Law Firm Marketing 101 – Complete Guide
Did you know that 1 out of 3 people looking for a lawyer begins their search online (Clio)?
If you want to fuel your client acquisition efforts effectively, you can’t afford to neglect your online marketing strategy. This complete guide will cover all aspects of how to market a law firm from A to Z.
Use the table of contents below to jump around or read through from start to finish to become a law firm marketing expert in less than 20 minutes.
- The Importance of Marketing for Lawyers and Attorneys in 2021
- Upcoming Marketing Trends in the Legal World
- An 11-Step Law Firm Marketing Plan to Grow Your Practice
- Step #1: Audit Your Current Marketing Efforts
- Step #2: Improve Your Website — Setting the Foundation for Your Campaign
- Step #3: Optimize Your Law Firm’s Local SEO
- Step #4: Increase Visibility in Search
- Step #5: Execute a PPC Campaign While Waiting for Google
- Step #6: Use Email Marketing to Nurture Leads & Clients
- Step #7: Making the Most of Social Media
- Step #8: Ways to Further Build Your Firm into a Well-Known Brand
- Step #9: Utilizing Legal-Specific Directories
- Step #10: Get More Referrals
- Step #11: Tracking Marketing Performance KPIs
- Law Firm Marketing In-House vs. Outsourcing to an Agency
The Importance of Marketing for Lawyers and Attorneys in 2021
Let’s revisit the age-old adage: If your business isn’t growing, it’s shrinking.
Most assume this saying applies to growth via client acquisition, which it does. But it also applies to marketing acumen in a broader sense.
If your law firm falls behind on current marketing trends, you are utterly unprepared for any potential bumps in the road.
For example, if your client acquisition stalls for a month, then two months, then three months, you’re going to be scrambling to get back on track.
Why might your client acquisition efforts stall? For many reasons — some of which are out of your control.
No one could have predicted the events of 2020, but they significantly impacted cases and billings.
But what if 2 new law firms open within a couple of miles of your own next week?
Suppose something unexpected were to interfere with business as usual. In that case, you’d have to devote more resources to client acquisition, and you’d have to conquer the learning curve of modern law marketing.
Rather than waiting around for catastrophe to strike, a far more proactive approach is setting yourself up with smart attorney marketing ideas today, regardless of how well your law firm is doing overall.
That way, should you hit a bump in the road, you’ll be able to get your numbers back to where you want them to be — without delays or stress.
Upcoming Marketing Trends in the Legal World
The same basics of law firm marketing from 1980 still apply in 2021. You want to get potential clients interested in your law firm — before they call your competitors.
However, the strategies for accomplishing this feat have changed tremendously. As you can probably imagine, no one is opening the phone book to find a law firm anymore.
In particular, there are three significant trends to focus on:
- Optimizing your current assets, such as your website and general sales process.
- Building a brand through a variety of different channels.
- Finding opportunities for savvy advertising on social and search platforms.
Now that we have the generalities covered, let’s move onto the specifics of law firm marketing strategies.
An 11-Step Law Firm Marketing Plan to Grow Your Practice
There are a million ways to market your legal firms.
But as business people, we’re aiming for the right approach.
Each of the steps below is listed in order of importance, meaning we’d recommend you focus your efforts on step #1 and descend the list accordingly.
Step #1: Audit Your Current Marketing Efforts
Don’t let your marketing channel’s success make you complacent with the results.
After all, if you had a marketing campaign that resulted in a 101% ROI — would you consider that to be a success?
Taken a bit more realistically, even if one of your marketing campaigns has a 130% ROI — there’s still potential for a lot more.
What if you could turn that into 170% ROI with just a few tweaks to the sales copy or the graphics? What would that mean for your firm?
Calculate Current ROI of Existing Channels
Before you try to optimize, evaluate how effective each marketing channel is. If you don’t know the specifics, you’re just guessing.
Google Analytics can easily track all online marketing channels for you.
With proper tracking, you’ll be able to see exactly how much you’re spending in comparison to how many new website visitors you receive from that particular channel.
In other words, you can see which online marketing channels are working — and which ones are burning a hole in your pocket.
Offline marketing campaigns require a slightly different approach, as most of the time, you’ll be receiving calls from offline marketing campaigns directly rather than sending potential clients to your website. Solutions like Call Rail allow you to track phone calls and quickly gauge results.
Tracking both online and offline marketing campaigns requires a bit of technical prowess. If you’re not well-versed in the latest technology, consider hiring a law firm marketing agency to handle the nitty-gritty while you focus on what you do best — getting desirable legal outcomes for your clients.
Optimize Existing Channels
After you start tracking the results of your attorney and lawyer marketing campaigns, you’ll be able to see which ones are working and which ones aren’t.
For example, you may decide to nix the campaigns that are resulting in negative or non-substantial ROI, choosing instead to divert those funds towards your more successful marketing avenues.
Step #2: Improve Your Website — Setting the Foundation for Your Campaign
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Sometimes, potential clients will call you directly, completely bypassing your website. If that happens, your representatives will have the responsibility of closing the client, which they’re (hopefully) quite proficient at.
But a lot of the time, potential clients will move from an online marketing channel to your website before calling. The National Law Review reports that 74% of prospects visit a law firm’s website before taking action.
Why? Because potential clients want to hire the best law firm — not just any law firm.
That means you should start thinking of your website as a sales representative.
If your website performs well, your firm will convert website visitors into clients at as high of a rate as possible. One study found that 70% of law firms got new clients through their website (imarc).
The difference an effective website can make is enormous. Imagine if you could turn website visitors into phone calls at twice your current rate?
That change alone can make a monumental impact on your revenue figures, which is why optimizing your website is so high up on this list on how to market a law firm.
Why You Can’t Ignore Your Website’s Design
Long story short, potential clients won’t give you the time of day if your website looks like a dinosaur.
According to Blue Corona, 38% of visitors will stop engaging with your website if the layout or content is unattractive. A stunning 48% of people cited that a website’s design is the #1 factor in determining the legitimacy of a company!
If you haven’t updated your website design in a while, there’s a good chance that a significant portion of potential clients are fleeing for the hills before they learn anything about your law firm.
Additionally, an updated website design is important for search engines such as Google and Bing. If your bounce rate increases because of its lackluster appearance, your organic search rankings will plummet, and your competitors will take your place and your clients.
User Experience is Key
User experience (UX) refers to how enjoyable your website is for visitors to navigate.
If a potential client can’t find their way around, they’ll head on over to a competitor’s site instead. According to Intechnic, 79% of users who don’t like what they see on a site will move on to another.
On the other hand, Intechnic also found that improved UX could result in an increase in conversion rates of up to 400%.
Images, navigation, consistency across pages, and proper text formatting should be the primary focus of your website’s user experience.
According to BroadbandAndSearch, 51.3% of people use their phones or tablets to browse the web. In 2013, that figure was only 16.2%.
As smartphones become faster, more powerful, and more accessible, it’s only logical to assume that this upwards trend will continue.
Mobile compatibility means your website displays correctly on mobile phones of all types. Use a tool like mobi.ready to view your website on a variety of devices.
If your website looks wonky on any particular device, look into how to fix the problem yourself, or consider hiring an agency to take the task off your plate.
Did you know, according to Infront Webworks, reducing your website’s loading time can result in a 7% increase in conversions?
That’s huge! And if you think about it, it makes sense. Visiting a bloated and slow website is a frustrating experience.
Use a tool like PingDom to see how fast your website is and how it stacks up against other similar websites.
PingDom will also give you a variety of suggestions on how to improve your page speed.
41% of potential clients expect you to have Live Chat capability on your website (superoffice.com). If you don’t, they’re not impressed.
Even more importantly, Live Chat has quickly become the leading form of digital communication, with 46% of people preferring it over email (29%) and social media (16%).
Beyond expectations, Live Chat is a handy tool to close a potential client fast. Some may hesitate to make a phone call, but typing a sentence or two into the chat box is no big deal.
And, Live Chat is a helpful way to validate the legitimacy of potential clients.
With the explosion of Live Chat, many different providers are available for you to use. Your primary decision will be whether to use a managed or unmanaged solution.
- An unmanaged solution just gives you the software. Replying to queries is up to you.
- Managed solutions give you both the software and representatives to operate it.
Step #3: Optimize Your Law Firm’s Local SEO
Traditional SEO (search engine optimization) is the act of ranking your website high in Google on a national or global scale.
Local SEO focuses on the areas that you serve, resulting in targeted and qualified leads.
When considering marketing ideas for law firms, local SEO is worth exploring first.
GMB (Google My Business) is the list of businesses that appears at the top of the page on Google for a local business query, and it’s an essential component to enhanced local SEO.
According to BrightLocal, the average business listed on GMB is found 1,009 times each month. Those are a lot of eyes on what could be your law firm.
Creating a GMB listing is easy. Your firm may already have one. But there’s no guarantee that your listing is properly optimized.
To optimize your listing, log in to your GMB account. Go through each parameter and make sure they are all filled out completely and correctly.
After optimization, move onto reviews. Reviews are enormously influential on your GMB search result ranking. Google doesn’t want to show people the businesses that have few or no reviews. Google also doesn’t want to show searchers the businesses that have poor reviews!
Create an actionable ORM (online reputation management) strategy to convert your satisfied clients into GMB reviews. Your satisfied clients leave reviews, which bumps you up in the GMB search results, which leads to more satisfied clients and more reviews.
Finally, make sure that your firm has accurate and consistent NAP citations around the web. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. Citations refer to your presence in local business directories, such as Yelp, YellowPages, and others.
Overall, an effective GMB strategy consists of the following:
- An optimized GMB listing
- Plenty of positive Google reviews
- Supporting NAP citations from around the web
If it sounds simple, that’s because it is.
Step #4: Increase Visibility in Search
Google’s algorithm is quite intelligent. It has the ability to differentiate between different types of searches, then provide relevant results specific to each search.
Social Media Today reports that 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information.
Especially in our context, most of your potential clients will be focused on local queries, which is why local SEO is above traditional SEO on this list of law firm marketing tactics.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore traditional SEO.
Traditional SEO targets information-related queries to rank your website #1 in the search results. Once a visitor lands on your website, the content on your website can motivate visitors to take action and eventually convert into clients.
Target the Right Keywords
According to Moz, the 1st page of Google captures 71% of search traffic clicks — and has been reported to be as high as 92% in recent years.
In other words, if your website doesn’t show up on the 1st page of Google, you’re not going to get much website traffic.
So, when you pick keywords to target with informational pages, make sure you’re targeting keywords that are realistically rankable. If you bite off more than you can chew, you might waste a lot of time and money and get very little, or nothing, in return. Local keywords could be the answer. For example, when you are marketing personal injury practice in Texas, try to search for keywords like “personal injury firm for car crashes Amarillo texas”.
Tools like Ahrefs can assist you in finding easy-to-rank-for target keywords.
Plan Out Your Site’s Architecture & Content for Practice Area Pages & Education-Based Blog Posts
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Google loves websites that are properly organized. If your website is just a jumble of unorganized pages, the chances of you ranking high for your target keywords are drastically reduced.
To turn a difficult uphill battle into an easy downhill stroll, organize your pages properly.
In general, there are two types of content you should have on your site: pages and posts.
- Pages are the meat of your website, such as your homepage, service pages, and contact page.
- Posts refer to blog posts, which talk about industry trends, informational topics, or updates about your company.
Clearly label the sections of your website in your menus so that visitors can painlessly navigate to the resources they need.
Build Authoritative, White-Hat Backlinks
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Once you have your target keywords and well-organized posts that provide information about your target keywords, it’s time to focus on backlinks.
Backlinks are the “currency” of search engine optimization. If many other websites link back to your website, Google views your website as more authoritative, and the chances of you ranking high for your target keywords increase.
Look into doing effective outreach to get backlinks for your website. For example, if you can get yourself mentioned in a few news publications or major blogs, your website’s rankings for its target keywords can improve quickly and drastically.
Step #5: Execute a PPC Campaign While Waiting for Google
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When a person performs a Google search, two different types of results are displayed. The first type is the organic results, which we covered above. Effective SEO will allow you to dominate the organic results.
However, SEO takes time to produce the outcome you want to see. You might be waiting weeks to months for results between the keyword research, content creation, and outreach.
Although waiting weeks to months for results can certainly be worth it in the long run, there’s no need to wait around.
The other type of results displayed to people is paid results, which you can access as soon as today.
Go After Your Main Keywords Early with Google Adwords
Google Adwords is a platform that allows you to bid a certain price per click on certain search keywords. For example, if you are a law firm in San Diego, you may pay a couple of dollars per click whenever someone searches “lawyer in San Diego” and clicks on your ad.
PPC is not a surefire win right out of the gate, though. You need to track your results to determine their effectiveness for your firm. Through Google Analytics, you can see how much you’re paying for your campaigns and how many new clients you get as a result of those clicks.
To do rudimentary keyword research for Google Adwords, you can use the free tool offered by Google. For more expansive research, consider spying on your competitors to see which keywords they’re already targeting.
Other PPC Networks that Work for Lawyers
Most major web platforms offer PPC advertising options. If you find success with Google Adwords, consider branching out.
The next (and most obvious) step is Bing. Although Google commands the majority of the ecosystem, Bing still has a decent market share.
Retarget Ads Towards Website Visitors
A retargeting ad refers to an advertisement shown only to visitors who have previously interacted with your website in some way.
Through popular social networks, you can run retargeting campaigns to make sure your firm is in front of the people who are the most likely to be considering hiring you.
Although running traditional social ads is often a difficult endeavor for law firms, retargeting campaigns are significantly easier to find success because the people seeing your ads are guaranteed to have seen your name before somewhere.
Geo-fencing is a relatively new form of advertising that has become mainstream due to the advent of smartphone usage.
When someone enters a specific geo-boundary, a certain action is triggered. These geo-boundaries can often be combined with other attributes to make ad targeting both local and topically relevant.
Harnessing geofencing to improve marketing results can be highly effective, but it does require some creativity and technical prowess.
Step #6: Use Email Marketing to Nurture Leads & Clients
If you were impressed with the ROI for PPC advertising, wait until you find out about the ROI for email marketing.
According to Litmus, email marketing returns an average of $42 for every $1 spent. That is a staggering 4,100%.
Email marketing is a tried-and-true form of advertising that every law firm should be taking advantage of in the following ways:
Add a small signup form to your website. When users input their email addresses, they’re added to your email list.
An easy way to collect and send out emails is through a solution like MailChimp or Aweber. The interfaces are intuitive, meaning your firm can start collecting emails as soon as today, even with minimal technical knowledge or ability.
Once you build an email list, a weekly or monthly newsletter is a great tool to keep your law firm at the forefront of your potential clients’ minds.
Although you might not get a lot of business from your newsletters directly, you’ll be in their inbox when prospects need to hire a law firm.
For a more direct approach, make sure you are following up with any potential client who has given you their email address.
When might potential clients give you their email addresses? Well, if you followed our advice above and added a Live Chat feature to your website, you can require an email address before the conversation begins.
If you close the client via Live Chat, that’s great! If you don’t, you now have the communication tool needed to get in touch with the client at a later date and continue your sales efforts.
Step #7: Making the Most of Social Media
Social media can seem like an afterthought to law firms.
After all, your services aren’t exactly related to vacation or family photos, so you don’t need to think about social media. Right?
Wrong. If your law firm ignores social media, you miss out on a large market of potential clients.
Why Law Firms, Attorneys, and Lawyers Can’t Ignore Social Media
In 2020, half of planet earth was using social media (Statista). As of 2019, 72% of USA adults were using social media.
90% of millennials expect brands to reply to social media comments and questions within 1 business day!
Social media has become the new public square.
There are four major social networks that we’d recommend focusing on. Note that you can use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts on all social media networks simultaneously, drastically reducing your workload.
LinkedIn is known as the “professional” social network, meaning your law firm should stay away from posting overly fun or silly content. A complete profile, combined with 1 to 2 posts every month, is usually more than enough.
Consider posting your weekly or monthly blog articles on your LinkedIn. Remember: When it comes to social media, repurposing existing assets is more than okay and often expected.
Facebook is the most popular social network. People will be following and interacting with your firm here at a higher rate than other social networks.
Beyond a complete profile, make sure you check your notifications to learn when a user has interacted with you in any way on Facebook. As we covered above, if you ignore user interactions, potential clients won’t be impressed.
On Instagram, pictures are king. Photographs of your team members, offices, and even clients (if they wish to be featured) are all fair game.
Note that Instagram is more personality-focused, so even an inspirational quote or video here and there can be appropriate.
1 in 5 adults in the USA uses Twitter (Brandwatch). If potential clients are on Twitter, then you should be, too.
Filling out a Twitter profile is very quick in comparison to more complicated social networks like Facebook. And, since Tweets are character-limited, your firm doesn’t need to spend much time coming up with ideas.
In fact, simply repurposing your posts from other social networks is often fine for Twitter.
Step #8: Ways to Further Build Your Firm into a Well-Known Brand
Now that you’re on social media and active in the eyes of potential clients, it’s time to beef up your credibility all across the web.
These tricks and tips will make your brand seem more professional to potential clients, increasing the chances of them making the phone call.
Reviews Across the Internet
What’s better: A pizza place with one 5-star review, or a pizza place with 100 5-star reviews?
You can’t really know without trying them both. But in terms of probability, you can assume that the 100-review pizza place is the safer bet.
Potential clients use the same thought process when evaluating law firms such as yours. The more reviews you have, the better.
Entice clients to post reviews simply by asking, whether that be in-person or in a follow-up sequence. Note that many review platforms exist—not just Yelp.
With a good number of positive reviews across multiple review platforms, potential clients will instantly trust your firm when they look into your background.
However, without good reviews across multiple platforms, they may hesitate and turn to a competitor instead.
There’s nothing wrong with an ordinary phone number, but if you’re looking to gain an edge wherever you can, consider looking into a vanity phone number.
Vanity phone numbers allow you to pick and choose your exact digits (with some restrictions).
Consider getting an easy-to-remember number, such as one with repeating digits. Or, if possible, spell a word with the last four or seven digits of the number.
You can search for vanity phone numbers through NumberBarn.
Online reviews are great, but you don’t get to pick and choose which reviews a potential client sees first.
Chances are, you have a few reviews from clients that you want to showcase first and foremost.
If these reviews are located on third-party review websites, you can copy/paste them onto your website right now.
If you don’t have any testimonials that stand out from the rest, consider emailing past clients to see if they’d be willing to write something nice (Offering a small incentive for taking the time to send in a testimonial never hurts).
Video testimonials are particularly effective. Genuine people appearing on camera to praise your law firm will strike a chord with any potential client who watches.
Awareness campaigns can be thought of as charitable efforts to bring attention to a certain cause.
If there is a particular issue plaguing your community, consider setting up some sort of relief effort with your law firm at the helm.
In general, it’s best if the awareness campaign relates to the types of cases your law firm takes on, but general community efforts never hurt, either.
Try contacting people who run podcasts to see if your expert legal opinion could be of note in any upcoming episode.
They get a special feature on their show, and you get some free promotion. Everyone wins!
Podcast hosts usually won’t mind including a link to your law firm’s website on their podcast page, which means you get a powerful backlink without much effort.
Similar to podcasts, YouTube channels can provide exposure to an audience that would be very hard to reach otherwise.
Contact YouTube producers, especially local ones. Then embed the video on your website to help your site visitors remember you.
According to Insivia, viewers are able to remember 95% of a message when it’s delivered through a video versus only 10% when it’s delivered through text.
Donating to local charities and organizations is a fantastic way to get your name out there and do some good for your community at the same time.
Once again, feel free to ask for a backlink to your website when you offer your resources for a good cause.
Step #9: Utilizing Legal-Specific Directories
A directory website is an aggregate of different service providers. Technically, Yelp is a directory, albeit a very large one.
Legal-specific directories also exist, and they’re quite helpful for consumers. By being present in these directories, you can harness a powerful (and often free) form of attorney marketing.
Create profiles on each platform for all of your attorneys to expand your reach.
Step #10: Get More Referrals
Oftentimes, your best source of business is the business you’ve landed in the past. A referral is when a previous client refers you to a new client.
There are two major ways to get referrals. Implementing even one of these tactics can lead to a flood of new client inquiries overnight.
Create Referral Partnerships with Non-Competitors
You don’t need us to tell you that potential clients often contact the wrong type of law firm for their cases.
Rather than simply telling these clients that you can’t help them, consider contacting a non-competitor to set up an agreement: you refer clients to them, and they refer clients to you.
Ask & Incentivize for Referrals from Past Clients
Word-of-mouth is an incredibly effective form of advertising. Why? Because people trust their immediate network more than anyone else.
Consider sending out a one-time email blast to all past clients asking them to recommend your firm to their friends, family, and acquaintances.
It doesn’t hurt to add a bit of incentive. For example, you may offer a gift card (with substantial value) any time a past client refers a new client.
Consider that companies with referrals have a 70% higher conversion rate, and they report a 69% faster close time on sales (Influitive)
Step #11: Tracking Marketing Performance KPIs
KPIs (key performance indicators) give an overall view of what’s working in terms of promotion and what isn’t.
But what constitutes “working”? For example, how does one measure the efficacy of a podcast appearance versus a retargeting ad on Facebook?
If the same criteria are used, the result will be confusion. Instead, create an actionable plan regarding KPIs.
All you need is some creativity and Excel.
Focus on What Works Best
Once you take an honest look at what’s working and what isn’t, stop doing the things that aren’t working.
It’s easy to get stuck in a pattern that is acceptable. When it comes to attorney marketing, exceptional is always the goal.
Sink time and resources into the methods of marketing that are working for you in particular, rather than attempting to do everything on this list at once.
It’s better to be a master than a jack-of-all-trades. After all, your law firm takes on a particular flavor of clients. Use the same type of thinking when marketing your law practice.
Law Firm Marketing In-House vs. Outsourcing to an Agency
If you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back. You’re an expert on modern strategies for law firm marketing!
Now comes the implementation. You have two options. You can do it yourself (in-house), or you can outsource it (agency).
In-house law firm marketing is effective but difficult. You’ll likely need to hire at least one additional employee to take care of your marketing efforts. And managing your marketing team may be difficult to do if you aren’t a marketing expert.
Many law firms choose to outsource their marketing efforts to legal-specific law firm marketing agencies like us.
We covered a lot of ground here, so it’s okay if you’re still looking for answers. Drop your questions in the comments below to be a part of the conversation.