Digital marketing for law firms: The comprehensive guide
Written by Amy Hinman
There are a lot of self-designated legal marketing experts out there. And a lot of them are more concerned about shilling their own services than offering advice. We know that it’s difficult to find honest, detailed information about digital marketing for law firms on the internet.
This article and the team at LaFleur are here to help. Here, we go beyond offering digital marketing solutions and dig into the essentials of a high-performing marketing plan.
Before you launch a marketing plan, assess your needs and define your goals
Your law firm deserves more than a one-size-fits-none website and digital marketing plan. Instead, your digital marketing solutions should be tailored to your precise needs and goals.
- Does your firm need to boost its name recognition and reputation?
- Do you need more leads or traffic to your website?
- Are you having trouble converting leads into clients?
- Are you eager to stay at the top of mind of your leads, clients, and referral sources?
- Is there a competitor that you’d like to outperform online?
These short-term and long-term goals will help you identify your marketing opportunities. Once you understand your needs, you can start building a plan.
For some smaller firms and sole practitioners, that might mean DIY digital marketing, using your in-house resources to create content, nurture leads, build a client experience, and gain more clients. As you grow, you may find that hiring a digital marketing agency makes more sense. Or you might take a hybrid approach, working with experts on the more complex elements of your strategy.
Now, let’s explore the fundamentals of legal marketing.
Our CLEAR Method can guide your digital marketing strategy
Successful digital marketing campaigns in the legal industry typically have five components that speak to your ideal clients at every stage in their journey, from awareness of your services to signing on as a client, to keeping your firm top of mind, even after their case is closed.
We know that digital marketing for law firms can become overwhelming. After all, there’s a lot of nuance and moving parts to a high-performing marketing strategy. The CLEAR Method™ can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current plan and maximize your budget.
- Create: build customized marketing strategies, brand positioning, SEO analysis to optimize your digital marketing plan
- Launch: craft a website and brand that are the foundation of your digital marketing
- Expand: high-quality content, webinars, and video assets broaden your website’s reach and authority
- Amplify: paid advertising and brand ambassadors can grow your audience and boost your firm’s brand
- Refine: analyze and track metrics to understand potential opportunities and success
It’s a helpful methodology for understanding how your marketing efforts fit together—and it’s helped law firms across the country reach their goals.
Create your firm’s legal marketing strategy
We know that many law firms have become accustomed to haphazard marketing, where you spend your budget on what “feels” right. However, there’s a better way. The most effective marketing plans are strategic and data driven.
Your brand should reflect your mission, values, and client experience
Great branding involves understanding your law firm’s core beliefs, goals, and values, and using that information to craft a brand identity (which includes your logo and your colors). It expresses your firm’s unique value and builds trust.
Whether you’re rebranding or introducing a new brand to the market, you should focus on your uniqueness and value to potential clients. You need to stand out from your competition, rather than blending in.
Our strategists can guide you through a series of exercises or workshops that highlight your firm’s unique value and identity. We’ll also analyze your competitors, to make sure that your content and visual design differentiates you from them.
Make a splash with your brand’s go-to-market strategy
Launching a new firm, refreshing an established one, or introducing a new practice area requires care and attention. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How can you reach your ideal clients and build brand awareness early on?
- Which of your competitors’ missed opportunities can you take advantage of?
- Can you leverage existing goodwill and brand awareness in the community?
- What is realistic timeline for your marketing campaigns—and how can you make the most out of your budget?
There isn’t a single, cookie-cutter answer to these questions, and your responses will vary depending on your budget, goals, and your competitors’ sophistication. Again, our strategists can guide you through these decisions and help you maximize your ROI.
Assess your website’s SEO performance and find out where you rank
A strong SEO strategy requires careful analysis and clear goals, and much of this starts with technical and keyword research. First, you’ll need to assess your website’s page speed, usability, and other technical metrics.
Second, you must consider on-page optimization and keywords. Keywords are terms that legal consumers type into Google and other search engines—and you should have a list of targeted of them before you create content.
However, not all keywords are created equally.
While roughly 165,000 people search the term “lawyers” every month, we probably wouldn’t recommend that as a high-priority keyword for your firm. First, it has a 100% keyword difficulty, according to SEMrush, so you’re unlikely to reach the first page any time soon.
Second, think about those people’s search intent. When someone types “lawyers” into Google, they could have many goals. A tiny proportion of them might be looking to hire an attorney in your specific community. Some are high school students researching possible careers. And others are looking up a spelling or definition. You’re much better off focusing on keywords that highlight your specific practice, clients, and location.
A detailed keyword analysis of both you and your competitors can help your firm rank higher for the right keywords. During this discovery phase, you will learn how your competitors use long-tail and short-tail keywords. Not sure where to start? We can identify the terms you should target and identify your competitors’ missed opportunities, helping you plan out effective SEO tactics.
Identify your perfect target audience
Legal consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Many are researching their questions, studying you and your competitors’ content, and even trying to handle the early stages of their claims. You’ll need to build their trust and understand their priorities.
Be sure to research your ideal clients, their most commonly asked questions, and most pressing issue. If you need help, the LaFleur team is ready to work with you to build your perfect digital marketing strategy, using market research, data analytics, empathy mapping, and insight from your team.
Launch your website and brand
You cannot afford to ignore your website and brand. If you don’t have a clear and consistent brand identity or your website is hard to navigate or loads slowly, you’re going to lose out on leads.
Many lawyers assume that branding and website strategy focuses on brand colors, an attractive design, and maybe a couple of WordPress widgets. But that’s not all you need to consider.
Your website should be easy to use, visually appealing, and optimized for conversion
With your law firm’s brand in place, you can move forward with the other foundational elements of your digital marketing. And your initial focus should be your website. Modern websites are intuitive, lightning quick, and filled with attractive elements, smart content, and tempting calls to action. Make sure your site meets Google’s Core Web Vitals expectations and meets legal consumers at every step of their buyer’s journey.
Expand your content and demonstrate your expertise
If you’re not familiar with a legal consumer’s buyer’s journey, you’re not alone. Many law firms assume that consumers immediately realize their need, search a simple term like “san diego personal injury lawyer,” and call the first name they see. However, that’s rarely true today.
As mentioned above, legal consumers often consider all their options (including DIY options) before they give your office a call. Your website needs content that speaks to them at every stage of this journey:
- Top of funnel (awareness): the consumer realizes that they have a problem, but might not know that hiring a lawyer is the best solution.
- Middle of funnel (consideration): they are weighing their options, which often includes your competitors and handling their case pro se
- Bottom of funnel (conversion): consumers are looking for information that confirms that you are the best choice for them—and makes scheduling their initial consultation easy
But identifying the right topics and keywords is just the start of the process.
Next, you need to craft high-quality, relevant content that answers their questions. Increasingly, Google values long-form blogs and webpages that include comprehensive, plain English content. So, while there aren’t hard-and-fast word counts, a 400-word blog probably will rarely show up on the first page.
The algorithms are looking for pages with high EAT (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) metrics.
- Authors should be experts in the subject matter
- Your content should be authoritative and helpful to readers
- Your law firm and lawyers should have a strong reputation and be respected leaders
- Consumers should be able to find your contact information easily
Performing an EAT analysis can help you understand where your law firm performs well, and where you can improve. To learn more, contact LaFleur.
Establishing and expanding your firm’s presence also involves getting a sense of your competition’s performance and any opportunities in the legal industry that your firm can take advantage of. We help our law firm clients understand these elements with a keyword and competitor analysis that lays out:
- Your site’s traffic and ranking keywords, as well as that of your competitors
- Data interpretations that indicate how clients find your site, the amount of brand recognition your law firm has, and your overall digital performance
- Your competitor’s branding, messaging, and how your firm can craft a message that stands out from the crowd
- Recommendations for how to move forward based on the data and your goals
With this information in-hand, you’re ready to amplify your message.
Amplify your legal marketing
There are two main ways to connect with potential clients online: organic content, like blogs, and paid media, like PPC campaigns. Both serve distinct, valuable purposes in your digital marketing plan.
Organic content takes time to build momentum but offers a long-term ROI
Carefully written and optimized blogs help build your website’s authority, number of keywords you rank for, and audience. When you optimize law firm blogs for the keywords your ideal audience is searching for, you can connect with them in their search for answers and outline how your services can solve their problems.
For instance, suppose your firm wants to acquire more property damage during and after hurricane season. To connect with people who’ve suffered damage, you can conduct keyword research to discover which words and phrases related to storm damage people are searching for, and then write and optimize an article that provides answers to their questions and outlines how your firm’s legal services can help them navigate a difficult situation.
Ideally, you would collaborate with your digital marketing company to write and publish this article a few months before you expect storm damage to affect your target demographic. Organic content can take time to gain momentum, which might seem like a downside, but the reality is that once you have it published, a high-quality article can provide years of return on investment. This empowers you to not only reach people this storm season, but in seasons to come as well. And for perennial risks or issues that aren’t limited to certain months of the year, blogs are a great way to reach people in need.
Paid campaigns can get quick results but have a limited lifespan
Paid campaigns include pay-per-click (PPC), Facebook ads, Local Services ads (LSAs), other social campaigns, and programmatic ads. These campaigns are ideal for law firms that need to quickly reach their target audience with a message. Whether it’s a brand awareness campaign, a mass tort case, or messaging related to your practice areas, paid ads can quickly get results when they’re on the right platform and are managed strategically.
Suppose your law firm wants to earn more car crash cases. If your law firm is primarily known for handling other types of personal injury claims, a paid advertising campaign can expand your reputation and connect your firm with potential clients. At LaFleur, we help law firms with a specific practice area focus expand through brand awareness and lead generation campaigns.
We typically recommend a blended digital strategy for the firms we work with. Organic ranking is foundational for website health and domain authority. Paid campaigns are essential if you want to reach new, potential clients.
Go beyond PPC: The many faces of paid advertising
While pay-per-click advertising is one of the most popular types of paid advertising for lawyers, it’s not the only one. You’re probably familiar with many of techniques already:
- Local Services Ads: these Google ads sit above traditional PPC and organic listings and are pay-per-lead.
- Programmatic display ads: you can target specific audiences with these online, image-driven ads (which often link to a conversion-focused landing page)
- Social media ads: LinkedIn and Facebook campaigns can drive brand awareness and amplify your leads
- Connected TV: ads on streaming services can target specific demographics, unlike traditional television spots and are often a better value
- Streaming radio ads: launch your ads on popular streaming platforms, like Spotify and IHeartRadio
If you need help selecting the right portfolio of ad campaigns, we can help. Our team crafts paid strategies that align with your goals, budget, and targeted audience.
Refine your data for success
In the world of digital marketing, data is king. Every tactic, campaign, and strategy can be measured using a wide variety of tools that you may or may not understand how to use. It is important to understand, analyze, and use this data appropriately if you want to continue to be successful moving forward.
Use your data to plan your next best campaign
Using tools like Google Analytics, you can monitor how your content is performing and update it accordingly. Content cannot just be left to sit, as it may end up losing traction and relevance to your target audience. Keep a close eye on your performance metrics can help you understand what needs to be updated and why.
Data should be checked as often as you are able, but a minimum of monthly can be the difference between success and irrelevance. Monitoring your data provides clarity as to how your tactics are going and can also offer insight into why some tactics work and other do not.
Leverage marketing expertise to adjust when needed
Data is a direct indicator of your tactics’ success and can prove to be your greatest tool when building future campaigns. Numbers don’t lie, so if you see dips or peaks in your metrics, you should act on them. At LaFleur, our team prioritizes active data monitoring so our clients can be sure their content is consistently performing to their standards.
Just because your content was perfect when you first released it, does not mean that is still the case. Search engines often update their algorithms, changing the criteria that ranks content. Other factors, like new competitor content, can also affect rankings. These ever-changing facets of digital marketing make consistent data monitoring practices more valuable than ever.
Monitoring data and keeping content updated can be time-consuming and difficult. If you need help analyzing your metrics, we are here to help. Our team of digital marketing experts is dedicated to getting the most out of your data and keeping your content at the top of the page.
Go more in-depth with our book: Digital Marketing for Law Firms
As a law firm digital marketing partner, we’re committed to educating and empowering law firms. We publish blogs, webinars, newsletters, and podcasts that teach lawyers and law firms about digital marketing, branding, and other tools that can boost their practices and help them capture the right leads. Now, we’ve taken it a step further: We wrote a book.
Digital Marketing for Law Firms: The Secrets to Getting More Clients and Better Cases, published by Trial Guides, is our comprehensive guide to law firm digital marketing. We’re incredibly proud of this resource, and we hope your law firm will find it to be a powerful tool.
Our book explains law firm digital marketing best practices, showing examples of what (and what not) to do, and discussing “red flags” that indicate a marketing agency isn’t acting in your firm’s best interest. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to accurately assess your internal marketing capacity, build effective strategies, and select the best digital marketing agency partners—and get more clients along the way.
Ready to boost your digital marketing reach? Connect with LaFleur
In addition to ordering Digital Marketing for Law Firms, you can always reach out directly to the LaFleur team. We can answer your questions about your law firm digital marketing plan, suggest ways to improve its reach, and educate you about our approach and solutions. To reach Chip and the team, you can either complete our online form or call us at (888) 222-1512.
Pew Research Center. (2021, April 7). Social Media Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/social-media/