for when they need your legal help? Internet marketing for lawyers is all about knowing your audience.

Don’t overthink this. Just consider the clients you see on a daily basis. What are the demographics you see most often? What kinds of questions and frustrations come up again and again? What kind of words do your clients use, how do they dress, and what are their daily lives like?

These variables are important. You’ll want to take everything into consideration, from household income to gender, age, and education level. Take some mental notes during your next few meetings. What do your clients have in common? What makes them different from one another?

Get to know your ideal clients as well as you know yourself! Knowing your market is essential for everything else that goes into a law firm PPC campaign—choosing keywords, writing ad copy, and more. You’ll be able to create a much more targeted and effective PPC campaign if you know everything about your ideal clients.

Define Match Types

Once you’ve got your keywords, you have to decide how focused you want your campaign to be. Does your firm cater to a wide range of people? Or do you have an extremely narrow practice area? Your answer to these questions will help you decide on how broad to make your search criteria.

Google Ads allows you to set your “keyword match types” so that your ads will only show up for certain kinds of searches. There are four different match types, ranging from broad to exact. The broader the search criteria, the more often your ads will display. But there’s a catch to this—exact match searches are likely to yield more qualified leads.

The match type that’s right for your campaign will depend on a lot of different factors. But if you want to avoid a lot of expensive clicks that don’t create real leads, then it’s probably best to avoid the broad match type.

Negatives Can Be Positive

In both SEO and PPC, keywords are king. But not all keywords will be helpful to your strategy. That’s where the power of negativity comes in—in the form of negative keywords.

Negative keywords might sound, well, negative, but they’re actually extremely important for creating a focused and targeted campaign that performs well for you. Negative keywords are words or phrases that will exclude your ads from certain search types.

You might use negative keywords in your campaigns if you don’t want to get clicks from a certain town or city. Or, you might want to exclude certain case types, like DUIs or estate disputes. You already know what you don’t want from a potential client—use negative keywords to create positive results for your law firm PPC campaigns.

Use Local Ads in Google My Business

There are two kinds of ads that come up in a standard Google search. There are the ones that appear at the very top of the page, and the ones that show up just above the top-rated Google My Business listings. This second set of ads is extremely relevant for law firm PPC campaigns because most firms are looking for clients in a specific geographic area.

When you set up your campaign, you’ll have the opportunity to define a region. Since you probably don’t want to target the entire country or even the entire state, you should think about what areas will be most likely to yield good leads. Getting as specific as possible with your location will increase the success of your ads. And don’t forget—you can exclude certain regions as well to further narrow your focus.

Write Persuasive Ad Copy

It’s not enough to just throw a bunch of keywords into your ads and hope that people will be desperate enough for legal help that they’ll click. Effective ad copy is part art, part science. You don’t have to be an expert copywriter to create compelling ads for your firm, but you’ll need to be able to write well enough to appeal to potential leads.

People want to feel like you’re talking to them directly. They want to know that you understand their struggles and frustrations. They want to feel like they can trust you even before they visit your website. That might seem like a lot to put on an ad, but it’s actually not as hard as it sounds.

Creating ad copy that feels personal is only possible when you’ve created a highly-targeted campaign with a very specific audience in mind. You can’t appeal to everyone with one ad, so it’s important to create multiple ads and multiple campaigns to address the needs of all your clients.

Make your ad copy all about your leads. Ask questions in your ad that speak to what they’re going through. Let them know that you offer the solutions they’re looking for. Make it very easy for them to reach out to you once they’ve clicked on your ad. You need to take care of potential clients every step of the way.

Check Out the Competition

Your competition is also using the PPC strategy to get more leads. It’s a very good idea to get in the habit of researching the PPC habits of other firms in the area that offer the same services as you. That way, you can learn more about what is and isn’t working, plus get some valuable intel about competing firms. Simple searches to find competing ads and more advanced tools like SpyFu can help you check out the competition and enhance your law firm PPC strategy.

Be Mindful of Your Budget

It can be scary to pour money into PPC campaigns if you’ve never done one before. Sure, law firm PPC is a proven method for bringing in new cases, but if you haven’t personally experienced any success using this strategy, then it can be hard to trust that it will work for you. Setting a budget is an important but difficult step in your first PPC campaigns.

Many firms start off budgeting $50-100 per day. That might seem like a lot, but if you can get a few new cases using this strategy, you’ll see a good return on investment (ROI). Be realistic when it comes to setting your budget. Don’t put so much money into PPC that you’ll go out of business if you don’t make your money back right away, but don’t go so low that you can’t pay for even a couple of clicks. Choose your budget and keywords carefully to maximize the value of your ad spend.

Keeping Costs Under Control By Reducing “Junk” Clicks

Law firm PPC isn’t cheap—CPC for legal terms can be notoriously high. But whether you’ve got a big budget or a small one, it’s important to eliminate as many “junk” clicks as you can by finding the right keywords for your ideal clients and then using match types and negative keywords to narrow the focus of your campaigns. “Junk” clicks are clicks from unqualified leads that cost you just as much as clicks from legitimate leads.

The good news is that there’s no way to overspend on your PPC campaigns. You’ll set a daily budget, and once that runs out, your ads won’t show until the next day. Avoiding junk clicks will stretch your budget, however, so you should adjust your campaign as needed if the leads that are coming in aren’t qualified.

Strategy 4: Leverage the Power of Social Media

Social media: the marketing strategy that baffles many lawyers. While it might seem like a strange way for someone to look for legal help, the fact is that social media can be a powerful tool for law firms, especially in some niches. Most American adults are using social media to some degree, and many people check their accounts multiple times a day.

You might believe that social media for lawyers is a waste of time. That’s only true if you don’t use proven strategies or you focus your efforts on the wrong platforms. If you want to really leverage the power of social media, then you need to understand how these sites work, where your potential clients spend their time, and what you need to do to get noticed.

Choose the Right Platforms

All successful marketing is built on a foundation of knowledge about your ideal client. If you did some research for any of the other strategies that we’ve outlined in this guide, then you’ll be able to use that demographic information when deciding on the best social media sites for your firm. There’s no reason to spread your social media marketing efforts across every major platform—it’s not going to give you worthwhile results and might actually hurt your law firm’s brand.

Sending a consistent message and reaching the right people are the keys to internet marketing for lawyers, including social media. If you’re in a practice area that caters to consumers, like personal injury, defense law, or immigration, then you might want to consider Facebook or Instagram. If you’re working with businesses or high-earning entrepreneurs, however, LinkedIn is probably the place to be.

Organic Traffic: Is it Realistic?

In the early years of social media, businesses could be somewhat lazy about social media marketing and still get good results. “Organic reach,” which refers to how many people see your content without you having to pay for ads or exposure, is the best-case scenario: you’ll get more leads without directly spending money.

Unfortunately, organic reach is very low on many of the biggest platforms these days.
Facebook and other big sites are always changing their algorithms and policies, which ultimately affects how effective a page’s organic reach is. These days, it’s almost impossible to get your page noticed on Facebook without paying for ads.

On the other hand, sites like LinkedIn are far friendlier from an organic reach perspective. It’s absolutely possible to get lots of eyes on your content without paying to play. But if your firm’s target clients don’t spend much time on LinkedIn, then it’s not worth trying to expand your organic reach on that platform.

Organic reach is great, but it might not be realistic depending on your niche and situation. If you work directly with consumers, then you’re probably better off paying for ads on Facebook then you are growing your network on LinkedIn. Facebook tends to outperform other sites overall, bringing in 31% of the business from social media, compared to LinkedIn at 27%.

Social Media Ads: Pay-To-Play and Retargeting on Facebook

With organic reach dropping on Facebook, advertising has become one of the best ways to gain new leads. Facebook ads cost money, it’s true. But if you’re not using them at all, you’re missing out on a great opportunity and you’ll probably end up overpaying for your leads in the long run.

The simplest and most effective way to get started with Facebook ads is to take advantage of retargeting. It’s simple: all you have to do is write your ads and place a Facebook pixel on each page of your website (including landing pages). When someone visits your website, they’ll kick off your ad campaign when they visit Facebook during the next 30 days.

Why retargeting? While many people think that the strategy seems a little creepy, the truth is that it’s just a way to automate the follow-up process. By creating a retargeting campaign, you’re staying top-of-mind with the people who have already shown significant interest in your firm by visiting your site.

Retargeting can also help to fuel future ad campaigns. Once you have enough data about the people who are actually visiting your website, you can use that data to create and distribute “cold” ads. These ads will be shown to people who aren’t aware of your firm (yet) but exhibit similar characteristics to your retargeting audience. Using this “lookalike audience” will help to maximize the effectiveness of your campaign because you’ll be reaching out to the right people at the right time.

For your cold ads, you’ll want to offer a piece of content that solves a pain point for your ideal clients. That way, they’ll be compelled to click through to your website so they can read the full piece. Then, they’ll trigger your re-targeting campaign and the cycle will start all over again!

Content Creation for Social Media: Think About The “Entertainment Curve”

When creating content for social media marketing, you should once again think about the platforms you’re using and what those platforms are used for. We like to use the term “entertainment curve” to describe the type of content you should be creating, based on the site.

For instance, LinkedIn wasn’t created to be entertaining. As long as the content you share is valuable and informational, it doesn’t necessarily have to entertain your audience. You can build thought leadership on LinkedIn by posting updates and articles that position you as an authority in your firm’s practice area.

Instagram, on the other hand, is all about entertainment. No one is expecting to find cutting-edge legal tactics or insights—they want to see beautiful, cute, inspiring, or entertaining content. Instagram does work for some legal niches, but lawyers who use this platform need to respect its place on the entertainment curve and get creative when it comes to content creation.

Facebook is somewhere in between. Content needs to be somewhat entertaining in order to get people reading and sharing. But it should also have some practical value to your target audience. Striking that balance of entertainment and utility is key for Facebook success.

Social Media: Work Smarter, Not Harder

You could spend a lot of time on Facebook trying to engage people organically, but this isn’t an efficient strategy in 2020. Knowing the best practices for each platform and focusing only on the most successful strategies will help you work smarter, not harder, and will prevent you from burning out and giving up on this important law firm marketing strategy.

Strategy 5: Reputation Management

A good reputation is worth its weight in gold for law firms. Unfortunately, the internet can quickly make or break your firm’s reputation. One angry client can compromise your image, even if the situation wasn’t your fault at all. With that said, you can help to mitigate the bad and boost the good with a clear reputation management strategy.

Star reviews are key for building trust during the decision phase. Many people use reviews as a jumping-off point for choosing which firms to contact. The number of reviews, in addition to how many of them are 4- or 5-star, is often a major consideration for potential clients. We all use reviews to make purchasing decisions, whether we’re buying a pair of headphones or trying to hire a plumber. Legal help is no different.

So how can you improve your online reputation and ensure as many 5-star reviews as possible? Reputation management can help you to get more great reviews and handle bad situations with grace and poise so that future clients have no reason to hesitate when picking up the phone.

Where Reviews Matter

There are lots of sites that feature star ratings for attorneys. Good reviews on Avvo and other legal review sites can be helpful for your firm’s online image and might help encourage leads to contact you, but they won’t boost your other law firm marketing efforts. Google reviews will!

Leads and clients who are doing research online aren’t the only ones scrutinizing your reviews—Google’s algorithms are too. Reputation management can help boost SEO by making your Google My Business listing more authoritative in the eyes of the search engine.

To calculate your ranking position in the local search results, Google uses several factors, including your GMB reviews. But it’s not just looking at the number of reviews and the average number of stars—it’s looking at “review velocity” (frequency and consistency) and quality as well.

Google is focused on providing the most relevant, high-quality results for searchers. With that in mind, they want to make sure that all the reviews for any given business are authentic. A business that gets 100 five-star reviews in one month but then only gets one or two over the next six months looks more than a little suspicious to the algorithm. Reviews with personalized text that was clearly written by a human will help boost the credibility of a business in Google’s eyes.

Always Ask For the Review

Many lawyers who are confident and self-assured are surprisingly timid when it comes to asking clients to write a review on Google. Regardless of how well you serve your clients, you might be reluctant to ask for a review when the case concludes. Unless you directly ask for reviews, though, very few people will take the time to go online and spend a minute or two to leave positive comments on your Google My Business Profile. That’s why you must ask for the review, every single time.

Collecting & Curating Reviews

Reviews need to be authentic, but that doesn’t mean you should make it easy for people to leave bad reviews of your firm online. Despite your best efforts, not everyone is going to be fully satisfied with their experience in working with you. Others will be absolutely delighted. The good news is that you can ask every client for feedback without opening yourself up to reputation damage.

We’ve found that text reminders are 5x more effective than other methods of soliciting reviews. They’re direct, easy to automate, and make it simple for people to leave you a review.

Here’s how it works: first, you send an automated text that asks a simple yes/no question: “Would you recommend our firm to a friend?” If they click “yes,” they are automatically routed to your Google My Business page to leave feedback. If they tap “no,” however, they’re redirected to a private page where they can provide feedback that won’t be posted to any public forum.

This method works very well for improving the number of authentic five-star reviews that come in over time since it follows up with clients at their “peak of delight” or highest level of emotion. It won’t prevent people from leaving negative feedback on your listing if they’re really upset and want to vent in a public forum, but it does cut down on these kinds of reviews that can hurt your online reputation.

Showcase Your Stellar Reputation In Your Digital Storefront

Although reviews are crucial to maintaining your reputation online, there are a few other things you can do to build trust with potential clients on your firm’s website.

First, you will want to add some short testimonials to your main page. These will build your credibility, even if the people visiting your site only glance at them. Testimonials put people at ease because they show that not only have you worked with other clients in the past but their experience was so good that they agreed to be featured on your site.

The second thing you can do is to feature a few case studies, sharing some more in-depth information about what you do and how you help your clients. These will help clients who need more “proof” of your legitimacy during the decision stage.

Finally, you can add some badges and awards to your site for bonus credibility. We like to emphasize that creating a personal connection with clients is much more important than making your site all about your accomplishments, but it doesn’t hurt to add them to your site.

Your website needs to build trust right away. Striking the right balance of focusing on your lead’s pain points while showcasing your expertise and reputation can be tricky, but getting it right will improve the visitor experience and result in more cases.

Monitor Your Reputation Continuously

You need to be aware of what people are saying about you online. It’s tough to manage your reputation if you never check to see how your firm is being perceived in the community. You can set up Google alerts to monitor mentions of your firm so that you don’t have to do it manually, but you should always be the first to know about any positive or negative information circulating online about your business.

Bonus Strategy: What Gets Measured, Gets Managed

It’s very easy to start taking action on these law firm marketing strategies without setting up any methods for measuring your project. But if you don’t have any way of tracking your progress for each marketing campaign, it will be difficult to manage your strategy and budget.

Measuring your metrics at the beginning of each campaign will allow you to check in and adjust when needed as you go. You can’t figure out your ROI without knowing where you started and how much you’re spending on each campaign. What gets measured gets managed, and by tracking all of your campaigns closely, you’ll be able to see which strategies are proving to be the most effective for your firm.

Maximizing your law firm internet marketing budget takes some trial and error at the beginning. Without measuring your progress, though, you might start to get frustrated with your marketing efforts and give up on something too soon. Your campaigns will never be perfect, but you can use the data you collect to make them better over time.

Should You Hire a Marketing Agency?

No attorney goes into the legal profession because they want to work on marketing all day long. For most lawyers, marketing is just seen as something they have to do in order to get new clients. You might find it interesting or even enjoyable, but at the end of the day, all the work you do for marketing your business is taking time away from your clients. 

If you’re just starting out and you don’t have the budget to hire a marketing agency, that’s fine. You can get by with all of the amazing resources available online (like this one!). But if your firm is more established and you don’t want to spend your days running law firm PPC ads, then it might be time to consider hiring an agency to manage all of your marketing channels. You might also want to hire an agency if you’re reaching the limit of your ability or if you just don’t have time to execute successful campaigns anymore. 

Digital marketing success is all about consistency, focus, and visibility. If you struggle with consistent marketing efforts, then our team can help. SMB Team is a marketing agency with specialized expertise in internet marketing for lawyers. To learn more about the services we offer, give us a call or schedule a free consultation on our website. 

About Bill Hauser

Bill is the founder and CEO of the SMB Team. Bill spends his time speaking all over the country, and on a hit YouTube channel, about law firm marketing. His main goal is to create simplicity where there is complexity, and to help law firms make sense of their online marketing.

 

About The SMB Team:

We reside at the intersection of quality traffic and effective conversion funnels. Through highly targeted PPC & SEO campaigns, we help drive real traffic to sleek Landing Pages and Website Designs for businesses who want better leads from the internet. For results-obsessed digital marketing, go to smbteam.com or follow us at @thesmbteam on social.

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