At PaperStreet, we present our attorney clients with a host of different options for enhancing their legal marketing campaigns. We customize all of our suggestions for our clients, yet we fully appreciate that not every solution we propose may be appealing to our clients. That said, we try to educate our clients in order for them to fully understand the impact and benefits.
Many times, we encourage our clients to take off their “attorney hats” and consider their marketing efforts from outside the legal world. Applying real-world considerations to your marketing campaign can help you better understand why certain strategies are needed and can help you better tailor your priorities and budget.
Below are some real-world scenarios that attorneys need to consider when evaluating their legal marketing needs.
Understand the Importance of Reviews
Take a moment and ask yourself how much weight you give to reviews. Would you watch a movie with bad reviews? Would you make reservations for a hotel with posts from unhappy past guests? For most people, negative reviews are a deal breaker.
Perhaps more importantly, ONE bad review can be enough to dissuade potential customers and clients. For example, would you eat at a restaurant if a reviewer found a bug in their food?
Of course, some negative reviews are unsubstantiated. The reviewer could have been agitated through no fault of the business. It’s also possible that some reviews can be fake.
Unfortunately, many potential clients will simply move on after reading a bad review – not debate its veracity. Thus, taking the time to manage your review is an extremely important aspect of your legal marketing campaign.
Some fraudulent reviews can be removed, but some negative comments are permanent. In order to combat the impact of detrimental posts, a law firm’s best option is to encourage clients to leave positive reviews.
Send email reminders. Provide helpful pamphlets with a reminder about leaving a review. Provide a form on your website that clients can complete leaving their success stories.
Soliciting positive reviews can be time-consuming, but the rewards are worth the hassle.
Recognize the Benefits of Explanatory Content
To the chagrin of medical professionals, many patients use websites like WebMD to self-diagnose for whatever ails them. Though the patients are likely incorrect with their attempt at practicing medicine, the ability to evaluate their conditions led many of them to make a doctor’s appointment.
As many marketing techniques apply to legal and medical professionals, the availability of ‘diagnostic’ or explanatory material is a tactic that lawyers may want to borrow for their legal content. Though many attorneys shy away from explaining their practice areas in detail, the longer, more engaging content is often what yields results.
Potential clients often want to understand if they truly have a claim. Can they sue if they were at fault in an accident? Should they just plead guilty? Are they eligible for a class action? Is their car a lemon? Do they need a prenup?
Yes, there is always the possibility that a potential client may peruse your content and decide they don’t need your services. Nevertheless, you’re casting a much wider net by attempting to help your potential clients as opposed to keeping them in the dark.
It’s also important to recognize that your website may not be the first site a potential client visits. If you’re the second law firm website the potential client browses and they don’t see content related to their potential claims, they’re more likely to go back to #1.
Similarly, you may be the first law firm the potential client visits, but that person may be quick to pursue other firms that do a better job of presenting their services.
Thus, longer content that connects to FAQs and “People Also Ask” is likely to be a worthwhile investment that helps more than hinders.
Consider the Importance of Your Google Rankings
Ask yourself: Have you ever searched for something “near me?” For example, a common search is often “pizza delivery near me.” When a person conducts those types of searches, they typically don’t make it much further than the business displayed as #3 in the search results.
In fact, the Search Engine Journal reported in 2020 that 25% of people click on the #1 spot, 15% click on number #2, and 11% click on #3. The percentages decrease until #10 on the search engine results page, which is only a 2.5% click rate. It’s believed that the importance of the #1 ranking spot has increased by 10-15% since the survey was published.
Many attorneys often cite that their word enough referrals are enough to keep their business thriving. If that’s the case, fantastic! If you want to expand your client base, you should consider search engine optimization (SEO).
Even if you question if a potential client would search for a “lawyer near me,” – they do! – thousands of searches are conducted each month for lawyers using a geographic location. Examples include “Denver criminal defense lawyer,” “Dallas child custody lawyer,” etc.
If you’re not allocating marketing efforts to SEO, you probably won’t appear on page 1 of Google’s search results – let alone the top 3 results. Thus, you could be missing out on dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of potential clients.
SEO does require a myriad of tasks, including link-building, technical work, and content writing. Nevertheless, it’s often one of the most surefire ways to gain more clients.
Truly Evaluate the Location of Your Target Audience
This is a follow-up to #3. The decision to focus on SEO or paid advertising (PPC) is often wise. That said, attorneys often make some problematic decisions when it comes to their campaigns.
When you look for a doctor, would you consider driving to the next city for the appointment? Is an hour too long of a drive for a hair appointment or restaurant? What if they were award-winning?
Many attorneys decide that the largest market is the one they want to target for their SEO or Google ad campaign. That’s fine – if your office is located near those cities.
If you have the reputation, it’s certainly possible that a client would be willing to travel a distance to get to your office.
If, however, a potential client feels their claim is “average” – such as perhaps a small car accident or the need for a will – your reputation may not be enough for them to put in the effort. Thus, your #1 ranking spot or ad may not be enough if your office is not located in the location you are citing.
It’s also worth mentioning that search engines may not give you the top-ranking spot if they can’t find a local office. You may consider your office location to be in a major city, but Google will look for those closer to the city center. Thus, a suburban office may not rank as highly as you hope it will.
With that in mind, it may be wiser to simply dominate the rankings where your office is truly located – not where you have a P.O. box. If, however, you can rank in a location that may be a bit of a drive for some of your target audience, consider permitting virtual consultations and emphasizing this option on your site.
Examine the Appearance and Functionality of Your Website
Have you ever visited a business’ website and gotten frustrated if you couldn’t find what you were looking for? Have you dismissed a business or professional service if the website didn’t look professional? Would you leave a website if you couldn’t use the site easily or if it loaded too slowly?
For many law firms, your website is how you make your first impression. Appearances matter, and you don’t want a potential client to “swipe left” simply because your website is outdated, difficult to use, or has technical issues.
For example, one poll found that 60% of potential customers would avoid a business if its logo was odd or unappealing – even if the brand had positive reviews. If the logo can significantly impact your brand identity, imagine the value placed on your law firm’s website.
A visually appealing website with high functionality is often the most worthwhile investment you can make. Though many platforms allow you to build and design a website easily, it’s critical that you evaluate more than just its appearance. Testing its load time, ease of use, and navigability are all critical elements that require your time and attention.
Overall, it’s important to recognize that hiring an attorney often follows the same mindset as hiring any other business or profession. Your word-of-mouth referrals, awards, and overall reputation are invaluable but don’t get tunnel vision. Take the time to evaluate aspects such as reviews, content, and site appearance in order to avoid losing potential clients simply because your marketing efforts weren’t on par with competing law firms.