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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jan 4 , 2022

Marketing in the law industry comes with its own unique set of rules, regulations, and best practices.

Here you’ll learn:

  • Why law firm marketing is unique
  • What legal client personas are all about
  • How SEO and PPC factor in
  • The importance of legal directories

When people want answers, they often turn to the internet. This also includes those seeking legal advice.

Search terms like “free legal aid” and “legal advice near me” are high-traffic terms, according to Google Trends.

To bring these people to your law office or firm’s virtual (or actual) doorstep, it’s key to have an effective marketing plan in place.

Today, 44% of businesses, including law firms, don’t have a well-defined marketing strategy. By having one of your own and putting it into practice, you can put your business ahead of the competition.   

Let’s break down how to design a successful law marketing plan.

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According to an American Bar Association survey, only 46% of law firms have a marketing budget. (Image via Rawpixel)

Legal marketing vs. traditional marketing

While most of the general tactics also apply to law firm marketing, there are specific nuances to the legal industry that you also need to address. 

Aspects of the law industry to keep in mind when crafting your marketing plan include:

  • Buying cycle – Legal clients tend to need services ASAP. This usually shortens their buying cycle significantly. Stressed-out people who need legal advice often believe that they don’t have time to do much shopping around.
  • Trust issues – When it comes to legal problems, the stakes are often high. Potential clients are looking to work with people they can trust, so it’s key to show your credibility and lead with transparency.
  • Availability – The urgency of legal assistance makes availability important. That’s why legal marketing focuses on providing as many touch points as possible.
  • Location – Law firms usually cater to a local audience. Because of this, it’s important to pay due attention to location-specific marketing tactics like local SEO.

Many law firms overlook the importance of marketing.

According to an American Bar Association survey, only 46% of them have a marketing budget. Meanwhile, only 33% of smaller law firms (with 10-49 attorneys) have an internal marketing team.

These statistics open up a world of possibilities for law offices that know how to market themselves strategically.

1. Create a client persona

Client personas are a crucial legal marketing pillar. Since law firms provide highly specific services, it’s important to target the right clients.

To create a client persona, you need to:

  • Establish demographics – Things like age range, income, marital status, education levels
  • Identify pain points – Why your potential clients are likely to reach you, what problems they need solving, what challenges they’re facing
  • Determine communication channels – Which methods do clients use, and how (and when) do they prefer to reach you
  • Narrow down as necessary – Since law licenses only apply in certain areas, make sure you define your location, language (like if you have Spanish-speaking options), and expertise

To streamline your marketing strategy further, consider creating a negative client persona.  These are people who aren’t the right fit for your law practice. They may not need the services you provide or lack the budget to pay for them.

Pro tip: You may need to create a different client persona for each practice area.

2. Implement search engine optimization (SEO)

Getting your website in top organic rankings on the search engine results page (SERP) is important for your company’s visibility. You want people who need your services to find you easily when they’re searching online. 

A solid legal SEO strategy begins with high-quality keyword research. Most likely, you’ll run into a wide variety of high-volume key phrases (popular keywords that people type into the search box). 

Once you pinpoint the keywords you want to rank for, you can begin creating content and ads that highlight these terms.

You can identify your keywords by:

  • Leveraging tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs
  • Brainstorming the terms people might use to find you online
  • Seeing what keywords your competitors seem to be targeting
  • Looking at the keywords you currently rank for

Pro tip: Another great place to find viable keywords is to browse online legal directories. They usually have “ask the lawyer” sections or Q&A forums.  

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Those in the law field must be extra mindful about what they share on social media. (Image via Unsplash)

3. Take advantage of paid search marketing

Placing your ads in front of qualified leads can bring business right to you. That’s where a solid paid search (also called pay-per-click or PPC) plan comes in.

Your legal paid search marketing campaign’s success will depend mainly on your budget, content, and keyword quality.

One of your biggest focuses should be on ad copy. By that, I mean targeting your client’s pain points in a personalized manner.

From there, you can build your PPC strategy on long-tail keywordsBesides having less competition, these keyword types are often less expensive and target a more specific audience. 

Of course, you also need to spend time on the landing pages that your ads lead to. You want the pages to have a clear message that highlights the value to the client, a streamlined design, and an eye-catching call to action (CTA), among other elements.

Pro tip: You can also take advantage of Google Ads’ keyword match types to increase ad relevancy and decrease PPC costs.

4. Don’t be afraid to leverage social media

For nearly all industries, social media is an excellent place to target your audience. Besides giving you an opportunity to learn more about them, it can help you build trust and engage them on a personal level.

It’s worth noting that those in the law field must be extra mindful about what they share. Local law society and bar rules may dictate the type and nature of the content you post on social media platforms.

For example, some states prohibit lawyers from using the words “expert” and “specialist.” Meanwhile, some rules state that information about legal services should always be accompanied by contact details. Brush up on what’s OK and not OK to post before you hit “publish.”

Pro tip: We recommend using a 70/30 rule for social media marketing (SMM). Under this rule, 70% of your social media posts should be informative and highly valuable to the audience, while 30% are more directly promotional.

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Since almost 50% of law firms aren’t spending enough time and money on marketing efforts, you have an excellent chance to outdo the competition. (Image via Rawpixel)

5. Conquer legal directories and Google Business Profile

Many people start their online law firm search by browsing legal directories, as mentioned above. Getting your firm listed in these directories can offer you even more reach and visibility.

You can start by listing your firm on free directories, then choose which directories might be worth paying for a listing. Some of the most popular online legal directories are:

  • Avvo
  • Nolo
  • FindLaw
  • Lawyers.com
  • Lawyer.com

Your law firm may already be listed in some directories. If so, go ahead and “claim” the listing so you can make sure it contains accurate information and update it as needed.

If you’ve got a physical location for your business, you should also create, claim, and optimize your Google Business Profile (GBP). This free Google feature is yet another way to enhance your law office in search results.

5. Track and optimize as needed

Creating measurable goals and tracking progress will let you know whether your law firm marketing plan is on the right path. But don’t make the mistake of getting discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Particularly when it comes to SEO, it’s a long game.

Tools like Google Analytics offer performance reports so you can get a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not. From there, you can A/B test things like landing pages and ads, then see what resonates with your audience.

As time goes on, you can continue to optimize your plan create goals that are both aspirational and reasonable.

The takeaway

Since almost half of law firms aren’t spending enough time and money on marketing efforts, those who do can get an immediate leg up over their competitors.

Experience tells us that one of the most effective legal marketing strategies is to leverage a multi-channel approach: that includes PPC, SEO, and SMM.

Once you’ve crafted a plan for your law firm and put it in action, you can build on it, optimize it, and A/B test it to bring about continued success for months and years to come.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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