Reviewing your firm’s marketing strategy can be nightmarish for a lawyer; we want to be analytical and argumentative advocates, with advertising requiring a variety of different skills to render ads effective. At the end of the day, we want to do lawyering, not blogging, or spending hours deciphering Google Analytics reports.
Such is the nature of running a firm in 2015; marketing has always been important, but now, you can’t just rely on billboards and phone book ads. Most potential clients will be looking for you online, which means much more than a website: social media accounts, pay per click (PPC), search directories (Yelp, etc.), and local search results are all concerns that fall outside of basic websites.
If you’re looking to jumpstart your firm’s marketing efforts for 2015, or if like me, your practice just got swallowed up by a larger firm and you’re helping out with their years-running marketing, there is no time like the present for a comprehensive audit. After all, why keep throwing money at advertising channels that aren’t converting to paying clients.
Professional Social Media and Review Sites
I like to start with professional social media (LinkedIn, Avvo, Twitter, Google+ or a Facebook Business Page) and review sites because, quite frankly, they are the easiest to fix. They’ll also likely outrank your own sites in Google, as the Avvos and Yelps of the world have way more money to spend on SEO geeks and their own advertising.
Here are a few things you’ll want to check on these sites:
- Is your firm name consistent across every site, and in every employee’s profile?
- If your firm has social media pages, are the firm name, location, operating hours, and staff member data up to date?
- Have you responded to negative and positive reviews in a confidentiality-preserving manner? If not, apologize for any shortcomings that may have possibly happened and invite them to call you and discuss the matter.
- Has everyone listed all of their past awards, publications, and professional organization affiliations on their sites, especially Avvo, where those credentials will boost your rating?
- Have you deleted duplicate pages, and listings? This often happens when new marketing or support staff arrive, and the old staff hadn’t left passwords behind.
Domain Names and Review Sites
A few years ago, it was easier to rank highly in Google’s regular search results if you included keywords in your domain name: “kansascitymissourifamilylawlawyer.com.” If you had the resources, you could build out a few of those sites with content and get a few hits from basic search traffic. This is a very simple way of describing search engine optimization: building sites to appeal to Google’s search algorithm.
Now, it’s far more important to have a trustworthy site with a brand name, that has quality content that keeps visitors stuck on your site. People are far more likely to click on a recognizable brand with quality content. Avvo and Yelp tend to rank higher than LawyerRatingz.com, for example, and to stick there.
If you’re hoping to beat out rival firms in Google’s unpaid search traffic for keywords related to your practice – Jackson County trucker DUI, for example – you need a site that has a solid reputation and informative content. Metrics like click-through rate and visitor time spent on the website seem to be correlated with ranking in search results.
To apply this to your firm’s online presence, build your brand across the social and review sites. Use a single branded webpage filled with quality content that actually teaches visitors about the law. If you already have multiple websites, consider consolidating them into one good site. Incompatible markets can be an exception, but we’re looking at a high level strategy right now. For example, you may not want to combine a Dad’s Rights blog with a general website that appeals to both genders.
Why is this so important? It’s not just about unpaid search results. Marketers often talk in terms of a conversion funnel: all of the paid ads, social sites, and review sites all direct potential clients further down the funnel, which in most cases, is your firm’s website landing page, where they decide to reach out to you, possibly converting into paying clients, by calling in or using a contact form on your website. If your site is unappealing, you are unlikely to convert these visitors into clients.
Local & Directory Listings
“Local SEO” a new option for marketing towards a local audience. Google prioritizes local map-style results for queries like “Barber shop nearby.” As the majority of internet users switch to mobile devices, the importance of optimizing your content to connect with local and mobile users increases.
Despite Bing and other competitors’ gains in the desktop market, Google owns mobile search. How do you “rank” in these mobile results? Like desktop search, Google doesn’t give out the answer key. One huge factor is the number of times your firm’s contact information is listed online across the numerous directories. More established businesses are more likely to show up in more of these citations.
There are services that will help you to correct bad listings and push your correct data across the web, which is a huge time saver. If you decide to take on the task yourself, this means Googling for varieties of your firm name, or old addresses and phone numbers in order to see what appears.
Afterwards, you must contact each of those sites and ask them to correct the listing. It’s a time suck, but it does almost certainly pay off when someone grabs their phone and says, “Google Family Law Lawyers in Ottawa, Kansas.”
Pay Per Click & Online Ad Spending
It can be challenging to measure your return-on-investment (ROI) of PPC ads, in order to understand the value you’re getting from them. Cost per click on these can be substantial. Lawyer keywords are some of the most expensive, in fact. Google determines the cost per click and the ranking based on both bidding by the advertisers and the quality score attached to the ad.
Some of the factors include the content of the landing page, the text of the ad, and the historical performance of your AdWords account. Users that spam or misdirect clicking consumers onto poor quality websites will see their rates go up.
And that’s just Google; you might also advertise on Avvo, pay for a premium Yelp listing, or opt for another listing service. Each of these needs to be evaluated by this criteria:
- Cost of the ads
- Number of people who contacted your firm after seeing the ads
- The Number of those leads that converted into paying clients, VS free advice seekers
- Revenue from those clients compared to the cost of your advertising, staff, and other overhead
For a vast majority of practice areas, people are still going to double-check glowing recommendations on search engines. People Google everything: current movies, restaurant reviews, and definitely lawyers.
Are the bus bench ads, branded pens and water bottles, and magazine profiles actually leading to clients? Are potential clients really looking at the pen in their hand, thinking, “I need a lawyer”, and calling your firm, or in many cases, Googling and then calling?
Putting It All Together
In most cases, people learn about your firm from a variety of places: word of mouth, speaking engagements, a pen they found on a table, or a banner ad on Facebook. From there, they do research on you and your firm, and only then they may make the decision to call you.
When auditing your marketing strategy, it is often unclear where your leads are coming from. A dollar spent on a pen, that lead to a Google search and a clicked advertisement is an impossible chain to keep track of. Your goal is to gather as much data as possible, to see if there is anything glaringly overpriced or ineffective that can be cut. If something is over-performing, hopefully you can shift funds to that channel.
Auditing your marketing efforts can be challenging, but we have great news: with Clio’s new Campaign Tracker, you can identify what finally encouraged online and offline users to give you a call. Schedule a trial to ask the questions you need answers to now!