Gone are the days of traditional media marketing where only the biggest law firms with the deepest pockets get all the clients. Digital marketing has leveled the playing field. If you understand how to take advantage of it, you can use it to increase new client acquisition and grow your legal practice significantly.
Digital marketing is still the wild west.
There’s no degree that breaks down every aspect of digital marketing. Anybody can pick up the job and tout themselves as an “expert” while overpromising and underdelivering (and many do). Additionally, many digital marketing agencies only offer one-off services which make it hard to know if your marketing dollars are actually working. They offer services like search engine optimization (SEO), or paid search marketing (PPC). Some companies specialize in website design, while others focus mainly on content. The problem with this approach is that all elements of digital marketing relevant to attorneys need to be leveraged together in order to get real results (more clients).
You can have a beautiful, perfectly designed website, but if you aren’t driving the appropriate traffic to that website, you won’t get any calls. On the other hand, you can drive all the traffic in the world to your website, but if it lacks fundamental components, you’ll likely convert little to none of it. If your content is not appropriately tailored to your ideal client (and Google’s algorithm), you may not even show up when someone searches for your practice area and location.
At the end of the day, a disjointed digital marketing strategy simply won’t provide results, and this leaves many attorneys feeling less than thrilled by digital marketing companies and digital marketing in general.
But consider this: surveys show that 94% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine. 74% of prospective clients visit a law firm’s website to take action and 62% of legal searches are generic (such as “Seattle criminal defense attorney”).
A complete digital marketing strategy has the potential to bring in more new clients than traditional marketing ever could.
The good news is that digital marketing for most consumer facing law firms and legal practices is not complicated. A successful law firm marketing strategy can be broken down into six categories that (when executed correctly) have proven to be a very successful way of generating leads and getting new clients in the door for attorneys and law firms at a substantial ROI.
While many attorneys excel in one or two of these categories, it is still very uncommon to see all six elements incorporated into a coherent strategy. This leaves a ton of opportunity for law firms who do take advantage of this.
The following are commonly overlooked, actionable items that can improve your digital marketing system as a whole. Remember, you want to create or fine-tune your system. Only focusing on one or two of these aspects typically does not produce the desired results.
Clients want to know that you can help them solve their legal problems, that you can do it for a fair price, and that you have expertise in your practice area. In order to demonstrate this to prospective clients, ask your satisfied clients for reviews on Google. Many attorneys only portray reviews on their own website, if at all. They typically only have a few Google reviews.
While reviews posted on your website may show off your skills and happy clients, only positive Google reviews also help you rank higher in Google searches. They are also more likely to carry weight with prospective clients. The best way to get Google reviews is simply to ask. You can do so by creating a Google review link to send to former clients easily by text message or email.
A heavily overlooked aspect of digital marketing is content. Google’s algorithm is designed to reward websites with useful content. Quality content is more important now than it has ever been, as it can help position you as the local expert in your market.
Your website itself should contain content that provides answers to prospective clients’ legal questions before they ever pick up the phone to call you. Answer questions you frequently hear when speaking to prospects and current clients. Include these answers throughout your website, in headlines of content, and FAQ pages. They should flow naturally with the content already on your website. Think back to the commonly asked questions you hear. What words are used when people call you? These word choices often reflect the terms that prospective clients use when they search for legal help and services online.
If your website and blog reflect these common words and phrases, also known as keywords, Google’s algorithm will rank you higher than other websites that don’t (or that don’t have any useful content at all). Try typing something related to your practice area into Google and take a look at the suggested search results that show up prior to hitting enter. This is usually a good indicator of what other terms people are searching for.
By targeting your content towards frequently asked questions, you are effectively showing Google that you have all the expertise necessary to help these searchers. They will reward you for it by ranking you higher in their search engine results pages (SERPS).
Your content should also feature local practice area pages. If you offer legal services in more than one city in your state, each city should have its own webpage with information and keywords targeting that city. Most people include their geographic location when searching for attorneys. If you have a page for each city with focused, useful content on each page, you have a better chance at ranking in search engines.
The biggest issue attorneys face with their websites is formatting. It’s very easy to forget about mobile users and design a gorgeous website that cannot function on a mobile phone. The result is tiny, illegible print or graphics that take several swipes to scroll past. This alienates the ever-growing number of people who use their phone to search rather than their desktop. The solution is simple design that will work across all devices.
Additionally, there should always be a “click to call” button for mobile devices. Consultation forms should be simple and easy to fill out. Make it easy to contact you. If it’s difficult to reach you, there is a high probability that a prospective client will choose to go elsewhere.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
One major component of SEO is getting backlinks to your website. Backlinks are links on one website that, when clicked, take the user to another website. Backlinks are especially valuable for SEO because they act as a signal to search engines that other people find your content valuable. The more backlinks you get, the higher your domain authority will be, signaling to Google that you have achieved a vote of confidence from other websites.
Great opportunities for backlinks are attorney directories. Nearly all attorney directories offer a backlink to your website that is both high quality and relevant, contributing further to your website’s domain authority. Start with directories such as Avvo, Justia, and Attorneys.org. Even if you are already featured in these directories, make sure that the link to your website is properly displayed on your profile. There may also be attorney directories available for your specific practice areas, such as the American Immigration Lawyer Association, or the
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
PPC ad campaigns are an essential part of a digital marketing strategy. However, legal keywords can cost anywhere from $10 to $100+ per click, so it’s crucial that your campaign is set up correctly in order for it to be successful. The two most common ways for PPC to drain your marketing budget with few results are a bad website and targeting incorrect keywords.
Before ever beginning a PPC campaign, your website must be set up for success. Your website must be professional and able to convert prospects into clients before you ever spend money on PPC. This means a simple design and helpful, quality content, as discussed earlier.
The keyword mistake most often made is targeting that is too broad. For example, if you targeted the keyword “attorney,” your ad campaign could show up for someone looking for an entirely different practice area. That’s money spent that never had a chance of bringing you a new client.
Be very specific in the keywords you target. If you’re an estate planning attorney in Chicago, your keywords should be things like “estate planning attorney Chicago” and “probate lawyer Chicago,” not “lawyer Chicago.”
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
CRO is a combination of your branding, content, website, sales copy, customer reviews, and calls to action. It’s all about making little tweaks to the previous five categories to increase your conversion rates (prospective clients to new clients). There are two things that can massively improve your conversion rate that are often missed.
First, always answer your phone the first time, every time. Always have someone available to answer the phone during business hours and avoid automated systems to direct calls. Most people will not leave a message and don’t want to deal with an automated system. Instead, they will simply click the back button, and call the next attorney in line on Google.
Second, track the quality of your calls. Are you consistently getting calls from your ideal client? Are there any patterns you’ve noticed of calls that aren’t relevant to your practice area? Adding, removing, or making more prominent things like “Free Consultations” can make a big difference in the type of leads you’re getting.
There is still a ton of opportunity for attorneys and law firms to grow their legal practice with digital marketing, and it doesn’t have to be confusing or expensive. The key is to have a complete digital marketing strategy and to avoid one-off services featuring the latest buzzwords. When you have a complete strategy, it can work unbelievably well, and you can absolutely still win online. The gold rush has only just begun.