In the world of law, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd -- and there is a very large crowd. As of 2018, the American Bar Association recognized more than 1.3 million lawyers in the United States. The vast majority of those lawyers work for small private firms; while numbers on just how many law firms exist in the country are hazy and difficult to point down, it’s thought to be around 50,000.
All of this means that no matter where in the country you practice law, it’s very likely that you won’t be the only game in town -- far from it. To ensure that you and your law firm stand out and get the customers and the growth you’re hoping to see, it’s important to know how to market your services.
In this blog we’ll go over some excellent law firm marketing tips that you can use to boost your business and get more clients than you’re currently seeing now.
Tip #1: Use Paid Advertising (PPC) Services
There are plenty of “for free” tricks that we’ll cover later in this article, but there’s an old truism that rings as true with law firm marketing as with anything else: You get what you pay for. Things like proper search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing are great for building sustainable long-tail traffic, but if you want to quickly get your business in front of searching eyes, you should invest in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
We live in a world dominated by search engines, after all. These days, people of all ages are likely to search for services by pulling out their phones and saying, “Hey Siri, where’s the nearest Thai restaurant?” or “Okay Google, find me a bike repair store.” This is just as true for lawyers as it is any other business -- people search for injury lawyers, divorce lawyers, and all other kinds of legal services via the search engines they use to find everything else.
Consequently, it’s vital to make sure that your law firm is going to show up on those first few pages of search results, and PPC advertising is the best, quickest way to make that happen.
Paid search-engine advertising is one of the most efficient ways of law firm marketing, because your ad is served to people looking for such services. Let’s say you’re an attorney who specializes in personal injury claims. Your firm could place an ad on local television channels, but how many people who might see it will be looking for a personal injury lawyer right then and there? You’d be hoping that enough people remember the ad to come seek you out once they have need of your services, but such a scatter-shot approach is inefficient and sees lousy ROI.
In comparison, few people seek out injury lawyers online just for the fun of it. There’s a very strong chance that someone who goes to Google and searches “personal injury lawyers near me” is going to be doing so with good reason -- they need to hire someone like you!
This means that PPC services like Google AdWords are one of the best ways there is of getting your firm in front of people most likely to become your next client. So, how do we optimize your PPC campaigns?
Use Specific Keywords
Generic, higher-trafficked keywords will obviously have more people searching for them, but that also means that the keywords will be A) very expensive and B) less relevant to the people searching for them.
Let’s say that you decide to bid for AdWords space for something incredibly generic like “law firm.”
The keyword volume on "law firm" is over 18,000+ per month (definitely a lot of searches), but a top spot on Google will cost you upwards of $20 per click. It's a given that more people will click on your ad for this keyword, but most of these clicks will be irrelevant and almost certainly wasteful spend; user intent for this generic keyword will be very unclear. You might be a personal injury law firm and the user might be looking for a corporate law firm -- they'll leave your page, unsatisfied, and you'll have spent over $20 for nothing.
In contrast, more specific keywords and keyword groups will have lower traffic, and while they might not be significantly cheaper, they will deliver sales-qualified leads to your doorstep.
For example, suppose you run a firm near Portland, Maine that specializes in family law, and you want to draw more attention to your services helping people plan their estates and execute wills. “Law firm” won’t do you much good as a search keyword, but “law firm Portland Maine” will narrow queries down to your immediate vicinity. That's a huge step up, but it isn't where you should stop.
You should go even more specific: A search query like “estate planning law firm Portland Maine” probably won’t get a ton of searches per month, but you’ll know that every single person who sees your ad is looking for the specific services you provide, making them exponentially more likely to convert from a searcher to a client.
Add Negative Keywords
As the name suggests, pay-per-click advertising only ever charges you money when someone clicks on your ad. This is great, because it means that your ad spend goes directly to people who are expressing interest in your business. However, the downside is that people who click on an ad and find that you may not be offering the services they’re looking for have just cost you money -- and you, understandably, want to avoid that.
One great tip for optimizing your PPC campaigns is to take advantage of negative keywords, i.e., search terms that you specifically don’t want to show up in the results for. For instance, let’s take your Mainer family law firm. Say, for example, you offer services for divorce and custody settlements, but not prenuptial agreements. Adding negative keywords like “prenuptial arrangements” or “prenuptial lawyers” means that people searching specifically for those services will not see your ad. Negative keywords should include generic search terms like "law firm," "attorney," and so on, and also other law specialties, like "personal injury law firm" et al.
Tip #2: Advertise on (the Correct) Social Media
An estimated 80% of Americans have a social media profile on at least one network, which means that social channels are a fantastic tool with which you can reach potential new clients.
Having an active presence on the most popular social media sites is key for any American law firm, and you can take it a step further with paid social media advertising campaigns.
But which social media sites should you be advertising on? For the most part, this depends on your law firm, its business, and the types of services it offers, but as a general rule of thumb, the two primary social networks you should focus on are Facebook and LinkedIn. The former is better for lawyers offering B2C services for things like divorces or personal lawsuits, whereas the latter is better for law firms that specialize in B2B services like offering legal counsel to businesses.
This isn’t to say that you won’t get any traction or see any benefit from other social networks -- if you can find a creative way to advertise your law firm on Pinterest, you’ve certainly won our respect -- but for the vast majority of businesses, these two networks will be the smartest option for law firm marketing via social media.
Law Firm Marketing on Facebook
Facebook is still the gazillion-pound gorilla in the social media room, and there’s no way to get around it. Even if you’re primarily a B2B firm, it still makes sense to have some presence on Facebook; after all, businesses don’t browse the internet, people who make their financial decisions do. The sheer size of the Facebook market makes it impossible to ignore.
The downside for advertising on Facebook compared to something like Google Ads is that, unlike search engines, people don’t typically search for services on Facebook -- consequently, you can’t have the surety that your ads are going in front of people who are immediately looking for the legal counsel you provide. The upside, however, is that Facebook ads allow you to target users who have already visited your site in the past (but have not signed up). In some cases, you may also be able to target ads at people who follow your competitors. Facebook is a great platform to create branding campaigns by targeting your perfect lead persona.
Facebook offers an astoundingly complex level of granularity in your ability to define target prospects. You can create potential audiences by demographics, income level, interests, relationship status, age, etc. Once you have defined your perfect audience, you can further narrow it down, with the option to display your ads to people who only live in a 10-mile radius from your law firm’s offices. Isn't that amazing?
It is Facebook's impressive ability to retarget people who have visited your site that truly makes it a platform to reckon with. We’ve likely all noticed this before, even if we may not have thought twice about it: You visit a site, and all of a sudden, ads for that site are plastered across your Facebook browsing. These retargeting capabilities -- showing ads to someone who has engaged with a brand but hasn't yet made a purchase -- make Facebook a powerful tool for law firm marketing.
This is all the more true when Facebook ads are used in conjunction with a Google AdWords campaign. For instance, let’s say your Maine law firm runs the aforementioned Google ad campaign for your estate planning services. Someone searches for "estate planning law firm Maine," finds your firm’s website, and browses for a while, but they just aren’t ready to commit to giving you a call.
Facebook’s retargeting ads mean that you can keep your law firm’s brand in front of this hot prospective client, keeping it fresh in their minds and making it more likely that they’ll pull the trigger and hire your services.
One additional tool that Facebook offers is its live chat feature through Facebook Messenger. This is becoming an increasingly common tool people use to ask questions of, and engage with, brands and companies across any number of industries. It’s an excellent way to develop a reputation of being friendly, approachable, knowledgeable, and having superb customer service. Make sure that someone is checking your Facebook Messenger inbox often!
A great example of successful Facebook marketing is the Sam Bernstein Law Firm, which has a strong followers community exceeding 35,000. Their posts are regular and engaging, and they go an extra mile in responding to their followers.
Law Firm Marketing on LinkedIn
As previously mentioned, LinkedIn, as a business-focused social network, is most optimally used for law firms representing businesses and organizations, rather than individuals. If your area of specialization is, for instance, helping businesses comply with labor laws, then LinkedIn is a perfect fit for you. This isn’t to say that a B2C-oriented law firm won’t be able to find new clients through LinkedIn, but it’ll be far less of an efficient, effective process than going to a more consumer-oriented platform.
There are three primary types of ads advertisers use on LinkedIn: text ads, sponsored content, and sponsored InMail.
- Text ads: These are the simplest of LinkedIn’s primary ad types, and are most similar to the types of ads you’ll see on other social networks. Text ads will include your law firm’s logo and a short blurb describing your business and its offerings. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done.
- Sponsored content: Also called native advertising, sponsored content is fantastic for not only getting your brand in front of prospective clients, but also positioning your law firm as knowledgeable, capable professionals who have valuable insights to offer and something important to say. These ads will get a blog post or other form of content in front of people browsing their LinkedIn feed. The one downside is that this means you do have to have good content -- more on this later.
- Sponsored InMail: This is LinkedIn’s version of email marketing. With sponsored InMail messages, you can send a message to an individual’s LinkedIn message center. This sort of direct marketing can be very effective, but also runs the risk of annoying a recipient if they feel your message isn’t relevant to them.
LinkedIn, like Facebook, offers strong levels of granularity that will help you advertise to certain demographics, regions, and industries, so you can know that your ads are getting in front of the right people who are empowered to make decisions for their businesses, and that those businesses are in industries you know well.
Something that doesn’t cost a dime but can still help your LinkedIn profile is to ensure that every lawyer at your firm has their own personal LinkedIn account set up. This helps people put human faces to your firm, and lets you indirectly show off the expertise and success your team has had.
A law firm that's excelling in terms of its LinkedIn presence is Greenberg Traurig, LLP. With over 3,300 employees listed on LinkedIn, this means that all -- or at least the vast majority -- of their attorneys have active profiles. Their company page has a full description and gets regular social updates, all of which helps increase engagement and foster awareness of the Greenberg Traurig brand.
Tip #3: Content is King (and SEO Helps)
Thus far, we’ve discussed paid methods for boosting your law firm’s brand. Organic ranking of your brand will take time but it does have long-term rewards. Search engine optimization (SEO), the way to ensure that your website and its content organically shows up on search engine results pages (SERPs), is the backbone of any online marketing effort, and much has been written about how to do it, and how to do it well.
An investment in having good website SEO will pay off well into the future. Here are some things you can do to get started:
- Identify good keywords. You’ll want to make sure that the search terms that you’re targeting are relevant and, well, searched for. Sites like SEMRush are excellent at helping you come up with relevant keywords that you can build your pages around.
- Use SEO plugins to optimize existing content. Unless you’re building your website from scratch, you’ve probably got quite a few pages that already exist and may not be SEO-friendly. Use plugins like Yoast SEO to evaluate your existing website and see where there’s room for improvement.
- Link to top sites, and seek backlinks in return. Search engines like Google reward sites that contribute to the “web” part of “website,” linking to relevant content and being linked to in turn. Whenever you publish a new page or blog post, you should always be sure to link to external sites or posts of interest, and you should reach out to other sites to try and get links back to the content you produce. This will boost your trustworthiness and authority in the eyes of the almighty algorithms.
- Create individual pages for different services. You may be tempted to lump all of the various services your law firm provides onto one comprehensive page, but that sort of centralization can have a negative impact on your SEO standing. Remember that people typically search for specific offerings -- they’re not looking for “family law firm,” they’re looking for “divorce lawyers” or “estate planning law firm.” Creating specific landing pages for each of these services means that you’re creating a page that’s immediately relevant to a user’s interests, and search engines like that quite a bit.
Create Engaging, Interesting Content
Things like LinkedIn’s sponsored content are meaningless if your law firm doesn’t have any content worth sharing. Content creation is a perfect opportunity for you or other lawyers at your firm to show off your expertise and insights in a way that people will want to engage, consume, and share.
Most of the time, this content takes the form of blog posts, and there’s a reason those are a tried-and-true standby -- they’re relatively easy and fast to produce, easy to optimize for SEO, and can live in perpetuity and be referenced well into the future.
Given that this content is typically being written with the aim of promoting your law firm’s business to prospective new clients, it is important that whatever content you create not be too inside-baseball or in the weeds. Don’t overwhelm your readers with legalese, or they may decide that trying to decipher the rest of your blog post just isn’t their time.
While it does take some additional technical (and artistic) expertise, as well as staff willing to appear on camera, consider adding some video content to your repertoire. Like creating LinkedIn profiles for your team, video content will put a human face to your law firm, and will help you engage with audiences and build trust in a way that a blog post typically can’t. An excellent point of reference would be legal YouTuber LegalEagle, who has explained topics ranging from analyzing the Mueller report to determining how fair a trial was given to Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones.
Having good content will make all of your other efforts, from SEO to PPC campaigns, all the easier. Remember that a shared link or video is word-of-mouth advertising that you don’t have to pay for.
Tip #4: If you want to Scale quickly, Hire an Expert Law Firm Marketing Team
You’re not a PPC marketing or SEO expert. That’s no wonder -- you went to law school, not marketing school! Frankly speaking, law firm marketing isn't easy, and moreover, you have your hands full managing your clients and cases and keeping up with the latest legal developments. So, if your law firm marketing isn't grade "A," nobody can blame you for that!
The good news is that there are people who can help you wrangle all of this and worry about it so that you don’t have to. Whether it’s overhauling your Google Ads or creating excellent content that you can share to eager audiences, consider partnering with a legal marketing team that can help grow your business.
At SevenAtoms, we think we can be that partner. Contact us today to see how we can leverage our digital marketing know-how for your law firm.