Implementing a marketing strategy is a phenomenal way for a law firm to attract new clients. This concept is especially true given that 48.6% of people use online research to learn about their legal issues before ever hiring a lawyer.
But online marketing can be overwhelming with multiple decisions about SEO, PPC ads, social media profiles, long-form blogging, and more.
In this guide, you will find all of the critical knowledge you need not only to start designing a marketing plan but also to analyze and optimize your plan. We will also give you helpful definitions of the most important marketing terms for law firms, the benefits of marketing, and key strategies that will help guide you through the process.
With this guide, you will learn how to lay the foundation for effective law firm marketing, how to grow your online presence, and how to adapt your strategies for sustained success over the long term.
Terms for Law Firm Marketing
Marketing can be confusing if you are not familiar with the unique terminology of the industry. Luckily, it isn’t necessary to know every marketing term before developing a marketing plan.
Review this short list of helpful terms so that you can begin to understand what is required to market a law firm.
A marketing lead is a potential customer that has likely engaged with your firm or “brand” in some way that suggests they may want to use your services in the future. You might find leads through visits to your website, comments or messages on social media, or even via phone calls and face-to-face interactions.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization usually referred to as SEO, is the process of optimizing rankings on search engines like Google and Bing. SEO for law firms involves utilizing keyword research and other technical strategies to place the firm’s website higher on a search engine results page (SERP). A higher ranking increases the number of visitors to the site.
Call to Action
A Call to action (CTA) is a phrase you use to request the reader (i.e., the potential client) to perform a task. For example, on a law firm’s website, common CTAs might include asking readers to subscribe to a monthly newsletter or to complete a “Contact Us” form.
Return on Investment
Return on investment (ROI) is a marketing/business metric for determining whether a marketing plan (or even a single action) will yield enough value to be worth the initial investment.
Pay per Click
A Pay per click ad, or PPC ad, is a shorthand for an online advertisement that users click on to go to your site. When a law firm utilizes PPC ads, they pay a small fee every time a consumer clicks on their ads on a third-party website.
One of the most effective marketing actions a law firm can use is optimized Google Ads for lawyers.
A conversion rate is another kind of online marketing metric. A conversion rate measures how many users perform a specific action, such as clicking on a particular link or completing a form.
A landing page is a stand-alone webpage that usually includes a powerful call to action as part of a firm’s marketing strategy. The landing page is the first page that visitors use to “enter” a firm’s website. You should design the landing page(s) to funnel users to other pages on the site.
The Benefits of an Effective Law Firm Marketing Strategy
There is a long list of benefits that a law firm can enjoy when it implements an intelligent marketing strategy that grows its online presence and introduces potential new clients to the firm. Here are three of the most significant benefits of a competent law firm’s marketing strategy.
Online presence and search engine rankings are the new tools with which any modern organization should build its clientele list.
A robust digital footprint will make you easy to find, and your customer base will begin to grow. And once your existing customers provide referrals to others, your business will grow faster and faster.
Content creation builds trusting relationships. People doing legal research online already have a serious issue they need to solve, and your law firm has the knowledge and experience to help them.
When an online search leads to your content, users will begin to develop trust in your law firm, which leads to beneficial business relationships that last for years and years.
Selling a law firm through Inbound marketing creates a unique brand identity and voice that lets potential customers know what the firm can do for them. Once a law firm establishes a brand identity, creating a consistent presentation across multiple ads and platforms is easy. A consistent identity also makes it easy to scale your marketing and adapt to future changes.
The 11-Step Guide to Marketing Your Law Firm
Building a marketing plan for a law firm is about developing strategies and best practices that grow the business over the long term. The process is often iterative, requiring frequent analysis and adjustments. But, if you start off on the right foot, a brilliant marketing strategy will be easy to adjust and maintain.
- Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Your Law Firm Marketing Plan
The S.M.A.R.T. acronym stands for:
Using the S.M.A.R.T method, you can create goals for your law firm marketing plan. Using this method, you will have actionable objectives on a specific schedule. Your S.M.A.R.T. will act as the roadmap for the rest of your marketing strategy design, and you can continue to use them on an ongoing basis.
Examples of beneficial S.M.A.R.T. goals include:
- Determining a marketing budget by the end of the month
- Creating a blogging schedule, such as posting once a month for the first year.
- Improve your firm’s search engine ranking by three positions for specific keywords before next May.
The S.M.A.R.T. methodology is highly adaptable, and you can work almost any goal into a S.M.A.R.T goal. The important thing is to be specific and realistic, ensure you can measure your performance, and assign an end date to the goals.
- Target the Right Audience for You
It might seem like the best idea is to try to reach as large an audience as possible with your law firm marketing. Still, the reality is that intelligent advertisers know that focusing their efforts on the demographics with the highest potential is the right way to do things.
What groups you target with your marketing is something that your firm will need to decide for itself.
To find the right audience, study your previous and current clientele to see trends you can leverage. Other valuable sources of information for this step can include industry contacts, other lawyers, independent online research, paid marketing consultants, and referral sources.
Once you know what demographics you want to reach, you will have a better idea of what types of marketing will be worth investing in. Understanding your audience can also guide what kind of content you develop, such as emails, blog topics, and video scripts for social media posts.
- Create a Marketing Budget
Requiring a marketing budget might seem obvious, but many firms make the mistake of not creating one. Your marketing plan will depend on how you want to market your firm and how much those methods cost. It’s essential to define specific goals and investments.
How much you can afford to spend on marketing will depend on your firm’s overall revenue and how large of a cash flow you have available for advertising. It would be best if you also considered other factors, including your firm’s current position in the market.
Is the law firm a start-up, or is it well-established? Do you have a committed clientele, or are you going to need to focus heavily on finding new clients? What is the local market like regarding your competition? Are you the only lawyer practicing your particular kind of law in the area, or is the market saturated?
Questions like these will influence how much marketing your firm requires and present additional potential costs you need to consider.
And once you have a budget established for marketing your law firm, you must ensure you stick to it. Exceeding your marketing budget might help pull in a few extra clients, but if your expenses exceed your revenue, you will be worse off despite all your efforts.
- Design a Website
Despite the growing popularity of smartphone apps and social media platforms, a website is still essential for a law firm. A website is often where the first and most impactful impression potential new clients will have of your firm is formed.
Designing a law firm website can be a complex task, but thankfully it’s a project you can break down into smaller, more easily achievable steps.
Choose a Domain Name
Your domain name is one of the most important things about your website. As such, it should be easy to remember and represent your law firm’s name clearly and cleanly. Once you have a name in mind, you must register the domain with a registrar with a chosen top-level domain like .com or .org.
Select a Web Host
Your website must be hosted by a web host in order to be published online. Hosting providers offer different services and pricing, so research a few before selecting the best fit for your law firm. Popular choices include WordPress and GoDaddy.
Pick a Theme or Template
Assuming you use a hosting service like WordPress, you can select a template or theme for your site. These templates are pre-coded websites that reduce the effort of building a website by already using predetermined fonts, colors, and layouts.
Of course, you will have to provide the information specific to your law firm, and you can always customize the template to fit the firm’s brand and voice better.
Layout a Conceptual Sitemap
There’s a web design term called an XML sitemap, but that is not what we are discussing here. Instead, we refer to a conceptual sitemap (similar to a flowchart). This type of sitemap outlines the basic pages and flow of the website.
Creating a sitemap gives you a checklist for building your site and ensures you don’t miss anything important.
A sitemap might include pages like:
- Home page
- Services page
- Contact US page
- About Us page
Write Your Copy
Website copy is all the written content on your websites, including header, subheaders, body text, links, CTA, etc.
There isn’t any single way to create website copy, but the words must serve your goals. Serving your goals means that the text needs to be clear, communicate the law firm’s intended message, and entice users to remain on the site or perform whatever action you want.
We suggest you keep the copy personable but professional. It’s also better to be concise; a straight-to-the-point sentence is better than a wordy paragraph. Also, pay extra attention to how you include keywords, as this will strongly impact the site’s SEO.
Build the Webpages
With everything else completed, it’s finally time to build the actual web pages. This process will be slightly different depending on what platform you are using.
Launch the Site
The final step is to publish the law firm’s website so it will appear on search engines and be viewable to the public.
Once your firm has a published website, you can begin to enact the rest of your marketing plan, including creating ads, linking your social media accounts, and developing content for the site.
- Focus on SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical if you want potential new clients to find your law firm’s website online through search engines. Utilize the best SEO practices for law firms to ensure your firm isn’t missing out on potential customers.
With intelligent SEO techniques, a law firm can pull its site up the search engine rankings, which is essential since SEO studies have found that the number one spot on a Google search page gets almost 34% of all the organic traffic. In comparison, any place lower than eleven gets less than 1%.
Many components contribute to SEO. This list is not comprehensive, but here are a few SEO techniques that will yield fantastic results:
- Develop an SEO strategy that can serve as a customized roadmap of tangible goals to develop better organic traffic for your law firm.
- Conduct research and develop a list of impactful keywords.
- Include your priority keywords in your site’s URLs.
- Search engines index your content, so develop high-quality copy with strong keywords and good internal links.
- Google has begun to use Core Values to assess the ranking of sites. These include a website’s mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, Safe-browsing security protocol, and limited intrusive interstitials (ex. popup ads).
SEO can be a full-time job on its own, which is why many marketing law firms hire a professional SEO service. If your firm is limited in speed and expertise, consider consulting with a world-class SEO service.
- Increase Traffic via Social Media
Social media is one of the most effective means of reaching potential new clients who may otherwise never come in contact with your law firm. Even better, many social media platforms are free to use.
With sites like Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and more, a law firm can spread a wide net. Each site allows a firm to cross-link profiles, share content, develop unique content for each platform, and of course, link back to the firm’s home website.
All of the most popular social media platforms function differently. Some are entirely free, while others have options for premium paid profiles with great benefits. It’s also worth your time to research the different platforms to learn what demographics they attract and how the platforms’ audience might overlap with the demographics of the clients you want to find.
- Develop Your Marketing Across Multiple Free Platforms
Speaking of utilizing other websites and forms of social media to attract new clients, every law firm should take advantage of sites that may already have a profile of your business that you can claim and then refine for free.
Sites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Avvo, and your local state’s chapter of the ABA are all places clients visit when they need to find an attorney. Don’t lose out on a free opportunity to drive traffic to your law firm’s website by not having a well-developed profile on each of these third-party sites.
- Build Relationships With Online Reviews
According to statistics in a recent National Law Review article, 72% of consumers trust online reviews, and 90% of consumers make their buying decisions based on what those reviews say.
A law firm might be able to weather a few less-than-stellar client reviews, but too many bad reviews will quickly have a detrimental impact on finding new clients.
It would be best if you standardized the practice of asking your clients to provide a review of your firm’s service performance after every case. This idea is doubly true if you know a client is happy with the turnout of their case, as you don’t want to lose out on any positive remarks about your firm.
Additionally, you might think it would be worthwhile to address negative reviews online. However, the ABA recommends you avoid this practice as it potentially violates their guidance on ethics and professional responsibility.
- Create Value With Content Marketing
Content marketing refers to using the written word to build a brand and attract new customers. Content marketing can include any written word that is published online, but the most popular form of content marketing is blogging.
You can use a blog on your law firm’s website to demonstrate your skill, knowledge, and legal experience to potential clients. A blog gives would-be clients a chance to build a connection with you as they grow familiar with your firm’s brand and voice.
You can decide for yourself how simple or complex your legal blog is, but regardless of how you want to run your blog, it’s a good idea to utilize an effective legal blogging strategy to ensure you’re maximizing the benefits of the blog.
- Grow Your Network of Legal Professionals
Reaching out directly to new clients isn’t the only way to market yourself or your law firm. Building a network of firms, attorneys, and other legal professionals is a phenomenal way to develop your brand.
Organize meetings with other attorneys or firms and discuss what benefits you might gain from sharing the work of marketing. Designing a conversion strategy that takes advantage of a vast network of attorneys can lead to more referrals between firms.
This is especially effective if you develop a network of firms and lawyers practicing a wider variety of specializations. It’s a simple way to improve your marketing with minimal time or money investments.
- Analyze Your Marketing and Reassess
Even the best marketing strategy needs to be analyzed and potentially adjusted from time to time. It’s vital to analyze and adapt if you are slowly building your marketing strategy through an iterative process over weeks, months, or years.
To analyze the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, collect whatever data you can, including search engine analytics, ad conversion rates, changes in your clientele, year-end revenue for the firm, etc. It’s also good to analyze marketing costs, including PPC ads, domain hosting fees, and more.
It is also essential to receive feedback from old and new clients alike. Learn how clients find you so that you can determine what marketing practices yield the best ROI for the law firm.
Here is a short list of some of the most critical times to reassess your firm’s marketing strategy:
- You haven’t changed your marketing strategy in several years.
- Your firm is offering new services or has moved to a new location.
- You recently updated the firm’s website.
- You see consistently declining conversions.
Critical Strategies for Law Firm Marketing
Utilizing the 11 actionable steps outlined in our step-by-step guide will get any size law firm to a place where they are seeing increased online traffic and better returns on their marketing.
However, it is essential not to get overly focused on the details to the exclusion of foundational strategies that hold true regardless of how you are marketing the law firm.
Here are four critical strategies that a law firm can use to inform all of its decisions as it designs an effective marketing plan.
Have a Client-Forward Approach
Modern consumers have a certain expectation of near-constant and almost instantaneous feedback. For any business, including law firms, every action it performs must have a customer-centric approach.
Innovative marketing and high-quality content play a huge role in how customers interact with a law firm. Rather than focusing on facts and figures such as success rates, prices, or other quantitative data, present your firm and attorneys as legal experts who understand what potential clients are dealing with.
Build relationships and trust first and demonstrate that the firm is there for its customers at every step of the process.
This guiding principle can inform many parts of your marketing strategy, from the wording used in ads to the UX design of the law firm’s website. Using a customer-centric approach, a firm will retain more customers and attract more potential clients.
Choose Where to Focus Your Energy Wisely
Marketing can be a full-time job. With online ads, social media posting, email campaigns, blogging, and many more advertising efforts proven to be effective, many law firms chose to hire an experienced marketing agency to handle their advertising.
However, if your law firm chooses to handle its own marketing, you will need to select a few marketing strategies on which to focus your time and energy.
Here are a few suggestions on how to focus your firm’s resources:
- Choose one or two social media platforms to grow your firm’s presence instead of trying to use every new social media platform that’s trending.
- Choose a sustainable blog post schedule, such as one article per week or two articles per month. The focus should be on quality rather than quantity.
- Design your PPC ads with specific, high-value locations and keywords for a better ROI.
Every law firm’s situation will be unique, but the important thing is to design a marketing strategy that is consistent, manageable, and adds value to your law firm’s brand.
Seek Out Subject Knowledge Experts
As we’ve mentioned, marketing can be a full-time job and doing it yourself can be limiting. Suppose you think your marketing goals are outside of your scope of abilities. In that case, hiring law firm marketing consultants specializing in attracting potential new clients can be a fantastic idea.
Suppose you aren’t looking for full-service digital marketing firms law-based. In that case, there are still plenty of specialists, such as SEO experts, web designers, content writers, and social media managers, that can help you develop the best marketing possible.
Analytics Are the Key to Success
We live in the age of the algorithm, and just as law is about facts and reasoning, so is digital marketing. Utilizing data analytics can help lawyers optimize their marketing by targeting specific demographics and monitoring their existing marketing’s effectiveness.
Data analytics lets you track your web pages, social media responses, keyword rankings, and more.
A law firm can also use data analysis to study the legal industry or even a specific area of law to find out what potential clients are responding to.
Your firm can also use data analytics to learn more from internal data, such as billing and time investments. You might even find patterns within your existing client base that can provide insights valuable for finding new clients.
The best kind of law firm marketing plan is one that exists. Try starting with a simple marketing strategy that utilizes only a few easily implemented actions that can be reliably monitored and scaled as your experience level improves.
For even more guidance, leave a comment below or get a quote from us for a customized digital marketing plan to meet your marketing goals.