Small Law Firm Marketing Blueprint
Founder, Constellation Marketing
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Small Law Firm Marketing Tips from Years of Experience
Getting any small business off the ground is tough, but small law firm marketing can be particularly brutal. Here, we will provide the best tips and tricks to boost your firm’s online visibility and draw in your ideal client. We know these tips work because we have years of experience ensuring the success of small law firms just like yours.
Keep it Simple, Stupid
When just starting out, many firms try to do too much at one time and market using every method they can think of at the time. Here’s the bottom line, though: trying to cover every marketing channel — from SEO and ads to social media and videos — all at once just doesn’t work.
Rather than spreading yourself too thin, you should focus on a small handful of marketing strategies that you excel at. This will ensure that you are making the most of your marketing efforts.
Track Your Progress
If you don’t have an interest or background in marketing, you probably are unsure how to assess performance.
There are two ways of thinking about this: Micro Metrics vs. Macro Metrics.
The Macro Metric is important to use because it gets paying clients in the door. Some may tell you other methods are not worthwhile to use. It is important when using Macro Metrics to ask each new client how they found you. This helps you understand the path they took to get to you, so you can begin to develop strategies that will make this a repeatable process that can be implemented consistently for further success.
The Micro Metric is important, but ultimately not as useful as Macro Metrics. Micro Metrics include keyword count, keyword rankings, website traffic, organic website traffic, click-through rate, and anything else that is not directly tied to revenue. These are useful for marketers because they can be predictive and demonstrate expected performance. Seeing how one firm compares to another using Micro Metrics can give us a better understanding of how it should be performing. More or less, we can use these to see if we’re on the right track. However, correlation doesn’t always mean uniform results, which is why Micro Metrics can be deceptive.
Tracking metrics doesn’t have to be complicated. Create a simple document or spreadsheet where you can put in basic information, like the number of cases in a given month and where each came from. Having that basic level of data can be illuminating. It doesn’t have to be complicated and heavy with data, which may make it less approachable and ultimately less useful for you.
Don’t Follow the Pack, Unless it Works
When researching small law firm marketing, you’re going to be bombarded with ideas, but most of these will not be good. Instead, look for examples of success with hard data, where real revenue has been generated.
It’s generally best to ignore examples of anecdotal evidence. This often comes in the form of someone sharing that they are “killing it” with a certain tactic. When you press a little further to get a revenue total from the activity, it gets a little murky. Smoke doesn’t equal fire and there is a big difference between perception and reality.
The flip side here is that you should be open to adopting proven marketing tactics by yourself. As we’ll discuss later on, the list of marketing strategies that really drive revenue can fit on a notecard. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be successful.
You Will Make Mistakes, Just Be a Good Tester
The reality with any business is that you will probably make more mistakes than you will implement winning marketing strategies. Law firms are not immune to this, but that’s totally okay.
It’s fine to test different ideas; just don’t get saddled with a long-term investment before seeing some results. The key to successful marketing is to be nimble until you find the repeatable strategies that will generate revenue.
The Best Law Firm Marketing Ideas for 2021
The ideas we discussed above are not complete without real-world examples, so we’ve compiled a list of our most tried-and-true law firm marketing ideas that you can replicate without having a strong marketing background.
These are the Best Marketing Ideas for Small Law Firms
Below are just a few of our most simple and effective small law firm marketing ideas. You can take our word for it—we are legal marketing gurus who’ve reliably boosted countless small law firms like yours.
Encourage Reviews and Feature Them on Your Website
Reviews will help you rank higher in Google and help you build your authority for prospective clients. Ask your colleagues and former clients to review your performance. Select a few of your favorites and feature these reviews on your website.
Keep Your Content Fresh
This will help improve your traffic and conversion rate and is a great way to remain relevant. Look at your pages at least once a year and see which ones have low conversions and update them with new information, dates, images, and so on.
Add Former Clients to Your Email List
While email marketing isn’t the best source of prospects for most law firms, it can add value to your overall marketing strategy. Building a campaign using your previous clients’ email addresses will let you kickstart a referral chain.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Like email marketing, social shouldn’t be at the top of your small law firm marketing priority list, but it does have its place. To be seen as legitimate, you should utilize social media and get started by establishing a presence. Develop a reasonable posting schedule and focus on information that will be helpful to your clients.
Make It Simple for Prospective Clients to Get in Touch
When potential clients visit your website, they should have multiple options for contacting you. Prominently place buttons and prompts throughout your site, with multiple options such as email, live chat, telephone, and virtual consultations. This will prevent them from moving on when they can’t find your contact information.
Make Your Google Listing Legit
When looking up your law firm online, potential clients should be able to see current, accurate, and detailed information about your business. One of the easiest ways to do this is by claiming your firm on Google My Business and customizing your listing. This is also where clients can leave a review, so you want to ensure that clients know that they’re leaving a review for the right firm.
Assign a Primary Keyword to Each Page on Your Site
You should make sure every piece of content you create has a keyword and that the content on that page provides relevant, useful information surrounding that specific keyword. This will help you stand out from the millions of web pages on the Internet.
Small Law Firm Marketing Strategies That Will Actually Generate Revenue
Our marketing strategies don’t stop there. While elevating your online presence is great, turning prospective clients into paying clients is the ultimate goal. If you are a lawyer at a small law firm who is not getting the results you desire and you need a better strategy, we have some tips that will help you generate more revenue.
Start with Ads
A Google Ads campaign is THE best way to get new clients quickly, especially if you are starting from scratch.
The first few ads are generated from a paid search where the search engine decided they were relevant to your question. These are generally placed at the top of the page. Organic listings, on the other hand, come from all around the web and are essentially free traffic. While an organic listing is the ultimate goal, this takes time, and ads can help you take off early on when you have little to work with.
You may be turned off by the high click costs (personal injury clicks can easily cost $100 per click), but it’s all about the Cost Per Acquisition. The Cost Per Acquisition needs to be well under the amount of revenue the client will bring in. If you can figure out that formula, you’ve essentially created a money printing machine that can be scaled to grow your business.
If You Can Afford it, Do Both SEO & Ads at the Same Time
Our formula for new firms has shifted to place a larger emphasis on advertising during the first months of an engagement. We do this because SEO takes time, especially if you’re looking for gains that will last through a core algorithm update and not look like spam.
Ads provide our clients with the opportunity to generate revenue right away once we are hired. This is good for them and us because it accomplishes our primary goal and provides the capital needed to focus on a long-term strategy.
Although we like ads, we love SEO. Some companies will do one or the other, but we’re not picky about where the clients come from. Clients come from both Ads and SEO, so why wouldn’t we want to maximize your visibility on both channels?
Essentially, ads provide a quick win, but SEO is going to provide the best ROI over time.
It’s a bit of a catch-22, though. Since SEO takes time, you should start on it right away. However, if you only focus on SEO at the beginning, it will take longer to generate a return on your investment. Even if it’s a great choice for the future of your firm, it’s tough when revenue is not coming in consistently. This is why we suggest both at the same time.
Our goal is to set you up for both short-term and long-term success. If you as a lawyer can make due with a smaller profit margin in the first couple of months, you’re going to see much more dramatic growth later on.
Use Legal Directories with Caution
While we have strong feelings about the value of paid directory listings, we are not keen on them. The reality is that the big marketing companies continue to have an enormous presence within legal search results. One of the big companies likely has an attractive search ranking for the most desirable keyword in your market. They want to sell you that access at a premium.
Is it worth it, though? It just depends. In theory, your potential clients are searching for a certain type of lawyer in your area and will land on the directory listing. Why not pay to be visible there?
The main thing to focus on is if the listing turned into actual clients. We spoke earlier about Micro Metrics, which these companies LOVE to share in their reporting. They want you to know how many impressions your listing turned into actual clients. Unfortunately, impressions don’t pay the bills. Keep your eyes on the prize and focus on actual conversions; everything else is white noise.
To determine the value here, it’s a pretty simple calculation. You’re always going to want to understand your cost per acquisition. If you are paying $500 for a listing per month and you landed two clients, your CPA would be $250. If your engagement brings in an excess of $500, you are revenue positive on the deal. Ideally, the profit margin is higher, but you get the idea. You can then use this CPA as a benchmark against other marketing channels like SEO, ads, and social media.
Stay Away from Social!
Post on social media to get clients, they said.
Post every day, they said.
They’re getting ‘tons’ of clients from social media, they said.
Beware of false claims! Social media has consistently been the most underperforming channel over the past four years at our company. We’re monitoring data from over forty-five law firms and it almost always accounts for under 5% of conversions. Given the level of attention and time commitment it receives from many marketers, it is a tremendous failure.
We have tried all sorts of different approaches and strategies and we’ve always come up against a cold, harsh reality: people are just not that interested in hearing what law firms have to say. Don’t take it personally… it’s the platform, not you. People go to Facebook to avoid making decisions, not to find a lawyer. It is an escape. They don’t want to read a wordy dissertation about civil procedure (unless they are a masochist!). Until we’re proven wrong, we don’t see this as a reliable lead channel.
Even though the data tells us below 5% of all law firm clients come from social, it doesn’t mean you should stop. Just keep it proportionate to your other activities. We use social mostly for branding, which can help you obtain more conversions.
Again, focus on the real results. You may very well hear about other attorneys who are getting cases fairly consistently from social, but I would venture to say that it’s because they are natural at understanding the platform and enjoy using it. They like making videos daily, responding to messages all day, and generally stoking engagement. If that’s not you, don’t force it!
Video is the new social media. What I mean by that is it’s an exciting new medium that is light on the real results. Social media was the hot new tactic being pushed by the large legal marketing companies a few years ago, but it has not shifted to video services.
First off, there are benefits of video – we will not dispute that. Videos can help you increase your conversion rate by providing a more human experience to the potential client. You can also explain things in your own words and make sure that your personality comes across. All of that is great and we support it.
The disconnect comes when video is purported to have a disproportionate amount of value compared to other marketing channels. Since most people begin their search for an attorney on Google, they are much more likely to interact with your website content (aka traditional SEO) instead of finding a YouTube video. That’s not true for all industries, but it’s still overwhelmingly the case in the legal industry. Similar to social media, people aren’t going to YouTube to begin their search for an attorney. It’s an entertainment channel and, although it has useful content, it’s not natively a resource.
It’s great if people get to see your videos, but how do they get to them in the first place? They are likely coming to your website first and then finding the video. That’s why we think they are powerful for aiding conversions, but not originators of organic users. For most small firms, the challenge is getting people to the table in the first place, which is best accomplished by ads and SEO.
We can also dispel the myth that video is a powerful SEO strategy. According to Brian Dean of Backlinko, “Images, videos and other multimedia elements may act as a content quality signal.” Keep in mind this is one of 200 known ranking factors and this is not even close to being one of the most important. Notice that it may be a signal, but has never been confirmed by Google. Also, note that images and other multimedia elements may do the job just as well.
Creating helpful videos for your prospective clients is great by us. Just don’t get saddled with a huge investment in expensive video production without a marketing strategy first.
If you found these tips to be helpful and would love to learn more about how we can help you grow your small law firm, sign up for a call today and receive 25% off your first month of service. We can help you achieve your dreams of gaining clients and growing your revenue.