It’s a hard reality but the average law firm is lost when it comes to digital marketing. Legal Services is one of the most competitive industries online. As such, attorneys must have success with their digital marketing campaigns. Still, the information is overwhelming. A Google search for “law firm digital marketing” reveals over 106,000,000 results. Yikes.
With so much advice in the world, how can you know what to do? How important is SEO for law firms? Should firms focus on PPC? Will Email campaigns help in client acquisition? What strategies work best for law firms?
The truth is: There is no one correct answer. There are a wide variety of strategies that can help a law firm become well known in its local area.
Here are 7 Digital Marketing Strategies law firms can use to boost their growth.
How to Market Your Law Firm Online
1. Websites Matter – A Lot.
Websites are an essential digital tool for law firms. They provide a central hub for a brand that connects all marketing efforts. Websites have become so important to law firms that not having one gives an edge over the competitors who do.
An important aspect of a Law Firm’s website is the instant credibility it gives your business. 56 percent of web users stated they do not trust businesses without a website (TechCrunch).
On top of that: 81% of people research a business or service online before making a purchase decision (GE Capital Retail Bank). Not having a website will cause potential clients to question a Firm’s credibility. Eventually, potential clients are going to search for a firm’s services and give their business to one of their competitors.
Having a website is not enough. A good website is fast, easy to use, and informative. Users are quick to navigate away from complicated websites that are slow or lack useful information. This can hurt credibility as badly as not having a website at all. The following steps help a website perform better for both web users and search engines:
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of making your website easier to find via Search Engines. In the simplest terms, SEO works by organizing and optimizing a website’s content making it easy to find by search engines. This information is then categorized and added to a search engine’s database. The basics of success with SEO are:
- Keywords: Words or phrases that describe the content on a page in a condensed manner. The best keywords exactly match the target audience’s search query. They are also commonly called “focus keywords.”
- Title Tags: HTML elements that define a document’s title and displayed in a browser’s title bar or a page’s tab. They should be accurate, no longer than 60 characters, and contain the page’s focus keywords.
- Meta Descriptions: Short concise explanations of a page’s content. These appear on search engine results pages, should be accurate, no longer than 160 characters, and contain the page’s focus keywords.
- Page Content: All the information contained in a website, including text, links, and multimedia. This is an important ranking factor and should be at the forefront of a good SEO strategy.
- Robots.txt file: A file included on a website that instructs web robots (typically search engine crawlers) how to crawl the pages on the website. This allows a webmaster to tell a search engine what content is important and which to ignore.
- URL Structure: A URL is the address of a page on the World Wide Web. Search Engines use them to determine a particular page’s relevance to a specific search term. URLs should be definitive yet simple while remaining relevant, compelling, and accurate.
SEO is a complicated, multi-step process, so, these are just some of the best practices. Law firms should hire a digital marketing agency to get the best possible search engine performance.
72.6 percent of web traffic is expected to come from mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) by 2025. This makes it even more important to have a mobile-optimized website. Google’s emphasis on mobile-first indexing makes this all the more true. The two best ways to ensure performance on mobiles devices are:
- Page Speed: The amount of time it takes for a browser to load the web page. This is an extremely important ranking factor for Google. Easy ways to improve page speed are choosing a fast web host, optimizing images, and using a content distribution network (CDN).
- Responsive Web Design: The practice of coding a website to alter its layout to suit different screen widths and resolutions. This ensures websites look and behave on all personal computing devices.
Brand optimization is about ensuring a law firm’s website is putting its brand’s best foot forward. An optimized brand’s messaging includes a personalized tone and communicates the Mission Statement. Contact and address information should be easy to find. Another best practice is integrating customer experience processes into the website. Tools for this include live chat, customer service bots, and video conferencing.
Brand optimization strategies keep businesses on top of search results for their brand. This ensures that users who search for a brand in will visit their page, not a competitor’s.
2. Reviews: Get Your Client’s Opinions
Reviews are huge to success with law firm digital marketing. According to BrightLocal, “86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34).” to Reviewtrackers.com reports that 83% of people check lawyer reviews as the first step to finding an attorney. People want to know that prior clients have had a good experience with a firm. Earning a decent number of client reviews and testimonials is the best way to show this.
3. Get Involved In The Conversation.
Communications and messaging have long been important aspects of marketing. That fact has not changed as we’ve transitioned to a digital-first market. What has changed are the platforms we use, the methods of delivery, and the information communicated.
Web users want to have conversations with the companies they do business with. It is no longer effective to film a commercial with information about your business. You must participate in the conversations that your potential clients are having. The best way to do this is to start a discussion on industry news or by sparking debates. Sharing original graphics with useful information and participating in conversations around your firm are also best practices.
Social Media websites, such as Facebook, YouTube, or LinkedIn are the best platforms to interact with your clients. However, constantly posting about your services will not encourage your audience to engage with you. As a legal professional, you should use Social Media to express your expertise. Show them you’re knowledgeable about your areas of practice. Give them information about case law. Tell them how potential clients can navigate a variety of legal issues. Then, they will know they’re dealing with an expert, not a rookie or a two-timer one mistake away from being disbarred.
4. Create Exceptional Content
Legal professionals are viewed as experts in their field. Despite this, many lawyers shy away from creating their content for their websites. By creating this quality content, you’re able to express your expertise to a wider audience as well as to Search Engine Algorithms. The higher the quality of your content, the more readers you will have. This will signal to both Search Engines and Web Users that your content, and therefore your website, is valuable.
Potential clients want to believe the lawyer they hire will help them resolve their case and come out ahead. Seeing videos of you giving legal evaluations helps give them that confidence. If you’re not one for video: write blog posts on complicated and timely legal issues. If most lawyers are unwilling to do this, you can become the go-to legal commentator in your local market. By producing entertaining content your expertise will reach an even wider audience. This will make it clear you are an expert and stabilize your credibility.
Some great examples of lawyers having success with this type of content are on YouTube. I recommend watching “Canadian litigator” and self-styled “VLAWGER” David Freiheit (aka Viva Frei). Other notable mentions include Devin J. Stone (aka LegalEagle) and the always-entertaining Leonard J. French.
5. Get Listed: Directory Citations
A citation is an online reference to a business as a part of a larger list. These lists are commonly referred to as directories. All complete citations include the company name, address, and phone number. However, for a citation to be truly complete, a link to the business’s website should be included as well. This inclusion of a link is what makes citations so useful forAll complete citations include the company name, address, and phone number. However, for a citation to be truly complete, a link to the business’s website should be included as well. This inclusion of a link is what makes citations so useful for businesses.
Citations help inform search engines which websites have the most value. By providing a link to a site, citations allow a search engine to store this data alongside other similar websites However, this also means that not all directories are created equal. In an industry as competitive as legal services, there are multiple Vertical Directories. These are directories that only list businesses from a specific industry or niche. For Law Firms, some of the best Vertical Directories include:
Adding a website to directories is a major step in improving a website’s local search engine ratings. Law firms want to have as many of these directory citations as possible. According to BrightLocal, businesses in the legal industry require approximately 90 citations to rank within the top 3 local search results on Google.
6. Advertise Your Firm Directly on Google and Bing
It’s a hard truth but it’s hard to make it as a lawyer these days if you’re unwilling to spend time and money advertising on Google and Bing.
This type of advertising is commonly called by its payment structure: Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. This means that the cost of the ad is based upon the actions web users take on an ad as opposed to the number of times the ad is seen. These campaigns are valuable because they bring in potential customers who are actively searching for legal services as opposed to targeting potential customers based on geographic areas or interests. This mitigates the risk of putting ads up in front of an uninterested audience and generates leads who are, generally, ready to pay for a lawyer’s services now.
That being said: there are ways to optimize these campaigns, reducing cost and improving the performance of ad campaigns.
Perform In-Depth Keyword Research as Often as Possible
Keywords are the heart of Pay Per Click Campaigns. This is because of the very nature of PPC, which is essentially a keyword auction. Essentially, Advertisers tell the Pay Per Click platform what keywords they’d like their ads to appear for and how much they would be willing to pay for a click from someone whose search includes those keywords.
By performing regular in-depth keyword research, advertisers can determine what keywords are worth bidding on, what keywords are not, and how much they should be bidding. Performing this practice regularly will ensure that high-quality keywords will be found.
Focus on Search Intent
Why do web users search for things on the internet? Do they want to go somewhere? Is it that they want to know something? To buy something? Perhaps to avoid paying for something? These reasons are called search intent. By focusing on search intent, advertisers can create ads that will match a searcher’s specific reason for searching.
For example, an ad for the search query “DUI lawyers near me” should be very different from “pro bono lawyers near me” despite both ads being triggered by the keyword “lawyers near me.” Considering search intent can also be used to reduce the number of unwanted clicks by excluding keywords that will come from users whose search intent will not lead to a conversion, such as the Pro Bono example above.
Write Outstanding Ad Copy
What ads say is a huge part of whether or not they are receiving clicks or not. When it comes to ad copy for Pay Per Click ads, Relevance is key. In fact, Google’s Ads platform ranks ads specifically based on their relevance to the keywords that trigger the ad and the landing page that the ad eventually leads to. No matter how good the keywords are, if the ad copy is discouraging searchers from clicking, the ad will not get clicks.
A common attribute of successful PPC ad copy is who is at the center of the ad’s copy. While an ad may be promoting an advertiser’s products or services, the ad itself should focus on the audience. The subject of the ad should be the prospect and the reasons they need the service.
Lastly, by focusing on potential customers, advertisers can tell them why other clients have chosen their services in the past by focusing on the benefits of their service, not the service itself.
Optimize Landing Pages
So, your keyword research has been completed. Search intent has been factored in. Ad copy is written with potential clients in mind. Clicks are coming in, yet the ad isn’t leading to calls or leads. Something must be wrong with the ad, right?
Probably not. An oft-forgotten aspect of PPC ads is the web page that the ad leads to – called a landing page. If the landing page isn’t doing a good job communicating value, isn’t easy to navigate, or doesn’t have a clear call to action: potential customers may not know what to do next. This will send them running to the next competitor so it is important that landing pages contain a compelling headline, effective copy, be easy to navigate, and contain a clear call to action.
Test. Gather Data. Test Again.
Whether ads are working or a complete waste of money: testing them is an absolute necessity. No matter what the result, when ads from a PPC campaign are running data about that campaign is being gathered. That data should always be gathered, analyzed, and used to make informed decisions.
Some of the simplest methods of testing a campaign’s effectiveness are with A/B testing. Also known as split testing, A/B testing is the practice of creating multiple iterations of the same ad, running them under similar conditions, and then comparing the results. The results of these tests can be used over the long term to optimize ads and continuously get better results.
7. Keep Everyone Up To Date With Email Marketing Campaigns
Email marketing is one of the best ways to stay in touch with former clients, helping to get referrals and reviews. It’s also well known for having the highest ROI for digital marketing efforts due to its low cost and its highly relevant audience. With few exceptions, if someone gave a law firm their email address, they want to hear from them.
By sending weekly, monthly, or quarterly newsletters, marketers can keep former clients up to date and keep the law firm at the front of their minds. On top of that, it’s a great way to request reviews and referrals, which can lead to more business, as well as having conversations with former clients, which can increase a law firm’s understanding of their ideal customers.
You Don’t Have To Do Your Law Firm’s Digital Marketing Yourself.
Law firm Digital marketing doesn’t have to be confusing. By using the best practices laid out above, law firms can grow awareness for their brand, have conversations with potential clients, build their customer base, and generate referrals and reviews. These are practices that will serve law firms well into the future, helping them to establish themselves as experts and to gain the notoriety and respect they deserve.
Let’s face it. You’re a lawyer: You study the law, provide legal advice to your clients, and represent them in court. Being a lawyer is a lot of responsibility and even more work. Combine that with running a business and the amount of work can seem insurmountable at times – but you don’t have to go it alone.
Digital marketing is complex and nuanced. It can take years of practice to develop the necessary skills to have success with your campaigns. Not to mention, something as simple as making a settings change could save you thousands of dollars. If you do your law firm digital marketing yourself, the question is not if you will lose money but how much money will you lose.
Get Results Now
One of the best business decisions a law firm or attorney can make is to hire a digital marketing agency. Agencies can plan, run and optimize their digital strategies on a law firm’s behalf. While this may cost you money upfront, it will cost you less money than you will waste doing it on your own.
Hiring a digital marketing expert not only saves you money, but it’ll also help grow your business faster as well. The time you spend trying to learn how to build your brand online can be used by an expert to execute the strategies to grow your business and help you meet your goals. This allows you to focus on your clients and your business all while your business grows in the background.
At Oyova, we have experience working with Lawyers in a variety of practice areas, helping to not online improve their websites but to rank higher on search engines, drive more traffic to their websites, and turn that traffic into actionable leads.As a full-service agency, you can depend on us for all things digital marketing. We’re proud to be your law firm’s digital marketing experts.