For small firms looking to establish their corner of the legal services market, getting the firm’s name and expertise in front of potential clients should be a top priority.
Still, some firms and solo practitioners struggle with advertising their services. To gain some insight on how small firms can best make themselves known, Above the Law spoke with several legal marketing professionals with decades of combined experience in the field.
Their advice? Be current and consistent with your online presence, and don’t forget that the best marketing plans keep multiple irons in the fire. Read on to learn more about how to incorporate these tactics at your own firm.
Letting Your Blog Lapse
One of the most frequent mistakes small firms make, according to several legal marketing professionals, is failing to maintain a curated, strategic blog.
A small law firm’s blog, when used correctly, can be a wonderful tool for providing essential education about the legal services offered by the firm while also building a sales pipeline, according to legal marketer Joe Karasin of Karasin PPC.
Educational posts target what Karasin calls “informational” search terms — phrases like “How do I get a divorce?” or “Should I file for bankruptcy?”.
To really boost a firm’s credibility as an educational source, attorneys at small firms can also place a greater emphasis on incorporating media outreach into the firm’s marketing strategy as a supplement to attorney-written blog content.
Once a potential client feels they’ve done all the research necessary on the legal matter they’re facing — and likely concluded that a professional would handle it better — their search terms will begin to reflect a readiness to actually hire an attorney, according to Karasin.
This is where the second type of blog post comes in, he says, targeting these “transactional” search terms like “hire a bankruptcy attorney near me.”
Karasin recommends creating what he calls a “money page” for this portion of the sales pipeline. A money page is a search-engine-friendly page on the firm’s website that “sums up all the stuff [the client] needs to know and makes the argument ‘Hey, you need to get your consultation with us,’” he says.
Mismanaging SEO and Pay-Per-Click Marketing
In addition to just maintaining a blog, small law firms should keep search engine optimization (SEO) at top of mind when ideating and drafting blog content.
“Blogging is going to be the most optimal way to start ranking for keywords quickly,” Karasin says. “As long as you’re blogging with the right structure, data, markup, et cetera, you’ll start to see that rank improve over time for these kinds of more valuable search terms.”
Keyword targeting becomes a bit more hands on when it comes to pay-per-click (PPC) marketing.
“When I advise small firms that use Google I find that they have many so-called ‘leads’ but a very low conversion rate,” says Shavon Jones, chief content officer at Sales for Lawyers. “The most common reason the leads don’t convert into paying clients is poor targeting.”
Jones sees the standard practices used by Google’s ad business as the main cause for that poor targeting due to the tech giant’s lack of precision when it comes to finding a firm’s ideal potential client.
“Have confidence that you know your customer better than Google does. Choose your own ad words after spending time creating a client avatar (i.e., a detailed description of your ideal client),” she says.
Karasin takes things a step further, asserting that manual keyword bidding is the only way to go for small firms looking to make the most of their PPC marketing efforts.
Neglecting Your Google Business Profile
“Business owners should know how to update and maintain their Google Business Profiles (GBP) according to Google’s best practices,” explains Madi McMaster, director of community outreach at BluShark Digital.
For those not in the know, a GBP is a free tool from the company used for managing how a business (or small law firm) will appear on search results pages and other Google services.
“Routine GBP checks ensure that your business information is up-to-date and helpful to prospective clients,” McMaster adds. “Filling the GBP out with applicable services, service areas, products and posts can keep your business profile active and help generate leads.”
McMaster advises small law firms to keep up with changes to Google’s advertising and SEO algorithms to improve their competitiveness in the digital marketing space.
“Monitoring Google news can give a better understanding of what Google is prioritizing in search results and how this may affect leads, website traffic and conversion rates,” she says. “Staying up to date with Google updates provides opportunities for your business to stay ahead of the competition.”
Putting Your Eggs in One Basket
Building a marketing strategy that can reach potential clients is an essential part of developing new business, according to Jones.
“Marketing research shows that unless the lawyer comes recommended by a trusted source, a prospect needs to hear about the lawyer in three different ways before they will engage you,” she says.
“Ads should be supplemented with other forms of marketing such as blog posts or social media articles, event marketing, media appearances, or an interactive website with live chat, detailed customer reviews, infographics, and other content.”
It’s important to remember that each of these seemingly separate strategies can be used to support the others.
For example, photos from an event hosted by the firm can make great social media content, and media quotes or appearances can be featured on the firm’s website and social media profiles.
Media appearances also often present an opportunity to expand on or explain a particular legal issue in further detail in a blog post, says Newsroom Public Relations CEO Howard Breur.
“Some firms will post a link to a news story that they think is interesting which, to me, is a small step in the right direction,” he says.
“Better to break down the story and discuss your opinions on it and address some issues that the reporter may have missed. A step above that would be to make this a link to a blog post on your website — so now you’re driving traffic to your site as opposed to just trying to keep the visitor on your social media page.”
Ethan Beberness is a Brooklyn-based writer covering legal tech, small law firms, and in-house counsel for Above the Law. His coverage of legal happenings and the legal services industry has appeared in Law360, Bushwick Daily, and elsewhere.