It’s irrelevant what your job title is, we give the same advice to everyone looking to expand their business via digital marketing: in order to grow your firm, practice, business, etc. you must think of yourself first as a marketer and second as your profession. We’re going to bestow on you a piece of information you are already aware of: the legal market is grossly oversaturated. It has been for years and will probably continue to be. The competition is fierce and being the best lawyer isn’t enough to be successful, these days.
We hear the same complaint over and over, “My firm can’t find enough decent clients.” or “I’m not getting enough phone calls.” Does this scenario sound all too familiar? Keep reading to learn the marketing trends your law firm needs to be aware of.
What is Law Firm Marketing?
Law firm marketing is a way for legal firms to stay in front of their target audiences at all times. It’s delivering the right message to the right people at the right time. Law firm marketing gives lawyers the ability to position themselves, not only in front of potential clients but also in front of potential new talent to be recruited, as well.
Legal marketing is no longer throwing money at a billboard or advertising via a 30-second spot on local news stations. The times have changed and the strategies you’ll be competing with are much more encompassing than this.
Get On Trend: Digital Marketing
If you still believe that billboards and newspaper ads are going to do the job for your law firm marketing plan, you are mistaken. Digital marketing is the number one way to reach potential clients. Lead generation for lawyers involves multiple channels and can be direct as well as indirect. Now, we understand that this is not the same landscape as it was when you were in law school, however:
- Your responsibilities for your clients have not changed
- People are still in need of attorneys.
The only difference today is with how you attract them, and how you communicate with them. Fast forward to the present, the average adult in the US now spends 5.9 hours a day consuming digital media.
Consider this: Who is more likely to be in need of your services? A person driving down the road and seeing a billboard, or a person searching for “personal injury attorneys near me?” Your clients are not going to the Yellow Pages and looking for advertisements. They’re pulling out their cell phones and doing a quick Google search.
Professional Legal Website
Not only should your website appear first, but it should act as your own personal on-call sales representative. In short, this means that your site has the potential to be your firm’s number one marketing asset. All roads should point to your legal website, and it needs to be a professional tool for your firm. In order to compete in the legal industry, your site should be:
- Fast: Your prospects expect your site to load in 3 seconds or less. If it doesn’t, the user will explore other options. In the snap of a finger (or not) you lost that client, just that fast, and in a market this saturated, you can’t afford to make that mistake. You need to take every step you can to keep the clicks you receive.
- Responsive: Your website should be user-friendly, across the board. Over 63% of searches come from smartphones or tablets. If you think for one second that potential clients are going to try to navigate through a poorly constructed legal site on their phone when there are hundreds of other options available, you are sadly mistaken. They will click “back” and move on to the next, just as easily as if your website was slow. Moreover, Google won’t index your site if it’s not tailored for mobile as well. Sure you’ll appear for brand traffic, but you can kiss any new customers finding your legal site goodbye.
- Visually Appealing: People form an opinion of you based on your website. People can be judgemental, but hey, you work in the legal industry, so you’re all too aware of this. (Is this the oldest legal joke in the book, or what? we had to.) In all seriousness, your site should flow well, and calls to action should be easily findable, on both desktop and mobile devices.
- Findable: The thing about a website is, you can’t just order one off eBay. Websites are a series of moving parts and intricate layers. Optimizing a website for mobile isn’t a simple switch you are able to flip. Here, we offer more information on Web Design Best Practices.
- An Authority: We can make two assumptions when it comes to legal marketing:
- Your law firm is local.
- You provide a need-based service.
This brings us to our next point, SEO (search engine optimization), is going to, by far, give you the best return on investment.
SEO for Attorneys
Search engine optimization is the practice of creating content and optimizing your website so that it shows up higher in the search results page, organically. The trends for people pulling out there phones and doing “near me” searches has exploded over the last 5 years. This sample is the search volume index in the United States for people searching for “Lawyer Near Me”.
According to Mashable, “Google gets over 100 billion searches a month.” And 48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine (Smart Insights, 2016). This means that gaining your new client today is going to start with a simple Google search. A website filled with information, FAQS, a chat bar, and blog posts allows you to reach your clients at any time of day. Take a look at this post on 20 Internet Marketing Ideas for Lawyers.
While you or your firm may be unfamiliar with the digital marketing landscape, it isn’t new. While we can all agree that PPC (pay per click) advertising is still very important, we cannot ignore the fact that 55% of all clicks go to the first three organic search results. A few aspects of SEO you should be focusing on:
- adding schema for attorneys
- optimizing your landing pages for conversions (CTAs clearly visible)
- placing relevant keywords in titles and H1’s that you want to rank for
- optimizing images with relevant keywords you want to rank for
- content marketing
- offsite SEO
Try this: open up a tab in incognito. Search for a legal service in the city you’re located in. If your firm doesn’t show up where you want it to, contact Digital Logic about professional SEO services-SEO isn’t something you just “do yourself”.
Like we said before, people are going to judge you based off of your online reputation before they even meet you. Your website, both visually and literally, should tell your story. When is the last time you browsed your own website? Is it easy to navigate? Does it help sell you?
Content Marketing for Lawyers
We want you to have the biggest online presence as possible. If that presence appears amateurish or robotic, you’re actually at a disadvantage. Ensure that your blog posts and website content are helpful to an audience seeking legal help, or legal information.
When you are drafting your blog posts, automated emails, and other communication, make sure it sounds like an actual person wrote it. Personalize it in such a way that every recipient believes it’s drafted and sent for them. Don’t focus too much on technology and changing the landscape. At the end of the day, what matters is that your client feels as though they matter to you.
When a person hires an attorney, it’s not usually for something pleasant. During the course of a case, you’ll get to know some intimate details into your client’s personal life. Being available for your clients can grow your relationships, and make you more successful.
If you post content to your website, make sure that the content is going to be informative and add value to a visitor’s experience. If it’s not, it doesn’t need to be there. One good thing to remember is that every interaction a client has with your digital marketing is like an interaction the client has with you. A client will test you when you meet face to face, and they are going to check the quality of your digital communications. So take the time and seize the opportunity to make a good impression.
If you have something published that would embarrass you to say or express, get rid of it. Don’t put anything online without your seal of approval. At Digital Logic, we take a lot of time to understand our customer’s needs, goals, and business. We do this so that what we do on your behalf is in line with your marketing goals. If you haven’t given it much consideration yet, you can even follow this guide on how to write a marketing plan.
Mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, have taken over the desktop computer as the kings of digital technology. Your customer is likely going to be searching for and communicating with you on a mobile device. More Google searches take place on mobile devices than computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan.
Adapt your new digital marketing efforts to mobile devices. Understand that most people are going to be viewing your website on a small screen. So having a responsive website that looks perfect on a mobile device is critical. Make sure to size your automatic communications and design them for a mobile user.
When it comes to interacting with your clients, most of them want to communicate through their mobile device. And that doesn’t mean they want you to call them. Actually, the opposite is true. Text messages, iMessages, emails, and Facebook messages are a preferred method of communication. There have been over 4 billion downloads of messenger apps. Equip your attorneys’ devices that allow them to communicate with their clients.
Don’t forget to integrate digital communications into your internal communication as well. There are many apps and programs available that can help you run your operations online. Apps like Slack help you and your employees communicate and share files in real time. It can be a lifesaver if you are in the courthouse and need a document from the office as soon as possible.
Mobile Stats for Law Firms:
- One-third of people use their smartphone as a primary device to access the internet. (HubSpot, 2016)
- 82% of smartphone users say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store. (Google, 2016)
- 35% of smartphone users check their phone more than 50 times per day. (AdWeek, 2015)
- There are 2.6 billion smartphone users globally. By 2020, there will be 6.1 billion. (TechCrunch, 2015)
Beyond the Legal Website: Local SEO, PPC, Social Media, Email
Your clients will be different than someone else’s. It depends on the type of cases you handle, your geographical location, and your area of expertise. Competitive firms are now testing and discovering which forms of digital marketing are going to bring in the most clients.
Local SEO is getting your firm at the top of the search results for your local area. This information is pulled from your Google My Business Profile. Because of this, it is imperative that you claim your Google My Business Listing and optimize it for local SEO.
After this, you should make an effort to find relevant online directories and claim listings there as well. A few are:
You’ll want to claim your Google My Business account. Then you’ll need to update your:
- Phone Number
- Business Hours
If your goal is to raise brand awareness and pump some juice into your SEO efforts, we recommend PPC for your law firm. Pay-Per-Click ads are fairly simple: you pay when someone clicks on it. PPC ads will always have a prominent position in the search results. When someone searches for things, the top few listings are typically Google AdWords advertisements. On average, 41% of clicks go to the top 3 paid ads on the search engine results page.
Remember earlier, how we were talking about how oversaturated the legal market is? Well, this makes a huge impact on the cost of your PPC ads. One way around this is through remarketing.
Social Media for Lawyers
Social media is another great tool that many law firms can use to attract potential clients. But we’ll talk more about that later.
First, let’s look at a few social media usage numbers:
- 92% of marketers say that social media is important to their business.
- 90% of all marketers said their social media efforts generated more exposure for their business.
- By spending as little as six hours per week, 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media.
- 61% of those investing at least six hours per week in social media marketing saw improvements in search engine rankings.
- Source: Social Media Examiner
Now, we don’t mean you have to dive in, face first on this. It’s ok to start small and where you start depends on the type of practice you have, customer demographics, and style of marketing. The sites and platforms you use are going to change based on these factors.
Almost every business and firm has a Facebook page, and that’s not a bad place to start. 72% of adult internet users use Facebook (Pew Research Center 2015), so it has enough users. A good rule is to look at the type of clients you handle and go where they go. While you figure out how everything works, you can try out different social media platforms and decide which ones are best for you. You may discover that your customers enjoy seeing you on Twitter. Or your LinkedIn page may get more hits than you anticipated. Be flexible, and go where the customers go. Try not to get locked into one way of thinking and get your heart set on a specific social media platform or profile.
Having a social media presence humanizes you. It makes your audience feel as if you care about more things than just money. Use your best judgment on which social media sites fit your firm the best. If you’re a personal injury of a divorce lawyer, you’ll want to be on Facebook, but if you’re more of a contract or B2B type lawyer, LinkedIn may be a better place for you. By having a social presence can boost your SEO, even though they may not directly influence your ranking they do give you increased authority and broader content distribution.
Email Marketing for Lawyers
We place law firm digital marketing into three categories: owned media, paid media, and earned media.
Studies have shown that email marketing campaigns have an excellent conversion rate. This means how many emails sent out it will take to gain one client. Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers “excellent” to “good” ROI. (Econsultancy, 2016).
By automating your email communications, you can communicate with your leads and clients. With an automated digital communication strategy, you can reach out and have a presence while remaining “hands off.” Automated emails and other communications can also give clients a good feeling. Even after their case is over and you’re paid, that they have still been taken care of by you. They are much more likely to use you or your firm in the future because you’ve kept in contact with them.
Everyone Buys In, Everyone Recruits
As a lawyer, you’re not going to wait outside of the jail or in the courthouse hoping to catch someone in need of an attorney. In today’s market, and with such an overabundance of new lawyers, it’s vital that you and your entire team commits to going digital. As we’ve pointed out, this can be scary to some. But once they begin to see results, and their paychecks get bigger and bigger, it will make more sense.
In every business, this seems to be the case: the few that complain the most about “not getting this” or “not having that”, we call them the have-nots, are the most reluctant to change. So, the challenge here is getting everyone excited to take on the new digital strategy. Keep in mind, employees who refuse to jump on the team and embrace the new direction are not going to help your firm grow.
Create a system to request online reviews of your firm from your happy customers. This should be a daily or weekly activity and will help your online footprint. Here are a few statistics for those who are reluctant to switch over to digital marketing:
- 90% say that their purchase was influenced by online reviews
- 90% read online reviews before visiting a business
- 88% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
Once you begin to see the data shift, you will then be able to leverage your following as a recruitment tool. The more followers you have, the more you begin to look like the local authority for legal counsel, which will, in turn, recruit better talent.
Grab Attention with Video and Infographics
Video Marketing for Lawyers
You’ve built your website, optimized it for local SEO, and started to expand your presence online through our provided tactics. That’s awesome, but so is everyone else. It’s a saturated market, remember? What are you doing to stand out? People tend to choose lawyers that feel like a good fit, lawyers that make them feel like family. How do you make your audience feel like they know you? with video ads.
In today’s era, it’s hard enough to get someone to sit down and focus on one thing at a time. Asking someone to try and read through a ton of blog posts and advertisements is going to be tricky. Your audience will be able to process your message faster while feeling as if they are getting to know you at the same time. 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than reading about it (Animoto, 2015). So a great way to capture a wider audience is through the creation of videos.
YouTube, now owned by Google is arguably the second most popular search engine today. You can bet if you aren’t on YouTube, one of your competitors is.
These short videos aren’t hard to make, even if you have zero experience. Turn an article you wrote into a 2-3 min animated video, and post it as part of your digital marketing strategy. You’re much more likely to get someone to watch it than you are to get someone to read a story about it. Don’t be camera shy!
Original Graphics for Lawyers
A great way to engage potential customers on social media is to create original graphics. They need to be simple and to the point. According to Buffer, “Visual content is 40x more likely to get shared on social media than any other type.”
A great idea would be to create an infographic that shows your win rate. If you’re a personal injury attorney, the average award you get for clients is interesting. Little things with your name on them that will catch your customer’s eye. If you need help, we can design graphics and logos that stand out and reflect your firm’s personality. As well as your accomplishments.
Let us know if you’re law firm needs help setting up any of these actionable law firm marketing trends.
Learn more about our Law Firm Marketing services.