2020 Law Firm Marketing Guide

Law firm marketing strategies used to be simple—put your name in the phone book, be well known in your community, and you had a thriving practice. But if you’re feeling the squeeze of not having enough growth in your firm, inconsistent leads, or struggling to compete with other firms, changing your law firm marketing strategies is a necessity.

With 1.3 million active attorneys in the United States as of 2018, according to the ABA, the last decade saw a 15% increase in the number of practicing lawyers. Competition is only increasing for clients searching for legal services. Having a strong law firm marketing plan can be the difference between your firm’s success and failure.

If you’re struggling to get clients as a lawyer and don’t know how to market your law firm successfully, we’ve created this law firm marketing guide to help you identify the best marketing strategies for law firms that can work for you.

We also offer free consultations if you’d like an expert opinion on marketing strategies that may help your firm the most effectively.

1. Establish Your Marketing Goals & Law Firm Marketing Plan

The most important part of how to get clients as a lawyer is to make a marketing plan that helps move the needle on your biggest goals. Instead of jumping straight into marketing your law firm, you need to take some steps to plan your attorney marketing strategies to make them as effective as possible.

Without a marketing plan, your firm can easily waste money on the wrong audience, the wrong messaging, or the wrong goals that won’t help you gain the success you want.

A marketing plan can help your law firm reduce marketing costs, more easily get the right kinds of clients, and better achieve your law firm growth goals.

We advise taking these steps to develop a marketing plan for your law firm:

  • Get a clear vision of what success looks like for your law firm.
  • Create a measurement plan to track conversions and make sure your marketing is working.
  • Identify what your best clients look like and what makes a case more lucrative for you to develop a client persona—or who your marketing will target.
  • Determine what sets your law firm apart from your competitors and what unique value you bring to clients.
  • Get client intake in order to make sure that you don’t miss opportunities because of poor customer service before they sign.
  • Make sure you have a clear brand for your law firm, including logos, marketing messaging tone, and visual assets.

Once you’ve created a marketing plan for your law firm, you’re ready to start implementing marketing strategies for lawyers.

2. Get your Law Firm Website in Order

Marketing your practice in today’s legal landscape requires a law firm website. But so many lawyers overlook this essential element to their marketing success. The most successful law firms don’t have to have the most innovative or best attorney marketing ideas to be successful. Instead, they often have the best websites with a cohesive overall marketing strategy they execute very well.

Your firm’s website acts as the hub for all of the channels in your legal services marketing plan. It’s where you direct potential clients from all of your SEO, ads, social media, and other online marketing tactics. If your practice’s website doesn’t meet minimum standards, you’ll easily waste money on marketing.

There is a minimum standard all websites need to meet to a successful marketing tool—and a staggering amount of lawyers ignore their website at their peril. Every law firm website needs to have these essential elements:

  • Works on mobile devices
  • Loads quickly, ideally in under 1 second
  • Easy to use & navigate
  • Looks trustworthy and doesn’t look outdated
  • Meets technical requirements from search engines to show up in search results

Without these website essentials, it’s very hard to succeed. If a potential client visits your website and it’s slow, doesn’t work on their smartphone, or is hard to use, they’re not likely to reach out to hire you as their lawyer.

A quality law firm website doesn’t necessarily need to be complex or expensive but needs to have basic essentials that make your law firm able to recoup your investment in marketing. We offer affordable law firm website packages that make the process easy to get a website that meets necessary requirements.

3. Build your law firm’s SEO to get free leads

Today, more and more consumers are searching in Google for legal representation. According to Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report, search engines are the top way people find an attorney to hire, only slightly less than asking for a referral from someone they know. Your firm’s visibility in search engines is one of the most important parts of how to market yourself as an attorney as a result.

SEO is the practice of getting a website to rank higher in search engines. For many lawyers, SEO is a mystery—or may even seem like a scam because of so many unsolicited, spammy phone calls from questionable SEO companies.

However, quality SEO is a legitimate, ethical way to increase your law firm’s search engine rankings. To get started, these are some of the best strategies we recommend lawyers use:

  • Optimize your attorney bios
  • Optimize your practice area pages
  • Write optimized blog content to help you rank for long-tail terms
  • Build online authority with links back to your site
  • Build up local SEO

While you can do SEO on your own, it’s a high-level skill that even experienced digital marketers often fail at. Choosing the right SEO company to work with for your law firm is the key to success with SEO that many lawyers overlook.

4. Set Up Lawyer Advertising

While not all lawyer marketing strategies require advertising to succeed, ads can play a pivotal role in your legal marketing success. Lawyers need to be particularly cautious about advertising and make sure their advertisements and methods meet ethical standards.

Google Ads

Pay per click advertising is dominated by Google Ads and allows your firm to buy traffic to your website. Unlike traditional advertising, PPC ads only incur advertising costs when someone clicks on your ad.

Google Ads are extremely effective for law firms to advertise to highly targeted audiences, both through showing ads for specific search as well as other targeting information, including demographics.

However, the cost of a click can be expensive for law firms when compared to other industries. It’s important that your law firm prioritizes quality advertising techniques to reduce wasted ad costs.

A quality Google advertising campaign focuses on these four key elements:

  • Great ad copy
  • Great bid strategy
  • Great keywords balanced with SEO
  • Landing Pages optimized for conversions

Due to high click costs and a steep learning curve, lawyers tend to get a better return on their investment when working with a legal advertising agency, rather than trying to do it themselves.

Social media ads

A newer technology for legal advertising, social media ads are quickly becoming a good opportunity for law firms to gain new clients. With lower costs for advertising and better targeting options than traditional advertising, social media ads can help your law firm cultivate leads and build your reputation.

Facebook and Instagram advertising are the most popular social media advertising platforms and we’ve had great success helping our clients with Facebook ads. However, law firms should consider who they’re trying to target before starting a social media ad campaign and what social media their target audience uses.

For instance, if you’re a criminal defense attorney, Facebook and Instagram may be a great platform. But a tax attorney is likely better suited to advertising on LinkedIn.

The keys to success with social media ads involves four parts:

  • Correct targeting
  • Correct type of social media ad campaign
  • Engaging ad copy and media
  • Landing page optimization

Working with a social media company that specializes in law firm advertising can help you navigate the complexities of social media advertising for lawyers.

Advanced Legal Advertising Techniques: Remarketing & Retargeting & Geofencing

If you want to go even further with your legal advertising strategies to improve your marketing, advanced techniques can effectively increase your conversions and reduce your advertising costs per new client.

Retargeting is a paid advertising strategy that is popular with ecommerce. You’ve likely seen retargeting ads when you’ve done online shopping when products you looked at follow you in ads across websites. These kinds of ads increase the number of times a potential client sees your firm, which can increase the likelihood of becoming a client—as well, this is typically a very cheap advertising method when compared to PPC and social media ads.

Remarketing focuses on email marketing strategies to customize marketing messages through interactions and additional information. Remarketing requires an email marketing list and advanced website implementation and is usually used for referral sources for law firms more than direct to legal consumer marketing.

Geofencing allows you to show ads based on locations, which can be used to target people who are in or who have recently been in a specific area. Ethical rules vary by jurisdiction so if you’re considering using geofencing, be sure to understand the ethical implications of geofenced ads.

Working with a marketing partner to help you use these legal advertising strategies requires that they understand the unique needs of lawyers in regards to ethics. Some of the techniques that are commonly used in marketing for other industries can violate ethical rules in sme jurisdictions.

5. Get On Social Media

Social media is often hit or miss for law firms in terms of directly cultivating new clients. Instead, marketing on social media tends to focus on building your firm’s reputation, cultivating referral sources, and building relationships with potential clients on a long term basis.

The first step to getting started with effective social media marketing for your law firm is to identify the right social platforms based on your target demographic. For instance, if your law firm targets business professionals as referral sources, LinkedIn may be a better social media platform than Facebook for your goals. If your target audience is younger, Instagram may be a better platform.

Social media serves to build an audience of engaged followers, which can be difficult for law firms to accomplish. Remember, vanity metrics like how many people follow your law firm are less important than how many leads your social media produces.

We recommend that all law firms take a basic approach to social media, including:

  • Claim profiles on social media platforms
  • Keep branding consistent across platforms and complete profiles
  • Use a social media management tool to keep messaging consistent
  • Measure your results in terms of what dictates success for your firm, not just likes

Above all, remember that if you are using social media ads, having an active profile can help increase conversions from ads as many potential clients will check out your profile before contacting you if they engage with an ad.

6. Reputation Management & PR

Being influential in your community or respected by others in the legal industry are just two of a handful of benefits you can gain by having a law firm with a great reputation. Your law firm’s reputation not only helps you gain more clients but also helps you build better referral sources and help you achieve less tangible goals you may have for your law firm.

But building up your firm’s reputation isn’t just about your successful cases or financial success. Improving how others perceive your firm comes down to how you interact with the general public, how you utilize unpaid media, and how well your firm uses firm accomplishments to get media attention.

A reputation marketing and PR plan for your firm can make the difference between being a great firm with a lackluster reputation and a powerhouse in your practice areas and community.

  • Build positive reviews of your firm on Google My Business, Bing, Yelp, and other review platforms
  • Develop relationships with media outlets to act as an expert for media questions on legal issues
  • Keep up to date with news-worthy stories in your firm and have a plan in place to market those stories to media outlets
  • Provide training for lawyers who will participate in media appearances so they’re prepared for how to work with media outlets while maintaining ethics and confidentiality

PR was once a stand-alone marketing channel that only the biggest law firms could afford but with the advent of digital marketing, more and more law firms are finding ways to use earned media placements to their advantage.

Beyond building awareness about your law firm and building your reputation, PR can also have a positive effect on SEO and is hard for your competitors to replicate, making your firm’s top rankings even more securely positioned.

7. Improve Law Firm Referrals with Digital Marketing

One area often overlooked when it comes to law firm marketing ideas is how to reimagine referral sources in a digital era. Internet marketing strategies for lawyers tend to focus on cultivating new cases directly from the people hiring your firm—but some of the best ways to use digital marketing is to instead cultivate better relationships with your referral sources.

You can improve your referrals with some innovative attorney marketing tips, including:

  • Use a customer relationship management system (CRM) to better nurture referral sources
  • Use email newsletters to cultivate relationships with referral sources and stay top of mind
  • Build private groups on social media to create a community of referral sources and build thought leadership
  • Use influencer marketing tactics to “borrow” someone else’s audience to target your ideal customers
  • Make connecting with others easier with VCards and apps that make contact sharing quick and easy

Referrals are often seen as something that needs a personal touch or to be cultivated with in-person connections. While personal connections are invaluable, lawyers only have so much time in the day and digital can help you be in multiple places at once to stay top of mind and get more referrals more easily.

Digital Marketing for Lawyers Can Work For You

With the right planning and law firm marketing strategy, digital marketing can work for your law firm. Success at getting new clients for your firm comes down to making sure that your marketing plan is right for your goals, you have the key strategies implemented correctly, and the quality of your marketing matches what your ideal clients’ expectations.

Above all, marketing tends to fail when it’s poorly executed or the messaging doesn’t resonate with the target audience. If you’re ready to start developing your law firm marketing plan, bringing in a partner with experience in marketing law practices can make all the difference in your success.

We offer free initial consultations to help you find which marketing strategies are best for your law firm and help you better understand what marketing can do to help increase your clients. Contact us today to find out how we can help you grow your firm.

Kim Herrington

Kim Herrington is Creative Director of Orsanna where she leads the production and strategy for clients' marketing and advertising. She founded Orsanna over seven years ago to bring quality marketing services to business owners.