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Marketing for Small Law Firms: A Little Guide for Big Decisions

February 27, 2023
18 min

Many small law firms face significant challenges when developing their digital marketing strategies. For example, they often have a smaller budget and may lack an experienced marketing team to reach prospective clients.

These challenges can make it difficult for law firms to develop a cohesive law firm marketing strategy that delivers results. It's still possible, but you'll have to be a little creative in your efforts.

In this guide, we'll cover some effective marketing strategies to help you attract qualified leads — something no law firm can afford to go without.

Top 10 Best Small Law Firm Marketing Strategy Practices

Keep in mind that there are no worthwhile tricks or shortcuts when it comes to establishing your marketing strategy. Instead, your firm's long-term success depends on you putting in the effort to take steps to build a solid, multi-channel marketing strategy. Fortunately, these steps are all very doable and will create the foundation for your ongoing marketing efforts.

1. Create a Clear Law Firm Marketing Plan

How to create a marketing plan

The first strategy you must implement as you learn how to market your law firm is simply to establish a plan in the first place. While many lawyers understand that they probably need a marketing plan, they never really get around to making one.

Instead, their marketing strategy consists of doing whatever seems as if it might work at any given time. When you take the time to write down clear marketing plans, then you can identify the marketing techniques, platforms, and tools you will need to achieve your goals.

Speaking of goals, this is where your plan should start. What do you want to achieve? Is it improved search engine optimization (SEO) for your law firm, more qualified leads, or some other metric?

2. Plan a Marketing Budget for Your Law Firm

Marketing plan elements

Your next step is determining how much you can afford to pay for law firm marketing. This amount depends on your objectives and your current revenue. For example, if you're in the early stages of building a law firm, you may not have the money to pay for a marketing plan that includes pay-per-click ads, social media ads, or a sophisticated law firm website.

You should also consider your competition when developing a law firm marketing plan. For instance, most law firms find that it will take much more effort (and money) to get their foot in the door with paying clients when law firm marketing in a large city like New York. On the other hand, a small law practice in Shreveport might see quick results with minimum marketing spending.

To ensure you spend an appropriate amount and maintain a sustainable law firm marketing budget, carefully measure your return on investment for each law firm marketing strategy. This will keep you from spending too much on the wrong marketing efforts.

3. Create a Website to Be a Base for Your Small Law Firm Marketing

Many smaller law firms make the mistake of creating and launching a website too quickly. They don't take enough time to consider user experience, SEO, or future growth when it comes to online marketing. It's better to do things right the first time than it is to deal with a full redesign.

Your website should meet some standards for performance, aesthetics, and user experience (UX):

  • Fast Page Loading Times: Try using Google Page Speed Tool to ensure your site loads quickly to avoid frustrating users.
  • AMP Integration: Your web pages should be AMP-enabled as this will also improve page speed.
  • The YOAST Plugin: Too many plugins can have a negative impact on performance and SEO. However, a comprehensive tool like YOAST is worthwhile as the SEO benefits exceed the drawbacks.
  • Call Tracking: A call tracking tool will allow you to track calls that come into your law firm from various sources, such as Google My Business.
  • No Frameworks or Themes: These types of third-party dependencies cause performance issues and may become a maintenance nightmare in the future.
  • No Over-Optimization Tricks: Avoid things like keyword stuffing and using duplicate content. Outdated black hat techniques could lead to SEO penalties for your law firm.
  • Inclusion of Structured Data: When web page content is structured in a certain way, Google is better able to understand and parse its information. Web designers can use to understand how to do this. Reviews and FAQs are two examples of structured data. When it's used correctly, structured data may be turned into "rich snippets" in search engine results pages.
  • 100% Error-Free: Your law firm's website should not contain broken links, redirects, missing pages, or other errors.
  • Use of WordPress: Of all of the website building and content management systems available, WordPress is probably the most robust. This open-source platform is the best alternative to a professionally designed web page.
  • Mobile-Friendliness: Google now takes a mobile-first approach to ranking web pages.
  • Adequate Security: Ensure your website has an up-to-date SSL certificate to avoid browser error messages.
  • Google Analytics Integration: This tool will help you track website traffic and other metrics to show how your marketing efforts are working.
  • Dedicated Website Hosting: The host you select should guarantee that your website is available and high-performing 24/7.
  • Well-Organized Site Structure: A structured website is easier to navigate, and Google is able to index it more accurately.
  • No Duplicate Content: Avoid search engine penalties by ensuring that there isn't duplicate content published on your website.
  • Social Proof: Customer testimonials and other social proof provide evidence that you have plenty of satisfied clients.

If you are undergoing a website redesign, ensure that your old URLs are handled with appropriate redirects. Otherwise, there will be significant issues with your new website and online marketing.

Finally, avoid using the fast and free website builders that promise to have your website up and running in only an hour or so. These tend to create poor-performing sites that have loads of SEO issues. You may experience similar issues with bulkier WordPress themes.

Likewise, avoid using platforms like FindLaw, where you don't actually retain ownership of your own website.

4. Register for Small Law Firms Local Directories

A proile on Yellow Pages

When Google determines which pages will land in the "local three-pack" results or "local finder" listings, it considers major business and legal directories. If your business is accurately and consistently listed in these legal directories, your pages will rank higher for local search.

This reality means you must verify that your law firm name, location, contact data, website URL, and hours of operation are up to date.

You should be listed on sites such as Findlaw, Avvo, Justia, Yelp,, and the Yellow Pages. Make a note to correct these entries if your law firm data changes.

You can also check our Justia lawyer directory guide and Avvo lawyer marketing guide.

5. Register a Google My Business Profile for a Small Law Firm

Create a law firm Google My Business account to attract potential clients and optimize for local SEO. You need to set up this account if you want your small law firm to rank in Google's "local three-pack" and "local finder" results. Optimize your profile to ensure you get the local visibility you want. Follow these steps to create a great GMB profile for your small law firm:

  • Always complete your profile and add pictures
Add pictures to build trust
  • Choose the best business category for your law firm
  • Describe your business accurately
Add a good description
  • Add geotags to your photos
An example of photo with geotag
  • Use keywords to optimize your Google My Business Page
Add relevant keywords
  • Include products and services in your listing
Add products
  • Add posts to your listing to give more details about your services
  • Include your URL in your GMB listing

Don't let your Google My Business (also known as Google Business Profile) go dormant. This profile is something you should keep regularly updated. Add new content and photos. Also, ensure that your hours and contact information are always accurate.

6. Manage Your Small Law Firm Content Marketing Process

Content marketing involves creating articles, videos, or blogs that will drive potential leads to your law firm. To kick off the process, you'll want to identify keywords that your target audience will likely use when looking for law firms. Tools like Ahrefs and Semrush can help you identify good keywords for your law firm.

Find necessary keywords in Ahrefs

Ahrefs allows you to enter a keyword and receive critical information about it, including its average search volume, cost-per-click, and click-through rate from the first page of Google's search results. You'll also discover how difficult it is to rank for that particular keyword.

Competitor analysis in Semrush

Semrush provides an analysis of your competitor's keywords. Once you enter the domain name of one of your competitors' law firms, Semrush will provide a comprehensive report, noting the site's top-ranking keywords and how many visitors they receive each month. This way, Semrush can help you better understand your competition's SEO strategy. With that knowledge, you can find ways to differentiate yourself by creating content about other topics or expanding on a specific issue in greater detail.

To develop an effective content marketing strategy, you'll need to remember all the best search engine optimization practices. Beyond keyword research, this includes considering user intent, your site's usability, and your content's relevance — and adjusting these factors accordingly so that you rank highly in search results. Proper law firm SEO will bring in more organic traffic for law firms, which is what you need to attract legal clients.

Your law firm content marketing process will demonstrate exactly how important keyword research is. The keywords you identify as important for ranking your law firm should be used to determine the topics your content focuses on. This content is what your potential clients will search for. 

Of course, this can be challenging. Many lawyers struggle with the process of writing, even when they are subject matter experts. It can help to divide keywords into main topic areas. Then, think of various subtopics that you can also write about. For example, "Divorce Law" could include:

  • Filing for divorce
  • What to do if I receive divorce papers?
  • How to find a good divorce lawyer
  • Who lives in the house during a divorce?

If family law is your area of expertise, you could probably come up with several other subtopics. Remember that you will want to be able to write between 500 and 1,500 words on the topics you choose. 

Also, there's something called search intent. Google uses this to determine which law firms will be ranked highest for a particular keyword. This metric reflects whether your content actually answers the question that people want to be answered by their searches. Google only wants to rank the most relevant content. So keep that in mind for your content marketing strategy.

Finally, give yourself time to write. If you struggle, focus on being clear and writing in a conversational tone that potential clients can relate to. It may help to record yourself speaking on a topic and then transcribe it.

7. Consider PPC for Small Law Firms

An example of PPC

Small law firms often add paid advertising to their digital marketing efforts. While you can get great results from the organic traffic you earn from lawyer social media marketing and Google searches, that can take months.

If you want to start hitting your marketing goals sooner, you will have to invest in Pay-per-click services for law firms. This approach will help you attract prospective clients sooner until your organic efforts take effect.

According to the American Bar Association, less than half of law firms invest money in marketing. For such a competitive industry, these are surprising numbers. It also means that by investing in pay-per-click ads, you're already ahead of more than 50% of your competitors and most law firms.

Remember that not every click will result in a qualified lead for your law firm website. In fact, pay-per-click ads typically only convert 4% of the time. But don't let this statistic concern you too much. Even if an initial click doesn't result in a consultation, potential clients will remember your law firm's name, especially if it continues to pop up in their search results. Ensure that your PPC ads are set to retarget the same individuals in future searches for law firm websites.

Even if you plan to focus on organic content marketing in the long term, don't avoid investing in paid ads right now. Your search engine marketing campaign will take time. Make room in your legal marketing budget now to achieve some short-term goals. PPC ad budgeting is very flexible. Later, you can make adjustments as your other campaigns bear fruit.

8. Start an Email Marketing Campaign

An example of email template

One of the easiest (and most affordable) ways for law firms to attract future clients is through email marketing. If you don't already have a subscriber list, you can build one by including an opt-in on your website and notifying your current clients of your email newsletter. Explain that your emails will contain relevant information they may find helpful to their situation.

For example, if you are a personal injury lawyer, you might send content about filing a car insurance claim or on how to handle a workers' compensation problem. You can identify new topics to write about each month or simply recycle old content that's still relevant on your website and include links for your readers to click on for further information.

You could also use email to encourage your clients to leave a review for your legal services on your website or with Google. Simply provide them a link to the appropriate review location, and let them provide their own commentary on the services they received. Building reviews add social proof to your law firm's services, encouraging prospective clients to contact you when they need help.

Finally, you can also use email marketing for small law firms to manage your appointments. Once a client schedules a consultation or other type of appointment with you, they'll receive a confirmation email from your law firm. If they need to reschedule their appointment to another day, they can quickly make the adjustment via email.

Email marketing campaigns are simple to implement, affordable, and cost-effective. They also ensure your law firm remains top of mind to your subscribers. If people on your list need your services, they'll likely contact you first since they'll see you as a credible authority in your practice area.

Finally, you'll develop a stronger bond with your clients through your email marketing activities. The truth is that few other marketing strategies deliver such a strong ROI as email can.

9. Take Time to Measure Progress

Google Analytics helps you to measure progress

It's important that your law firm has access to tools that allow you to track your results so that you can be confident that your legal marketing strategies are working.

There are analytics tools that you can use to track traffic to your page from search and your Google My Business account. You can even use analytics to ensure you are getting the most out of your marketing dollars for your email campaigns.

It is important that your law firm uses marketing tools so you know what is truly effective. Otherwise, you will base your decisions on emotion and assumptions. Neither is good for your ongoing business development goals.

Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools there is for this purpose. If you plan to market your law firm with a social media presence, platforms like Facebook and Instagram have built-in analytics tools to better understand the impact of your social media activity.

10. Use Referrals to Grow Your Law Firm

An example of referral from a lawyer

Referral relationships are an important part of the business development efforts for many small law offices. There are some attorneys who gain the vast majority of new business through referral marketing and business development tactics.

The most common channels for these methods include referrals from other attorneys, client recommendations, and connections made through personal and professional networks. Any attorney wanting to expand their practice and earn new business should prioritize engaging in networking and referral marketing.

However, this practice is especially helpful for startups, smaller law offices, and individual attorneys who may have a limited marketing budget. Networking is an effective marketing strategy that generally costs more time than money.

The key here is to focus on relationship building. Create and maintain connections with other attorneys, professionals in related fields, and past clients. All of these could be sources to tap for referrals, reviews, and recommendations.

How Can Offline Practices Help Small Law Firm Marketing?

Your legal marketing plan shouldn't stop with digital marketing strategies. You can often broaden your approach to include traditional marketing strategies to target clients in your area.

Thankfully, there are several strategies you can use to deploy offline advertising through various marketing channels. Here are just a few ways to augment your marketing plan:

Form Partnerships With Other Professionals

Some of your best opportunities for lead generation come from your relationships with other professionals. Depending on your practice area, you should aim to create business relationships with trustworthy individuals who integrate well with your law firm's services.

For example, developing solid relationships with established realtors in your area would be advantageous if you practice property law. These professionals could recommend property owners to you if they're in need of your services.

On the other hand, small firms that practice business law could benefit from relationships with accountants, who might recommend your services to business owners that need legal advice for their organizations.

Ask Other Lawyers for Referrals

Lawyers who practice in other areas aren't your competitors. Instead, you should view them as a potential referral source for obtaining more clients. After all, not every attorney practices the same types of law. Some may focus on insurance law, while others may be criminal lawyers.

If you already have contacts in other practice areas, ask them to refer people who might need your services to you. You can do the same for them with your existing clients.

Ask Existing Clients for Testimonials

Your past clients are excellent resources for building up your clientele. So make sure you ask your clients to refer their friends or colleagues to you when they're in need of legal services. A word-of-mouth referral is one of the best ways to bring in new clients.

You can also ask for client feedback using client surveys. At the end of the survey, ask your customer to leave a review on your law firm website or Google Business Profile. Positive reviews encourage future potential clients to reach out for help when they need your legal services.

Consider Billboard Ads, TV Commercials, or Print Ads

In some legal practice areas, advertising through marketing channels like print or television is a great way to attract paying new clients. Many law firms — especially personal injury and criminal lawyers — find that a marketing plan leveraging TV commercials and billboards helps them attract more customers.

In these advertisements, you should describe your services and provide your contact details so potential clients in your target audience can reach out when they need assistance. If they find they need your help, they'll associate your law firm's name with the advertisements they've already seen.

3 Most Common Small Law Firm Marketing Mistakes

There may be an abundance of legal expertise in your firm, but you probably lack some marketing tips for small law firms required to earn new business through marketing. That's understandable as you have focused your skill set on assisting your clients. However, the gaps in your understanding could lead to these common mistakes.

Lack of Patience

Optimizing for local search and other law firm SEO services may take a few months to generate results. When law firms expect things to happen too quickly, they may turn to tactics that promise immediate results but could harm their online presence in the future.

Doing Everything Yourself

It's rare that a lawyer would have the knowledge to engage in successful online marketing without any outside help. And it's even more unlikely that they would have time to do so effectively without it impacting the quality of services they deliver to their clients.

Choosing the Easiest Path

When faced with the task of determining how and where to engage in marketing, many attorneys will choose the options that are easiest and most familiar to them. Intuitive heuristics often cause us to see the easiest solution as the best one when we are presented with a complex problem.

For example, you might convince yourself that lawyer Facebook ads are ideal for marketing your law office because it's familiar to you when you should really be focusing on LinkedIn attorney marketing.

Final Advice: Hire a Professional Law Firm Marketing Team

Small law firm owners don't need a massive marketing budget and dedicated team to see results from their efforts in the form of paying clients. It's possible to incorporate law firm marketing strategies and marketing tactics on your own or with the assistance of an employee or two.

However, many law firms see the most significant impact from their marketing activities and get more clients when they work with a professional company. These experts can create a cohesive and sustainable law firm marketing strategy that aligns with a firm's objectives and budget.

Remember that a proper marketing strategy will incorporate SEO best practices and a consistent content strategy, along with the appropriate balance of pay-per-click advertising, Google ads, local SEO, and offline marketing. Finally, your strategy should review the performance of your marketing campaigns and make adjustments to further your success and get new clients in your target audience.

At Grow Law Firm, we help small and larger law firms build a marketing strategy that fits their needs and goals. We can help develop your marketing plan for your law practice, ensuring you spend your money on the marketing tactics most likely to bring you qualified leads for your law firm's website.

To get started, contact Grow Law Firm today. We'll alleviate your digital marketing concerns and design a holistic digital marketing strategy suitable for your law firm.

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