Effective marketing strategies and approaches are constantly changing. 20 years ago, attorneys relied heavily on marketing tactics like matchboxes, phonebook covers, newspaper ads, etc. Above and beyond these purposes, marketing efforts of this nature are becoming less effective. Today phonebooks do great things like hold open broken windows, matchboxes start campfires and newspapers make excellent pet cage liners, but as far as marketing is concerned, these tactics are dated and becoming less and less effective.
The reality is that law firms need new tactics to effectively compete in today’s market, which is why more and more law firms are investing in digital and online marketing strategies than ever before. Digital marketing has been consuming older, outdated marketing strategies and replacing them with strategies better equipped to handle the evolving consumerism of our day. For example, phonebook budgets have shifted into SEO budgets, newspapers have turned into display ads, and billboards have turned into Facebook ads.
If your legal agency has failed so far at transitioning into these types of digital marketing efforts or if you are interested in competing better in your market, consider the following strategies to improve your business and apply effective digital marketing strategies for your law firm.
SEO (search engine optimization) has been an effective method for attracting new clients for law firms for years and continues to be extremely effective today. Attorney search engine optimization is the art of understanding how your potential clients use Google and other search engines, tailoring your website content to their searches, and improving that content’s position in search results. It’s not rocket science, it’s people science!
Investing in SEO is a great marketing strategy, but there are some things you’ll need to know first!
SEO Requires Time
SEO seldom provides an overnight return. It certainly can and has but that’s not common. SEO is more of a long term strategy. If your law firm needs to lead now to keep the lights on, SEO probably isn’t the solution.
SEO Requires Empathy
You have a solid enough understanding of your consumers that you can understand how they search in Google. Ranking #1 for “Minnesota Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer” sounds great in theory but if that isn’t how consumers look for a nursing home abuse lawyer, then it won’t provide much return if any at all. With this, you also have to make sure you can drop the legal jargon. For example, the average consumer wouldn’t search “premises liability lawyer” they’d be much more likely to search, “slip and fall lawyer” or something of that nature.
SEO Requires (S0me) Technical Skills
You have a sufficient understanding of how to implement SEO strategies. Much like watching legal television shows doesn’t make a person a lawyer, attending digital marketing conferences may help you gain a surface-level understanding of SEO but it may not be enough knowledge and exposure for you to execute yourself. Plenty of attorneys have run successful DIY SEO campaigns but several have also done poor work and landed themselves in poor situations.
SEO Requires Content
You’re dedicated to creating unique content that answers specific questions potential clients have and are searching. Not all keywords are created equally, some are significantly more difficult to perform in search engines than others. Depending on your local market, competing for a “car accident lawyer” can be quite competitive. There are less competitive queries you can create content to answer like “can a lawyer help me if I have been rear-ended?”
The downside is that the competition even in a medium-sized market could be stiff. If you are coming into the SEO game late, it might take a considerable amount of time and effort to close the gap between yourselves and your competition.
Healthy investment into effective SEO can yield results for a long time. The opportunity for return is great if the SEO partner or even DIY attorney is clever enough to find low competition, high volume, high return terms that others overlook.
2. Pay-per-Click Advertising (PPC)
As stated previously, the downside to SEO is that it results take time. Waiting for the fruits of your SEO labors can take weeks and even months to see a return on your investment. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is wonderful because you can have a campaign running and bringing in potential clients in no time. You can also closely dictate when and where your ads appear based on specific keywords that searchers are looking for in Google. PPC campaigns have proven effective for attorneys in a variety of different markets and practice areas. If you’re looking to get the phone ringing soon, PPC is likely the best route to take.
While Google Ads (formerly Adwords) is the most popular and highest volume platform, Bing Ads has also shown to be a profitable channel for digital advertising. The lead volume through Bing is certainly lower, but less competition and cheaper cost per click often mean the cost per lead is more affordable through Bing compared to Google.
PPC is a great strategy for you if you have financial resources to invest and want to see the phone ringing quickly. If there is a specific type of search query that your potential clients are using to seek legal representation, then PPC could be a great route for you to find and attract new clients.
PPC can be an effective digital marketing strategy for your law firm if you have or understand the following.
PPC Requires Refinment
Pay-per-click campaigns often take some time to refine. They can bring in visitors fairly quickly. Site visitors really isn’t the end objective, it’s landing cases and making money. There will still be on-going changes, maintenance and testing that needs to happen.
PPC Costs Differ by Industry
Costs for clicks reflect the return of the industry. Therefore, the average cost per click of legal keywords is typically higher compared to other industries. The cost per click is higher in personal injury law queries than disability or bankruptcy.
PPC Requires Research
The premise of Google Ads and other platforms sound simple enough but it’s not necessarily true. If you’re attempting to do a DIY campaign, learn as much as you can about keyword match types. Using poor match types could bring in hundreds of unwanted searches and clicks that could cost you thousands.
PPC Requires Optimization
A well built campaign is far more involved than simply choosing keywords. Thousands of optimization points like device bid adjustments, dayparting, audience targeting, remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA’s), ad formats, etc are all considered when optimizing a successful PPC account.
Local Service Ads
Local service ads are a newer feature Google has been testing in several other industries like pest control, plumbers and other local service providers. These advertisements are finding their way into legal now as well. These ads are also a paid method that displays a listing higher than organic search results, and even above search ads, but it differs from Google ads in that you pay for leads instead of clicks.
Local Service Ads Aren’t Available for Everyone
Google is currently rolling out this platform in some practice areas and metros for law firms as of late summer 2019. While Google’s local service ads continue to grow and extend their availability, more lawyers may be able to use this approach as a viable digital marketing avenue.
As with many Google-related things, it’s unclear when the rollout of Local service ads will enter new markets and practice areas. Many industry experts believe that the eventual rollout is inevitable. There could be a big opportunity for law firms in markets when the rollout happens to be an early adopter and be there first.
Display ads fall under the PPC umbrella, but they behave a little differently than traditional search ad marketing. Display ads are images that can be placed on different websites as users browse the internet. Similar to other tactics, many targeting options can be utilized to narrow the audience or demographic that you’re trying to get in front of. Display ads can also be used as part of a retargeting campaign to bring back site visitors that didn’t reach out to your law firm.
While engagement rates with this particular strategy are comparatively low, and it’s unlikely you’ll see a high volume of directly attributable leads, it’s a great way to assist in branding and retaining top-of-mind with your future clients. This tactic is great for building general brand awareness and works best if you have an extremely well-defined persona or target market. Comparing the cost per thousand impressions (CPM) of display ads vs other forms of marketing like Radio, TV, etc is something to consider. If you take into account the targeting available for those thousand impressions, typically your target audience is more easily reached and more affordable via Display ads.
Commonly, consumers are not ready to make a decision about the legal services they are looking for when they first come across your content. Retargeting is the method of bringing visitors back to your website who did not “convert” the first time, meaning they didn’t call, fill out the form, or reach out via live chat. This method works by isolating users who came through a specific channel, such as a Google search, and distributing targeted ads to them on other platforms.
How Law Firms Can Use Remarketing
Some examples of remarketing strategies could be like the following:
- A user comes to your site through your Google My Business listing, views multiple pages but doesn’t contact you. You can use display ads or even Facebook to stay on their mind if your practice area has a longer consideration process.
- A user comes to your page that answers very specific questions that indicate the searcher is considering retaining an attorney but maybe in the early stages. For example:
- “Does multiple sclerosis qualify for social security disability in the state of Utah”
- “What can I do if Progressive Insurance denies my car insurance claim?”
- “How will filing for bankruptcy impact my credit score”
- “How to prepare my children for a divorce”
Similar to the example above, law firms offering materials that serve as lead magnets like E-books or other downloadable resources can use remarketing to nurture potential clients through the consumer process.
Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) is another advanced strategy which allows you to increase bids for people who have visited your website in the past, and are now searching again for your targeted keywords.
Remarketing works as a strategy within PPC and social media marketing campaigns.
YouTube, like other social media channels, is a valuable way to build your law firm’s brand. There are several video lengths that you can use to get in front of people. You can place longer “commercial” type ads in the middle of videos or even short six-second bumper ads before videos play.
One of the most important aspects to consider with YouTube ads is the quality of the video you are presenting. Special attention to sound and video quality can make or break the audience engagement of your ads. In addition, thought should be given to grabbing attention early, and emphasizing your most important messages quickly since these ads can be skipped in many cases.
Targeting can be customized to only appear on certain video topics, specific YouTube channels, keywords, etc. Like other types of advertising we’ve mentioned, you can also target by demographics like income level, education, homeownership status, marital status, family dynamic, and many others.
3. Social Media Marketing
Investing in social media advertising has by and large been the replacement tactic for previous billboard budgets. People in vehicles are more likely to be looking at their phones than billboards, even the driver! Facebook and other social platform ads are so effective because of how targeted your specific target audience can be. You can be as specific as you would like, targeting. Here are some examples of potential demographic targeting you can use:
- You can target by age if you’re an estate planning wanting to target people entering their golden years
- You can target by gender because men won’t likely have any issues with transvaginal mesh
- You can target by marital status if you want to target someone with a relationship status change to “It’s complicated”
- The industry of employment because desk job employees don’t normally file worker’s compensation claims
- Active interests if you’d like to target married men with an active interest in dating websites
An example of an extremely effective social media marketing campaign for a workers’ compensation attorney in Tacoma, Washington has been targeting people who work in specific high-risk, blue-collar companies and showing images related to the workplace. Construction equipment, work gloves, hard hats, etc. accompanied by a simple call to action to reach out to the law firm when/if there’s an injury.
Social media marketing is an extremely effective avenue if you can dial in your ideal client persona. This also helps you be able to adjust your messaging to cater to that audience.
The downside of the method is that like billboards, it’s passive advertising. People seeing your ads may or may not be looking for an attorney at the time. Some people seeing your ads may never be interested. However, compared to billboards, social ads can be fairly inexpensive. This challenge can be further mitigated by employing remarketing, mentioned previously, to help retain top-of-mind status until these individuals are ready to act.
4. Newsletter/Email Marketing
The building, maintaining, and using a newsletter or email marketing list can be a great way to keep your brand on peoples’ minds. Email is fast, easy to create, and easy to read. Email marketing makes it so your brand is right at your potential client’s fingertips as often as you’d like.
The downside of this marketing tactic is that it is easy for your emails to find their way into promotional inboxes and end up being deleted without ever being read. However, it’s generally a low-cost tactic and could pay for itself if it lands a couple more clients a year. It could be a good way to get repeat business from former clients as well. This tactic should work well if these are people who opted in to receiving your emails. They at one point or another expressed interest in your law firm and wanted to remain informed. Assuming this is the case, this should be a pretty qualified audience of people to market to. This tactic works very well if there are follow up services you can offer your clients. For example, reaching out to prior criminal defense clients and educating them on the expungement process.
5. Online Directory Listings
There are several web platforms that people turn to for help in finding a local service provider. Sites like Yelp and Thumbtack often are well positioned in search results for legal queries. If potential leads go to these sites and find your business as one of the top listings, these sponsored business directories should generate at least some clients for you. You can often have your business listed on these sites for free but paying can help you be positioned more prominently. This tactic can be extremely effective to help more funnels are leading to you.
Here’s an example of a general business directory being placed above our client’s website in organic search results. By paying for a sponsored directory listing, we encourage #1 result clickers to find their way back to our client. Like this:
Legal directories like Avvo, SuperLawyers, Justia, Findlaw, Lawyers.com, and HG all offer opportunities for you to list your business. Like the business directories, there are free listing options, but the premium or paid options are often placed above the free listings.
This is the perfect example of some directories that could be worth paying to be positioned in. The top 4 organic results were legal directories and then the 5th spot was our client’s website. That’s a lot of real estates for a user to sift through before they could potentially decide to click into your result. Providing the user 3 or 4 different avenues that might also bring them back to you is a great way to diversify your marketing.
Make the Digital Shift
Consumer behavior continues to change and therefore, so should your marketing strategies. If you have any questions about digital marketing for attorneys or need help understanding which strategy might be best for your law firm, reach out to an expert.