Success with inbound marketing in the legal industry depends on having seven foundation blocks firmly in place prior to kicking off a lead generation campaign.
1. Target Market
2. Key Performance Indicators
3. Keyword Bank
4. Content Depot
5. Marketing-Ready Website
6. Social Media
7. Intelligence Tools
1. Identify Your Target Market
This tends to be an easy one for legal professionals to accomplish because their target market will closely correspond with your law firm’s practice areas.
But don’t stop there. Having a complete picture of your ideal client will help with important campaign aspects later on. Understanding who your ideal client is and how they prefer to be marketed to can inform your strategies and help you achieve success quickly.
For example, if you focus on corporate law, your social media strategy might be anchored in engaging personally with executives on LinkedIn. Conversely, a locally based OWI attorney might tailor a strategy to a shortened sales cycle structured on ranking well in search for key terms.
Look for similarities across your client roster—length of sales cycle, how they contact you, where they’re from—and start aggregating this data into a “buyer persona” profile that a legal industry inbound marketing specialist can use to structure a campaign down the road.
2. Identify Key Performance Indicators to Measure and Adjust Your Campaign
Marketing plans of any kind always begin with KPIs—essentially, what are you trying to accomplish from a campaign, and how will you know if you’re on track?
Successful inbound marketing in the legal industry will likely be guided by several specific KPIs, including:
1. Increased keyword rankings (aiming for the first page)
2. Website contact us form or new client intake survey submissions
3. Inbound phone calls
4. Increased time on site / decreased bounce rate
Ideally, your law firm’s inbound marketing strategy focuses prospects toward one or two primary conversion points; however, defining the KPIs that will function as clues to your effectiveness will help you adjust an underperforming campaign—or downright wrong strategy—as time progresses.
3. Identify the Keywords Your Clients Use to Find You
This is harder than it sounds. to do this well, you need to see your practice through a prospect’s eyes.
For example, let’s say you focus a significant portion of your practice on OWI cases, or Family Law.
But, prospective clients might not always search for “OWI attorney” or “Family Law attorney”—they might search for “DUI lawyer” and “divorce lawyer.”
Use historical data when first building a keyword bank—check Google Analytics for common search queries past prospects have used to arrive on your site. But keep in mind that identifying an effective keyword strategy is an iterative process: you’ll be guided by the data, at least in the beginning.
4. Content Depot
Because the Internet is an “on-demand” medium, blanket sales tactics are easily ignored.
Therefore, successful inbound marketing for attorneys requires a firm to develop and promote informative, non-sales-oriented content to attract potential clients who are already searching for the services you provide.
Successful campaigns often include a variety of integrated content collateral, including:
- A comprehensive blog that presents news, explanation, and commentary on practice areas and relevant legislation. The blog is great for increasing search engine visibility.
- Videos that offer an inside look at your law firm’s associates. Your potential clients want to learn as much as they can about you (the individual, not just your firm) prior to making a decision. Video is the easiest way to show them who you are.
- Case studies are highly effective content for attorneys, particularly if your firm tends toward a longer sales cycle. Develop one for each practice area, place them behind targeted landing pages, and follow up by phone or email with visitors who’ve downloaded them.
Content is the cornerstone of inbound marketing for attorneys. But please be aware that an effective content strategy sprouts from careful planning and execution. Develop a storehouse of great content at the start of a campaign to save yourself valuable time and help you focus on your campaign holistically rather than getting caught in the details of individual tactics.
5. Marketing-Ready Website
A word before we get to what constitutes a Marketing-Ready Website…
Typically, campaigns get held up at this step. Businesses across all industries are often using websites that cannot be used for actual marketing—there’s often something wrong structurally that won’t allow for Google to properly index the website, or a firm may not have access to its own website’s content management system.
These problems must be addressed before launching a campaign—if not, any marketing efforts won’t gain traction due to a structurally unsound “home base.”
If doing a rebuild, ask your development firm for examples of previous work and references, and do actually speak with their former clients: based on their reaction you’ll know right away if the service provider is up for the job.
What are the key elements of a marketing-ready website?
1. Your firm owns your website and all content therein.
We’ve seen clients in drag-out battles with former web hosts over this. Make sure your contract explicitly states that YOU own everything once the site build is complete.
2. Your website is built upon a user-friendly Content Management System (CMS).
And that you have access to the backend of the CMS (WordPress, Joomla!, etc.). You’re going to publish content regularly throughout the life of your campaign—adding an additional third-party causes everything to stagnate.
3. Your website has a simple navigation structure.
Less is more. Limit the website to a top-level navigation bar with drop-down menus if necessary. Be sure the site has a logical flow between pages and that every page can be accessed within 2 clicks.
4. Your website loads quickly.
Make sure you development team limits the number of plugins they use.
5. Your website’s content (copy, images, videos, etc.) format is free of clutter.
Again less is more. Writing for the web is different from essay-style writing. Limit paragraphs to 2-3 sentences if you can. Images, excluding homepage sliders, shouldn’t take up more than half of the visible page.
If you can afford to use an enterprise video hosting service, buy it: YouTube constantly fights for your visitor’s attention which can result in a prospect leaving your site in favor of a cat video. Don’t lose business to a cat.
6. Your website has a blog.
We cannot say enough about blogging. Committed blogging makes your site dynamic and offer visitors a reason to return regularly, thus presenting you with more time to nurture the inbound lead to close.
7. Your website integrates with social media channels.
Social media marketing is an important awareness and engagement tool for law firms, and those profiles should be easily accessible from your website and vice versa.
6. Social Media
Social media provides law firms with real-time, inexpensive two-way access to prospective clients.
Your social media strategy will have to be tailored to your firm’s unique goals. But the law firms we’ve worked with historically tend to have several key campaign elements in common:
They use social to inform.
Law firms find success with social media platforms when they publish timely news and commentary relevant to their unique practice area. Often, these news articles are about local legislation.
They use social to engage.
Law firm social profiles are often used as a hub to engage prospects or clients who’ve Liked, Connected to, or Followed a firm. While their follower profile may be smaller than other industries, potential clients use social profiles of law firms to quickly assess whether the firm is worth working with. Regularly posting to your social pages and engaging in meaningful dialogue when you do get comments from followers goes a long way in establishing trust with potential clients.
They use Social to entertain.
It can’t all be work. Law firms that regularly share interesting and amusing content with their social communities, typically see stronger follower numbers. This type of content often includes video interviews with associates, infographics, news articles, and interesting statistics published with a personal comment from one of the attorneys at your firm.
Approaching social media marketing from a human standpoint ensures that your firm abides by the norms specific to social media: social media was originally intended for community, connection, and diversion. Be overly sales-y, and you’ll lose followers quickly.
When used thoughtfully, social media can be a wonderful top-of-funnel tool. Be sure to participate as an individual where the stakes are low before attempting to do so as a brand.
7. Intelligence Tools
There are two types of intelligence, or ‘analytics’ tools relevant for law firms:
1. Standard or free tools
2. Premium paid tools
Every law firm should use at least a standard industry tool like Google Analytics, and in many cases, at least for smaller firms, that is all you’ll need. With Google Analytics you have access to detailed visitor data—everything from user demographics to how visitors flow through your site.
But if your firm has eyes on rapid expansion, you have more powerful intelligence options. Tools like HubSpot (marketing automation) can track an individual visitor to keep tabs on what pages they’re viewing, when and how often they come back to your site, and what content offers they’re most interested in—all very helpful to know when trying to earn a prospect’s trust in that initial consultation.
In the end, the more powerful the intelligence tools your firm uses to measure and adapt your marketing, the faster you’ll start generating potential clients. If you’re looking to grow, it’s worth the expense.
If you're looking for information on building a complete digital marketing plan for your law firm, check out our guide to law firm marketing.