Mastering digital marketing for lawyers isn't easy. The good news is that you don't have to navigate this journey on your own. Instead, you can learn from the competition and use the resources outlined in Grow Law Firm's legal guide to digital marketing for attorneys.
Grow Law Firm create law firm growth strategies that can be adapted to suit any sized practice, from large law firms to solo practitioners. In this guide, we share some of our winning strategies and tactics for getting you noticed in the crowded digital marketplace.
What Is Digital Marketing for Lawyers?
Digital marketing for lawyers is the process of using established best practices in order to make your law firm and website more visible online. It involves a range of practices designed to attract new clients, strengthen relationships with existing clients, encourage repeat business, and improve your reach in the digital ecosystem.
Unless you work as a prosecutor, public defender, or member of a corporate legal team, you need a consistent influx of new clients in order to thrive in the legal industry. However, virtually every segment of the legal services market is saturated. Digital marketing strategies provide a way to stand out from the competition and attract enough clients to succeed, even in the most crowded markets.
Online marketing is particularly important if you work in a mature, crowded market, such as a major metropolitan area. When a potential client in one of these markets searches for a firm online in your practice area, they will be bombarded with dozens, if not hundreds, of options. If your firm does not appear at or near the top of the list with other successful businesses, you have next to no chance of earning their business.
How Can Digital Marketing Benefit Law Firms?
The internet and marketing technology allows firms to reach both large audiences and very targeted sections of audiences - specifically potential clients needing specific legal services in a specific state or city. Online marketing provides many benefits to all types of law firms, from personal injury law to divorce and family law, immigration law, and bankruptcy law.
Perhaps more importantly, digital marketing enables firms to establish themselves as authorities within their practice areas. Thanks to a law firm's presence online, they find it easier to generate additional website traffic, attract prospective clients, and earn more business.
Digital marketing strategies will also benefit a law firm's bottom line by boosting revenue and overall profitability. Ultimately, an increase in cash flow will lend itself to better business continuity and also fuel a practice's future growth.
1. Digital Marketing Provides a New Platform for Promoting Your Law Firm
Lawyers often come to us believing that SEO is the key to their success on the internet. While SEO is one essential ingredient, successful firms do far more than just have an optimized website. Online marketing provides numerous unique ways a lawyer can market their law firm:
- Being listed in online legal directories like Avvo and Lawyers.com
- Publishing articles on legal information websites like HG.org
- Obtaining reviews on online business directories like Yelp
- Using organic search engine optimization to channel traffic to a law firm's website
- Generating more leads from local SEO and Google ads
- Being listed on local neighborhood directories like Patch
- Publishing press releases highlighting attorney achievements and awards
- Posting Social media feed posts and paid ads
- Using pay-per-click ads to target clients
- Offering resources like E-books and white papers.
2. Internet Marketing for Attorneys Brings New Clients by Offering Precise Audience Targeting
Audience targeting in legal marketing is exactly what it sounds like - segmenting marketing to a specific group of consumers who are a law firm's target clients. To understand this in the most general way, consider marketing specifically to specific areas - cities, counties, or zip codes.
Example: Audience Targeting by Location
For a criminal defense attorney in Seattle, Washington, there is no benefit in marketing their law firm to people in any other state than Washington. An expensive, nationwide search marketing campaign may bring in a lot of traffic to a website. Still, if the attorney only represents clients in Washington, the website visitors in the 49 other states are unlikely to contact the Washington attorney. Even if website traffic is impressive, the visitors will not continue down the sales funnel.
If the Washington attorney allocated their law firm marketing budget to only show ads in Seattle and surrounding neighborhoods, they would save money, and their conversion rate will likely be much higher. This is, in essence, the magic of audience targeting.
Targeting geographic locations is an excellent way to understand audience targeting - but it is not limited to location. Lawyers marketing their legal services can show ads only to age groups, genders ("Female," "Male," and "Unknown"), and parental status. Demographic targeting works better for some attorneys than others. For example, a family law attorney that specializes in child custody cases may only want their ads to show to people who are actually parents. On the other hand, a law firm specializing in fathers' rights issues may choose only to show their PPC ads to men.
3. Internet Marketing for Law Firms Enhances Customer Experience
Internet marketing - and client-centered websites allow for a seamless transition from initial website visitor to retained client. Today's clients expect to be able to interact with your firm across their preferred medium, whether that be email, phone, video conference, or face-to-face meetings.
Clients will experience less friction when seeking services from your firm online. In turn, this will nurture feelings of trust and confidence in your abilities. Providing a great customer experience and building trust with clients will increase their chances of leaving you positive reviews, referring friends or loved ones to your practice, or using your firm again in the future.
4. Digital Marketing for Lawyers Is More Cost-Effective than Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing methods include billboard ads, bus bench ads, radio ads, television ads, direct mail campaigns, print ads in newspapers and directories, and even cold calls. These methods are expensive but do allow lawyers visibility and prominence.
5. Digital Marketing Helps to Build Trust for Your Law Firm
An attorney who invests in legal content creation can establish their practice as an authoritative source. By discussing relevant topics and recent developments that impact your area of practice on a lawyer blog or a third-party forum, you can become a valuable resource to those searching for legal guidance. Prospective clients who reach out to your firm will already have positive sentiments about your abilities before you even begin discussing their case, which significantly improves your odds of earning their business.
The acronym EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) can serve as a road map when creating content. When you craft a blog or other piece of educational content, ensure that it makes your firm appear to be more trustworthy and authoritative while also demonstrating your industry expertise. One way to build trust is through citing case law, state statutes, or relevant news articles.
6. Digital Marketing for Law Firms Makes It Easier to Get Clients' Reviews
Your law firm's reputation management is a part of your digital marketing strategy, reviews cannot be overlooked as well. Your reputation online is directly linked to the reviews your clients leave, and they often directly lead to more clients. For example, when a law firm already has numerous existing online reviews, satisfied clients are comfortable leaving their own reviews.
The importance of reviews cannot be overstated, especially in the legal industry. The vast majority (93%) of customers won't make a purchase until they have read reviews, and 58% state that they would travel further or pay more to work with a highly reviewed business.
Positive online reviews have a particularly strong impact on younger generations. According to 2020 data, 91% of potential clients in the 18–34 age range consider online reviews on par with personal recommendations in terms of trustworthiness. And nearly two-thirds of all consumers classify online reviews as "very helpful," according to Statista.
The bottom line is that the volume and quality of reviews that your business accumulates will have a significant impact on your online reputation and how prospective clients view your firm.
How Much Should Lawyers Spend on Digital Marketing?
You can expect to spend about 7% to 8% of your gross revenue on advertising in order to make a meaningful impact on your business with internet marketing efforts. However, this number will vary depending on your practice area, the size of your firm, and the competitiveness of your market. Spending less than 7% on law firm digital marketing might not significantly enhance revenue, while allocating too much of your revenue to online advertising can diminish your return on investment.
Newly established “start-up” law firms are likely to spend more on marketing than law firms that have been in business for 20 years or more.
With a multi-pronged digital marketing approach that is measurable, you will be able to see where you can get your best “bang for your buck.”
What Is a Good ROI on Attorney Internet Marketing?
In ideal circumstances, you might see a return of up to 1000% on your digital advertising efforts, although 500% is more common. Keep in mind that the cost of acquiring a client will vary based on how you acquired them, market conditions, and your practice area.
It may be difficult to determine exactly how much you spent to acquire a client via online strategies. However, measuring per-client acquisition expenses is possible, especially if you are using PPC ads or paid social media marketing.
For instance, let's say that you recently acquired 10 more clients via a targeted PPC advertising campaign, using digital ads with competitive keywords, and targeting online leads. The campaign cost you $2000 and ran for one month. In this scenario, all 10 clients clicked on your PPC ad after searching for the type of services you offer. They subsequently contacted your firm via your on-page contact form and hired you to resolve their legal issues.
In this example, your per-client acquisition costs were $200. Let's assume that you made $20,000 in total profit from these clients. As such, your ROI would be 1000%.
While an exact calculation for your ROI would require you to account for a few other variables, including payroll and other operating expenses, this example provides a basic framework for calculating the ROI of your online marketing efforts.
Best Law Firm Digital Marketing Tips and Tactics
1. Define Your Goals
Online marketing is ineffective without law firm marketing goals. At Grow Law Firm, we help our online marketing clients establish SMART goals, including long-term, intermediate, and short-term goals. Begin with creating goals that are:
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A: Attainable
- R: Relevant
- T: Time-Bound
Your goals related to marketing could be obtaining ten client reviews each month, receiving 25 case evaluation requests through your website each month, or getting 100 unique visitors from organic search to your website each day. Tracking your goals is as important as setting them. Ultimately, your goals will determine the steps you need to take between your current and your ultimate goals for your law firm and legal career.
2. Research Your Audience
Before considering the channels you will publish content and advertise, you need to understand where you are getting your law firm clients - and where you should be marketing. For example:
A personal injury lawyer may get the majority of their clients from local organic searches that lead visitors to the firm's frequently-updated accident blog.
A divorce lawyer may receive many case requests because they answer questions on several divorce community support groups.
An employment lawyer may receive some case evaluation requests through their LinkedIn page.
Tip: Whenever you sign up a new client, ask them, “How did you hear about us?.” Regardless of how they initially contacted you, asking this popular open-ended question can give you insight into how your client came to discover your practice and if you should pursue this medium in the future.
3. Build a High-Performance Website
The goal of most of your marketing efforts, including an offline “traditional” marketing strategy - is to drive potential clients to your website. Your law firm website can deliver a powerful first impression that will keep visitors on your website, or cause them to leave and visit your competitor's website. Your website should be clean, current, and load quickly. Websites with dated fonts and graphics, slow load times, and too much content can cause your website visitors to leave within seconds.
Mobile: The Preferred Way to Connect With Brands
Did you know that over half of all internet traffic now originates from mobile devices? According to Statista, mobile device traffic accounted for over 58% of all global traffic in Q2 of 2022.
The above statistic reveals that mobile is quickly becoming the preferred way to interact with brands online. Therefore, you must thoroughly test your law firm website to ensure that it is mobile-optimized. If it is not, users will struggle to connect with your brand or soak up your great online content when browsing from their mobile devices.
4. Focus on SEO
Search engine optimization is a basic need for law firms marketing and advertising online. Your prospective clients need to be able to find you, whether they are searching for attorneys that work at your firm, your law firm name, or perhaps most importantly, researching their legal issues and looking for an attorney to represent them. If you apply to an SEO agency for law firms and be consistent with your SEO efforts, the work you do can pay off for years to come.
Why SEO Is Crucial for Digital Marketing for Attorneys?
SEO is so important because it allows prospects to find you. Lawyers should remember that SEO is not just what they do on their website (on-page SEO), but also what they do on other websites and social media (off-site SEO).
Actionable SEO Tips for Lawyers
If you are ready to start leveraging SEO to get your practice noticed online and propel your law firm forward, we suggest that you jump-start your online marketing strategy efforts using these actionable tips:
- Conduct thorough keyword research and market research
- Identify or redefine your target clients for quality leads
- Create a compelling messaging strategy
- Start crafting great content
- Be consistent
- Seek outside support
The last tip is probably the most important. Bringing in an outside agency of digital marketers that specializes in brand building and SEO is the most efficient way to get noticed, climb the search engine rankings, and drive relevant traffic to your site.
Keep in mind that these tips are meant to serve as a general starting point. If you want more comprehensive guidance on SEO for attorneys, we suggest checking out this guide.
5. Utilize Pay per Click (PPC) Advertising
If there is such a thing as a “firehose” in law firm lead generation, it is PPC and paid ad campaigns. PPC ads for lawyers can help to generate leads much faster than organic content that has earned its place at the top of search engines. Overnight, your website can be in front of thousands of potential clients.
The biggest downside of PPC advertising is that once you turn off your funding, the leads go away. Paid ads can be quite expensive, depending on the types of cases you are targeting.
For instance, the phrase "Houston maritime attorney" had an average cost per click of $1,090 in 2020. Not far behind was "best motorcycle accident lawyer," with an average CPC of $770. Depending on how well the ads perform, a lawyer may sign up only a handful of cases from many clicks.
Why Is PPC Important for Law Firm Internet Marketing?
PPC ads are valuable in reaching new clients quickly. Relevant and informative evergreen content, such as a practice area page, takes time to get to the top of Google search results. And if you are a new attorney, getting your content to the top of search engine results pages can take years.
PPC can supplement your organic content marketing efforts, especially in the short term while you are building your content out on your website and strengthening your organic SEO efforts.
Tips for Running a Successful Lawyer PPC Campaign
If you want to set the stage for a successful PPC campaign marketing strategy, we suggest that you:
- Target budget-friendly long-tail keywords
- Closely monitor traffic volume
- Be willing to pivot to other target keywords
- Support your PPC efforts with SEO
- Monitor Google analytics for success
Additionally, you should leverage established PPC for lawyer best practices, such as those outlined in this quick start guide.
6. Leverage Content Marketing
Why Does Content Marketing Matter for Law Firm Web Marketing?
Every piece of content that you publish on your website, blog, and third-party websites is an opportunity to drive new traffic to your website and bring in new leads to your law firm. Content marketing is directly linked to search engine optimization.
You can strengthen your content for SEO by upping your word count. Publish informative content that covers a topic fully. If your competitor law firms are writing 3,000-word pages on a topic, Google will notice and very likely place your content lower in Google results.
Organization of your attorney website content is also important. Using headers, paragraph breaks, bullets, and images can make your content more readable. This helps with search engines, as well as your website user experience (UX).
Tips for Lawyer Content Marketing Success
If you hope to run a successful campaign, you must clearly define both your goals and budget. Setting clear, attainable goals will help you stay focused for the duration of your campaign and prevent resource waste. These goals should be realistically achievable with your digital marketing budget.
After you have defined your goals and budget, execution with content publishing comes down to consistency, time, and having the right team of writers in place. If you produce your content in-house, hire writers who:
- Fully understand your scope of work and can explain it simply to people without a legal background (your website visitors)
- Are able to meet deadlines
- Produce high-quality content that requires minimal editing
Some lawyers decide to produce content themselves - after all, they have beyond adequate writing skills and the knowledge to do so. While this works for one-off blog posts and articles here and there, it is unlikely any lawyer has the time to dedicate to producing enough content to meet their SEO content marketing needs while simultaneously representing clients.
One issue we see is lawyers hiring writers to write drafts, and then those drafts sit in email inboxes for weeks and even months. Some attorneys get caught in “analysis paralysis” and getting content published becomes exceedingly time-consuming.
Working with a digital marketing agency can remove the burden of sourcing writers and editing content. If you are trying to aggressively grow your law firm's online presence, a team of experienced and knowledgeable writers contracted through your agency can accelerate your content marketing.
7. Pay Attention to Social Media
Many lawyers are familiar with social media but fail to fully realize the potential of their business. Social media for attorneys is one of the newer elements of online marketing, but it is not going anywhere. If you are not active on social media, visit some of your competitors' social media channels and observe what they are doing, and how they are interacting with their audiences, on social media channels.
Why Does Social Media Marketing Matter for Lawyers' Marketing?
70% of Americans are on social media platforms, and usage by older adults is on the rise. Popular social media channels include:
Lawyers can use social media posts in different ways, including sharing information, participating in groups, and engaging directly with members of the community. There are multiple benefits to using social media for lawyers:
- Having a dialogue with the community and prospective clients
- Building brand awareness
- Publishing unique content
- Driving traffic to the law firm's website
- Sharing news and commentary
- Promoting community involvement and charitable activities
- Connecting with potential clients
Tips for Success in Social Media
Start with auditing your social media platforms. Most law firms have social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram. Law firms should implement social media best practices, including:
- Publish regularly: If you haven't published in a year, new visitors to your social media channel may wonder if you are still operating. Because all social media content is time-stamped, posting content regularly - at least several times a month is advisable.
- Interact with your social media audience: Engaging with your social media audience builds relationships and trust, and drives your law firm's brand awareness. For example, if you acknowledge comments, answer questions, and positively interact with your audience, they will think of you when they, or people in their circles, need legal services.
- Create unique content that offers value: Whether you are creating videos or publishing blogs, focus on meaningful, educational, unique content that people want to share. Commentary and analysis of news events can be beneficial for all practice areas. For example, estate planning attorneys may discuss news stories of celebrities who have died without a will. Divorce attorneys may offer insight into celebrity divorces in the news. Whatever content you create should always relate to your target audience and potential clients.
- Use humor only occasionally - and carefully: Remember your target audience is potential clients, not necessarily your colleagues or friends. Humor can be valuable from time to time but should be used sparingly, light-heartedly, and never at anyone's expense. If you represent people facing life in prison or have recently lost a family member in a fatal accident, memes that you personally find amusing may not be well-received or even come off as tone-deaf. It may not be possible to “read the room” when publishing content online, but the concept should be considered.
8. Offsite Strategies
Offsite SEO refers to actions on other sites that make your website more visible. A prime example of offsite SEO is acquiring backlinks. A backlink is a hyperlink that is located on another site that routes readers to your webpage.
Well-executed offsite attorney SEO strategies will establish your law firm as an authority. When reputable websites reference your content, Google and other search engines will view your page as a reliable and reputable source of information.
9. Email Marketing
It can be all too easy to overlook lawyer email marketing and get distracted by modern online marketing strategy tools. While the latest tools and strategies are an important part of building your brand, so is email marketing.
Email marketing campaigns provide a simple and effective way to stay in touch with clients. With customer relationship management tools, you can create custom email lists, send out automated messages to clients, and build trust between your practice and its target audience. You can use email marketing to follow up with past clients, wish customers a happy birthday, or encourage recent site visitors to schedule a consultation with your firm.
One of the most essential strategies for online and local businesses, attorney reviews represent a powerful form of social proof and a very effective marketing tool. When prospective clients see positive reviews from previous customers, they will be more confident that you can help them with their legal challenges. The question, then, is this: How can you acquire more reviews from your client base and get them in front of other prospective clients?
The answer is simple enough: All you have to do is ask. As you are wrapping things up with a client who had a good experience with your firm, ask them to leave a review on Google or the platform of your choosing.
11. Focus on CRO
Conversion rate optimization, more commonly known as CRO, is the process of making good use of leads generated through your other efforts. CRO involves capturing contact info from prospects and developing a process for following up with these potential clients in order to draw them deeper into the sales funnel. Without CRO, your lead generation tactics will not make a meaningful impact on your business.
Common Lawyer Marketing Mistakes
1. You Do Not Know What Your Prospective Clients Are Actually Looking For
Lawyers can have challenges converting clients if they fail to connect with them. Unfortunately, many lawyers do not understand that their clients are looking for someone who can HELP them get through a challenging and possibly the most complex legal situation of their lives.
Video testimonials from a former client can be highly effective in establishing your track record of empathy about your clients' legal matters and your ability to get results. Secondly, video FAQs can answer some of your prospects' initial questions - making them a much “warmer” lead when they contact you for a case review.
2. You Stick to Traditional Marketing Methods
Earlier in this post, we discussed some of the more old-school marketing methods, from catchy jingles and bus benches to yellow pages and billboards. But what worked well in the past does not work the same today. It can even be detrimental; being on every billboard and bus bench in town can have a negative connotation and leave attorneys vulnerable to defacing and graffiti.
Years ago, phone book advertising worked because everyone had a phone book in their home, usually right next to their landline phone. Now, very few people have landline phones, and phonebooks are almost non-existent. As a result, Google is the go-to search engine and starting point for many people looking for legal service providers.
Besides being more cost-effective, digital marketing can be more effective than traditional marketing in that it can build trust with clients even before an initial consultation.
A prospective client who calls after seeing half a dozen billboards will have a different understanding of you than a prospective client who has spent 3 hours on your website, Facebook page, and Youtube channel.
Many law firms can generate cases exclusively through digital channels. Depending on your area of the country and competition, you may choose to do some traditional marketing with digital marketing or exclusively advertise online.
3. You Underestimate the Power of Online Reviews
Consider your own experiences reading reviews as a consumer. For example, have you ever looked up reviews for a movie, a restaurant, or even a product on Amazon? Even if you don't write reviews often, you've likely read reviews and testimonials when considering buying a product, using a service, or visiting a business.
An estimated 93% of customers will read online reviews before buying a product or contacting a business. Positive Google reviews will also help with your local SEO strategies.
Authentic online attorney reviews from real clients are crucial to establishing trust. Like with blogging, recency is also paramount. On your website, your “testimonials” do not need to be dated and can be evergreen, but you should consistently request reviews on third-party websites like Google and Yelp.
Lawyers should develop a system/process to ask clients for a review at the conclusion of their case. For example, when you sign up a new client, you can notify them that you will ask for a review after their legal matter. This can be instrumental in getting your clients to communicate concerns or issues with your law practice when they arise vs. telling the world in their eventual review.
Tip: You should check review sites periodically and, if necessary, respond to reviews. Clients who take the time to write thoughtful reviews - positive or negative - should be acknowledged. If the review is negative, use caution in how you respond to the customer - as this response is a reflection of your business and brand.
4. You Are Inconsistent in Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Digital marketing is not a sprint and should not be treated as such. Instead, digital marketing is a perpetual marathon. Firms that win at digital marketing show up every day, consistently work to improve their positions in the digital marketplace, and use established best practices to move closer toward their brand-building goals.
Think about it for a moment. Just because you finally reached page one on Google's search engine results pages (SERPs) does not mean you will be there forever. If you want to keep your position on page one, you must continually add content to your site, optimize on-page and off-page SEO, and consistently follow other search engine optimization best practices.
That is where most law firms go wrong. As soon as they arrive on page one, they take their foot off the gas and allow their competitors to close the gap.
The solution is straightforward: You must be consistent. This means continuously monitoring your traffic volume, rankings, and other relevant online marketing metrics. Additionally, you have to follow up every campaign with another one, equally as detailed and robust. When creating your next campaign, you must build on what worked and learn from what didn't.
There is no doubt that you are always striving to become better at your craft. You should apply this same continuous improvement mindset to digital marketing.
Do Lawyers Need a Marketing Agency?
Does your law firm actually need an agency? If you want a comprehensive digital marketing strategy to stand out in the crowded and rapidly evolving legal services ecosystem, then the answer is a resounding "Yes!"
A digital marketing agency can give you a definitive edge in your market and practice area. A marketing team can deliver a strong ROI on your initial investment, give you the opportunity to acquire new clients, and help you precisely monitor your campaigns to ensure that they are moving you closer toward your growth goals.
Some of the firms that contact us initially are on the fence about hiring an agency at all. Key decision-makers may be on the fence as to whether hiring an agency is (1) necessary and (2) worth it.
Undoubtedly, law firms can achieve success on their own in the online marketing space. It will just take time and money. At Grow Law Firm, many of our law firm clients have not just knowledgeable but brilliant lawyers making marketing decisions. Our clients understand that hiring an attorney internet marketing agency will involve a financial investment but will save them significant time.
Time saved drumming up new business is exchanged for time to practice law. Oftentimes, a law firm web marketing agency can save time in execution vs doing marketing in-house.
From building a website to getting ranked high in search results, mistakes along the way can delay reaching those important marketing milestones. By eliminating trial and error and having the most knowledgeable law firm experts working on your website, SEO, and law firm Google Ads / PPC campaigns, your law firm can grow exponentially with a comprehensive online marketing strategy.
Roll Out Your Digital Marketing Efforts and Grow Your Business
If you're ready to get started with a digital marketing strategy or scale up your existing efforts, the professional legal marketing experts at Grow Law Firm can help you with competitive-grade law firm website design services, organic SEO, social media marketing, PPC ads, and everything else.
Our law digital marketing company specializes in helping law firms with online marketing and SEO strategies. We can help your law practice realize the full potential of online marketing for lawyers - as cost-effectively as possible. You can arrange a free marketing audit and talk to one of our knowledgeable legal marketing professionals.