When people are looking for a product or service, one of the first things they do is online research to compare offerings or read reviews. According to legal marketing expert Gyi Tsakalakis, it turns out law firm clients are no different.
Having an online presence is key. How your law firm appears online not only influences whether or not a client will choose to hire you, but also shapes their overall impression of you and your law firm.
Build your website
96 percent of potential clients will use a search engine to find legal advice. Setting up a website for your firm is the first step to helping potential clients find you online. Here are a few examples of the best law firm websites to give you some inspiration:
Here’s another example; Branigan Robertson, an employment lawyer in California who started his own firm shortly after graduating from law school, used WordPress to set up a site that he pays about $70 per year to host. One more simple yet powerful option is Clio’s law firm website builder.
Hosting your website and buying a domain name can be done for under $100 annually, through many service providers like WordPress, Squarespace, and Lawlytics.
If you’re not keen on spending the time, hiring a professional is an option you may want to consider. Starting a law firm is already a daunting task so it can be worth the investment to have an experienced web designer in your corner to put together a simple, easy-to-manage website. Just make sure you ask the right questions and find a website designer that understands your needs. Don’t get upsold on a fancy website with bells and whistles that you won’t need.
While you may have network connections and word-of-mouth referrals, having a web presence is key to inviting potential clients to learn more. Think of your website as a tool to showcase your services, sell your skills, and give prospects more information.
Potential clients won’t find your website on search engines right away. It takes time to build up your web presence and make your website searchable. In the meantime, you’ll need to diversify and promote your law firm in other places.
Establish your social profiles
According to the ABA, 42 percent of small law firms are gaining new clients through social media marketing. Social media leads potential clients to your website where they can find the information they need to hire your firm.
The path from seeing you on social media to hiring your firm might look like this:
- You share a blog post you wrote about what first-time homebuyers need to know about mortgage contracts.
- Prospects see the post and click on the link to read it on your website, where you’ve added an online intake form using Clio Grow’s custom intake form tool.
- Prospects complete the form, leaving their email address for you to contact them.
When creating your social media profiles, it’s important to understand which one your potential clients are on the most. For example, if your practice area is employment law, it’s crucial to have a LinkedIn presence but Instagram would not be as important. It’s also wise to focus on certain channels rather than spread yourself too thin trying to keep up with every channel.
If you start with too many social profiles, you’re more likely to get overwhelmed and not be able to balance all of them—leading to potential ethics violations or abandoned social accounts, which may do more harm than good.
Start small and do your research. Check out what competitors are doing in your practice area and how they use social media. Identify what works and what doesn’t to help inform your own strategy.
If you need help to get started, there’s always the option of hiring a marketing expert who can help set up your accounts and guide you through building an effective social media strategy.
Set up a profile on online directories
Another smart way to build your online presence is by listing your website on online directories. These types of websites aim to connect people to the services they’re looking for and often include sections for people to leave reviews—Google My Business, Yelp, Avvo, and Justia are just a few examples.
By creating profiles, filling out your law firm’s information, and pointing them all to your website, you can target potential clients who are looking for your services on these online directories.
Often you’ll need to have a few things ready:
- Photos of yourself
- A description of your business including what services you offer and your areas of expertise
- Your location (if applicable, not too important if you’ve decided to run a virtual law firm)
- Operating hours
- Contact information including your website, email address, and phone number
There are online directories that offer free listings, paid listings, or a combination of both (free listing with the option to advertise for more visibility). When it comes to these listings, it’s important to keep a close eye on them.These listings may potentially be a forum for unhappy clients to leave less than favorable reviews. In addition to potential clients, you may also get sales calls from the online directories trying to upsell you on a paid listing.
Despite these shortcomings, the pros of online directories still outweigh the pros and the cons can be combated by being diligent and checking your listings regularly.
This is an exciting stage where your law firm will start to feel more real.
Keep in mind that it will take time to grow your online presence, figure out the right ways to use them, and start getting clients. But, building your online presence is an exciting opportunity to shape how future clients find and connect with your law firm.
Make it clear that prospective clients visiting your site are in the right place. Tell them a little bit about yourself and make it easy to contact you. Focus on the right social media channels instead of trying to do all of them, and claim your online profiles.
Take it one step at a time and remember that there are experts that specialize in building websites, creating social media marketing strategies, and filling out online directory listings that can help you.