Digital marketing. SEO. Blogging. Billboard ads. No matter how you’re thinking of doing it, law firm marketing, or the practice of attracting new potential clients to your law firm, can consume a lot of your time and energy. You want to make sure you’re investing your money and time wisely, so that you can focus on running your law firm and practicing law, but it can be difficult to know where to start, or which methods are most effective.
Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about marketing your law firm, from SEO to networking and everything in between. We’ll also cover a few key marketing terms you need to know, as well as how to measure your efforts, helpful stats to inform your marketing choices, and tools to use.
Key marketing terms
If you’ve read up on law firm marketing in the past, you may have come across a few unfamiliar terms. We’ve put together this handy list of the most important marketing terms you need to know.
Of course, there are many, many, more marketing terms you can read up on, but this short list provides a good start, especially if you’ve never tried your hand at marketing before.
A lead is a potential client for your firm. This is different than someone who simply visits your website: They’ll need to fill out a “Contact Us” form, call your firm, or provide their contact information in some other way in order to be considered a lead.
Your conversion rate is the ratio of people who visit a certain webpage or ad to people who eventually ‘convert’ to a lead. You can look at the conversion rate of just one page, or of your entire website, and you can also look at how well your intake process is converting leads into paying clients.
A call to action, or CTA, is a clear ask for a site visitor or lead to take the next step in their journey towards becoming a paying client. This can be a button that leads to your “Contact Us” form, or a button in a paid add that links back to your website, for example.
A landing page is a website page that’s built to get visitors to take a specific action. This might mean clicking on a button, filling out a form, booking a consultation, or making a phone call. For more information on landing pages, check out the post Should Lawyers Use Landing Pages?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, refers to the practice of optimizing websites so that they appear near the top of search results for relevant keywords.
Keywords (sometimes also called keyword phrases) are words or phrases that represent the topics you construct your pages around, like ‘L.A. Divorce Attorney’ in our example. Simply put, these are the search terms that internet users enter into Google or other search engines. Your keyword—and/or semantically similar variations of it—should appear in key places on your webpage to signal to search engines that your page is relevant to that topic.
Return on Investment, or ROI, is a performance measure used in many areas of business, but it’s especially important when it comes to marketing: In order to grow your law firm and keep your business profitable, you’ll need to make sure that you’re getting good returns on the investments you’re making in different marketing efforts.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is an online paid advertising model in which advertisers pay a set amount each time a site visitor clicks on their ad.
How to market your law firm
With the right approach, you can come up with and execute on a law firm marketing strategy that meets your goals—whether you want a sustainable solo practice or a rapidly growing firm.
Here’s what to consider when marketing your firm.
Create a marketing budget
A well-thought-out marketing budget is a key component of any law firm business plan, as Chelsea Lambert explains. In order to figure out how much you’ll need to invest in marketing your firm, you’ll need to get clear about your goals and how much revenue you’ll need to make those a reality. Then, you’ll need to look at how many cases per year you’ll need to meet that revenue goal (this will vary depending on your practice area).
When that’s sorted, you can come up with a marketing budget that will get you the number of cases needed to reach your goals. This should also take into account the stage your firm is at (are you new, or well-established?) and how competitive your space is (are you a business attorney trying to build a client base in a competitive city like New York, or are you the sole family lawyer in a small town?).
Once you’ve made your marketing budget, it’s important to stick with it: Getting more cases won’t help your firm grow if you’re not watching your bottom line.
Build a well-designed law firm website
In the digital age, your law firm’s website is often your client’s first impression of you, and your chance to ensure site visitors that are looking to hire a lawyer end up hiring you. As a good start, use quality photographs, clearly and concisely state the services you provide and which practice areas you cover, highlight any awards, recognitions, or important experiences you have, and make sure your contact information is prominently displayed.
If you already have a website, or are thinking of building one yourself, make sure you’ve got all the points on this law firm website checklist covered to ensure you’ve got a effective, easy-to-use site.
If you’re looking to hire an expert to help you with your website, make sure you ask your law firm web designer these 11 questions before signing any contracts.
Ensure your site is search engine optimized
If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? Similarly, if you create a law firm website to market your firm, but no one finds it when they search for relevant terms using Google or another search engine, will potential clients ever be aware of you?
In order to get the most out of an investment in a law firm website, you need to ensure your site follows SEO best practices. Ensuring your site is well-designed is a good start (good design creates a framework for useful, quality content, which is what search engines—and the people who use them—are looking for). You’ll also want to make sure your content is targeting long tail keywords (think “Seattle personal injury lawyer” instead of just “lawyer”) to give yourself the best chance of competing with other pages and being found by potential clients.
If it’s important that you attract potential clients in your area, make sure you also claim your Google Business listing and provide a clear, useful description of your services, as well as contact information.
For more information on effective keyword research, local SEO, and law firm SEO best practices, read The Quick Guide to Law Firm SEO.
If you want to learn even more, Gyi Tsakalakis of AttorneySync is an expert on the subject, and is well worth following.
Claim your free online profiles
Your law firm website is one place potential clients can find you, but it isn’t the only place they might find you. From review sites like Yelp to your local state bar listings, there are plenty of opportunities to claim online profiles for free.
Go through this list to make sure you’ve taken advantage of all available options.
Make sure your firm has a presence on social media
To attract new clients with online advertising, you’ve got to go where they are, and in the digital age, more and more people are using social media. There are plenty of social networks out there, and you’ll need to choose the right ones for your firm and practice area, but with some thoughtful investment, social media advertising can be a boon for your law firm’s growth.
Here are a few ways to use social media to your advantage:
- Follow legal leaders on Twitter and engage in thoughtful conversation.
- Set up an effective LinkedIn page for your firm (this is separate from your personal LinkedIn profile, which should also be optimized to help you stand out to peers and potential clients).
- Create a Facebook advertising campaign to position yourself as an authority in your space and attract new clients.
Finally, make sure you’re following ethics and advertising rules within your jurisdiction: For example, don’t call yourself a specialist or an expert unless you’ve been formally certified as such, and be mindful of creating lawyer-client relationships.
Manage online reviews effectively
Once you have a number of online profiles up and running, you may start to get reviews of your services. These are critical to manage: Today’s legal consumer does plenty of research before choosing their lawyer, and while a few negative reviews won’t hurt, an ongoing stream of them could give potential clients pause.
Make it part of your process to ask for an online review at the close of every case, especially if a client is extremely satisfied (but double check your state bar’s advertising rules to ensure your request is compliant). If you encounter a negative review, don’t ignore it: Follow best practices for responding to your client’s feedback directly.
Try your hand at content marketing
You already have a knack for the written word, so why not use it to grow your law firm! Blogging, and more generally, content marketing, is a great way to build your brand and authority and show off your expertise in a given area. If you can provide helpful answers to general questions that those looking to hire you might have, you’ll build trust with potential clients, making it more likely that they’ll eventually hire you.
If you decide to start a blog, take a thoughtful approach: Make sure it has a clear focus, stick to a regular cadence, and ensure you’re providing quality, helpful information (without offering specific legal advice, of course).
If you’re interested in learning more about blogging, Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog is definitely worth following.
Invest time in networking and business development
If you’re going to spend time attending local networking and bar events, make sure you’re getting the most out of them. Plan out where you’re going to invest your time, and be prepared to have meaningful conversations that build your brand and lead to referrals.
Referrals from fellow attorneys are always a key component of any law firm’s growth, so building referral relationships with other attorneys could be a boon for the future of your practice.
That said, networking doesn’t have to just mean mingling and shaking hands with other lawyers: You may want to consider public speaking, or attending events in your community, to connect with more potential clients.
(Maybe) consider traditional marketing
Depending on your location and practice area, traditional marketing (i.e., offline marketing) may be a fit for your firm. In the digital age, people do still buy billboard ads.
However, it’s important to remember that however your clients hear about you, they’re likely going to look you up online before they make any sort of hiring decision. Consumers are more empowered than ever to do plenty of research before any decision, so remember to maintain that stunning website and keep asking happy clients for positive reviews!
Measuring your law firm marketing efforts
No matter how you decide to market your firm, it’s important to measure the return on investment of your efforts. Without measurement, you’ll have no idea which campaigns are bringing in new business—and which are flopping. This is important, since you’ll want to stop investing in methods that don’t work and double-down on those that do (unless your heart is set on having an air dancer outside of your law firm).
Maybe you want to build a new website to help bring in more clients. Or maybe you’ve built up a lot of goodwill over the years and are getting plenty of positive reviews from past clients. There’s only one way to find out—look to the numbers!
Start by asking clients how they heard about you. This is a pretty low-tech method that yields only anecdotal results. It’s a good start, but you’ll need to do more to truly know how your marketing is working.
The best way to track your digital marketing efforts is by implementing website tracking. The free version of Google Analytics—an analytics tool that helps website owners get insights into traffic to their sites—is a good solution for most law firms. Here’s how to install it on your site.
Google analytics will help you see things like which website people visited before they came to your site (also called a “referring domain”), how long a given visitor stayed on your site, and of course, the number of visitors to your site.
3 stats to inform your law firm marketing
The 2018 Legal Trends Report focused on your legal clients: What makes them hire, what makes them recommend your services, and more.
A few interesting stats from the report to inform your law firm marketing:
- 57% of consumers surveyed had an issue that could have been handled legally but wasn’t. In other words, there’s plenty of opportunity to reach—and help—more clients.
- For 28% of consumers, not knowing the final cost of legal representation is a barrier to hiring. Being upfront and intentional about how you communicate pricing on your website, getting creative to offer flat fee or predictable options, and marketing that you do this, could be helpful.
- 68% of consumers who had a legal problem in the past two years spoke with a lawyer they didn’t hire. Make sure you’re making a good first impression and standing out in your initial consult, and addressing any client concerns.
The report digs deeper into these stats—and includes many more insights into the importance of client satisfaction in driving referrals, so it’s worth a careful read.
4 Law firm marketing best practices
Before you invest thousands of dollars in a shiny new website, an SEO specialist, and social media ads, take a moment to pause and think about what’s going to guide your success—if you’re not following a few critical principles, all the marketing dollars in the world won’t help your law firm grow.
Keep these best practices in mind as you move forward with your law firm marketing efforts:
1. Take a client-centered approach to marketing
In the age of near-instant Amazon deliveries and on-demand transport from ride sharing companies like Lyft, the client experience reigns supreme—at every stage of the client’s journey, from when a client first becomes aware of a service to when they decide to buy or hire.
Law firms are a business like any other, and clients now expect their experience with their lawyers to be on par with the experience they have with companies like Amazon. Competitive firms that take a client-centric approach in their operations and their marketing will be positioned to stand out and succeed.
What does this look like? Consider your client’s pain points when crafting messaging for your website, and focus on showing empathy and addressing those rather than focusing on the services you offer. Follow-up with leads quickly, so that potential clients know you’re there to help. A well-designed website contributes to a client-centric approach as well: An easy to use site shows clients you’ve been thoughtful about what they need and how they’ll navigate your site.
Put your clients first in your marketing efforts, and you won’t just build trust and goodwill—you’ll be positioned to attract more potential clients and convert leads to paying clients more quickly.
2. Invest carefully
When it comes to law firm marketing, there’s no need to overextend yourself. In fact, you’ll likely see better returns from a few focused strategies than from trying to do it all.
For example, if you’re going to invest in social media marketing, don’t try to maintain a presence on every social network out there. Think carefully about your goals and your practice area, pick one or two networks to focus on, and craft strategies that reflect the resources you have to invest in them. If you’re going to start a blog, be honest about how much time you can devote to it (don’t plan to post a new article once a week if you really only have the bandwidth to post once per month).
3. Invest in extra support if needed
Depending on your goals and marketing budget, it may be worth hiring a marketing consultant, web designer, SEO specialist, or other type of marketing service to help with your firm’s needs.
You’re an expert at practicing law, and you’ve also got a business to run, so if marketing isn’t an area you’ve got a lot of experience in (or an area you’re willing to invest in learning about), bringing in help might be a good option. Just make sure you ask plenty of tough questions before signing on the dotted line.
You may also want to think about tools to help with your law firm marketing (more on that below).
4. Measure, measure, measure
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Measuring the success of your law firm marketing efforts is key to making sure that all the hard work you do actually helps your law firm grow. Make sure you know how clients are finding out about you, how many people are visiting your website and converting to leads or paid clients, how many people are clicking on your social media ads, or whatever metrics are relevant to the marketing campaigns you’ve launched.
It’s easy to go with your gut instead of going with the data, but simply believing that your firm’s website is beautiful and clients love it isn’t enough—you’ve got to look at the numbers to confirm that thought.
Tools and services to help with law firm marketing
There are plenty of apps and services available to help with your marketing efforts. With the right technology, everyone from solo practitioners to mid-sized firm managers can implement a successful law firm marketing program.
Here’s a sample of what’s on offer:
Email marketing: Mailchimp
Whether you’re looking to send out a monthly newsletter or send birthday emails to past clients to stay in touch, an email marketing platform can help make things much easier. There are plenty of options available, but Mailchimp is often recommended and offers a free plan.
Social media management: Hootsuite
Are you suddenly busy setting up Facebook ads and maintaining an active Twitter profile? Using social media to market your firm shouldn’t mean you need to log into social media sites 50 times per day. With Hootsuite, or other similar social media management tools, you can schedule posts, keep tabs on replies, and even monitor topics relevant to your practice area to see what potential legal clients are interested in.
Research: Google Trends
Picture this: You’re a family lawyer looking to start a blog. Should you invest more time in a blog post about the five things to do immediately after a divorce, or a post explaining the difference between divorce and legal separation in your state? A little research can guide your decision, and Google Trends can help: Use it to explore interest in certain topics, including related topics and related searches.
Appointment bookings: LawTap
Built specifically for law firms, LawTap makes scheduling appointments easy for potential clients (and clients)! LawTap also integrates directly with Clio, so you can keep all of your contact information in one place.
Law firm websites: LawLytics and JurisPage
LawLytics is a website system for small law firms, providing the design and technical support needed for a world-class website. With the LawLytics-to-Clio integration, your website forms are connected to your Clio account, so that contact information is seamlessly recorded in your Clio account.
JurisPage powers law firm websites and helps lawyers streamline their lead generation and intake process. Founded by a lawyer, Jurispage also integrates directly with Clio, so there’s no double data entry when it comes to new contact information.
Online review management: Birdeye
Birdeye lets you send automated online review requests and syncs seamlessly with your contact list in Clio. You’ll also get real-time alerts whenever you receive a new review.
Intake and Customer Relationship Management: Clio Grow
Clio Grow is legal CRM and client intake software that will help you see the real-time status of every new lead, and track where they’ve come from. Beautifully designed dashboards and transparent workflows will also provide visibility into your client pipeline and revenue projections. Learn more.
When it comes to law firm marketing, the best tip is simply to get started. Make a small investment, try something new, measure your success, and take what you’ve learned to improve. Focus on a few key areas instead of overextending yourself, create a thoughtful marketing budget (and stick to it) and use technology to support your efforts.
By keeping your goals in mind and taking a pragmatic approach, you’ll be positioned to make the best decisions for your business.
Whatever marketing methods you choose, remember to keep your clients (and potential clients) first in all things—law firms that can provide an incredible client experience will challenge themselves to operate their practices more efficiently in order to deliver excellent service, boosting their bottom line while also boosting their chance of referrals.