Strategic Law Firm Marketing

The Essential Guide to Finding New Clients Online

Every law practice wants to attract more clients and cases. But you didn’t go to law school to be a digital marketing expert. With all the options out there, it’s hard to know where to start, let alone how to develop a successful online marketing plan for your legal practice.

You don’t want to do it incorrectly or make expensive mistakes or risk your firm’s reputation.

The good news is, you don’t have to start from scratch when developing your legal marketing plan. You can create a strategy and then use proven tactics that work in today’s client-centric world.

You may not think you’re a marketing expert, but in this guide, we’re going to show you how to build a strategic marketing plan that achieves your business development goals for your law office.

In this guide, you’ll discover:

  • how to develop an effective marketing plan using professional skills you already have
  • seven tactics that work together for generating quality client leads for your practice
  • the success multiplier that gets you more results from your marketing efforts

Research is Fundamental to Developing a Marketing Strategy

You wouldn’t draft pleadings without doing your research first. And the truth is, you can’t market to potential clients unless you understand them and what your firm can offer them. Law firm marketing experts, just like lawyers, know that research is essential to drafting a successful argument…or marketing strategy.

By getting clarity around your firm’s marketing goals, developing your brand, defining your ideal client(s), shaping your message, and understanding your competition, your firm will be positioned to create an effective marketing plan.

Your Marketing Goals

If you go into your marketing efforts without a clear set of goals, you won’t have any quantitative way to track and measure your success. Use the firm’s business plan, if you have one, to review the overall marketing goals and use those existing goals to get started.

Your initial marketing goals should be measurable. Set a timeframe for each goal and then establish a check-in cadence.

Hitting goals by the quarter or the year is a fair amount of time to give a new marketing effort time to catch on.

Your Firm’s Brand

Your firm’s brand is the “face” you want to show prospective clients. It’s your public persona and it’s more than just your logo – it’s how your law firm is represented to the public.

Defining your value proposition can make the difference between standing out to potential clients or getting lost in a sea of sameness.

It can easily feel like every firm that is in your practice area is pretty similar if you don’t dig in, find out, and highlight what your unique value proposition is:

  • How do you make your law office stand out?
  • What sets your firm apart from your competition?
  • More importantly, what do you do better?

Figure out what makes your firm one of a kind in a crowded marketplace and you’ll have something special to showcase in your marketing. When you have absolute clarity around what you do and why you do it, you have the advantage of having clear marketing right from the start.

Your Ideal Client Persona (and the Core Message They Need to Hear)

There’s an old saying in marketing, “If you’re selling to everyone, you’re selling to no one.” You need to get granular about the ideal client for your firm. If you don’t know who you’re aiming your marketing efforts at specifically, you’ll find a few people who will be interested.

But to attract those couple of clients, you’ve risked alienating your most desired clients by flooding the market with watered-down messages.

Think about what attributes your best clients have. Write these down and use them to build a profile of your law firm’s target client. Don’t be afraid to develop several ideal clients.

If you have a firm that has multiple practice areas, it will be essential to know the ideal client for each section.

Consider demographics, background, motivations and goals, challenges, or pain points of these ideal clients:

  • Where do they hang out online?
  • What are their purchasing habits when it comes to obtaining professional services?

The more you “know” about your ideal client personas the more effective your marketing will be.

Your firm’s core messaging will be designed to speak directly to these ideal clients. Think about what you want to say to these potential clients. Every lawyer says, “we’re great and we win cases.”

Draw those ideal clients to your firm with authentic, personable, and clear language that conveys exactly what makes your firm the right choice.

With the research you’ve done in this phase, you know what it takes to win now.

Smart Marketing Based on Strategic Positioning

Based on the positioning research you did in the strategy building phase, you’re ready to build an effective marketing plan. With your firm’s brand, ideal client personas, and budget in mind, you’ll select the tactics that align with your goals.

Taking the time to create and execute a detailed law firm marketing plan gives you a document you can refer to throughout the year. This plan will save you time, effort, and multiply the effectiveness of your marketing budget in the long run.

When you’re determining what needs to be done to achieve your law firm marketing goals, be honest about whether your firm has the people power to achieve all your goals internally.

If training your current staff or hiring more people to handle marketing in-house isn’t feasible, consider outsourcing some – or even all – of the marketing tasks.

You can hire law firm marketing experts who will help with everything from:

  • Website development
  • Local SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Paid Advertising on Google and social media
  • Social media management, to even remote video production.

Pro Tip: If your website hasn’t been updated in the past 2 years? STOP. Before you do anything else, you really should get your website updated to project the right image for your firm and its lawyers.

Recent updates at Google can cause SEO issues for sites that fail new standards for mobile responsiveness and other core web vitals.

You also don’t want to invest time and energy – and marketing dollars – driving traffic to a website that doesn’t reflect your firm’s newly aligned values and marketing goals.

Before the next prospective client visits your website, you want to ensure you’re sending them to a high-quality site that has the attributes required to appear in search results.

The Seven Most Effective Methods for Marketing Your Law Practice

1) Local Law Firm SEO 

SEO is important for ensuring your law firm shows up in online searches. Without a good volume of web visitors and potential clients discovering your content, your website can’t help you attract the clients you need.

But for most small law firms, general searches aren’t the primary way potential clients will find you. You want to make sure nearby clients can find you online. To do this, you want to optimize your local search results. This is called local SEO.

Local law firm SEO is the most powerful marketing tactic at your disposal because if you’re easier to find, your firm will be more top-of-mind for potential clients. Most people searching on Google don’t ever venture beyond the first page of results. Also, most people use generic “place based” search queries, like “divorce lawyer in Paducah”.

Sidebar: In the age of misinformation, Google wants to deliver the most relevant, helpful websites on its search engine results pages (SERP). To do this, Google created guidelines for judging websites based on metrics of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. The E. A. T. standard is especially relevant to sites with information that affects the health, safety, or financial well-being of Google’s users – like your law firm’s site. You’re going to invest a lot of time, money, and effort into creating high-quality blog posts and other content marketing assets for the firm’s website so you can capitalize on SEO and E. A. T.

2) Google Business Profile

Your website isn’t the only thing that can get you found in local searches. Another way to show up in local search results is to establish a Google Business Profile. Google Business is a free platform that allows you to submit your contact information, photos, and website link with the goal of attracting more clients.

Your competitors are targeting your ideal clients too.

Make sure your Google Business Profile page is fully optimized so it is returned in the highest position to potential clients looking for lawyers online.

Your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) should be consistently formatted anywhere it appears online. Check your website, Facebook page, or other online assets. Your NAP should match everywhere to optimize your local SEO. Even minor discrepancies, like a missing suite number, can hurt your ranking.

Keep your listing fresh with updated hours of operation, images, and client reviews to increase your firm’s visibility in Google searches.

3) Legal Directories

You might not be that keen on legal directories but being featured in legal directories can provide essential digital marketing benefits to your law practice.

Getting in directories is easy to do. Some are free and some have paid listings or annual fees for enhanced pages and increased exposure. Even with the entry in directories being “pay to play,” directories are still seen as reputable sources by potential clients doing their research.

Directories also provide some SEO benefits due to link building. Having a listing in these guides to legal service providers means you’ll get backlinks from websites with good authority. This is why legal directories enhance all your other marketing efforts.

Pro Tip: Not all directories are created equal. Your biggest benefit comes from being listed in the high-authority domains. A quick Google search can show you which directories are currently ranking the highest.

That simple test can reveal which directories serve as reputable resources for Google, law firms, and potential clients. Often clients can connect directly from your page, so make sure your page is optimized with your profile image and that your NAP is a perfect match.

4) Pay Per Click Advertising

Many times, when people go to Google, they are demonstrating what marketers call “buying intent”. They have a need. Right now. All they need to see is the right ad, with the right message to make them click through and contact your law firm.

With pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns, you can set up an online ad where you pay a set amount any time someone clicks on your ad. This can be an effective way to increase your website’s traffic, but it costs money for each click.

Competition is tough for returning purely organic search results, so ads are a reliable way to generate viable client leads. PPC advertising doesn’t change your organic search rankings, so it’s designed to complement, not replace your SEO efforts.

Depending on your practice area, PPC ads can be a very effective way to drive traffic to your law firm’s website. In fact, it’s a favored tactic for firms of all sizes.

Trying to run ads on generic keywords like “attorney” isn’t going to be effective. You’re going to need to target practice area keywords and use Google’s geo-targeting option if you’re running Google PPC Ads.

To get the biggest return on your advertising dollars, you’ll have control over who will see your ads. It’s important the majority of people who see your ads fall into that ideal client persona you developed during your strategic planning.

The best ads are targeting your ideal clients or promoting your firm’s bread and butter services.

You will also have analytics to tell you how effective your campaigns are which allows you to make informed decisions about how to reallocate your marketing dollars according to your budget and goals.

To turn those clicks into clients, you’ll want to direct traffic to optimized landing pages for your primary practice areas, not to your firm’s home page.

These specialized landing pages are crucial for turning passive website visitors into potential clients. For the most effective landing pages, you may want to work with a skilled copywriter. A copywriter can take your ideal client persona and craft compelling copy with appealing calls to action that convince potential clients to get in touch with you.

Pro Tip:  Make sure you understand how and what the platform you are running PPC ads charges you for.

  • Cost Per Click: you pay when someone clicks your ad.
  • Cost Per Impression: you pay each time your ad appears in a search.
  • Cost Per Acquisition: you pay for every conversion acquired.

5) Social Media Messages and Marketing

Social media isn’t just for watching cat videos. Social media, when done correctly, can be a powerful marketing tool for your law firm. Most of your clients are on social media, so it makes sense for your firm and your firm’s lawyers to be active on social media.

Platforms like Facebook give you a place to build a community presence and display your authority. Being on social media in your professional capacity opens another avenue for people to find and connect with your firm. The more people who see you, the more you’ll be top of mind when they need – or want to refer – legal services.

You can use paid ads on social media platforms, as well. Social media ads tend to be most effective for branding efforts. Social platform ads tend to be less expensive than PPC ads; however, they really serve different purposes.

The intent behind PPC ads is usually an immediate need. With social media, you’re building awareness and goodwill.

That said, you and your fellow lawyers don’t need to master the latest TikTok dances. Create pages and profiles only on sites where you know your ideal clients hang out. You don’t want to waste time or treasure on places where no one is looking for you.

But there is a time investment to achieve social success. You, or a social media manager, need to check on your accounts regularly, stay engaged with posts, and comment back to replies.

It isn’t just about being on consistently. It’s also about sharing the right mix of content that your ideal clients will be interested in. Think about those struggles and pain points and desired outcomes when you’re putting together social posts.

Social media is a great way to wring every drop of energy out of the content you create. Cut interesting quotes and stats out of articles. You can post blog content, static images, infographics, memes, and videos. Mix it up and have a little fun.

Now’s your chance to break that long-standing stereotype of lawyers being buttoned up and boring.

Pro Tip: Every social platform has its own rules. Demonstrate your mastery by adjusting post length, properly sizing images, matching tone, and using hashtags only as appropriate. What works on Facebook doesn’t work “as is” on Twitter. Make adjustments and show your potential clients you’ve also got great social media skills.

6) Video Marketing for Legal Professionals

If you’re not using video to market your firm, you’re missing a huge opportunity. In fact, behind getting your website in order, video marketing is probably the most important marketing tool to take advantage of these days.

Video marketing, for certain practice areas, can streamline the consultation process and make attorneys more efficient. By answering your potential client’s most frequently asked questions in advance, by the time they call, they’ve probably already decided you’re hired.

Underpinning all your other SEO efforts, TechCrunch reports you’re 53 times more likely to feature on the first page of Google if you include video. People also report that video is increasingly how they like to gather information.

Seeing you “live” builds trust quickly and that increased trust improves conversions. If your ideal client tends to be younger, you can’t avoid video marketing if you want to attract them away from your competitors.

You can produce many effective videos with your cell phone. You will need a few videos with higher production values.

A basic video marketing strategy will feature educational videos, profiles of attorneys or support staff who have a lot of client interaction, office tours, and client testimonials. Keep your videos short and relevant. Talk about the things people ask you about.

By supplementing your social media and other content with video you will see a lot of extra SEO benefits that generate more qualified leads.

7) Content Marketing and Thought Leadership

Creating quality content related to your firm’s practice areas and then sharing it using a multichannel approach is content marketing. It is designed to build your brand, establish your expertise, offer value in advance to potential clients, drive more people to your website.

A good blend of content is blog posts, videos, social media posts, infographics, podcasts, or other “talk spaces.”

Thought leadership is a pillar of content marketing. Your goal should be to establish your firm as a thought leader or subject matter expert. To share your expertise with your target audience, create educational content or even answer legal questions on forums like Quora.

Content marketing is also an opportunity to display empathy. There are few practice areas where there aren’t emotional responses to people’s legal challenges.

People do a lot of research before they settle on a firm, so make sure there is plenty of well-produced and fresh content for them to find. You need plenty of variety in your client-centric content. No matter how your ideal clients prefer to consume information, you have something there to show them you can help them. Strive to answer their questions and give them the confidence to select your firm.

Don’t put out boring content. Aim to meet people where they are. Lose the jargon and legalese. Help them and you help yourself by generating quality leads for your firm.

Now that you’re creating the content your potential clients need, you need to create a publication schedule. This calendar makes it a lot easier to publish consistently – or to check in on the person responsible for writing your blog articles and optimizing them for Google.

The Success Multiplier: Track, Measure, and Keep Optimizing

You’ve developed a winning law office marketing strategy and a powerful marketing plan to support your goals. Now isn’t the time to slow down.

If you want to keep growing your law firm and getting the maximum ROI (return on investment) on your marketing budget, you must continue monitoring and measuring the key performance indicators that demonstrate success.

Without tracking, you’ll never know which efforts are worth continuing, which ones need more effort, and which ones should be abandoned entirely.

When you know what is happening in your law firm because of your marketing efforts, you can make data-driven, informed decisions. And that gets you to those future marketing goals faster.

Marketing never stops…at least not if you want to stay in business. Without staying aware of what’s working and what’s not, you’ll not only miss out on leads, but you’ll waste a ton of money.

Getting new clients and cases is the key to having a successful law firm. To get new business, you need to let people know that you’re available to solve their legal challenges.

There are many smart ways to market your law firm, but you’ll be most successful if you use a marketing strategy that aligns with your business development goals. By executing your practice’s marketing according to a well-structured plan, and measuring the results, you can help more potential clients find you while you grow your firm.

Marc Apple

Marc Apple

Digital Strategist

I like inbound marketing strategy, creative design, website development, analytics, and organic and paid search. That's what I write about.