Digital marketing is always changing. Marketing tactics that were working five years ago likely won’t be as successful now. It can be challenging to update your firm’s online marketing tactics and continually optimize for success, but having an updated, successful strategy can help your firm grow. To help your firm continue successful online marketing, use the guide below:
Building Your Target Audience
Before you can establish a marketing strategy for your firm, you’ll first need to identify your target audience. To do so, you should establish your ideal client and identify their search intent. Why would they need to reach out to your firm?Establish Your Ideal Client
Your target audience should consist of who your firm’s ideal client is. This may include a specific age range, location, occupation, specific case type, injuries or illnesses and more. If you’re not sure who your ideal client would be, look at your past clients. What did they have in common that made them a successful client? If your firm handles multiple areas of law, then you may want to create a target audience for each area of law. For example, your ideal Social Security disability claimant is likely someone over age 50 that is not working but has worked in the past and regularly visits the doctor. This would differ from an ideal wage theft client where the age might not matter to your firm.Identifying Search Intent
Once your target audience is identified, you can begin creating your marketing campaigns around them. In digital marketing, you’ll need to consider search intent. Search intent is the “why” behind a keyword. Keeping your target audience in mind, you’ll want to look at the keywords your firm wants to rank for and establish what the intent is. Then, you can build your content around the intent. For example, if an employment law claimant searches “not getting paid overtime”, then it’s likely that the user’s intent is to learn what to do when not getting paid overtime, and not statistics on workers who are not paid for their overtime. You can then create content on your firm’s site about what to do when you are not getting paid overtime. As you work on your firm’s marketing, your target audience and search intent should constantly be in the front of your mind.
To help identify search intent, you can use third party tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs or SpyFu to find keywords for your firm. Once you identify potential keywords through these tools, you can look at content already ranking for the keywords to identify intent. Look for patterns within the content of the top pages to establish what Google believes the search intent is.
Defining Your FirmIn addition to identifying your ideal clients, you should determine how you want your firm to be perceived. This will help for consistent marketing across all marketing channels. Consider what your firm’s brand is and how you can show you are an authority within your area of law. Determining Your Firm’s Brand
Next step before working on your marketing plan is determining your firm’s brand. What makes your firm different than the competition? What sets you apart? This can be your success rate, special services provided, characteristics of your firm, lack of fees, etc. Once you determine how you want to brand your firm, you can use consistent messaging across all your legal digital marketing efforts.Demonstrating Authority
Another consideration when determining your firm’s brand is establishing how your firm is an authority. Your firm’s authority and credibility may stem from past achievements, how long your firm has been in business, etc. You can then prove to potential clients why you’re an authority within your area of law. You can then use this in your ads, on an “about us” page, or within the content of your firm’s site.
Once you’ve established your brand, you can move onto content marketing. Content marketing has become more important than ever. The content on your firm’s site can be used to reach new clients every day. When working on your firm’s content, you should consider an inbound marketing strategy or try creating videos.Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is a process where you help potential clients find your firm through the content you provide online When done correctly, a potential client shouldn’t feel like you’re selling them on contacting your firm or that you’re selling them on the fact that they need a lawyer. Instead, you’re providing the information to lead them to this conclusion themselves. Instead of outright saying, “You need to contact a lawyer!”, try adding reasons a lawyer may be able to help, guiding them to the decision to contact your firm.Using Video
Video marketing is a great way to build brand awareness and attract more clients to your firm. Because Google owns YouTube, chances of your firm’s video getting on the first page of the search results are high. In fact, it’s been found that you are 53 times more likely* to rank on the first page of Google when using videos. You can use videos to introduce your staff, provide how-to information, answer frequently asked questions and more. These videos can help build trust as well as help potential client build a relationship with you before they even meet you. With over 480,000 videos when you search “how to find an attorney”, your firm could be missing out on a valuable way to find new clients.
Online Marketing Outside of Website
Outside of your firm’s website, there are other key areas online that you should spend time optimizing. These include online directories, online reviews and utilizing social media.Business Listings & Directories
If your firm isn’t already utilizing online directories and business listings, now is the time to start. It’s an easy way to gain backlinks to your firm’s site. Many directories free to use. Those that are paid can help boost where your firm is listed in on their site. Plus, many online directories, like Yelp and AVVO, rank on the first page of the search results. This can help your firm gain organic traffic for keywords that are difficult to rank in the top 10 search results for. These directories can also lead to referral traffic to your firm’s site from the listings.Getting Reviews
Online reviews are necessary. They show that your firm is credible and can get the job done. These can be posted across the different online directories your firm has joined, your Google Business Listing, Facebook, and on your firm’s site. If your firm handles different areas of law, consider trying to get testimonials from each practice area. Reach out to past and current clients with links to places to post reviews of your firm. As you get reviews, whether positive or negative, try interacting with them. This will show potential clients you care. The testimonials your firm receives can then be used to help prove that your firm is an authority in your area of law, as previously discussed.Social Media
Having a Facebook or Twitter is one thing, but actually using it is another. Being engaged on social media can help your firm find new clients. You’re able to connect with people on a more personal level, helping your firm feel more real. You should regularly post content and try to answer any questions. Your firm can join different Facebook or LinkedIn groups where your target audience may also be. Then, try being an active member and making your firm known to the group through answering questions and offering advice. Using your research on your ideal client’s search intent, you can create specific posts on your social media accounts to attract and engage your target audience.
Paid search is used by firms both big and small to drive potential clients to their sites. As you work on your paid campaigns, consider trying Local Service Ads and optimizing your landing pages.Local Service Ads
Paid search can be extremely competitive and costly, especially for saturated areas of law. For some smaller firms, there might not be the budget to compete with nationwide firms for paid ad placements. Fortunately, Google now has Local Service Ads. To get placements on Local Service Ads, firms must be screened by Google before qualifying for a Local Service Ad placement. Then, you pay per lead rather than click, making it a more affordable option for firm’s whose marketing budget is tight.Optimized Landing Pages
Having optimized landing pages can help your firm convert more clicks to actual leads. Going back to your target audience and search intent, consider what information a user is looking for when they click on your ads. Try different formats and content on your landing pages to see which preform the best. In Google Analytics, you can monitor how your landing pages are performing. Watch the number of sessions, bounce rate and conversions to understand how users respond to your landing page. If you have high sessions, but a high bounce rate or low conversions, then there are likely changes that should be made on the page. You may need to better match search intent, try testing different call to actions or adjust your contact form.
SEO vs PPC: Which Should You Do?
There’s never a simple answer to the question of whether your firm should focus your 2021 digital marketing efforts into SEO or PPC. What will work best for your firm will come down to three factors: your expertise in the digital marketing space/your current staff, your budget, and your current client demand.
1. Your Expertise and Staff
If you’re not comfortable or familiar with Google Ads, it’ll be challenging to manage your own campaigns. You can expect to spend 5-10 hours setting up an initial Ads campaign, plus a few hours (or more) each week optimizing and expanding your campaign. The Google Ads interface can be confusing to anyone who’s not familiar with PPC marketing. Unless you’re familiar with Ads or have someone on staff to help, you’ll likely want to start off very slowly and learn more about Ads online, or you’ll want to outsource your digital marketing campaign to an agency.
SEO on the other hand does take a little less finesse but can be even more time consuming. For your firm’s website to rank well organically, you’ll need to focus on stellar content. As an attorney, you likely have the legal expertise to write a thorough and compelling blog on some of the finer aspects of law, such as comparative negligence for a personal injury claim or grid rules for SSDI applicants. The issue with SEO is you have to write excellent content to rank well, and you have to continually update your website to ensure your readers are able to find the content they need. If you don’t want to learn how to use Google Ads, you may be able to rank for organic keywords—if you put the time into writing great content.
2. Your Budget
This is a simple one—if you have absolutely no marketing budget, you shouldn’t look into Google Ads. The legal space is far and away one of the most expensive areas to advertise in online. Some personal injury and mass tort keywords cost upwards of $150 per click. It is not realistic for any attorney to spend less than $200 per week on Ads. Organic optimizations are free. The only costs you need to factor in are your billable hours, or how much time your staff spends writing content if you’re not able to do it yourself.
3. Your Current Client Demand
Paid search is a great option for attorneys who need clients immediately because you’ll start getting clicks (and hopefully inbound inquiries!) within the first day of launching. Depending on how desperate your need for more clients is, you can bid aggressively to try to rank on one of Google Ads’ top positions. If you cannot wait much longer, paid search or other instantaneous options like lead providers are the best option.
If you have a high current case load and wish to slowly supplement your pending claims, SEO may be a better fit for your firm. SEO is a very slow process. It often takes three or more months for a new page of content to even begin ranking on Google’s search pages. If you’re in a particularly competitive area of law like personal injury, it could take a year or more. The good news is that once you start ranking well organically, your traffic should continue to build over time. You may even be able to reduce your ad spend elsewhere once you have a decent organic pipeline built out. This will allow you to reduce your margins over time, as organic leads are free.
PPC: For firms with a paid search staff & budget who need leads immediately.
SEO: For firms looking to expand their online presence and incrementally decrease cost per lead over time.
As you work on your firm’s digital marketing, it’s important to track everything. A lead and case management software can make it easy to keep track of your leads and clients. You’ll be able to track where your leads came from, which leads converted to clients, which did not, even which were desired but didn’t convert. You can then use this data to find out which campaigns are working, or which optimizations did not have a positive impact.
There are different tools available to help you track your marketing efforts. Some are free while others require monthly or yearly fees. Some marketing tools of note include:
- Google Analytics: Monitor traffic to your firm's site and how users interact with your site on this free tool from Google. Track traffic, bounce rate, sessions, lead conversions and much more all in one place.
- Google Search Console: On this free tool from Google, track your firm's organic presence as well as monitor for any technical issues.
- Ahrefs: Use this tool to track your firm's backlinks, conduct keyword research, do competitor research and more.
- SEMRush: This paid tool also allows you to do keyword research, monitor your organic presence, run site audits, watch your competitors, and much more.
To get started on updating your firm’s marketing plan, take a look at what is working and what can be improved. If you already running paid ads, make sure your content is matching your target audience and their search intent. If your firm has been actively working on its SEO, make sure to include new business listings, getting reviews or creating videos. Track your changes to find what optimizations are successful.