A 2021 survey by Martindale Avvo revealed that 70% of US consumers use the internet to research their legal issue and find an attorney. It follows that attorneys who rely solely on referrals to generate new business will soon be left behind.
But what online marketing strategies are actually getting results in today’s competitive landscape? For the last four years, I’ve been seeking the answer to that question. This article contains my findings.
There are six core online marketing strategies driving success for growth-oriented law firms in 2023 and beyond:
- Understanding your target audience,
- Building a strong brand identity,
- Developing a comprehensive online presence,
- Leveraging content marketing and thought leadership,
- Analyzing and optimizing your marketing efforts for continued growth.
By integrating these strategies into a holistic marketing plan, attorneys can effectively demonstrate their expertise, connect with their ideal clients, and build a thriving law practice that brings a life of abundance to themselves, their staff, and their families.
A crucial aspect of any successful marketing strategy is understanding your target audience. This enables you to tailor your marketing efforts to resonate with the right prospects.
Understanding your Target Audience
A. Identifying your ideal clients.
Consider the types of clients you want to work with and the legal services you provide. Most practice management or accounting systems allow you to export your revenue data in a report broken down by client. Review this data to find the clients generating the lion’s share of your firm’s revenue. Then consider which of these clients you enjoy working with the most. These are your ideal clients.
B. Market research and analysis
Search for posts and comments in online forums and groups where your ideal clients spend their time venting and asking questions about the legal problems you solve for them. Think Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, or Amazon Book reviews. Look for a common thread in terms of language used, pain points, and primary desire or want. Group your ideal clients by demographics, psychographics, and behavioral patterns.
C. Creating an ideal client profile (ICP) to guide marketing efforts
With the information gathered from your research, create an ideal client profile. Your ICP should include client demographics, pain points, legal needs, and a description of how and where they spend their time. Develop marketing messages speaking to the ICP’s needs and concerns, increasing the likelihood of attracting and converting them into clients.
2. Building a Strong Brand Identity
Establishing a strong brand identity is essential for differentiating your law firm from competitors and creating a lasting impression in the minds of potential clients. A well-crafted brand identity communicates your firm’s values, strengths, and unique value proposition so you can stand out in the marketplace.
A. Creating a consistent and professional brand image
A cohesive brand image reinforces your firm’s identity and helps build trust with potential clients. According to New York Times best-selling author, Donald Miller, “Marketing is an exercise in memorization.” Every time your messaging, logo, color palette, typography, and imagery show up throughout the internet and print media, potential clients should be associating your brand image with the legal problems you can solve for them and the successful outcomes you can help them achieve.
B. The role of storytelling in building a memorable brand
Storytelling is a powerful tool for connecting with your target audience on an emotional level. But it’s more than sharing your law firm’s story. It’s about inviting your customers into a story about solving their legal problems. Running your firm’s messaging through the StoryBrand messaging framework is the most effective way to do this. In fact, a PhD student at Regent University demonstrated in his 2019 dissertation that the more an organization implements the StoryBrand messaging framework, the more profitable it becomes. In my experience, law firms are no exception.
3. Developing a Comprehensive Online Presence
A strong online presence can enhance your firm’s visibility, showcase your expertise, and build credibility in the eyes of your target audience.
A. Importance of a user-friendly, informative, and responsive website
Your website serves as a digital brochure and salesman for your law firm and is often the first point of contact for prospective clients. To make a lasting impression, ensure that your website is user-friendly, informative, and responsive across all devices. Include essential information about your services, expertise, team members, and contact details, as well as client testimonials and case studies to showcase your success and overcome common objections. Use video content to increase engagement.
Review your firm’s website and ask yourself the following:
- Does your headline make it extremely clear in as few words as possible what main problem you solve for clients and how that makes their life better?
- Is there a clear next step for the user to take if they want to hire you? For most attorney websites this is “Schedule a Consultation”
- Does the language below the header describe what’s at risk if the client doesn’t hire you to solve their legal problem?
- Is there a section “off-ramping” to each practice area with language communicating exactly the problem each service solves and the benefit the service provides to your client?
- Is there a simple 3-step plan explaining the process of working with you?
- Is there a section positioning you as the Guide using empathy and authority language?
- Are there testimonials placed strategically throughout your website?
B. The role of search engine optimization (SEO) in improving online visibility
SEO involves optimizing your website’s content and structure to improve its ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords. This includes on-page optimization (keyword usage, meta tags, headings, etc.), technical optimization (site speed, mobile-friendliness, etc.), and off-page optimization (backlinks, local citations, etc.). By implementing effective SEO strategies, your firm’s website will get more traffic, and ultimately, generate more leads. If someone searches “[your primary practice area] attorney]” your firm’s website should be one of the top results.
C. Leveraging social media platforms for networking and client acquisition
Establish a presence on relevant social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and share informative and engaging content that caters to your target audience. Additionally, join industry-specific groups and participate in discussions to further establish your law firm’s authority in your area of expertise. Sounds pretty time consuming, doesn’t it? Consider hiring a ghostwriter to write and promote the content for you.
D. Utilizing online directories and review sites for credibility and referrals
List your firm on reputable legal directories such as Avvo, Justia, and FindLaw, as well as general directories like Google Business and Yelp. Encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews on these platforms, as positive testimonials significantly influence prospective clients’ decision-making process.
4. Content Marketing and Thought Leadership
By sharing high-quality, informative content meant specifically for your ICP, you can position your firm as a trusted authority in your area of specialization.
A. The value of producing high-quality, informative content
By offering relevant and informative content, you can build trust with your ICP and position your firm as the go-to source for legal advice and representation.
B. Utilizing blogs, articles, and whitepapers to showcase expertise
Share legal updates, case studies, industry trends, and practical tips. Ensure that your content is well-researched, accurate, and engaging to maximize its impact on your target audience.
C. Engaging in speaking engagements, webinars, and podcasts for industry recognition
Speaking engagements, webinars, and podcasts are additional avenues for demonstrating thought leadership and expanding your law firm’s reach.
Pull the concepts from your long-form content (articles and podcasts) and write bite-sized pieces of content to share on your firm’s social media.
5. Analyzing and Optimizing your Online Marketing Efforts
World-class marketers have been measuring the effectiveness of their efforts for decades. In the heyday of mail-order advertising, savvy marketers used unique coupon codes to meticulously track the response rates and attribute sales to specific campaigns. In today’s digital era, measuring your marketing’s effectiveness requires way less effort.
Simply install Google Analytics and Google Search Console on your website and ask every caller how they heard about you. Monitor KPIs such as website traffic, lead source, conversion rates, and client acquisition costs so you can determine which marketing tactics are driving results. Use the insights gained from the KPIs to intelligently allocate resources to deliver a message that resonates with your target audience and maximize ROI. Be fearless, adaptive, and data-savvy, and watch your firm sign more clients and increase profitability.
The legal industry is slow to change, but the marketplace demands it. What will separate the winning firms from the losers over the next decade is the ability to embrace digital innovation to reach their target audience and convert them into clients.
It’s easy to read an article like this, feel inspired, and then get swept away with client work instead of applying the material. So be sure to set aside dedicated time to reflect on these concepts, develop actionable steps, and track your progress. Execution is the critical link between the strategies provided and a continuous stream of your ideal clientele.