When it comes to law firm marketing, it’s hard to know where to begin. Should you start paying for ads on Google and Facebook? Do you need to create a blog? What about ads at bus stops in your neighborhood?
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Getting your legal marketing off on the right foot just requires a strong foundation. Here are 10 key steps you can take to lay the groundwork for a successful law firm marketing program.
1. Set marketing goals
Setting goals is the first step—in both order and importance—when it comes to legal marketing.
Marketing is an investment for your business, so it’s important to think of the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing efforts. Whether you plan to hire a marketing agency like ONE400 or do it yourself, you must first brainstorm and record your trackable marketing goals, benchmarks, and expectations—or key performance indicators (KPIs). It’s essential that you complete this step before taking on any of the other recommendations on this list.
Don’t know where to start? Here are a few examples of legal marketing goals:
- Acquire 30 new leads (i.e., potential new clients) per month
- Secure 10 new clients per month
- Increase your close rate (i.e., the rate at which potential clients become paying clients) from 50% to 70%
- Add 50 new newsletter subscribers
- Raise my average retainer value from $3,000 to $4,000
- Grow my weekly/monthly/annual revenue from X to Y
2. Create a marketing budget
After you’ve established your marketing goals, set your budget. You don’t have to be a tax attorney to create a marketing budget—the general rule of thumb is to reinvest 7–10% of your revenue back into your own marketing. While this isn’t a one-size-fits-all figure, it is a great starting point when establishing a marketing budget.
Granted, “marketing” itself is a bit of a broad term, so we like to use the American Marketing Association’s definition of marketing to help clarify what should be included here:
The activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
Here are a few specific examples of essentials for your marketing budget:
- Business cards
- Website design
- Trade-group membership
- Google AdWords advertising
- Marketing personnel salaries
Of course, your marketing budget should also be informed by your law firm business plan and future revenue goals: If you’re just starting out, you may want to look for the most cost-effective methods of advertising, but if you’re growing, you can invest in marketing to keep your momentum going.
3. Have a (well-designed) website
If you don’t have a website, build one. If you have a website, optimize it.
Your website is your 24/7 virtual office, business card, CV, and billboard. It is still the most essential marketing and business development tool in 2018, and it’s no secret that more and more people use the internet to find an attorney. In fact, according to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, 37% of consumers surveyed said they found their lawyer using an online search engine.
That said, simply having a website isn’t enough to get the attention of potential clients anymore. Like it or not, you are constantly being compared to your peers online, and a growing competition for clicks and pageviews drives innovation and significantly raises the expectations of your clientele. In addition to your website being aesthetically pleasing, it must:
- Be mobile responsive (i.e., look good on a mobile device).
- Load quickly.
- Be optimized for search engines (discussed below)
4.) Optimize your website for search engines
Websites are only valuable if they can be found. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most competitive environment in digital marketing, and law firm SEO is no different.
Optimizing your site for search engines helps Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines identify your site as providing valuable information on different search queries.
SEO includes having keyword-rich page titles, H1’s and H2’s, meta descriptions, alt text for images, and other “on-page SEO” components. Some of these terms might sound like they’re from a foreign language, but it is incredibly important to have all of these components when launching or managing a website. Learn more about these terms in the Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a subject matter expert in SEO, or consider hiring a law firm web designer to help.
5. Measure and track all of your marketing efforts
Marketing without analytics is like practicing law without Clio: a mistake. If you check things like your children’s report cards, you should be tracking things like advertising spend, website traffic, and, of course, your return on investment.
Lucky for you, Google and other large technology companies make it easy to keep tabs on these KPIs with the click of a button. If you have a website (and you should have a website), then you already have free analytics tracking through Google Analytics. All you have to do is create a Gmail account and install some simple code on the website (more on this below).
The biggest impact you can have on your marketing, reporting, and analytics is to do the following:
- Ask potential clients how they heard about you.
- Record answers to this question and look for trends.
- Invest more in the channel that is the biggest lead generator for you.
You can also track this with software tools. For example, you can use custom fields in Clio to record where each new client hears about you.
6. Install Google Analytics on your website
This is first and easiest step in tracking marketing ROI. Google Analytics is Google’s extremely insightful website analytics tool, and the free version will work for most law firms. Among other things, Google Analytics helps you track website visitors, click behavior, and the rate at which your website converts visitors into potential clients.
Google Analytics also allows you to customize, automate, and export reports. We use it on all client websites, and to set benchmarks and KPIs for things like website traffic, form submissions, and time-on-page.
Installing Google Analytics is as simple as creating a Google account and pasting some very simple code on your website.
7. Maintain a digital database of all contacts
The emphasis here is on digital. You need to save and organize the contact information of ALL your contacts somewhere that is readily accessible—practice-management software like Clio and client-relationship management software like Lexicata are great choices to digitally store and manage all of your contacts.
We’re not just talking about storing contact info for clients and colleagues, but also leads, vendors, friends, and referral partners—anyone who might be important for your law firm.
Tracking this information might be as simple as using the “Contacts” feature in Outlook or Gmail—but it can also be a curated list saved in a spreadsheet that you store in Dropbox or Google Drive. Either way, this virtual rolodex is one of the most valuable assets you have as an attorney.
Regardless of your marketing budget, going ‘back to the till’—by reaching out to past clients, old leads, or that CPA who referred you a case five years ago—is free, and will usually result in a positive outcome.
Bonus tip: One of the best uses of your contact database is for the distribution of an email newsletter. This doesn’t have to be fancy—a simple text-based monthly or quarterly update about you and your practice helps you stay top-of-mind for your contacts.
8. Create Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages
Social media is a must for any firm that wants to be taken seriously in today’s legal landscape.
Social media has a casual reputation, but sites like Google My Business, Facebook, and LinkedIn bring a professional presence to channels that your clients are already familiar with. Likely, every single one of your clients have used at least one of those social media channels before.
Having company pages on these sites doesn’t mean you’re going to get a tsunami of leads overnight—but they will help establish your reputation as a trusted business in your local community. Also, Google My Business puts your on their map (literally).
Finally, these pages give search engines another ‘vote of confidence,’ indicating that you are who you say you are—making them more likely to reward you with better results in their search queries, making it easier for potential new clients to find you.
When setting up social media profiles, remember:
- Your law firm’s Facebook or LinkedIn pages should not be the same as your personal profiles. Instead, set up a business page on all three of these channels.
- Google My Business requires a non-PO box address that can receive mail in order to verify your account.
- Your contact information, logos, etc. should be identical and consistent across all channels.
- For the greatest marketing result, include links to all of your social channels on your website.
Tip: To get started, read The Complete Guide to Law Firm LinkedIn Pages.
9. Get reviews
Online reviews are a point of contention with many of the lawyers we speak to at ONE400, and understandably so. One bad Yelp review can look very bad for you and your firm, but at the same time, your potential clients care more and more about reviews of your business—so a positive review can also have a huge impact on your business.
The era of the public review is upon us. Don’t fight consumer reviews—embrace them. Manage your online reputation effectively, and reviews can be a boon for your law firm: Be proactive by asking for a review from every happy client, so that if a negative review comes along, it’s far outweighed by the good ones.
10. Stick with it
“It does not matter how slowly you go along so long as you do not stop.”
Confucius isn’t around to see how competitive the legal industry has become, nevertheless, his wisdom should resonate with every business owner.
You don’t need to be the biggest spender to stay in business, but you can’t rest on your laurels either. As a marketing agency, we understand that referrals are the lifeblood of our industry, but those can slow down, and just like you’ve done with your retirement accounts, you need to diversify. You should get more than one answer when you ask “how did you hear about us?”—not just “so and so told me about you.” Marketing is about experimenting and sticking with what works.
To succeed, take care of law firm marketing basics first
Even the most exciting or creative marketing tactics can run afoul without a proper strategy, proper goals, and proper tracking of KPIs. If you start with the essentials on this list, you’ll set yourself up to get the most out of your marketing dollars and help your business grow. To recap:
- Have a marketing strategy and budget. Outline your needs, goals, and how you’ll measure them up-front. Then, make sure you know what kind of budget you’re working with.
- Optimize your website. A well-designed law firm website is the key to being found by search engines and clients alike.
- Know what you’re tracking. Set up Google Analytics and other systems to track the ROI of your marketing efforts.
- Reassess and retry. Invest more in effective marketing channels, cut out those that don’t work, and continue to experiment with new methods.
Try new things, and call us if you need help.
This post is part of the 2018 Clio Cloud Conference Summer Series. See ONE400 at the Clio Cloud Conference, taking place October 4–5 in New Orleans.
Want more tips for marketing your law firm online? Download our free guide, The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing Your Firm Online, for even more actionable law firm marketing ideas.
ONE400 is a global law innovation agency that helps law firms and legal technology companies all across the world build strong brands and marketing channels. Talk to us today by calling (626) 578-5040, stopping by our booth at the Clio Cloud Conference, or visiting our website.
About the Adam Callahan
As the Director of Client Relations at ONE400, Adam helps law firms and legal technology companies achieve their design, marketing, and product development goals. Before joining ONE400, Adam successfully launched and exited an education technology company in Shanghai, China. He is passionate about all things technology, law, marketing, and entrepreneurship.