When you’re talking about your dinner or a t-shirt you just bought, $100 is a lot of money. But when it comes to marketing and advertising, $100 won’t get you far at all. For example, if you advertise on Google’s paid search results, it costs about $100 for one single person to click-through to your website on a search for “Los Angeles car accident lawyer.” So if I told you that for $100 per month (that’s only $3ish per day), you can develop an effective online marketing plan to help your law firm bring in more clients, you would be foolish not to want to learn more. Well, consider today your lucky day. Here is the $100/month law firm marketing plan that works.
The $100/Month Law Firm Marketing Plan
Before we get into the details of the $100 per month law firm marketing plan, you need to be aware that marketing is often the hardest part about achieving success in business. Everyone wants to be successful. But the ones who actually succeed are usually the best marketers, who can effectively get their product or service into the hands of the right audience.
What follows is an online marketing plan that is proven to work, but it’s not going to be easy, especially in the early days. Online marketing is like building a snowball, where it’s tough to get started, but it grows faster and faster the bigger it gets. In other words, the more content you create online, the more traffic you get to your pages and the bigger your audience gets, which leads to even more traffic and better SEO, etc.
Marketing a law firm online takes dedication and consistent effort. It may seem fruitless for the first 3-6 months, which leads many to give up. But if you stick with it, it will gradually get easier and more effective with time. Here are the steps to our $100/month law firm marketing plan.
Set Up a Good Website & Blog ($10/mo)
You should think of your website as the online version of a storefront that a retailer would have in the physical world. It’s the place where new customers will go to engage with your business, and if all goes well they will purchase something when they are there.
Investing in a quality website and blog will maximize your chances of attracting visitors and converting them into clients, just like retailers prefer to be in a nice building in a prime location with lots of foot traffic. But, contrary to popular opinion, a good website does not have to break the bank.
You may decide to hire a web developer to set up a site for you initially, which obviously has an additional cost. However, the ongoing expenses to maintain a website and/or blog can be as low as $10/month or even less.
We typically recommend a DIY website built with WordPress or Squarespace. That way you can publish content yourself without needing help from a web developer each time. Both platforms offer integrated blogging tools to make it easy for you to create new content and landing pages.
WordPress web hosting on GoDaddy starts as low as $4/month for up to 25,000 pageviews. Squarespace starts at just $8/month. Wordpress is more powerful, but Squarespace is easier, so choose accordingly depending on your personal tech-savviness and will to learn. WordPress is our #1 recommended option.
Create Social Media Profiles (Free)
With your central online “location” established, in the form of a nice looking website and/or blog, the next step is to start generating traffic. The easiest, and most cost effective way to begin is by using social media.
You should create a profile on any major social network or social content platform that is relevant to your target clients: Avvo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Quora, etc. Depending on your specific type of practice, other sites like Medium, AngelList, Pinterest, and Instagram could be worthwhile too. This will help expand your online profile and increase the number of interactions you have with potential clients.
Spend some time creating a quality profile on every network you join. It’s a representation of your brand, so you want it to come across as professional and trustworthy. Be sure to include a profile picture, fill out all the information, and link back to your website wherever possible. Check out our LinkedIn tips for more info.
You should make an effort to post on social media frequently. Share content, answer questions on Quora and Avvo, ask people how their day is going, etc. It takes some effort, but it’s not hard. And you can use a tool like Buffer to schedule most of your posts in advance.
All of your social media profiles and the posts you create are like little signs around town, pointing people toward your “location” or your website. You want as many of them as possible because each one is another way to reach new potential clients, and a source for visitors to find their way to your website.
Invest in Email & Marketing Software ($50/mo)
So now you’ve got your “location” (i.e. your website), and you have your “signage” pointing people to your location (i.e. your social media presence). The next step is to create the marketing engine that will power the process of capturing people’s information, establishing their trust, and convincing them to hire you.
The primary goal of any online marketing plan is to build up a large email marketing list. This process is best managed through a combination of landing pages, free downloads, and email marketing software. We recommend Mailchimp or Autopilot for email marketing. LeadPages is a fantastic tool for building landing pages and capturing people’s information in exchange for downloads.
Mailchimp is free to start, but the free plan lacks some of the automation you might be looking for. Autopilot has powerful automation, and starts at just $4/month for your first 500 contacts. LeadPages starts at $25/month.
With a combination of Autopilot or Mailchimp and Leadpages, you can set up a powerful marketing funnel for under $50/month. Your costs may increase over time, but by then you’ll have enough new client flow to pay for it 🙂
You can use LeadPages to easily build landing pages on your website (it’s designed to work seamlessly with WordPress). On these landing pages, you will offer free downloads in exchange for people signing up for your email list. You will then use your email marketing software to send them periodic email “drips” to continually engage with them. This is how a simple marketing funnel works.
Start Your Content Marketing Engine (Free)
The steps above were all about setting up your system. You need a website for people to find you and learn more about your services, you need social media to get people to your website, and you need a marketing engine with landing pages and email drips to capture people’s information and engage with them. With all of that set up, it’s time to start the engine and begin bringing people into this funnel.
As a law firm, your most valuable assets are the knowledge you possess about the law, and your familiarity with navigating the legal system to resolve people’s problems. This is what people normally pay you for. But don’t be afraid to share some of this knowledge with the world for free.
Some lawyers mistakenly believe that giving away knowledge for free just gives clients a reason not to hire them. But it’s actually quite the opposite. Trust plays a crucial role in the formation of any attorney client relationship. The more knowledge you share, the more likely clients are to trust you. So share your knowledge freely.
The content you create is really the engine driving your entire marketing machine. You should publish new content frequently on your blog and/or website, ideally at least once per week.
This steady stream of content will generate web traffic, get indexed by Google to improve your SEO scores, and provide excellent material to share across all of your social media channels. Check out our blogging tips for more info.
While blog content can be shorter in length, drafted quickly, and published often, downloads are premium pieces of content you will offer in exchange for email list sign ups. Read more in our guide to content marketing for lawyers.
For example, you might publish do-it-yourself guides for things like filing a no-contest divorce or starting an LLC. You might offer free document templates. You might have guides about the pros and cons of bankruptcy, what to do after you get arrested, or how to recover money from an accident, etc. The important thing is to focus on providing real value to people without expecting anything in return (aside from their email address of course).
Finally, you will ask people for their email address in exchange for downloading your content. It’s a small price to pay if your content is valuable, but gives you the power to continue engaging with the person and start establishing a relationship.
Using software like LeadPages makes this process incredibly easy to manage. They provide you with landing page templates which are proven to convert, and you can customize them to change the language and add in your own branding and photos. Not only that, but you can easily connect the email sign up forms on these landing pages to your email marketing software of choice, meaning the email addresses automatically get added to the appropriate email list.
Send Email Drips
From there, you can have automated email “drips” go out automatically. Perhaps you want to personally thank the person for downloading your guide, and let them know that you’re available for a free 15 minute consultation if they have any questions.
You could then check-in periodically with another email every month, reminding them that you’re available for consultation, offering another helpful piece of content, or updating them about the latest happenings in your law firm.
Over time, you will start to establish their trust and build a little relationship. And eventually, when the person is ready to hire a lawyer, you will almost certainly be among their top considerations. Check our our law firm guide to email marketing for more info.
Invest in CRM Software to Track and Close Leads ($40/mo)
The final piece of the plan is to actually convert the leads produced by this online marketing engine into paying clients. The key here is to have a good system in place for tracking your leads, analyzing your marketing efforts, and converting leads into clients, i.e. you should implement a law firm CRM.
A CRM, or customer relationship management system, has traditionally been utilized by B2B sales organizations. But more and more businesses, including small mom and pop shops and even law firms, are beginning to adopt CRM software to help them increase their sales.
Anytime one of your prospects from an email marketing list takes a further action to engage with you, e.g. asks a question or expresses interest in a consultation or additional services, you should create a record of that in your CRM system. This will help you keep track of the person and his/her legal matter, as well as set reminders for yourself to follow up and check in.
You see, oftentimes the issue is not a matter of getting people in the door, it’s a matter of keeping track of all of those people, following up, and converting them into customers. That’s where CRMs are so valuable – they empower you to track every detail of your customer relationships and help you build a longterm, successful business relationship with them.
We designed Lexicata specifically for a law firm’s needs, to help law firms track all their potential clients and matters, as well as intake them into their firm with ease using our powerful online forms and e-signatures. We also offer analytics and reporting to gain insights about where your business comes from, and which marketing channels are working the best.
Lexicata costs approximately $30-40/month for the average small firm, but offers a lot of power. There are many other CRMs on the market as well, e.g. Salesforce, but they’re designed for sales teams more than law firms.
Regardless of which option you choose, you should plan to invest the rest of your $100 monthly marketing budget into a good CRM system. If you aren’t tracking leads and maximizing your conversion rate on each lead you generate, you end up wasting all of the valuable time and money you spent building up your marketing engine to begin with.
Photo Credit: Ervins Strauhmanis via Flickr (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License)