We talk to a lot of criminal defense lawyers and ask them all how they get their business.
The conversation usually goes like this:
“…Well, it’s been mostly referrals…”
These people have been in business 10, 15, 20 years. Referrals do come in, but business is anywhere from OK to slow.
If you really want to know how to get more criminal defense clients, the answer is online. Between 2005 and 2014, the internet went from the least popular option to look for lawyers to the most popular, according to Thomas Reuters research.
There are thousands of searches in every metro area in the US of people looking for criminal defense attorneys.
Those numbers can’t be ignored.
How many referrals did you say you get a month?
In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the median attorney income in the U.S. was $119,000. Trusting referrals to act as a predictable engine to grow your practice clearly isn’t working, but we’re not just here to sell you on the numbers.
We’re here to tell you how to get more criminal defense clients using a sustainable marketing engine with SMART objectives behind it.
A BIG caveat: you probably have already tried digital marketing before and got a “meh” results. Well, I’ve tried playing the piano, and, frankly, the sound was a “meh”. You must hire experts to get this done right for you.
Read on to better understand how to get more criminal defense clients and what to expect from the excerpts.
There are over 50,000 searches per month by people for looking for criminal defense attorneys.
Of that 50,000, let’s say your metro area accounts for 4,000. How many of those clicks are you getting?
Let’s take a look at how digital marketing is used successfully to get you more criminal defense clients. Some of these are action items you can take now, and some you’ll want to farm out to the marketing firm who specializes in working with lawyers to this end.
First, if your law firm is not found on page one of Google, the chances of getting a steady flow of new clients are next to none. We know consumers are using Google for 3.5 Billion searches a day, but generally (75% of the time) they go just as far as page one.
Now for the HOW to get on page one of Google, and WHERE on the page you have to be.
In Google Ads, you can pay your way to the top. If you want quick page-one placement while you work the rest of your marketing strategy, Google Adwords is where you bid for the key search terms you want your sponsored ads to show up for.
Work with your web design and digital marketing agency to identify the keywords you should use to attract the right clients.
Below the paid ads, the next thing in Google search results are the local map pack listings. The user sees a map of the immediate area speckled with red dots to click for listing details, plus a short list of Google’s “best results” with direct links to those websites.
If someone’s looking for local criminal defense attorneys, you need to show up on that map. Your city might have dozens or hundreds of criminal defense lawyers. An easy first step to optimize your local findability starts with your Google My Business page where you can specify your address, areas you serve and more.
Nearly 80% of clicks from search go to the organic search results. These are the listings that come below the paid ads and below the map pack.
Now for HOW you’ll get there.
To improve your organic search ranking, we could get into the weeds on “on-site” and “off-site” SEO for lawyers, but this would make this post too long. Check out this article to learn How to Get More Clients by Optimizing (SEO) Law Firm Website
Here, we’re going to spell out the most important and actionable first step: you need to start by getting the right content on a few specific channels to get Google to see you as the “expert.”
Read through Steps 2-5 to learn about each of those channels and how to build your reputation, boost your organic Google visibility and get more criminal defense clients along the way.
You know about Google, but you might not have ever thought of it as a directory. Well, it is. Yelp is another popular directory that just reported 164,000,000 unique visitors across desktop, mobile and their mobile app in Q4 of 2018. That’s a lot of searches being done for everything from restaurants to salons and photographers…to lawyers.
In that same Yelp factsheet, we learn that 80% of Yelp searches are done via a mobile device. We can assume those numbers are similar for Google reviews, Avvo.com, SuperLawyers, and other attorney-specific review sites. People are searching for you on their phones.
And if prospective clients are searching these directories on their mobiles, what do you think the likelihood is that they’re going to click to page two, three or four?
That’s right, they won’t.
Directories are popular because consumers can access a high-volume of service options with the ratings to back them up. Just like people still rely on (and often prefer) family and friends’ recommendations, seeing a list of reviews on a reputable directory is like getting recommendations at high-speed.
But users will be browsing these reviews via mobile devices, and they will be quick and decisive about where to click. Your window of visibility is small.
So, how do you get clicks on these directories? Like with Google Ads, you can pay your way to the top, and we recommend it most of the time. Paying for a sponsored spot on page one a directory for key terms brings a big ROI for two reasons:
If you want to learn more about the benefits of optimizing your directories listings, read what ThriveHive has to say on the subject.
YouTube is a crucial piece of your marketing puzzle. There are plenty of reputational reasons why you should be posting videos, but we’ll give you something more quantifiable: YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.
The question is, how do people search on YouTube? And how does that affect law firm internet marketing?
Here’s your key concept to leverage: consumers use YouTube to ask questions.
Prospective clients who are ready to call an attorney are more likely to use directories and the local results in Google. YouTube, on the other hand, is the platform where your prospective clients are looking for answers to questions around their legal problems.
Billions of people turn to YouTube every month to get answers to their questions. So, for your prospective clients who aren’t ready to talk to an attorney yet but who are nervous about their problem and looking for information, you need to have answers ready for them to find on YouTube.
Maybe YouTube marketing sounds a little mysterious to you. Or maybe you’re not so sure about how your hairdo will look on camera, or the equipment you’ll need, or what you’ll say in a video. Maybe this is why lawyers aren’t using this essential marketing tool. But if you follow these three steps, you’ll be posting optimized content on YouTube in a snap:
You know prospects are coming to YouTube with questions. And when they find your videos, you’ll personally be the one answering them. Later, when these prospective clients are finally ready to talk to an attorney, you’ll have their attention because you’ve already proven you know what you’re talking about.
As demonstrated with directories and YouTube content, there are two groups of “lookers” performing searches online for lawyers in your practice area. And you need a high-performance website optimized for both of these groups and the unique types of searches they perform. We’ll break down the big difference between these two groups below.
But first, a definition. What IS a high-performance website?
Most attorney websites are underperformers, converting about 1 of 100 visitors. That doesn’t seem too dismal if you compare it to the whole-web average website conversion rate of 2 of 100, but that equally low conversion rate shouldn’t make you feel much better.
High-performance websites for lawyers convert around 10% of visitors. That’s 10 of 100 visitors filling out your “contact us” form or picking up the phone.
Here’s how to create that high-converting website for both of the key audiences you need to reach.
This group of prospects is googling things like, “best criminal defense attorney in Chicago.” They’re the prospective clients ready to talk to a lawyer, but they still have to choose which.
Let’s say you’ve already executed all the steps above and now you’re highly visible where these prospects are looking (on Google and on directories). Once you get those prospects’ clicks to your website, your site has to meet their needs and convince them that you’re the lawyer they should call.
Here are the key things to consider:
It’s straightforward to think about optimizing your website for those prospects above who are ready to call.
But those prospective clients actually make up the minority of prospects visiting your website.
This second, bigger audience are those people in need of criminal defense counsel who are NOT ready to call. They’re looking first for answers to their questions because they want to feel more confident about their options before they pick up the phone.
The steps to reach this audience are simple:
By sending these prospective clients more resources and information over time, without any sales pitch, you can win their confidence. You’ll demonstrate your expertise as well as your ethics. And when they are ready to talk to an attorney, the natural choice will be you.
The reality for prospects looking for criminal defense counsel is that none of them were ever dreaming of the day when they would need your legal services. You’re meeting clients at a vulnerable and challenging time, and the need for high-value information before they talk to you is essential.
This step-by-step guide is your engine to meet prospective clients where they are and give them what they need in a way no one else is doing.
Maybe you already knew half of these tactics or have even explored or tried some of them. But, as Samuel Johnson so aptly said, “most people don’t need instructions, they need reminders.”
Consider this ultimate step-by-step guide to get more criminal defense clients your reminder. There are so many smart marketing strategies that most lawyers are ignoring. Start by reading more of our how-to articles or by giving us a call today.
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