By Jonathan Schwartz, CEO
How do people find a good lawyer these days? While personal referrals are still common – and often the strongest leads – law firms would be remiss to rely solely on the “I know a guy” tactic to drive business. Considering that the average adult spends 6.3 hours per day interacting with digital media, it’s clear you need an online presence to remain relevant with today’s consumers.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you cobble together a functioning website and the case rests. A successful law firm marketing strategy puts your website in front of qualified leads, gains their trust and then guides them straight to your office.
Below are a few ways to get started marketing your law firm.
1. Embrace online reviews
You may balk at online review sites, such as Yelp or Avvo. And you have every right to be frustrated by bad reviews people post on Facebook or comments they leave in forums. But you should know that reviews have become a natural part of the buying process, with 90% of surveyed customers claiming that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.
Online reviews can:
- Feed your organic search efforts: Search engines value the credibility of online review sites, so much so that Google will serve up those star ratings at the top of page one.
- Differentiate you from the competition: Online reviews are specific to one attorney or one law firm. When someone comments about your dedication to service or strong negotiation skills, this feedback sets you apart from other lawyers in the area.
- Offer valuable feedback for your firm: Reviews are rich with consumers’ perception, which isn’t always positive. As humbling as it may be, sift through the criticism to learn where you have opportunity to improve. Responding directly to this feedback ultimately will foster loyalty and help grow your clientele.
- Lower acquisition costs: Positive online reviews are cosmic. Consumers are attracted to the stars and you can’t just buy those stars on Google, Avvo or other important channels – you need to earn them. By actively engaging in this form of reputation management, you can actually lower your customer acquisition costs.
Standing up a reviews strategy
Understanding how important reviews are to your law firm’s marketing efforts, it’s important to create a thoughtful strategy for collecting these reviews that will not be deemed as intrusive by your clients. A digital agency can help you sort through the options, such as frequency of the reviews requests, the medium for reaching out (text, email or other), the exact language of your request, and which channels fit best with your firm’s clientele. We have worked to establish partnerships between law firms and a number of different web review platforms, all of which will take care of every step of the review sourcing process on your behalf, from the initial request for a review via email or text, to guiding your clients through the review process on the channel of your choice (Avvo, Google, Yelp, etc.), to managing negative feedback effectively.
2. Dial up SEO efforts
Why this matters
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search results. There are several reasons to be grateful for SEO, especially if you’re an attorney trying to gain credibility and brand awareness among consumers.
Your search rank is also a major influence on how many queries become actual clients. It’s been reported that the first page of Google accounts for 71% of search traffic clicks, compared to a measly 6% for second-page results. If your website does not rank on page one for the most relevant queries, you have very little chance of being seen and leading consumers through the conversion funnel unless you are spending money on Google Ads.
And since finding an attorney is largely based on geography, the majority of your law firm marketing efforts should be focused on local SEO. Local SEO involves increasing your visibility in what’s known as the “local pack.” The local pack is defined by the top three results that are displayed after a local search query, such as “real estate attorney Boynton Beach” or “real estate lawyer near me.”
How to get it done
Since finding an attorney is largely based on geography, the majority of your law firm marketing efforts as it relates to SEO should be focused on local SEO. Local SEO involves increasing your visibility in what’s known as the “local pack.” The local pack is defined by the top three results that are displayed after a local search query, such as “real estate attorney fort lauderdale” or “real estate lawyer near me.”
There are a number of local SEO tools you can use to improve your rank, but one of the most influential is your Google My Business profile. This is a completely free service, but you do have to manually set it up and maintain it. The time and effort pays off, though. Among the factors affecting your local pack rank, Google My Business accounts for 25% of the pull according to Moz.
Another important ranking factor is your on-page SEO, accounting for 13% of your local pack ranking. First, make sure your website is properly set up with meta titles, heading tags and descriptive, keyword-rich content. Once those foundational pieces are in place, it’s time to create long-form content that will build your domain’s authority and enhance your credibility as an expert attorney.
When it comes to long-form content, nothing beats the almighty blog. Before you tackle such a big undertaking, consider working with an agency to make sure you are laying the right groundwork, from keyword research to what topics to cover to making sure you’ve gotten all the technical details right, such as interlinking. After you’ve got this optimized content created, be sure to give it a prominent place on your website and share it on social media to amplify its reach.
3. Leverage online referrals
Why this matters
Online referrals are the digital equivalent of face-to-face networking. While it’s true that passing business cards and meeting for a happy-hour social are not completely extinct, these practices have been muted by the internet. In the age of social media, you have an entire generation of people who prefer to connect online – and that’s okay.
By leveraging online referrals, you open your business to a broader range of consumers. Not to mention, you make connections a lot faster. Think about it. You could spend hours at a networking event and only engage with a handful of people. But go online, and you can build relationships with dozens of potential referral sources in a matter of minutes.
How to get it done
With 610 million professional on LinkedIn, this social media channel is a great first stop for online referrals. It is the professional network for any type of business, but particularly for lawyers. According to the 2016 ABA Legal Technology Survey report, more than 93% of lawyers surveyed now use LinkedIn.
Your LinkedIn profile ultimately is your online resume, providing your career history and skills. More importantly, there’s a place on every profile where your colleagues can share their experience of working with you. You want to have as much content in this section as possible, while also using the platform to make new connections.
Like any other social channel, you’ll get attention – and referrals – by engaging with others. This means liking, commenting and sharing other people’s posts. You should also take the time to join and interact with multiple LinkedIn groups. Whether it’s an alumni group from your undergraduate university or a professional organization, it doesn’t matter. These are a treasure chest of potential connections.
You can also use LinkedIn to share your own blog posts or accomplishments. For instance, you might share a local news feature that mentions your law practice. Just make sure this type of pat-on-the-back content is balanced with those knowledge-based pieces. You want to come across as an expert, not a salesperson.
Note: When using social media and leveraging referral sources, be cognizant of the Bar rules and regulations. The Florida Bar, for instance, put forth specific advertising guidelines for networking sites. These guidelines outline regulations “against any misleading information, which includes references to past results that are not objectively verifiable.” These statements are specific to Florida, so be sure you check your state’s Bar association rules before engaging in any social media activity.
The ball’s in your court
These tips only scratch the surface of the law firm marketing tactics you need to create a solid digital presence. If you’re ready for more, let our strategists help. For years, Bullseye Strategy has partnered with businesses–including law firms–nationwide to help them achieve their digital marketing goals. You could be next. Contact us for more information.
Jonathan Schwartz originally offered these tips during his address to the South Florida Association of Women Lawyers in May 2019. Co-founder of Bullseye Strategy agency, Jonathan has a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.