In the legal sector, building valuable, long lasting relationships with clients is crucial. But as you can imagine, with increasing competition, this is only getting harder. Both private and commercial clients have greater control over their choice of firms and, thanks to digital transformation, geographical constraints that once caused clients to remain loyal to particular practices are no longer a factor.
Consequently, the focus on digital marketing has intensified. More and more solicitor firms are recognising the importance of building awareness of their brand and its values online to encourage lead generation, as well as ensuring services and communications are geared towards nurturing valuable lifetime relationships. While there are countless ways to market your services, there are some fundamentals to remember.
In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the basics as well as provide you with plenty of new and creative ideas for marketing your law firm.
Tactics discussed in this guide include:
- Website design & development
- Google My Business
- Content marketing
- Digital PR
Website Design for Solicitors
In today’s digital world, a business without a website is at a disadvantage. A website forms the foundation for an online presence, and is the first place prospective customers land on from the search engines. In fact, up to 81% of people search for products or services online before purchasing or making an enquiry.
But this involves much more than simply a basic page listing your services. Instead, a website must represent a brand and its values in everything from its functions, experience and content. If it doesn’t, users can easily take their query elsewhere.
Ultimately, upon visiting a website, a user must feel confident in your ability to help especially with legal circumstances that may be sensitive or complex. The confidence and reassurance you instill in them will essentially lead them to making an enquiry.
Therefore, investing in a website design and development project that can help you perfectly capture your brand and its offering in a reassuring, engaging and user friendly way is a great place to start when it comes to marketing your law firm in 2021.
Your website acts as your own personal hub of information relating to everything you offer and all that you have done. With all this in one, easy to use and accessible place, users have everything they need to make a decision on whether they believe you can help solve their problems.
As well as supporting user decisions, a website must encourage conversion, which in the legal field, tends to be enquiry submissions or another way of getting in touch. Therefore, clear calls to action need to be combined with functional submission forms and legible contact information in order to make the process as seamless as possible. Again, these can be built into the website development project, and even A/B tested to ensure conversion rates are optimised and your chances of converting users are improved.
Google My Business
Great, you have a website and some online presence! However, user behaviours are changing. Now, it is becoming increasingly common for users to make voice searches or quick online enquiries where results are expected to return key information in a convenient manner.
The greatest example of this is Google My Business (GMB) listings. If we think of our own searches – perhaps one we’ve made for a local restaurant for instance – we can understand the shift in behaviour.
When we make such a search, all the information from opening hours, reviews, directions and contact information are available right there on the results page. In some cases, we can even make bookings and reservations without having to visit the site or navigate its many pages and forms.
While this might seem like a threat for businesses, especially if they have spent money investing in a new website, it’s important to remember how a website differs from a GMB listing. It’s possible that those who end their user journey at the GMB listing are already aware of your brand and offering, and are simply looking for information before converting. A website, on the other hand, is important in capturing users at the discovery or research phase of their journey.
As well as making conversions easier to complete, GMB listings can also increase trust and confidence in your brand, which can then positively impact loyalty and retention. But in order to do this, listings must be kept updated and accurate.
For example, during the pandemic, opening hours and services have been constantly changing. By keeping information provided on GMB accurate, clients are reassured and instilled with confidence in your ability to help with their enquiry.
Additionally, GMB listings are essential for any local marketing strategy. While location and proximity have become less of an issue in recent times, particularly as remote meetings can be supported by digital technologies, many clients still prefer enlisting the help of solicitors with a local presence. So, in order not to miss the opportunity to target those clients in your local area, a GMB listing is the most effective way to ensure you appear in “near me” searches and suggestions.
It’s no secret that Google has also favoured local results in recent years, which is another strong case for keeping on top of GMB information. This then also enables you to appear in ad spots on local map results, provided you have an appropriate Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign running.
Pay Per Click advertising
One of the most important aspects of any PPC activity is having a functional and optimised website to drive traffic to. So, once that’s sorted, here are some reasons to consider adding PPC to your marketing mix.
Firstly, campaigns are a great way to increase website traffic and conversions in a relatively short period of time. Unfortunately, no marketing method will drive results instantly, however, PPC offers a number of benefits that could help towards increasing results faster than others.
For example, by optimising your search ads through keyword consideration, account structure, landing page experience and ad extensions, there is a good chance of ranking at the top of results pages or before other listings. Naturally, this can increase awareness of your brand as it becomes more visible, and also enhances status and trust in your brand.
It may also be the case that your organic listing is present on the same results page which enables you to take up greater space. Again, this helps increase brand awareness and the chances of a click through.
When it comes to PPC, Google is by far the most popular channel to advertise on. And while this does make perfect sense, considering it holds 92.05% market share, there are others to consider, some of which may even yield better results.
For anyone who has looked into or attempted PPC advertising in the legal field, you will be aware that keywords for the industry are some of the most expensive out there in terms of cost per click (CPC).
For example, PPC advertising can be implemented through marketplaces, social media and the display network, too. In order to choose the right one for your business, it’s vital you understand your clients and audience and the channels which they use.
It’s likely ecommerce marketplaces such as Amazon are not going to be the best channels for solicitors, unless they have a physical product, including books or resources, to sell. Social media, on the other hand, might be a great place to target both private and commercial clients. But again, think of which platforms will be most appropriate.
LinkedIn is a great place to reach the business community, whereas Facebook or Instagram can be used to target individuals of a particular demographic.
While it might seem complex, burdensome and financially ineffective to run various campaigns across different channels, if they have been strategised and well thought out, the opposite is true. For instance, rather than wasting budget targeting an unfiltered audience with a general brand awareness campaign, consider tailoring your messaging for each platform and really narrowing in on your audience.
With LinkedIn being most appropriate for reaching professionals, it may be best to use the platform to advertise your commercial services, for example. Facebook or Instagram may be better suited for messages regarding your private client services as they are most frequented by individuals in a more personal manner.
SEO for Solicitors
I know what you’re thinking – you’ve invested in a website, and have allocated budget to PPC, why should you also spend money on search engine optimisation (SEO)? The answer is quite straightforward. SEO is the key force behind establishing a sustainable online presence.
Essentially, SEO ensures your website can be understood by search engines. With a significant number of consumers using this route as the first port of call when looking for a service they require, this understanding has never been more important. SEO techniques tell search engines, such as Google, what your website offers and how your content should be read and used. With this understanding, a search engine can then ensure it displays your website on the results pages if it deems that your content best fits the users search query.
Therefore, SEO is all about first understanding what your target clients are searching for and how your services can cater to their needs. Using keywords in your landing page copy increases the likelihood of your website appearing in front of the right audience.
If you offer multiple services, it is advisable to have a separate landing page for each service. The copy on the service pages should clearly indicate how you can help solve users legal problems.
Content Marketing for Solicitors
Content ensures a website remains active, relevant and up-to-date. The most effective strategy to consider is adding a blog section to your site. Here, you can regularly upload content that helps solve a user’s problems.
It’s important to start with a solid understanding of what the current perceptions of your website are – e.g. what searches and terms it is currently ranking for. Then, consider whether these are the most relevant to your business, and if there are any areas you would like to improve its rankings for.
This information should form the basis and reasoning for an SEO content strategy. From here, you can begin to create content for the areas you wish to improve.
However, the content you create shouldn’t just be viewed as a means of improving search engine rankings. Fortunately, platforms can see straight through content that has been stuffed with keywords and is of no real value to the user. Therefore, any blogs or articles you publish, must be useful, relevant and of high quality. It’s best to keep in mind that a piece of content could be the first touchpoint a client has with your firm, so every piece must uphold your values and standards, and create a positive and accurate first impression.
If you’ve attempted to implement a content marketing strategy in the past, it’s likely you’ve faced a number of challenges, including creative blocks and stakeholder buy-in. But these can be overcome.
When brainstorming content topics and titles, start with the keyword and consider interesting and unique angles you can approach it, while always keeping in mind how you will be adding value to the end user. In recent years, search behaviours have shifted and we now see more users search for longtail keywords and questions, such as “do I have to pay inheritance tax on my parents house?” or “should I have a lawyer review my employment contract?”, for example.
Consequently, search engines have also adjusted and content which directly answers these types of queries are ranked in ‘position zero’, i.e. in a featured snippet above all other rankings. Of course, there is great benefit in a top position ranking for brand visibility, but users are also more likely to click through to the source, particularly for these more complex queries where a short snippet answer doesn’t necessarily provide all the information we require.
So, while there is potential for user journeys to end at the results page when they’ve got their answer, those that do click through are likely to be more interested in your services.
While content marketing is great for SEO, there are also a number of other benefits. Through the content you put out, you can establish your firm and fee earners as real thought leaders in their area.
To do this, consider adding thinkpieces, industry opinions and comments on changes in law or the market to your content strategy. As well as showcasing your expertise among current and potential clients, this will also raise your profile among peers and other professionals in order to build strong referral relationships.
Another important thing to remember is that content shouldn’t be limited to written blogs and articles. While these are some of the easiest to create, they may not always be the best way to engage your audience. Instead, consider adding videos and podcasts to your content bank too.
These can be optimised for search engines through schema markup and accompanying blog posts, while also providing content that can be shared across platforms and used in more creative and engaging ways.
Unlike many other industries, the legal sector is unique in that target demographics span all ages, professions and abilities. Therefore, traditional PR is still an effective marketing strategy to use to increase brand exposure among non-digitally savvy consumer groups. For services such as will writing, lasting powers of attorney, and estate planning, it’s likely features in newspapers or local print based magazines can help reach desirable target clients who may have less access or knowhow when it comes to smart devices or internet search.
However, as uptake and access increases across segments, which has now been accelerated during the course of the pandemic with many aspects of everyday life having been taken online, digital PR tactics require greater attention.
Like traditional PR, digital PR can help increase brand awareness by having guest content and press releases published on reputable online sources, including magazine and newspaper websites. But as well as these publications, there are countless other blogs, forums and websites tailored to various niches that are used by peers in your industry, other professionals and clients.
Therefore, there are greater opportunities of building brand awareness and increasing brand mentions online by pitching content to feature on these platforms.
But with so many possibilities, it’s important to keep in mind your audience at every stage of the process. This way, you can ensure you are writing content which your target audience will find value in, and that it is featured on a website, blog or publication that the group will read.
But brand awareness aside, digital PR is also key for any SEO strategy as it can help build valuable backlinks to your own website. The most valuable backlinks are those that have been secured via a piece of content featuring on an authoritative website.
There’s no doubt you’re aware of the benefits of networking, especially when working in a professional service. But in the digital age, and during a time of social distancing and virus restrictions, firms must seek to build and maintain relationships online.
In many cases, professional relationships are a significant stream of new work, whether that be through connecting with businesses who turn into commercial clients, or meeting peers working in accountancy, financial services or estate agents etc. who end up trusting you enough to refer their clients to you for legal matters.
Traditionally, these relationships were built through in-person networking events, including seminars, conferences and business socials. However, while the pandemic has put a temporary stop on relationship building in this way, it has opened up new avenues and opportunities.
Now, professionals can arrange virtual meetings with just about anyone, no matter where they are geographically based, suggesting the potential for business connections to no longer be constrained by proximity.
Similarly, it is becoming increasingly common for professionals to use their social media platforms to connect with and follow peers. LinkedIn, for example, has shifted from a place used solely for recruitment, towards a platform for professionals to share, uplift, seek help and interact with others across all business sectors. With a few clicks, you can virtually meet just about anyone..
Similarly, Twitter is frequently used by journalists and media professionals, who you may want to reach out to when pitching digital PR pieces.
In the traditional form, professionals went into networking blind, with little knowledge of the people they were meeting and how valuable of a connection they will be. Now however, information available on social media profiles and website biographies tell you much more about a person before a conversation even begins. If you’re able to use this information before striking up a conversation, it’s likely you will be able to build much better rapport and relationships with the right people.
Although online networking may feel less personal and effective than what we are used to, it does have benefits that should not be overlooked.
But of course, building professional relationships in this way requires proactiveness from your firm and its fee earners. Encourage your team to give their online profiles just as much thought and attention as the impressions they make in-person, as this will encourage others to connect or accept an invitation request.
As advocates of the brand, their activity online should uphold the same values as the business. For instance, if the firm claims to be responsive, experts in its area and innovative in its solutions, then team members must be all of those things online, which they can show through being active and up-to-date with the content they share, and able to add their own thoughts and expertise in posts.
After all, it’s these individuals who provide your service.
How to Choose the Right Tactics
Clearly, there are many digital marketing tactics and strategies to choose from. While this list covers a large number of them, it is by no means exhaustive, with email marketing, social media influencer partnerships and event and award sponsorships just a few others that could have been added.
Understandably, the task of marketing your law firm and services online can become a challenge as each of these methods continue to evolve. Therefore, it’s important to focus your attention on only those most relevant and applicable to your business. To understand which of these fit the bill, you first need to understand who your audience is and where is the best place to reach them.
For example, if your ideal corporate and commercial clients are digitally-savvy, young entrepreneurs, then a sophisticated, mobile friendly website, LinkedIn advertising and social media presence are vital as these are the channels most used tech savvy individuals. .
On the other hand, retired couples who may be the ideal clients for your estate planning services might be better targeted through Facebook advertising and digital PR features on lifestyle websites, blogs and forums, for example. Of course, these are just two very general examples, as you should have a better idea of your client base.
You should also consider your goals when choosing which tactics to use. For instance, your goal may be to raise your firm’s profile in its local area, in which case Google My Business, local SEO and perhaps geographically targeted PPC ads might be the best options.
Lastly, don’t forget to take into consideration your budget. With every tactic priced differently, you shouldn’t simply opt for the least expensive to stretch your budget, or the most expensive and expect instant results. Again, with a firm understanding of your audience and goals, it will become clear which activities will yield the best results.
The best way to justify your spend or budgetary requirements is to do the math upfront. Set an objective, and use data and numbers to explain how you will achieve it.
While some of these activities can be done in-house, others may be better outsourced to a professional agency. This will help you save time and money and allow you to focus on serving your customers.