Content marketing is the double-take of SEO for lawyers. Not everyone understands it immediately, but when it is explained to them, it seems too si...
15 Lawyer Marketing Ideas That Will Make The Difference in 2021
Lawyers play so many important roles in our society, it is easy to forget that they are not supermen or superwomen. Their specialized skills set them apart -- but marketing is a skill set all on its own, one that law school does not cover.
Small practices, mid-sized firms, even huge legal enterprises often stumble in their marketing efforts, throwing large sums of money at outdated or half-baked marketing schemes that produce lackluster results.
The digital revolution has changed everything about marketing. Attorneys stand to benefit from that revolution just as much as, if not more so than, any other business. Today’s law firm deserves the benefit of today’s marketing techniques—the things that are working right now to build brand awareness for law firms of all sizes.
Here are fifteen lawyer marketing ideas that will make the difference in 2021.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 1: Create local landing pages for your core services
Most law firms, like most companies, use an outdated approach to the “services” pages on their website. They are cursory inclusions to the site index that provide bullet-point content, maybe a few links.
However, the specific services you offer are actually the things potential clients are looking for. They aren’t searching for “Smith, Smith, and Partners”—they are searching for “Best Real Estate Contract Lawyer in Albuquerque.”
To treat your “core service” pages as throwaway pages is to miss out on a huge opportunity. The service page may be the first page within your site a potential client finds. It may be the only page in your site index the potential client sees. It needs to make an impression, and it needs to convert in its own right.
What does it take to make a service page convert? Treat it like a landing page, with salesmanship, urgency, and a call-to-action. The most important quality of a good landing page is that it has a clear call to action—an instruction as to what the next step is. Click To Tweet
“Call our office now.” “Fill out this form and an associate will contact you.” “Click here to book a consult.” Whatever works best for your firm—those are all great calls to action.
Don’t scrimp on the content either. Try to include everything your user might want to know about the core service on the page, in a logical and digestible fashion, without too much legalese, no big intimidating paragraphs.
These “service landing pages” also need to pitch you and your firm, in terms of expertise and experience with that core service. This may feel redundant—this information is on your “about us” page, after all. But remember that the client may not ever see your “about us” page! The point is to collect them as a lead while they are still on that page, since it may be the only chance you get.
Lengthy service pages also have the advantage of boosting your SEO, stocking your site index with voluminous, keyword-rich content.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 2: Configure a chatbot on your website
Chatbots may seem simple enough, but they are actually a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI). A chatbot resembles chat support, but instead of a human being sitting on your side of the chat, a computer algorithm attempts to interpret the user’s input and guide them based on its assessment of their needs.
At their best, chatbots can direct users to resources that answer their questions, without consuming expensive hours of customer service labor. If even a modest percentage of chat inputs can be answered by AI, it saves a law firm significantly on human resources.
Of course, a frustrating chatbot can turn a user off from a law firm altogether. This kind of brand damage is the opposite of what we want to achieve with marketing. Chatbots should not act as impenetrable gatekeepers of employee time. If your potential clients need to reach you, it pays to be reachable.
Chatbots can also perform the important function of lead generation and segmentation. A chatbot can be configured to collect the email address and/or phone number of the user so your team can follow up.
Questionnaires within the chatbot can also segment users by demographics (age, gender, etc.) or areas of inquiry (corporate law, real estate law, estate planning, etc.) We discuss the advantages of a segmented email list in Lawyer Marketing Idea 3. Suffice it to say, a chatbot can make the creation of a segmented list easy and hassle-free.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 3: Implement segmented email marketing campaigns
Email lists often get overlooked by inexperienced marketers, but they are one of the most valuable assets any company has. Entire businesses are built around robust email lists.
The power of an email list is that once you build it, it costs next to nothing to market to it. Facebook ads, Google ads, SEO--these all cost money on a recurring basis. But an email list is an audience you can keep forever, for free.
The purpose of emails is to stay top-of-mind for your list as an authority in your area of practice. This could take the form of emails that tell stories, emails that give tips, or emails that just describe daily life in your practice. Sometimes you can pitch your services directly, but the best email campaigns pitch sparingly and seek to give value, in the form of information or entertainment.
Emails can be sent weekly, in weeklong sequences, or daily. You can even create automated email sequences, so new leads get treated to the same familiarity-building experience regardless of when they enter your pipeline, like clockwork, without you having to do any extra work.
The most powerful email campaigns, though, are segmented campaigns. Segments of your email list identify subjects that the segment is likely to be interested in, as well as subjects the segment is likely to not be interested in. For example, there’s no need to send emails touting your paternity legal services to the women on your list.
You can segment your list based on the campaigns they responded to, questionnaires they filled out, or which service page they converted on (remember those “service landing pages”?) This usually requires an email management or CRM software solution, so you can easily access and blast out an email to everyone in a certain segment. This software can also track which subject lines cause people to open emails and which links within the email text get clicked.
A law firm should never neglect its email list. Leads that aren’t ready to hire you now could easily hire you in the future if you retain top-of-mind awareness. If a competitor is top-of-mind, they get the business. Email campaigns make it easy to remain top-of-mind.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 4: Develop a YouTube marketing strategy
YouTube is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing tool belt, for a couple of reasons:
- YouTube has its own algorithm that will recommend your videos to viewers searching for content similar to yours if you execute it properly.
- YouTube videos do not get “old” in the same way blog articles do. A popular YouTube video will generate traffic for months or even years.
- Your YouTube following represents an audience that can be segmented, retargeted, and marketed to.
In many ways, a YouTube marketing strategy is similar to content marketing—you find out what users are searching for, then create video content to answer their questions. You can even stalk the YouTube channels of your competitors. If one of their videos caught a few thousand views, while the rest of their videos only got a few dozen or a few hundred, that video topic may be something for you to emulate.
YouTube videos don’t have to be complicated either. A newer smartphone can easily act as the camera and microphone, while upgraded video equipment is relatively inexpensive. You don’t need a $5,000 cinematic camera.
You can shoot videos in your office, wearing whatever you wear to work. PRO TIP: Make sure your videos are well lit and the audio as good as it can be.
If you don’t know how to edit videos—or just don’t have the time to commit—video editing is something you can easily delegate or outsource, as is posting the actual videos online.
Get on a regular schedule where you post a video on the same day every week, or on the same days twice a week. Consistency is your best friend when building a YouTube following.
The videos don’t have to be long. Just make sure to use a limited amount of jargon. Use language your potential clients can easily understand. Make sure to include a call to action in every video, whether it is to call your firm, book an appointment, or “like, subscribe, and leave a comment.”
Lawyer Marketing Idea 5: Solicit customer reviews and testimonials
Testimonials are one of the most important assets your business can accumulate. According to Vendasta, 92% of consumers look at online reviews when shopping for service providers. Click To Tweet According to Searchengineland, 82% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends or family members.
This is especially true of law firms. Clients depend on lawyers to protect them financially, contractually, in some cases to even defend their freedom, their reputation, their very life.
Considering the huge responsibility clients entrust lawyers with, they want to know they are making a good decision. They want to know that the lawyer they choose has produced favorable outcomes for past clients. It’s one of the few reliable indicators available to them that this lawyer or that lawyer excels in their area of practice. This is why reviews are a key component of local SEO.
Start 2021 by getting into the habit of asking for testimonials from every happy client. Ideas to solicit them include:
- Conducting an Exit Interview. A short in-person, phone, or video conference interview can be used to collect testimonials if you ask the right questions. Consider recording the conversation so you can easily transcribe any nice things your client says.
- Send a Follow-Up Survey by Email. Remember, the best time to request a testimonial is immediately after a favorable outcome. That’s when the client is most grateful and most likely to be vocal about it. Include direct links your clients can follow to popular testimonial sites like Google, Yelp, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
PRO TIP: Include links to all relevant testimonial platforms, allowing your audience to pick their favorite. Don’t pick for them in an attempt to consolidate your reviews on one platform for your own convenience. Over time, you will build up testimonial volume across all channels if you allow users to choose the platform they prefer. You can always put the text from testimonials on multiple platforms and highlight them on your website.
- Ask to Share Thank-You Messages that the client might send in writing, by email, or share on social media.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 6: A/B Test your website Calls-To-Action
Also known as “split testing,” A/B testing is the process of testing two different versions of a digital experience and seeing which one works the best. This is an especially powerful tool for lawyers.
Like many entrepreneurs, attorneys often get excited and even stubborn about how they want things to work. However, your clients may have a different idea. An A/B test allows them to tell you that.
Using software automation tools, A/B tests can be run effortlessly. Users randomly see one version or another of the digital experience. Once sufficient data is collected, a clear winner may emerge. The version that converts or engages more users is the one to go with.
One of the best digital experiences to A/B test is the call-to-action (CTA), the part of the digital experience that tells the user what the next step should be and then instructs them to take it.
Consider the different calls to action you could offer to collect a site visitor as a lead. You could:
- Ask them to call you, with a tap-to-dial phone number for mobile browsers on their smartphones.
- Ask them to email you, with a tap-to-send email address
- Ask them to fill out a contact form, with the instruction that an associate will follow up.
- Ask them to book their own consultation, using an automated scheduling app like Calendly, which syncs to your digital calendar and can even create teleconference links.
You may prefer one of these over the others. But why choose for your clients? Split-test different calls-to-action and see which one converts the best. The data won’t lie.
That’s not the end of the A/B testing you can run on your call-to-action. You could split test different wording for the CTA, different placement on the page, even different colors for the text or the “send” button!
There is no end to the experimenting you can do to get the maximum possible user engagement from your page.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 7: Try a retargeting campaign
Retargeting campaigns changed the game when they were first introduced, and they are still going strong. If you haven’t tried one, 2021 is the year to do so.
Retargeting campaigns are all around us whenever we log on. If you have ever browsed a product on an online store, didn’t buy anything, and then ads for that store seem to follow you everywhere you go—Facebook ads, YouTube ads, banner ads, Google search engine results pages—congratulations! You have been retargeted!
The innovation of retargeting is to give you more than one chance to win the business of someone who has visited your website. Before retargeting, if a user left your website without converting, that user was gone for good. It was completely out of your hands as to whether that user would ever return to your site or hear your message again.
Retargeting campaigns use tracking pixels, browser cookies, and other cached data to keep tabs on your visitors. You can then run a campaign that puts your message in front of them across a variety of channels—Facebook, YouTube, Google, Pinterest, etc.
The goal of retargeting campaigns is to maintain “top-of-mind awareness” with your warm market—people who know you exist, but who might not have decided that you are the law firm for them and might still be shopping.
Repeat exposure builds familiarity and trust. If you can target the right message to the right prospect, you might be able to claim the business of clients weeks or even months after they first visit.
Of course, retargeting campaigns can become cloying, even creepy. Make sure to calibrate your campaign to be persistent while avoiding overkill.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 8: Optimize your directory listings
You may be in many directories but don’t even know it. Directories are websites that catalog businesses, like the Yellow Pages of old.
You may have entries in generic directories like Yellowpages.com or Yelp.com, attorney-specific directories like Avvo.com or findlaw.com, even exclusive directories like the local Chamber of Commerce or the American Bar Association websites.
Don’t neglect these directory listings! They serve two crucial functions:
- Potential clients may be using directories to find law firms like yours. As such, you should make sure that your directory listings are up-to-date and unified. If a directory allows you to include a logo, a headshot, a bio, or other text entries, don’t miss out on that opportunity.
Also, make sure your logos, slogans, bios, and other creative assets are unified across your directories. You don’t want a client to find mixed messages or disunified designs when scouting you on multiple directories. Wherever they look for you, they should find consistent imagery and a consistent message. This kind of unity communicates professionalism and reliability.
- Directory listings are an important part of local SEO. Search engines like Google have separate web crawlers that look for local SEO listings. In the case of Google, the goal is to match online directory listings back to your Google My Business (GMB) listing. This is called a “citation”—a mention of your business somewhere on the web that can be correlated with your GMB.
If the web crawlers find many citations for your company, it will give you a higher local ranking. This is how you appear high in local searches—including the “Map Pack,” which appears near the top of every local SERP with your star rating and a tap-to-call phone number. This is some of the most valuable real estate on a Google search.
But you will get no credit for your citations if your directory listings don’t match your GMB. For example, if your GMB lists your brand name as “Jones & Jones, LP,” but a directory listing calls you “Jones And Jones, LP,” you will get no credit on your local SEO because the “&” and the “and” don’t match. Even if the directory listing says “Jones & Jones LP,” that one missing comma cancels the citation. Ditto if your GMB lists your address as “3rd Street” but a directory listing calls it “3rd St.,” “Third Street,” etc.
Web tools exist that can scan the web for directory listings, which you can then track down, claim, and optimize for the maximum impact, both for users and SEO.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 9: Improve your website’s technical SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a multi-variable equation. Different things contribute to your site’s page ranking within popular search engines like Google or Bing.
Some of the biggest contributors to your SEO are:
- Volume of content in your site index.
- How recently your site has been updated.
- Age of the domain.
- Keyword optimization.
- Backlinks (links to your site from other sites).
However, search engines don’t just rely on these qualitative factors to determine a page’s rank. Search engine web crawlers also examine the code of your website in search that you (or your developer) have their act together.
Consider the goal of search engines—they want users to trust their algorithm to deliver relevant, authoritative content that will solve their problems. If a site is slow, confusing, and hard to navigate, the search engine will have failed its users by returning that site high on search engine results pages (SERP).
As such, search engine web crawlers are configured to scan the site code for signs of a potentially frustrating digital experience. Tightening up the code to please these web crawlers is called technical SEO.
Many site vectors contribute to technical SEO. Here are some of the biggies:
- Mobile Friendliness. Search engine crawlers actually look at the mobile version of your site first. If your mobile site is slow or badly optimized, your ranking will suffer.
- Page Load Speed. Users tend to quickly leave slow sites. Search engine web crawlers perform speed tests on your site and downrank sites with slow load speed.
- Easy Navigation. Interlinking your pages, creating a sitemap page, and/or including a robots.txt file in the site index can help the web crawlers find their way around.
- Security. Sites built on secure HTTPS markup language tend to get a better ranking from search engines.
- Proper Header Nesting. An orderly code-level nesting of Title, H1, H2, H3, etc. tags indicates to search engine web crawlers that you have created an orderly user experience.
- Accessibility. Since a landmark 2019 court ruling, websites must be accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Accessible websites accommodate for the hearing, visually, and motor-impaired. Search engine web crawlers are now programmed to take note of this.
Remember, the goal of SEO is for your potential clients to discover your website in organic search results when they enter keywords relevant to your law practice—for example, “Criminal Defense Lawyer in Boston” or “How much does a divorce lawyer cost?” If your code is standing in the way of this happening, fixing it is a no-brainer.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 10: Create a gated white paper around an area of expertise
You might have heard the term “lead magnet” in the context of digital online marketing. The best kind of lead magnet for a law firm is a “gated white paper.”
A “white paper” is similar to an eBook, but it is more academic and authoritative. Making the white paper “gated” means making it accessible behind a “gate”—in this case, a lead-generation gate.
Prospects might follow a search-engine or social-media ad to a landing page that promises free access to a white paper—if they enter their email address or other contact info. Once the contact info is entered, they get routed to a download page, or the white paper is emailed to the lead as an attachment. That’s the gate.
The importance of the lead magnet is the permission implied by the lead turning over their contact information. Laws like the CAN-SPAM Act prohibit cold email campaigns. The lead has to have given you their contact information willingly in a process called an “opt-in.”
Gated white papers work because users get a fair exchange in return for their “opt-in” permission to email them. They get access to the white paper--so make sure it is readable and full of valuable information! As with content marketing, the actual writing of the white paper can be delegated or outsourced.
Once you have built an email list with your gated white paper, you can use the contact information you gathered to create a segmented email campaign, as described above. You can also send out individual emails or do follow-up calls and SMS texts if they furnish their phone number.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 11: Work smarter on social media
Most attorneys know that social media can be a powerful tool to create brand recognition, but they don’t have the time or expertise to make social media work for them.
2021 is the perfect time to finally harness your social media presence to stay top-of-mind for your potential clients. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, this is a task that can be delegated, outsourced, automated, and/or systematized.
Consider setting a posting schedule for your social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.—so that your following is constantly reminded of your existence and your expertise.
Consider using a bulk posting app like Hootsuite or Buffer to unify and simplify postings across multiple accounts.
Remember that each social platform is different. Even if you use the same content across multiple platforms, you will need to make adjustments for the specific platform—links for Facebook, hashtags for Instagram, etc.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 12: Hire a fractional CMO
For those who haven’t heard the term, “CMO” is short for Chief Marketing Officer. In large enterprises, the CMO is a senior manager on the level of the CEO, CFO, COO, and CTO.
Needless to say, marketing professionals who rise to the level of CMO know their stuff and command high salaries. Payscale.com pegs the median base salary of a CMO at just south of $174,000, not including benefits and equity in the company.
Of course, a majority of legal practice is done by small law firms, many of which don’t have an extra $174,000 burning a hole in petty cash to devote to payroll. Hiring a full-time CMO is out of the reach of most attorney practices.
What many smaller law firms can afford, on the other hand, is a fractional CMO. Fractional chief officer services are actually nothing new, with fractional CFO, CTO, and COO services on the market for decades.
A fractional CMO affords attorneys the services of an experienced CMO, for a fraction of the cost and without the long-term commitment. Click To Tweet A fractional CMO may work for multiple companies at a time, helping wind up each company’s marketing apparatus like a Swiss watch.
Each company only pays the fractional CMO for the portion of the executive’s time they actually use. This could be 10-20 hours per week, with contracts running anywhere from three months to twelve months (or beyond).
In addition to saving money on a full-time salary, a law firm can hire the services of a world-class CMO for a finite period, without the expectation of an ongoing commitment. The fractional CMO also doesn’t get benefits or company equity, another way in which a fractional CMO saves money compared to a full-time CMO.
Of course, eventually, the CMO also leaves. Does this mean the marketing efforts spearheaded by the CMO fall apart? Not if the fractional CMO does his/her job well. Part of the mandate of a fractional CMO is to train the firm’s marketing department (or whoever wears that hat in your firm) to continue the marketing initiatives after the fractional CMO’s contract is up.
That’s the biggest value the fractional CMO brings to the table—leadership, borne of experience. If your marketing efforts lack cohesiveness, a fractional CMO may be the answer.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 13: Create authoritative, optimized content on your website
One of the most effective marketing tactics for attorneys to deploy in 2021 is content marketing.
Content marketing is the practice of creating content that answers questions users are performing online searches to answer. Various online tools and tricks can be used to find out what search terms users are entering into search engines like Google—including search terms related to your field of specialty.
Content marketing is a form of SEO, but it’s not the same thing as trying to rank for the keyword “Best Divorce Lawyer in Chicago.”
It’s trying to rank for a search term like “What should I do to protect my assets in a divorce?” or “How should I prepare for my custody hearing?”
A law firm can utilize the blog on its website, or other online publishing platforms, to answer those exact questions. In fact, the questions make great blog titles.
If you use the blog on your branded website as the hub of your content marketing, this also helps your SEO in general. Search engine algorithms tend to uprank websites that have a large volume of content, especially if the content was added recently. Conversely, the algorithms interpret minimal content and infrequent updates as a lack of authority.
Of course, few attorneys have the time to write a lengthy blog post every day, to say nothing of every week. However, the writing and posting of the content can be delegated to a team member or even outsourced to a freelancer.
Once visitors start to find your content and associate your brand with the answers they need, they are more likely to request a consultation. If nothing else, you maintain top-of-mind awareness—which is the entire point of marketing.
If you use tracking pixels, you can even remarket to your site visitors who take no action or build lookalike audiences to target digital ads to.
While keeping a blog may not seem like a sophisticated feat of marketing, over time content marketing generates three times the results of a similar financial commitment to paid search (Google Ads, etc.).
Lawyer Marketing Idea 14: Guest post on relevant industry websites
Some legal websites, forums, and blogs pay contributors for their guest posts, but there are good reasons to do a guest post even if you don’t get paid for your contribution.
For one thing, it’s a powerful angle similar to content marketing. A major industry website may have more domain authority than your business webpage. Your own blog posts may have a hard time ranking on SERPs, but a guest post on a high-authority website may turn up easily.
Although it is not your branded page, you get to include your branding in the article byline, including avenues of contact. Even if readers don’t convert to leads immediately, they will start to become familiar with your name, building trust in your brand as an authority in your area of legal practice.
Additionally, guest-posting can be a powerful SEO tool. Online industry publications often include a link to your business website. Especially if the website has significant domain authority, this is a powerful backlink, contributing significant authority to your own domain and making your pages more likely to turn up in organic search results.
Remember, search engine web crawlers interpret backlinks as “votes” for the authority of your website. A backlink from another high-authority website is like a vote from a celebrity or a top influencer.
Consider reaching out to relevant publications and offering to do a guest post. Many publications are looking for content and will be happy to oblige. PR firms can also help you obtain guest-posting opportunities.
If you don’t have time to write a guest post, you can delegate or outsource the writing, just as with content marketing.
Lawyer Marketing Idea 15: Revamp your LinkedIn presence
LinkedIn has become an increasingly important marketing platform for professional service providers. If you have not put effort into your personal or business LinkedIn profile, it’s time to do so.
Many professionals have haphazardly-assembled LinkedIn profiles that read like a jumbled resume, with a mishmash of styles and presentation tactics.
Take the time to update your LinkedIn. Add your best headshot and include a banner image. Optimize your headline, introduction, associations, and highlights.
Make sure your pictures, text, and imagery align with what visitors will find on your website, your Facebook page, your Avvo page, and any other places people might encounter your brand. Preview your LinkedIn to make sure no part of it is ugly or confusing.
If parts of the profile contain lengthy text that gets cut off by a “see more” accordion expander, consider shortening the text so it all fits in the “at-a-glance” view. Make sure no important information is accordion-hidden.
The profile is not the only way to use LinkedIn, either. You can use updates like social media posts or publish articles like a blog. Used correctly, LinkedIn can be just as valuable of a marketing tool—if not more so—as your law firm website.
The best attorneys know that the law is a calling, a sacred trust, and a high obligation. Lawyers who believe in their calling owe it to themselves to let their message reach the eyes and ears that need it the most. With the best marketing practices of 2021, there is no limit to an attorney’s ability to reach that audience with that message.
If you are a lawyer or law firm looking for help with your marketing efforts, contact DAP today.