Internet marketing is a vast world, and one that is unfamiliar to most attorneys. However, as more and more clients are researching the law online and finding attorneys through their websites or on directory sites like Avvo, it’s becoming increasingly important to have an internet marketing strategy for a law firm. This post lays out some of the basic internet marketing techniques and helps guide you on how to market a law firm online.
How to Market a Law Firm Online
To simplify things for you, we’ve broken down the massive world of internet marketing into its primary categories. A complete internet marketing strategy would incorporate most, if not all, of these components, which can make it seem overwhelming if you’re just getting started.
But don’t worry. Marketing is a long haul. You can’t expect to see results overnight. First you need to have an understanding of how to market a law firm online, and then you should gradually implement each of these methods into an overall marketing plan.
Below, we provide some tips and basic knowledge on each of the primary areas of internet marketing to help you come up with your strategy.
Your website is the most important part of your presence online. It should be obvious that having a website is a key part of your internet marketing strategy.
When it comes to law firm websites, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, focus on simplicity and good design. A website that looks professional and appealing is much more likely to convert clients than one that looks outdated or poorly designed. Check out our law firm web design tips to learn more.
We recommend using a do-it-yourself website platform so that it’s easy to make updates to the content without relying on IT support every time. It’s also significantly more cost effective than outsourcing all your web development. Check out our post about the best DIY websites for lawyers to learn more about the options.
Blogging & Content Marketing
A blog and content strategy is a great addition to your marketing efforts. Whether it’s just part of your main website or a standalone site, a blog is a very effective way of generating web traffic from prospective clients. And in the internet marketing world, web traffic is everything.
Before hiring a lawyer, almost everyone does some amount of legal research on their own, as explained in our breakdown of the legal sales process. So your goal is to provide helpful materials to aid prospective clients in their search. That way, when they come across your informative blog post, video, image, or infographic, you establish some trust with them and there’s a better chance they will contact you when they decide they need help from a lawyer.
Directories come in all shapes and sizes. Essentially, a directory is just some type of platform that aggregates other websites, businesses, people, service providers, etc. Most of them have a specific niche or focus, but some are more comprehensive. There are quite a few devoted specifically to the legal industry.
Joining online directories comes with a number of benefits. For one, it’s another piece of “digital real estate” for you to occupy. The more places you show up on the internet, the more awareness you create for your law firm. Also, when you put a link to your website on the directory, it helps drive visitors to your website and also improves your SEO ranking (more on this later).
Some directories you might consider joining include:
Marketplaces are a newer form of online directory with some added power behind them, in that they actually facilitate transactions. There have been a number of online legal marketplaces that have emerged in the past few years, including LawKick, UpCounsel, Priori, and others.
In general, the premise behind a marketplace is that it does the marketing to bring in clients, helps match the clients to the right attorney, facilitates the payment, and provides other back office functions in exchanges for a cut of the fees. They mostly cater to small business legal services and related areas like IP and immigration.
Joining these marketplaces can be a good way to bring in some extra business, but don’t expect it to be your only source of new clients. Due to competition between the marketplaces, as well as competition from law firms and other alternative legal providers, the liquidity (i.e. number of transactions) on legal marketplaces is still relatively low.
People have been claiming that “email is dead” for years now, but somehow it just keeps on surviving, and even thriving. The reason for email’s success as a marketing tool is because of its engagement. Having someone’s email address means having a direct channel through which you can communicate with them and share your message.
Effective email marketing requires 3 simple steps:
- First, you need a place to collect emails from. Usually alongside blog posts or other informative content that you produce is best. Embed your email capture form next to every piece of content you publish.
- Second, you need to collect emails and build up your email list. We recommend using email marketing software like MailChimp to make the process easier.
- Finally, send out monthly or at least quarterly emails to your entire list. You can share updates from your law firm, new content you’ve published, cases you’ve won, new attorneys you’ve hired, etc. Keep the tone personable and friendly, not overly serious. (Always think to yourself, how would I respond if somebody sent me this email?)
The results of email marketing won’t be immediately perceptible. But over time, your email followers will develop trust and feel comfortable with you. When they’re ready to hire a lawyer or refer one to a friend, you’re most likely to be top of mind.
Social media is not just for staying in touch with friends and looking at funny cat pictures. It’s incredibly powerful for businesses. In a way, it combines several of the other online marketing channels into a single platform.
Each social media profile you create is yet another online presence, just like a website, directory page, or marketplace listing. But social media goes a step further and allows you to engage with your audience, much like you would through email marketing. And you can even produce and share content on social media channels just like you would on your blog.
Social media should absolutely be part of a law firm internet marketing strategy. You should create pages for your law firm on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and even Instagram, which is rapidly becoming one of the most important social networks on mobile devices. Share all the content you produce, and share other interesting content that’s relevant to your audience.
Much like email marketing, the effects won’t be immediate, but over time, you’ll build a following of potential clients who will trust you and feel comfortable hiring your firm or sending referrals.
SEO stands for search engine optimization, or in layman’s terms “showing up on Google.” SEO in itself is an incredibly vast world within the internet marketing realm. There is so much that plays into your website’s search ranking that it can make your head spin. If you plan on making SEO a primary part of your online marketing plan, you should probably hire an expert. But, it’s still worth having an understanding of the basics so you can keep them in mind when updating your website or writing blog posts.
Here are some of the major things that affect your SEO:
- Backlinks – links are one of the biggest factors for SEO. You want to build up as many links as possible coming into your website from other high-ranking, relevant websites.
- Keywords – search engine web crawlers scan through the words on your website to determine what it’s about. You want to cover as many relevant keywords as possible, but be careful not to overdo it because keyword stuffing will really hurt your search ranking.
- Content – your content needs to be high quality, unique, and engaging. Definitely avoid duplicate content on your site and focus on producing content that is relevant and helpful in answering people’s search queries.
- User Interactions – the way people interact with your website affects your SEO. Things like time on site, number of pages viewed, bounce rate, page load speed, etc. Do things that encourage more engagement from your website visitors.
- Social Sharing – the number of social shares factors into a website’s SEO, so you should encourage people to share all your blog posts and other content on social media and also share it yourself.
Read our basic guide to SEO for law firms for more info.
Finally, there is advertising. Online advertising has many platforms and different approaches, so you will have to test different strategies to see what works. The 3 major considerations should be:
- Where to advertise
- Where to send clickthroughs
- How to track your spend and ROI
Some of the primary channels you might try would be Google search ads, display ads, social ads (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), and direct ads on targeted websites (Avvo, Nolo, Lawyers.com). The goal is to advertise in places where your target clients are likely to be.
The good thing about Google search and display ads is that they are targeted based on people’s search terms and browsing history. If someone searches “DUI lawyer,” your ad can pop up above the search results, or even on subsequent websites that the person visits that are related to DUI search terms.
With social media ads, you can get highly specific targeting based on people’s demographics and interests. So if you’re a startup lawyer, you could target people interested in technology and startups. If you’re an estate planning lawyer, you might target older people from wealthy parts of town, etc.
As for where to send clickthroughs, you may not always want to just send people to your primary website homepage. The goal of advertising is always conversions, and it often helps to have landing pages for specific ads to increase conversion rates.
For example, if you want to advertise to DUI clients, but you also do other criminal defense work, a landing page that is solely about your DUI work might convert better than your general homepage which is less specific. You may also consider offering free guides or downloads in your ads in order to collect email addresses.
Finally, it’s essential that you track your spend and your ROI. What’s the use in spending money to advertise if you don’t know that you’re making enough revenue to generate a positive ROI?
This is where a tool like Lexicata comes in. We allow you to track the source of each incoming lead and associate them with a specific referral source or ad campaign so you can analyze how well specific campaigns are converting.
That’s a wrap on our basic guide about how to market a law firm online. We hope you have learned something and can put some of this knowledge to use in growing your law practice! Join our mailing list below to get more helpful tips and tricks about online marketing for law firms.