Inbound Marketing for Lawyers: Top Ten Tips
As more and more people and businesses search for legal services online it is vital that your law firm's online strategy is integrated, clearly defined and measurable.
Your Law Firm 2.0
The phrase ‘inbound marketing’ is everywhere at the moment. Inbound marketing offers quick, cost effective way to generate new business enquiries for law firms. Inbound marketing is so-called to differentiate it from traditional ‘outbound’ marketing techniques such as cold calling, email campaigns, adverts in the printed media and on TV and radio and networking events. Inbound marketing turns the traditional dynamic on its head and allows potential instructing agents to find you.
Our article covers:
- Maximising returns from your client base
- Using content to generate leads
- How to use social media effectively
- and much more...
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Their Problem, Your Solution: Online Online Business Generation
Inbound marketing is about letting your customers find you. The internet is now the first port of call for the majority of people who need the help of a professional. Where once people may have picked up the Yellow Pages or wandered down the street to the nearest solicitor’s office, nowadays, people increasingly reach for their laptop or tablet and consult Google. As such, marketing is now about making sure that your firm’s site appears high up on the list of search results. We liken failing to appear high up on the first page of prominent search engines to failing to answer the telephone – the client has come looking for YOUR services and YOUR site. If you don’t answer, one of your competitors will.
Top 10 marketing tips for law firms
There are many people more qualified than us to give you advice about running a successful law firm and how to provide a better service to your clients – indeed, should you require the assistance of a top law firm ‘rainmaker’ we can certainly point you in the direction of one of the best.
Where we can offer qualified, proven advice though is in the area of marketing, and online marketing in particular. We are frequently amazed by how many of the law firms we speak to still don’t pay attention to their marketing. It doesn’t matter if you are a sole practioner or a full-service firm with national reach, during this time of unprecedented change in the legal sector, you need to be more visible, instantly appealing and shouting from the rooftops about how you deliver a better service than your competitors.
Keeping in mind that marketing for the legal sector isn’t necessarily the same as marketing for other types of businesses (something to consider if engaging a third party for assistance), we have below provided some targeted marketing tips for lawyers and law firms which will hopefully help you to maximise your time and resource.
1. Specialise in a particular area of law
We recently spoke with a Partner in a law firm who specialises in a certain area of corporate law. He was speaking with a client, a company director, who asked if he could be referred to the appropriate person in the firm who could have a chat with him about his will. “That would be me,” came the reply; followed by the obvious response, “I thought you specialised in corporate law …”
What this exchange highlights is that it’s easy to dilute the value of your expertise by being all things to all people. Focus on establishing yourself as a thought leader in one particular area and make sure clients and potential instructing agents know that you are focused on this area by promoting your expertise on your website, other online platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and corporate promotional materials. Other ways to further establish your authority is to get yourself ranked as a leading lawyer for your particular specialism in the main legal directories and get nominated in specialist categories at the relevant awards.
2. Don’t forget your existing clients
Before going out and targeting new clients don't forget your low-hanging fruit: your existing clients! These are the people who already know you, trust you, send you work, pay you! It’s important to work at getting to know them better in order to see where else you can add value to the relationship. Aim to be more than just their lawyer. Positioning yourself as an indispensable business advisor is a sure fire way to generate more instructions.
We are frequently astounded by how little focus some firms we meet place on maximising cross referral opportunities. After all, it's much easier to open a new file from a current client than it is to originate a brand new client. Not investing in this type of activity is one of the most common missed opportunities we see. Touching base with your clients semi-regularly is an easy and cost effective way to generate new instructions from within your existing client base. This type of activity, most often carried out in the format of email marketing, does of course require an up to date list of client contact details. It’s not uncommon for firms we meet to have a client contact list that hasn’t been updated for years. This results in emails being sent to individuals who are deceased, businesses that have gone under and all manner of frightfully embarrassing situations arising. It’s true that undertaking a cleanse of your of your database is one of the most horrendously dull activities you will ever undertake – but it’s worth it. Once it’s up to date, go that one step further and segment your audience into distinct client personas to ensure that you are delivering content into their inbox that is relevant to them.
As noted, getting your client contact database up to speed and maintaining it on an ongoing basis isn’t the most glamourous job. It can be especially time consuming if you have let it wither on the vine for years. Don’t despair though – there are people who just LOVE this type of work. If you do need somebody to come into your law firm and set you on the right path to help you maximise the business generating potential of your existing clients then get in touch – we know the very person.
3. Create an effective law firm website
Whether you are setting up a new practice or a part of a long established law firm, an effective website is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts. If properly developed and supported, your website can be your best performing salesperson and will help establish your key stakeholders as thought leaders and experts amongst existing clients and potential instructing agents. Your site should really showcase what you do, clearly stating your specialty and your niche. If you offer several different services within your type of law, outline them very clearly.
For further information on what makes an effective law firm website, check out our guide on the subject.
4. Use content to build your credibility
The next step is to get your web presence really working hard for you. If you want to generate more profitable business and establish yourself as an authority in a particular area of service, you need to write about it. Robust quantities of unique, relevant content will help you engage with current clients and potential instructing agents. It will turn your profile and service section of your firm's website into an easily accessible portal of thought leadership and opinion.
Content helps attracts visitors to your site, provides answers to the questions your prospective clients' are asking at the beginning of the buying process and helps builds trust from the outset (for further information see our blog post on ZMOT). It's important to remember that you are producing content for your target audience, not for Google; although good search engine search results will be the fruitful by-product of regularly adding high quality, unique, relevant content to your practice areas’ pages on your website.
Developing good, targeted content is hard work, and a stretch on resource. That being the case, it’s important that you fully leverage the business generating potential of the content you produce. One way of doing this is to develop a content plan that considers all the different ways you can repurpose what you write. For example, a landing page can turn into a series of tweets, or blog posts linking back to your website. Sections or bullet points from an overarching, helicopter view article on a particular subject can be focussed in and expanded on, and repurposed for a new landing page or blog. For maximum exposure, don’t forget to share your articles across all of your online platforms. Cross-posting will expose your work to a broader audience and increases its sharing potential.
In addition, you should make it as easy as possible for those who do use social media to share content from your website through the inclusion of social sharing buttons throughout your website.
For further information on content marketing for law firms check out our guide here.
5. Don’t be afraid to provide free information
For example, write a guide or whitepaper on your area of expertise and make it available on your website and to all your connections on LinkedIn. This type of activity DOESN’T devalue your experience and expertise. It DOES help you establish a position of thought leadership and engage with potential instructing agents.
One saying we particularly like on the subject is that you should be “giving away information snacks to sell knowledge meals!”
6. Build a Social Media Presence
Ever since the advent of social media in the early naughties, people have been using it for marketing; and probably just as many people have been doubting its effectiveness as a marketing tool. With many of the law firms we visit, there is still often a feeling that social media isn’t for them. Perhaps it’s too informal, or too risky, or lacking in a viable target audience.
The power of social media is immense and, when harnessed correctly, can be a great tool to help grow your law firm in the following ways:
- Brand awareness and thought leadership
- Increased search engine rankings for your website by virtue of social media bookmarking
- Getting content from your website in front of a targeted, valuable audience
- Networking with thought leaders in your field
- Development of new business relationships
- Increasing website visits with warm leads
- Generation of new business for your law firm
“According to a 2014 OfCom survey, 66% of UK adults say they use social media. Of the 52 million people aged 15 and over in the UK, that’s over 34 million adults on social media. Nearly 33 million use Facebook; over 10 million use Twitter,” says our Local SEO Expert, Kate Flannigan. “Marketing law firms using social media seems like a relatively new phenomenon. However, traditional marketing practices have always been to invest where your target market are present. Whether that investment is just an hour a week on LinkedIn from fee earners, or an full social media marketing strategy implemented by an agency or marketing department, you will see results.” Our services range from a free audit or an hour’s training, all the way to a bespoke social media marketing strategy designed and implemented.
7. Establish trust through reviews
We all check the web for reviews of products, restaurants, hotels and all kinds of other. As legal services are increasingly sought online, why shouldn’t this apply to lawyers too?
For example, legal sector behemoths Slater + Gordon and Irwin Mitchell have impressive star ratings appearing in search results. They ensure that they stand out in both organic and paid search results through the use of review sites which allow for their rating to be included in SERPs.
It’s also a good idea to set up your Google My Business listing to take advantage of Google Maps and Google reviews. When people search for a lawyer online, your local Google directory listing will link to public reviews of your practice. It makes sense to ask happy clients if they would mind reviewing you. It also doesn’t hurt to have a draft email ready to send with simple instructions as to how your client can complete this simple task.
8. Where to start with your law firm marketing?
Cleansing your client contact databases, updating your website, building a presence on social media sites, organising events, chasing the printer for those new letterheads … a law firm marketer’s day is never dull and their task list never-ending. If just starting out, our advice would be to pick one thing to get right, and do it really well. Then, move on to the next thing. For example – there is no point in creating an email campaign if your database is in disarray. Make sure your website ticks all the right boxes before embarking on a social media campaign. Understand what it is you are trying to achieve through your marketing activities, establish KPIs and work back from there.
9. If it’s not measurable, don’t do it
The beauty of online marketing is that it is immediate, transparent and trackable. For example, each month we are able to tell our clients how many new enquiries their website has generated for them, conversion rate, cost per enquiry etc. The same can’t always be said for more traditional offline marketing activities. We are constantly dismayed when we speak to law firms who retain a 5 figure spend with the Yellow Pages, take out full page adverts in the broadsheets, advertise on the side of taxis’, sponsor amateur sports teams etc. I have yet to speak to anybody engaged in such activity who could point to a definite positive return on investment on any of these activities, mainly because they have no way of monitoring their success. If it’s not measurable, don’t do it.
Our Client Relations Director Dave says: “It’s a truism that what gets measured gets managed. A joined-up online business generation strategy is not only more affordable than ‘traditional’ marketing activity, it’s much more transparent. A good reporting process is not only a way of measuring success, it’s a valuable decision-making tool for your business. Making sure that enquiries are logged, tracked and appropriately attributed to their source gives you the data to make strategic business decisions. Even an Ogilvy & Mather campaign won’t offer as much transparency as a simple Google Analytics dashboard.”
10. Hire marketing professionals (preferably with niche legal expertise) if necessary
Just like we aren’t in a position to advise you on getting a divorce, we wouldn’t expect the average fee earner to be an expert in how to best market themselves or their law firm. Indeed, when your day job involves managing increasingly challenging billable hour targets, spending time on developing a marketing plan may not be possible, or indeed advisable!
Speaking with marketing professionals, particularly those who understand the challenges faced by the legal sector at present, can take some of this responsibility off of your shoulders. They will also be more knowledgeable about how to go about promoting you and your firm without the need for as much trial and error.
Moore Legal Technology – Helping law firms succeed