Online Law Firm Marketing: All You Need to Know

Monday 22 August, 2022

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Marketing for law firms is no longer optional; it’s necessary. For legal practices to strengthen their pipelines and increase the number of quality referrals coming into their business, they need to invest in online marketing for their firms.

A plethora of new clients are constantly searching for legal advice online, and we have digital transformation to thank for that. However, standing out from the crowd is difficult with fierce ongoing competition, and almost impossible to do without any online presence. This short guide looks at everything you need to know about creating the perfect digital marketing strategy for your legal firm.

Why You Need to Market Your Law Firm

Firstly, it’s important to look at why digital marketing is important for solicitors and legal practices.

Not only can a consistent and thoroughly-planned marketing strategy present more opportunities for firms to improve brand awareness, but it can also generate considerably large numbers of prospects and leads.

In recent years, there has been a gradual shift from traditional marketing to a predominantly digital one. Due to restrictions imposed by Covid-19, businesses were thrust into a virtual and online world.

If anything, digital marketing competition has only grown in intensity. Therefore, if you want any hope of staying competitive and continuing to attract new clients, your firm needs to be marketing itself online.

Proven Law Firm Marketing Strategies

There are numerous ways to stay ahead of the competition and target new prospects through legal digital marketing. A successful marketing strategy is built upon three core principles:

  1. Building a solid profile
  2. Establishing credibility
  3. Targeting the right audience

Below are some of the ways your legal practice can market itself online.

Social Media Marketing

This involves creating an integrated and strategic approach to promoting your brand and company through your social media channels. 

It’s not a case of simply creating posts or responding to comments. Campaigns need to be highly targeted, data-driven and tactical to target new clients and maintain relationships with existing ones. 

Marketers need to work on a broader scale to coordinate consistent messaging across all (including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others). Analytics is also crucial in social media marketing; marketers must measure how posts are performing and make informed decisions from that to define new strategies going forward.

Some may baulk at the idea of using social media as a legal practice, but the idea that lawyers and legal professionals cannot engage with followers today is ludicrous. TikTok, one of the newest social media platforms and one which many businesses are utilising for marketing, can work wonders for legal professionals. Here are five influencers with a legal background and millions of followers on TikTok. If TikTok isn’t right for you right now, numerous other legal practices have tried different social media strategies, with it paying dividends.

Web Design and Development

Your website needs to create an excellent first impression with your customers.

While it doesn’t have to include complicated, state-of-the-art functionality, it must clearly demonstrate that you are an expert in your field. If it doesn’t, there’s very little hope that anyone who comes across your site will entrust you to deliver a professional service.

The best part is there are plenty of CMS’ (content management systems) which alleviate the need for extensive coding or programming knowledge. WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS solution and can be used for businesses of any size. WordPress itself is very SEO-friendly (more on that later), but supplies innumerable plugins and themes which can provide plenty of customisation for sites to make them look more professional. That said, it’s recommended that a WordPress system – and any other installed plugins – be regularly patched, ideally on a test server before being rolled out onto the live domain.

There are other CMS’ like Drupal, Magento, Joomla, Wix and Squarespace but they are all lacking in areas that WordPress excels in. Whether this is in available plugins, customisation opportunities, coding knowledge, third-party integrations and so on, WordPress is the go-to website solution for millions for a reason.

You can argue that even a  simple brochure site must meet the target customer’s needs. This requires the site to be mobile responsive, fast loading and deliver an excellent user experience.

Content Marketing

Content is king. Professionally written and relevant content is how you engage and persuade prospects and turn them into customers. Content marketing uses storytelling and fact sharing to increase awareness and trust in your brand.

Your content needs to reflect the pain points and needs of your target audience while demonstrating your credibility and authority. Each piece of content needs to have a valid and relevant CTA (call-to-action), such as signing up to your mailing list, requesting more information, or making a purchase.

Content can take the form of website articles, blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, evergreen web pages, advertorials, and much more. While there is no universal content type that’s going to magically conjure up thousands of impressions or clicks to your legal practice’s site, the more you write (and the more you write about topics in your sector) can generate swathes of traffic organically. Furthermore, your other platforms such as your Google Business Profile, offline newsletters, email blasts, mailshots or social media channels can draw more eyes on your topical content.

This content can serve a valuable purpose in encouraging clicks onto your service or product pages. Furthermore, if you’ve conducted thorough keyword research and competitor analysis, you can use your articles section or website blog to write content around what people in your industry are searching for, and content that your competitors may not be doing (or not doing as well).

For example, if you provide employment law, you may find writing a topic entitled: ‘Do You Need an Employment Solicitor for a Settlement Agreement?’ useful for your audience. Or if you provide business and corporate law, suitable topics would be ‘Explaining the Legal Differences Between Mergers and Acquisitions’. Property lawyers can explore topics around conveyancing, while family lawyers might fare better catering to those searching for legal advice around divorces or retirement. You get the idea.

Some tools to help inspire content ideas include BiQ, UberSuggest, Answer the Public, Copy AI or HubSpot’s built-in topic generator, among many others.

Whether you’re targeting new customers, providing useful information to your existing clients, or  communicating with your partners, suppliers or stakeholders, a strategic content marketing strategy can accomplish many goals.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Promoting your business online and acquiring new leads requires a robust SEO strategy. Through a mixture of technical website optimisation, well-written content and keyword research, you can build engaging and relevant web pages that appeal to your target audience (as well as Google’s search engine crawlers, or bots).

Reading about SEO can sometimes send a person’s mind into overdrive; it can be difficult to understand and remember the meaning of some of the buzzwords you see associated with SEO. To help you, here is a mini glossary:

  • Keyword – a relevant search term that users type into a search engine.
  • Organic result – placement in search results that is not from a paid advertisement.
  • Featured snippet – organic results that appear at the very top of the page for certain queries.
  • Crawling – the process of search engines discovering pages.
  • Indexing – the process of storing and organising that content found during crawling.
  • Google Search Console – a tool to help marketers to track and monitor how their site is performing and how technically sound it is.
  • Algorithm – the formula for which search engines retrieve and order information, which is constantly changing.
  • txt – a file that tells search engines what to crawl and what not to crawl.
  • Sitemap – a list of URLs that crawlers can use to discover and index content on your site.
  • Bots – crawlers or spiders, the things which scour the Internet to find content.
  • Page Title – the title of the web page, which is pulled through into a SERP result.
  • URL – uniform resource locator – the location or address for a piece of content or category on the web.
  • Meta description – a short description that describes the contents of a page that someone is on, often pulled through into a SERP result.

SEO for law firms is not unheard of, with many practices’ web pages occupying the top positions on search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords and search terms. Establishing a solid SEO strategy can lead to similar results for your practice in the long run. While it won’t happen overnight, staying the course with SEO can improve your visibility, organic web traffic and sales.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising

Pay-per-click marketing essentially refers to paid advertisements. These can be in the form of promoted search engine results (such as Google Ads, formerly Google AdWords) which appear above organic search results.

These ads can also be social media ads that appear in your target customers’ social media feeds even if they don’t follow your page. PPC ads can also refer to the ads you see before watching videos, in mobile apps, or by browsing the web.

When exploring PPC marketing for your law firm, you’ll need to learn a few key terms and their meanings to understand their significance in this type of marketing. Otherwise, it can be difficult to wrap your head around.

  • Google Ads – Google’s online advertising platform that helps marketers maximise the performance of ad campaigns.
  • Facebook ads – Facebook’s advertising platform that uses demographic data to target specific audiences with personalised ads.
  • Click-through rate (CTR) – the ratio of the number of clicks versus the number of times the ad was seen (impressions).
  • Cost-per-click (CPC) – the amount that a marketer pays each time a user clicks on their ads.
  • Cost-per-conversion/engagement/acquisition – the average cost every time a user converts, interacts with, or becomes a customer.
  • Display network – a network of partnered sites where your ad can be shown if you agree to pay a part of the ad’s revenue.
  • Conversion rate – the number of conversions divided by the number of clicks your ad receives.
  • Bounce rate – the ratio of users that bounce after visiting your page.
  • Phrase match – when your ad is displayed when users’ search queries include a close match of your chosen keyword(s).
  • Broad match – showing your ad when the search query contains your keyword or any variations or related terms with it.
  • Exact match – when your ads are shown only if the search query matches your keyword verbatim.

A PPC advertising model means that businesses only pay whenever someone clicks an ad and lands on the landing page. The cost of running ads will depend on the price and competitiveness of the keywords that you effectively bid on. The more competitive the keyword, the more expensive it will be.

PPC can significantly improve the number of clicks through to your law firm’s website and, if targeted correctly, can drive a high ROI (return on investment).

Email Marketing

Email is still widely used and an incredibly effective marketing tool. Similarly to social media and content marketing, compelling email campaigns can provide tangible value to clients of any business, and a law firm is no different. 

Email marketing campaigns are focused on boosting the open rate and the click-through rate (CTR) of emails. Creating personalised emails that imply a sense of urgency and time sensitivity to the desired action of the user (such as taking up an offer or incentive) is crucial to driving campaigns.

Email marketing can build strong and long-lasting relationships with prospects at various stages of their customer journey with you, whether new to your brand or having engaged with it at some point but not converted (remarketing campaigns). 

Some popular email marketing tools include MailChimp, Infusionsoft, HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, Moosend, and MailerLite. All of these tools have features and built-in tools to customise your emails and make them more interactive, engaging and useful. There are also built-in analytics for you to analyse performance.

As you’ll see, some of these digital marketing strategies can coexist harmoniously together and complement one another. 

For example, web design and SEO can often go hand-in-hand, as do SEO and content marketing, PPC and social media advertising, among others.

Therefore, it’s not as black-and-white as picking one type of digital marketing to invest in – it’s very much a case of shades of grey.

Benefits of Online Law Firm Marketing

Digital marketing helps law firms:

  • Improve brand visibility and awareness
  • Generate new leads and sales
  • Rank higher on SERPs
  • Engage with new prospects
  • Improve ROI
  • Cater to local customers (local SEO)
  • Build trust in the eyes of their clients
  • Grow their businesses

7 Tips to Market Your Law Firm More Effectively

It can be challenging for legal practices to understand where to begin regarding their digital marketing efforts.

However, these seven steps can provide you with some loose guidelines about how you can begin creating a definitive and scalable marketing strategy that works for your business, whatever you choose to invest in.

  1. Research your target audience.

Rule number one is to understand what your customers are looking for. What type of content do they engage with? What do your current clients like about you? How did they come across your business initially?

The most crucial ingredient for any marketing strategy is understanding your client, their circumstances and their pain points. Therefore, in-depth keyword research using tools like ahrefs or Semrush will help you begin to understand what your audience is searching for. You’ll also begin to get an idea of what types of searches are most common in your industry and which ones are most relevant to your business services.

Collating all of this data and information will provide the perfect foundation for building your ideal marketing strategy.

  1.           Define your goals.

A marketing strategy is almost non-existent without some defined KPIs (key performance indicators), goals or objectives. How else can you measure your strategy’s success and effectiveness?

Some goals or KPIs include:

  • Increasing organic website traffic
  • Achieving a set number of new clients within a year
  • Driving enquiries through PPC ads or social media engagement
  • Achieving a certain ROI

Goals can be set on a short- or long-term basis, but should ultimately be realistic. At the end of the day, a digital marketing strategy needs to be appropriately budgeted, and unrealistic goals will only limit (or stretch) your spending to the point where you won’t hit the targets you’ve set.

Understand how much time, effort and budget you can feasibly dedicate to marketing your legal practice online and use that to determine your goals.

  1.           Understand what your competitors are (or aren’t) doing.

Your competitors can provide the right idea of what to do, or, on the flip side, what not to do. While you should never endeavour to mimic their exact strategy, you can use it as an influence on how you begin to craft your bespoke law firm marketing strategy and supporting campaigns.

For example, if you’ve chosen to invest in SEO, you can use tools to understand what search terms your competitors are ranking for, and also where those gaps in the market might be.

When we say competitors, we can refer to either direct business competitors or those that exist purely in a digital sphere. For instance, your local law firm may only have one or two competing local businesses (with not much SEO traffic), but you can be looking at national or regional firms to understand what terms they’re ranking for (if any).

From this, you can find out the unique, relevant search terms and questions your customers are asking, and use that to visualise what content you could be providing to them.

  1.           Invest in an authoritative website.

As explained above, your website is often the first thing prospective customers will look at to determine your worthiness. Think of it like your virtual business card – it needs to be authoritative and convincing.

This means that the pages must be technically optimised, fast to load and responsive on mobile devices because that’s where the bulk of online business is conducted, and also what most people use to search nowadays.

Your web pages must, naturally, match your brand and be full of relevant content that explains what you do and how you add value. Speaking of which…

  1.           Write professional, engaging content (regularly).

Don’t think that once you have crafted the content for your firm’s service pages, ‘about’ page, contact information and homepage, your job is done.

People crave content, so you need to be providing that to them in spades. This can be as regular blogs on your website, case studies of clients that you’ve helped on social media, trends in the industry, or anything in between.

Successful, high-ranking content relies on three things:

  1. Expertise (or Experience)
  2. Authoritativeness
  3. Trustworthiness

This E-A-T methodology is vital for creating quality and accurate content that holds long-term value. Google itself updated its search quality rater guidelines back in 2019 to reflect this shift towards prioritising high-quality content.

Whatever the platform, you can use this content to keep your business at the forefront of your customers’ minds. People have notoriously short attention spans and multiple responsibilities to balance (and even less time to do that in). Even if they read and engage with your content, you need to give them an action to take that can benefit them, otherwise the content will fade into obscurity.

The previous steps of competitor research, keyword research and a technically-optimised website will give you the perfect platform to create content that’s unique, engaging, valuable and relevant to what they’re searching for, while presenting your business as a viable solution to their problem(s).

  1.           Track your performance.

It’s crucial to look at the data and the metrics behind your campaign(s). It might take a while for you to see any uplift, but if/when you do, you should look at the numbers to see how successful your efforts have been thus far.

You can measure these numbers to see whether you are on track to meet your targets and KPIs, and compare them against previous months or quarters. The metrics to track will be bespoke to your business and based on the strategy (or strategies) you’ve chosen to implement. As a guide, the metrics could be any of the following:

  • Site, page or profile visits
  • Clicks or click-through rate
  • Organic impressions
  • Bounce rate
  • Conversions
  • Calls or visits via Google Business Profile
  • Page speed (see Core Web Vitals)
  1.           Scale accordingly.

Ultimately, your digital marketing strategy needs to work for you. Chances are that you will make some mistakes along the way and the road itself will be bumpy, especially to start with. However, once you find a nice and sustainable rhythm, you can begin to make occasional changes to what you do or how you do that.

The objective of digital marketing is to increase your brand awareness, acquire more customers and, in the long run, grow your business. Once you reach a point where you’re achieving a steady stream of regular leads and prospects, you may find yourself and your teams stretched. You may even get to a point where you need to hire reinforcements.

As the months and years pass, your law firm will also experience changes. You should reflect any changes through your chosen form of online marketing to keep your customers informed, but you can scale how much you’re investing to match where your firm currently stands. For example, you may have more budget to spend on marketing and to vamp up how you do that.

You can be doing everything right in your online marketing, but there are always other activities you can undertake to ensure the ends justify the means.

For example, you can appoint a representative from the firm to attend networking meetings and establish a presence with other local business owners in your area. You can also achieve similar results by attending seminars, events, or engaging in charity and community work.

As your business scales, you may find you need to change your processes, tools, resources or suppliers. You may seek alternatives to accommodate your current workload and budget. For example, if your case workload (and your team) grows, you may find the need for a new, innovative legal case management tool to ensure your increasing numbers of leads are accounted for and you can deliver that same high standard of service.

Online Marketing for Lawyers and Legal Firms Done Right

Hopefully, this guide has given you a better understanding of how your legal practice can improve itself through digital marketing. Remember that your clients and prospects should come first when marketing your business. Your strategy has to cater to their needs above your own. 

Growing your law firm and acquiring new leads will certainly not happen instantly, but can be done with the right pragmatic approach. 

The first step is to start at a level that’s doable and not stack all the odds against yourself, giving yourself an insurmountable challenge. You don’t need to do everything that’s listed here straight away. Instead, find the right strategy for you and see what works. If it doesn’t work, change it. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to see the fruits of your labour bloom.

At Insight Legal, we provide cloud based software solutions to take your law firm to the next level. For more information, please get in touch with our team.