Online Lead Generation for Successful Law Practices
It wasn’t too long ago that all a lawyer needed to do to find clients and be successful was to hang a shingle and take out an ad in the Yellow Pages.
It’s not that simple now. Competition is fiercer than ever, and your potential clients have more choices and receive more advertising messages every day than they probably even realize.
If you want to build a successful law practice these days, you must go where your next client is. You have to go online. And what’s more, you have to go online with the right mindset and the right strategy.
That’s why marketing for your law firm is so important.
Seven Practice Standards for a Successful Online Advertising Strategy
1: Understand what is possible and reasonable with online advertising and set your expectations and goals accordingly.
2: Growth requires adequate ad spend. Set your budget to align with your goals.
3: Your practice, your plan. While you can scope out what your competitors are doing online, you’re going to need to differentiate from your competitors and create a holistic plan that aligns with your business development goals for your firm.
4: You may not be Beyonce, but you are a brand. And you need to take a page from her playbook. Building brand awareness is fundamental to managing your ad spend and getting the most out of every penny you invest in growth.
5: People have more choices that ever today and while you didn’t go to law school to be a salesperson, that’s exactly what you are. You’ve got to sell them on your services, and you’ve got to close leads to get more cases.
6: You need to bring the same competitive spirit you brought to law school to the online advertising space, and you need to tap into being consistent, the discipline of executing, and the curiosity that has driven your success so far.
7: Understand the most lucrative practice areas and focus your ad spend there. Calculate the lifetime value of client in each of your practice areas and determine which specialties make the most sense for a paid advertising campaign (see also II).
How to Create Your Ad Plan
The good news is that an effective ad plan is based on numbers, data, and strategy. And once you determine the most lucrative practice areas to target, there will be incoming data to analyze so you can always make informed decisions about your ads.
Some key metrics you will need to figure out are:
- Current Conversion Rate: If you don’t know, start with the industry averages. Right now, legal ads tend to convert somewhere in the range of 2.35% – 6.46%. That higher number is for top-tier firms, so select a number that pushes you but is still reasonable.
- Revenue Goal: Think about your annual revenue goal. If you have a yearly figure, consider breaking it in quarterly or even monthly goals. It’s a lot easier to make small adjustments to get a ship back on course than a massive maneuver when you realize you’re thousands of dollars off course.
- Lead Flow Forecast: With your conversion rate and your revenue goals considered, realistically how many leads do you need to bring in to hit your growth targets?
Growth = Ad Spend = Sales Training
If you’re committed to using paid advertising to grow your law firm, it’s only going to happen if you commit to setting an ad budget that can get the job done.
Don’t focus on getting cheap leads, focus on getting qualified leads.
And qualified leads only come from a budget that has enough muscle to do the heavy lifting to get inbound leads that you (or your sales staff) can convert.
An unexpected benefit of focusing on your sales skills as an integral part of your marketing efforts is that you’ll be able to streamline your intake and client onboarding processes.
By improving the client experience from ad to click to closed case you end up with more satisfied clients and satisfied clients leave positive reviews and make referrals to family and friends.
When you, or your sales staff, really digs in to make the marketing you’re doing pay off, you’re naturally going to find places where there are dips or drop offs in efficiency.
By creating a culture of curiosity around what’s happening with your leads and clients (and let’s be honest, about how to wring ROI out of every ad dollar spent) you’re going to reduce friction in the sales process, increase conversions, and find efficiencies that start to pay for themselves.
The Fundamental Pillars of an Online Growth Strategy
Every marketing-based growth plan needs to have these fundamental pillars.
Every pillar contributes to holding up your entire ad and growth strategy:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Establishing your thought leadership through well-written, jargon free content that demonstrates your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness in your practice areas. Having an optimized content strategy with a local SEO plan gets your name out there
- Social Media: This is the home of your branding efforts online. And yes, you can turn likes and follows into clients, but it takes consistency and a plan to move them off social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn and onto online territory you control: your website.
- Paid Ads: Your paid ads are like a laboratory. You’ll generate leads, but you’ll also be generating data and getting feedback from the public about what engages them and what doesn’t. Test and tweak, but it’s critical to stay the course.
But your paid ad metrics may not tell the whole story.
This three-pronged approach is what sets your law firm up for success in the online marketing space and it’s important to view these three aspects of your branding and marketing holistically.
The reality is, leads often move from place to place before they take the next step and schedule a consultation. They may bounce from social to an ad. vOr from an ad to social to your website contact form.
In the end, the most important metric is how quickly you can turn clicks into clients.
Which practice areas are most profitable? Focus creation of videos, social media, and content in those areas – especially if time or budget is limited.
Client Acquisition Isn’t Linear
When you start studying your metrics, be prepared for a lot of ups and downs. It takes some time for ads to catch on and you should never expect a steady uphill climb if you’re new to the online advertising space.
When you’re running intent-focused ads on Google and elsewhere, settle in to ride the highs and lows.
Don’t hit reset on your strategy, especially if you haven’t given it enough time to return sufficient data to properly analyze. One of the biggest wastes of advertising dollars comes from pulling the plug too early on a campaign. All that money – and yes, progress – is down the drain.
And starting over again and again just lead to a permanent state of instability.
The right digital marketing agency with experience in the legal industry can keep your ads agile and help you make informed decisions not based on temporary blips on the graph, but as a partner in your growth strategy.
Together you’ll look at trendlines and identify opportunities so you’re out in front of the competition, not trailing behind.
Prospective Client Intent (and How to Capture It)
Capturing the intent of your prospective clients comes down to two things: Keyword selection and ad placements.
Your keywords should be relevant to your practice area or specialty, geolocation, or any other phrases you believe will resonate with your ideal client who is seeking legal services online.
Always consider your bread & butter services and/or your most lucrative practice areas when you’re considering the words and phrases that will match search intent on Google and YouTube.
Your ad placements are selected so you appear to dominate the search engine results page (SERP).
With a mix of Google ads, Local Service Ads, and Google Map ads your practice is all over the SERP and you’re able to drive prospective clients to your optimized Google Business Profile.
With this dominant positioning on Google, you push the potential of click through to nearly 25%.
Raise Awareness, Get More Cases
The key to your marketing strategy is in raising awareness of your brand. As name recognition rises, ad costs drop. But branding and relationship marketing is only a small part of the paid advertising strategy.
In addition to dominating the SERP, you also want to be “everywhere” else on the web. Two of the most effective ways to build brand awareness that increases click through rates 300x is to run strategic display and discovery ads.
Display and discovery ads attract consumers with high buying intent. These ads are shown when people are scrolling websites, or they may be shown as banners at the top of the page. You may have resistance to these sorts of ads, but they’re highly effective. They are more likely to influence a consumer than the results of a Google search.
The most powerful search engine you usually don’t consider is YouTube. This video-based platform is also a robust advertising space. And the good news is, most law firms aren’t advertising here yet, so the cost per lead is still attractive and the ads are highly effective for getting qualified leads.
YouTube advertising is also a great way to maximize the value of your digital assets including your library of essential marketing videos.
Give to Get: Simple Funnels that Convert
Pro tip: Marketers often talk about “funnels”. A funnel is simply a multi-part conversion system that is designed to build trust and encourage the prospect to take the next action. Consider creating an ad funnel that makes the offer of a free consultation or a guide that could be helpful for people who need to determine if they need an attorney. The landing page should provide information that guides people toward a decision – but clarifies that it’s not legal advice being given. Multi-media landing pages with video content are great for engagement and conversion. Funnels are also a great way to help prospects “self-qualify,” plus they give you an opportunity to collect emails that can be used to target them in social media ad campaigns.
Stay Social to Develop Brand Awareness
According to DrewGrow’s most recent social media statistics:
- Video is the most clicked ad type on Facebook
- 50% of Instagram users reported being more interested in a product or service after seeing it in their feed
- YouTube is the second most popular platform for business content
- LinkedIn ads increase purchasing intent by 33%
There’s no denying that being strategic on social media is an essential part of any digital marketing plan.
You want to focus your social media marketing efforts where they will be the most effective. And that means spending your time on the platforms where your target audience spends their time.
When you’re on those platforms, remember that people aren’t just on social to be social. Most people see social media as a place to consume different types of content and engage with brands they like or are interested in learning more about.
This is your opportunity to engage with your target audience and turn them into prospects and clients. By providing them with engaging content, like sharing links to blog posts, or natively posting videos that answer the most frequent legal questions you’re asked, you’ll soon find you’re attracting a steady flow of qualified prospective clients.
You may even want to consider the benefits of running social media ads on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn ads along with social posts. The more brand awareness you build the more effective all your other advertising campaigns will be.
Also, the sooner you establish your “know, like, and trust” factors online, the faster you’ll convert qualified leads into clients.
Sales Tips to Increase Your Close Rate
All the leads in the world aren’t worth anything if you or your sales staff can’t convert them. If you can hire a dedicated staff member to handle inbound calls and close prospects for you, every effort must be made to protect your license and professional reputation.
Use scripts so your closing process is well-managed, documented, and most importantly, repeatable, and scalable. It may seem strange to have a script but sales require saying the right things to the right people at the right time.
Having a documented process also gives you more data points to study when it comes to determining ad effectiveness and finding ways to streamline your processes. If you find an ad is bringing in too many unqualified prospects, your sales process will be key in helping you determine necessary changes to ad copy.
The Closing Argument for Generating Leads Online
If you want to build a successful law practice these days, you need a holistic approach to develop an inbound marketing strategy that meets your prospective clients where they are by creating customized digital content that satisfies their online searches for legal services.
By focusing on search engine optimization, social media, and well-targeted paid advertising campaigns you can generate a steady flow of leads that are highly qualified and ready to convert into cases.
Forward Push helps attorneys just like you with their marketing so they can grown their firm with more cases and higher revenue. Speak to law firm marketing specialist right now on how to get started.