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In 2009, the legal field officially became over-saturated. The bulk of law firms are still feeling the trend, which has translated negatively for partners in two ways: it’s now harder to acquire ideal clients, and there’s fiercer competition for the best and the brightest new talent.
I know this because I keep having the same conversation with law firm partners and senior attorneys. It goes like this:
“Betsy, my law firm can’t find enough good clients/new talent.”
That sums it up.
It doesn’t matter if they’re from a small law firm or a conglomerate, if they’re a family member, friend, or client; the conversation about finding more clients and attracting new talent is always the same. I wrote this as a guide to help you—and them—leverage the internet to help build your practice.
It’s easy to see why most law practices are looking for better ways to get more clients and woo the best recruits. Guess what? You can do both of those things with the right digital marketing strategies.
When you market your law firm online successfully, you’re accomplishing two things: you’re putting yourself front and center of both potential new clients and potential new talent, and you’re leading them through the buyer’s funnel to contact you. The only caveat is that competing law firms are also catching onto the need for digital marketing, so you need to not only attract clients and recruits, but also outperform and outrank your competitors.
If you’ve found yourself asking “How do I get new clients for my law firm?” or “How can I get better legal talent?” I’m here to save the day.
There are three key lawyer marketing strategies you should use that will help you attract and convert new clients and new talent, as well as outperform and outrank competing law firms. They are:
- Prioritize your law firm’s website and invest in SEO for lawyers
- Expand your online footprint beyond your law firm’s website
- Use your online presence as a recruitment tool
I’ll go through each lawyer marketing strategy and the individual tactics you can use to leverage it. By the end of this article, you should have a nice list of to-dos—and to-don’ts—for your law firm’s marketing plan.
Prioritize Your Law Firm’s Website and Invest in SEO for Lawyers
Where do people go when they need something? It used to be the Yellow Pages, but now 85 percent of consumers use the internet to find a local business. That means your law firm’s website is your number one asset. All things should begin and end with your website. In order for it to attract and convert new clients and talent, it doesn’t just need to exist—it needs to be fast, mobile friendly, easily found, appealing, and authoritative.
Your website should be fast
Half of the online population (47 percent, to be exact) expects a website to load in 3 seconds or under. If it doesn’t, the user will click the “back” button.
You can’t afford to make this mistake. The legal field is an I-need-it-now field—and we all know there’s no shortage of lawyers—so you need to take every step you can to keep the clicks you do get.
TO-DO: Go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights and test your site speed. If it’s in the red, send an email to your web team or send an email to us to fix it for you.
Your website needs to be mobile-friendly
One key aspect of a successful website for attorneys? It’s mobile-friendly, meaning it’s optimized for smartphones. Why? Take a look at the graph above. More than 57 percent of searches in the US now happen on smartphones or tablets over desktop computers. Now, think back to a time where you’ve been on a bad mobile website. Either the buttons are too small to click, the text is too hard to read, or there’s god-knows-what happening with the design. Chances are, you clicked the “back” button. I would have. I still do, every time.
Here’s the thing about websites. You don’t just order one from Amazon, open the box and put the batteries in. It’s built layer by layer of code, and there are a plethora of moving parts. Optimizing a website for mobile isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, so I’d recommend you call your webmaster TODAY and get started on the migration.
TO-DO: Test your website on your mobile phone. Do the contact buttons work? Are the photos sized correctly? Is the text large enough to read? Scrutinize it like you think a client would. If it’s not the most beautiful, easiest thing you’ve ever seen, have your web team work on it.
Your website should be easily found by search engines like Google.
There are two basic assumptions I consider when making plans for law firm marketing:
- Most law firms are local (as opposed to national)
- Most attorneys provide need-based services
What this means is that your best bet at capturing new clients when they need you is through search engine optimization (SEO) for attorneys.
Search engine optimization is the practice of making your website show up higher in search engines like Google and Bing when people search for your services. These days, when people need something they pull out their smartphone or tablet and either type it into Google search or use voice commands to open local listings. Your law firm needs to be on page one of Google, or it may as well not be listed at all—55 percent of all clicks go to one of the first three organic search results.
To give you an example of how powerful SEO can be take a look at one of our legal client case studies. Below is a screenshot of this law firm’s organic website visits ( website visits that came in through search engines).
Compared to the first month, SEO helped this lawyer increase organic visits by:
- 439% (percent change over 12 months of local SEO for law firms).
- 869% (percent change over 18 months of local SEO for law firms).
Throughout the lifespan of this client, organic search (orange) has accounted for nearly 80 percent of all web form submissions from prospective clients.
We covered making your website fast and mobile-friendly, which is half the battle in search engine optimization (SEO) for lawyers. Your next step is to focus on the other aspects of SEO, including:
- Adding schema for attorneys (schema = extra website code that helps search engines understand what your web page is about)
- Optimizing your landing pages for specific action-related keywords, like “legal advice for retirees” or “corporate litigation practices.”
- Adding relevant markup and keywords in title, image, and heading tags
- Optimizing images and adding keyword-rich descriptions
- Offsite local SEO, which we’ll discuss further down
- Content marketing, which we’ll also discuss further down
TO-DO: Open an incognito tab in your web browser. Search for your legal service + the city you’re in. Do that for your top five key phrases that you want to be found for. If your law firm doesn’t show up on the first page for every single one of your top search phrases, you need to contact someone about professional SEO services—it is not a DIY thing.
Your website should be appealing.
People are judgmental. But hey, you know that, you work in law (badum TSH). Once your website loads, users form an opinion about it in 0.5 seconds. In fact, 48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business.
Because this happens subconsciously, all visual aspects of your web pages need to be tailored to psychologically encourage trust, authority, and friendliness. That goes for colors, shapes, photos, font of the text, calls-to-action—if it’s visual, it needs to have a purpose.
Not only should it appeal to a visitor’s subconscious, your website also needs to have basic user experience (UX) in mind. User experience includes the entire interaction someone has with a website. This includes the pieces of content available, the colors, the layout, and how users are interacting with the company. People should leave your website feeling 100% satisfied.
TO-DO: Ask a family member or friend to look at your website through a mobile phone. See if they can navigate around on their own without prompts from you. If they can’t, chances are other consumers won’t be able to, either. Also pay attention to their interest level. It’s extremely obvious when someone is bored. If they get bored after two seconds of looking at your site, you may need a redesign.
Your website’s content should be authoritative.
Who wants to hire a lawyer that doesn’t have authority in the industry? Despite this obvious correlation, some of the law firm partners I talk to haven’t ever really looked at the content on their site. What your website says—literally and visually—makes up a person’s mind over whether to contact you or not.
When was the last time you looked at your firm’s website? What’s the overall message? Is it easy to read? Is it navigable? Do you have a blog? Your website is an online salesman (one of the core tenants of Blue Corona’s digital marketing strategy) so it needs to encourage prospective clients and recruits down the funnel from awareness to consideration to action.
TO-DO: Build out content on your website. Start with your main services, and work out from there. After you’ve built your main pages, start a blog. For topics, just answer some of the main questions you get when a new client comes to you. By building a blog, you’re showing your authority on your industry as well as increasing your website’s SEO.
Expand Your Online Footprint Beyond Your Law Firm’s Website
Unfortunately, not all the battles are fought on home turf.
You need to claim all your online real estate—meaning those spaces online you absolutely OWN (Google My Business listing, Facebook Page) as opposed to rent (Avvo). You also need to capitalize on paid search ads (PPC) and start generating plenty of reviews.
Claim your online real estate with local SEO Practices
Local SEO is the practice of getting your company at the top of search results for a local service area. It’s different than normal SEO because of the emphasis on the local pack. The local pack is the box of Google Map results in the search results page, under the paid ads and above the organic search results.
The information in the local pack is pulled from your Google My Business Account, which is why your GMB account needs to be claimed and optimized for local SEO.
Your Google My Business profile isn’t the only one that needs to be optimized for that local pack. One part of attorney local SEO is finding relevant online directories and claiming your listing. The top legal citation sources are:
(Read the entire list of best local SEO citations sources for attorneys here.)
TO-DO: Find and claim your Google My Business account. Then update the following:
- Phone number
- Business hours
You can learn more about how to optimize your GMB profile in this blog post, Do Law Firms Need SEO?
Use paid search ads (PPC) for attorneys
If you want to extend your brand and bolster your SEO efforts, we recommend PPC for lawyers. Paid search ads, or pay-per-click ads (PPC) are pretty much what they sound like: they’re ads you pay for when someone clicks on it.
The reason you should use them is because PPC ads have a prominent place in search results. When someone goes to Google and searches for something, the top 3 – 4 listings are usually advertisements from Google’s AdWords. Take a look—I’m in the Washington, DC area, and I searched for “personal injury lawyer.” Here’s what came up:
Those dominant paid advertisements took up the entire top half of my screen, and on average, 41% of clicks go to the top 3 paid ads on the search results page.
There is a caveat: PPC keywords for lawyers and legal services are expensive, with an average click costing $54.86.
TO-DO: Search for your legal service + your city. Which paid ads come up? Are they your competitors? Then do a search for your particular law firm. Chances are, one of your competitors is bidding on your name and showing ads when someone searches for your firm directly.
You can learn more about PPC for lawyers in a blog I recently wrote, Does PPC Marketing Work for Lawyers?
Generate reviews from past legal clients
Reviews are your best friend and one of your top assets. Before I buy ANYTHING, I look at the reviews, whether that’s a new TV or a new pair of lounge pants.
I’m not unique in that regard. Take a look at these statistics:
- 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
- 10% of website traffic value is attributed to online reviews
- 90% of consumers say that their purchases are influenced by online reviews
- Product page visitors who read reviews, convert at a 58% higher rate
TO-DO: Check how many reviews you have. If it’s not many, start an initiative to gather them. You can send out a customized review link, or simply ask former clients if they’d be willing to share their experiences.
Use Your Online Presence for Recruiting New Attorneys and Legal Talent
You can’t retain your clients if they don’t like your attorneys. Customer experience is an especially important factor in the legal field because of the high stakes, which is why it’s so important to hire the right talent.
However, you have an additional hurdle. In 2007 there were 1,143,358 attorneys. In 2017, there were 1,335,963, a 16.8 percent increase. Combine that with the fact that the legal profession employed roughly 55,000 fewer attorneys than it did in 2017 it’s pretty obvious that the ball is in the employer’s court when it comes to hiring top talent. Trouble is, you and your competitors are competing for the same talent, and if they have a better online presence than you, you’re SOL.
That’s because your new talent comes in the form of a Millennial, and (excuse the broad generalization) one key aspect of this demographic is that in order to find them—and help them find you—you need to meet them on their turf:
- You need to grab their attention where they spend the majority of their time on the web: social media
- You need to give them an online experience that will encourage them to apply to your firm
How Law Firms Can Use Social Media as a Recruitment Tool
Your ideal candidate is online. Specifically, (s)he’s on social media. If you really want to attract the best and the brightest or woo away prime candidates from competitors, you need to be active on the following platforms:
Facebook/Instagram– I group these together because Instagram is in fact owned by Facebook, and they share the same ads platform. This is key because Facebook and Instagram are pay-to-play (Facebook moreso). This is where you should share your company culture, and highlight all the reasons someone would want to work for you. In the legal field, this also includes sharing conferences, landmark court cases, and prestigious attorneys.
LinkedIn: This is where the professionals come to play. If you want to be a serious contender online, you need to be on LinkedIn. Use it for networking, recruitment, and to share your law firm’s view on the profession.
GlassDoor and Indeed: These aren’t one not many business owners are aware they need to be on. The next generation of lawyers is online, and they don’t want to work somewhere they’ll regret. That’s why review platforms like GlassDoor have become so popular in job searches. Pew Research also found that vetting companies online is the number one resource reported in how job seekers found information about companies in their search (followed by connections with friends, professional connections, employment agencies, ads in print publications, and job fairs or other events).
TO-DO: Take an inventory of your social channels and your social audience. What are they collectively saying? Would you want to work there? Are you accurately representing what it would be like to work for your practice?
Step 0: Analyze Your Law Firm’s Online Competition
After you finish reading this, I recommend the very first thing you do is perform a digital competitive analysis. The very first thing we do when we get a new client is perform this unique analysis so we can get baseline of where clients are digitally compared to their competitors. The truth is, you can execute your marketing plan flawlessly, but if your competitors are out-performing you it’s all for nothing. Get your free analysis here, and let us know how we can help to bring your law firm to the next level.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod