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Lawyers, like many professionals, hate marketing -- until it works for them. Does online marketing, in fact, really work for lawyers?
The short answer is yes. And if you don’t trust me, here’s the evidence. Just do a Google search for ‘_____ lawyer in your area’. If you’re searching in New Jersey (or any other densely populated area), for example, you’re likely to see more than half a dozen law firm ads on Google’s front page. These good attorneys and law firms are advertising online because online marketing does work for lawyers. And why woudln’t it, when an average law firm acquires over a third of clients from online searches?
Search engines, however, are not the only online platform where lawyers market their services. A HubSpot survey of 190 law firms revealed that law firms use at least ten different types of online or digital marketing strategies, including email marketing, organic social media, client alerts, content marketing, blogging, and SEO.
If you just started practicing law or run your own law firm, marketing is one of the most important skills you need to develop. Marketing enables you to attract new clients and drive your firm’s image. But why should you go online? Aren’t there better ways of reaching your potential clients? The answer is no. Online marketing has a lot going for it. Probably that’s the reason every Am Law 200 firm has a presence online, and most are using at least two digital media platforms.
Traditionally, lawyers have used newspapers, billboards, TV ads, and radio spots to attract clients to their practice. But these conventional marketing channels tend to be expensive and sometimes don’t convey the right image of your perfectly legal practice.
Online marketing is absolutely essential for your practice because 97% of people go online to learn more about local businesses. And as Millennials enter the legal field and rise to partnership in established law firms, it’s only natural that the online share of legal marketing has grown dramatically in recent years.
Thanks to the availability of the latest digital marketing tools, lawyers can access a wealth of data that they can use to optimize online marketing campaigns. Because it’s driven by numbers, online marketing tends to be more cost effective, controllable, measurable, and targeted than traditional marketing.
Unlike traditional marketing, online marketing doesn’t interrupt people in the hope they will listen. Instead, people engage with your marketing by their own choice. For example, they can search for a law firm like yours on Google, discover your practice, come to your website, and contact you whenever and however they like; as opposed to you trying to put your messages in their face at a time when they’renot in the mood to hear about your services.
As an increasing number of attorneys and law firms enter the online marketing space, the competition is intensifying. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to drive results from your online marketing campaigns. It’s a big challenge as most lawyers don’t know much about digital marketing and its caveats—the areas they need to work on, the tools they need to use, and the metrics they need to measure.
Almost one-third of respondents didn’t know how much their law firms were spending on digital marketing. (Source)
Lawyers cited lack of training, time, budget, and resources as major obstacles in implementing their online marketing strategies. More than half (52%) of surveyed law firms dedicate either none or only one full-time employee to digital marketing. However, law firms can overcome most of these challenges by working with an online legal marketing agency.
Online or digital marketing is an expansive field with literally hundreds of channels, marketing tools, and strategies competing for your advertising dollars. Before you start marketing legal services online, it’s crucial to work out clear objectives and formulate a wider data-driven strategy to achieve those objectives.
At Josh Meah & Company, we start by gathering data about your clients and practice. We analyze the data in coordination with your legal and marketing teams to understand your business and prospective clients. Based on our findings, we create an overarching cross-channel digital marketing strategy based on your target audience’s personas and the journey they go through when buying legal services.
Here are the tactics and strategies that we recommend and implement when setting up online marketing for law firms.
Your website is the nerve center of your online legal marketing. It’s where your clients go to gather more information about your legal practice before they decide to contact your office. To deliver the best return on investment, a website must be developed around the audience you’re trying to attract. The site structure and navigation should be designed to deliver a smooth and pleasurable user experience, which is only possible if you know what information your visitors are looking for when they come to your website.
It is important to know that the American Bar Association (ABA) and each state’s bar association have specific rules that define the way attorneys and law firms should market their services, including the content on their websites.
Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of growing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website by improving its rankings on search engines. SEO is important because more than half of all website traffic comes from organic searches.
With the advancements in search technology, SEO has progressively transformed over the last decade. The introduction of Google’s AI assisted Rank Brain made the intent and context of the search query more important than keywords. The latest Core and BERT updates leverage NLP (natural language processing) technology to assess the way words in a search query relate to each other.
Simply put, Google can now figure out if you’re trying to manipulate its ranking algorithms by using tactics such as irrelevant keywords, thin or duplicate content, and low-quality backlinks. Such techniques are often deployed by cheap and unprofessional SEO agencies and can cost the client their ranking and online reputation.
Josh Meah and his team of SEO experts make sure your SEO strategy is based on user intent and experience at every step of the optimization effort. The result is that your website appears on the first page of search results for relevant searches and drives free, evergreen, qualified traffic.
For most law firms, it’s crucial to attract leads and find clients from their nearby geographical area -- city, county, or state -- depending on the nature of the practice. You’ll be missing most of your local clients if your site doesn’t appear among first-page local search results on Google. The number of ‘near me’ searches has grown more than 900% in the last few years. And more than half of local searches result in a physical visit to the store or law office that the user found through their search.
To rank higher on Google’s local searches, a law firm must have an optimized Google My Business page, strong footprint on local listings, consistent NAP info, and a reasonable number of genuine customer reviews. As a full-service digital marketing agency, Josh Meah & Company has the capability to put your practice on the first-page three-pack on Google.
The much-coveted Google 3-pack.
All the traffic in the world is of no use if nobody calls, visits, or emails your office. Conversion optimization is the process by which various elements on your site’s most important pages are aligned with the user’s search intent and buying journey. This alignment causes more of your visitors to convert into qualified leads and, ultimately, into paying clients.
Conversion optimization for law firms involves an audit of your current website and lead generation funnel. We analyze your webpage and the channel that are driving traffic to your pages. We create the marketing assets—such as ads, blog posts, squeeze pages, landing pages, and case studies—and arrange them in a way that aligns with your potential client’s purchase path. By filling the gaps and removing the bumps in your customer’s path, we can keep your phones ringing and appointment books filled with clients.
In a 2019 survey held by SproutSocial, 70% of law firms said social media is a part of their online marketing strategy. LinkedIn is the best social media channel for lawyers, with B2B marketers reporting 80% of their social media leads come from LinkedIn. That makes LinkedIn 277% more effective than Facebook.
Social media marketing for lawyers involves creating firm profiles on top social media networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Once you’ve established your law firm’s presence on the channels you’re targeting, you need to consistently post engaging content and grow your social media following.
An engaged social media brand should reply to people’s questions and comments and participate in discussions. Of course, your social media marketing agency can set up and automate social media lead generation, so you can just focus on the legal side.
Email marketing is the channel of choice for law firms, with 85% using email to send out their marketing messages.
An email list is the first thing you need to start sending out messages. Your online marketing agency can help you set up email subscription forms on your website and social media channels. You can also add your old clients to the list and start sending out regular emails that deliver value to your audience.
You’ll need email management software like MailChimp to plan and automate your email marketing campaigns. Email marketing is one of the best ways to nurture leads and build rapport with prospective clients until they are ready to buy your services.
Most people now use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to get online. The mobile share of online searches reached 58.5% in 2019. Therefore, no law firm can ignore mobile as a marketing platform without losing the opportunity to reach the majority of its potential clients.
The search volume, however, is not the only thing going in favor of mobile marketing. Mobile searches are also more likely to convert into leads because it makes calling and visiting your office much easier than desktop searches.
There are three ways you can market legal services on mobile. You can use text messaging—78% of lawyers surveyed reported using SMS or text messaging to send out client alerts. You can build a mobile-friendly website and optimize it for conversions. And you can use paid search and social media ads on mobile.
There are certain requirements that your website must fulfill if you want to make a great impression on mobile users. Your site should load in under 5 seconds, although latest standards indicate a 2 second loading time is best. Your Page Speed Insight score should be over 90. The website should have mobile-friendly buttons and navigation and should be ADA compliant. Your online marketing agency should take care of all of these things and establish a robust mobile presence for your law firm.
Good2bSocial’s 2020 annual study reveals 80% of law firms are using webinars as a part of their online marketing strategy. Live webinars are the ideal tool for establishing yourself and your law firm as a thought leader in your field of practice. They give you the opportunity to speak face to face with your clients and potential clients. You can offer discuss legal matters generally, build trust, generate leads, and follow up on the leads to acquire more clients.
Conducting a webinar requires a lot of planning. Focus on your firm’s practice areas and expertise and play close to your business goals and core strengths. A webinar is not about marketing or discussions. It’s about teaching your audience something of value.
For example, a divorce lawyer can hold a webinar to provide general discussions on marital property or child custody issues and a personal injury attorney can educate people about what to do when they’re injured.
To get started, determine your target audience and the topic of your webinar. Create a landing page and promote your webinar through email, social media, website, and other online marketing channels. It’s always better to invite a guest speaker so you can attract their connections to your webinar.
You’ll need to use a webinar platform such as GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, or Zoom for hosting the webinar. Remember that the business goal of your webinar is to generate leads. You should have a lead generation funnel and a lead nurturing strategy in place to follow up with the attendees.
Your digital marketing partner can take care of most of the technicalities so you can focus on what you do best—provide legal guidance.
After you’ve established your law firm’s online presence, you may want to consider paid advertising. Paid search and social media, when used correctly, can multiply the results of your online marketing campaigns.
Google and LinkedIn are the best channels for lawyers to start advertising. You can also consider using programmatic advertising to expand your reach to new networks and audiences, including premium media outlets such as Business Insider, Time Magazine, and others.
Digital marketing is an extensive field and we’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg in this article. Important details must be handled for setting up effective and long-term online marketing for lawyers. Law and digital marketing being poles apart as areas of practice, most law firms find it more convenient and cost effective to outsource marketing to an online marketing company.
As professional digital marketers and strategists, Josh Meah and his team can help your law firm get started with online marketing and grow your practice digitally. Grant us a hearing to learn more about our services!
The art is building the right growth campaign. The science is in the results.