As an attorney, you’re in one of the most competitive locally-based industries, where your competition’s solution for gaining more clients is to out-spend everyone else. This might have worked in the 90’s when the yellow pages and newspaper ads ruled the day. But this doesn’t work anymore.
The issue is, what really works today? While Google and Facebook Ads still create clients, their effectiveness has steadily dropped over the last three years. Even SEO, while still effective, doesn’t produce the same kind of dramatic organic gains it once did for most attorneys. Some law firms have figured this out and continue to source a lot of clients from digital ads and SEO. Yet the majority of attorneys across the US continue to spend a ton of money on marketing, and barely break even.
The good news
There is a proven way to out-market your less-skilled competition, and very few law firms are doing it! The bad news is you’ve probably wasted a few bucks and a lot of time on misguided and/or short-sighted marketing campaigns.
Don’t worry, it’s also taken us a lot of time to determine what actually works! We ended up spending over $19m on Google and Facebook’s advertising platforms and running hundreds of successful lawyer marketing campaigns to cut through the clutter and focus on how the most successful attorneys in the United States build their practices.
So after working with numerous law firms to outpace their competition, a pattern of successful application began to emerge. It required us to rethink our approach several times until we created a blueprint that any law firm can follow:
How the top law firms out-market their competition:
- Treat your current & past clients like family
- Create trust within your city
- Make it easier to be found online
- Resonate with victims
- Target new clients
- Connect it all together
Treat your current & past clients like family
The majority of attorneys start their marketing campaigns backwards by investing in advertising instead of building a robust referral process.
When I say “referral process”, I’m not talking about simply sending a Christmas card to every past client. Each of our top attorney clients attribute most of their success to all the time and attention they invested into their referral systems. And since these are no ordinary referral processes, each attorney guards the specific sequences of their referral system under lock and key, because they understand how vital it is to the success of their business.
This should come as no surprise since 80%+ of the average law firm’s clients come from referrals, not advertising. And yet for every dollar the average attorney invests in a marketing campaign, they invest less than $0.01 in a building their referral network.
So what does a robust referral system look like? After building numerous referral processes we have created a best practice approach that has no rival in the market. Our process integrates referrals from current/past clients, fellow attorneys, and chiropractors (if you’re a personal injury firm), as well as multiple touch points, when to follow up, and what to say. In addition, we discuss how to integrate the “you’re part of the family” approach throughout the lifecycle of the client. Once each case is settled, we acquire each client’s IP address that allows us to send them specific messaging on Facebook and Google about how the attorney firm has been involved in the community and ways they’re giving back. We also reinforce the importance of leaving online reviews. This messaging is then reinforced with a targeted email marketing campaign.
This kind of approach is so effective and unique that it’s not uncommon for law firms that integrate this referral strategy to double the amount of client referrals year over year.
Create trust within your city
As a marketing agency CEO, I seem to really be shooting myself in the foot because I’m not leading with digital media to create new clients. And even after you’ve built this referral machine, it’s premature to target new clients with media. Instead, you first must build trust in your community that you’re reputable and an expert in your field.
As an attorney, you’ll always want to be building trust, but how do you start? The easiest way is by using Facebook and Display (or banner) ads to inexpensively brand yourself in your city. We had to learn this lesson the hard way. Anyone can run a Google Search or Facebook Ads campaign to acquire new clients, but few of these campaigns yield strong results.
At first this was really frustrating, especially after Googling “personal injury attorney los angeles”, clicking on the ads, and seeing the poorly designed landing pages. Over time we realized these ads were successful because these law firms had been building trust for years in their cities.
To help our attorney clients get a big jumpstart in building trust, we create an efficient branding campaign that utilizes testimonials as a way to inform potential clients instead of asking for their business.
Utilizing attribution (we’ll cover this in greater detail below), we have been able to assign up to 35% of new clients created by marketing that initially visited the website via the trust campaign.
Get found easier
Before any money is spent on media to create new clients, every law firm must invest in an SEO (search engine optimization) strategy to help your potential clients find your firm online.
People trust organic rankings over ads, and yet the majority of firms heavily investing in Google and Facebook ads often don’t rank organically for those same keywords. In other words, those law firms would rather give Google $150 a click to appear for the search “personal injury attorney” than to try and organically rank for it!
Sure, it’s difficult to rank on page 1 for all of your top attorney-related terms, but a conservative SEO strategy always leads to more clients.
Keep in mind that not all attorney SEO campaigns are the same. While optimizing your website’s meta data, alt image tags, content, citations, and naming conventions are pretty standardized, we’ve had a lot of success really focusing on building high-quality backlinks with attorney-related publishers. This means our clients typically outrank their competition.
Resonate with victims
When potential clients visit your website, what do they see? Are you going out of your way to empathize with your clients by showing you understand how they’re feeling? Or does your website resemble the average attorney site with some stock images of a gavel and the blind lady justice, and a photo of you in front of books of old case law?
People make decisions emotionally, and then justify their decisions rationally. So to convert your website traffic into clients, you must meet your potential clients where they are by relating with them, showing testimonials of past clients that received favorable outcomes, and positioning yourself as the top expert in that specific area of law.
Law firms that invest time and resources into their website to help it convert more clients see a 10-20% improvement in the amount of leads generated.
For example, we recently redesigned the website for the Law Office of Darryl B. Freedman to immediately resonate with their potential clients by focusing on the amount of Google reviews and video testimonials they have.
Since the launch, the average time on the site has increased by 40% and the amount of leads generated has also increased.
Target new clients
One of the most important lessons we learned working with top attorney firms is that they never spend money on advertising first. This approach makes a lot of sense when you consider referrals account for 80% of a law firm’s business.
Yet, once they’ve done everything to set up their referral process, their trust campaign, and their SEO strategy, these firms then turn their attention to Google and Facebook advertising to create more clients.
And it’s not fair, but these firms’ Google & Facebook campaigns have a 20-30% higher conversion rate than their competition! This success can almost be 100% attributed to their trust campaign they’ve been running. Their competition does not understand this so they skip all the steps above and jump right in to spending a ton of money on digital ads, which always produces underwhelming results.
Connect it all together
This last step to out-market your competition might be the most important and very few law firms are even aware that it’s possible. Even the most of the major law offices throughout the United States have not set it up. I’m referring to connecting every component of your marketing strategy together, or in other words, attribution.
So what can attribution so for your law firm?
In short, attribution allows you to assign a value to every part of your marketing campaign. This is important because if you’re running a Google and Facebook ads campaign, and someone clicks on a Google Ad, calls your office, then becomes a client, in most cases that Google Ad would get the credit for the new client.
But if an attribution process was installed, you might find out that this new client clicked on two Facebook Ads over the last couple months, then finally clicked on the Google Ad.
This kind of insight is extremely important because it indicates how people interact with your ads, the sales cycle of an average client, and sequence of marketing channels that are the most effective and cost-efficient.
You might be thinking, “I don’t need attribution because I’m using Google Analytics.” Well, Google Analytics are great when you want to see how many clicks your ads are pushing to various web pages. But what if you wanted to know what specific ads your brand new client clicked on before they became a client? Google Analytics can’t (or won’t) give you this information.
Instead, we utilize a third party analytics platform called MixPanel that allows us to record the IP addresses of all of your web traffic that clicks on an ad. Then the law firms have their clients go to an unindexed web page within their site. This could be for an exit interview or something similar. But the real reason clients go to this unindexed page is to acquire their IP address. We then use MixPanel to match up the clients’ IP addresses to the IP addresses from the advertising. This allows us to see how effective every segment of our strategy is performing.
This approach to lawyer marketing attribution is so cutting edge, I haven’t heard of any other law firm doing this (except for our clients).
Where to begin if you’re new to marketing
If your law firm is fairly new to marketing, just follow the steps exactly as they’re laid out. To make the most of your time, concurrently focus on the first four steps: tackle building a referral process, launching a conservative trust campaign on Google & Facebook, creating an SEO strategy, and update your website to resonate with victims. After you’ve made some progress, move forward with using digital ads to create new clients and setting up attribution to track your marketing’s performance.
What to add to your existing marketing strategy
If your law firm has been marketing for awhile, I’d start with building a robust referral process since there’s a great chance your current referral program consists of sending your past clients a Christmas or birthday card. If your team invests a lot of time and energy into following the referral process above, you should expect to double the amount of client referrals you’re getting within a year.
In addition to referrals, I’d launch the trust campaign designed to show off how your firm gives back to your community. You’d be surprised how quickly this message resonates within your community, since none of your competition is doing it. Even better, if you’re currently running a Google/Facebook ads campaign to create new clients, expect to see the conversion rates go up by at least 20% within three months of the launch of the trust campaign.
Top SEO tip of 2019 that YOU can do!
There’s also a chance your law firm is utilizing a company like mine to run an SEO campaign. So when I say you must “get found easier,” you probably think either you personally can’t do that since that’s what your marketing company is doing. Or that you have your SEO strategy covered. But here’s the truth: you can generate a ton of SEO lift in addition to what your attorney SEO company is doing! Specifically, the majority of ongoing SEO tactics center around getting high-quality backlinks. In other words, relevant websites like Avvo and SuperLawyers that link to your website are high-quality, relevant backlinks. Google loves these kind of backlinks because a website with more of them tells Google that it’s a very relevant website, and in return, Google rewards that website with a higher organic ranking.
So here’s my SEO tip that any law firm can do on their own and that we’ve seen a huge lift with: reach out to the largest college in your area that provides any four-year degree that typically leads to students moving on to law school, like criminal justice, political science, or public administration. Then offer a scholarship to students within that department. The scholarship can be to cover the cost of school supplies for a student for a semester. In return, that college will create a page within their website for your scholarship. That page would link to your law firm’s website which is a big deal because that college’s website is almost always one of the most highly trafficked websites in your area. And, the page you’re getting the link from is relevant to a law firm. This is a very high quality backlink that will help your organic rankings!
Since this is a blueprint to help your firm create the top lawyer marketing campaign in the United States, there’s a 99% chance you’re not utilizing all of these tactics in a connected strategy. So my goal was to show you what only a handful of law firms in the US are doing to out-market their competition, and to encourage you that your law firm can do this!
Would you like this blueprint of the top lawyer marketing campaign for 2019 in an easier-to-implement, PDF format? Click here to download it for free!