Developing a marketing plan for your law firm can be a time-consuming process; however, it is necessary to attract new clients. With so many options available, such as SEO, digital marketing, and blogging, your ultimate choices for marketing your firm might not be clear. Many decisions need to be made to bring a successful marketing plan to life.
You want to make sure you invest both your time and money wisely, so your primary focus is on your law practice and not your marketing plan. To make educated decisions about your needs, you first need to understand those methods that will most effectively align with your objectives.
The following is a guide to help you on your legal marketing journey. We will cover topics ranging from SEO to networking, explaining marketing terminology and statistics to guide your choices and measure your results. As you understand these methods, you can make an educated decision as to which tools will provide you with the best fit for your marketing goals.
2021 Legal Marketing Trends: Flexibility is Key
Since we never know which direction the economy will trend, we need to stay flexible to remain profitable. It is possible to stay on top through creativity and a willingness to adopt new strategies to attract new clients.
In 2021, we believe there are seven components to creating an effective marketing plan for the legal community.
1. People-focused marketing
Potential legal clients have lots of options when it comes to finding legal counsel. Clients are more likely to choose a practice that focuses on putting their clients first. A client-first approach should incorporate the following elements:
- People-focused marketing is the art of being human. Clients need to know they will be treated with a personalized touch instead of feeling like a case number in a large, faceless firm.
- Showing your clients you understand their needs. If you demonstrate you can empathize with their concerns, you show them your ability to address their needs and your awareness of their specific case’s intricacies.
- Creating value for your clients. Populate your website with videos and blog entries that answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) and provide tips on navigating common court procedures; for example, replying to court orders during a divorce proceeding. Making advice easily available can effectively draw new clients to your brand.
2. Emphasizing semantic search
You need to know how and why your prospective clients are searching for legal counsel. What details might someone provide that will guide them to the right specialty?
A semantic search is a Google algorithm that determines the intent of a search. By analyzing data, semantic searches can more accurately determine the context in which a search is being made provide the most relevant results.
Here are some ways to prepare your marketing plan to cater to semantic search:
- Focus your content on providing answers to the questions your prospective clients would ask. For example, suppose your target clientele is ex-military, middle-aged men seeking information on the side effects of defective 3M combat earplugs. In that case, you should focus your content on the questions they are most likely to ask and the expertise they would most likely need.
- When you write your content, keep in mind your audience is human and not a search engine. Your content should be written clearly in a language that is easy to understand. Remember, most of your clients are not familiar with legal terminology.
- When your focus lies on the topic groupings, keywords and keyword phrases will develop naturally. When optimized content reads fluently, you will find it easier to attain higher rankings. Here’s an example:
- Optimize your content toward a topic instead of writing around the keywords.
- Focus your content on a high-level legal specialty such as divorce law, and include subtopics such as costs, timeline, discovery process, etc.
3. Focusing on local SEO
Small and medium-sized firms serve specific geographic areas based on convenient access to the firm’s physical location. Their marketing is focused on local leads and brand awareness. Thanks to local search, marketing can be focused on a specific geographic location, which allows the firm to distinguish itself from competing firms in the same region.
Your content can stand out by making sure it’s polished and includes all of the important information, including reviews. The following actions will help you meet this goal:
- Setting up a Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook Business listings. If you are operating under a limited marketing budget, focusing on a Google My Business presence should be your priority. Having a key resource directly associated with the largest search engine in the world can help you elevate your ranking. Google’s data is always up to date regarding location, hours of operation, and contact information.
- Regularly generate reviews from existing clients. Reviews are one of the most important ranking factors in local search engines and are highly regarded by prospective clients. Develop a review management system that encourages current clients to leave a review. The more reviews, the better, as they contribute to your brand reputation, visibility, and ranking on local searches.
- Supporting content should be placed in various local and online publications with proximity to your blog. Most publications will link their blog authors back to the author’s original website. Backlinks are an important factor in determining rankings. Focusing a portion of your SEO and content strategy on what the local audience wants and needs can point you in the right direction to build your backlinks.
- Always keep your legal directory listings up to date so that your citations will lead your prospective clients to your most current contact information.
4. Emphasizing the user experience
A critical aspect of people-focused marketing strategies is the online user experience (UX). Make your digital content as professional, personalized, and user-friendly as possible. Seamless interactions and ease of use need to be meticulously designed, tested and refined. Everything from the Google search, real-time chat, appointment-making applications, and any other digital client interactions need to be flawless. Best practices for legal firm website UX include:
- Optimizing your site for mobile.
- Providing intuitive site navigation.
- Ensuring all on-site searches for lawyers are based on their locations and specialties.
- Providing individual lawyer bios that include their backgrounds, photos, and even video clips with personal introductions.
- Creating a legal resource center on your website that can include legal forms, downloads, webinars, and guides that bring value to your clients, both current and prospective, as well as other legal professionals.
Not only will your clients appreciate a flawless UX, so will Google search engines. As documented in a 2020 Google Developers blog post, UX factors have been incorporated into the Google search engine algorithms. When your client’s UX is enjoyable, Google takes notice.
What does this really mean? It means those websites that load quickly and operate on multiple devices across platforms are going to rank higher. Also, the easier it is for your clients to find information on your site, the better their reviews. When the client UX has all of these components, the rewards are greater search visibility. This will make a difference for your law practice in 2021 and beyond.
5. Paying less for ads
Attracting new clients using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is one of the ultimate digital marketing goals. Of the PPC options, Google ads are not only the most coveted, they’re also the most expensive. However, the ability to reach the largest volume of potential clients through advertising on the world’s busiest search engine can bring you unparalleled success. It also increases the competition.
The rising costs of Google Ads can be discouraging to many law firms, but there are still several options. Many firms are discovering Facebook Ads are the smarter investment.
There are numerous options in Facebook advertising that are based on impressive technology and extensive resources. For many legal firms, video ads are a logical solution. Facebook Mobile Studio can help you create spectacular mobile ads. This simple-to-use program includes image enhancements that can help create short video ads and animated stories.
6. Utilizing multiple content marketing channels
Blog posts have long been recognized as a great resource for providing your clients valuable information. For 2021, clients might not view this as good enough. You need to diversify your marketing to include other types of content that offer extensive coverage of legal expertise in the form of different channels and media types.
Today’s customers look for information that is available simply, interactively, and across multiple platforms. If that information is not available to them through a quick search using either Google or other platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, they will tend to move on to other sources. As legal marketers, you must remain aware of any new technologies to meet ever-changing consumer demands.
Marketing legal services make the most sense when you can focus on one specific topic and then expand that information into smaller subtopics. For example, long-form blog posts can ultimately become a section in an e-book, part of a social media campaign, or even be used as a script for an informative video series. If you prefer to use a webinar format, a single interview can be edited into shorter videos that can be grouped through a YouTube channel or Instagram campaign.
There are some types of content that have proven to work well for law firms. You may want to consider investing in the following:
- Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular. Legal podcasts, in particular, are in high demand. We recommend you build a series of podcasts around your particular practice specialty. Transcripts from your podcasts can then be repurposed as blog posts to give you maximum visibility across other content platforms. Podcasts have become standard fare for legal advertising because it keeps your clients engaged.
- Along the same lines as podcasts, a series of simple videos can be a great source of information for both your existing and prospective clientele. When creating videos, topics should address your firm’s FAQs and include your most popular types of cases. Bringing in a senior partner can lend greater authenticity to your videos.
- If you’re looking to expand to more interactive platforms, consider LinkedIn or Facebook Live to give your videos a more timely and updated perspective.
Contemporary webinars are more than just videos when you use platforms that include real-time chat, such as On24, Demio, and Facebook Live. Interactive webinars have proven to be a remarkable source for lead generation. You can even seat a full panel of esteemed legal professionals to answer real-time questions when using this format.
7. Focusing on brand awareness
Brand awareness takes the concept of a people-first approach and expands it by giving you a voice to regularly remind your clients of the high level of service you provide. You can continually build upon your brand by consistently updating your content. Fresh information and new innovations will bring a degree of authenticity and further instill client confidence. Despite uncertain conditions, the legal marketplace continues to expand in 2021.
Fortunately, the legal profession remains a necessity because law firms provide essential services to their local communities. This status provides you with ongoing opportunities for building your brand awareness, including:
- Using your attorneys as your brand ambassadors. Public perception of the legal professions gives attorneys additional credibility due to their reputations for expertise in their field. When you are able to showcase your legal professionals in your marketing campaigns, such as webinars and podcasts, you are bringing additional professionalism and prestige to your platform.
- Participating in community events. Local events give you a great opportunity to get out into your community and build relationships while supporting the causes that are important to its members. Your interaction within the community will keep your firm’s name top of mind. Additionally, partnering with local nonprofits and various charitable organizations will extend your local visibility.
- Sharing client testimonials. Real client testimonials boost your credibility. Determine a process for soliciting client testimonials from satisfied clients. Once the testimonials are received, they should be polished and published throughout your digital presence.
When you focus your client-first marketing plan on your local community, you will build a solid brand reputation. As your reputation grows, you will see a rise in your search rankings. Word will spread through both your web presence and word of mouth.
Marketing for legal firms will continue to experience an uptick as more people require a variety of legal services. Reality has changed the dynamics of marketing trends, and ultimately, the legal industry continues to thrive. When working on your law firm’s digital marketing plan, we believe following the guidelines outlined above will engage more clients in need, expand your business and continue to effectively service your existing clients.