The Case for Online Marketing for Law Firms
The Case for Online Marketing for Law Firms
You know what they say about good lawyer jokes? There are actually only three; the rest are all true stories. The legal profession in general often suffers from a bad reputation. Much of that comes from misinformation that people acquire from media portrayals and news soundbites. That’s why firms reach out to you. When it comes to online marketing for law firms, attorneys tend to make great … attorneys. You, on the other hand, bring an understanding of consumer trends that others covet.
Unfortunately, the task of reeling in and retaining those consumers is becoming ever more difficult. Recent years have seen an over-saturation of the legal market. Study results shared by EconomicModeling.com shows that this trend was first noticed in 2009, when 53,508 law students passed the bar exam, only to find that there were less than half that number (26,754, to be exact) of available jobs. This led to many states having disparaging ratios of law school graduates to available job openings.
What does this mean for your clients? They’re having to compete even harder to secure new business (and retain their already established clientele). Lawyers needing to become salespeople can draw attention away from what’s most important to them: providing the best possible representation for their own clients.
Streamline Your Strategy
You know full well that lawyers have no issue fighting back when elements of a case or individual testimony aren’t going their way. The last thing you want is for your marketing efforts for your client firms to be met with a resounding objection (because given what’s at stake, they may be less than willing to offer you the benefit of a sidebar). How, then, are you to streamline your strategies in order to best meet their needs?
Work To Improve Website Functionality
You can start by presenting a strong opening statement about the need to have a well-built website. The time has long passed when having a site was just an added benefit law firms could offer potential clients. Those firms that do not have an online presence are struggling to stay afloat. Word of mouth is no longer the primary driving force of business. Indeed, according to Blue Corona, Inc., 97% of today’s consumers research businesses online.
Yet your clients’ sites must be more than simply an overview of their legal specialties and an online contact form; they’ve got to engage potential clients by offering a good user experience. That begins from the moment they click in. Blue Corona shares two important arguments to support this notion: First, website abandonment rates increase with every extra second that it takes a site to load.
Tools such as PageSpeed Insights by Google track page load times to help you know when your clients’ website frameworks need to be tweaked in order for them to run more efficiently.
The second point is that a majority of users form an opinion of a site (and, by extension, the company it promotes) within .05 seconds. What can one do in .05 seconds? Basically take in the colors, images and theme of a site. It certainly doesn’t allow enough time to read all of the wonderful content you’ve helped create for your clients. Thus, a site has to be appealing enough to make users want to stay the moment they enter. One easy and effective way to do this is to incorporate a video into the home page. This serves as your clients’ virtual “door greeter,” welcoming visitors and directing them where to go. Again, Blue Corona points out that companies that utilize video marketing on their sites enjoy 27% higher click-through rates.
Never Settle for Standard Content
The aesthetics of a site don’t necessarily overrule its content, however. If a site’s visual design is likened to a lead attorney, then its content optimization is its team of paralegals working behind the scenes to ensure that said attorney has everything needed to present a winning case. Winning for your client firms isn’t measured in acquittals or settlements; rather, it’s in seeing their sites earn high rankings in organic searches.
Argue for SEO
Just how important is search engine optimization for legal sites? Consider the following individual case study conducted by Blue Corona. Optimizing a single firm’s legal content writing yielded the following results:
Imagine being able to generate an increase of over 860% in web traffic in less than two years. And it can happen simply by focusing on SEO.
Leverage Local Associations
Yet what types of optimization yield the best results for legal firms? Most people seeking your clients’ services are searching locally. Therefore, an emphasis must be placed on ranking high in local user searches. The best way to do this is by finding out how to land in Google’s Local Pack.
“Association” can be a buzzword in the legal community. A good online marketing company will tell you the same is true in content creation, yet in a good way. Say that I’m conducting a Google search for “divorce attorney in Detroit.” Notice what’s included in the results:
If your client firms can land in the Pack, users see both their locations and links to their websites before even getting to the top-ranked organic search result.
How do you land a site in the Pack? One way is to structure keywords and phrases similar to the way the one used in the example search was presented. By appending a geographic location to the keyword, the targeted audience becomes even more well-defined. Another is to simply ensure that your clients’ Google Account information form is completely filled out. This ensures its placement in the correct local service directory.
Promote Your Clients’ Practice Areas
Equally as important as linking searches with local users is lining up potential clients with the right legal specialties. People looking for specialty legal services are typically going to find them on their own. Individuals needing more general assistance are likely to cast a wider net. Attorney at Work lists the following practice areas as being included in the most commonly searched online queries:
- Family law
- Personal injury
- Criminal defense
- Estate planning
Within each of these general practices areas are unique specialties (e.g., child custody, DUI, probate). Keep these thoughts at the forefront of your mind when developing keywords and phrases.
Utilize What Works
Once visitors arrive at your client firms’ sites, how comfortable are they going to feel that your clients will be able to help them? Attorneys call on expert witnesses to sway juries, and expert opinion has the same effect on prospective clients. You can answer website visitors’ concerns by positioning your clients as leaders within their particular fields. One surefire way to create such an impression is through blogging.
The Benefits of Blogging
In its 2017 Legal Technology Survey Report, the American Bar Association reported that firms and individual attorneys who maintained blogs reported that as much as 80% of their client conversion was due to blogging, while blogging also yielded a greater than 50% success rate at retaining clients.
Why is blogging so effective for legal firms? Consider that most potential clients come to a firm’s website with a very specific legal question. If that firm is able to offer a blog post that addresses that question, the reader instantly assigns an expert-level understanding to its attorneys. Plus, including a call to action in the blog post prompting the reader to explore other pages on the site leads to a greater chance of conversion.
Don’t Overlook Social Media
Social media marketing is another aspect that most legal professionals are underutilizing. In its 2017 Report, the ABA reported the following social media usage rates amongst its membership:
- LinkedIn: 53%
- Facebook: 40%
- Twitter: 19%
This relatively low leveraging of social media as a marketing tool by attorneys underscores a more serious point: Many people simply are not sold on social media’s effectiveness. Indeed, Attorney at Work’s research returned results revealing that only 7% of respondents believed that their increased workflow was due to social media.
However, attitudes in this area seem to be changing slowly, as the same study showed that 42% claimed that their social media marketing was “somewhat” responsible for bringing in new clients. Interestingly, Facebook was reported as yielding better client conversion results (31%) than LinkedIn (27%), despite LinkedIn being more widely utilized by attorneys.
Your job is to hasten your client firms’ collective awakening to the benefits of social media marketing. Consider the extensive reach that social media offers (as shared by the Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association):
Your client firms simply can’t afford to ignore that potential exposure. Plus, an added benefit of connecting with clients through social media is that it grants you access to their own individual social networks. Such a presence essentially serves as digital word-of-mouth marketing.
While the legal world is viewed by many as being cutthroat, the online marketing industry can be even more so. Just as people represented by your client firms need their attorneys to be bulldogs in the courtroom, you need to be just as aggressive in developing and optimizing your clients’ marketing strategies. Remember that you’re not alone in this endeavor. At BKA Content, we offer services to help boost your clients’ online presence. This concludes our closing argument in the case for optimizing online legal marketing. What’s your verdict?