The key to law firm marketing in 2019 is being there when a potential client is looking for services. You should be present and visible to catch their attention. While you should present information about your services, you should mainly focus on what you can help the client achieve. They have a goal, and you should develop a strategy to help them meet that objective.
Setting Your Legal Marketing Strategy in 2019
When developing your marketing strategy in 2019, make sure you:
- Establish a goal
- Set a strategy to meet that goal
- Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the achievement of your goals
All of the tactics you utilize should be focused on getting closer to your goals. If your tactics are not focused on your goals, you will be spinning your wheels without moving forward.
Determining your success with strategy requires careful tracking. Rankings, traffic, and other metrics can be useful. However, they are simply a means to an end. Instead, your marketing should result in new clients, a more extensive referral network, and increased brand awareness. If your law firm marketing didn’t go as planned in 2018, you can implement changes in 2019 to hit your goals.
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What Has Changed in Legal Digital Marketing in 2019
Google and other search platforms have made a lot of changes for 2019. In particular, Google’s search engine results page (SERP) is dramatically different. Real estate for organic results is smaller, and user behavior has shifted as a result.
Search results have more featured snippets.
Snippets can take up a lot of space, so organic search results have been pushed even farther down the page on SERPs. The usually appear right below paid ads and above-suggested searches. If you can garner a snippet, though, you may get a majority of the clicks.
There were a lot of updates to algorithms.
Google made several significant updates to algorithms in 2018, which has resulted in different results for many firms in 2019. Some firms got a boost, and others have seen decreased traffic. To see positive results from these algorithmic updates, your page may have been rated as valuable to your target audience. This includes a focus on quality, comprehensive content, and relevance. While Google is pretty secretive about their updates, the algorithms tend to make sense over time.
Consumers are trusting local results even more.
Local results provide searchers with a plethora of information before they even click into a website. Thus, the user has an opportunity to build trust from the SERP. For that reason, consumers tend to be using local results even more than ever before. This is especially good for law firms that have a lot of reviews and show up high on the Map Pack.
Other updates include:
- Service area updates
- The elimination of Google+
- PPC ads being labeled more discreetly
- Changes in the way links are valued
With all these changes, it’s really about being in the right place at the right time, when your potential clients are looking for the type of services you offer. You need to get your information out there on the frontline so searchers can see it and utilize it as quickly as possible.
Where Are People Finding Lawyers?
To be successful, you need to know how clients are finding you, and then invest in marketing to that platform. Are your potential clients finding you through referrals, billboards, a database, or your website? It’s worth determining where your clients are coming from to boost your business even more.
According to online studies, as many as 49% of people research a legal issue before they reach out to a lawyer. Your website can help them do this research. People want to get their questions answered right away, without much hassle. However, each potential client’s journey is different. So, you may provide information for one client while another decides to reach out to you directly. Regardless, you can use your website to help people find the information they’re seeking.
Which Search Engines Should Your Firm Prioritize?
Google still holds the majority share of searches; however, other search engines are becoming more popular. As of January 2019, Baidu made up around 12% of searches and Bing had approximately 7.8% of searches. Google was the majority of the remainder, with smaller search engines like DuckDuckGo taking up a minimal share of the market.
While Google clobbers most other search engines, there are some benefits to putting information on different types of platforms. For example, people are searching for legal information on YouTube and Facebook as well. In fact, people tend to spend more time on YouTube and Facebook than they do on Google. Thus, there are many opportunities in those venues.
Some of the top channels you should be prioritizing include:
- Legal Directories (Avvo, Justia, Martindale, Jurist, Findlaw, etc.)
Paid vs. Organic Search in 2019
In most cases, organic search will get you better results than paid search. Although paid ads are usually above the fold, they only get around 5% of clicks. The local three pack and organic results further down the page get more clicks. However, you can improve your chance of a potential client click by maximizing how many times your website appears on the first page of Google. Do this by appearing:
- In the PPC ad section
- On legal directory listings
- In the local pack
- High in organic search
It can take time to rank organically and in the local pack. So, in the meantime, you may be able to optimize your appearance through PPC ads and legal directories. You shouldn’t be focused on one or the other, but rather all of the options available to reach as many people as possible.
Channels to Prioritize to Get New Clients in 2019
If your goal is new clients in 2019, then you should focus your resources on a variety of channels. The more you can devote to diverse channels, the number of different clients you may attract.
- Referrals – Although digital marketing is beneficial, never overlook the importance of fostering referral relationships. Personal communication and social media can help reach out to current clients to help you garner referrals.
- Organic Search – The most clicks still go to organic search. Having a powerfully optimized website that ranks well can be a generous new source for leads. You should have quality content that loads fast with clear calls to action.
- Paid Search – Legal keywords are some of the most competitive in PPC campaigns; however, they often result in successful cases. Investing resources to get you at the top of a SERP can get you leads.
- Directories – Although very few people go directly to a directory for attorneys, these websites show up at the top of SERPs when people Google “criminal defense attorney near me.” Standard directories include Avvo, Justia, SuperLawyers, Jurist, and more.
Have a Legal Focus To Improve Your Marketing Efforts
Although many attorneys promote themselves as “general practice” law firms, it can be beneficial to have a focus. Firms that have many different practice areas or locales struggle with digital marketing. The scattered focus seems off-putting to potential clients who have one goal in mind. Additionally, Google has difficulty categorizing an attorney with such fragmented services. When you have too many focuses, you dilute your efforts.
Use these questions to determine how to focus your law firm’s marketing efforts:
- What community do you serve? Establish a specific geographic area that you want to serve.
- What type of cases do you want most? You can take other cases, but determine which ones are the most desirable and profitable to you.
- How can you master your niche? Although you can know an array of practice areas, you should have one or two that you specialize in. Avoid expanding into new areas until you’ve become recognized in your primary areas.
- Can you commit to being the best? You are not the only firm in your practice area and locale. You should know what sets you apart and how to achieve your goals.
- Can you promote yourself? Attorneys often want more business, but they don’t want others to know they are seeking engagement. They often feel their competitors will think they are not doing well. In reality, finding more business means you’ve already satisfied your clients and are ready to build your brand.
Understanding the Legal Sales Funnel
Your potential clients should be able to find you at any stage of their journey through the legal process, from research to hiring. People who are at the bottom of the sales funnel often search transactional keywords like “truck accident lawyer,” and they may be ready to make a decision right away. However, you should also be investing time in the people who are at the top of the funnel and mid-funnel, providing content to assist conversions. Those people searching for information may be clients later down the road when they’re ready to make a decision.
Legal Sales Funnel Example
In an immigration law firm, people at the top of the funnel may be searching for broad information about becoming a U.S. citizen. They may search for terms like “how to become a citizen.” As they move through the sales funnel, they may be more focused on how an attorney can help, and then specifically for an “immigration attorney near me.” Effective digital marketing will focus on all levels of the sales funnel.
Stages of a Law Firm Sales Funnel
A law firm sales funnel typically has five stages:
- Awareness – This point is the top of the funnel where potential clients are doing initial research. You can add value to their searches with information on your website that will help in their journey. Things like e-books and FAQ pages can often answer their questions quickly.
- Consideration – Consumers who have gathered some information become more aware of their needs and start to process their options. They may begin looking at legal competitors and online reviews.
- Conversion – This is where potential clients are ready to make a move. They may not even spend much time on a page, but directly reach out via email, chat, or phone. Bottom funnel keywords should be transactional and focused on what the client is looking for at this point.
- Loyalty – You will want to keep clients and make them come back for repeat engagements. At this point, you should have built trust, and you can encourage clients to leave reviews and refer to others.
- Advocacy – You are a brand advocate when you do an excellent job for your clients from start to finish. Customers who have been satisfied throughout the sales funnel will rave about your brand.
Checklist for Law Firm Marketing
The previous information was provided as an introduction with basic knowledge about law firm marketing. It sets up the following checklist, which can be used to boost your brand in 2019. This checklist includes action items that you should consider to generate new leads and grow your referral network.
Digital marketing efforts can go in a lot of directions, but you shouldn’t forget your website. Clients will visit it from a variety of sources and may use it for information or direct contact to your firm. You should have complete control over what people see on your website and how they interact with it.
Take the following actions to improve your website:
- Make sure it’s mobile friendly – Google has a free mobile-friendly website test.
- Secure your website – You should have an SSL certificate installed.
- Take measures to help your website load fast – you can find your speed score online.
- Improve your content – Evaluate your pages with crawlers like Screaming Frog and Google Analytics to create informative content that converts.
- Eliminate crawl errors – When you move, delete, or rename a page on your website, it can create crawl errors that confuse Google and searchers.
Improve your organic visibility.
Organic visibility will generate free traffic for your law firm instead of investing in PPC and other methods of finding leads. You can improve the organic visibility of your website by:
- Producing and promoting amazing content – You should focus on fresh quality content.
- Earn links that are valuable to your website – Backlinks and inbound links are major ranking factors on Google.
Evaluate your PPC campaigns.
Pay per click campaigns is easy to track with Google tools. Focus on average cost per conversion. You will want to invest in the areas that make sense for your firm. Also, consider which phases of the sales funnel your PPC campaigns are catering to. Do you want to provide information or make a transaction? Oftentimes, top of the funnel bidding can be a cost-effective way to get your name recognized. That’s not the answer for every firm, but it’s worth considering.
Review Google My Business.
The information in your GMB listing will be reflected in Google’s map pack and the local results finder. Make sure you maximize your visibility by updating GMB when necessary. Here are some other ways you can reach:
- Use Google posts – This allows you to highlight something you’ve recently published.
- Utilize Google’s Q&A – People may ask questions, and you should be the first to answer.
- Solicit reviews – Satisfied clients are more likely to leave you a glowing review.
- Check for citation indexing – Make sure your citation has been indexed, and if not, then post, get reviews, and get links to encourage indexing.
Improve your reputation.
Legal directories are an excellent way to get your name out there and build a reputation. They allow you to rank for keywords and grab a significant amount of traffic. In fact, some of the directories even engage in PPC campaigns of their own. Being listed in these directories can improve your visibility, which ultimately enhances your reputation. Indexes that can be beneficial include SuperLawyers, Findlaw, Justia, and Avvo.
Market on social media.
Don’t forget to invest in social media in 2019. Facebook, Instagram, and other social networking sites can supplement your organic SEO as well as reach new audiences through paid promotion. You can target specific audiences and effectively promote your content. Facebook promotion is typically less cost prohibitive than Google so you may be able to run some testing in social media marketing platforms.
Don’t forget to engage on Twitter. Twitter is a platform that many law firms have avoided until recently. Some law firms do better posting and engaging than others. However, those who are successful can reach a new generation of people. You can also use Twitter to reach out to journalists and others who may be interested in your newsworthy events, such as a food drive.
Use email marketing.
Email marketing can often find people at the right time. It puts your information in front of their faces for a longer period of time than a quick search elsewhere. While some people dread email campaigns because they can be a lot of work, others understand the value of a well-built email marketing list.
Allow people to opt into and out of your email marketing. This can be done easily through tools like SumoMe. Sending emails has never been more comfortable with online tools as well. The software will allow you to pull addresses from a variety of sources and send targeted emails to potential clients in a matter of minutes.
Retarget potential clients.
For potential clients who have already been on your website, utilize software to retarget them with skillfully worded ads. Retargeting can be easy and cost-effective. It often allows you to stay in front of leads who may still be at the top of the sales funnel. Keep your name in front of them and help to build trust.
Track leads from all sources.
You should set up methods of tracking all of your leads from each source separately. This will let you know what marketing methods are most useful to your firm and where you should continue to invest money. Primary contact methods that should be tracked include calls, texts, live chat, forms, click to calls and emails. However, if you’re using PPC and other methods, you should be tracking that as well.
Making the Best Marketing Choices for Your Law Firm in 2019
There have been many changes in marketing over the past few years, and 2019 is no different. However, you can keep up by reviewing the basics and staying updated on more complex topics. Don’t miss any aspect of your law firm marketing this year by staying on focus and making the best choices for your law firm marketing.