With a business model based on billable hours, law firms often underestimate and overlook marketing. But you should not ignore the opportunity to improve your online presence. Potential clients are online researching their legal situation and, ultimately, the law firm they’ll engage with.
Yes, developing an online strategy takes time and energy, and seeing results may take even longer.
But get it right, and you’ll have a healthy supply of high-quality leads and new clients excited to work with you as often as you need.
So, where do you start?
How do you get new clients for your law firm?
Read through our law firm marketing ideas, and use them to help shape your law firm’s digital marketing strategy.
1. Identifying Your Groups and Personas
The Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) has great advice for law firms with more than one specialty:
“If your firm has multiple specialities with different target markets, you will need to develop separate plans for each practice group to support their growth and success – in addition to the firm-wide plan.”
The strategy here is to be as specific as possible with your targeting.
Let me explain. There will be potential clients searching for terms like “lawyers Melbourne.” In fact, there will be a lot of them. However, it is going to be extremely competitive as every Melbourne firm will be vying to rank for this term.
The smart strategy is to target more specific terms like “family lawyers Melbourne”. Leads from these search results are instantly more qualified than the general “lawyers Melbourne” results. These search terms will also be less competitive.
Consider these numbers:
- Lawyers Melbourne (1,300 avg searches each month in Google)
- Estate Planning Lawyers Melbourne (2,900)
- Family Lawyers Melbourne (1,300)
- Lawyers Sydney (1,000 avg searches each month in Google)
- Sydney Criminal Lawyers (2,400)
- Motor Vehicle Lawyers Sydney (1,900)
As you can see, there are more people searching for a specific area, and it’s less competitive (and easier to rank for).
If you have multiple practice areas, then each should have a page on your website. Create content that targets these specific searches for each specialty page.
Here’s a tip: Don’t just copy your printed brochures. Provide value to your audience, and answer the questions they may have when they commence their online research.
Start by writing down each of your specific areas of expertise and develop client personas for each.
Your firm may identify with one or more of the following:
- Medical negligence
- Public liability
- Work-related injuries
- Child support
- Child Custody
- Drink driving
If your firm specialises in Family Law, for example, you’ll want to develop 2-3 personas for each sub-category: divorce, child support, and child custody.
Although some of these may overlap, it’s important to distinguish between each sub-category and persona in this early phase.
What types of traits should you identify when creating a persona?
It might help to answer the following questions first:
- What is the biggest issue for your existing clients?
- What is their objective?
- Are there any obstacles in their way to contacting a family lawyer?
- How are they most likely to search for a family lawyer?
- Will they look for peer recommendations?
- How old are they?
- Are they male or female?
- What socio-economic profile do they fit?
- Are they searching for information first before contacting or are they ready to speak to a lawyer, today?
This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a guide to help you better understand what questions to ask when identifying who your ideal customer is and how to help them.
Once you’ve nailed down a persona, you’ll better understand how you can engage with prospects online before they decide to engage your competitors.
2. Improving Visibility with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
When we’re searching for information, our initial instinct is to start with a search engine—most likely Google.
Logically, if you’re interested in generating more leads for your firm, you should focus on improving visibility in search results.
Before you dive in, there are a few things to take into account.
Each search result page (at least in Google) is made up of paid and organic search results. The organic search results can be made up of a “local pack” or what’s known as a “knowledge graph.”
The local pack is reserved for local-intent searches and displays a map with several results below it.
The knowledge graph shows information about your firm when someone explicitly searches for it.
We want to maximise your visibility in each of these instances. Note that the example below includes social media profiles, CEO & Founder information, and stock price. These are all here courtesy of extra Schema markup.
Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) feature paid advertisements, too. We’ll discuss how to attract leads via Adwords later. For now, let’s break down how you can improve your organic visibility.
Choosing the Right Keywords
Before you begin your SEO efforts, choose the right range of keywords to target. Ideally, each page on your website should be targeting anywhere between 1–3 keywords.
When researching, assess keywords based on local volume, competitiveness, and relevance.
If it’s not relevant, people searching won’t click, and you’ll find it hard to get into top positions. If it’s too competitive, you may be fighting an unwinnable battle.
By the same token, there’s not much point in targeting keywords that are rarely searched for, either.
Optimising Your Law Firm Website for SEO
Once you’ve identified your range of keywords, you’ll need to optimise your website for them.
Optimising your website involves a variety of technical tasks to ensure the search engines are crawling your site efficiently. You also need to identify the content to be associated with your keywords.
A few critical on-page SEO tasks for law firms include:
- A landing page for each segment. FFor example, if you target “Family Law,” then this should be a top-level page. By contrast, you should have pages under this such as “Divorce,” “Child Support” and “Child Custody.” Ideally, your URLs should be structured as “/family-law/child-support/” or something similar.
- Optimised heading tags and image alt tags. Incorporate related keywords on each page.
- An internal linking structure in place. For instance, if you are a family lawyer, you should have links from the “Child Support” page to “Divorce” and likewise. Anything that is relevant to the user will make it easier for them to navigate your site from one page to the next.
- Landing pages for each geographical location. Many law firms will have more than one office. Have a contact or location page for each, e.g. “yourfirm.com.au/melbourne” and “yourfirm.com.au/geelong.” These pages should contain all of your local contact information and links to any local associations including chambers of commerce, meetup groups, sponsorships, etc.
- Schema markup. This is a markup language that further helps search engines understand various web content. Mark up your location page with organisation details (more on this a little later in Reviews).
Understanding Google’s Local Pack
Local searches will generate Google’s local pack. This returns a map and three businesses within the search results. Potential clients will likely see a local pack when they search for terms such as “Family Lawyers Melbourne,” so the local pack is a terrific way of generating traffic to your website if you are one of the lucky three featured.
How do you win a spot in one of these initial three results?
There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting into the local pack:
- Encourage a regular stream of reviews. This demonstrates to Google that you are worthy of being placed in the local pack. Earn five reviews, and Google will also display gold stars next to your profile, which dramatically increases the likelihood of your result being clicked. This also drastically improves your click-through rate.
- Create a Google Business Profile listing, and make sure it’s optimised. Provide as much contact info as possible, as well as any relevant categories and keywords. Add images of your office and staff—this builds credibility and trust.
- Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are all consistent with your website, GMB listing, and any other listings you have online.
- Optimise local listings. This is another reminder to create separate pages for each of your practice locations. Link to these pages from your GMB and other local listings, where possible.
Links and citations are still one of the key ways a website can demonstrate authority within an industry.
Think of them like this: You may be the leading family lawyer in Melbourne, but there’s no way for Google to know that if there’s no mention of your standing online.
Leverage your position and seek to acquire citations and links for you, your partners, and your firm.
Here are a few ideas to get you started building links/citations:
- Look for local and industry-related directories. This might include city, state, or national business directories. Your local council may have a business directory. Are you a member of a local chamber of commerce or an industry association?
- Subscribe to a service such as SourceBottle. These services reach out to trusted sources on behalf of journalists. If a journalist is looking for a comment from a lawyer and you can answer, then respond. Your name and firm mentioned in a media report is a huge asset!
- Get involved in your community. Sponsor your local sporting club or charity, and make sure you get mentioned on their website. A link to your site is a bonus.
- Guest blog. Contribute to SmartCompany, Forbes, or other high-authority business websites with high volumes of traffic.
Prioritizing online reviews was identified as one of the legal marketing trends for 2022, and we see this continuing for a long time yet.
Online reviews are a powerful asset for your website, and they can have a significant influence on Google’s search results.
Search your firm’s name in Google, and you should see your business on the right-hand side with some images and other data. This feature is Google’s “Knowledge Graph,” as we mentioned earlier.
Third-party online review sites are also important. For starters, they hold high authority and are more likely to rank for the high-volume search terms. An optimised listing on these review sites may be your best chance of generating leads from search.
Try searching for a range of high-volume, big-money keywords, and see what review sites rank well for these keywords. Then, start encouraging reviews on those sites in addition to Google.
You’ll want to consider a few things when beginning this review process:
- Understand that Google will be suspicious if you get no reviews for three months and then 10 in one day. They can also detect your IP address, so don’t try and get staff to load up.
- Identify the type of clients that are likely to leave positive reviews and when best to contact them. A follow-up email asking for a review is a popular tactic.
- Test different email subject lines and content to encourage better responses.
- Make it easy for clients to leave a review. Give them more than one option, but not too many. Google should definitely be one of them.
Once the reviews start rolling in, use Schema markup and publish client reviews on key pages (where relevant) on your site.
With the correct markup, Google will highlight these reviews in search results, and this will lead to more clicks.
4. Optimising Conversions for Maximum Potential
Once you get a visitor to your site, you want to convert them into a business lead.
Not only does this generate more revenue, but it indirectly boosts your SEO by demonstrating value to Google.
Here’s how you can improve your website’s conversion rate:
- Social proof. There are particular elements on a website that reduces buyer anxiety and help improve your conversion rate. These include reviews, awards, memberships, etc.
- Case studies/results. Demonstrating past results is extremely encouraging to online users.
- Lawyer bios. Although a potential client is contacting your agency, they’ll be establishing a relationship with an individual. It’s important for potential clients to read about that individual prior to contacting them. Give clients insights into your staff by including industry awards, media mentions, memberships, qualifications, and testimonials on your site.
- Community Involvement. Demonstrate that you support the local community.
- Mobile and Speed. Both of these factors are crucial in ensuring the user achieves their objectives on your site. If they don’t, neither will you. A fast, mobile-friendly site is paramount. These factors are also part of Google’s search algorithm and affect SEO.
5. Using Content Marketing to Your Advantage
You’ve heard about it, but it’s hard to find the time because it’s far from billable. Nevertheless, content marketing is an invaluable strategy in attracting, engaging, and converting customers online.
Hypothetical: Content marketing use case for law firms
A Father goes through a divorce and wants to go to court to fight for custody of his children. He turns to Google. But depending on his situation, he may do one of two things:
#1. Search immediately for “family lawyer Melbourne” or even “child custody lawyer melbourne.” This is where you need your “Family Law” or “Family Law/Child Custody” pages to do be doing your work. The problem with this scenario is that you’re competing against every other family lawyer in Melbourne.
#2. Research his position to get a better understanding of the process, costs and the likelihood of him winning. He searches for “child custody rights father.” Now, this is where your content marketing strategy comes into play. The good news is, you’re not competing with every law firm in Melbourne – you’re only competing with law firms that have published a post on this topic. Even better news is, if you create content that provides more value than your competitors, you have a great chance of ranking in the top few searches.
So in the first instance, the father is ready to sign on. But you’re less likely to get him visiting your site.
In the second option, he’s not convinced yet but you have him on your site and the option to establish goodwill, get his contact details and convince him that you are the firm for him when he is ready.
Developing Your Content Strategy
Now that I’ve presented you with the merits of content marketing, let’s make sure you have a strategy in place. The absence of a strategy is one of the biggest pitfalls in content marketing efforts and one key reason why so many don’t succeed.
Let’s consider that hypothetical use case once more. You could have, by chance, published the post providing the information he needed, and that converted him to a client. Still, you don’t want to leave everything to chance, given all the time and resources you’ve already invested in content creation.
Imagine if that father fit one of your identified personas from the beginning, and you knew he was after the information on child custody rights.
That’s where content strategy comes into play. Once you’ve identified your personas and what they’ll be searching for, create the most valuable content on the web around that topic.
Include facts, images, videos, and anything you can to add value. Aim for a minimum of 1,500 words for blog posts/articles. If you can write fewer words but still provide more value, then keep it concise.
Promoting Your Content
After you’ve created your content, you have two options: publish it on your website and wait, or be proactive and promote it.
If you want faster results, explore these content promotion ideas:
- Share content on your company’s social profiles, and encourage employees to share it on their individual profiles.
- Advertise content on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, and target the content to any relevant personas.
- Have the author of the post re-publish it to their LinkedIn page.
- If you plan on having 1–3 lawyers writing content, find guest posting opportunities for your writers. You may need to make slight changes to the article if it will be posted through a different site.
- Distribute the article to relevant industry blogs.
- Look at paid distribution via Outbrain or similar services.
- Have the author respond to questions on Quora, referencing the relevant article.
- Design a Slideshare presentation and add it to a company Slideshare profile.
As a professional services business, thought leadership should be a key focus of your strategy.
Content Upgrades and Building Your Email List
Let’s say the father in our previous example reads your article on “A Father’s Rights to Child Custody.” At this stage, there’s a real chance he reads it and leaves.
Your aim now is to obtain his email address. A favourite tactic for email capture is to offer a content upgrade. In this example, you might provide a handy one-page PDF of their fundamental rights via email.
The content upgrade you offer can differ from post to post. But, it should be a natural extension of the post and provide value.
6. Scale Your Efforts with Marketing Automation
Now that you have content upgrades for each of your posts, how do you turn these email leads into clients?
Well, you can manually email each of them, but that’s not billable, and they’re not qualified—yet.
Instead, we’ll implement an email marketing strategy built on a marketing automation system.
This system will enable you to deliver an email once the reader has opted for your content upgrade.
The email could be a two-day-after follow-up email, or it might be when they return to your site and view a relevant service page.
For example, if that father returned to the site a week later to browse your “Child Custody” page, the automation software could be configured to send an email after that action.
This allows prospects to further qualify themselves as leads or better yet, encourages them to contact you.
At this stage, your efforts are completely scalable. Write and publish the content, configure your automation, and sit back and wait for leads.
7. Choosing the Right Social Media Platform(s)
It’s imperative that you enter your foray into social media with clear objectives outlined.
As a law firm, I suggest ignoring the need for likes, comments, and shares. These vanity metrics can lead you on a chase that takes time and energy and ultimately does nothing to generate real business.
Instead, engage with your personas with the aim of bringing them back to your website.
When deciding on what social media platforms to utilise, there are a few that work best for law firms.
To get started on LinkedIn, set up a company page first. Make sure you complete as much as you can, and ask each of your staff to connect their profiles.
You should not underestimate your team’s role in this strategy. Relay a short brief to guide your team, highlighting what you expect. This guide might include sharing company page updates to their profiles.
You should also ask team members to participate in relevant LinkedIn groups, and when an opportunity exists, share a relevant article from the firm’s website.
Facebook is not the obvious choice. Surprisingly, there is an opportunity here.
More than 60% of Australians have a Facebook account. So your audience is there. Your task is to find the right content and context to share with them.
Video consumption has skyrocketed in recent years. We all love watching a video. Naturally, YouTube, the world’s second-largest search engine, is another platform your firm can use to attract new audiences.
They may not be looking for more direct search terms such as “Family Law Firm Melbourne,” but they may be looking for “parental custody rights.” Targeting the broader search terms is a great way to establish your firm and the lawyers involved with a high level of authority.
A YouTube Channel is an excellent opportunity for people to subscribe and keep up-to-date on their legal rights.
Just keep in mind that video content is more difficult to produce. Additionally, you will need to conduct regular audits on your videos to maintain accuracy.
8. Ramping Up Lead Generation with Online Advertising
Online advertising is rapidly eating up market share from traditional media as consumers spend more and more time online.
What makes the opportunity even more compelling is the variety of complex advertising products and tracking available.
Search Engine Advertising
I’ve covered the need for search engine visibility, but paid search results puts you in the box seat. Think Google Adwords or BingAds.
Because you’re paying, you get more prominent real estate in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
The primary benefit of search advertising and Adwords is that you’re paying to get exposure with people demonstrating intent for your services. You also only pay when someone clicks on your advertisement.
The best bit is the fact that the better your advert and strategy, the less you pay!
Yes, that’s right. If you bid slightly less than your competitor for “Family law firm Melbourne,” for instance, but your advert is performing much better, Google will place your advert above theirs.
It’s a win-win-win!
You’ve already been retargeted. That’s a fact.
At some point in time, you’ve visited a website, and they’ve hit you with display advertising when you browse other sites on the advertiser network.
Retargeting could be an excellent opportunity for your law firm.
For example, you could advertise to people who have browsed your “Family Law Services” page without contacting you.
Maybe they were researching different firms or weren’t quite ready to get that ball rolling.
Retargeting allows you to advertise to these leads for the next 45 days, ensuring that when they’re ready, they choose your firm. You can even tailor the display advertising to create a more significant impact.
It may unfold like this.
A father heads to Google, searches for “custody rights for parents,” and clicks on your blog post. He doesn’t give up his email for your checklist (content upgrade) and leaves the site.
With retargeting, you can set up advertising to this dad about custody rights and family law for the next 30–90 days and get a second chance to land him as a client.
Social Media Advertising
If you’ve identified that your target audiences are spending time on a particular social network, then it makes sense to try and engage them with paid social advertising.
YouTube allows advertisers to produce short video advertisements, which can be great for grabbing prospects’ attention. Creating a video advertisement requires some outsourced professional work, but it’s worth it if you know how to run a successful ad campaign.
Note, however, that your Television Commercial (TVC) will not work on YouTube.
With its ability to hyper-target users, Facebook is the pick of the bunch.
Depending on your campaign, you can target age, location, gender, interests, education, and so much more on Facebook. One example might include targeting users that have browsed divorce-related pages with a content asset you’ve produced.
Expanding on that, Facebook Custom Audiences allows you to upload your customer email list and advertise to them when they’re on Facebook.
Don’t necessarily want to advertise to your existing/previous database? Maybe this list has specific traits in common. Upload that list, and ask Facebook to create a similar audience!
Facebook will identify commonalities from over 100 different data points, allowing you to advertise to a higher-qualified audience.
9. Fine-Tuning Your Marketing Strategy with Reporting
When we discuss the benefits of online marketing, it is our ability to scale that is the main focus. But for many, the real benefit lies in the ability to analyse what works—enabling you to make sound decisions.
Larry Bodine, a U.S.-based senior legal marketing strategist, goes so far to say:
“Don’t waste any money on marketing that is not measurable. If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.”
Above all, make sure you understand your objectives from the outset. Then, configure Google Analytics to track your conversions.
Here’s an example. If you want people to send an enquiry from your website’s contact form, create a Goal within analytics to track this action.
Your Goal might be triggered when a user visits your “Thanks for Contacting” page, which is only accessible upon completion of the form. You can identify a range of important notes, but there are two important ones:
- What traffic source the lead originated from
- What service the visitor was browsing before submitting the contact form
With the information recorded above, you can then understand the ROI on your marketing activities.
Here’s one scenario:
Adwords Budget for Family Law – $1100
Leads Generated – 44
Leads Closed (Actual clients) – 20
From these statistics, we know that it cost $25 to generate every lead from this specific Adwords campaign.
With only converting 20 of the 44 leads, it cost $55 to secure a client.
But tracking the conversion is the lynchpin. Without it, you lose the ability to track ROI.
Law Firm Marketing Payoffs
Traditionally, law firm marketing is overlooked, but as more and more clients look to the Internet to find the right practice, online marketing is becoming a requisite to generating leads. Ideally, law firm marketing is a multi-pronged strategy that comprises implementing an SEO strategy and creating a content strategy.
A key step is analyzing what works and what doesn’t so you can optimize your marketing budget to obtain the most leads. When you follow these nine marketing ideas, you might find that you’re generating more higher quality leads, even if it takes several months at the start of your marketing efforts.