Standing out is hard to do in the legal industry. And it might seem impossible for your law firm, depending on your firm’s location, size, practice areas, and age.
This is where a legal marketing plan comes into play. A successful marketing plan, regardless of the size of your law firm, can help you stand out from the competition and help clients find you. A lawyer’s marketing plan will serve as your law firm’s road map to long-term growth. By creating a plan, your law firm will build repeatable, consistent processes while eliminating guesswork regarding its developmental goals.
To properly visualize future growth, it’s critical that your law firm establish a marketing plan. A typical legal marketing plan covers topics like social media, blogging, SEO, and digital marketing and advertising. Of course, it can be tricky to decide where to invest your firm’s resources and money, especially if you’re just starting out. Keep in mind that your firm’s marketing plan will vary based on its budget, size, and stage in the business development process.
Whether your firm is new or old, big or small, we promise that developing a legal marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated or painful! This article will walk you through what you need to know to get your plan in motion.
What are some key legal marketing terms?
Before we get too deep, you need to get the basics down pat. So, we recommend starting by reviewing this glossary of key marketing terms.
Call to action (CTA)
A CTA entices your lead to take the next step. CTAs typically come in the form of dynamic and relevant phrases or buttons that encourage website readers to “contact us now” or “click here for more information.” CTAs are intended to make it easy for website visitors and other leads to get more information or contact your firm.
At its core, your conversion rate helps evaluate the effectiveness of your law firm’s website. Your conversion rate is the ratio of people who visit your firm’s website (or click on an ad) to people who convert into a lead. With the right reporting tools, your law firm can track how long a visitor stays on the firm’s website, which pages they view the most, which pages have the highest bounce rates (visitors leaving the site), which visits result from organic searches, and how many visitors turn into leads.
Landing pages are webpages created for specific marketing campaigns. These relatively simple pages have just one goal: converting visitors into leads. Generally, a visitor arrives at a landing page after they click on a link from a marketing email or an ad from a search engine or social media post. For this reason, landing pages are a powerful targeting tool.
Lead and lead generation
Put simply, a lead is a potential client — someone who can benefit from your law firm’s expert legal advice and who is willing to pay for that advice. When we use the term “generate a lead,” we mean catching a potential client’s attention. For more details, see our lawyer’s guide to lead generation.
Pay per click (PPC) and pay per lead (PPL)
With PPC advertising, your law firm will pay for the number of clicks it receives. Generally, your law firm’s ad pops up, someone clicks it, and then your firm pays for the click. It seems simple, but getting the best results from PPC requires a sound strategy and regular re-evaluation of that strategy.
With PPL advertising, the amount your law firm pays for an ad depends on the number of leads acquired from the ad. Usually, with a PPL agreement, your law firm will set the parameters of what constitutes a lead and will pay only when those specific requirements are met.
Return on investment (ROI)
ROI is a performance metric. When your law firm puts money into an investment (like a marketing plan), ROI helps your firm understand its profit or loss from that investment. A popular tool used in connection with calculating marketing ROI is Google Analytics. Many businesses use an ROI formula of subtracting marketing expenses from sales growth and then dividing the balance by marketing costs.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is the practice of optimizing a website to boost its online visibility. To improve your visibility, you must make your website relevant to users’ searches. That means your website content has to reflect the terms that users type into the Google search bar. The more relevant your content is to a user’s search terms, the more likely it is that your content will appear at the top of a Google search page.
What are some steps toward developing a law firm marketing plan?
Although each law firm will differ based on its individual needs, you should keep in mind the following four steps to ensure that your law firm’s marketing plan is a successful one. (We’ll get into the nitty gritty of common marketing practices in the legal space later.)
1. Knowing your law firm
The first step of developing a legal marketing plan is figuring out your law firm’s current positioning and core messaging. Your core messaging should address your clientele and emphasize your firm’s strengths. With a clearer idea of where your law firm stands, it’ll be easier to determine its trajectory.
As you get started, you may find it helpful to outline the types of legal services that your law firm offers, including its practice areas. Questions to begin with should include the following:
- What type of clients does your law firm usually serve?
- How many clients do you serve per year?
- What are your law firm’s strengths?
- What are your firm’s weaknesses?
The answers to these questions will help you determine your lawyer marketing strategy.
2. Defining your target client
Defining your target audience is pivotal to developing the foundation of your firm’s marketing plan. Without identifying the folks who might need your law firm’s services, it’s hard to know how to tailor your marketing activities. Having a good understanding of who they are will help focus your law firm’s marketing efforts.
Important factors to consider regarding your target clients include geographical location, age, gender, income, and occupation. If businesses are your law firm’s bread and butter, consider your typical client’s size, geographical location, and industry.
3. Defining your marketing goals
The key question to ask is what you want your law firm’s marketing plan to do. We recommend thinking in terms of three-, six-, and twelve-month increments. Set SMART goals for each of these timeframes.
Factors to consider when defining your goals include the number of new clients you want, the number of retained clients you expect, the firm’s projected and current revenue, the firm’s practice area expertise, and the number of team members you plan to hire and retain. To envision your goals, you should consider questions like these:
- Is your firm focused on generating new leads?
- Do you want to expand your firm into a new state or practice area?
- How much of a concern is your firm’s bottom line?
Once you’ve determined your law firm’s marketing goals, you can decide where to focus your efforts and how to get the most out of the capital that you spend on marketing.
4. Executing on your goals
When devising your firm’s legal marketing plan, consider who at your firm will be in charge of marketing and who will be on your marketing team. We highly recommend outsourcing the legwork to marketing agency experts who can help you craft and implement your legal marketing strategy (and who won’t blow your budget).
Remember to keep your target client in mind when determining the right marketing channels. For example, if you practice elder law, a Twitter campaign might not be the most fruitful channel. However, if your firm practices in the technology space, a LinkedIn campaign might be the right place to advertise.
How can your firm measure the success of its marketing efforts?
Regardless of your firm’s marketing plan, it’s important to keep your eye on the prize (your marketing goal, that is). To do this, you’ll need to monitor certain data. Without doing so, your firm won’t be able to determine which of its efforts are winners and which might be losers. If some of your initiatives don’t achieve the desired outcomes, it’s okay to adjust! That’s the whole point of measuring. We’ll also note that you’ll likely be updating your marketing plan over time as you refine your law firm’s goals.
We recommend tracking and measuring the following marketing performance indicators. (Better yet, make them part of your law firm’s regular reporting process.)
Source of clients
Your law firm should track data about how newly acquired clients learned about the firm (e.g., from your firm’s website, social media, word of mouth, or referral). You can start by simply asking clients how they heard of you or including it in your client questionnaire at the start of the engagement. We recommend reviewing this data bimonthly and adjusting your cadence as needed.
Client retention and referrals
Your law firm should also be tracking client retention and referrals specifically. By creating an internal system for tracking client retention and referral data, administrators gain valuable awareness of firm performance. Happy clients stay on, and they tell their friends.
As discussed above, your conversion rate is a key indicator of how well your firm’s website is performing. We recommend running this report three to four times a year so you can evaluate and adjust your firm’s website. Your firm’s website is an integral part of its marketing plan.
Return on investment (ROI)
Your law firm’s revenue growth provides a look into the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. By comparing the amount of increased revenue with marketing costs, your administrators will feel empowered to make informed decisions about the firm’s marketing plan and tactics.
Note that it can be deceptive to directly attribute sales growth to a marketing campaign. However, by reviewing your ROI monthly, your firm can gain some helpful insight into a campaign’s success.
What are some common marketing practices in the legal space?
Your firm’s growth will be driven by your marketing plan. Below are a few marketing tactics to get your law firm started.
Content marketing and strategy
Content marketing is the process of creating quality content that showcases your law firm’s work, practice areas, and lawyers and sharing it with intention through multiple mediums. To build a long-lasting online presence, your firm needs to integrate content marketing into its overall marketing tactics.
To get started, we recommend asking what questions your target audience and leads might have. For example:
- How does New York law address personal injury lawsuits for slips and falls?
- How do I handle estate planning without a will?
- What does my state’s family law say about joint custody?
Then create regular content addressing these questions, such as blog posts, social media posts, videos, and even webinars. This content will grow your directories and gain your law firm new business.
Your law firm marketing strategy should also include building new landing pages. A landing page should be persuasive and move your visitor to take a specific action, like signing up for a newsletter highlighting positive past client testimonials and recent wins and case studies from particular law practices. We highly recommend outsourcing the legwork to the marketing experts.
Website optimization and SEO
The best content marketing strategy will generate new leads, engage prospective clients, and boost your law firm SEO. While the content your firm produces should, of course, be legally and factually correct, it should also be optimized for search engines. Your firm’s website should include dynamic and relevant CTA buttons to make it simple for prospective clients to become paying clients.
Boosting your website’s online visibility is a top priority. As we noted above, the more relevant your firm’s content is to a user’s search terms, the more likely that your content will appear at the top of search results.
SEO is also measured by the quality of your firm’s website. When assessing the quality of your site, consider its layout, accessibility, keywords used, quality and quantity of traffic, backlinks, and even the quality of written content. Overall, your firm’s website should feature a clean and interesting web design, high-quality photos and content, and information on how to get into contact and follow up with your law office (including your address, email, and phone number).
Local SEO is also an essential online marketing strategy. Your law firm likely practices in a specific geographical area where it wants to generate leads. Optimizing your firm’s Google Maps, Google My Business, and Yelp presence can help establish your firm as the reputable, go-to law firm in the community.
Social media marketing and campaigns
Social media is an effective and low-cost marketing tool for your law firm. We recommend starting with Facebook, a Google Business Profile, and LinkedIn. Through a friendly and robust social media presence, you’ll encourage prospective clients to get in contact with you by demystifying the legal process. In addition, with a solid social media presence, your law firm can engage directly with current clients and leads, marketing its expertise while building stronger community relationships.
Your firm can purchase paid advertisements like PPCs, PPLs, and Google ads or you can post organic advertisements on your firm’s social media page. As with your overall content strategy, your firm’s social media posts should be helpful, legally sound, visually appealing, and link directly to your firm’s website to capture any leads. While there are many marketing services, we recommend the services of an A+ marketing team to get your firm started on its social media campaign.
Email marketing is another cost-effective and useful tool to build your law firm’s online presence and portfolio. You’ll start by building an emailing list, which your firm can do by offering a free weekly or monthly newsletter. You can collect email addresses from prospective clients this way while also staying in contact with current clients (and updating them on how wonderful your law firm is).
Another way to start is to build lead magnets that visitors can download directly from your law firm’s website. Lead magnets are a free service or item given away to gather contact information (like emails and phone numbers). We recommend offering guidebooks, white papers, or webinars to entice website visitors.
Once your law firm has a solid email list, you can start effective email marketing. The emails sent out through this list should be targeted and positive. Showcase your firm’s expertise and how your lawyers make life easier for their clients.
Get started on your legal marketing plan today
With the tips mentioned above, your law firm should be on its way to creating and implementing a thoughtful legal marketing plan. Through marketing tactics intended to enhance your firm’s visibility, including increased website traffic by using SEO and improved content generation, your firm will be better prepared to hit your marketing goals. The right tools, solutions, and marketing experts will help your firm build awareness and, with it, a more profitable client list.