“Using the right digital marketing strategies is very important to get new clients for a startup law firms. One of the best marketing strategies for law firms that I have used is applying SEO, email marketing, and paid search. Within a few weeks, I got more calls and acquired many new clients.”
When I graduated from law school, I had no idea that the most important thing I had yet to learn was how to bring in new clients. I thought that a lawyer simply had to build their reputation, do great work, and the clients would naturally come as a result. Not so.
Most of the lawyers I know are the reluctant marketing directors in their firms.
They have been forced to learn about marketing and advertising from vendors at trade shows, and emails, and appointments, and lengthy sales pitches that lead us to believe that we need to trust their recommendation or suffer the consequences of the phone not ringing.
I have spent years wearing multiple hats in my firm, working as a lawyer, director of marketing, payroll manager, and head of human resources. I went from a small practice with my brother to owning my own midsize firm. As the primary rainmaker, marketing has become a top priority.
I have spent years trying to become a marketing expert, while balancing practice management. Years ago, I decided to make the move away from a marketing plan based almost entirely on referrals to a plan now based almost entirely online.
In my firm, I focus on 3 basics: updating my website, writing articles & useful content for readers, paying for SEO services and ads [on a limited basis].
In the past 5 years, my firm has gone from receiving our first online lead and phone call, to currently generating an average of 200 calls and online leads per week. I have been able to scale my intake process and procedures to handle a LOT of calls coming in every day, while making sure that every caller talks to a lawyer and gets free legal advice.
Best Marketing Strategies for Law Firms
Creating a user friendly website
It sounds simple: create a user friendly website. Nevertheless, we have struggled to translate & simplify the jargon and technical terms so that any reader understands what we can do for them.
More importantly, we have designed our sites to answer FAQs and to offer guidance that helps any person inclined to self help legal filings. Our goal is to have an informed reader call to ask questions that our site didn’t address for their specific scenario.
Search Engine Optimization [SEO]
So many vendors claim to be SEO experts, and they tell you that they know the way to move your site up to page 1 of google search results. Here is what I have found in my trial and error steady climb to the top search results: it takes time and persistence writing MANY useful and original articles to get to page 1 of google [and stay there].
Some of the real challenges I have faced in optimizing sites: it requires patience and a steady stream of strong writing.
Most lawyers don’t have the time to be prolific writers, being able to consistently publish 2-5 articles per month. Most SEO vendors don’t know the practice area half as well as the lawyer, and hired writers tend to produce generic content. Therein lies the paradox.
I use a team of SEO marketing experts for law firms to write detailed and informative articles on legal topics, and that has gotten my sites to the top of google search results.
Paid online ads [Adwords, Bing, Facebook, Yelp, etc.]
It is easy to spend a LOT of money on clicks, or calls, or views, or whatever they are selling. I believe that paid ads are useful to create a quick boost to SEO, but it should not be a substitute for putting in the time and the effort to get to page 1 of google search results.
The real problem with pay per click is the fierce competition bidding on the best keywords – with lawyers spending ridiculous sums trying to solicit a click.
Take personal injury lawyers, for example. They spend hundreds on paid ads that result in very few clicks. Making matters worse, many of those clicks do NOT result in a call or e-mail to the lawyer.
My advice to lawyers spending money on paid online ads is to make sure that their account is handled by an adwords expert that closely monitors the account every minute of the day!
It is too common to see adwords campaigns run amok with overbroad keyword bids and very little or no spend guards [such as time restrictions based on office peak hours and capacity].
Hiring outside vendors [Findlaw, AVVO, YP, etc.]
Many of the legal vendors with large stature are directories that pool lawyers and offer to list them with premiums for placement at the top of the list. My concern about relying on Findlaw or Avvo or YP to gain exposure is that many lawyers spend a LOT of money for little return on their investment.
It makes more sense to me to go with a free or low cost directory listing and put more time and money into getting in front of potential clients that see your site OUTSIDE of the directory – as a result of a link to an article that YOU wrote – where YOU [alone] are the expert that can best help them.
Again, you can spend a LOT of money on paid directories, but my experience proves that the best investment is in your site, and in useful & informative articles that bring potential clients to you, seeking your advice.
Small law firm marketing
The beauty of the internet is that it created an even playing field where small and large firms are both required to put in the time to get to page 1 of google search results. The good news for small firms is there are no short cuts for big firms to buy their way to the top!
Keeping up with big firms and their big budgets
Large firms have the luxury of spending excessively for paid ads, both online and on TV, radio, and print. However, small firms have the ability to outwork and outsmart large firms with very user friendly sites using proven successful strategies to convert prospects to clients.
The small firm competitive edge: personal service and niche markets
Small firms have a major advantage over large firms when it comes to personal service. One example is making sure that every call is answered within 2-3 rings by a real person; and that every caller is connected to a real person after being greeted by reception. People hate leaving voice mail messages, so a small firm can take personal messages and make sure that every call is returned the same day or soon as possible.
The small firm advantage is responsiveness! Tailoring articles to what readers are looking for. Giving time to prospective clients that need to talk to a lawyer – even if their claim is weak – maybe it’s just to reassure a caller that they can handle the problem on their own.
A key advantage that a small firm has is their ability to purse and fill a niche. This is SUPER important when it comes to online marketing for a number of reasons: namely creating keyword campaigns that help your firm to stand out from the pack and to catapult your position to the top of search results.
Legal marketing Strategies for Law Firm websites
I recommend a number of strategies for law firms to create a strong online presence and get the best conversion rate.
FAQs are very useful to directly answer the top 10+ questions and issues that arise daily, weekly, monthly.
DIY articles are also useful to lay the groundwork and to educate a prospect who may or may not want to handle their claim without a lawyer. Most lawyers use teasers on their site – giving away some information – but leaving a trail of crumbs leading to a call. I believe it is more effective to give away the information and leave it up the individual to decide if they want to deal with the hassle of self help or calling a professional.
When to hire a lawyer: Suggesting that a prospect should call at a certain time or when a certain event occurs is very effective. To give an example, I have suggested that a prospective client should call my office immediately when they receive a notice of default or notice of trustee sale in order to avoid a foreclosure. There are certain dates and events that make time of the essence [naturally including statute of limitations deadlines].
Call to Action!! Every article & every page needs to direct a reader to a next step. I urge every prospect to call or email for help asap.
Online vs. traditional campaigns [you mail you fail]
In my very humble opinion, traditional advertising campaigns are VERY expensive compared to online marketing strategies. My observation is that most lawyers rely on what is simple and familiar, so there is comfort going with a yellow pages ad, or a billboard. My advice is to dive in deep enough to understand the simple concept of SEO and paid online advertising so that you don’t feel intimidated by a sales pitch, and you don’t spend money without knowing exactly what the return on investment will be.
Strategies to Get New Clients as a Solo Attorney
I usually recommend a hands-on approach to marketing; no matter how many lawyers are in the practice. Nevertheless, a solo attorney wears many hats, and it is ideal to create a game plan and pay to have another person[s] execute. If there is no budget for marketing, then budgeting time is the key to success for a solo.
Site Design + SEO + Adwords: The simple formula for online marketing success is to have a well-designed website with great content and highly targeted paid campaigns in a well defined niche.
Articles!! Links!! The key to success is to write at least 1 article weekly – with keywords embedded that tie into frequent searches. This can take a LOT of time – so I strongly recommend talking to SEO experts that can take some of the burden off your shoulders.
Lead Management!!! FOLLOW UP!!!!
➡ This is where it often falls apart!! There is nothing more frustrating than setting up all the pieces of the puzzle to fit together perfectly when another person walks in and knocks the puzzle into 1000 pieces on the floor.
That is how it feels when a call comes in but nobody answers, or the caller is on hold too long and hangs up, or the caller leaves a message and nobody returns the call the same day, or the retainer goes out the prospect, but nobody calls to make sure they send it back in, or nobody is available to answer questions about the retainer. The devil is always in the details.
I truly believe that the most important element of successful marketing is diligently managing leads and following up!
How I Use Online Marketing Strategies to Build a Successful Law Practice
Balance is the most difficult of aspirations. We need to give our attention to many competing interests at the same time, so we prioritize the things that matter most and create lists for lower priority items. In the scheme of things, my list of priorities is made up of 4 items to make sure that our online marketing is working well:
Lead generation tracking: I schedule a weekly meeting with my staff to make sure that we are all looking at the same report[s] and fine tuning our marketing campaigns & holding ourselves accountable.
I track lead generation by looking at our weekly spend for paid ads, current ad campaigns, and statistics for all things related to google [impressions, views, clicks, and organic & paid results]
First impressions: I am really emphatic about our one and only chance to make a first impression when the phone rings. I spend time with staff to make sure that we are greeting callers professionally and meeting the demands of every person that calls. We spend a LOT of money to make the phone ring, and we cannot afford to let calls go to voice mail during business hours. We have systems in place to make sure that every call is answered within 3 rings and hold times are low so we don’t lose those precious calls. Every member of our staff is able to answer the phone, and calls are relayed to many staff members if the front desk is handling multiple calls at the same time.
How to onboard: We have set up systems to make sure that every call goes through an intake process and a free consultation with an attorney. Once a prospect and claim is vetted, we have systems in place to send out document requests and retainers. We have spent countless hours improving our follow up system and automating calls and e-mails to ensure that prospects are receiving multiple touches. This is our highest priority focus for binging in new cases, and we generate reports daily to make sure that we are on pace.
Managing cases: We rely heavily on reports to manage our cases, in much the same way that we manage our leads.
Managing People Based on Their Strengths
Skill and strength assessments
In my view, strength management is both intuitive and natural. People excel when they do something well, and the cycle is positive when people are encouraged to work in ways that demonstrate their strengths. Without getting into a philosophical discussion, we have seen that certain roles and responsibilities MUST be delegated to the person best suited. You may say DUH, but managers spend a lot of time trying to fit the square peg into the round hole.
We have our most personable people answering phones, and we provide a lot of training on effective follow up methods. It takes instinct and skill to bring in retainers and documents from prospects. The desire and initiative to close is not typically something that can be trained. We also spend time making sure that our staff is recognized with praise and gratitude.
Guiding staff with vision & clear direction
The value of weekly meetings
I am a believer in meeting at least once weekly to plan the work and work the plan. I am compulsive about meeting agendas. No meeting should occur without some form of written agenda with a clear time frame for discussion of all points.
Measuring production, tracking results, and adjusting accordingly