Maybe once upon a time a lawyer could hang a shingle, advertise in the local newspaper, and expect to get work.
Those days are long gone. Nowadays law firms must use all the tools available to them to get an edge in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Fortunately law firms tend to be localized and specialized, which makes them ideal candidates for a well-run digital marketing campaign.
In this blog post I will go through five strategies every law firm should employ to get the most out of their marketing dollars. But first, a caveat:
Legal is an Expensive Vertical
Sorry, but it just is.
Most digital marketing is priced on a cost-per-click basis. That cost depends on many factors, from the wording of the ad to the speed of the advertiser’s website. Still the biggest cost factor is competition from other advertisers.
When the lifetime value of a legal client can be thousands of dollars, the competition for qualified leads is very high. Consequently a single click on a search ad can cost upwards of $70 or more. I have seen as much as a $90 cost per click for a highly competitive search term like “dui attorney in phoenix.”
A skilled Search Engine Marketing specialist can help get that cost-per-click down, but the other half of the equation is the value per click, which is enhanced with an integrated marketing strategy.
To that end, here are:
5 Digital Marketing Tips for Law Firms
1. Set Up Lead Capture
What’s the point in spending big bucks to drive traffic to your website if you’re not prepared to capitalize on that traffic? Under no circumstance should you ever launch a digital marketing campaign without first having a lead capture plan in place.
Your goal is to make contact with potential customers, especially when they are at the bottom of the sales funnel. Preferably they will call or email you, and you must be prepared to answer the phone or respond in a timely fashion.
But not every qualified lead is prepared to pick up the phone, and in that case the next best thing is to capture their contact information so you can follow up with a sales effort.
A competent lead capture strategy will consider what type of lead capture form to use, what fields to include, the right call to action, the right offer, and whether it should be a pop-up, slide-in, or static. Ideally it will include A/B testing, trigger automated emails, and integrate with the overall marketing strategy.
A number of platforms offer excellent lead capture solutions. We use a combination of Sumo and MailChimp, but there are many others with a wide range of features to consider.
It’s easy to jump the gun and start paying for ads before implementing a solid lead capture plan, but that is a sure way to pour money down the drain.
2. Use Retargeting
Ever notice how when you visit certain websites, you start to see ads for that website everywhere you go on the internet? Those websites are using a strategy called “retargeting” which allows them to display targeted ads to people who have visited their website.
This strategy is a no-brainer for law firms, as retargeting ads tend to be dirt cheap compared to search ads. You spent a fortune getting people to your website, so don’t let them forget it so easily.
Just because someone browsed your site and moved on does not mean they are gone forever. They may have gone on to call another law firm only to find that firm isn’t the right fit. Remind them who you are, and maybe they will call you next.
Or maybe they visited your website to perform preliminary research and were not ready to pull the trigger. You can use retargeting to stay on their radar until they are ready to take action. Google has some restrictions on what kind of content can be used in their retargeting product, so not all law firms will qualify. Generally speaking you can’t splash someone’s page with ads that reveal some personal hardship like divorce or bankruptcy.
As with search ads, you typically only pay for retargeting ads when the user clicks. These ads are cheap, and they are only displayed to people who have already shown an interest in your company. Be persistent!
3. Use Display Advertising
While you’re running retargeting ads, you might as well use those same designs in a general Display Advertising campaign.
Display ads are ad banners that come in various formats and are typically images or simple animations. You usually see them in the margins of the websites you visit or as popups in apps you use on your phone.
While display ad traffic usually isn’t as qualified as search ad traffic, the clicks are much cheaper, and you can use targeting rules and exclusions to make sure the clicks are relevant.
For instance, if you are a divorce attorney, you might exclude wedding-related websites. You might also exclude video game apps where clicks are more likely to be accidental than relevant.
One of the benefits of display advertising is that is allows you to improve brand recognition. We all know law firm jingles from television, whether we want to or not. I will hopefully never need to “dial the Wolf,” but a lifetime of hearing their commercials means that if I am ever arrested or injured in an accident, I know who to call.
Display advertising is a relatively inexpensive way to get your brand image in front of a lot of eyeballs, and it should be a part of every law firm’s digital marketing strategy.
4. Claim Your Google Places Listing
This one is an easy win if you haven’t done it already. Google has a special place in its heart for local brick and mortar businesses, and it wants to favor you for searches in your area.
You can help Google out by providing them with the relevant information and proving that you really are located where you say you are.
So far I’ve talked about paid advertising, but you must not neglect the free traffic you can get organically from local searches. Give search engines your business hours, pictures of your storefront, useful page descriptions, and customer reviews, and Google will reward you with a bigger presence in search results.
SEO is hard business, but local businesses already have a huge advantage. Take it.
5. Be Compliant With Advertising Rules
I don’t need to tell lawyers the importance of following the law. Every state has its own rules on how lawyers may advertise their services, and your average marketing specialist will have no idea whether a given advertisement could land you in hot water with the state bar association.
What is permissible in a state like Texas…
…other states might view as undignified of the profession. (Which would be a shame, because that ad is the greatest ever.)
You also must be aware that important tools like retargeting and analytics require using cookies, and certain jurisdictions (e.g. California and the European Union) have strict disclosure requirements for websites serving cookies.
Therefore it is critical that you work with digital marketers who are at least cognizant of these issues, and you should request to see proofs before any of your ads go live. At Ethical Digital, we ask clients to sign off on all ads before launching a campaign in order to alleviate any industry-specific compliance issues.
Go with a Pro, or Go it Alone
Anyone can follow the above steps and manage their own digital marketing efforts. Anyone can also represent himself in court. Just because you can doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
You have a lot of digital marketing providers to choose from, and it may sound like they are all offering the same things. To some extent, that is true. No firm has a monopoly on the best practices for Google Ads and SEO.
Some things to look for are transparent pricing, accountability, and an integrative approach to marketing. You might know the best PPC Specialist in the world, but if they can’t coordinate with your other marketing channels, e.g. Social and SEO, then they won’t be effective. So finding a provider who offers a full stack solution is a must.
At Ethical Digital, we provide comprehensive, integrated digital marketing solutions. We use skin in the game to keep all our specialists motivated and aligned with the client, and our efficient business model allows us to offer our services 20-30% below market. We recruit only top talent, and we don’t outsource or automate critical tasks.
We also have a wealth of experience marketing for law firms, which is why we are reaching out to legal professionals who could benefit from our services.
If you are ready to take your marketing efforts to the next level, we are here to get you there.
By Kevin Frei
Kevin is an entrepreneur, paid media specialist, and intermittent nomad from Arizona. Ethical Digital is his third startup after GoMusicals.com and an online traffic school company. An avid traveler and economics hobbyist, Kevin's goal is to revolutionize the way service companies are organized so that more people can achieve the dream of professional (and locational) independence.