The ways that law firms look for, acquire, serve, and retain clients are constantly changing. The days of catchy jingles and large billboards are largely behind us, replaced by innovative digital marketing technologies and strategies. In this article, we will explore 5 important trends in legal marketing that every firm should be aware of.
Legal Marketing Automation
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, promises to usher in a wave of automation technologies that will impact all industries and economies. The legal industry, historically more resistant to disruptive technologies, will experience transformative changes in nearly every process.
Automation is designed to increase efficiency, decrease costs, and improve client experiences by reducing the need for human intervention. Lawyers’ days are full of things like performing demanding legal work and fielding client calls. Marketing efforts are often put on the back burner in favor of accumulating billable hours. But with marketing automation it is possible for lawyers to have their cake and eat it too.
Let’s consider, for instance, the average personal injury law firm. Personal injury lead generation is a time-consuming process. Moreover, stiff competition has driven up the costs of advertising, with legal pay-per-click ads among the most expensive. For example, according to one report the cost for the search term “best motorcycle accident lawyer” is an astronomical $770 per click.
So, the ideal automation solutions for a personal injury attorney will reduce both the time and costs to acquire personal injury leads. Software that automates legal marketing across multiple channels will fill this role. For example, a firm could create an extensive email drip campaign designed to convert personal injury leads. The client submits an inquiry on your website. The system automatically sends the client a thank you email and even a link to schedule an appointment. Daily emails are sent to the client in the days that follow, offering a mix of value to build trust (i.e., applicable personal injury law) and calls-to-action to convert the lead.
In addition to the email drip campaign, the firm utilizes machine learning (ML). The algorithm studies which emails were most effective, allowing the firm to craft emails that convert a higher number of personal injury leads. ML also analyzes the firm’s website to see what content potential clients are viewing and clicking on. Dynamic search ads automatically display the best ad for the user (i.e., a mobile ad for a mobile user). ML also makes it possible to adjust ad spending, maximizing results and saving you a lot of money.
Mobile-Friendly Marketing is the New Face of Legal Marketing
In 2021 there will be an estimated 3.8 billion smartphone users in the world. Mobile website traffic now accounts for more than 50% of all internet traffic. Google, the largest search engine in the world, is moving towards mobile-first indexing, meaning that Google primarily uses a web page’s mobile content for creating search rankings.
Despite these trends, many law firms continue to use sites that are not mobile friendly or that are outdated. For the former, firms are undermining their own organic marketing efforts. In terms of outdated versions, older websites essentially had two different sites: a desktop and mobile version. With Google’s changes, the mobile version will be indexed but the desktop site, which may have tons of great content will not be found by potential leads.
Simply put, you want one website that is responsive to the device that it is being viewed on. Failing to do this will cost you countless legal leads.
You have likely encountered local search results towards the top of any search for a local product or service. These results are extremely important from a visibility perspective. At the top of the page you have 3 or 4 paid ads. Underneath the paid ads is a map with three local results. And after that are organic results. What this means is that unless you are paying upwards of $100 or more for a single click, or you are showing up in the local results, potential clients will likely never find you buried down in the organic results.
For law firms, local searches are key. The trick is getting Google’s local algorithm to pick up your site when a potential client within proximity to your firm searches for legal services. There are several ways to boost your visibility in local results. First, make sure you are instructing clients leave you positive reviews on Google and other platforms. This also helps provide social proof, a powerful tool for attracting new leads like personal injury leads or workers compensation leads.
Another thing you can do is to launch a paid search campaign for local clients. Another is to create a separate website page for each city that you serve (i.e., Los Angeles auto accident lawyer). Finally, work on getting links from local organizations to improve your credibility with Google. Optimizing your website to show up in local searches is a can’t miss strategy to drive high quality traffic.
Social media ads
Social media ads are incredibly powerful for several reasons. Social media has an estimated 3.5 billion users, equal to about ½ of the world’s population. Platforms like Facebook leverage big-data capabilities to allow businesses to target potential customers based thousands of different data points. To be sure, advertising on social media platforms is a bit tricky for lawyers but it is certainly trending upwards.
One of the problems with social media marketing for professionals like lawyers has essentially been one of timing. When a potential client searches for a lawyer on Google they are typically ready to hire a lawyer. On a platform like Facebook, however, the user may or may not be interested in legal services at that particular time. This is one reason why social media advertising is significantly cheaper than running Google Ads.
The trick is to monitor users to determine where they are in the hiring process. You could do this by seeing how much the user has viewed your posts, for instance. From there you can determine the best time to reach out to the potential lead.
SEO and the law of diminishing returns
For many years, search engine optimization has served as the core of law firms’ digital marketing efforts. SEO is time-consuming and can be expensive, but the strategy is simple enough. Research some keywords, insert them in an appropriate density on webpages, and continually add fresh SEO optimized content to a blog or other resource to generate new traffic.
It’s true that SEO is not going anywhere, and it will still serve an important role in any legal marketing strategy. But for a firm looking to generate new personal injury leads or workers compensation leads, it is not enough. Firms must move to an omnichannel marketing approach that reaches clients on all the different platforms and devices that they use.
This may mean a combination of paid search ads, local business searches, social media ads, SEO, and other channels. More and more firms are taking this broad approach to legal marketing, those that do not will fall further and further behind the competition.
The means by which law firms reach and convert potential clients will continue to evolve. What is widely used today may be gone by tomorrow. The trick is to stay up on the trends. Learn what works and what does not. And by doing so, you can grow your firm .