Law Firm Marketing: How to Get More Clients Online
With a business model based on billable hours, law firm marketing is always going to be something underestimated and overlooked. But the opportunity is one you should not ignore. Potential clients are online researching their legal situation and ultimately the law firm they’ll engage.
Yes, developing an online strategy takes time and energy, and results take even longer.
But get it right and you’ll have a healthy supply of hot leads and new clients excited to work with you as often as you need.
But where do you start?
How do you get new clients for your law firm?
Read through this comprehensive guide and help it shape your law firm’s online marketing strategy.
Click on the links below to skip straight ahead to your preferred topic.
Developing Personas– To help guide and optimise each aspect of your marketing
Search Engine Optimisation – To increase your visibility in search engines
Online Reviews – To optimise your online reputation
Optimising Conversions – Turn website browsers into clients
Content Marketing – Get more traffic from search, convert more leads and fire up your social
Marketing Automation – Start nurturing leads at scale
Social Media – Should you be doing it? Which platforms?
Online Advertising – Where should you be advertising?
Analytics Reporting – Know how you’re performing and help it guide you
Identifying Your Groups and Personas
The ALPMA (Australasian Legal Practice Management Association) has some great advice for law firms with more than one specialty:
“If your firm has multiple specialities with different target markets, you will need to develop separate plans for each practice group to support their growth and success – in addition to the firm-wide plan.”
The strategy here is to be as specific as possible with your targeting. Not only will you increase your chances of making an impact, but you’ll receive higher quality visitors to your site.
There’s also an added advantage when it comes to your search engine visibility and performance.
Although you will have potential clients searching for terms like “lawyers Sydney,” this keyword is going to be highly competitive and even more difficult to make an impression.
Consider these numbers:
“Lawyers Sydney” nets 480 searches from Google every month, while “Sydney Criminal Lawyers,” “Immigration Lawyer Sydney” and “Family Lawyers Sydney” all receive a higher volume of searches: 720, 720 and 590, respectively.
This highlights the opportunity of approaching your different specialty areas with a different strategy or approach.
You should start by writing down each of your specific areas of expertise and begin developing client personas for each.
Why client personas?
If your objective is to attract these audiences, engage with them online and ultimately get them to contact you, then you need to understand their behaviour. If you can’t help them achieve their objective, you won’t achieve yours.
Your firm may identify with one or more of the following:
– Medical negligence
– Public liability
– Work-related injuries
– Child support
– Child Custody
– Drink driving
If your firm specialises in Family Law, for example, you’ll want to develop 2-3 personas for each sub-category: divorce, child support, and child custody.
Although some of these may overlap, it’s important to distinguish between each in this early phase.
So what types of traits should you look to identify when creating a persona?
Consider the following:
– What is the biggest issue for your clients?
– What is their objective?
– Are there any obstacles in their way to contacting a family lawyer?
– How are they most likely to search for a family lawyer?
– Will they look for peer recommendations?
– How old are they?
– Are they male or female?
– What socio-economic profile do they fit?
– Are they searching for information first before contacting or are they ready to speak to a lawyer, today?
This is by no means a complete list, but rather a guide to help you better understand what questions to ask yourself in order to identify who your ideal customer is and how to help them.
Improving Visibility with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
When we’re searching for information, our initial instinct is usually to start with a search engine (most likely Google).
So it goes without saying that if you’re interested in generating more leads for your firm, you should focus on improving visibility in search results.
However, there are a few things to consider.
Each search result page (at least in Google) will be made up of paid and organic search results. The organic search results can be made up of a “local pack” or what’s known as a “knowledge graph.”
The local pack is reserved for local-intent searches and will display a map with several results below it.
The knowledge graph will show information about your firm when someone specifically searches for it.
We want to maximise your visibility in each of these instances. Note that the example below includes social media profiles, CEO & Founder, and stock price. These are all here courtesy of extra Schema markup.
We’ll discuss paid results when we touch on online advertising opportunities later and cover varied organic results as we go through the recommended process to improve your organic visibility.
Choosing the Right Keywords
Before you begin your SEO efforts, it’s important to make sure you choose the right range of keywords to target. Ideally, each page on your website should be targeting anywhere between 1 – 3 keywords.
When researching, you should assess keywords based on local volume, competitiveness and relevance.
If it’s not relevant, people searching won’t click and you’ll find it hard to get into top positions. If it’s too competitive, you may be fighting an unwinnable battle.
At the same token, there’s not much point targeting keywords that are rarely searched for, either.
Optimising Your Website for SEO
Once you’ve identified your range of keywords, you’ll need to make sure your website is optimised for them.
This involves a variety of technical tasks to ensure the search engines are crawling your site efficiently, identifying the content to be associated with your keywords, etc.
A few key on-page SEO tasks for law firms include:
- A landing page for each segment. For example, if you do “Family Law” then this should be a top-level page, while you should have pages under this for “Divorce,” “Child Support” and “Child Custody.” Ideally, your URLs should be structured as “/family-law/child-support/,” for example.
- Optimised heading tags, image alt tags and incorporate related keywords on each page.
- An internal linking structure in place. For example, if you are a family lawyer, you should have links from the “Child Support” page to “Divorce” and likewise. Anything that is relevant to the user.
- Landing pages for each location. Many firms will have more than one office. Have a contact/location page for each, i.e. “yourfirm.com.au/melbourne” and “yourfirm.com.au/sydney.” These pages should contain all of your local contact information and links to any local associations including chambers of commerce, meetup groups, sponsorships, etc.
- Schema markup. This is a markup language to further help search engines understand various web content. Mark up your location page with organisation details (more on this a little later in Reviews).
Understanding Google’s Local Pack
Local searches will attract Google’s “local pack.” This returns a map and three businesses within the search results and is a terrific way of generating local traffic to your website. Potential clients will most likely see a local pack when they search for terms such as “Family Lawyers Melbourne.”
But how do you get into these initial three results?
There are a few things you can do to greatly improve your chances of getting into the local pack:
- Encourage a regular stream of reviews. This will demonstrate to Google that you are worthy of being placed in the local pack. Get five reviews and they will also display gold stars next to your profile, which dramatically increases the likelihood of your result being clicked and drastically improves your click-through-rate.
- Create a Google My Business listing and make sure it’s optimised with as much contact info as possible, as well as any relevant categories and keywords. Also be sure to add images of your office and staff, as this builds credibility and trust.
- Make sure your business name, address and phone number are all consistent with your website, GMB listing and any other listings you have online.
- Earlier we mentioned you should have separate pages for each of your locations. Make sure you’ve done this and link to this from your GMB and other local listings, where possible.
Links and citations are still one of the key ways a website can demonstrate authority within an industry.
Think of them like this: You may be the leading family lawyer in Melbourne, but there’s no way for Google to know that if there’s no mention of your standing online.
So leverage your position and seek to acquire citations and links for you, your partners and your firm.
Here are a few ideas to get you started building links/citations:
- Look for local and industry-related directories. This might include city, state or national business directories. Your local council may have a business directory. Are you a member of a local chamber of commerce or even an industry association?
- Subscribe to a service such as SourceBottle. They send notifications on behalf of journalists looking for sources. If a journalist is looking for comment from a lawyer and you can answer, then respond. Your name and firm mentioned in a media report is a huge asset!
- Get involved in your community. Sponsor your local sporting club or charity and make sure you get mentioned on their website.
- Guest blog. Try getting a spot with SmartCompany, Forbes or other high-authority business websites with high volumes of traffic.
Making online reviews a priority was identified as one of the top Attorney marketing trends for 2017 and we see this continuing for a long time yet.
According to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2016, “84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.”
Online reviews are a powerful asset for your website and they can have a significant influence on Google’s search results.
Search your firm’s name in Google and you should see your business on the right-hand side with some images and other data. This is Google’s “Knowledge Graph,” as we mentioned earlier.
It will link to your Google reviews, as well as other reviews from around the web. So if your firm has been recommended to a potential client and they search for you to further investigate, they can see this information.
Online review sites can also be a great way to get into the top few searches for some of the more competitive search terms, so take advantage and piggyback off their authority.
Try searching for a range of high-volume, big-money keywords and see what review sites rank well. Then, start encouraging reviews on those sites in addition to Google.
You’ll want to consider a few things when beginning this review process:
- Understand that Google will see it as suspicious if you get no reviews for three months and then 10 in one day. They can also detect your IP address, so don’t try and get staff to load up.
- Identify the type of clients that are likely to leave positive reviews and when best to contact them.
- Test different email subject lines and content to encourage better responses.
- Make it super-easy for them to leave a review. Give them more than one option, but not too many. Google should definitely be one of them.
Once the reviews start rolling in, use Schema markup and publish client reviews on key pages (where relevant) on your site.
Optimising Conversions for Maximum Potential
Once you get a visitor to your site, you want to make sure you can convert them into a business lead.
Not only does this generate more revenue, but it indirectly boosts your SEO by demonstrating to Google that users are finding your site valuable.
Here’s how you can improve your website’s conversion:
- Social proof. There are particular elements on a website that reduces buyer anxiety and help improve your conversion rate. These include reviews, awards, memberships, etc.
- Case studies/results. Demonstrating past results is extremely encouraging to online users.
- Lawyer bios. Although the potential client is contacting your agency, they’ll be establishing a relationship with an individual. So it’s important for them to read about that individual prior to contacting. Give them insights into your staff including industry awards, media mentions, memberships, qualifications and testimonials.
- Community Involvement. Demonstrate that you support the local community.
- Mobile & Speed. Both of these factors are crucial in ensuring the user achieves their objectives on your site. If they don’t, neither will you. So a fast, mobile-friendly site is paramount. These factors are also part of Google’s search algorithm and affect SEO.
Using Content Marketing to Your Advantage
You’ve heard about it, but it’s hard to find the time because it’s far from billable. But content marketing is a crucial strategy in attracting, engaging and converting customers online.
Hypothetical: Content marketing use case for law firms
A Father goes through a divorce and wants to go to court to fight for custody of his children. He turns to Google. But depending on his situation, he may do one of two things:
1) Search immediately for “family lawyer Melbourne” or even “child custody lawyer melbourne.” This is where you need your “Family Law” or “Family Law/Child Custody” pages to do be doing your work. The problem with this scenario is that you’re competing against every other family lawyer in Melbourne.
2) Research his position to get a better understanding of the process, costs and likelihood of him winning. He searches for “child custody rights father.” Now, this is where your content marketing strategy comes into play. The good news is, you’re not competing with every law firm in Melbourne – you’re only competing with law firms that have published a post on this topic. Even better news is, if you create content that provides more value than your competitors, you have a great chance of ranking in the top few searches.
So in the first instance, the father is ready to sign on. But you’re less likely to get him visiting your site.
In the second option, he’s not convinced yet but you have him on your site and the option to establish goodwill, get his contact details and convince him that you are the firm for him when he is ready.
Developing Your Content Strategy
Now that I’ve presented you with the merits of content marketing, let’s make sure you have a strategy in place. The absence of a strategy is one of the biggest pitfalls and one key reason why so many don’t succeed.
Let’s consider that hypothetical use case once more. You could have by chance had published the post providing the info he needed and that converted him to being a client. But for the time and resources invested into the creation process, you don’t want to leave everything to chance. Imagine if that ‘Father’ fitted your identified personas from the beginning and you knew he was after the info on child custody rights.
That’s where content strategy really comes into play. Once you’ve identified your personas and what they’ll be searching for, create the most valuable content on the web around that topic.
Include facts, images, video if possible, and anything you can to add value. I would aim to produce a minimum 1500 words. However, if you can write fewer words but still provide more value, then do that.
Promoting Your Content
After you’ve created your content, you have two options: simply publish it on your website and wait or get out on the front foot and promote it.
If you want faster results (and hey, who doesn’t?), here are some content promotion ideas you should explore to ensure that the time spent producing the content gets maximum return:
– Share it on your company social profiles and encourage employees to share it on their individual profiles
– Advertise it on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook and target the content to any relevant personas.
– Have the author of the post re-publish it to their LinkedIn page.
– If you plan on having 1 – 3 lawyers writing content, try to find guest posting opportunities. You may need to make slight alternatives to the article.
– Distribute the article to relevant industry blogs.
– Look at paid distribution via Outbrain, etc.
– Have the author respond to questions on Quora, referencing the relevant article.
– Have a Slideshare presentation designed and added to a company Slideshare profile.
It should also be noted that your content marketing strategy may include establishing your firm as the thought-leader in its field.
This might include publishing whitepapers and other research-based papers that achieve that help objective.
Content Upgrades and Building Your Email List
Let’s say the father in our previous example reads your article on “A Father’s Rights to Child Custody.” At this stage, there’s a real chance he reads it and moves on.
Before he does this, we want to make sure to get his email address so we can capture him as a lead and continue to nurture him and ultimately land him as a future client… So let’s look at creating a “content upgrade.”
In this example, it may simply be a handy one-page PDF of the key rights. By giving visitors the option to download this PDF in return for their email address and permission allows us to continue communication with them.
Scale Your Efforts with Marketing Automation
Now that you have content upgrades for each of your posts, all aimed at getting the email addresses of targeted client personas, how do you turn them into clients?
Well, you can manually email each of them but that’s not billable and they haven’t exactly been qualified, yet.
So instead, we’ll implement a marketing automation system.
Using marketing automation software, we can schedule an automated email to be sent after readers have opted into your content upgrade.
This could be a two-day-after follow-up email or it might be when they return to your site and view a relevant service page.
For example, if that father returned to the site a week later to browse your “Child Custody” page, the automation software could be configured to send an email after that action.
This allows prospects to further qualify themselves as leads or better yet, encourages them to contact you.
Choosing the Right Social Media Platform(s)
It’s imperative that you enter your foray into social media with clear objectives outlined.
As a law firm, I would suggest ignoring the need for likes, comments and shares. These vanity metrics can lead you on a chase that takes time, energy and ultimately does nothing to generate real business.
Instead, reference your personas and identify social media platforms that will give you the opportunity to engage with prospects with the aim of bringing them back to your website.
Now, do you have the content to get their attention on social and bring them to the site?
Will your social media activity elevate your firm’s standing in the eye of the target audience?
Can you track or measure the success of your social media efforts in driving new leads?
Ideally, you want to have definitive answers to these questions but I’ve mainly mentioned them as something to get you thinking strategically about social.
When deciding on what social media platforms to utilise, there are a few that work best for law firms.
To get started on LinkedIn, you’ll first want to set up a company page. Then, share the content you produce in-house. This helps demonstrate knowledge and authority in a corporate environment.
In between publishing posts and other in-house content, share any updates that will help establish your firm’s authority in the marketplace. This might include thought-leading articles, legislative changes that will impact your audience, and of course anything in the media that mentions your firm.
The role of your team should not be underestimated. Lay out a short brief guiding your team about what is expected of them on LinkedIn. This might include sharing relevant (to individual area of expertise) content from the company page to their individual profile.
It should also include joining relevant LinkedIn groups, participating, and when an opportunity exists, sharing a relevant article from the firm’s website.
Facebook is not the obvious choice despite it being the platform with the largest membership base – it is a personal platform after all.
But there is definitely an opportunity to publish and promote content on the world’s largest social media platform that will help provide value to your audience. Just be sure to respect the audience and context of the platform.
Video consumption has skyrocketed in recent years. We all love watching video. So YouTube, the world’s second largest search engine is another platform your firm can benefit from when people go searching for relevant info.
They may not be looking for more direct search terms such as “Family Law Firm Melbourne,” but they may be looking for “parental custody rights.” This is a great way to establish your firm and the lawyers involved with a high level of authority.
A YouTube Channel is a great opportunity for people to subscribe and keep up-to-date on their legal rights.
Ramping Up Lead Generation with Online Advertising
Online advertising is rapidly eating up market share from traditional media as consumers spend more and more time online and advertisers catch up to the change.
Making the opportunity all that more compelling is the variety of complex advertising products and tracking available online.
I’ve already touched on the need to be visible in search engines and with paid search results, you’re in the box seat. Think Google Adwords or BingAds.
Because you’re paying, you get more prominent real estate in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
The big benefit of search advertising and Adwords is that you’re paying to get exposure with people demonstrating intent for your services. You also only pay when someone clicks on your advertisement.
The best bit perhaps is the fact that the better your advert and strategy, the less you pay!
Yes, that’s right. If you bid slightly less than your competitor for “Family law firm Melbourne,” for instance, but your advert is performing much better, Google will place your advert above theirs.
It’s a win-win-win!
You’ve already been retargeted. That’s a fact.
At some point in time, you’ve visited a website and they’ve hit you with display advertising when you browse other sites on the advertiser network.
Retargeting could be an excellent opportunity for your law firm.
For example, you could advertise to people who have browsed your “Family Law Services” page without contacting you.
Maybe they were researching different firms or weren’t quite ready to get that ball rolling.
So advertise to them for the next 45 days to make sure that when they’re ready, they choose your firm. You can even tailor the display advertising to make a bigger impact.
It may very well unfold like this…
A Father heads to Google, searches for “custody rights for parents” and clicks on your blog post. He doesn’t give up his email for your checklist (content upgrade) and leaves the site.
With retargeting, you can set up advertising to this dad about custody rights and family law for the next 30 – 90 days and get a second chance to land him as a client.
If you’ve identified that your target audiences are spending time on a particular social network, then it makes sense to try and engage with them with paid social advertising.
YouTube allows advertisers to produce short video advertisements, which can be great for grabbing prospects’ attention. This obviously requires some outsourced professional work, but it’s worth it if you know how to run a successful ad campaign.
It’s important to note, however, that your TVC (Television Commercial) will not work on YouTube.
With its ability to hyper-target users, Facebook is the pick of the bunch.
Depending on your campaign, you can target age, location, gender, interests, education, and so much more. One example might include targeting users that have browsed divorce-related pages with a content asset you’ve produced.
Expanding on that, Facebook Custom Audiences allows you to upload your customer email list and advertise to them when they’re on Facebook.
Don’t necessarily want to advertise to your existing/previous database? Maybe this list has specific traits in common. Upload that list and ask Facebook to create a similar audience!
Fine-Tuning Your Strategy with Reporting
While much of the discussion around engaging potential customers online involves tease of communication and the ability to scale, the real benefit lies in the ability to analyse what really works and making more sound decisions based on your return on investment.
Larry Bodine, a U.S. based senior legal marketing strategist, goes so far to say:
“Don’t waste any money on marketing that is not measurable. If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. ”
Above all else, make sure you understand your objectives from the outset. Then configure Google Analytics to track your conversions.
For example, if you want people to send an enquiry from your website’s contact form, create a Goal within analytics to track.
This might be in the form of a “Thanks for Contacting” page, which is only accessible upon completion of the form. So you can identify a range of important notes but perhaps the most important two include:
– What traffic source the lead originated from.
– What service the visitor was browsing before submitting the contact form.
With the information recorded above, you can then understand the ROI on your marketing activities.
Here’s one scenario:
Adwords Budget for Family Law – $550
Leads Generated – 22
Leads Closed (Actual clients) – 10
From these statistics, we know that it costs $25 to generate every lead from this specific Adwords campaign.
With only converting 10 of the 22 leads, it costs $55 to secure a client.
But tracking the conversion is the lynchpin. Without it, the whole ability to track ROI is lost.
Measure this information with your other marketing activities and you’re well on your way to developing a rock-solid marketing strategy that will put your firm ahead of the competition.