30 min read
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Updated: June 15, 2022

Digital Marketing for Lawyers – How’s And Why’s

The internet offers limitless opportunities for law firms to spread awareness about their services. In 2019, the Washington Post reported that according to Emarketer, digital advertising surpassed traditional spending. This data dictates it’s time to meet consumers where they are: online.

Lawyers are key to preserving liberty. Remaining relevant and visible in an era defined by the dilemmas of fake news and click-bait content requires developing optimized websites and engaging digital marketing campaigns. While law firm digital marketing is complex, it delivers ROI.

This guide provides essential strategies and explains the basic components of online marketing, emphasizing building a formidable online presence, achieving quality leads, and following legal marketing best practices.

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A Beginners Guide to Online Marketing for Lawyers

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing for law firms is the act of selling services online. It refers to advertising on search engines, websites, social media, and mobile apps at a high level. Modern-day digital marketing comprises a large system of channels used to make an impact through user engagement.

User engagement drives digital marketing by creating meaningful interactions with potential and returning customers based on analytical data gathered over time. When your law firm engages customers digitally, you build brand awareness, assert yourself as an industry thought leader, and situate your law firm at the forefront when potential clients require your services.

An effective digital marketing strategy allows your law firm to trace its client acquisition to its first digital touchpoint with your business. Called attribution modeling, this data gathering, research, and report process lets you understand how clients search and hire your services. Being equipped with this knowledge helps you to make informed marketing decisions related to law firm marketing budget and strategy.

Aberdeen Group discovered companies with aligned marketing and sales achieve a 20% annual growth rate. Improving your clients’ journey through the buying cycle by using digital technology and marketing tactics reflects positivity on your business’ ROI.

How Can Digital Marketing Benefit Law Firms?

law firm marketing benefits

More clients, more revenue, greater reach, and improved visibility — and these are just the main advantages a well-planned digital marketing strategy offers law firms!

What Are the Best Digital Marketing Strategies for a Law Firm?

It’s facetious, but honestly, the best digital marketing strategies are the ones that help law firms achieve their business goals. Beyond search engine optimization, content marketing, and having a website that meets digital marketing standards, the employment of subtle tactics like email and social media marketing largely depends on your client base and area of legal practice.

Research Your Target Audience

Digital marketing is considerably cheaper than traditional marketing and highly effective when properly utilized. It specifically targets your ideal customer, which means you need to know who they are. As a law firm, you’ll have a specialty, so if you’re a divorce lawyer, there’s no point targeting clients who require help with environmental law, for instance.

Because the internet has 4.66 million users, it’s vital to target the best-suited clients. If you have no idea where to begin, you should hire a digital marketing agency to help you conduct market research and identify industry trends. You might try starting by creating a profile of your ideal client, reviewing existing clients, and collating similarities to determine the type of client profile you serve.

State Your Goals

Law firm digital marketing should strive to achieve two objectives: the retention of clients and solidifying a firm’s reputation as an asset to any client who needs legal counsel. Goals set the direction for what needs to happen for your law firm’s digital marketing to succeed.

Analyze your client’s online journey to hiring you. What do they search for? How do they find you? Then, assess your online marketing efforts. Do you have a digital marketing budget? Perhaps you’re inactive on social media and need a website overhaul.

If your website gets traffic but not clients, then your law firm should focus on conversion rates and so on. Goals are important because law firm digital marketing is nuanced. Each detailed tactic needs to be evaluated and prioritized according to the key law firm objectives.

Using the SMART framework may help. An acronym, SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Research shows that when people set the right type of specific goals, they stand a greater chance of success.

Invest in your own Firm’s Marketing

It doesn’t matter what type of business you are in; marketing is crucial for helping it get off the ground. This is especially true for a law firm because you could have the best lawyers in the world, but if no one knows about them, you’re out of luck.

The best law firms view marketing as an investment. Getting more clients is your return on investment (ROI). All of this is well and good, but how do you go about putting this marketing into practice? Experienced marketers would have many suggestions for you, including tips such as having a best-in-class website (it’s important that prospects view your firm as one of the best), high visibility online (more on that below in SEO section), high-performance ads, good content marketing, and, of course, building meaningful client and referral relationships with other lawyers, and getting as many referrals from satisfied clients.

Build a strong website

88% of law firms have a firm website. In fact, good clients expect you to have a website. A strong law firm website boosts business credibility and offers a strategic introduction to your services. It’s a sales pitch, and information hub rolled into one and the core of law firm digital marketing efforts. An effective website does the following for potential clients:

  • Showcases your law firm’s expert legal services
  • Provides contact details
  • Offers successful case studies
  • Represents your law firm’s values
  • Supplies information to commonly asked questions as a method to build credibility and rank higher on search engines.

Your law firm website should be user-friendly, as in, it must be easy for potential clients to navigate when on desktop, tablet, or mobile. It should also be optimized for search engines to index and rank, and each page must carry a clear call to action, prompting potential clients to move further toward procuring your services.

Not happy with your website performance?

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Not happy with your website performance?

Focus on SEO

Even if you have a great website, this isn’t enough to secure more clients. Many law firms fall short because they don’t utilize search engine optimization (SEO) and get lost in endless Google results. As part of internet marketing, SEO is the process of improving the quality and quantity of potential clients who visit your website.

Clients routinely type in keywords in Google and other search engines like Bing to find qualified law firms within their jurisdiction. For example, they may search “criminal lawyer Chicago.” This group of words is called a keyword. Search engines crawl sites looking for keywords and rank ones most relevant to users’ searches.

The goal of SEO is to capture leads who have already searched your services by inserting relevant keywords in your website, campaigns, content marketing, and social media platforms. All successful businesses with online credibility use SEO to attract customers and rank higher on search engine results.

Why Local SEO Is Crucial in the Legal Business

Local SEO optimizes a business’ online presence to attract leads from relevant local searches nearby its geographic location. Google gathers information from social profile pages, citations, and links to determine a law firm’s local SEO rank. It then tracks where each law firm is and links them to Google maps, providing potential clients with a location pin, contact information, law firm operating times, and client reviews.

46% out of all Google searches seek local information. Local SEO can help a law firm rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract more clients within their specified radius. Additionally, a law firm with positive online reviews attached will outperform its competition.

Keep Your SEO Practices Up to Date

Like any other type of business, a law firm has to do everything in their power to make sure they get their search engine optimization in order so that their website ranks on page one of the search engines. This is a very important subject as 65% of all people who search for legal help online, and there are thousands in every US metro area, visit  law firm websites they see on page one. Want to know more? Learn about law firm SEO.

Utilize PPC To The Fullest

Where do people in need of a lawyer in your area go? Online, of course. Imagine if they found your law firm after a single Google query. Law firm pay-per-click advertising is an excellent tactic to reach leads because it targets clients looking for specific law services.

Pay-per-click (PPC) is when an advertiser pays a publisher every time their advertisement is clicked on. You’ll find PPC ads on search engines like Google, social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even in email marketing.

They’re a cost-effective legal digital marketing tactic because you can dictate the budget, spending as much or little as necessary, and they’re targeted. So, you can choose your audience according to demographics, gender, age, device, and more.

Google Ads rank PPC campaigns based on audience relevancy and helpfulness (in the same way they rank websites). Relevant ad copy that correlates with the keywords you bid on will increase your rank, which determines where your ad appears and the cost per click.

Content Marketing

Law Firm Content Marketing

Content marketing is an integral part of internet marketing for various reasons. For lawyers, in particular, it offers the added benefits of simply communicating complex legalities to clients while simultaneously building credibility and boosting a firm’s rank on Google. How?

Let’s say you’re a practicing divorce lawyer. Over the years, you will know the common questions your clients have. Now, a smart marketing strategy leverages this knowledge to attract leads. You might decide to create a blog post about custody and parental rights. With keyword research, you can find out the most common phrases used by clients and include this in your blog copy. Once published, it becomes a valuable piece of content that ranks higher on Google, is shared by users, and encourages them to explore your services.

And that’s just blogging. Podcasts, videos, newsletters, infographics, and eBooks are all part of your online marketing arsenal. Another result-driven marketing strategy is offering website visitors a free eBook in exchange for their contact details, which can be used for email marketing campaigns.

Today’s clients expect high-quality content from the legal industry. Producing quality content improves conversions and connects with clients. Content assets properly optimized maximizes marketing ROI for attorneys and establish law firms as an industry thought leaders.

Pay Attention to Social Media

Like all law firm digital marketing, social media marketing enables firms to connect and engage with potential customers where they are: Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, YouTube, and even TikTok. It’s a profitable resource for PPC campaigns, community building, brand awareness, and content publishing.

However, you need only use the platforms your audience is on. The American Bar Association found that 35% of lawyers who use social media professionally gained new clients. There is also a correlation between improved social signals and search engine ranking.

A strong social presence engages your audience and offers valuable insights and feedback for your firm to utilize in its internet marketing efforts. Depending on your brand tone, you can use social media to publish content, engage with current affairs, hold polls and advertise your services directly via PPC.

Bring in Good Partners

There is no question that partnering with experienced lawyers would be a huge asset to your law firm. Having highly-qualified partners would be great for your clients and help your firm get more visibility and online reviews. Consider the fact that adding a good criminal lawyer, who can clearly explain difficult concepts and can help their clients understand the ins and outs of the process they’re going through, can elevate your firm’s reputation and attract more clients in the future.

If you apply these ideas at your firm, there is little doubt that it will grow. Of course, if you are just starting out, you will have to put one foot in front of the other and pay your dues. However, once you implement these ideas at your law firm, you will get there sooner rather than later.

Closely Follow Your Budget and ROI

How long is a piece of string? How much should you spend on internet marketing? There are standard industry benchmarks, but these figures are malleable. Internet marketing is a long-term investment that calls for proper budgeting.

The budget determines how you roll out your internet marketing campaigns and the types of content marketing you decide to invest in. Digital marketing tactics are based on real-time data. Its flexible and agile methods constantly respond to behavioral economics, which calls for careful ROI monitoring.

For example, keeping a watchful eye on PPC campaigns can save money. Through A/B testing, you can run the same ad with altered variables such as image and copy changes to determine which works best. Now, without monitoring, you may run the same ad without positive results and waste money.

Effective budgeting will help you create content that resonates with your audience and optimize it for high search visibility, bringing quality leads. A top-tier digital marketing agency will always be transparent with budgets and help you achieve these goals.

Can Lawyers Do Their Own Marketing?

law firm digital marketing

Many legitimate reasons prevent law firms of all sizes from hiring an internet marketing agency, like allocating more budget for marketing and reluctance in trusting a third party to understand and execute credible legal marketing plans.

While it’s possible for lawyers to handle their marketing to a limited extent, the determining factors boil down to time and focus. Why spend time on something when you can hire experts who deliver guaranteed results?

If you’ve reached a marketing plateau, or are uncertain about hiring an internet marketing agency, ask yourself the following:

  • Has your firm experienced a decline in online leads?
  • Has your firm’s website been updated in the last two years?
  • Has your firm grown? Do you need to build its online reputation?
  • Have you run out of time to execute proper marketing strategies?
  • Do you need to level up your law firm marketing plan but lack expertise?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you should seriously consider outsourcing your marketing work. Digital marketing has many moving parts, but remember, if you’re tight on budget, you don’t have to implement everything at once. You can start with a website redesign and basic SEO package and grow your law practice from there.

Common Lawyer Marketing Mistakes

When you run a business you can’t avoide all mistakes, but you should do you best to not make the common, but big ones. They’re not just big because of how much money they waste, they’re big because they end up costing law firms dozens and hundreds of potential clients, resulting in millions and millions of dollars opportunity cost each year. 2017 Department of Labor Statistics research showed the median income of only $119,000 a year for lawyers in the U.S. Across the board. Yet, there are those high-earners who make a million or more, and people always wonder how much money do lawyers make? What’s the core difference? High-earners do not make these common mistakes.

#1: Not showing up where and when prospective clients look for a law firm

Most attorneys don’t show up when and where prospective clients are looking.

Back in the day people used Yellow Pages to find a lawyer, or they asked for a referral from friends, family, or other lawyers.

Today, people use Google.

They may still ask for a referral, but an overwhelming number of people turn to Google for convenience and privacy (who wants to spend the time explaining why they need a lawyer?!).

So,being on Google when and where they look is essential, yet, most law firms don’t show up.

“Being on Google” is about more than showing up “somewhere” in search results. The overwhelming majority (75%) of traffic goes to page-one search results, so if you aren’t on page one, you they will not find you.

At most, there are a dozen law firms that show up consistently on page one when you search for services in your practice area. What are they doing right? And how do you right this wrong for your law firm?

The solution

A lot of this comes down to SEO (search engine optimization) for lawyers, but SEO for lawyers is about more than filling your website with keywords. SEO for law firms comes down to Google recognizing you as an authority in your practice areas and metro, and it can be done strategically.

This kind of marketing generally requires the help of a high-performance marketing and web development agency equipped with the knowledge and experience to deliver results for you.

It’s this kind of marketing that will get you higher rankings on Google, and will get you right in front of prospective clients searching for your services. Big problem solved.

#2: Not budgeting enough to accomplish your financial goals

We often meet attorneys who have ambitious goals, but invest less than 3% of their expected revenue into accomplishing these goals. Then they are surprised that their competitors – who are spending 8-12% – get much more business.

It comes down to the numbers. If you want to break $5 million in revenue but are only investing $30,000 in marketing, underbudgeting is a problem you need to fix.

The solution

You need to invest 6-10% of the expected revenue in the marketing to make your goals work. Unless you have a ton of recurring business, keeping your client pipeline lubed with savvy marketing and proven strategies is the only way to grow your business. But, don’t forget to spend 1-1.5% on marketing to your past clients. Maintaining old relationships produces great ROI.

Talk to a digital marketing company that worked with other lawyers, and discuss your goals to determine how much your law firm should invest in marketing to get there.

#3: Having a million-dollar receptionist

Ever called a service provider’s office (doctor, accountant, lawyer, dentist) to consider some questions to ask law firms before scheduling a meeting, only to talk to a receptionist who couldn’t provide you the right answers. Crappy experiences leads to crappy outcomes.

Often, such an underperforming receptionist will miss a number of opportunities to schedule appointments for the attorney; or, prospect will not show up because they had a more positive experience with a receptionist at another firm.

A couple missed opportunities per week, lead to a 100+ lost opportunities per year, if each of those opportunities were worth $5,000, that’s $500,000 out the window.

The solution

Your receptionist will cost you millions unless you align their performance standards with the service and sales you want your law firm to live up to. For example: 80% of all prospect calls must result in appointments, and a 90% show-up rate is expected.

To get to the heart of the problem, you can have your  marketing agency set up a service that records calls so you can listen the recordings and understand if your receptionist is just costing you that $40,000-$50,000 salary or if they’re costing you millions.

If they underperform, coach or look at hiring a real A-team player. RoberHalf.com also has some great high-level considerations when looking at your receptionist’s performance.

#4: Not giving prospects a reason to choose you over every other lawyer

So, prospects are calling in, and you’re having the necessary conversations. Why aren’t they choosing your law firm over your competitors?

We see all too often that attorneys aren’t giving their prospects a reason to choose them over their competitors.

The solution

Come up with a solid reason why prospects should choose you. How does your service directly meet their needs? What kind of information and education do you provide quicker than the next lawyer on their list? How do you solve their problems more aggressively or effectively?

Once you have your reason, tell them. Then tell them again. Your reason should be focused on prospective clients and their problems or needs, not on you.

And once you’ve told prospects why they should choose you, deliver on that promise. There are hundreds or even thousands of lawyers in your area that do what you do, so get this essential sales language in place and communicate it to everyone in your office for a single and more compelling voice.

Does your law firm have a plan for growth in 2022?
Does your law firm have a plan for growth in 2022?

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Conclusion

Understanding the essential elements of digital strategy can help you improve your presence online, content creation, and ultimately capture more leads. Many lawyers already use the power of digital marketing to stand out from their competition. If you feel it’s time to up your game and hire the experts, then call us at (312) 265-0580 or click here to learn how we’ll develop your digital marketing strategy.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

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About the Author
Stan Bogdashin
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
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