Last year, the American Bar Association sent the Marketing & Communication portion of its annual Legal Technology Survey Report to over 10,700 lawyers at firms large and small. According to the ABA website, the 2019 survey results show lawyers are not taking an intentional approach to marketing, especially online marketing.
Rather, the association says, they appear to be guilty of “random acts of marketing.” As Search Engine Journal explains, online marketing is the practice of using the internet to promote products and services, generate leads, and drive sales. It’s not only highly effective, but it’s also much less expensive than standard advertising methods such as website banners, TV commercials, radio spots, billboards, and cold calls.
Online Marketing Overview
Let’s explore five top online marketing tools:
- Social media (paid and organic/unpaid)
- Electronic newsletters
- Content marketing
- Search engine marketing
This is the #1 channel for law firms of all sizes by far. The ABA says 41% of survey respondents use it. Generally, attorneys like email for online marketing because they can track and analyze its performance. If an eblast generates a lackluster response, something as simple as switching up the subject line and sending it out a second time can improve the open rate.
So, what if you haven’t created an email database? You can easily build one in an Excel spreadsheet, entering information from business cards you collect from individuals you meet at networking events or trade shows.
Are you planning an event at your firm, such as an open house, anytime soon? Drop your prospects and clients a line to let them know.
Our next suggestion may surprise you. If your audience is people age 55 and older, follow up your online marketing campaign with a direct mail invitation. Here’s why: that ABA marketing survey we mentioned earlier found direct mail is the third most popular form of marketing by attorneys, used by 19% of survey respondents.
Plus, experience has shown us that while baby boomers do indeed have smartphones and actively use them, they also check their mailboxes frequently. In fact, some do it every day!
Without a doubt, social media is a great way to engage with prospective and current clients. There are many types of ways to connect on social media. Facebook is the most popular online marketing channel for businesses to reach consumers. The ABA reports that among law firms across the board, it ranks second in usage after email, at 30%.
Do keep in mind that social media is designed for relationship building. If all you do is post-sales pitches, you will not attract a following. The general rule of thumb is, 80% of your content should be educational, entertaining, and useful; and 20% should be promotional. In addition, it’s important with online marketing to respond to positive and negative comments made by visitors. This shows you are paying attention and tells the person making the comment they are being heard.
If and when a client praises you or your firm, thank them for their loyalty. On the other hand, if a client has a problem, acknowledge it on the site publicly – then make it right privately.
Finally, social media is a good place to solicit testimonials, whether you let visitors recommend your business on the site, or by using direct messaging (DM).
By sending a periodic newsletter with information helpful to prospects and existing clients, you can establish and maintain a connection with them. Again, the content should be mostly educational and informational in nature. Go easy on the sales pitches.
Do your best to keep to a regular distribution schedule, so subscribers know when to expect it. And between newsletters, if a time-sensitive issue relevant to your audience arises, shoot them a quick “heads up” email.
Most people should appreciate this, as it will make them feel they’re being kept in the loop.
Also referred to as inbound marketing, content marketing is the opposite of traditional advertising. With this type of online marketing, you’re creating and distributing information of value to your target audience to draw them in, rather than pushing out sales messages.
It’s another way to pique their interest and eventually, turn them into clients.
Your goal should be to provide answers to their questions and solutions to their problems, suggests the Content Marketing Institute. This can help grow your caseload and turn existing clients into supporters who, in turn, refer others to your firm.
Another way to use content marketing is to promote your win rates for clients. Since your successes are unique to your firm, they will help you stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Know your terminology
Did you notice that some of the online marketing strategies presented here have more than one name?
- Digital marketing and internet marketing
- Content marketing and inbound marketing
- Organic traffic and unpaid traffic
The same applies to search marketing. As Search Engine Land notes, what was once called search engine marketing, or SEM, is now known within the industry as a type of search marketing.
There are three elements of search marketing: search engine marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). While SEO is the process of developing traffic organically, SEM is used to gain website traffic through paid ads on search engines.
A form of SEM, PPC works by placing an ad on a platform such as Google Ads and Bing Ads and paying Google or Bing (or both) each time somebody clicks on it.
This online marketing tactic is designed to direct the person to click through to your website, where they can find valuable information and take a desired action.
In-house or outsource?
Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, is your practice prepared to launch an online marketing effort and reap the rewards?
It takes dedicated resources to do it effectively – tools, time, and most importantly, people.
If you’re not able to support an online marketing strategy in-house, or prefer to let a marketing partner do it, LeadingResponse delivers over one million pre-qualified leads to legal services clients each year.
We track campaign metrics and adjust our tactics to make sure we’re generating only the highest-quality leads for you. When you choose LeadingResponse, you can spend your time serving your clients and growing your practice.
Learn more about how our attorney marketing solutions can help you find and close more cases.