According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “more students graduate from law school than there are jobs available.” The BLS states that the increase in jobs is at 6 percent, which is average across all industries. However, as of 2018, there were 823,900 lawyer jobs; and the BLS projects that number to increase by 50,100 by 2028. In the fall of 2019, according to the American Bar Association (ABA), 112,882 students enrolled in Juris Doctor programs in law schools across the United States.
This is more than double the amount of new lawyers the sector needs by 2028 – in just one year. Because the market is so saturated with competition, you need to up your marketing game – and not just a little. You have to increase the aggressiveness of your marketing strategy significantly.
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The market has been over-saturated since 2009 and continues to be over-saturated. Getting good clients becomes harder every year as lawyers and firms compete with each other for clients. To attract the best clients, your firm’s legal content marketing game has to be top-notch. Instead of relying on straight advertising, it’s time to get creative by implementing some of the legal marketing best practices into your content marketing plan:
- Developing compelling case studies
- Implementing digital marketing tactics like email marketing, social media marketing (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn), and blogging
- Utilizing effective pay per click strategies (PPC)
- Focusing on search engine optimization (SEO)
- Producing more video marketing
- Optimizing web pages and landing pages for SEO and user experience (UX)
Consumers only want the best and do a lot of research before choosing an attorney. Whether your practice area is family law, bankruptcy, criminal law, general civil law, contract and/or administrative law, personal injury, or torts, you need to find a way to get a prospective client to make that phone call or make that contact via your web page.
What Potential Clients Are Looking For
When a potential client hires an attorney, in most cases, it is because the client is going through a life-changing event. Whether it is a divorce, filing for bankruptcy, suing an insurance company in a personal injury case, filing a constitutional law case, or defending criminal charges – trumped up or not, that potential client is going through an event that is most likely stressful. The potential client wants an attorney who can represent him or her to get the best outcome possible.
You can show potential clients many reasons to retain you via your web page, including your experience and the outcome of your cases. The content in your blog posts and on your web pages also tell a client if you are “good enough” to represent him or her.
Let’s face it – if a client feels he or she has to litigate, he or she is not going to retain an attorney who has more settlement experience than litigation experience. Likewise, a client who does not want to litigate will look for an attorney who has a better track record with settling cases.
You can showcase your experience and successes via articles, case summaries, and blog posts about your practice areas. This is the “hook,” in the old adage, “Hook ‘em and reel ‘em in.” Reeling them in means that the prospective client does not immediately leave your page and instead contacts your office for an initial consultation.
Give clients what they are looking for by optimizing your web site, landing pages, social media pages, and blogs with affordable legal content marketing.
Legal Marketing Best Practices to Convert Potential Clients
Creating great legal content marketing starts with your platform. Your web page and blog must look professional and load quickly, or you’ll lose clients. Once you have an attractive page set up, you must have content that grabs your audience’s attention – and keeps it.
Here are some of the legal marketing best practices for creating quality content to guide your digital marketing efforts:
Your website is the foundation of your legal marketing. All of your digital marketing efforts aim to drive potential clients back to your website, so it’s important that your website is optimized for search engines and the user experience.
1. Choose a reputable website hosting service.
Most attorneys do not have a server in their office – at least not one that can handle the amount of traffic you could see from the internet. One of the most important things is to make sure you use a reliable service provider.
Your website, regardless of what kind of media you use, should be fast – pages should load in less than 5 seconds if they are loaded with photos and videos, and in less than 3 seconds for minimal high-bandwidth content. And the server’s downtime should be next to nothing.
A good hosting company will have a backup power source in the event the power goes out. And, the server should be able to handle databases, PHP, HTML, CSS, and other programming languages.
2. Optimize your website for the best user experience.
According to Blue Corona, people judge your website in 0.5 seconds – and that 75 percent of the people say that the top reason they make a decision to retain an attorney based on the attorney’s website.
Not only should your site load quickly, but you need to ensure that it is visually pleasing, information is easy to find, and the site is easy to read. Some factors to take into consideration include:
- Website Colors: Use contrasting colors for text and background. The color you use for fonts should not be so light that it’s difficult to see.
- Visual Assets: The photos, videos, and other media you use on your website should appeal to prospective clients.
- Font: Use a font that is professional and easy to read.
- Calls-to-Action: Pages should have calls to action that tell the visitor their next step.
- Informative Content: Content should be informative and authoritative, adding educational value for the reader.
- Website Layout: The website layout should draw the reader’s eye to the most important content. If you have more than one practice area, the menu for practice areas should be one of the first things that catch a reader’s eye.
- Navigation: It should be very easy for clients to navigate your site and find what they’re looking for. Each page should be just one or two clicks away from the home page.
3. Make your site mobile-friendy.
About 60 percent of Google searches are completed on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. And while mobile traffic for legal services ranges from 21 to 57 percent based on the practice area, it’s still vital that lawyers, law firms, and legal service providers have a website that is designed for mobile devices.
When you make a mobile-friendly website, you will reach more people – and they are more apt to stay on your website. You can help keep mobile users on your site by:
- Make sure buttons are large enough and/or far enough apart for users to tap the correct button on their mobile device screen.
- Make sure your website is responsive as opposed to setting a hard width. In other words, the width should be a percentage, not a set number of pixels. This ensures that mobile visitors can see all of your website content as it was intended.
- Make sure text is easy to read on mobile devices. Font should be large enough to read from a smaller device screen and formatted in a way that’s easy to read or skim from a smartphone.
To really test your website, have colleagues look at it on their phones and tablets. If they can navigate it without input from you, and they do not have any complaints about the size of the text or images, the ability to read content, or the ability to tap buttons, then you are doing it right.
4. Keep your website content updated.
Always keep your website updated with new content to ensure that it’s always accurate. In addition to adding new content periodically, like new blog posts or additional pages for practice areas, you should also make sure that all of your existing pages are up-to-date.
Keeping your website content updated helps ensure that anyone who is landing on your site is getting the most accurate information about your firm.
Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a vital role in helping your firm get found online by potential clients. If you want to boost your firm’s visibility on search engines like Google, you’ll need to work on your SEO.
Search engine optimization for attorneys is different from other SEO tactics. First, most law firms are local, and second, attorneys provide need-based services. Thirdly, the competition is very high. To be successful in your marketing plan, you have to take these things into consideration.
5. Make sure search engines can index your site.
Before you start creating content, you need to make sure search engines, especially Google, can find your law firm website. Take the proper steps to index your site in Google to make sure you are showing up in the search engines.
You can also help search engines categorize your page by using schema for attorneys or legal services. These tags are placed in the HTML code on a page. For example, you might use ‘amenityFeature’ to describe each practice area.
6. Create landing Pages that target places and other demographics.
Since legal services are of a local nature, if you have offices in two different cities, you should have landing pages for each city. For example, City A and City B would each have a landing page that includes content and keywords focused on each city – “Orlando Family Law Services” and “Tampa Family Law Services.” While the content on each may be similar as the practice area is the same, you will use keywords and descriptions that target each geographic location.
Similarly, if your practice areas target two very different demographics, you should have landing pages for each of the very different demographics. For example, you would have one landing page targeting family law services for those aged 18 to 30, which are most likely short-term marriages, and another landing page targeting family law services for those 31 and over, since people in that age range may have more complicated divorces due to long-term or longer-term marriages and more assets.
7. Improve internal and external link building.
Search engines love links, especially links to authoritative sites. Including links in your content signals to the search engines that your page is comprehensive, well-researched, and provides additional information that’s valuable to the reader.
Internal links lead the reader to other pages on your website. They also help search engines crawl your website and understand its content. Use internal links on your web pages and blog posts to direct readers to other relevant content on your website.
External links – as long as they are to authoritative and high-ranking sites – may also help with search engine optimization. By referencing high-quality content, you are showing Google that your content is well-researched and valuable to your audience.
When using internal and external SEO linking, hyperlink relevant keywords and phrases. If you reference a statistic or quote, link to the source to provide a reference and build authority.
8. Maximize attorney local SEO.
SEO isn’t built just through writing excellent content. Businesses that rely on local customers also need to maximize local SEO, which helps get your law firm at the top of a local service area’s results and is the sweet spot on Google’s pages. The local pack is located in the box of Google Map results, which is above the organic search results and below the paid ads.
Google pulls this information from your Google My Business account, which you need to optimize for local SEO by including local keywords and phrases. Google also looks through online directories such as FindLaw, Lawyers.com, Avvo, and others to determine your locality. Thus, you should list your firm on all relevant online directories.
Social Media Marketing Campaigns
While social media may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to legal marketing, social channels like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn are powerful channels for reaching more potential clients online.
Ninety-five percent of millennials and 87 percent of Gen X-ers think that any business should have a social media presence. When you use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest, you give your followers a look behind the scenes, so to speak. They know that your firm is more than a bunch of people in stiff suits looking for their next big payout. You can prove that stereotype wrong by frequently posting on your law firm’s social media pages.
Your social media presence also:
- Allows for better local SEO.
- Increases the visibility of your firm, especially if each of the attorneys and paralegals has a page separate from the firm’s main page.
- Drives traffic to your website.
- Allows you to disseminate content to a wider audience.
- Paid social media ads are often less expensive than GoogleAdwordsPPC programs.
- Allows you to gather reviews from your clients, which play a significant role in building trust with potential clients.
9. Choose your social media channels wisely.
If you have to choose just one or two social media platforms, you’ll want to use Instagram and Facebook instead of LinkedIn because the first two cater to business-to-consumer (B2C) services rather than business-to-business (B2B) services – unless, of course, your practice areas are tailored to serve businesses.
For example, a family law attorney is a B2C firm, while a firm with practice areas in contract law, employment law, and mergers and acquisitions provides B2B services.
10. Share your blog posts on your social channels.
Every time you publish a new blog post to your law firm’s blog, you should share these posts across your social media channels. While your blog gives you space to go in-depth on topics that is important to your audience, your social media channels give you a promotional outlet for these posts.
Additional Law Firm Marketing Strategies
There are all sorts of ways that you can expand your law firm’s reach online and bring more potential clients to your law firm. Below are just a few of the ways that you can generate more leads.
11. Cross-sell within your firm.
You might think this is a given, but it’s not. Often attorneys do not try to cross-sell services within their firm.
For example, if someone comes in for a domestic violence case and the attorney handles only domestic violence, he or she should make sure the client knows that the firm has a family law attorney on staff should the client decide to file for divorce.
Everyone who has contact with clients should know every attorney’s offerings. And, when appropriate, they should cross-promote services to clients in need.
12. Involve all lawyers in marketing strategy.
Make sure all of your attorneys are involved in and know your marketing strategy. Many firms require their attorneys to bring in new clients, so involving the attorneys in the marketing strategy can help them bring in clients.
Creating marketing training for attorneys can help bring them up to speed on the actions they could be taking to improve lead generation. This also helps get their buy-in for things like creating blog posts or posting the firm’s content to their professional social media accounts.
13. Keep in touch with former clients.
You never know when someone will need your services again. Create a monthly newsletter targeted to former clients. Include informative information about different practice areas or news such as winning a large personal injury case.
You can also use this newsletter (and your blog) to keep clients updated with new law changes. For example, if you are a tax attorney, let your clients know when the tax laws change. Staying visible with your client base helps you build stronger relationships that likely end in repeat business.
14. Manage your reputation.
Clients can leave reviews in many places. Someone on your team needs to be responsible for your online reputation management. This person should periodically search for your firm’s name online and the name of all lawyers in your firm to make sure the reviews and mentions are good.
Create a process for dealing with any bad press/reviews you see about your firm or its lawyers. Often, a simple and honest response can go a long way.
15. Update attorney bios.
Keep your attorney and staff bios updated on your website, including updating the photo on the bio. If you don’t have bios on LinkedIn and other social media sites, and on sites such as Avvo, make sure you get your bios out there.
16. Spoil your clients.
This is a nice way of saying you should micromanage your clients. Make sure they think they are getting more than what they pay for – that keeps clients coming back.
When they arrive, make them feel at home. Offer drinks, food, and make sure they don’t have to wait past their appointment time. If they do have to wait, check on them and explain why you are late (a deposition may have run over, a meeting in the office, or you might be delayed if court ran over). If you are in an appointment that you can’t step out of for a minute, make sure your legal assistant or paralegal speaks to the client and explains the tardiness.
Keep copies of informational articles written for your website or blog in the waiting room for people to read. If you have some important information, you could also create fliers with the information and leave them in the waiting area. For example, a tax attorney might have a flier with the most recent changes for filing tax returns.
17. Encourage referrals.
Keep in mind that word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to advertise – but it also goes both ways. You want your clients to sing your praises. Make sure your website is perfect, and make sure you treat every client as though he or she is the most important person in the world. Show respect. When the client’s friends and relatives need an attorney, your client will remember how you treated him or her, and will refer friends and relatives to your firm.
Always thank the referral source, whether it was a client referral or a referral from another attorney. When your referral sources know that you are grateful for the referral, he or she will continue to refer friends and relatives to you.
18. Contribute to your community.
You can volunteer at certain events or donate money – just make yourself known throughout the community. If you volunteer at certain events, your face and name are right in the public eye, whereas if you donate money, you might get a one-time thank you that not very many people will see. If you decide to volunteer at an event, post about it on social media, plus write a blog post about the event and why you are volunteering to help the cause.
Don’t Tell… Just Show
Telling your clients and potential clients you are the best is bragging and probably goes in one ear and out the other. Instead, show your potential clients and current clients that you are the best by publishing excellent content on your web pages, blog, and on your social media accounts.
The content on your website should show potential clients that you know your chosen practice area better than any other lawyer out there. At the same time, keep in mind that most people reading your content are not lawyers, so you are going to lose them – they will get that glassy-eyed look – if they do not understand what you are saying.
While you may have to include some legalese, keep it to a minimum, and explain it when you do have to use it. Otherwise, write engaging content or hire legal writers from Writer Access to write web pages, blog posts, social media posts, white papers, e-books, and other content you need to attract new clients.
Cheryl B. is a degreed paralegal who specializes in family law and bankruptcy, though she writes about several other practice areas. She worked for a small firm with three attorneys doing family law, bankruptcy, contract law, criminal law, personal injury, and constitutional law cases. She also worked on whistleblower cases and an international personal injury case. Cheryl started writing blog posts and legal articles in 2007 while she was still employed as a paralegal. Currently, Cheryl writes full time and occasionally helps a South Florida attorney draft some of his more difficult family law pleadings.