Law firm marketing is the practice of attracting new potential clients to your firm. A law firm marketing plan may cover a mix of digital marketing, SEO, blogging, print, and digital ads. It may also include other tactics, such as harnessing technology like Clio Grow to streamline your marketing efforts. You can even hire a legal marketing company to help you.
But no matter how you approach it, one fact remains—marketing your firm can easily consume a lot of your time and energy.
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. We’ll also help you understand key law firm marketing terms, steps to take to start building your marketing plan, and how to measure your efforts.
Plus, you’ll discover eye-opening stats to inform your marketing choices, best practices and industry insights, and the top law firm marketing technology and tools to use.
Marketing your legal services is integral to the growth and success of your law firm. Marketing is an effective way to build brand awareness, attract legal clients, and retain current ones.
Do lawers need marketing?
Marketing your legal services is integral to the growth and success of your law firm. Marketing is an effective way to build brand awareness, attract legal clients, and retain current ones.
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 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 on 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. It’s especially important when it comes to legal 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.
Traditional vs. digital law firm marketing
The legal marketing landscape has undergone a major transformation in recent decades. What was once dominated by traditional methods like print ads and direct mail has given way to an abundance of digital strategies, such as search engine optimization and social media campaigns.
Nowadays, many legal professionals promote their services by taking a hybrid approach to traditional and digital marketing. Here’s a snapshot of each.
Traditional law firm marketing:
- Print ads
- TV ads
- Radio ads
- Referrals and networking
- Event sponsorship
Digital law firm marketing:
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Pay-per-click advertising
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11 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 11 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. And yet, the 2022 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report found that only 57% of firms have one. Within these budgets, the leading channels firms use to market themselves are LinkedIn, event sponsorship or presence, and email.
As a rule of thumb, the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7%-8% of your firm’s gross revenue on marketing. To figure out exactly how much 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, 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 your brand. It’s your chance to make a great first impression on website visitors who are looking to hire a lawyer.
As a good start, use quality photographs and a great law firm logo. 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. Having a well-designed site 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 local clients.
If you need to attract potential clients in a particular geographical area, be sure to also set up a Google Business listing. You’ll want to provide a clear, useful description of your services, as well as contact information.
Finally, ensure you’re leveraging Google’s Local Services Ads, powerful for both search engine appearance and lead generation. With Google’s Local Services Ads for Clio, you can appear at the top of Google search results, helping you attract the attention of potential clients in your area who are searching for the legal services you offer.
Here are some of the additional benefits:
- Build client trust: Earn a “Google Screened” badge verifying your business is qualified to offer legal services.
- Control your budget: Set your weekly budget and pause your ad at any time.
- Pay for results: Only pay when a potential lead contacts you through the ad, resulting in higher quality leads and cases. Plus, new Google Ads users will receive $500 in ad credits when they spend $500.
For more information on effective keyword research, local SEO, and law firm SEO best practices, read The Quick Guide to Law Firm SEO.
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. And in the digital age, this means social media.
Many lawyers are now tapping into the potential of these platforms. The 2022 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report found that 89% of respondents reported that their firms maintain an online community or social network presence. As for the platforms used most, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter come out on top.
Of course, there are plenty more 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 2022 Legal Trends Report, client reviews are the single most influential factor in hiring decisions.
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.
According to the 2022 Legal Technology Survey Report, 37% of law firms report having a blog. Of those, 34% indicated that a client retained their legal services because of their content. So, if you don’t have one already, you’re missing out on a promising opportunity to attract new clients.
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.
Here are a few quick pointers to keep in mind if you decide to start a blog:
- Try to identify legal-related evergreen content marketing topics
- Make sure your content has a clear focus
- Stick to a regular cadence in your posts
- Provide quality, helpful information (without offering specific legal advice)
8. Tap into the power of video
Video is another excellent way to market your law firm. It’s little wonder why: the medium is highly visual and engaging. You can use video to demonstrate your expertise on complex legal topics, offer a behind-the-scenes look into your firm, or share testimonials from clients—the possibilities are endless.
Lawyers can use video on traditional marketing channels like TV commercials, house them on their website, or post them to online platforms such as Vimeo or YouTube. Whichever route you take, you’ll quickly find it’s a great way to build trust, establish credibility, and stand out in a competitive landscape.
And with just over 30% of firms producing videos to market their practice, there’s an opportunity for more lawyers to leverage them. You can learn more about how to use the medium in our videos for lawyers blog.
9. Invest time in networking and business development
If you’re going to spend time networking with other legal professionals, ensure you’re getting value out of the conversations. 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.
10. Know your audience: Who are you marketing to?
Understanding who your target audience is will help you create valuable content your prospective clients will actually want to engage with.
For example, if you’re a divorce attorney, you likely know the age of your average client. This might dictate what social media applications you should use to connect with them.
Everything you create and share should serve your prospective clients. Have them in mind whenever you’re writing a blog post, email, or updating your website.
11. 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 in 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
Make your mark online in minutes with our simple legal website builder
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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 in marketing activities
When it comes to law firm marketing, there’s no need to overextend yourself. 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.
Level-up your marketing efforts by learning from 16 lawyers and their successful marketing habits.
3. Invest in extra support if needed
Depending on your goals and marketing budget, it may be worth outsourcing legal processes or hiring a law firm 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. Track the performance of your campaigns
Measuring the success of your law firm marketing efforts is key to making sure that all the hard work you do helps your law firm grow.
Be sure to know the answers to questions like:
- How are clients finding out about you?
- How many people are visiting your website?
- Are they 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. And, while we’re on the topic of tracking, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for digital marketing news—you never know what you’ll learn!
In need of more inspiration? Here are eight ideas to grow a legal practice.
The final word on law firm marketing
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.
What should an effective law firm marketing plan include?
A comprehensive law firm marketing plan should include information about your target audience, market analysis, competitor analysis, services offered by your firm, pricing rules, promotion strategies, and core messaging. You should also define your marketing goals and use this plan to achieve them.
Does SEO work for law firms?
Implementing a law firm SEO strategy can help increase the visibility, credibility, and revenue of a law firm by generating high-quality leads via search engines. Remember: if it’s difficult for people to find your law firm online, you’re leaving clients behind.
How much should a law firm spend on marketing?
The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7%-8% of your firm’s gross revenue on marketing. Law firm management consultants encourage firms to spend 2% to 5%, but this number depends on the area of practice, geographical location, how established the law firm is, etc.
We published this blog post in November 2018. Last updated: .
Categorized in: Marketing