Law firm marketing is the practice of attracting new potential clients to your law firm. A law firm marketing plan may cover a mix of digital marketing, SEO, blogging, print and digital ads. Your marketing plan may also include many other tactics, including leveraging law firm marketing technology to automate various tasks. But no matter how you approach it, marketing your firm can easily consume a lot of your time and energy.
Deciding where to invest your resources, money, and time in law firm marketing to enable you to focus on practicing law and running your firm can be a tricky balance. The objective is to determine which methods are most effective, depending on your marketing goals—and knowing where to start is critical.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about properly marketing your law firm—from SEO to networking and everything in between. This guide will help you understand key law firm marketing terms, which steps to take to start building your marketing plan, and how to measure your efforts. Plus, you’ll learn helpful stats to inform your marketing choices, best practices and industry insights, and the best law firm marketing technology and tools to use.
Law firm marketing terms
It’s important to understand the basics of law firm marketing before moving into planning and execution. We’ve put together a handy list of the most important marketing terms you need to know.
Of course, there are many, many more marketing terms you can read up on, but this short list provides a good start, especially if you’re new to law firm marketing.
A marketing lead is a potential client for your firm. It’s more than just someone who simply visits your website. A person becomes a marketing lead once they take an action that shows they’re interested in speaking to you. For example, they might fill out a “Contact Us” form, call your firm, or provide their contact information in some other way.
For more information, read our guide Lead Generation for Lawyers.
Your conversion rate is the ratio of people who visit a certain webpage or ad to people who eventually “convert” to a lead. You can track the conversion rate of just one page, or your entire website. You can also look at how well your intake process is converting leads into paying clients.
A call-to-action, or CTA, is a clear request of a site visitor or lead to take the next step in their journey towards becoming a paying client. For example, this can be a button that leads to your “Contact Us” form, or a button in a paid ad that links back to your website.
A landing page is a website page built to get visitors to take a specific action, such as clicking a link, filling out a form, booking a consultation, or making a phone call. For more information on landing pages, check out the post Should Lawyers Use Landing Pages?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, refers to the practice of optimizing websites so they appear near the top of search results for relevant keywords.
Keywords (also called keyword phrases) are words or phrases that represent the topics you build your pages around. For example, if you’re a divorce attorney based in Manhattan, you might target a keyword phrase such as “NYC Divorce Attorney.”
Simply put, these are the search terms that internet users enter into Google or other search engines. Your keyword—and/or semantically similar variations of it—should appear in key places on your webpage to signal to search engines that your page is relevant to that topic. Yoast SEO is a comprehensive SEO tool you can easily add to your WordPress website. Learn more about Yoast SEO and other WordPress plugins by reading about WordPress Law.
Return on investment (ROI)
Return on investment, or ROI, is a performance metric used in many business areas, but is especially important when it comes to marketing. To grow your law firm and keep your business profitable, you’ll need to make sure that you’re getting good returns on the investments you’re making across your marketing initiatives.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is an online paid advertising model in which advertisers pay a set amount each time a site visitor clicks on their ad.
To learn the basics of Google ads, read our Google Advertising 101 for Lawyers post.
10 steps for marketing your law firm
With the right approach, you can easily develop and execute a marketing plan for a large or small law firm. You can use the following steps to help you achieve your goal, whether you want to create a sustainable solo practice or rapidly grow your firm.
Here are nine areas to consider when creating a marketing strategy for your law firm:
1. Create a marketing budget
A well thought-out marketing budget is a key component of any law firm business plan. To figure out how much you’ll need to invest in your law firm marketing initiatives, you’ll need to identify your goals and determine how much revenue you need to make it a reality. Then, you’ll need to look at how many cases per year you have to bill to meet that revenue goal. This will vary depending on your practice area.
Once you’ve done the groundwork, you’ll be able to figure out your overall law firm marketing budget. Take note of the stage of your law firm, i.e., have you just launched your practice or is your firm well-established? Also, consider how competitive your space is. For example, are you a business attorney trying to build a client base in a competitive city like New York, or are you the sole family lawyer in a small town?
Since law firm marketing technology may be part of your overall marketing strategy, don’t forget to factor those potential costs into the budget. For example, examples of law firm technology you may use include content marketing solutions like HubSpot, or individual apps for SEO, social media scheduling, or email campaigns.
Once you’ve created your law firm marketing budget, it’s important to stay within its limits. In the end, getting more cases won’t help your firm grow if you’re not watching the bottom line.
2. Build a well-designed law firm website
In the digital age, your law firm’s website is often a potential client’s first impression of you. It’s your chance of making a great first impression on website visitors who are looking to hire a lawyer.
As a good start, use quality photographs. Then, clearly and concisely state the services you provide and practice areas you cover. Highlight any awards, recognitions, or important experiences you have and make sure your contact information is prominently displayed.
If you already have a website, or are thinking of building one yourself, make sure you’ve reviewed our law firm website checklist. It covers all the key components of a high-quality and high-converting website for law firms.
If you’re looking to hire an expert to help you create or maintain your website, read our post on the 11 questions you should ask when hiring a law firm website designer. These tips will give you the knowledge you need before signing any contracts.
3. Ensure your site is search engine optimized
If you create a law firm website to market your firm, but no one finds it when they search online, will potential clients ever be aware of you?
To get the most out of your law firm website, you need to ensure your site follows SEO best practices. Ensuring your site is well-designed is critical. This includes having useful, quality content. This is what search engines like Google—and the people who use them—are looking for.
You’ll also want to make sure your content is targeting long tail keywords. For example, instead of just using the word “lawyer,” also include the name of your city. Using long tail keywords will give you the best chance of competing with other pages and being found by potential clients.
If you need to attract potential clients in a particular geographical area, make sure you also set up a Google Business listing. Make sure to provide a clear, useful description of your services, as well as contact information.
For more information on effective keyword research, local SEO, and law firm SEO best practices, read The Quick Guide to Law Firm SEO.
If you want to learn even more, Gyi Tsakalakis of AttorneySync is an expert on the subject, and we highly recommend his content.
4. Claim your free online profiles
Your law firm website is one place potential clients can find you, but it isn’t the only place they might find you. From review sites like Yelp to your local state bar listing, there are plenty of opportunities to claim online profiles for free.
Here are 10 ways for lawyers to advertise online for free. Review this list to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the available options.
5. Make sure your law firm has a social media presence
To attract new clients through online advertising, you’ve got to go where they are. In the digital age, this means social media. There are plenty of social networks to choose from, so you’ll need to figure out which social media platforms are the best for your law firm and practice area. With some thoughtful investment, social media advertising can significantly impact your law firm’s growth.
Here are a few ways to use social media in your law firm marketing:
- Follow legal leaders on Twitter and engage in thoughtful conversation.
- Set up an effective law firm LinkedIn page. Make sure it’s separate from your personal LinkedIn profile, which you should also optimize to help you stand out amongst peers and potential clients.
- Create a Facebook advertising campaign to position yourself as an authority in your space and attract new clients. Learn about the process of getting new clients by reading about how to get clients as a lawyer.
Finally, make sure you’re following ethics and advertising rules within your law firm’s jurisdiction. For example, don’t call yourself a specialist or an expert unless you’ve been formally certified as such, and be mindful of creating inappropriate lawyer-client relationships.
6. Manage your law firm’s online reviews effectively
Once you have a number of online profiles up and running for your law firm, clients might start giving you reviews. These are critical to manage. According to the 2021 Legal Trends Report found that 82% of consumers looked for client reviews and 81% of consumers looked for referrals when seeking legal counsel. While a few negative reviews won’t hurt, an ongoing stream of them might turn potential clients away.
Make asking for an online review at the close of every case part of your process, especially if a client is extremely satisfied. However, double check your state bar’s advertising rules to ensure your request is compliant. If you encounter a negative review, don’t ignore it. Follow best practices for online reputation management for lawyers when it comes to responding to your client’s feedback directly.
7. Try your hand at content marketing
You already have a knack for the written word, so put those skills to use to grow your law firm. Blogging, and more generally, content marketing, is a great way to build your brand and authority. You can use content to show off your expertise in a given area. If you can provide helpful answers to general questions potential clients might have, you’ll build trust and confidence with them. Demonstrating that you’re an authority in a particular area makes it more likely that they’ll eventually hire you.
If you decide to start a blog, take a thoughtful approach and try to identify legal-related evergreen content marketing topics. Make sure your content has a clear focus, stick to a regular cadence, and ensure you’re providing quality, helpful information (without offering specific legal advice, of course).
8. Invest time in networking and business development
If you’re going to spend time attending local networking and bar events, make sure you’re getting the most out of them. Create a conversation strategy for how and where you’re going to spend your energy and time. Be prepared to engage in meaningful conversations that build your brand and lead to referrals.
Referrals from fellow attorneys are always a key component of any law firm’s business development and revenue growth. So, figuring out how to build referral relationships with other attorneys is a worthwhile investment to ensure a sustainable law firm.
That said, networking doesn’t have to just mean mingling and shaking hands with other lawyers. You may want to consider public speaking or attending events in your community to connect with more potential clients.
For 11 ideas on how to network, read our blog post, Top Attorney Networking Tips.
9. (Maybe) consider traditional marketing
Depending on your location and practice area, traditional marketing (i.e., offline marketing) may be a fit for your law firm. In the digital age, people still respond to billboard ads.
However, it’s important to remember that no matter how your clients hear about you, they’re likely going to conduct research online before making any hiring decision. Consumers are more empowered than ever to evaluate their options. So, remember to maintain a relevant and professional website, and keep asking happy clients for positive reviews.
10. Measure your law firm marketing efforts
No matter how you decide to market your law firm, it’s important to measure the return on investment of your efforts. Without measurement, you’ll have no idea which campaigns are bringing in new business—and which are failing. Identifying which marketing tactic isn’t performing well will help your marketing strategy succeed, enabling you to stop investing in the methods that don’t work and invest more on those that do.
Maybe you want to build a new website to help bring in more clients. Or maybe you’ve built up a lot of goodwill over the years and are getting many positive reviews from past clients. There’s only one way to find out—look at the numbers.
Start by asking clients how they heard about you. While this is a pretty low-tech method that yields only anecdotal results, it’s a good place to start. But you’ll need to do more in-depth analysis to truly know how your marketing is working.
The best way to track your law firm digital marketing efforts is by implementing website tracking. The free version of Google Analytics—an analytics tool that helps website owners get insights into traffic to their sites—is a good solution for most law firms. Here’s how to install it on your site.
Google Analytics will help you identify useful metrics, such as which website people visited before they came to your site (also called a “referring domain”), how long a given visitor stayed on your site, and of course, the number of visitors to your site.
Learn more about how to measure the ROI of your marketing efforts.
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Law firm marketing: 4 best practices for lawyers
Before you invest thousands of dollars into a brand new website, an SEO specialist, or social media ads, take a moment to think about what’s going to guide your success. If you’re not following a few critical principles, all the marketing dollars in the world won’t help your law firm grow.
Keep these four best practices in mind as you move forward with your law firm marketing efforts:
1. Take a client-centered approach to marketing
In the age of near-instant Amazon deliveries and on-demand transport from ride-sharing companies like Lyft, the client experience reigns supreme. It’s critical at every stage of the client’s journey—from when a client first becomes aware of a service to when they make a hiring decision.
Law firms are a business like any other, and clients now expect their experience with their lawyers to be on par with the experience they have with companies like Amazon. Competitive law firms that focus on providing a client-centered experience in their operations and marketing will be better positioned to stand out and succeed. In fact, the 2021 Legal Trends Report found that law firms that emphasized providing a client-centered experience using technological solutions were the most successful.
What does this look like from a law firm marketing perspective? Consider your client’s pain points when crafting messaging for your website. Focus on showing empathy and addressing those pain points rather than just highlighting the services you offer. Follow-up with leads quickly, so that potential clients know you’re there to help. A well-designed website contributes to a client-centered experience as well. An easy-to-use site shows clients you’ve been thoughtful about what they need and how they’ll navigate your site.
Always put your clients first in your marketing efforts. You won’t just build trust and goodwill—you’ll be positioned to attract more potential clients and convert leads to paying clients more quickly.
2. Invest strategically
When it comes to law firm marketing, there’s no need to overextend yourself. In fact, you’ll likely see better returns from a few focused strategies than by trying to do it all.
For example, if you’re going to invest in social media marketing, don’t try to maintain a presence on every social network. Think carefully about your goals and your practice area. Pick one or two networks to focus on, and craft strategies that reflect the resources you have to invest in them.
If you’re going to start a blog, be honest about how much time you can devote to it. Don’t plan to post a new article once a week if you only have the capacity to post once per month.
3. Invest in extra support if needed
Depending on your goals and marketing budget, it may be worth outsourcing legal processes or hiring a marketing consultant, web designer, SEO specialist, or other types of marketing service to help with your firm’s needs.
You’re an expert at practicing law, but you also have a business to run. So, if marketing isn’t an area you’ve got a lot of experience in (or an area you have time to learn about), bringing in help might be a good option. Just make sure you thoroughly vet your options before agreeing to work with a marketing contractor.
You may also want to think about law firm marketing technology and tools to help execute your marketing strategy (more on that below).
4. Measure, measure, measure
Measuring the success of your law firm marketing efforts is key to making sure that all the hard work you do actually helps your law firm grow. Make sure you know how clients are finding out about you. How many people are visiting your website and converting to leads or paid clients? How many people are clicking on your social media ads? Consider all metrics that are relevant to the marketing campaigns you’ve launched.
It’s easy to go with your gut instead of going with the data, but simply believing that your firm’s website is beautiful and clients love it isn’t enough. You’ve got to look at the numbers to confirm that thought.
Lessons from the field: Considerations for law firm marketing
Regardless of how law firms promote their services, they must ensure the right information is provided clearly to prospective clients, in an easy-to-read format. Technology is making it increasingly easier to research law firms online. So, firms that adapt to how clients look for their lawyers today, and in the future, will have the fullest opportunity for growing their business.
Focus on the client
The 2021 Legal Trends Report found that the most successful firms continue to adopt technological solutions for more flexible, client-centered services.
Indeed, legal practices that have consistently grown their revenues are more likely to adopt client-centered technologies. These firms are 37% more likely to be using online payment solutions, 41% more likely to use client portals, and 46% more likely to use client intake and client relationship management (CRM) solutions.
Given the correlation between successful firms and their ability to provide a client-centered experience, remember to keep clients front and center when designing your digital marketing campaigns. Potential clients want to see intuitive websites with informative content, social media posts that target their needs and wants, and personalized email marketing campaigns tailored to their unique pain points.
Consider leveraging law firm marketing technology to create and automate campaigns that focus on the client and their needs and wants. (For more ideas on how to make law firm marketing technology work to your advantage, see below.)
Law firm marketing technology: 7 tools for success
There are various free and paid law firm marketing technology, tools, and services. With the right technology, everyone from solo practitioners to mid-sized firm managers can implement a successful law firm marketing program.
Here’s a sample of tools, by category, that we find helpful for law firms of all sizes:
Email marketing: Mailchimp
Whether you’re looking to send out a monthly newsletter or send birthday emails to past clients to stay in touch, an email marketing platform can help make things much easier. There are plenty of options available, but Mailchimp is often recommended and offers a free plan.
Social media management: Hootsuite
Are you suddenly busy setting up Facebook ads and maintaining an active Twitter profile? Using social media to market your firm shouldn’t mean you need to log into social media sites 50 times per day.
With Hootsuite, or other similar social media management tools, you can schedule posts, keep tabs on replies, and even monitor topics relevant to your practice area to see what potential legal clients are interested in.
Research: Google Trends
Picture this: You’re a family lawyer looking to start a blog. Should you invest more time in a blog post about the five things to do immediately after a divorce, or a post explaining the difference between divorce and legal separation in your state?
A little research can guide your decision, and Google Trends can help. Use it to explore interest in certain topics, including related topics and related searches.
Appointment bookings: LawTap
Built specifically for law firms, LawTap makes scheduling appointments easy for potential clients. LawTap also integrates directly with Clio, so you can keep all of your contact information in one place.
LawLytics is a website system for small law firms, providing the design and technical support needed for a world-class website. With the LawLytics-to-Clio integration, your website forms are connected to your Clio account, so that contact information is seamlessly recorded in your Clio account.
JurisPage powers law firm websites and helps lawyers streamline their lead generation and intake process. Founded by a lawyer, Jurispage also integrates directly with Clio, so there’s no double data entry when it comes to new contact information.
Online review management: Birdeye
Birdeye lets you send automated online review requests and syncs seamlessly with your contact list in Clio. You’ll also get real-time alerts whenever you receive a new review.
Intake and Customer Relationship Management: Clio Grow
Clio Grow is legal CRM and client intake software that will help you see the real-time status of every new lead, and track their source. Beautifully designed dashboards and transparent workflows will also provide visibility into your client pipeline and revenue projections. Learn more.
When it comes to marketing a law practice, the best approach is to simply get started. Make a small investment, try something new, measure your success, and take what you’ve learned to improve. Instead of overextending yourself, focus on a few key marketing areas. Create a thoughtful marketing budget (and stick to it), and use law firm marketing technology and tools to support your efforts.
By keeping your goals in mind and taking a pragmatic approach, you’ll be positioned to make the best decisions for your business.
Whatever marketing methods and law firm marketing technology you choose, remember to keep your clients (and potential clients) top of mind. Law firms that can provide an incredible client experience will challenge themselves to operate their practices more efficiently to deliver excellent service, boosting their bottom line while also increasing their chance of referrals.
We published this blog post in November 2018. Last updated: .
Categorized in: Marketing