The global pandemic changed just about everything we do and importantly, how we do things. While ultimately a moment in time that will live in our memories and history books, it’s ever-present impacts sent everyone home to work remotely, and in doing so, brought many couples face-to-face with conflicts that were sitting just below the surface. As Legal Templates reports in an August 2020 study, “quarantine was a homewrecker” and has so far resulted in a massive year-over-year increase in divorce filings. COVID-19 even doubled the rate of divorce filings for newlyweds married 5 months or less!
As much as we’d all like a little hope on the horizon, many scientists and medical professionals don’t see a full “return to normal” until at least November 2021. That’s more than enough time for the economic instability and other pandemic-related factors we’re under to help sustain historically-high divorce rates. And for family law attorneys, it means now is as important as ever to maintain a strong marketing presence and capture the increasing amounts of web searches among unhappy spouses stuck together at home.
How Can Family Law Firms Compete?
Family law firms help stand in the middle when familial conflicts like divorce and child custody erupt. In times like these, it’s necessary to view your law firm as a business that’s increasingly more essential (and more in-demand). Additionally, with more people seeking family attorney services, competition is ramping up.
Nobody is going to the phone book to find a family attorney anymore. Instead, they’re finding lawyers through:
- Word-of-mouth / recommendations
- Prior experience (previously used your services)
- Web searches
- Social media
The best ways to hedge your existing relationships in a digital age is through email marketing, organic search ranking, SEO optimization, and social media ads and engagement. However, you still need to pay attention to and put effort toward establishing a strong search presence.
Digital Marketing for Family Law Firms
So what’s right for your family law firm as you navigate your digital marketing needs? It varies strongly based on your personal and professional network. If you have a long and well-established client base, you already have a strong resource for marketing. But if you’re just starting out, web search (both PPC and SEO) and social media (both shareable content and PPC) will probably be great routes for you (although they’re also valuable marketing channels for established law firms, as well).
Let’s look at what these mean and how you can enhance your digital marketing efforts through these channels.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engines are a powerful tool in your family law firm marketing bag of tricks, so long as you take care of some of the SEO essentials.
When someone goes to Google and types in “divorce attorney”, they’ll get three results that matter to you.
First, they’ll see a Google Maps-associated list of law firm names, addresses, phone numbers, and hours of operation. Next, Google will serve us a list of websites for those same law firms. Finally, individuals who search the term will get a list of web pages that best fit their search.
Where you land in those local searches is fully dependent on several factors, some of which you can take care of in minutes. We’ve seen instances where local businesses searched for by name don’t show up high on a results page, and it’s often because they haven’t taken care of their primary SEO inputs, so this is an area you don’t want to leave to chance.
Google My Business
If you haven’t already done so, make sure your family law firm shows up Google Maps. This is easy to accomplish, and free, by signing up with Google My Business to get a business profile on Google. That way, whenever someone searches either broadly for family law firms in their area, or specifically for your business, they’ll get a business profile that includes pertinent information. It’s an easy SEO step that gets you on the map.
Why focus on Google? It’s the largest search engine by volume, accounting for over 90% of all search engine traffic. That kind of dominance is why its search arm is now the subject of an historic antitrust lawsuit, but it’s an unavoidable reality for marketing your business. Building a presence on Google is a bare minimum for a winning digital marketing strategy for localized brick-and-mortar businesses.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the broad topic covering everything you do to your website to have it get noticed and ranked by Google’s search engine algorithms. There’s no special formula for getting top-ranked SEO, but there are a large number of techniques you can employ that increase your chances of ranking better. Google keeps its secrets close to its chest, but it does regularly provide information about what websites must have to even get ranked at all.
Those areas that you need to ensure you check off include:
- Creating a mobile-friendly website (especially important since 68% of people querying divorce-related keywords in Q2 2020 were using mobile devices)
- Reducing website loading speed
- Building a solid profile of backlinks
- Creating a network of internal linking on your site
- Keeping older website content updated and refreshed
- Creating new, well-written website content on a regular basis
You’ll also need to perform keyword research to determine what topics people are searching that your competition is ranking for, and then exceed that content on your own site.
Social Media Marketing
Hundreds of millions of people use social media across every age range and demographic that a family law firm would target. To that end, you’ll need to ensure you have a social media presence that helps attract attention to your practice in a positive way.
Note that you’re not going into the game with much high praise. In its Honest/Integrity in Professions Survey, Gallup found lawyers are poorly ranked for how much consumers trust them. Only 22% of consumers say their trust of lawyers was “high” or “very high”.
Compensate for that overall lack of trust with honest, down-to-earth, and fact-based messaging through your social media channels. Social media is also a great way to form conversations and build relationships with those within your community.
You’ll likely want to focus your attention on the biggest social media platforms that offer more tools and wider audiences necessary for better engagement and discussion. Those include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But don’t leave out LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok, where you can get creative with how you deliver your message to different audiences.
Your steps to creating a great social media presence include:
- Setting up a business page (all social media websites allow you to do so)
- Sharing your unique website content through your page
- Engaging with the community in posts
Importantly, make sure that you engage with your community in a positive way. Social media can take a bad turn quickly, so you’ll likely want to make sure you’re monitoring those conversations to avoid the negative consequences of hostile interactions.
Digital Ads: Google, Facebook, and More
We’ve talked about making a presence on social media and Google, but you can employ ads on almost any service you’re using, including through Google and Facebook.
Both Google and Facebook allow you to create advertisements that can more rapidly put your key website pages and information in front of potential clients. The platforms use advertisements differently, however.
With Google Ads, you can bid for certain keywords. Those keywords are directly connected to webpage content you’ve created, including your homepage or other specialized landing pages. The amount you pay for ads will vary by keyword. Once you’ve purchased and created an ad, it will show up at the top of a Google search for that search term before any other organic listings appear.
Facebook allows you to advertise to specific populations of people, with ad pricing varying based on how many people are receiving those ads. Facebook also allows you to “Boost” posts you’ve made on your law firm’s social media page.
For example, let’s say your law firm offers free, private consultations via phone or Zoom. You can create a blog post on your website promoting the importance of discretion in the early parts of a divorce, then share it on your Facebook page. But if you only have a limited number of followers, you can Boost the post as an advertisement to key demographics, making sure more people see the information.
You’ll find you can also create ads easily through Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other social media sites. Each site’s core audience has different expectations. Before creating an ad on any site, research the user base to figure out what they use the site for, and make your ads in such a way that it matches the style and tone of the platform.
Your existing relationships offer your best avenue in this market. Communicate with your current and past clients through email to not only keep your firm fresh on their mind, but to be honest and ask for referrals.
Email is a great way to continually engage with clients, and especially useful as a means to help share resources for those who may soon need a family attorney. Law firms typically see around a 22.5% open rate for email, which is great. But don’t just use your email for marketing. Use it to connect on a human level and keep engagement on-going.
You can use automated services to help implement drip campaigns, as well, that ensures everyone who signs up gets the same message, regardless of when they’ve signed up to receive emails from you.
Taking the Next Steps on Digital Marketing
Economic stress and COVID-19 shutdowns are pushing more people toward divorce than in year’s past. Most people who do ultimately consider divorce will ultimately turn to a divorce attorney to help them navigate the legal complexities like division of property, spousal support, and child visitation rights. But now, more than ever, you need to make sure potential clients not only know you exist but know what kind of services you offer that distinguishes you from your biggest competitors.