Lead Generation and Follow Up Are Crucial for Your Law Firm; They Are Mission Critical.
As a marketing agency, we understand when law firms call us needing our services to help increase the number and/or quality of leads they receive. However, we’re always shocked at how many law firms have no formal process for following through on leads. There is no shortage of data to show the importance of timely responses (we’re talking minutes, not hours or days) and persistent follow up (reaching out to an individual six times or more). Lead follow up is so important for law firms, in fact, that we wrote an entire blog post discussing the core principles behind following through on the leads that come in to your law office.
Still, most of our clients do not have a standard procedure for pursuing leads, let alone a dedicated staff member to sort through and reach out to leads that do come in — especially if that lead is not calling the firm directly or walking through the door with a clear and immediate need.
Part of this is symptomatic of the incredible changes in business practices that have arisen over the last 10 years. A decade ago, the internet was still, in many ways, in its infancy; word of mouth was a major source of new business, if not the primary source of new business for most law firms, and the leads that came in were usually good.
Now, 90% or more of your potential clients are going to make up their mind about you online before they ever contact you. And the market for attorneys has become exponentially more competitive, especially online. For every phone call you do get at your office, many other potential clients are poking around your online properties trying to decide if you’re the firm they want to hire.
If you’re trying to grow your practice, you need to reach those people. You don’t necessarily need to reach them before your competitors (though that is certainly advantageous), but you do need to reach out to them in a meaningful and personalized way. Below, we’ll explain how.
Lead Nurturing Done Right: A Speeding Ticket Story
I have an acquaintance, let’s call him John, who recently received a speeding ticket. Naturally, John didn’t want to pay the substantial fine associated with the ticket, nor did he want to pay the increased insurance premiums that would inevitably result. While I’m sure we all wish John had made a better decision and not sped in the first place, as soon as his ticket became a matter of public record, he received quite a few letters from law firms in the area who offered to represent him and get his ticket dismissed.
Among those letters, one of them had several pages of information that included everything he needed to deal with his ticket, whether through the help of a lawyer or not. It had the court date and room assignment, a small directory of phone numbers to call if he had questions, a list of documents he should prepare for his appearance, and more. It even had directions and instructions for how to park at the courthouse. Included among that packet of information was a plug for the law firm saying they would charge $99 to represent him if he chose.
All the other firms also charged $99.
John had no problem deciding who he wanted to represent him. One firm took a few extra minutes to personalize their communication and provide something of value, while the others just advertised themselves.
This is the new paradigm in marketing: you need to demonstrate value and meet people where they are. You can’t just sit around waiting for the phone to ring because you have your phone number listed on your website.
How to Capture Real User Data
Here at LaFleur, we set up each of our clients with their own unique account in our marketing automation platform. This platform also functions as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, among other things. What does this really mean, though?
The software we use allows you to capture or manually add user data to your contact list. Here are a few practical examples of how this functionality can benefit your firm:
- You can create a group of contacts you want to send a newsletter to each month. A list of contacts including individuals such as your former clients, your colleagues at other firms, groups or organizations you belong to, media contacts, etc. can be set up. You can then send out personalized content to that list of people. The contacts would be addressed by name, and you can even develop segments within that list to send more targeted messaging to certain groups. For example, your former clients may be more interested in fun news and events around the office, your peers may be more interested in the material you have recently published on your blog, and your media contacts may be more interested in community work you are doing that they could pick up as a story.
By demonstrating your value to these groups, you stay in the forefront of their minds, whether they are recommending your firm to a friend or family member, referring cases to you, or generating positive PR for your office.
- You can automatically cater messaging to a person’s unique needs. While a newsletter helps facilitate a more traditional style of marketing (you remind people of your value in order to be the first one on their mind if a legal need arises), marketing automation also allows you to engage with potential clients who have not called your firm or walked through your door. For instance, a person may read an article on your blog about car crash injuries. From there, they may investigate your practice area page about handling car wreck cases.
At this time, they might be hesitant to call your office, but they may want to learn more about what would happen if they did. By providing an ebook or even just high-quality, detailed information on your website, you can entice potential clients to provide their contact information (name, email, and possibly a phone number) in exchange for something of perceived value (like that free ebook or a series of emails discussing car wreck cases, since that is their area of interest).
The marketing automation platform will capture that information through a form on a web page, and you can then have it automatically send personalized messages that look like they are from your inbox about an issue that is relevant to that user.
Another example of this might be using a similar strategy to reach out to individuals who have clicked on a specific ad you are running online. Perhaps you’re running an ad for a free ebook about small business tax preparation. For people who click the ad and download the ebook, you can send a specific set of personalized messages that expand on the contents of the ebook and provide even more value and insight.
With the above strategies and any other tactics you may decide to implement, you should be demonstrating your value and personalizing your communications. This maximizes your chances of turning potential clients into actual clients.
Going Beyond Automation: Leveraging Real User Data
Up until this point, everything is automated. You have to manually create emails and newsletters and populate them with content, of course. And you may need to manually add contacts from any existing lists that you have. But the outreach itself doesn’t involve you lifting a finger. This means it is infinitely scalable; you can reach as many leads as you have in your list with the same personalized content.
At LaFleur, we manage all of the automation for our clients with these services in their agreements. For example, we:
- Develop and document detailed strategies for lead nurturing
- Write, edit, and proof original e-mail and newsletter content for dissemination
- Design unique email formats that align with your firm’s specific branding and messaging
- Set up and monitor automation rules and workflows
- Design forms that blend seamlessly into the formatting and design of your web pages
- Write, edit, and proof landing page content optimized for conversions
- Report on all relevant metrics for any email campaigns, such as open rates, click through rates, conversions, and more
Unfortunately, our marketing efforts extend only to the point where your firm needs to evaluate and sign on clients. This is why lead follow up is so crucial for law firms. Your return on investment for marketing relies, in part, on your ability to take a potential client offered up via lead generation and turn them into an actual client for your firm.
An important additional benefit of having contacts in your system is that you can track their behavior. You can see when they open or click a link within your emails. You can see if they have been visiting pages on your website. You can see if they download any resources you have available on your site. This data is invaluable, and you can leverage it to your advantage by assigning values to people’s actions (also known as “lead scoring”).
Within your CRM, you can use lead scoring to get a list of the most active and most qualified individuals who are interacting with your brand but who have not yet called your firm. Even if you don’t do anything to adjust lead scoring, you can still view a list of people who are most active: people visiting your website, opening and clicking on your emails, downloading resources from your site, etc. You can even get a list of those people sent directly to you (or anyone else at your firm’s) email inbox every day, which you can use to personally reach out to people who may need your help. And you should be reaching out to people.
A Sample Lead Follow Up Procedure
Lisa has been in a wreck. Her car is totaled, and her medical bills are sure to become a strain on her finances. She isn’t sure what she can do about it, so she pokes around online. She finds a page on your site discussing how insurance works after a car wreck, which directs her to your car accidents practice area page. There, she decides to download your ebook discussing what to do after a car wreck. In order to download your ebook, she provides her name, email, and phone number. She’s nervous about calling your firm, but she opens your emails, especially the ones about how compensation works for medical bills in a personal injury case. She also goes back to your site to view more information about how insurance determines that a vehicle is a total loss.
All of this gets tracked through the marketing automation platform. Soon, Lisa shows up on your daily digest of most active leads. You take a quick peek at her journey, which shows you that she may be interested in getting compensation for medical expenses and that she may have a totaled car on her hands. At this point, you (or someone on your staff) should call her or at least send her an email. No response? Try again later. Still no response? Try again later. Research suggests that it takes 6 to 9 attempts to convert someone. It shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes to dial that number and leave a polite message or punch out a quick check-in email.
When you do reach out, it’s important to not be pushy and not be creepy. An appropriate ice breaker should be mentioning the ebook she downloaded because that’s where she knows you got her contact information. You could lead in with a simple acknowledgement of her action: “It looks like you recently downloaded our ebook about car accidents. Was it helpful to you?”
This conversation can easily transition into your standard qualifying script. Lisa may have a pretty standard auto wreck case that you want to pursue. But you never would have gotten this case if you hadn’t put in a few minutes of effort.
Let’s say it doesn’t pan out quite that way. Another lead, Anthony, may have visited similar pages, but his damages and medical bills were minimal — just an exam after a fender bender. If you reach out to Anthony, you may still be able to offer some value to him that will result in positive returns for your office. Maybe you’re familiar with a local auto body shop that you know offers good prices and does a great job, so you recommend it to Anthony and wish him all the best. That’s not a long phone call — just a couple minutes of time spent getting up to speed on Anthony’s journey, learning he’s not an ideal potential client, and offering a friendly recommendation.
Later on, his car turns out great, and he’s super happy to be back on the road without breaking the bank. On social media, he follows your page and gives you a positive mention in a post. You just reached a whole new audience who has never heard of you before, and who do you think Anthony is going to recommend if one of his friends gets in a wreck? Or, since the average person gets in approximately 3 car wrecks in their lifetime, who do you think Anthony is going to call next time when he does have a case you’d be interested in taking?
Granted, not every contact scenario is going to be perfect or result in positive action on the part of your leads. But over time, you can tweak lead scoring to narrow down your field of candidates and pursue higher quality leads. You’ll also start to recognize patterns in people’s journey that indicate a higher quality lead. And, of course, you’ll become better at reaching out and qualifying people more efficiently in your conversations.
You may even consider having an in-house staff member dedicated to nurturing if you have a high enough volume of leads. That person can specialize in pursuing individuals while you and your colleagues focus on cases. Your lead nurturing expert will learn about a wide variety of things relevant to your industry and will be able to offer value, even if leads are not qualified, or set up meetings with individuals who may have a promising case. Your in-house specialist will utilize real data from your pool of contacts to turn inbound leads into conversations.
LaFleur: Your Online Marketing and Lead Generation Partner
At LaFleur, we utilize best practices and data-driven innovations to help law firms effectively manage their online presence and get new leads. We take a holistic approach with a long-term view for growth, and we’re not interested in making hollow promises or false guarantees. Our goal is to implement the tools and strategies that make the most sense for your law firm, not just throw money at your marketing to make your numbers look impressive with no real results.
As an existing client, if you’d like to learn more about how to take advantage of the tools available to you through your marketing automation account, reach out to your liaison at LaFleur.
And if you’re not yet a client and would like to learn more about what LaFleur has to offer, call us at 888-222-1512 or fill out our contact form; we’d love to discuss how we can help you take your online marketing to the next level!