How lawyers are signing more cases and clients in 2017

For law firms, signing new cases is essential to the success of the firm. Without new cases coming in, your business is going to slow down as your caseload drops.

That’s why getting more clients and signing new cases is essential for a law firm’s success. One issue with finding new clients is knowing where to focus your attention to get the best results.

Many attorneys who have been practicing for 20+ years have seen major shifts over the years in the ways they acquire new business.

Let’s Start With A Story

A few years ago I was working with a personal injury attorney who was spending over $1,000,000 a year on Yellow Page ads and was slowly pulling out.

Luckily this firm was great at tracking their leads and determining their average cost per case. In California, they were paying $500 – $1,000 for serious injury cases on average through their Yellow Page advertising. By the time they left the Yellow Pages they weren’t getting any business at all.

We were able to shift a fraction of that budget to digital marketing channels primarily focused on Organic & Local SEO and achieve these results for around $300 a case.

Knowing where to focus your efforts will help your firm sign more cases and focus on marketing campaigns that work. Here are the areas where our clients are getting most of their cases.

Here Are The Top Ways Our Clients Are Signing New Cases

1. Online Search (Organic & Local)

Online search is still an area surprisingly that some attorneys just ignore altogether. Maybe they don’t want to get involved or think it’s too expensive or too late to start but that’s never the case. Even though showing up in Organic and Local search will take some time you can always start low and slow.

The majority of the cases our clients sign through Online Search are local results and organic results.

Local results (as shown below) typically appear when your potential clients are searching Google, Yahoo, or Bing with searches like: “Personal Injury Lawyer”, “Bankruptcy Attorney Near Me”, or “Lawyer Nearby”.

Local Search Results

These results drive a lot of traffic and solid conversions. However, this strategy is limited as it’s strictly geared towards where you have a physical presence. If you don’t have an office in a city you want to rank in, it’s going to be a huge uphill battle.

The good news is that there are other “Free” clicks you can get from Google through standard Organic Results. These listings are seen underneath the local results and are usually at the top of the page underneath ads for nonlocalized searches. Take a look at the example below for a search I did: “Do I need a divorce lawyer?”. This example seems to answer that question so I’m likely to click on it.

Organic Search Result

Ranking in organic results presents a lot of opportunities. As a full disclaimer, my clients who are doing so well with organic search have typically invested in the resources necessary including a lot of content creation. However, this has created a lot of solid and relevant traffic from those interested in finding a lawyer.

You have to do a lot of things right to capture organic traffic and rank well enough to get the business but the work is worth the rewards and can have a strong ROI. If your business is focused on local business check out this article with tactical tips and strategies.

2. Online Search (Paid)

Ranking in at number two we have online search again but this time we’re talking about pay per click advertising. There are advantages and disadvantages to both SEO and SEM but if you do things the right way you’re going to see strong returns on your investment.

The firms who typically perform best in pay per click also rank organically or locally and command several positions in the search results.

Pay Per Click ads through Google or Bing’s ad networks can get pricey for lawyers. If you decide to take on pay per click make sure to get the right advice and pay close attention to your campaign. If you start and keep getting a lot of irrelevant clicks due to bad keywords you need to make some changes right away. Sometimes people ignore their keyword lists and negative keywords which can create a lot of room for error and mismanagement.

Below is an example of a Google Ad with the new green ad box outline.

Ads in search results

One of the strong benefits to pay per click is that you can turn on the campaign right away and start generating leads if your website is up to snuff.

3. Referrals

Referrals are not dead.  Sometimes when you’re running an online marketing campaign you get too focused and ignore offline advertising and human interactions.

Many of our clients have developed strong referral relationships over the years with attorneys and relevant businesses to their practice areas. One of the biggest reasons people don’t get referral business is they don’t don’t ask. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or ask for business from other potential referral partners.

Another thing to remember when we’re talking about referral business is your brand. You are your own brand. That means every time you go out in public you’re representing your own brand. Make sure to think about the way you present yourself when meeting with potential partners, going to networking events, or other functions.

Building a solid brand and reputation means optimizing every experience potential clients and partners have with your business to be a positive and memorable one.

4. Offline Advertising

Did my Yellow Page Story scare you away? Although the volume is lower than it had been, I have worked with many attorneys who still use offline advertising effectively. Here are a couple commonly used methods that work:

Have A Local Operator Deliver Marketing Materials and Donuts
What? Really? Donuts? Yep, that’s right! We know a law firm that is very effective at building their referral network when they do this the right way. Have someone from your office act as a good will representative and visit corresponding offices delivering your marketing materials, books, and most importantly donuts.

four ways to get more clients thorough offline advertisng

If you’re interested in some other ways offline advertising can help your firm check out this article: Offline Marketing Ideas To Get More Clients

5. Email Newsletters (Remind people you exist, ask for business, don’t ignore relatives)

Email newsletters can be very effective but you do have to start off with a list. If you don’t yet have an email list you should work on building one. You can do this easily through your website by making newsletter sign up calls to action. You can also ask former clients if you can email them. If you’re looking to build your list you should start blogging useful content and take advantage of the WordPress plugin SumoMe.

Not long ago we had a client send out an email to his very small email list of under 100 subscribers. That email in turn generated a case that resulted in a multi-million dollar settlement.

Sending out email newsletters seem to have several strong benefits. They help people remember you and what you do. This opens the possibility of referrals.

6. Sponsored Listings

Going back to online marketing again, sponsored listings can provide some strong benefits if you do your research. There are hundreds of legal websites out there like Findlaw, Avvo, and others where you can pay for a premium listing. The key to this strategy being effective is ensuring you’re only engaging in opportunities where there is actually relevant traffic and visibility.

To start you should conduct some searches for popular keywords you want to rank for and see who shows up beside local law firms. Do you see Findlaw or Yelp? If so you should evaluate those opportunities. Yelp has typically been a poor performer with ads in our experience unless you have the best review numbers and score.

I wrote this entire article on Avvo paid advertising and if it’s worth it that you should check out. We have not had much success with it.

Findlaw, on the other hand has produced a few leads for our clients although those listings tend to be more expensive.

Even though these directories do produce leads they’re typically never the top performers and inconsistent performers.

Other Areas That Perform

 

There are a number of other sources attorneys are getting solid cases from. These range from Social Media to Lead Generation services. No matter what service you decide to participate in to find more clients for your firm you should make sure your firm is equipped to track the leads effectively to focus on the ROI of each channel.

How does your firm get the most cases? I’m interested to hear what’s working for you and your firm. Please let me know in the comments below. 

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Casey Meraz

Casey is the founder and president of Ethical SEO Consulting and Juris Digital based in Denver, CO. Casey's specialties are in organic and local SEO. He is a regular contributor to the Moz Blog and the author of How To Perform The Ultimate Local SEO Audit. If you have an SEO question or need advice please feel free to reach out by email: cmeraz@jurisdigital.com. Follow Casey on Twitter @CaseyMeraz.