Useful Legal Marketing Strategies That Are Cost-Effective and Simple to Implement
For many small firms or solo practices, budget is the single biggest obstacle standing between them and digital marketing success. Even if you’re convinced that working with an agency and investing in long-term online marketing campaigns could get you more and better clients, that doesn’t matter much if your firm is at a point where you’re struggling just to keep the lights on and the paychecks rolling out on time.
Fortunately, digital marketing tools have leveled the playing field for small firms with limited budgets. Compared to the relatively expensive floor for television spots, billboard, and print ads, the web offers an incredible number of ways to reach potential clients for very little money or even for free. In this article, we’ll go over five such law firm marketing strategies that you can roll out with very little capital investment or technical know-how.
Dive Into Content Marketing With a Legal Blog
We’ve talked to many attorneys who are skeptical of investing time and money into blog content, and we understand why. It’s reasonable to ask, “Am I really going to get cases from my blog, or is it just a prestige piece for my website?”
The answer is yes, you really can get leads and cases through your blog — but only with a thoughtful blogging strategy and a sustained commitment to creating content.
There are several important benefits to maintaining a blog on your law firm’s website:
- It signals to Google and other search engines that your website is active and publishing fresh content.
- It can boost your site’s authority in Google’s eyes and make your existing pages rank more prominently (especially if you use the blog content to link back to them).
- It allows you to target more specific “long tail” search keywords (e.g., trying to connect with people who are Googling topics like “how to create a special needs trust in Ohio” rather than terms like “estate planning lawyer Ohio”).
However, gone are the days when just showing up and posting the occasional cursory blog article stuffed with keywords would bring in steady traffic. Today’s search engines (led by Google, as usual) are finely tuned to filter out spammy content. Instead, their express goal is to connect search users with high-quality, informative, authoritative content that answers their questions and addresses their needs.
And while Google has gotten choosier about the content it displays to users, there’s also more competing content. More law firms and legal sites are blogging than ever before, so your content must claw through an ever-growing crowd of related or similar pieces to show up in search.
What this means is that every blog article will require thought, effort, and editing. There’s no minimum length for a blog article to be useful and informative, but as a general guideline, if you can’t muster more than 600 words on a topic and you’re retreading the same points as every other attorney blog on the subject, then it’s probably not worth writing an article at all.
In general, your blog content should:
- Draw from your unique expertise and experiences to address the topics your clients and potential clients need help with most
- Address those topics in everyday language (no legal jargon and please, no Latin)
- Appeal to the public, not to other lawyers (unless you’re mainly hoping to get referrals)
RELATED BLOG: How to Write a Successful Blog Post, the Right Way
Yes, this is going to take time — and if you don’t have the resources to write a carefully-considered, thoroughly-edited blog article at least once a month, it may be better not to blog at all. Google punishes cluttered sites that host lots of low-quality, generic content, and you should also think about the message that a dead blog sends to your potential clients. You can promise your clients in 20 different ways that you’re a dedicated fighter who never quits, but if they head over to your blog and see that you put up five or six posts two years ago before apparently losing interest, they may wonder if the rest of your messaging is just hot air.
Clean Up Your Website
Remember when we said that Google doesn’t like a cluttered site? We weren’t kidding. At LaFleur, we have a legal client who we’ve been trying to help climb the search rankings for some highly contested search terms in a very competitive market for years. In January, we decided to audit that client’s website and clean up a lot of old, underperforming content: consolidating outdated announcements about speaking engagements and case verdicts and rewriting or deleting low-quality blog posts and site pages from before we began our working relationship.
Almost overnight, the client’s rankings in organic search zoomed from page five or six for many of the search terms they wanted to page one or two for those same terms.
Below is a graph of that client’s organic traffic between January 1, 2018 and April 30, 2018. We started cleaning up and optimizing the site content in January of 2018.
We’ve implemented a lot of successful strategies for this client, but nothing we’ve ever done has come close to the returns we’ve seen from this site audit and optimization in relation to the cost.
If your website has been around for several years and transitioned through several different digital marketing agencies or strategies, there’s a good chance you could reap similar benefits from an aggressive tidy-up. Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
- Make sure all the pages on your site are SEO-optimized so they’re sending the proper signals to search engines about what sort of content they contain and what topics they’re trying to address. Also, fix any broken links and make sure your site’s pages link to each other in a logical and intuitive way. Free software tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider can crawl your site and give you a detailed report of all the SEO issues you need to address.
- For blog articles whose moment in the sun has come and gone, consolidate, repurpose, rewrite, or delete them. For example, if your blog has several articles announcing that your firm won this or that award, consolidate them into an awards page that draws from the blog copy to briefly describe each award. Meanwhile, if you have a “quick-hit” blog article commenting on a notable news item that happened years ago, considering repurposing it as a lead-in to a longer article tackling a related legal topic.
- Be a bit ruthless with your content. If a blog article or website page isn’t drawing in organic traffic and no one put that much time or effort into it in the first place, maybe it just doesn’t need to exist anymore.
Use Email Marketing to Get More Business From the Clients You Already Have
Great attorneys thrive on referrals and recommendations from their clients. This is still true in the digital age, but the power of digital marketing tools in general and email marketing in particular offer savvy attorneys lots of new ways to put themselves in the best possible position to get those recommendations.
Automated emails can help you get more business from your current and former clients in several ways:
- You can use emails to follow-up with satisfied clients after you wrap up their case and make it easy and convenient for them to post a positive review of your firm.
- You can use newsletters to stay in touch with past clients and keep your firm in their mind for months or years after you resolve their legal issue. This way, you’ll be top of mind in case someone they know ends up needing your help.
- You can cross-sell by telling your clients more about your other practice areas and educating them about other legal matters you can help them with.
However, when you’re sending out mass emails to current and former clients, it’s important that you never cross the line into spam. Sending people emails about topics they don’t care about is the quickest way to get all your email content filtered directly into the trash.
The way to avoid the spam trap is to carefully cultivate your list of email marketing contacts and segment that list into smaller audiences based on their interests. Your clients don’t care about your speaking engagement at an attorney conference, and your attorney colleagues don’t need to get a list of basic FAQs about how personal injury lawsuits work or what a will does.
RELATED BLOG: Email Marketing Basics: List Building and Growth
Unless your firm takes on a very small number of clients, trying to send different email messages to different audiences manually is a recipe for a splitting headache. If you want to keep track of all your various audiences and make sure everyone gets only the content they might actually care about, you’ll need to learn how to use automation software like SharpSpring.
As long as you make sure you’re only delivering helpful content that’s relevant to your audience, email marketing is one of the most affordable and low-risk ways to get extra business out of your existing pool of clients.
Host a Webinar or an AMA
It’s no secret that many people carry around a negative perception of lawyers, and one of the main reasons people feel this way is because they don’t view attorneys as accessible or relatable. Fortunately, the internet has created so many new avenues for communication and engagement that it’s easier than ever for attorneys to overcome this stigma and create interactions with potential clients that feel almost like one-to-one conversations.
One of the best ways to do this is to tap into the power of video by hosting a webinar about a topic that your potential clients may find interesting. For example, if you’re a personal injury lawyer, you might advertise and host a webinar in which you cover the basics of how a personal injury case works and discuss what people can expect if they decide to hire a lawyer and pursue a personal injury claim.
Even if you already have similar video content available on your website, there’s something about the live-streaming nature of a video webinar that engenders a feeling of familiarity and trust. It’s one thing to appear on camera in a heavily-edited video created by a marketing agency and another to show up and speak to your audience live.
RELATED BLOG: Video Killed the Analog Star: Great Video, Ideal Clients
If preparing and hosting a video webinar sounds too stressful or time-consuming, you can always do an AMA instead. AMA stands for “ask me anything,” and it’s basically an open Q&A session where you allow people to ask you questions and answer them on the spot, either via video feed or in chat. (The website Reddit coined the term AMA and popularized the format, and many people still associate AMA sessions with Reddit. You can host an AMA on Reddit, but there are many other possible platforms as well; the Q&A format is what matters.)
Compared to putting on a webinar, hosting an AMA requires minimal advanced preparation and can serve just as well to make your prospective clients feel like they know firsthand who you are and what you’re about.
Get Active on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
Of all the strategies on this list, using social media is the one you really don’t have a valid excuse to avoid. Compared to writing blog articles, auditing your entire website, or managing targeted email campaigns, creating an engaging presence on the major social media platforms takes very little time or technical expertise.
If you think your audience isn’t using social media, think again. According to digital marketing research, 97% of adults between the ages of 16 and 64 say they log onto at least one social network each month. Even if you focus on an area like estate planning and serve mainly clients who are 65 and older, today’s under-64 crowd is your base of future clients. So, ignore social media at your peril, because the value of these platforms for business development is very real.
Like the webinars and AMAs we mentioned a moment ago, social profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter build trust and make you seem approachable. You don’t need to know any insider tricks or hacks to create social profiles that generate value; just populate your profiles with relevant info, then start sharing your content and giving people a window into your world as an attorney. Showcase your team, your personality, your passions, and your expertise while avoiding rant-y opinion posts, coarse jokes, and any other content that could place you in an unprofessional light.
Meanwhile, LinkedIn provides a great way to network with other attorneys and raise your profile among your peers. There are many LinkedIn groups specifically for attorneys to connect with each other and share content. If you don’t have a website yet, LinkedIn can even serve as your primary platform for publishing your content until you’re able to get a proper website set up.
Spend Less and Get More With LaFleur
Don’t let a limited budget keep you from laying the groundwork for an online presence that can provide a steady source of clients and cases for years to come. You can use these tips to get started today, and all it will take is time and dedication.
Of course, we also understand that time is money, especially for busy attorneys. If you find you’re at the limit of what you can accomplish on your own, get in touch with the team of digital marketing experts at LaFleur. We’ve helped law firms of all sizes and budgets build holistic digital marketing campaigns that deliver strong returns at affordable rates, and we’d love to do the same for your firm. We handle all the tactics listed in this article, plus other important pillars like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and video marketing.
York, A. (2018, February 19). 61 social media statistics to bookmark for 2018. Sprout Social. Retrieved from https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-statistics/