Law firms face a highly competitive and often saturated marketplace when it comes to collecting leads and converting them into cases. Sometimes, it seems like the bigger firms can simply outspend the little guys and get the cases and clients they want, whether the arena is television spots and billboards or the web.
So, can smaller law firms still use online marketing to get more clients without breaking the bank? The answer is yes. In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of digital marketing for law firms and explain how intelligently designed campaigns can help your law firm collect leads and develop better client relationships.
Why Use Digital Marketing?
The goal of digital marketing is to leverage online tools like search engines, websites, social media platforms, and emails to build brand awareness and develop relationships with potential and current clients.
Before we dive into specifics, it’s important to define the four fundamental digital marketing strategies that we’ll be discussing in this article. Those strategies are:
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- Search engine optimization (SEO) involves optimizing your digital content to rank higher in web searches.
- Paid advertising allows you to purchase ad space online. Many different types of paid advertising opportunities are available on the web, including pay-per-click (PPC) and programmatic.
- Social media marketing involves posting on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your website.
- Content marketing includes writing blogs and other website content with goals of attracting site visitors through web searches and demonstrating industry knowledge.
5 Digital Marketing Myths That Are Holding Your Law Firm Back
Lots of misconceptions exist regarding digital marketing, and some law firms still believe that advertising online isn’t worth the expenditure. Below, we’ll discuss some popular online marketing myths and provide factual antidotes.
Myth 1: Referrals Are A Better Source of Leads Than the Web
Has your firm tried digital marketing before and discovered that you turn down fewer leads from referrals than you do from digital marketing? If so, you might have concluded that referrals are the best source for leads and that you don’t need to bother with digital marketing at all.
Referrals offer a reliable source of leads for many established law firms. However, very few firms receive enough referrals to be able to base their entire business on them. We’ve found that with a successful digital marketing strategy, even if our clients only accept a small percentage of the leads as cases, most of them still end up taking more cases from digital marketing efforts than from referrals.
Banking on referrals without a strong web presence is also a shortsighted strategy. What happens when one of the firms that tend to provide referrals goes through a staff shakeup or shuts down entirely? Younger people, attorneys included, tend to look to the web for information and feedback about lawyers, so firms that don’t establish a strong web presence now may find their referrals dwindling over time.
Fact: 38% of people today use the internet to find and hire an attorney, and that number continues to grow.
Myth 2: A Staff Member Who Understands PR or Traditional Marketing Can Handle Digital Marketing
Many attorneys ask, “if we have a staff member who does some marketing and PR for us, why do we need to hire a digital marketing firm? Can’t we just have that person handle our digital marketing, too?”
Traditional marketing and digital marketing require significantly different training, experience, and skill sets. Even if you have a team member with a background in marketing, they likely won’t have the expertise and knowledge of digital platforms necessary to build lean, cost-effective digital marketing campaigns.
Digital marketing is a constantly evolving field, and no one person can stay on top of every new development. This is why agencies consist of experts in a variety of areas, each contributing a piece of the overall knowledge and experience required to operate efficient and effective campaigns.
Fact: 70% of businesses try to handle their marketing initiatives in-house, but only 43% of those businesses report any success.
Myth 3: Anyone Can Write, and Anyone Who Writes Can Write Digital Marketing Content
Many law firms view blogging as fluff work they can pawn off on their newest attorneys or even their interns. However, not only does creating informative, optimized, original content take more time than most attorneys realize, but it also requires knowledge of current trends, keywords, search engine algorithm updates, and various content marketing best practices to deliver meaningful results.
Fact: Blogs written by content marketing specialists receive an average of 2.5 times more views than those written in-house by law firms. Readers spend an average of 60% more time on the page when they view blogs written by specialists.
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Myth 4: PPC Is A Waste of Money
Pay–per–click advertising is the most popular form of online paid advertising, and it involves spending money to have your ads appear in the “paid” section of search engine results (which usually appears before even the topic organic results). PPC seems simple on the surface: write an ad blurb, pay for each click, and watch the leads roll in. However, developing a successful paid advertising campaign requires more than just good ad copy. It also takes an in-depth knowledge of online advertising trends and a large investment of time spent on analytics and campaign monitoring.
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The knowledge and time investment required are the reasons that many firms who have tried PPC campaigns in the past end up believing PPC is a waste of money. Without expert knowledge of PPC strategy and carefully crafted campaigns, you can end up spending a lot of money to get clicks but still receive inferior leads or no leads at all. Running efficient and effective paid advertising campaigns requires thorough research, accurate analytics, and constant monitoring and tweaking, which is why the best digital marketing agencies hire PPC specialists who work on these campaigns full-time.
Fact: Depending on the scope, a successful PPC campaign for a law firm with multiple practice areas can take anywhere from 8–24 hours to set up and 2–3 hours per week to monitor and manage.
Myth 5: You Don’t Need Digital Marketing If You’re Already A Well-Known Firm
Since one of the main goals of digital marketing is building brand awareness, law firms who already have an established brand may feel like digital marketing is superfluous for them. However, being well–connected and having a high profile aren’t always enough to ensure the long-term health of a law firm.
In many legal practice areas, clients have little or no prior knowledge of the top law firms in their area until they need help with a case. People seeking legal advice — especially younger people — will almost always perform a Google search for local law firms when they need help, and they’re likely to click on the first law firm or two that appear in the results.
If your firm doesn’t begin investing in a presence in organic search rankings now, you may find that the returns from your word-of-mouth reputation and traditional advertising campaigns dwindle over time. Even people who hear about your firm via a friend or a billboard are likely to investigate you online, and when they see other firms outrank you or otherwise have better visibility on the web, they’re likely to assume those firms are the top-performing firms in the area.
Fact: 96% of people seeking legal advice look to the internet for answers, and 71% of clicks from legal searches go to the websites on the first page.
Why Work With A Digital Marketing Agency?
Creating successful digital marketing strategies and maintaining digital assets that deliver ROI require a consistent investment of knowledge and time. Working with a digital marketing agency can help your firm:
Attract Visitors to Your Website
Search engine optimization, paid advertising, and social media marketing help attract visitors to your firm’s website. Web users’ behavior is constantly evolving, and Google’s algorithms adapt with them; both types of evolution should affect your SEO strategies. Digital marketing specialists stay up to date on current trends and can help make sure your website conforms with the expectations of users and search engines.
Meanwhile, social media content gives your firm a way to demonstrate the more personal, relatable side of your brand. With 65% of adults today using social media channels, social media marketing is crucial for driving traffic to your website.
Convert Visitors to Leads
Once visitors reach your site, well-written, clear, and relevant content helps keep them around long enough to get to know your brand and eventually reach out to you. Additionally, using web design best practices creates an improved user experience for your visitors.
The importance of optimizing your websites to meet users’ expectations can’t be overstated. Studies show that your website has, on average, 15 seconds to capture a visitor’s attention. If the visitor doesn’t find what they need in those 15 seconds, they’re going to look elsewhere. Content specialists and web designers can help optimize your site to keep visitors on the page and increase the chances they will contact you.
Turn Leads Into Clients
Strengthening the relationships you have with website visitors is crucial to converting leads into clients. Once a potential client contacts you through a phone number or form on your website, providing a prompt response to their inquiry can make all the difference in converting them into a client. In fact, your firm’s chances of converting a new contact into a client decrease by 10 times if you don’t get back to them within one hour.
While exceptional customer service is a large part of this process, digital marketing tools can help your firm follow up with leads too. Personalized, responsive, email campaigns and chat software can greatly improve potential clients’ sense of your level of commitment to customer service, even during off hours when you can’t call back immediately.
Refine Your Strategy
The most critical phase of a successful digital marketing campaign happens after implementation. Using data and analytics to determine what worked and what didn’t work will help you refine your overall strategy and develop even more efficient strategies and campaigns.
However, being able to sort through, understand, and effectively utilize data and analytics takes time and experience. The best digital marketing agencies have Google analytics reporting experts who can measure your results and create detailed reports that will help you refine your strategies — all of which can save lots of marketing dollars that might otherwise go to waste on strategies that aren’t delivering results.
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LaFleur Marketing: A Holistic Approach to Legal Marketing
LaFleur started as a legal marketing agency, and we continue to combine our understanding of the legal industry and our knowledge of cutting-edge digital marketing techniques to provide our legal clients with customized digital marketing strategies that deliver exceptional results.
For more information about how digital marketing strategies can help your law firm, download our Legal Marketing 101 infographic or use our online contact form to drop us a line. You can also call us at (888) 222-1512. We’d love to answer any questions you may have.
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