I could open up talking about the obstacles of 2020 (there have been plenty), but the amount of opportunities available in the digital marketing space for lawyers have been innumerable, and those who have pursued at least some of the main tactics below have benefited:
- Answering the slew of new and unique questions that consumers asked, tapping into important content
- Taking advantage of opportunities in markets where others pulled out, such as paid social and Google ads
- Being first to market for new trends in results, from both organic (FAQ and Reviews Structured Data) and paid (Local Service Ads)
- Remaining diligent in growth plans, marketing, and education
With 2021 around the corner, law firms that have seen major success in 2020 (even with COVID factored in) will stay the course with many tactics that have worked and explore expanding or starting new approaches as consumer behavior continues to evolve. Below are 10 of the main tactics that have put law firms on the path of growth for 2021 and beyond.
Many law firms found themselves with more downtime when April 2020 rolled around—but was it enough to finally get around to making long-procrastinated changes for internal processes, like going paperless or automating monotonous manual tasks?
We are at a point where there isn’t a default mediocre solution for your legal research, case management, and potential client intake. There are multiple solutions for each aspect of your firm, with many that cater to specific practice areas such as criminal defense and personal injury.
Law firms embracing new technologies are freeing up their staff’s time, finding consistency in their potential/current client experience, and overall taking their firms to the next level.
Taking Content Marketing Strategy to the Next Level
We talk about content marketing, a lot. But for good reason. A solid, consistent strategy not only generates unprecedented visibility for all search queries people use to find their legal services but also informs your potential clients that you are the best fit for their legal issue.
A good content strategy isn’t just “blogging a lot and adding long-form articles and pages to the website often.” Next-level content strategy includes:
- A system for repurposing all of the content you spend time on into guides, social posts, microcontent, newsletter excerpts, etc.
- Keep up with trends on how people like to absorb content, whether it be clean FAQs or creative infographics
- Knowing Google’s best practices for content—from EAT standards to current SEO
Law firms that made content marketing a core tenet of their legal marketing strategy and were able to keep up with the big changes in search behavior during COVID were able to win with their content in 2020, and will continue to do so in 2021.
Additional Info on This Topic: https://l.marketmymarket.com/the-last-content-guide-youll-need/
Local Service Ads
But that doesn’t mean all the positions are completely taken.
We have encouraged all of our clients to at the very least get approved for the program and see if it is a good fit for their goals. LSAs are viable for every practice area, every firm size, and every geography out there. The only way to know if it works best for you is to try it.
Additional Info on This Topic: https://www.marketmymarket.com/google-screen-local-service-ads-expands-into-more-practice-areas-and-cities/
Understanding the Value of (the Right) Legal Directories
It seems like there’s a new winner for directories every single year. Years ago, we remember when Avvo was the place to be. Then Justia. FindLaw would seem to have solid positioning every other year, and SuperLawyers would have great positioning, only to slip back months later. Even non-legal directories have their place in the sun intermittently, such as Yelp, Expertise, and Thumbtack.
Directories today are viable almost only on a case-by-case basis. With more websites winning important positions on SERPs and completely taking over local results, directories may have their lowest impact as of this moment. They are relying more on paid spots and branding plays to assist consumers on navigating directly toward them. Still, many law firms that go heavy on their marketing still will select the directories that work for them in select cases. They are still a part of comprehensive marketing plans since directories will still command positions for an array of keywords and geographies.
Additional Info on This Topic: https://www.marketmymarket.com/why-pay-to-be-in-a-list-of-results-within-a-list-of-results/
Aggressively, But Cautiously, Engaging in Google Ads
I’m not one to push too much for Google Ads, since they are typically the most expensive digital marketing approach any law firm can take. But from talking to experts throughout 2020 about how it can be done to get results sooner rather than later (thus realizing a return that will cover the expense), I’ve given Google Ads more consideration.
This will still never be a marketing campaign you can have for just a couple thousand dollars a month, in any region or practice area, but if you’re looking to kickstart your lead flow, it could be something worth pursuing.
The most aggressive law firms in the digital marketing space will spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on Google Ads a month, and they don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
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Perfecting the Intake and Follow-Up
The vast majority of law firms believe their intake process is perfect, but in reality, most experts I talk to in the intake space claim they see flaws in nearly 90% of these processes. The most common issues, which may resonate with you almost immediately, are:
- How the typical caller is almost always put on hold, and that they are on hold for far too long
- The phone rings over 4 times before someone picks up
- Intake personnel inadvertently tell potential clients they don’t handle their type of case when the law firm in fact does
- No process/personnel for taking calls after hours or on weekends (which is more than 2/3 of the week…)
- Not expressing empathy or genuine care to the person calling in
That is for intake alone. As far as follow-up, this may tie in to the technologies discussed right in the beginning, but there may be a reason a potential client doesn’t immediately sign on with the law firm or even schedule a consultation the first time around. You can bet how many law firms lose these potential clients in the shuffle after their first call.
I am not an expert on this subject matter, but 2020 has been the biggest year for my education in it. If you want to learn more about this subject matter from a guru who has done it for decades, I strongly suggest the link below. I’ve spoken with some of the largest personal injury law firms in the country, and even their intake/follow-up process is a work in progress.
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
I’ve written and spoken on this topic enough to last a lifetime (feels like it anyway), so the extensive details of this can be found on our Market My Market website. In summation, I can’t stress the following facts about reviews in 2020 enough:
- Consumers research lawyers on average no less than 30 minutes. They are looking for reviews and reading individual reviews.
- Google Business listings with strong reviews have a strong correlation with appearing on local searches.
- Reviews are the ultimate form of social validation. Their inclusion on websites, digital assets, and marketing collateral have a big impact.
Having a plan in place for getting positive reviews ties in the same way as having a plan for deterring and getting in front of potential bad reviews. This topic is also discussed in the following podcast.
Law firms with a strong digital presence will always have a plan in place for generating/encouraging positive reviews, as you can see with firms with hundreds of 5-star reviews.
Additional Info on This Topic: https://legalmastermindpodcast.com/ep-78-chris-walker-navigating-the-negative-reviews-your-law-firm-may-receive/
Optimizing Local SEO
With the “near me” and non-geo search term trend long underway, it is extremely important to have a strong local presence for your law firm through a scope of unique marketing directives.
While consumers haven’t been as concerned about the proximity of a law firm in 2020 (and this may easily be the case going into 2021), the expansion of the local strategy is the move in focus. This is done primarily by starting up other office locations, or satellite offices, in other parts of the state.
These offices should have conference room space for meeting clients and signage to establish the legitimate presence of your law firm.
Additional Info on This Topic: https://seoisdeadandotherlies.podbean.com/e/episode-74-citations-and-local-seo/
Finding Where You Fit in Social Media
Social media is a great tool for retargeting visitors by following potential clients who have interacted with your firm’s website or landing pages. By setting up Facebook ads, you can effectively convert users into clients using the social network’s targeting capabilities.
If you practice specific areas of law, you can get creative with your Facebook ad targeting and potentially get in front of prospective clients who haven’t already interacted with your site.
For example, someone who uses the “check-in” feature while at the local hospital in your law firm’s community can be targeted using the address or geographic location feature—which could be an appealing audience for a personal injury firm.
Additional Info on This Topic: https://www.law.com/njlawjournal/2020/06/15/power-social-media-moves-to-take-the-market-in-the-covid-era/
Staying on Top of Website Trends
Though the majority of websites are now mobile friendly and easy to use on most devices, resolutions, and platforms, performance becomes the next issue. It’s time to move on from your basic GoDaddy plan and get into a dedicated, professional hosting setting.
Google’s roll out of Core Web Vitals have significantly raised the bar for what makes a great visitor experience on your website. Not only that, but consumers are looking for law firms to present themselves with a website that was built in at least the past 5 years. No one is expecting you to have a $100,000 website that took a year to build with every bell and whistle, but at least “modern” is the standard.
Successful law firms build websites for their ideal client, not for what their team and ego feel good about.
Continuing Digital Marketing Education and Always Exploring New Channels
Lastly, law firms that are successful in marketing endeavors are always educating themselves! Even if it is just an hour or two a week, the biggest way to win is to always try something new, launch a new campaign, and look ahead to the future of their firm’s growth.
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Finding the Right Legal Marketing Partner
Want a team behind you in 2021 that will have your back and keep you not just one, but several steps ahead of your competition? At Market My Market, we’re always on top of the latest trends in digital marketing, with an emphasis on legal marketing. Contact us for a free consultation to lay the foundation for a successful new year!