Hashtags. Instagram stories. Inbound, outbound. You may know that your law firm could benefit from a digital marketing strategy, but you might not be sure about the best way to reach your potential clients.
Don’t let all the platforms and mediums overwhelm you. You don’t have to go viral to be seen online. By understanding a few basics of digital marketing, your firm can start producing valuable content to connect with your audience — and start getting more leads.
Whether you’re just beginning to think about opening your own practice or your firm has an established website, you’ll find crucial tips in this beginner’s guide to digital marketing for law firms. Learn how to create a law firm marketing strategy, define success, and start seeing results from your digital marketing plan.
What Is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing refers to just about any form of marketing that takes place online. So, that could include:
Search engine optimization (SEO): Focusing on becoming discoverable in search engines like Google can be essential for law firms or local businesses. Optimizing your website and content for search engine discoverability can make the difference between being seen and not being seen by your potential clients.
Content marketing: We’ve all heard that content is king, and it’s still true. Content marketing can mean blogging, vlogging, writing FAQ pages, or otherwise creating information that your audience finds useful. Often, these pages should be optimized for SEO, so potential clients find you when they search for answers to common legal questions.
Email marketing: With this strategy, you’ll capture your potential client’s contact information — often by making a tempting offer or providing a high-value freebie, like an ebook. Then, once they offer their contact information, you can send them newsletter content to build a relationship, offer helpful tips, or keep them updated on relevant topics.
Social media marketing (SMM): Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and more. Social media marketing could entail any and all of the above. This type of marketing often involves building a sense of community on social platforms to keep audiences engaged.
Paid advertising: If you want your business to appear at the top of a search engine’s listings, you can try pay-per-click ads. Depending on the type of consumer you’re targeting or your marketing goals, you might consider hiring a company to manage a paid ads campaign to boost visits to your website.
Of course, you don’t have to use all these channels. Developing a digital marketing strategy means defining the audience you want to reach, narrowing down your sales or marketing goals, and determining where and how you can reach your audience to hit those objectives.
To keep things simple — especially for smaller firms looking more mindfully at their marketing budget — content marketing can offer a great way to get started. So, if you’re an injury law firm in Orlando, think about writing blog posts with useful information on car accidents and the claims process in Florida.
Importance of Digital Marketing for Law Firms
Still, you might not be convinced about digital marketing. After all, you might think that word of mouth or personal recommendations is the best form of marketing. Who needs blogs when you have happy clients to spread the word about their settlement checks?
According to Visual Objects, a design, and agency directory, 76% of consumers will visit a website before physically going to a local business. In other words, most consumers today go online to vet and explore a company to see if it’s worth their time. That means that if you don’t have a compelling digital presence, you could lose potential clients.
Your digital marketing strategy is a crucial way of meeting your potential clients where they are: Searching for legal help online. If you don’t have a website that offers good answers to their questions, you can bet that your competition does. Your market presence online is key to building your brand and to remaining competitive in the legal market. It can also prove essential for long-term growth as consumers spend more and more time online.
Pro Tip: Check out if your firm is positioned for growth through this law firm growth quiz.
How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy for Law Firms
Think about what happens when your potential client sits down at the computer. Picture who they are and their situation. Maybe they’re injured after a car accident, or they’re not sure about a real estate transaction.
That’s the beginning of a digital marketing strategy for lawyers. Imagine who you’re trying to reach, what they need, and how you can help. The rest of it is just setting a system in place to produce that content.
In other words, build your digital marketing strategy by taking the following steps:
Market research: Determine exactly who your potential clients—or highest potential clients—are. If you’re entering a new market, maybe you should define the ideal new clients you want. Find out where they live, what services they’re looking for, and what the competition offers, among other research goals. You can start by looking at your law firm’s reports, case data, and past cases to get client insights.
Define digital marketing goals: What results do you want to see from your marketing efforts? In other words, what problems are you hoping your marketing will solve? Maybe you want to get 50 more phone calls per month. Maybe you want to rank #1 in Google for your type of legal service in the area.
Explore digital marketing channels: From Facebook to YouTube to content marketing through a blog, consider where your clients are online and where to reach them.
Understand content marketing and SEO: Content marketing and SEO offer a great starting point for law firm digital marketing. That’s because your law firm’s website is the signpost for your business online. When your website and its content are valuable and discoverable in Google search, your clients are more likely to find you and get interested.
Consider outsourcing your firm’s digital marketing: If this all sounds like a lot, don’t sweat it. You can outsource your firm’s digital marketing to an agency that knows law firm marketing. Be sure to research the company, though. Ask them to tell you about their successes with law firm marketing and how they execute their strategy.
Measuring the Success of a Digital Marketing Strategy
Your digital marketing strategy is an investment, and you should take interest in understanding how that investment is paying off. It’s also crucial to learn from marketing efforts that aren’t working and tweak your strategy over time.
After all, in digital marketing, what works now can change in a year. Google modifies the rules of SEO regularly, and your potential client’s habits evolve. Plus, your law firm is always changing or growing as a business. Monitoring your digital marketing strategy allows you to keep your content fresh and ensure that you retain your market presence online.
You can use tracking tools like Google Analytics to see how your website is performing. Try the free version to access metrics like:
The number of visitors to your website
Their average visit length
Where your website traffic is coming from
Ethical Considerations for Digital Marketing for Law Firms
Of course, law firms should keep in mind that their online presence reflects their professionalism. As you may already know from any previous advertising campaigns, your marketing must comply with certain rules set by your State Bar Association and the American Bar Association (ABA).
Some rules of thumb to keep in mind include:
Don’t say that they have to hire you. Generally, you should give reasons why people can benefit from a lawyer’s help—not tell them that your help is a must.
Don’t guarantee a certain result. Promising a client that they can get a certain amount or outcome from a case is not only misleading. It’s also a customer service headache. Set clear, reasonable expectations for your services and what they could lead to.
Don’t be misleading. You may be excellent at what you do. But make sure you explain your services without misleading clients into thinking that they’ll get something they may not, or that you can help when you can’t.
Do be truthful and transparent. People put their money into brands they trust, as more and more consumer data shows. It pays to be honest, ethical, and create content that shows your firm does the right thing.
Outlook on Digital Marketing for Law Firms
Increasingly, digital marketing is becoming not just something law firms might want to have. It’s something they need to have to remain competitive. That’s because consumers — and potential clients — are increasingly looking for solutions to their problems online.
If you want to grow your firm and your market presence, launching a well-researched and well-defined legal marketing strategy will pay off in the long run. And with a plan in place to continue monitoring your strategy’s success and producing valuable content, it can keep on paying off for years to come.