July 21, 2016
Lawyers are catching on that just sitting around and waiting for referrals isn’t the BEST way to get more sales. The referral business has huge ups and downs, which can be alleviated by a solid, steady online marketing effort.
Luckily here at Klicker we’re pros at online marketing for law firms.
But many lawyers we work with have the beginning and the end in mind, but not the middle. It all starts with a web page, and ends with tons of clients. But how do we get from A to B?
Online marketing for law firms isn’t as hard as you think, but you’ll need to do a little work first (or have someone else do the work for you).
Here’s how we help our clients market THEIR law firms. The core principles are simple:
There’s always going to be overlap, and this is an iterative process.
It’s important to notice that just having a website is not enough. Google doesn’t care about every site—it only cares about the best sites.
And how do we get there? Read on to find out.
Laying a sturdy framework for your marketing plans hinges on how well you can identify these perfect clients before you get started. Laying out who these people are, what they do, and why they need you generates what is known as a buyer persona.
In short, your buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of the people who utilize your business the most. They’re broad enough to capture significant chunks of your customer base, but specific enough to remain useful for your marketing efforts. Your firm might have a single buyer persona or it could have several—each each business may vary and there’s no exact formula for generating buyer personas.
Your buyer personas are your best clients. They aren’t just the clients who you’d like to work with the most, but also the clients who gravitate to your practice the most. The buyer personas we most want to target through specific marketing campaigns are both easy to work with and have a high chance of becoming a client, rather than simply seeking information.
For example, you might have dozens of people who visit your site every day to read your excellent legal advice because it’s ranking on national Google searches. But if you only service one metro area, that specific group of people wouldn’t be a great buyer persona.
Obviously not all of your customers will fit into these neat little boxes, but the biggest benefit of creating buyer personas is that it allows you to focus the messaging of your online marketing campaigns to specifically target large groups of people, rather than being forced to generalize.
Moving forward, everything you do should also go back to pleasing these buyer personas, since they’re the customers you want and the customers who want you the most. That means making your web site, content, etc. in tune with what these clients expect from your business and helping to answer all of their questions and build trust.
The most important question remains—what do your clients really get by working with you?
Most law clients are confused, stressed out, angry, uncertain…you’re not just helping them resolve a dispute or win a case, right? You’re helping make all of these negative emotions go away and (hopefully) be replaced with positive ones.
So thinking along those lines, it’s accurate to say that clients choose you over competitors because they feel you’re the best, most trustworthy choice to remove their pain and discomfort.
But how do you convey that message on the web? Well, no different than you’d do it in person during a consultation. Building comfort, demonstrating legal expertise and the ability to get the job done should all be major themes of your web site and content.
Online, your site has to do a lot of the legwork before you even get people in for a consultation. When they land on your home page or one of your blog posts, prospective clients are at various stages of the buying cycle. They could be trying to find out if they even need a lawyer, or they could be actively searching for one. Building content and creating simple pathways for all users to find that content is critical to ticking all the boxes for each buyer persona.
A site for workers compensation law might contain informational posts explaining complex laws in layman’s terms, posts describing the the benefits of hiring a workers comp lawyer, content on their home page to build trust (such as real testimonials), or guides on how to navigate the workers comp process.
Even when you aren’t actively pushing a sales angle, you’re still building trust among people seeking information. Those who aren’t actively searching for legal advice will remember you later, where they can head down other pathways for people who are actually ready to schedule a consultation.
Creating a wide variety of content and building pages around the most common issues and questions your clients face is a sure way to cover all your bases. Don’t just write about things you think are interesting or relevant—ultimately your clients are looking for very specific information, and identifying those themes early will help you start catching leads much faster.
Really try to get in the heads of your clients and figure out what they’re looking for in a law firm’s web site, then give it to them.
It’s a fair question—if there are other competent lawyers in your city practicing the same branch of law as you, what reason do customers have for choosing you over the competition?
That’s also a question most businesses don’t ever think about—all the more reason to incorporate it into your meetings with clients. Find out what makes them pull the trigger to choose your firm over the other guys who either popped up on Google or were recommended by a friend.
If words like “honest” or “reputable” or “winner” keep popping up over and over again, you know to incorporate those words or other related words into your web site’s copy. These themes are why customers are choosing you, and they become your unique selling proposition to set yourself apart from the competition and win even more clients.
When John Smith gets in touch with your law firm—either through meeting with one of your lawyers in person or stumbling across your site—it’s not guaranteed that they’ll enthusiastically jump onboard as a new client right away.
What’s more likely is that Joe will chat with you for a while or poke around your site for a bit, make mental notes of important info, and then never be heard from again. Maybe they decided not to hire a lawyer, maybe they hired a different lawyer, maybe they fled the country and changed their name—at any rate, there’s obviously a big hump to get over to complete the conversion of a lead into a sale.
As we said, many people who get in touch with you simply aren’t ready to hire a lawyer yet. You can’t just put a huge pop-up on your home page screaming “Call us right NOW!” and expect to see any meaningful conversions. But that doesn’t mean these are bad leads.
Creating evergreen content is one of the best ways to provide value to visitors of all types that eventually brings them back to your site at a later point when they’re closer to hiring a lawyer. Evergreen content simply means blog posts, eBooks and other forms of digital content that stands the test of time, with the goal of remaining relevant forever with just an update here and there.
That’s one of the biggest reasons why I implore law firms to stay away from news-based content—you’re always going to be getting your posts out after news web sites, and by the time you do get posts up the news won’t be relevant anymore. The content you produce should be as relevant and profitable to your firm today is it is 5 years down the road.
But as for specific types of content, I’d recommend focusing on blog posts and an instructive email series. Email is a powerful tool for nurturing leads and eventually turning prospects into new clients.
Blog posts should be structured around specific topics your readers are looking for and not all broadly attempting to rank for the same search terms. Topics like “5 Things to Ask Your Workers Comp Attorney” or “Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?” are the sort of thing you should be aiming for. Then, your post would tie in to your email course, which will get you both contact information and more opportunities to continue marketing to those people in the future.
At this point you’re probably thinking “how long should my posts be?”
As long as they need to be. Sorry, but that’s the truth.
Blog posts shouldn’t ever be condensed to the point where important information is left out, nor should they be extended with fluff that has nothing to do with your topic. There are opposing schools of though on whether short or long posts work best, and it’s true that very long posts (2k words or more) perform very well in terms of people actually reading and sharing the information.
However, those long posts are long because they need to be, as determined by their subject matter. If your post titled “Frequently Asked Personal Injury Questions” is only 700 words when you finish writing it—and it perfectly covers all of your clients’ most burning questions—you can only shoot yourself in the foot by stuffing it with rambling, pointless sentences to hit 1000 or 2000 words.
Of course, any comprehensive guide will be very long—and if you feel a certain subject requires 3000 words to properly address, then by all means do it. You might find that post becomes your most popular and most read.
On the other hand, I would avoid putting out very short posts simply to target SEO terms or for the sake of “just putting out content.” Your law firm should be known for producing thoughtful, helpful content—not spamming your readers with junk.
At the end of the day, producing quality is the most important indicator of future success with your blog posts. Many firms have also begun making video content, which sees the most success when the duration lies between 3 and 5 minutes. If your legal topic takes more than 5 minutes to explain, consider making it into a blog post—you’ll find it difficult to maintain attention otherwise.
By the day’s end, however, it’s about the quality. Individuals (and Google) need top notch scope of a theme—and top notch pages are frequently long and top to bottom.
Now it’s time to start brainstorming. As for content, shoot for a content calendar that stretches out at least 3 months in advance. Your calendar should clearly state what the purpose is for each piece of content you produce, whether that’s to generate leads, inform, etc. Before you commit to any given topic, make sure it’s something your readers are genuinely looking for on a legal site, something that will increase your esteem and reputation as the go-to firm for whatever area of law you practice.
But don’t spend forever planning. Execution is where the money is.
Tons of businesses—not just law firms—tackle content production with a gung-ho attitude for the first month or two, but their blog is a deserted ghost town by month three or four. Listen, online marketing isn’t a sprint. Seeing the best results means being consistent and regularly putting out posts. Your clients don’t want to see that you haven’t posted any new content in two years, so don’t use up all of your ideas in one month and then give up on content marketing.
The fact is, your posts aren’t going to be getting results for months anyway. Law is a crowded field on Google, and only through consistent posting on a variety of relevant topics will you start seeing results. But blogging starts to snowball when you keep at it—so keep at it, alright?
As the end of your 3-month plan draws near, re-evaluate where you stand with content marketing. If you aren’t starting to see a trickle of results from your blog, it’s time to orient anew.
As your blog continues to gain steam, it’s not time to rest on your laurels. Make note of what works and what doesn’t, and use that data to tweak your content in order to see better and better results.
Some of the adjustments may have no effect. Some may have a net negative effect, which you can easily roll back. And some of the tweaks you make may have a net benefit. Over the course of months or years of content production and online marketing, you’ll steadily be taking these small steps forward until your law firm marketing becomes a well-oiled machine.
After your first few months of blogging, you’ll be able to answer questions like:
Your goal should be to increase efficiency as much as possible—gaining as many leads per blog post as possible. And once you find a formula that really works, stick with it.
If one of your posts really resonates with readers, think up a few more topics on related issues that could tie in to your original post. If you find that your video content is blowing away your blog content in terms of viewers/readers and leads, then by all means keep making videos.
In the event that you find that a blog entry on a specific subject got a considerable measure of good movement, take a stab at expounding on something else firmly related. On the off chance that you observed that one specific medium (posts, recordings, design, and so on.) got a major reaction, twofold down on it.
In the long run, this will all become second nature. You’ll know exactly how many posts you need to put out every month to get the desired benefit for your business.
Once you get to the point where a single blog post can bring tangible benefits to your business, things get fun. If, for example, you can measure that a particular post brings $1000 worth of value to your firm, you can easily hire a writer to produce the same quality of post for a quarter of the price, effectively printing money for your law firm at a conversion rate of $1 to $4.
This is an ideal scenario, and of course we’re looking at content marketing in a vacuum. We haven’t even considered the effects of SEO, web design, conversion optimization, branding overhauls or social media marketing. When combined, you’re talking big, big business for your firm.
If that all sounds like way too much work, and you’d rather focus on being the best lawyer you can be, there are elite law firm marketing teams who’d just love to take you to the top of the mountain.