Remember the days when you could just practice the law without having to worry about devising a marketing plan or carrying out a marketing strategy? Those days are gone.
Now, practicing attorneys are faced with an increased supply of professional legal talent, increased supply of legal service substitutes, as well as a drastic increase in professional digital marketing efforts amongst other lawyers in their respective areas.
Now, solo practitioners and small law firms simply must invest in professional marketing services in order to get more clients or in some cases, even survive.
If you’re a part of a small law firm that needs to stretch your marketing budget as far as possible, keep reading. We provide a few tips to get more potential clients, along with some brutally honest advice.
Buckle up. We spare no feelings in this one.
Based on our observations from working with various legal firms, we have seen that law firm marketing is rarely understood and is often implemented ineffectively, especially for smaller legal firms.
There are many reasons why this is the case:
There isn’t enough time for lawyers to invest in non-billable activities, such as law firm marketing efforts.
Most lawyers are uncomfortable with marketing, especially online marketing. And, this is completely understandable. Devising a strong law firm marketing plan requires training and extensive experience.
In order for online marketing efforts to be profitable, there really is no room for error.
Lack of Digital Marketing Understanding
Additionally, many law firms confuse the terms “marketing” and “advertising”.
Marketing efforts can exist outside of promotional activities, such as radio spots, television commercials, direct mail, and even online paid advertisements.
The way that consumers search for legal services has changed over the past several years. And, in order to stay relevant, law firms need to invest in long term marketing services that meet their prospective clients where they’re searching, while gently guiding them through the buyer’s journey.
And, the marketing plan even for small law firms will vary, based on practice areas. For example, divorce attorney marketing requires a bit more guiding than personal injury marketing. The reason for this example is pretty simple. It’s because the decision to divorce requires much more time than the time it takes for a person to sustain serious injuries.
Do you know what separates the high-earning personal injury law firms from the low-to-average-earning firms? Their marketing budget.
Go ahead, give it a Google.
Small law firms are constantly searching for marketing ideas that won’t blow their entire marketing budget. It’s almost impossible to compete with national legal firms that have tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in monthly legal marketing services.
It takes careful planning, smart budgeting, and a professional law firm marketing strategy to make your small law firm stand out.
Marketing Services for Small Law Firms
Digital Logic is an award-winning digital marketing agency that has extensive experience marketing for small law firms and large firms, alike. In this guide, we’ll go over which legal marketing services will bring in the best return on investment. We’ll also go over some small actions your law firm can take to generate some new business.
If you’d like to hear more about our professional law firm marketing services, give us a call!
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Marketing Ideas for Small Legal Firms
If you’re a solo practitioner or if you own a small law firm and wish to compete with the larger law firms in your market, what are your first steps? How can you find a competitive advantage among so much competition? How do you devise a law firm marketing strategy that fits within your limited budget?
We’ll address all of these questions below, but before you dive too deep, we’d like to address a common misconception when it comes to digital marketing efforts, especially for small law firms.
Don’t think of your law firm’s marketing budget as an expense. Think of it as an investment, because that’s truly what it is.
At Digital Logic, we offer affordable monthly SEO services as well as affordable PPC management prices.
Our monthly marketing packages start at $2,500. And, while $2,500 is a huge expense for some law firms, when you think of the payment as an investment, the opportunities for those marketing dollars far outweigh the expense.
We’ve helped build small law firms from the ground up. We’ve helped entire law firms retire early. In a matter of months, we were able to help a couple of law firm clients average over 100 qualified leads a month.
See our case studies for more information.
Featured Case Study
How Belen Law Firm successfully launched a BRAND NEW law practice in 2019-2020
But, for small law firms that don’t have $2,500-$3,000 to invest in professional legal marketing services whatsoever, here are a few law firm marketing strategies that may help get your small law firm enough leads to get by.
It’s important to understand that while these small law firm marketing ideas will help some, they aren’t going to compete with law firm marketing efforts from a professional marketing agency, as we have more time, experience, and resources to devote to our marketing plans.
As the old saying goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” We truly never outgrow it.
First and foremost, you need to create a law firm marketing plan. While most law firms understand that planning is important, many fail to write down an actual marketing plan before beginning any marketing efforts.
During this initial step, it’s important to calculate your current digital marketing metrics and write them down. Determine your current ROI for your marketing budget (if any). Figure out how many leads your law firm receives via phone calls, form submissions, etc., as well as the case types associated with your leads.
Understand Your Target Audience
It’s impossible to create a good law firm marketing strategy if you have no idea who exactly you’re marketing to. Understanding your target audience is key to creating content that your potential clients will interact with.
Every piece of content that you create or share should provide value to your target audience and potential clients. You should have these people in mind regardless of whether you’re posting on social media, writing emails, or updating your website.
Measure Your Law Firm Marketing Efforts
Regardless of how you choose to move forward with your law firm marketing strategy, you need to know what your numbers are. You’ll need to be able to calculate your return on investment.
Without these measurements, you’ll never have a clue of which marketing ideas are working and which are failing. Knowing which marketing dollars are driving the most traffic is the key to successful planning.
The best way to start compiling this information is by asking current clients how they found out about your law firm. You can also reach out to past clients to see if they’ll help you, as well.
Once you have a law firm website, then you’ll be able to implement more advanced methods of tracking. For example, most firm websites use the free version of Google Analytics. This is a tool that provides website owners with data extracted from their website. Google even walks you through the process of installing analytics on your website.
While Google does provide you with the raw data, understanding the data and how to correctly apply the data for decision-making purposes is another task entirely.
Create a Marketing Budget
If you want to attract more legal clients, then you really need to grow your law firm brand online.
And, as you’ll see in this post, there really aren’t any tried and true sustainable law firm marketing ideas out there that won’t cost you anything.
Once you’ve written out your marketing plan, you’ll need to determine exactly how much revenue you’ll need to accrue in order to make your marketing goals a reality. You’ll need to consider how competitive your space is, as well.
Once you’ve determined your law firm’s marketing budget, you’ll need to stay within those parameters. It doesn’t matter if your law firm gets more clients if you’re not watching the bottom line.
Law Firm Website
Invest in Professional Law Firm Website Design Services
While there certainly isn’t a shortage of self-help website development videos online, this is something that we do not recommend whatsoever.
Hear us out.
The legal industry is one of the most competitive industries to date. When you begin your law firm marketing journey, you need to keep the end goal in mind. Your legal website is the foundation of all your online marketing efforts, both present and in the future. And, to be frank, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you will end up wasting more money over the course of your career than you can really even imagine.
Why Small Law Firms Need a Professional Website Design
Now, we completely understand that investing in a professionally designed law firm website will not immediately pay for itself, and even still, we stand by our advice.
Once you build your law firm website, Google starts crawling your web pages, assuming that you set your website up correctly. Google’s search crawlers begin to learn what your website is all about, your specific practices areas, and what your law firm provides, in general.
Once you are established enough to invest in law firm marketing services from a professional agency, if your law firm’s website is setup correctly, we’ll be able to take your domain, spruce the website up, and start working on creating your ad campaigns, building out your content, or both, depending on which law firm marketing services you invest in.
However, if your law firm website isn’t set up correctly, we may have to start from scratch. Or, in cases where Google has already penalized the website for bad design or coding, then we will advise you to purchase another domain. Since your old website was already established, you may very well be starting off worse than if you’d had no website to begin with.
Don’t Invest In Online Marketing Efforts Until Your Website is Ready
You really should not invest any of your marketing budget into social media marketing efforts or online ads until you are happy with your law firm’s website.
You really cannot compete with the professional website designs of larger firms until your website is adequately optimized for SEO. Plus, you will end up paying too much for online ads when your landing pages aren’t relevant enough to your ad groups.
When Google calculates your CPC, or cost per click, it considers a few factors. A couple of these factors include ad relevance and bounce rate.
When Digital Logic runs paid ads for our lawyer clients, we ensure that each ad group focuses on a specific practice area and is targeted towards a specific target audience within that unique practice area search. Then, we create specific landing pages (where the ad link leads) for each of those specific groups.
So, once the searcher clicks on the ad and lands on the page, they’ll see professional content that addresses their very specific needs, based on which ad they clicked on.
In contrast, if your website only has a few service pages, when someone clicks on your ad, they’ll be directed to a web page that offers generic content that may or may not address the searcher’s personal issue.
If they see that the landing page isn’t what they were looking for, they’ll quickly leave your website and visit your competitor’s website.
So not only have you wasted money on that advertisement click, you’ve also told Google that your ads aren’t relevant to the content you’re offering. This means that in order for Google to continue showing these ads, you’ll have to pay an increased cost per click. The more this happens, the more money you’ll end up wasting.
Google Business Profile
Google Business is a powerful marketing tool that helps local business owners get noticed on Google’s search engine results pages. This tool helps level the playing field of local SEO for new business owners and smaller businesses alike.
Did you know that Google My Business, or GMB for short, offers every law firm a free directory listing?
Google Business listings are an incredibly important piece of every law firm’s marketing strategy. When your Google My Business profile is optimized correctly, this tool helps increase your law firm’s online visibility at the local level. It’s what puts your law firm on Google Maps, as well.
Set Up Your Google Business Profile
To start using your Google My Business account, you’ll have to verify that you own your law firm and provide Google with proof of ownership. If there isn’t a Google profile associated with your law firm, then you can create one!
Note: Just because you didn’t personally set up a Google Business account for your firm doesn’t mean that there isn’t a profile associated with your firm.
Post on Your Google My Business Profile
You can also regularly post on your Google Business listing. This will help with local SEO efforts. In order to squeeze the most out of your efforts on these types of marketing channels, you’ll want to be sure to link back to your law firm’s website on every post.
Another way that small law firms can drive traffic to their website is through legal directories.
Legal directories, like Avvo, Lawyers.com, FindLaw, and Justia already have other law firms and potential clients that may be interested in your legal services.
When you’re setting up your legal directory listings, it’s important that you input the information exactly the same across the board. So, if your address on your website spells out the word “Street,” then you also need to spell out the word, “Street,” across the board.
While you may be tempted to pay for higher rankings on these directory platforms, we advise against it.
The truth is that most of your potential clients aren’t going to ask their legal questions specifically on these platforms. They’re going to turn to the trusted Google platform.
Oftentimes, legal directory listings are a way for lawyers to show off to other law firms in their area. They truly don’t generate many, if any qualified leads, from what we’ve seen.
For legal directories, like Avvo, some of your reviews may be published across various search engines. So, while it is important to have an updated profile and positive reviews, it isn’t necessary to rank high within those directories.
Monitor Your Online Reviews
Once you have your law firm’s online directory listings set up, your new clients are able to start giving your law firm reviews. Managing these reviews is critical.
Up to 95% of consumers look at online reviews before hiring a lawyer.
While a couple of subpar reviews may not hurt anything, having a long list of bad reviews certainly will.
You’ll want to make asking your clients for a review at the end of every case a priority, especially for satisfied clients.
However, if you do get a negative review, you never want to ignore it. You’ll want to respond directly to the poster’s concerns while staying within your legal limits with respect to client-lawyer confidentiality.
It won’t cost your law firm a dime to ask past clients to pass along your name when their friends or family members are looking for a lawyer. In some cases, you can even return the favor by recommending their business, if they have one.
It’s important to note that if you’re working on your criminal defense marketing strategy, bankruptcy lawyer marketing strategy, or family law marketing strategy, especially if you’re a divorce lawyer, then this marketing tactic isn’t likely to help you too much. Prospective clients who are looking for these types of legal services, specifically, tend to turn to Google before asking a friend or family member, as these topics tend to be embarrassing, for most.
If you’ve set up your Google Business listing, legal directory listings, and have exhausted all of the word-of-mouth tactics that you can possibly think of, and you still aren’t generating enough leads to keep your small law firm in business, then it’s time to invest in some real lead generation techniques.
If you want to increase your online footprint and ensure that potential clients are able to find you online, then you need to make your firm’s website optimization a priority.
This means that you’ll need to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) services.
Tasks such as quality keyword research, optimizing pages for all of your practice areas, crafting professionally written titles, descriptions and headings, optimizing images and videos, having a fast loading speed and secure hosting, while maintaining the correct site architecture all are the bare minimum for SEO best practices.
However, the bare minimum isn’t even close to cutting it when you’re marketing for a criminal defense, family law, or personal injury law firm.
SEO for personal injury lawyers especially is an highly competitive space.
Invest in Monthly SEO Services
While monthly SEO services aren’t always affordable, most law firms cannot afford not to invest in them.
We told you that we’d be brutally honest.
Your law firm’s website needs to be seen on Google’s search engine results pages in order to actually get leads or potential clients.
The key for seeing success with law firm SEO is partnering with a good law firm marketing agency. Period.
This does not mean paying FindLaw or other huge law firm marketing companies to provide services.
This means that you need to do your homework:
Partnering with an outside company does not mean you have to blindly trust their services. Any agency that makes you feel that way isn’t a good fit for a small law firm.
While a couple thousand dollars isn’t much to a huge law firm, it will be a lot for your small firm to invest, and you deserve to be treated with the same respect that your marketing agency treats their huge legal marketing clients.
Which Law Firm Marketing Ideas Don't Work
We’ve read through hundreds of online articles and blogs outlining how small law firms can market themselves online. And, while these methods could hold up for extremely uncompetitive markets, they’re all but useless in your landscape.
We see other websites building up how helpful some marketing tactics can be, but with a quick second thought and some common sense, you’ll see that they truly aren’t worth your time or money.
Social Media Marketing
While Digital Logic does offer social media marketing services, we certainly don’t heavily rely on social media ads or posts to help our legal clients get new clients. Facebook really just isn’t the lead generating machine that many other websites make it out to be.
Well, for starters, how often do you personally search for a lawyer on Facebook? Do you personally know anyone who has hired a lawyer based on an Instagram post? When has a lawyer answered a legal question on Twitter that led to getting a new client? How much have your lawyer friends made from social media advertising directly?
Crickets. Yes, we thought so.
Now, for large firms that offer nation-wide class action lawsuits, then, yes, running some social media ads could be very beneficial. But, since you’re reading a post on small law firm marketing, then we’re going to assume this doesn’t apply here.
We aren’t saying not to have social media profiles. You certainly should. And, you should make sure that you’re able to respond to any messages you may receive there, so that you don’t get negative reviews based on your social media communication.
But, as far as social media helping you become a sustainable law firm, it probably isn’t going to happen.
Everyone wants to have a mailbox full of emails that outline the best defenses for murder charges, how to get sexual abuse charges dropped, etc. Right?
Many small law firms invest in email marketing because a website or even a marketing agency told them they should. They’ll even brag about their huge email marketing lists.
However, for most consumers, legal services aren’t something they consider until an event forces them to. Most of your target clients don’t want to receive random legal content every week or even every month.
If he or she has a legal question, they certainly aren’t going to comb through their mailbox to find the answer. Instead, they’ll search for answers on Google.
This is why it’s important for your website to rank well on Google’s search engine results pages.
There really isn’t a substitute for solid SEO, regardless of how large or small your law firm is.
DIY Google Ads
Getting large amounts of target clients organically will take time. So, many law firms turn to Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) in hopes of gaining more new clients. But, if part of your marketing plan includes attempting to learn and run Google ads in order to grow your law firm brand, we urge you to reconsider.
There are a ton of digital advertising platforms, such as Google Ads, Facebook, and LinkedIn that allow individuals to set up and manage their own advertising campaigns. But, it is extremely important to understand how steep the learning curve is for truly understanding what you’re doing.
Pay-per-click advertising campaigns can be extremely valuable when they’re executed correctly. But, learning from your mistakes can easily burn through your monthly marketing budget. Messing up a PPC advertising campaign is the best way to lose thousands of dollars without getting any potential clients in the process.
At Digital Logic, we offer transparent billing and take a percentage of your PPC budget as our campaign management fee. We’ve helped many clients get a 200-300% increase on ROI, so our management fee should pay for itself immediately.
Our PPC management services can help your law practice build brand awareness and generate more leads that will actually convert into paying clients.
DIY Content Marketing
We truly can appreciate the internet marketing efforts of small law firms. But, investing time into content marketing without having the proper marketing tools or experience required is really a waste of time for most law firms.
Because lawyers operate in such a competitive industry, most law firm websites are run by professional law firm marketing agencies, like Digital Logic.
In order to rank law firm websites well on search engine results pages, you really have to understand the way the Google search works.
You’ll need to understand:
And, the list continues.
Content marketing for small law firms can help generate more leads, especially when paired with on-site optimization and PPC management. But, you must remember that Google determines which content is the best.
Google search crawlers scan your content alongside your other marketing efforts and make the decision based on a ton of organic ranking factors.
Your law practice can know everything there is to know about your respective practice areas, but in order for your law firm’s website to outrank those built and managed by law firm marketing agencies, you must also know how to carry out law firm SEO and PPC campaigns better than we do.
Law Firm Marketing Strategy: The Takeaways
Your law practice may have some of the most talented attorneys around. But, it’s extremely unlikely that your firm has the in-house experience needed to plan out and execute law firm marketing strategies that will actually generate leads and help your law firm achieve profitable and consistent growth.
It’s equally as unlikely that your law firm will have the time to invest in advanced marketing tactics, like website development, search engine optimization, and content marketing, that are needed in order for your overall marketing strategy to work within the legal sector.
The simple truth is that you cannot afford not to invest in digital marketing.
Before you waste money purchasing marketing tools that you don’t truly understand, we urge you to seriously look into professional services. There are many online marketing agencies that will work with small law firms during their business development stages.
At Digital Logic, we work with small law firms every single day. We’ve helped all of our law firm clients realize great success.
Regardless of whether you’re a small law firm that wants to remain small but profitable or if you’re a small law firm that wants to grow into a nationally-recognized firm, Digital Logic can help you get there.
We’re able to help large and small firms with large and small budgets. We’ve seen great success with the following:
- Personal injury law firm marketing
- Criminal defense law firm marketing
- Family law marketing
- Divorce law marketing
- Bankruptcy law marketing
We only work with a limited number of clients within each specific market. We structure each partnership so that we’re able to provide our best work without compromising ourselves or creating a conflict of interest.
If you’re interested in Digital Logic’s online marketing services for small law firms, give us a call. We provide free website audits and budget recommendations. You truly have nothing to lose and everything to gain.