Online marketing for law firms...In a world of pant suits, litigation and liability, briefcases, client meetings and numerous hours of research how can you possibly make time to effectively market your firm successfully?
For many, online marketing for law firmscan be intimidating. Let’s be honest, social media, online advertising and legal marketing require a lot of creative thinking, time and strategy.
Many of you might ask, “How can I make my firm sparkle, stand out and come out on top of search results?”
To answer that question, let’s look to Miss Elle Woods who entered the halls of Harvard with scented resumes, pink ensembles from head to toe and a pint-size pup named Bruiser.
Elle taught us a lot more than just the “bend and snap”—she taught us about how to stand out in the legal world!
In the legal industry, competition is FIERCE! (Like Tyra Banks fierce). Marketing your law firm these days is hard work and its not enough to just be the brightest in your field! There are more attorneys then ever before, over 1.3 million in the U.S. according to the American Bar Association.
So how can you stand out amongst the numbers?
What can you do to generate more business for your law firm through your paid and other online marketing efforts?
With the help of Elle Woods, let’s learn how to creatively market, attract and connect with legal consumers for your firm in 2018!
Be True To Yourself
Professor Callahan: It’s pink…
Elle Woods: Oh! And it’s scented! I think it gives it a little something extra, don’t you think? Ok, well, see you next class!
Elle did not conform or try to be something she was not and ultimately that is what made her successful. Through her unique experience, talents and knowledge she was able to win her first case (by her knowledge of hair perming), proving that she didn’t need to sacrifice her own interests in order to become a successful lawyer.
Guess what, you don’t either! It’s okay to be yourself!
Sometimes, law firms try to be something they are not to fit into the market, but ultimately, trying to copy what is “successful” does you no good in the long term! Focus on what you do best and over time, the efforts will show and set you apart!
What is necessary for good business development is a marketing plan focused on activities you do well, looking for the right audience and carried out to those individuals consistently over time.
A successful legal marketing plan should ask the following questions:
- WHY: The purpose of your legal marketing plan. What are the definable goals?
- WHAT: What do you want to accomplish? What are your long term and short term goals?
- HOW: How will you implement these plans? Do I need to outsource, hire or reconsider some things to help the goals become successful?
On top of the basic questions, learn to brand yourself. Look for ways to differentiate your firm from your competitors. Make a decision on how you will create unique services, different customer services, and personal style.
“No more stuffy suits and pantyhose…”
Don’t try to change yourself to be successful, just try to be the most successful version of yourself as possible! It will set you apart!
Be an Advertising Agency
Elle Woods: “ME!!”
It doesn’t matter how incredible your firm is, how optimized your site is or how much your clients love you—if you aren’t a “hot” or well known firm, you’re probably going to struggle to show up at the top of the search engine results page with organic efforts alone.
This is especially true if you’re trying to rank for highly competitive searches where customers are looking for specific products (something legal firms will struggle with as it’s both competitive and expensive).
Pay per-click (PPC) ads and paid social can help you get the attention you deserve!
Google AdWords in particular is an excellent platform for law firms to explore. You can create ads that will be shown to users searching for specific queries, allowing you to appear at the top of search results when potential clients are actively looking for your specific services.
Paid social media is a great way to grow your client pool. You need to be apart of the action to compete as a firm but, more importantly, you need to make sure you are specific and targeted.
To succeed with paid social, you need to think outside the box and consider clever options like:
- Targeting specific audiences
- Creating engaging ads
- Promoting special offers and service hours
- Sending follow up customer service pieces
- Setting call to actions for specific actions you want potential clients to make
We will discuss the need to be more specific in the next section.
Be Specific and Targeted
Elle Woods: I don’t need back-ups. I’m going to Harvard.
Elle Woods didn’t want to just go to any law school, she wanted Harvard. She was specific, targeted and focused on a particular place.
So, like Elle, you need to be specific with your audience!
Think about specifying your type of practice, by doing so, you can automatically set yourself apart by choosing one type of law to focus on. Generalizations make online marketing for law firms hard and make you blend with the rest of the legal marketing pool.
For instance, you could focus your ads on tax, environmental or divorce law. When a potential client is looking for a lawyer, they normally already have a specific issue in mind they want solved.
So, for example, if someone is searching for “divorce” they are more likely to find and trust a lawyer who focuses on that type of law, rather than one that spreads their attention between several legal specialties.
A success example of specific legal marketing is Bick Law LLP. This firm is a top-tier environmental law firm committed to providing world-class environmental litigation, compliance and transactional services to businesses.
By being specific, they are using visual, contextual and advertising strategies that help potential clients in research mode understand what Bick Law does and why they should become a client.
I mean, how effective and eye grabbing is this website to potential clients?!
It is specific, targeted and relevant to people who need those services! Taking a focused approach to your site design helps you stand out and will help you creatively market to the people you want most!
Okay, so I know what you might be thinking, you don’t have elephants, rams or penguins to work with…but another way you can tighten your legal marketing is looking at your website and paid advertising Google Analytic demographics.
By seeing who is looking at your services and why, online marketing for law fims through the back way, you can move your marketing strategies more effectively.
Hook up your blogs and websites—free of charge—to Google Analytics to see how your content is doing and who’s reading it. A premium version offers additional insight.
For more information about this, see: Essential Website Metrics You Should Be Tracking.
Using legal marketing analytics, you can examine your audience demographics, impressions, click through rates, cost per conversion and many other trends over a set of time.
This information helps you tweak future ads or marketing to be better.
If something isn’t working, you can change it. If something is working, you can figure out how to continue advancing and promoting that idea—with more money and resources.
Be Tech Savvy
Elle Woods: I’ll show you how valuable Elle Woods can be!
You don’t have to rock the Apple Clamshell iBook G3 like Elle to know that technology is a valuable part of your firm’s legal marketing success! Any good marketing strategy starts with an engaging website and social media platforms.
To be successful these days, you need a polished, modern and legal marketing focused website! Basic legal marketing website tricks to include are:
- An easy to navigate website full of meaningful resources and content to help clients with legal needs.
- A use of meaningful SEO keywords. If you think “attorney” is the only keyword you need, you’re not doing your firm any favors.
- An intelligently designed landing page that will lead to more targeted calls or case evaluation requests.
- A mobile-friendly website and looks great on any device! Its 2018!
- An easily found contact page so people can schedule client meetings!
- A website that includes testimonials and social proof. People care about reviews and personal touches, that is why Amazon is so successful! People trust people!
- A personable website avoiding generic stock images of courthouses and gavels! Include personalized pictures of your firm, especially one that features your team!
- A search-engine-optimized website: Getting found starts with a website that is configured to be found by Google!
If you have a website you should also have a blog. Add new content weekly, because Google algorithms reward sites that share relevant, consistent and original content.
The content doesn’t have to be equivalent to your research papers and study-Woof! Take a breather knowing it can simply be a paragraph or two sharing information about your practice, helpful hints, success stories or opinions on legal world chatter.
Offering meaningful resources will bring more people to your website. And those people are more likely to need your services at some point, since they are already looking for resources on similar topics.
A Princeton University study in 2014 polled adults on how they viewed certain professions, including lawyers, CEOS, engineers, accountants, scientists, and researchers. Any guess which profession rated lowest on warmth and trust?
You guessed it. Lawyers.
How do you change this and why does it matter?
Social media is not just a place to show off your thought leadership in the legal world. It can also be a crucial place to engage with your potential clients.
As law firms directly communicate with the communities they serve, social media becomes a natural way to reach people in need and acquire new clients.
The first benefit to using social media is the way that social media makes lawyers more approachable. In a field where communication is key, it is crucial to connect with potential clients.
Clients need to open up and trust you with their financial, emotional and personal struggles which are all sensitive topics! Setting yourself up as an approachable, caring lawyer can take you from 1 to 10 quickly!
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become incredibly popular places for people to connect with businesses. You don’t need to post excessively but just consistently with quality content that sets your firm apart as a resource and meaningful place for people to visit! (quick tip, use apps like Buffer and Hootsuite to create social media posting schedules—it saves time and sanity!)
Learn more about why you should use social media in my other article here.
Elle Woods: Just bend and—snap!
As Elle Woods taught us, a new way to flirt with the “Bend and Snap” you can always learn new ways to creatively reach your potential clients!
Here are a few ways you can add some “bend and snap” to your legal marketing efforts:
People don’t just hire a lawyer because they need your services, they also in some ways want a connection with you!
Identify what that feeling your services can give and tell your story to play to those feelings. Why are you here? Why should people hire you?
Present your legal services in a story format that people can connect with. Using video and visuals has been said to created client trust so try to experiment using those platforms in your storytelling!
Send personable content to your clients! Your firm’s holiday card is one example!
Find another holiday or simply send some unexpected appreciation for clients. People remember thoughtfulness and how you make them feel so little efforts like that matter!
Be Socially Out There
Prepare and submit press releases monthly to clients, media and the general legal community. Put your firm’s presence out there and look for ways to engage in your community using podcasts, attending conferences, news interviews and social events!
Bring business cards but maybe shake that routine up and take someone else’s card and follow up with a contextually strong email introducing yourself!
Be Promotional of Others
While a lot of thought and money goes into law firm brand promotion, make sure you also promote the amazing people you hired!
Promote each lawyer’s expertise in his or her practice areas and highlight that on an ABOUT PAGE on your website.
Email marketing is the cheapest form of internet advertising as it is essentially free to complement other digital marketing efforts. All you usually have to pay for is some sort of email marketing service like MailChimp, Hubspot or Autopilot.
Email is easy peasy and it can be a fun way to share news, tips, personalities and the success behind your firm.
Even after you close the case, keep using email marketing—you never know when a client will refer business your way. Whether it’s a potential client or a former one, email keeps your firm top-of-mind.
Elle Woods: I feel comfortable using legal jargon in everyday life.
[someone whistles at her]
Elle Woods: I object!
Be comfortable with what you do best and know when to let others help you. After helping numerous law firms with their legal marketing woes, I’ve come to believe that most law firms are best off sticking to what they do best: legal services.
Attorneys are doing great things but those great things require a lot of time, talent and attention. Most law firms lack the time, attention and manpower to really succeed in the highly competitive world of online marketing for law firms.
Let the professionals in their fields take the weight off your shoulders so you can continue to do what you do best!
If there is something you do not understand, reach out to a real pro, someone who understands the digital landscape and can help your law firm navigate some of the pitfalls associated with PPC, SEO and social media.
Ideally, you’d probably be best off hiring Disruptive Advertising but I don’t want to toot our horn! Ha!
Regardless of who you choose to help manage your online marketing, you’ll want to work with them to create a targeted, creative and meaningful campaign.
Case Closed: A Legal Conclusion
Laws can be cut and dry, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a little “pink, sparkle or shine!” You can be yourself, you can utilize the social networks and mostly you can always receive help to shape and form your voice as a firm with legal marketing professionals!
The most effective law firms all understand their target audience, know where and how to speak to potential clients and do a great job of matching their message to their potential clients’ needs visually, contextually and personally.
I hope this article gave you some creative ideas on how to give your firm an extra “Elle Woods sparkle!”
(Pink and Chihuahua optional.)
If you’d be interested in having me look at your legal marketing strategy, let me know here or in the comments. I’d love to help you start developing a meaningful legal marketing plan!
What has your experience with online marketing for law firms? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
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