Ah, clients—they’re the driving force of any legal practice, and yet consistently securing new cases can require remarkable effort. While word-of-mouth and maintaining a strong online reputation are good places to start, just doing a great job often isn’t enough to attract new clients. To draw potential clients to your law firm, you’ll likely need to engage in marketing to get noticed.
But, you’re a lawyer, not a professional marketer. Where to start?
When it comes to promoting your law firm, there are countless strategies you can take—methods like digital marketing, SEO, blogging, or even billboard advertisements may spring to mind. However, it’s crucial to be strategic when developing your plan, as law firm marketing can consume a lot of your time and energy. You want to make certain you’re investing your money and efforts wisely, so that you can focus on running your law firm and practicing law.
Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about marketing your law firm—from SEO to networking and everything in between. We’ll also detail a few key marketing terms you need to know, as well as how to measure your efforts, helpful stats to inform your marketing choices, and tools to use.
7 marketing terms you need to know
One of the main reasons that many people are intimidated by the thought of law firm marketing is that there’s a fair bit of unique marketing language and terminology, which can be quite confusing. We’ve assembled this list of key marketing terms to help you orient yourself.
A lead is a potential client for your firm. This is different than someone who simply visits your website. Someone qualifies as a lead if they fill out a “Contact Us” form, call your firm, or provide their contact information in some other way.
Your conversion rate is the ratio of people who visit a certain webpage or ad, to people who eventually become or ‘convert’ to a lead. You can look at the conversion rate of one page, or of 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 ask for a site visitor or lead to take the next step in their journey towards becoming a paying client. For example, a call to action can be a button that connects to your “Contact Us” form, or a button in a paid advertisement that links back to your website.
A landing page is a website page that’s built to get visitors to take a specific action. This might mean clicking on a button, filling out a form, booking a consultation, or making a phone call.
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, refers to the practice of optimising websites so that they appear near the top of search results for relevant keywords.
Keywords (sometimes also called keyword phrases) are words or phrases that represent the topics you construct your pages around, like ‘Liverpool Divorce Lawyer’, for example. 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.
Return on Investment, or ROI, is a common business performance measure, but it’s especially important when it comes to marketing: In order to grow your law firm and keep your business profitable, you’ll need to make sure that you’re bringing good returns on the investments you’re making.
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.
The basics of marketing your law firm
Whether you have a sustainable solo practice or a quickly growing firm, your law firm marketing goals are unique. With the right approach, you can produce and execute an effective law firm marketing strategy.
Here’s what to consider when marketing your firm.
Create a marketing budget
Carefully planning a marketing budget is a key component of any law firm business plan. In order to figure out how much you’ll need to invest in marketing your firm, you’ll need to get clear about your goals and how much revenue you’ll need to make those a reality. Then, you’ll need to look at how many cases per year you’ll need to achieve that revenue goal (this will vary depending on your practice area).
When that’s sorted, you can come up with a marketing budget that will get you the number of cases needed to reach your goals. This should also take into account the stage your firm is at (are you new, or well-established?) and how competitive your space is (are you a business lawyer trying to build a client base in a competitive city like London, or are you the sole family lawyer in a small town?).
Once your marketing budget is established, it’s crucial you adhere to it. After all, getting more cases won’t help your firm grow if you’re not watching your bottom line.
Build a well-designed law firm website
In the digital age, your law firm’s website is often your client’s first impression of you, and it’s your chance to see to it that site visitors that are looking to hire a lawyer end up hiring you.
Start by optimising your law firm’s website to make certain that it is effective and easy to navigate—use quality photographs, highlight any important recognitions or experiences, and prominently display your contact information.
Further, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to ensure that your website meets the new price transparency rules established by Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in 2018. Basically, under these rules, you must clearly and concisely display the services you provide—and the prices for those services—in certain areas of law. Read our tips on how to use your website to stay compliant with SRA transparency rules.
Search engine optimise your website
It’s an age-old question: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? Bringing this thought to modern times, if you create a law firm website to market your firm, but no one finds it when they search for relevant terms using Google or another search engine, will potential clients ever find you?
To maximise your investment in a law firm website, your site should follow SEO best practices. As previously stated, ensuring your site is well-designed is a good start (good design creates a framework for useful, quality content, which is what search engines—and the people who use them—are looking for). You’ll also want to make sure your content is targeting long tail keywords (think “Birmingham personal injury lawyer” instead of just “lawyer”) to give yourself the best chance of competing with other pages and being found by potential clients.
If it’s important that you attract potential clients in your area, make sure you also claim your Google Business listing—being sure to provide a clear, useful description of your services, as well as contact information.
Claim your online profiles
Go beyond your law firm website to give your potential clients plenty of places to find you. That is, while your law firm website is one place potential clients can find you, it isn’t the only place they might find you—from review sites like Yell or Google Reviews to the Law Society solicitor directory or your regional law society websites, there are plenty of opportunities to claim online profiles.
Maintain a social media presence for your firm
To attract new clients with online advertising—you’ve got to be where the people are. Increasingly, in the digital age, people in the UK are on social media. While you’ll certainly need to be careful to maintain professionalism with your social media presence, with some thoughtful investment and care, social media advertising can be a boon for your law firm’s growth.
Here are a few ways to use social media to your advantage:
- Follow legal leaders on Twitter and engage in thoughtful conversation
- Set up an effective LinkedIn page for your firm (this is separate from your personal LinkedIn profile, which should also be optimised to help you stand out to peers and potential clients)
- Create a Facebook advertising campaign to position yourself as an authority in your space and attract new clients
Finally, make sure you’re following ethics and publicity rules within your jurisdiction, and be mindful of creating lawyer-client relationships.
Manage online reviews effectively
While having numerous online profiles functioning makes it much easier for clients to find your law firm, these online profiles also expose opportunities for reviews of your services. This means you may receive glowing recommendations—as well as some more challenging, negative reviews.
It’s prudent to manage your online reviews effectively: Today’s legal consumer does plenty of research before choosing their lawyer, and while a few inferior reviews won’t hurt, an ongoing flow of negative reviews could give potential clients a pause.
Developing a process into your workflow can help set your firm up for a more positive online presence. For example, make it a habit to ask for an online review at the close of every case—especially if a client is extremely satisfied (be sure to verify advertising for your jurisdiction rules to ensure your request is compliant). If you encounter a negative review, don’t ignore it: Instead, follow best practices for responding to your client’s feedback directly.
Consider content marketing
Don’t undervalue the worth of your firm’s knowledge. Leverage it to build your brand and authority, and show off your expertise in a given area through the written word.
Blogging, and more generally, content marketing, allows your firm to provide helpful answers to general questions that those looking to hire you. In answering these questions, you’ll build trust with potential clients, making it more likely that they’ll hire you.
If you’re starting (or refreshing) a blog for your law firm, follow a thoughtful approach with these guidelines:
- Establish and maintain a clear focus
- Stick to a regular cadence
- Ensure you’re providing quality, helpful information (without offering specific legal advice, of course)
Invest time in networking and business development
As a busy lawyer, it can be tempting to refrain from attending parties and networking events. But this could be a missed opportunity for making important connections and meeting new clients.
If you’re going to spend time attending local networking and bar events, be deliberate. Plan out where you’re going to invest your time, and be prepared to have meaningful conversations that build your brand and lead to referrals.
Referrals from fellow lawyers are always a key component of any law firm’s growth, so building referral relationships with other lawyers could be a win for the future of your practice.
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.
Consider traditional marketing
You might be thinking, “Wait a minute! I still see billboard ads alongside the motorway! What about good old-fashioned traditional marketing?”
It’s true: Depending on your location and practice area, traditional marketing (i.e., offline marketing) may be a fit for your firm. However, in today’s digital age, traditional marketing is usually best suited as a complementary tool to online marketing. After all, whichever way your clients hear about you, they’re likely going to look you up online before they make any sort of hiring decision.
Consumers are more empowered than ever to do plenty of research before any decision, so remember to maintain that stunning website, and keep asking happy clients for positive reviews!
Measure your law firm marketing efforts
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.
Without measuring the results and return on investment of your efforts, you won’t know which campaigns are bringing in new business—and which are flopping. This is important, since you’ll want to stop investing in methods that don’t work, and scale up on those that do (unless your heart is set on having an air dancer outside of your law firm).
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 plenty of positive reviews from past clients. There’s only one way to find out—look to the numbers!
A low-tech but effective place to start is by asking clients how they heard about you. While these anecdotal results can start to shape a picture of your marketing’s impact, you’ll need to do more to truly assess how your marketing is working.
The best way to track your 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.
Google Analytics will help you see things like 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.
3 statistics to inform your law firm marketing
The 2018 Legal Trends Report focused on your legal clients: what makes them hire, what makes them recommend your services, and more.
A few interesting stats from the report to inform your law firm marketing:
- 57% of consumers surveyed had an issue that could have been handled legally but wasn’t. In other words, there’s plenty of opportunity to reach—and help—more clients.
- For 28% of consumers, not knowing the final cost of legal representation is a barrier to hiring. Being upfront and intentional about how you communicate pricing on your website, getting creative to offer flat fee or predictable options, and marketing that you do this, could be helpful.
- 68% of consumers who had a legal problem in the past two years spoke with a lawyer they didn’t hire. Make sure you’re making a good first impression and standing out in your initial consult, and addressing any client concerns.
The report digs deeper into these stats, and includes many more insights into the importance of client satisfaction in driving referrals. It’s worth a careful read.
4 Law firm marketing best practices
While a healthy budget for law firm marketing is always brilliant, it’s not always the most important key to success. If you’re not following a few critical principles, all the marketing dollars in the world won’t help your law firm grow. So, before you invest thousands of dollars in a shiny new website, a SEO specialist, and social media ads, take a moment to thoughtfully consider what’s going to guide your success.
Keep these 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—at every stage of the client’s journey, from when a client first becomes aware of a service to when they decide to buy or hire.
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 firms that take a client-centric approach in their operations and their marketing will be positioned to stand out and succeed.
What does this look like? Consider your client’s pain points when crafting messaging for your website, and focus on showing empathy and addressing those rather than focusing on 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-centric approach as well: An easy-to-use site shows clients you’ve been thoughtful about what they need and how they’ll navigate your site.
Put your clients first in your marketing efforts, and 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 carefully
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 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 out there. Think carefully about your goals and your practice area, pick one or two networks to focus on, and create 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 really only have the bandwidth to post once per month).
3. Hire extra support, if needed
You’re an expert at practicing law, and you’ve also got a business to run. If marketing isn’t an area you’ve got a lot of experience in (or an area you’re willing to learn about), bringing in help might be a good option. Depending on your goals and marketing budget, consider investing in a marketing consultant, web designer, SEO specialist, or other type of marketing service to help with your firm’s needs—just make sure you ask plenty of tough questions before signing on the dotted line.
You may also want to think about tools to help with your law firm marketing (more on that below).
4. Measure, measure, measure
We’ll say it once again: 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, or whatever metrics 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.
Tools and services to help with law firm marketing
Don’t make things more difficult than they need to be: Look into the many apps and services available to help with your marketing efforts. With the right technology, everyone from solo practitioners to mid-sized firm managers can implement a successful law firm marketing program.
Here are four examples:
1. 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—especially in an era where lawyers must be mindful to stay compliant with the E.U. General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). There are plenty of options available, but Mailchimp is often recommended, offers a free plan, and has resources to help your marketing stay GDPR-friendly.
2. 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 manage all your firm’s social media from one, centralised place—schedule posts, keep tabs on replies, and even monitor topics relevant to your practice area to see what potential legal clients are interested in.
3. 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 county? 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.
Attracting new clients to your law firm doesn’t have to be a monumental challenge—when it comes to law firm marketing, the best tip is simply to get started. Make a small investment, try something new, measure your success, and take what you’ve learned to improve. Focus on a few key areas instead of overextending yourself, create a thoughtful marketing budget (and stick to it), and use technology 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 you choose, remember to put your clients (and potential clients) first in all things—for mutual benefit. Law firms that strive to provide an incredible client experience will inherently challenge themselves to operate more efficiently in order to deliver excellent service, which boosts their bottom line and increases their chance of referrals.
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