Law Firm Marketing in 2019 is going to be all about putting yourself in front of the client—the challenge is how to know where the client is looking for the types of services that you offer.
Over the past several years, I’ve helped many law firms with their marketing efforts. What I’ve learned during this time is that law firm marketing should aim to accomplish three things:
- Grow the firm’s referral network so your case referrals increase
- Regularly sign new clients for services from the firm through trackable sources
- Build the firm’s brand awareness to keep it top of mind for potential clients
The year is almost over, and if 2018 wasn’t the kindest to your firm, it’s time to start looking to the future.
Do People Look for Lawyers Online?
Hiring a lawyer is a bigger decision than buying a pair of shoes. But what’s true for consumer shopping is also true for those with legal needs: people like to do research online before they buy.
According to research at Juris Digital, 49% of people looking for legal services conduct research online before choosing an attorney. This is why the law firms that are doing well are investing in digital marketing—whether an online searcher becomes a lead because of a great website, good online reviews, blogs that share expertise, or local listings, it’s true that being online can be invaluable.
When you have the right analytics in place, you know exactly which online marketing tactics are working best, and that means you can invest more in the things that are working. It saves money in the long run because it creates a more efficient law firm marketing effort.
Paid vs. Local vs. Organic Search
One of the choices that every business has to make when it comes to online marketing is whether to focus on organic search, local search, paid search, or all three. To clarify, ranking well on search engines like Google for terms and phrases that people search for is called organic ranking or organic search. While it takes a lot of time and effort to rank well organically, ranking for organic search terms can be invaluable.
Local search results have one main difference that distinguishes them from regular organic search results—a location. Local search is easier to rank for, and if you operate on a local or regional scale, they can lead to a much higher rate of conversion.
On the other hand, paid search results are essentially ads that appear at the top and bottom of each search results page. Law firms that include paid search ads in their budgets can expect to get their name seen, but because paid ads only account for about 5% of clicks, the efficacy of such a strategy depends on the amount of business you are trying to drive.
To sum up, deciding where to focus your online search marketing efforts depends on your goals and resources. At ZenChange, we value organic search results but think going after local and paid results is often more effective, especially for the small to medium law firms that we serve.
Which Sources Are Critical for Increasing Leads in 2019?
So, which sources are the best for accomplishing our goals—as stated above—of growing firm referrals, signing clients, and building brand awareness for your firm?
You’ll have to do a deep dive into your unique priorities, but from what I’ve experienced in law firm marketing, these four sources should be toward the top of your list.
- A website optimized for organic and local search results. As discussed above, organic and local search accounts for 95% of clicks. Your website should act as a net for new clients, attracting them through common keywords and keyword phrases for your area of law. But you can’t just expect that optimizing your content for a few different keywords will work magic if you don’t have a quality website. For starters, your site needs to load fast (Google penalizes slow site), look good on mobile as well as desktop, and be attractive and informative enough to keep visitors’ attention.
- Paid search. While paid search ads only account for a small percentage of clicks to websites, if your firm is just starting out, a few clicks can easily turn into signed clients. Firms that are more established can also benefit from paid search—businesses that rank for both organic and paid search terms tend to see more traffic than those that only rank for one or the other. Remember that every interaction with a client or potential client is an opportunity to increase your brand awareness.
- Referrals. Speaking of brand awareness, when you make a good impression on someone, they’re more likely to refer your services to others. While this is more of a face-to-face law firm marketing tactic, there are ways that you can use your digital resources to help—targeted emails and social media engagement can help keep you in the front of your customers’ minds.
- Local Directories and Citations. There are many different directories that law firms can add their names to. Sites like Yelp, Avvo, Findlaw, Justia, Superlawyers come to mind. Many firms try to rank well within each of these directories. However, doing so requires a large investment of time and money. But even if you can’t invest enough to get a #1 ranking on one of these sites, adding your info to them still has value. This is where Local SEO comes in. Adding your firm’s name, address, phone number, and other pertinent information to these sites helps search engines like Google rank them for local search terms.
Firm Focus and Law Firm Marketing
One of the biggest mistakes I see businesses make in their marketing efforts is when they spread themselves too thin. They want to attract everyone who has the potential to be a customer instead of focusing on a segment that has value and a high probability to convert. The same goes for law firm marketing.
Just because you can practice in multiple areas of law doesn’t mean you should market your firm that way. When you have six or seven different practice areas, you’re going to have to invest in six or seven online marketing campaigns. (Of course, if you have the budget to do so, that’s a different story.) At most, you want your firm to be known for three or four things. Any more than that and you’re diluting the impact you can have online.
Questions to Help You Hone Your Focus
To focus your firm’s marketing efforts, ask yourself these questions:
- What is my primary area of practice? This question will help you focus on a niche for your first marketing efforts.
- Am I spreading myself too thin by including too many services or practice areas in my marketing materials? This question will help you start small so that you can master marketing in one practice area before moving on to another.
- What geographic area do I want to serve? This question will help you get local leads that you can actually act on.
Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a starting point.
The Law Firm Marketing Funnel
The marketing funnel for law firms is just like any other business, but it bears repeating here:
- Awareness – This is the top of your marketing funnel. In online marketing terms, awareness means getting your law firm in front of a potential client—social media, search results, paid targeted ads. Here, you want to offer your potential client something of value, such as a lead magnet that shares tips or other valuable information that a potential client can use.
- Consideration – Once your potential client knows about you, you should start to foster your relationship with them. They know what they’re looking for: you just have to offer them what they want. Leverage your website to do this.
- Conversion – At this stage, your potential client is ready to make a choice. Show them why you are the best choice.
- Loyalty – Once a lead becomes a client, you have the opportunity to keep their business. Keep them happy, and you’ll win their business for a long time.
- Advocacy – If you are able to exceed your client’s expectations, they will be more likely to recommend you to others, which means more new clients.
Keep this funnel in mind as you devise your online marketing campaigns. Are your efforts aligned with one of these stages?
Law Firm Marketing Checklist
Now that you’ve read everything I’ve just written (whew!), it’s time to take some action. The following checklist will help you take your law firm marketing to the next level online:
- Revamp Your Website
- Grow Your Organic Visibility
- Rethink Pay Per Click Ads
- Pay Attention to Google My Business
- Grow Your Reputation
- Increase Your Social Media Engagement
- Devise an Email Marketing Plan
- Track Your Leads