In-Depth: Attorney Marketing
Marketing is a vital part of operating a law firm or a successful solo law practice, but the way in which marketing is done has changed. Today’s digital marketing for attorneys is different from the types of advertising that have worked in the past. The changes that have taken place in the attorney advertising market are important to recognize, because those changes mean new and unique opportunities for attorneys to market their firm and connect with the legal consumer who will be looking for them during an important, significant, or difficult time in their life.
The Old Ways of Advertising No Longer Work
In the past, attorneys marketed themselves on bus benches, through yellow page ads, and through civic engagement. While these strategies worked well before the internet age, they are no longer sufficient on their own. The biggest problem with the old ways of marketing is that they are not measurable and they are not targeted. There is a famous saying from John Wanamaker1 which summarizes this marketing dilemma nicely: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.
According to the Clio 2017 Legal Trends report, “54% of law firms actively advertise to acquire new clients, yet 91% of firms can’t calculate a return on their advertising investments, and 94% don’t know how much it costs them to acquire a new client. Of the firms that do know the return on investment they get from their advertising, 64% of firms expect to earn 200–300% of what they spend”.2
The New Wave of Attorney Marketing
Fortunately, attorneys have new and better ways of getting found than they had in the past. Digital marketing continues to grow and evolve and now concepts like “search engine marketing” and “social media marketing” are now core law firm marketing strategies. Bus benches and phone book ads have been replaced by modern alternatives like, online legal directories, consumer review sites, local directories, social media sites and search engines.
When set up properly, digital advertising can help you to target your ideal clients far better than their offline predecessors. What’s more, digital marketing technology allows law firms like yours to know which of your advertising efforts are actually delivering prospects to your law firm. Put these two benefits together, and today’s attorneys are able to be far more effective at focusing on the marketing channels that work for their firms’ budgets and goals.
Small Law Firm Marketing Series Playbooks
Successfully marketing your legal services is one of the most challenging aspects of managing a small law firm. For your marketing efforts to be successful and sustainable over time, you need an understanding of some fundamental small law firm concepts. To get started, explore some of FindLaw’s free marketing playbooks:
Legal Marketing 101:
A Guide for Small Law Firms
- Integrated Small Law Firm Marketing
- Branding for Law Firms
- Understanding Legal Consumers
- Working with Leads and Lead Generation
- Managing the Intake Process
Legal Marketing 102: Websites For Small Law Firms
- Web Design Basics
- Developing Effective Content
- Search Engine Optimization
- Websites That Convert
- Measuring Website Performance
Client Acquisition Strategies For The Solo Practitioner
- Why websites are crucial to gaining a steady flow of clients
- How to gain your prospect’s trust online
- How to do it all without a staff
The Key To Successful Legal Marketing: Meeting Your Prospects Wherever They Are
To understand why an integrated marketing plan is vital – you need to understand that the path that the legal consumer takes to find an attorney is not a straight line. They might start with an internet search to find your website but before they are ready to contact you, chances are they will check out your social media presence, read reviews of your firm online and perhaps even check out your competition. They can do all this and more, in any order they choose. If your advertising only connects with potential clients at some of these points it’s not doing all it can. Marketing for attorneys doesn’t start with just a website and it can’t stop at a blog. Taking an integrated approach to marketing your law firm ensures you have a presence on the variety of platforms that legal consumers use throughout their journey.
Remember, modern legal consumers:
- want emotional connections with their lawyers, especially in difficult or troubling cases
- search for answers via long-tail queries, as opposed to searching for attorneys by name
- may visit multiple sites before making a hiring decision
- will validate their search results – and even referrals – by looking at your expertise and reputation
So, What Are Legal Consumers Looking For?
When considering an attorney, most consumers hold interpersonal and emotional factors just as highly as degrees and experience. This finding comes from FindLaw’s 2017 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey. Among other things, the survey found that while an attorney’s expertise was cited as an important factor by 45 percent of consumers, recommendations from friends was close behind at 40 percent. An attorney’s fees certainly matter, at 33 percent, but a sense of trust appears to be just as crucial.
Key takeaways from the survey:
- Traditional word-of-mouth referrals are still important. Positive client experiences beget more clients.
- Use social media to grow your referral network. Building connections builds business and online connections have become increasingly important in an increasingly digital world.
- Consumers crave trust; it’s the fifth most important factor they consider. Your marketing language should emphasize your humanity as well as your qualifications. A good reputation can work wonders in this arena as well.
- On average, consumers visited 4 websites prior to contacting an attorney.
- Trust in third-party attorney rating services continues to increase year after year.
Online Attorney Marketing Myths
It’s been barely two decades since attorneys have been allowed to advertise. But in that scant amount of time, the art and science of online marketing has grown immensely in its reach and precision. Unfortunately, the volume of misinformation and marketing myths has grown at a similar rate. If any of the following falsehoods have kept you from moving ahead with a sound internet marketing strategy for your firm, it might be time to look at the facts and learn to ignore the fiction.
Myth #1: A top search engine result ranking is the most important element of your marketing arsenal.
This myth stems from an old belief that search engines once sold search page rankings. In fact, because search engines use personalized algorithms that consider a variety of factors including physical location, internet search history and the device being used, attorneys can neither “buy” a page rank, nor is there a single “silver bullet” that will lock down the top search spot.
Myth #2: Marketing a law firm is too expensive and time-consuming.
“Expensive” is a subjective term. What is a large financial outlay for one firm could be peanuts to another. And while some marketing tactics can require a significant investment, many of the nuts and bolts of digital marketing simply aren’t that expensive. Website domains generally carry a lightweight hosting fee, and maintaining a presence on social media is virtually free. Of course, quality often comes at a cost, but any marketing provider worth its salt will be able support an attorney marketing plan that fits your law firm’s budget.
Myth #3: Online legal directories are a scam.
Tell that to the millions of legal consumers who rely on them. Placing your law firm in a reputable directory will not only contribute to your SEO efforts, it will align you with potential clients. You see, attorney directories are a direct conduit to consumers who are actively seeking legal help. While other marketing efforts like websites, TV and direct mail have a broad reach, they don’t necessarily capture an audience that is as motivated as a legal directory. Directory users aren’t browsing attorneys out of idle curiosity. They’re there to choose a lawyer. Something that you can’t benefit from if you’re out of the game.
Myth #4: Without tons of site traffic, there’s no point.
Traffic volume is just one of many online marketing performance metrics. As you’re well aware, a single data point can almost never tell the whole story. There are law firm websites out there today that receive relatively low traffic when compared to others. But those same sites may convert visitors into prospects at a much higher rate. With the right guidance, you can develop the skills and tools to catch the eye of the right visitors for your firm. That may well mean fewer people in general, but more of the sort who are looking for your particular services. And in those situations where a legitimate traffic problem does exist, a trusted attorney marketing vendor will look beyond simple traffic volume to discover what forces are actually at play.
Myth #5: Nobody reads legal blogs.
They do if the blogs in question offer something of value. A timely, frequently updated blog can be the perfect place to share your knowledge and opinions about your practice area, developments in the legal industry and lessons learned from recent cases. If you’re dreaming of weekly followers eagerly refreshing your site for the latest post, scale that vision back a bit. Legal blogging isn’t the route to internet fame for your law firm. But it is an inexpensive, simple way to establish your expertise and place a personal touch on your marketing. When prospects do come looking for information on legal issues, the answers they seek could be right there in your blog.
Myth #6: Marketing a law firm is against the rules and/or unethical.
It’s past time to disabuse yourself of this notion. The ABA and most state bar associations have ethical guidelines regarding online marketing. And it’s up to you and your attorney marketing provider to stay within the bounds of your state’s playbook. But the overarching fact is, your law firm is in a tough competition. Your firm, your peers, do-it-yourself legal services and ill-informed advisors all over the web are fighting for the attention of legal consumers. In an arena this large and this noisy, it behooves you to take advantage of every opportunity you can to promote your law firm. As long as you play by the rules, there’s no reason not to use websites, blog posts, social media or more to rise above the rest.
How Attorneys Market to Their Ideal Customers
Attorneys looking to market themselves need to do more than just tell customers about their abilities and skill set. They also need to understand who their ideal customer is, so they can relate to them more easily. That can be done by identifying their specific goals, along with their risks, concerns, and pain points. Once those have been established, the focus of any online marketing for attorneys should be on the buying triggers of customers. When those are known it is easier to convince legal consumers that a particular attorney is the one they should choose over other attorneys who may offer the same or similar legal services.
The buying triggers will vary depending on the practice area. Personal injury clients, for example, are looking for something very different than what might attract a wealthy estate planning client. A strong understanding of internet marketing for attorneys is only valuable when paired with a strong understanding of which customers are being targeted and what those customers want and need.
The Human Connection Matters Most
The human connection is vital. How should that be established? In the real world, that connection is built through networking, referrals, and an excellent “bedside” manner. The main ways to get a true human connection with legal consumers online include:
- Quality content that’s relatable, instead of just fancy words
- Case studies and client testimonials
- Engaging photos and a website tone appropriate for legal marketing
- Genuine posts on social media and an active presence there
- Good intake practices that show the client comes first
Proving expertise is also important for any attorney who wants to build a human connection with their potential client base. Attorneys should blog about important legal issues clients will care about, written in common language, to make connections that will target the buying triggers clients have.
Put another way, it is important to focus on the quality of your blog posts and the messages they send rather than simply placing a premium on quantity. Frequent blogging is necessary to help rank highly in search engines, but the content of your posts, keywords used and linking strategies employed all matter, too.
Legalese is too hard for many clients to understand, and confusing them won’t bring them to your law firm. Being open and honest and speaking in professional but plain language is a more valuable approach. Highlighting your reputation and good reviews can help engage prospects on a more personal level as well.
Attorney Marketing Webcasts
Psychological Factors that Drive Website Success
Of all the elements that go into a website’s design, conversion optimization is unquestionably the most critical. What is “conversion?” It’s the science of getting site visitors to actually contact your law firm.
And it really is a science, too. Conversion-optimized websites all share one element in common: They’re grounded in a solid understanding of the way humans make decisions.
Psychological Factors that Drive Website Success – Part 2
Getting a website visitor to actually contact your law firm is a science – one that is grounded in a solid understanding of the way humans make decisions. But take heed. Because legal decisions are often emotionally charged, the decision-making process may be the opposite of what you’d logically expect.
Five Needs of Your Next Potential Client (And How To Act On Them)
Legal consumers can be hard to predict. Even with all the information available today, it’s still tough to know where to focus your marketing efforts. The facts and numbers, frankly, don’t always point in the same direction.
Attorney Digital Marketing Means Being Found Online
One of the best places to establish visibility online, and a cornerstone of attorney marketing strategies, are legal directories. Listings are quick and easy to set up, and they position your firm in ways that will compel potential clients to call you. What’s more, they speak to consumers actively looking for legal representation, not simply researching a legal issue.
Here is a list of various directories you can submit to:
- Findlaw.com – Home to the original legal directory and also the largest with over 14 million visits per month.
- Lawinfo.com – Less competitive, but still a valuable resource for reaching engaged consumers looking for legal guidance.
- Abogado.com – Spanish-language directory with resources, and is a perfect way to connect with the growing demographic of Spanish-speaking consumers.
- Superlawyers.com – Exclusive directory only for those attorneys who have been selected to the Super Lawyers list and one of the most prestigious legal directories on the web.
- Lawyers.law.cornell.edu – Cornell University Law School – LII Directory of US attorneys by state and practice area
- ABA list of State Bar Directories and Lawyer Finders – https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_services/flh-home/flh-bar-directories-and-lawyer-finders.html
Websites are standard practice for most companies today, and attorneys or law firms are no exception to that rule. Nearly anyone can build a website, but not all websites are on the same playing field. Theoretically, an attorney or law firm can create their own website for very little money, and host and update it on their own. There are risks to the DIY approach, and if an attorney creates a web presence that does not perform well, it can be hard to correct these errors without a significant investment of time and/or money. In contrast, an attorney marketing firm is generally a better choice when it comes to building a website. Working with professionals is worth the investment because they know what it takes to make a website stand out in a crowded marketplace and deliver value to your audience.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is powerful in so many ways. PPC can position a firm in front of legal consumers during their search. It is a great way to add visibility in a competitive market or used as a tool for law firms looking to expand their current brands into new practice areas. When done properly, PPC marketing can be an excellent lead generation strategy, but make sure you do your homework first if you’re planning on running your own campaigns.
Here is a list of most expensive PPC mistakes a law firm can make:
- Giving up on your law firm’s PPC campaign before it has really gotten started
- Targeting “expensive” legal keywords that aren’t even good keywords
- Setting your sights too low and never reaping the full rewards of a more aggressive campaign
- Putting the wrong people in charge of your PPC resulting in lost revenue and damaged advertising reputation
Among the best ways to build an attorney marketing network is through social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ can be wonderful ways for attorneys to engage with their customers and potential clients. Once a legal consumer starts looking into a particular attorney or law firm, that consumer wants to find out more information. Websites are professional, but they only provide so much of the “life” of the law firm or the attorney. A more personal connection may be needed, and can also be very helpful. The place to get those things is on social media, where a human connection can be more easily created and developed.
When an attorney knows their audience, they can gear their social media posts to that audience and help connect with them in order to keep them coming back. Facebook, specifically, can be an excellent choice because its advertising options allow for a strong balance of specificity and low cost.
So, What’s the Bottom Line?
Chart Data: https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en/press-releases/2014/internet-lawyer-search-survey.html
The bottom line for law firms is this: marketing isn’t just one thing. Proper law firm marketing is a combination of a number of different methods and techniques. Taking advantage of the variety of options available to attorneys matters, but doing so with an expert at the helm is vital to success. That way your marketing is handled strategically, and done right. FindLaw has served more than 17,000 law firms throughout the US and hosts millions of consumers each month. We know your business and we know your clients. Contact your local consultant today to get started on a marketing strategy that will help propel you into the digital age and increase your client base.
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