Due to the highly-competitive nature of legal services, from family law to car accident and other areas of practice, almost every law firm is looking to sign up more clients, month over month. There are many different methods, tactics and strategies, but when every advertiser and agency is trying to sell your firm on a marketing contract or advertising package, it can be hard to separate the sure-fire approaches from the noise.
In this article, we’re going to look at 17 different marketing methods that work to get law firms’ phones ringing and more intakes filled out.
1) Invest in SEO to show up in Search
In the old days, when you needed to call a plumber, carpenter or even a lawyer, you would resort to the phonebook or yellow pages. Today, search engines have nearly replaced these old, bulky and manual directories that list everyone and every local business’ phone number. One of the primary ways people look for lawyers is through search engines.
The most popular search engine, being Google with more than 85% market share in the United States (according to eMarketer.com), it simply cannot be ignored.
However, there is limited space. With only 10 organic (unpaid) positions on the first page of Google, if you’re only just pursuing SEO efforts now, then it’s going to take your firm a while to see the benefits and ROI from your SEO investments.
Because the organic search results can be very lucrative, depending on the keywords your firm’s website appears for space is limited and winning one of those few slots is very competitive. If your competition is ranking there right now for your target keywords, then you should consider how long they’ve been investing in their SEO. If you were to replace one of them on the first page, many of them would probably have a digital marketer or webmaster working to win that position back.
Don’t Forget about Bing, Yahoo and Other Search Engines
As you can see from eMarketer’s statistics above, Google, while almost monopolistic in this market, owns all but 13.1% of the market. While all other search engines share the small, remaining fraction of the market, there is still a lot of valuable potential to be had there.
Consider focusing your efforts on these search engines in the beginning. While you won’t be getting nearly the amount of traffic you can from Google, most of your competition’s attention will be focused on the search giant. Focus on the other engines where you can win first page rankings easier and see results much faster.
Register Profiles on all Major Directories
If you do a google search for your law firm’s primary keywords and your city / state, you’ll notice something interesting upon inspecting the search results. Several of them aren’t actually attorney websites. Instead, there are other directories on the page, such as Avvo, FindLaw, Thumbtack, Justia, Yellowpages, Yelp and others that may appear on the results.
A significant portion of people searching are going to click on these results and browse the directories for a local lawyer. When they do, you want to maximize your firm’s visibility by appearing on as many of these as possible. Go through the directories that are ranking on the first 2-3 pages of google in your state for your firm’s areas of practice and make sure your firm is listed on as many as possible. The more places your firm appears, the more chances there are for people to find your firm online.
2) Run Search Ads to Hack your Way into Google and Bing Search Results
Because of the competitive nature of law firm seo, your firm is going to have to wait to see results from its SEO efforts (if it sees results at all). I’m not balking at the promise of SEO. It can be extremely when performed correctly. However, it takes a lot of time and patience (6+ months) to see results and you can’t be sure that your SEO provider is going to be able to deliver the desired results.
Regardless if you’re trying to rank organically in search engines or not, you can pay to have ads displayed above the local map listings and organic results. These can come at a premium, but when set up and managed correctly, they can generate a great ROI and more importantly start bringing in new clients almost immediately. As long as you have a credit card, you can start running ads as soon as you wish.
These ads, known as Search ads, AdWords, PPC or SEM ads are the other component of Search Engine Marketing (SEM for short). SEM, has two components SEO and these paid search ads. You employ a search engine marketing strategy that uses both, one or the other. As with other PPC ads, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad in Google. They can be expensive, especially for attorneys and law firms. The price is set via a bidding auction for the available ad space on the page by other law firms and advertisers.
Use Bing and other Search Engines to Advertise for Less
Due to how expensive the search ads cost per click prices can be in the legal industry, you should consider exploring similar search ads on platforms like Bing. Because search ads are priced based on an auction among competing advertisers, we’ve found great success in the past advertising on Bing where there is much less competition. Therefore, while we receive much fewer search impressions and clicks, we usually end up paying a fraction of the cost per click for the same keyword on Google. Conversions, while much lower, are also cheaper on Bing and Yahoo as well.
3) Use Geo-Targeted Digital Ad Campaigns
Most attorneys and firms practice in specific jurisdictions. While there are edge cases, due to these jurisdictions, many firms are going to restrict their ads and marketing to a city, state or other particular regions. Every firm’s business model and marketing strategy varies too, as will their desired areas where they seek to acquire new clients and business from.
While digital and online advertising may seem to be unwieldy to some, especially due to the fact that their ads can show up all over the internet, most ad platforms still allow you to limit who sees your ads based on details regarding their physical location.
Among the most popular ad platforms include Facebook, Google and Bing. All of which allow you to target based on different details of your target areas. Above is an image taken from Facebook’s platform, that allows you to target people based on whether they live in the area, are visiting or to target everyone in that location.
Google and Bing, being primarily search ad platforms allow you to choose whether to target ads to people searching about a specific location (i.e. their search query includes the name of a city, state, etc.) or only to display ads to people who are frequently in targeted areas.
Take advantage of these platforms to target your ads and only show to people geographically relevant to your firm.
4) Optimize your Google My Business & Bing Listings
When it comes to attracting clients from online mediums, one of the most powerful and overlooked web properties is your law firm’s Google My Business and Bing Places profiles. Your GMB and Bing profiles will play critical roles in ranking in the local map pack in Google and Bing search results, respectively.
Make sure your phone number, address and business name are all consistent and up to date. Fill out categorical and service-related fields with the specific areas of law you practice and are trying to target. Furthermore, you should try to cultivate as many reviews from past clients as possible.
To optimize your profile to their maximum potential, check out this article.
5) Be Consistent with Your Social Media Strategy
If your firm has a social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram or other platforms then you should be taking advantage of them. When considering whether your firm should be active on social media or not, be sure to take into account the time investment that either an attorney, staff member or social media manager will be committing to it. Determine what your firm should be posting on social media with this guide.
Once you have your social content strategy in place, you can automate a lot of your posting so that it should only take several hours per month.
Our clients attract clients directly from social media from several different routes. The first type are direct messages through the platform, such as a message on Facebook. Other times people find a blog article or link shared in a social post and click through to the website before submitting a form or calling the law office.
Social media does work, but you won’t likely see immediate effects. It takes some time to build up momentum. Therefore, the key to a great attorney social media strategy is consistency. When paired with great content that lawyers can share on social networks, you’ll have a diversified stream of leads coming from social as well as a great source of top of mind advertising.
6) TV Commercials Still Work
Many law firms today still run TV commercials. With cable TV subscriptions and viewership declining, newer firms and practitioners with smaller marketing budgets may question the effectiveness of TV campaigns. We see that our clients still generate healthy returns and significant gains in new case signups from TV ad campaigns. There are several factors to consider though.
Our clients have found that the most successful time of year to advertise is beginning in January. After Christmas and the holidays are behind us, people seem to be less distracted by all the events and responsibilities of the holidays and have more time to contact a lawyer. Summer and Fall campaigns have worked, but far less effective than campaigns that begin in the new year.
Programming & Frequency
A significant number of leads came in after business hours, between 6 and 10 pm. The programming you choose to schedule your ads into should be more popular programming and tv shows that attract a lot of viewers. You will end up paying a premium for these slots, but it could be a marginal cost compared to the extra leads and cases it brings to your firm.
Depending on the type of law you practice and are marketing, take into consideration your client avatars and personas to ensure your ads are scheduled and programmed with shows they’re likely to watch.
7) Become Ubiquitous in Your Market & Target Areas of Practice
This is a point we like to discuss in many of our articles. However, that’s because it’s important. For the majority of people, they only need a lawyer during several occasions in their lives. That’s not to say that these cases aren’t long in duration and that relationships between lawyers and clients aren’t long-lasting. It’s more of a point about staying top of mind, leading up to a potential client contacting your firm and even clients remembering after.
Unlike items people find in retail, where brands are household names, attorneys and law firms need effective marketing strategies. This is critical in order to stay top of mind and be among the most visible in a market when someone ends needing their services. The challenge for you as a lawyer is to become as close to a household name as possible. This is in fact challenging, since it’s far from possible.
Part of this comes from having iconic branding that creates a lasting impression with your market. Another critical component will be ensuring that your target market is served as many impressions as possible, as often as possible. When people think of divorce lawyer, they think of ‘ABC Family Lawyers’, etc.
8) Blogging in your Areas of Law Can be a Game-Changer
Earlier we discussed components of SEM (search engine marketing) strategy, including SEO and PPC ads. Arguably more important than traditional SEO is blogging. We’ve all heard of blogging, but how effective is it really?
When strategically planned and properly executed, you can leave the rest of SEM at the door, as blogging can be your firm’s #1 online source of new leads and clients. With blogging, your objective is for the majority of people to find your firm’s website through search engines like Bing and Google. However, unlike trying to rank for ultra-competitive keywords and queries like “divorce lawyer san diego”, you’ll be trying to rank for far less competitive, lower search volume terms such as “can I move away if I have sole custody california?”.
In the last tactic, we discussed how to serve as many impressions of your firm’s brand as possible. However, we didn’t cover when is best to serve your firm’s brand. With blogging, you have an incredible opportunity to have people convinced that your their go-to legal option later when they need it. By blogging and giving people free information about their legal issues, you’re building authority and serving very valuable impressions. They’re associating their legal issues with your firm’s information and guides (e.g. the problem solvers).
Like SEO, blogging still requires time to rank in search engines. However, it’s much easier to maintain these rankings and start growing your web traffic for new search terms, snowballing the effect. If you’re unsure what to write as a lawyer, we have tons of law firm blog ideas that are designed to turn people into leads and clients.
9) Optimize your Website for Phone Calls, Lead Forms & Conversions
We’ve discussed many tactics above that rely on digital and internet marketing. That’s because it works. Out of all the components of internet marketing, the most important piece of internet property your firm owns is its website. We collected data from our clients that shows even when they run offline ads and campaigns, such as TV commercials, many leads either call or email after visiting their website.
Most law firms want leads and potential clients to call them. This is the action that they want their prospects to take. In marketing, this is called a ‘call to action’. Runner up to a phone call is submitting a contact form. Many law firms today use live chat widgets and other tools to squeeze out as many leads as possible. Regardless whether your firm incorporates chat or not, you want to give your audience several options, so that they take the action option they’re most comfortable with.
In any event, ensure that your firm’s phone number is not only visible, but prominent on every page of the website. Make it easy for users on mobile and smartphones to tap the phone number and initiate a call. Make sure that lead form, or at least a button to a lead for is present on all key pages of the site as well. These are some of the basic steps moving towards optimizing your law firm website and converting as many visitors as possible into leads and initial consultations.
10) Consider Narrowing Your Areas of Practice & Service Offerings
If you’re a full-service law firm, then you may want to take a look at your books and see what services and cases are producing the most revenue and profit for your firm. If your firm’s financial breakdown points to one or two areas of law generating the lion’s share of revenue, then you may want to consider streamlining your firm to prioritize and support those cases over all else.
By doing this, your firm’s workforce and operations can be fine-tuned to produce more work faster, reducing redundancies and increasing profits. Done correctly, your firm will become better, faster at the type of law you’ve decided to focus on. While you may not be able to call yourselves experts, due to your bar society’s rules and code of ethical conduct, word will get around that you specialize.
As your firm continues to focus it efforts on select areas of practice, it will become harder for other firms in your market to compete with you professionally and in terms of results and quality of work.
Position Your Firm’s Brand for the Cases You Want to Attract
Whether you decide to cull services and offerings that are not to be your firm’s primary focus moving forward, you still have the option of positioning your firm as such from a marketing and branding perspective.
If your firm, in fact produces 75-80% of its revenue in one or several areas of work, then you may not want to cull the other 20 so percent. However, consider labelling your firm and its brand as specialists or lawyers that focus on particular areas of law. If those areas were family law and estate planning, then you could rebrand your firm from “Johnson Law” to “Johnson Family & Estate Lawyers”. Final naming and branding is up to you, but hopefully the point is made clear.
11) Generate Referrals from Past Clients & Other Attorneys
Did you know that some firms rely on the majority of their clients from referrals? In many areas of law including business, corporate and real estate this is the natural in practice. However, referrals can extend to nearly all areas of law. There are a multitude of strategies and methods that law firms small and large, even solo attorneys can implement.
We wrote an article that goes in-depth on how law firms can generate referrals from other lawyers in their market and areas as well as leverage their past clients for word of mouth referrals.
12) Cross-Promote your Law Firm’s Services
Cross-promotion is the activity whereby you promote one product or service via the influence or existing audience of another.
For purposes of explaining how this works, less suppose that your firm primarily works on family law and personal injury cases. Now, consider the following scenario: How many of your family law clients know that you also handle personal injury cases?
Your family law practice may be booming with referral and word of mouth business. However, how often do you see that translate into new personal injury work? If you’re looking to increase your number of files in injury and accident cases, then cross-promotion can offer significant results.
Repositioning your firm’s brand and image, as mentioned in #10, can greatly carry this weight. Having it written on your website’s homepage can help as well, email newsletters that get sent out to current and past clients that feature family and personal injury articles are all great. Whatever you decide, it should be made clear to the audience that service A (e.g. personal injury) is just as much a part of your firm as service B (family law).
13) Online Reviews Convert More Clients
Whether we shop on Amazon, ecommerce or looking to hire a lawyer, most of us are doing some amount of due diligence first and reading any reviews we can find online. Your practice’s online reputation should be pristine or close to it. Having one or two reviews on your GMB (Google My Business) or Facebook page is better than none, but trust resonates proportionally with the quantity and quality of reviews.
Requesting past clients to leave you reviews via your GMB and Facebook page will increase the number of people you convert into client intakes. It gives your visitors and prospects added peace of mind that you come highly rated and recommended before contacting your firm.
That covers it. Remember that multiple tactics get folded into a larger, overall marketing strategy. This means that, while you won’t necessarily use all the tactics we discussed above, the more you can incorporate into your firm’s marketing strategy, the more channels and diversified your source of new legal clients will become.
After reading this, you’ll notice that synergies exist between some of the tactics. It’s a strong indicator that you should at least pursue several of those in tandem with each other. However, there isn’t a one size fits all strategy or approach for law firm marketing. Each practice has a different model, competitive landscape and hence requires a custom approach to their marketing.