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Transform Your Legal Practice: Digital Marketing for Small & Medium Size Law Firms

Digital Marketing for Small and Medium Law Firms
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Are you a small law firm struggling to make it in an ever-shifting legal landscape?  Do you feel that your small firm is crunched in a catch-22 between increased costs and clients demanding more for less?  If the answer to either question is a resounding “yes,” read on.

A recent Thompson Reuters Solo and Small Law Firm survey revealed the 10 greatest challenges small firms face in today’s legal marketplace.   Challenges such as downward pressure on rates, too much time spent on administrative tasks, and cost control ranked high on the list.  However, at the top of the list was acquiring new client business.  Indeed, 27% of solo and small firms (30 attorneys or less) agree that getting new business in the door was their primary challenge.

Of course, you are likely familiar with the tried-and-true methods for generating new business:  networking with other professionals in associations or other social settings; specializing your practice to distinguish yourself in the marketplace; or using traditional marketing techniques, such as print ads, billboards, TV and radio commercials, and flyers.  If, however, you want to be competitive in tomorrow’s legal marketplace, then there is one method you must employ – digital marketing.  Let’s discuss some of the questions you might have with regard to digital marketing for your firm.

What is Digital Marketing?

As you can expect, digital marketing is simply the promotion of your law firm services on the Internet.  The online world is the platform upon which you communicate and provide information to your audience of potential clients.  With an audience that is bombarded daily with marketing pitches of all forms, you need to understand the basics of digital marketing to be competitive.

Why is Digital Marketing Important for My Law Firm?

A recent poll showed that more than 35% of legal consumers go online first when looking for a lawyer.  That number will only increase as more and more consumer choices for important services will begin with a Google search.  Accordingly, smart, effective digital marketing for law firm is vital to ensure that you capture the interest of those potential clients.

In addition, studies show that approximately 80% of people in the United States use the Internet regularly.  Of those people, approximately 97% use it to search for products that they eventually end up buying.  With those kinds of numbers, it would be wise to make sure your firm can be easily found on the Internet.   Digital marketing should not be viewed as a secondary, or complimentary, form of marketing behind traditional marketing techniques.  Rather, it should be a primary focus to improve business.

Are There Different Types of Digital Marketing?

Yes, digital marketing can be employed in many different ways.  Here are some popular sub-types:

  • Email marketing.  With email marketing, small law firms will typically send a marketing email to those who are on the firm’s email directory.  Such marketing emails should have timely, helpful content that keeps the firm name in the minds of those on the mailing list.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Here, the content on your website should have certain keywords that increase the likelihood that your website will appear when someone runs a Google search.  As such, the keyword-rich content will increase the visibility of your website.
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM).  This refers to increasing your website’s visibility with both content-based information (SEO) and paid advertising.
  • Social Media Marketing.  This type of law firm marketing refers specifically to promoting your firm’s services on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Affiliate Marketing.  Here, your firm would hire a third party (i.e., an affiliate) to digitally market your law firm.

Digital Marketing Sounds Great, But Doesn’t Every Law Firm Have a Website?

You may be surprised to know that nearly 40% of all law firms do not have a website!  You would think that as ubiquitous as the Internet is, every firm would have one.  Think again.  In addition, of those firms that have websites, 70% do not have a call to action (i.e., a “Call today” request); 47% do not have organized site content; and a whopping 97% fail to deliver any kind of personalized content.

Indeed, many of the firms that took the effort to create a website fail to use it for even the most basic purposes:  86% of firms do not send a response email when a visitor submits a form online; 68% do not have an email address on their homepage; and 27% do not have a phone number on their homepage.

These basic failures to utilize the law firm marketing power through digital media leaves the field wide open to those law firms that have savvy digital marketing strategies.  You can set yourself apart from the pack with digital marketing techniques that draw interest to your site and, most importantly, draw clients to your firm.

What Are the Benefits of Digital Marketing?

We have now established that you can gain a competitive edge over the many firms that are not using digital marketing effectively.  Now let us discuss nine solid benefits that digital marketing has over traditional marketing strategies.

  • Go After the Big Boys – Leveling the Field.  In traditional marketing platforms – print ads, TV commercials, conference participation – small and solo firms often can not match the marketing budgets of big law firms.  Yet, in the digital realm, the playing field is leveled.  A clean, professional, organized, content-rich website and effective digital target market strategies can match the digital marketing of any big, white-shoe law firm.
  • Metrics.  The buzzword for the next millennia is “metrics,” i.e., the ability to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.  It is often difficult to quantify whether a certain traditional marketing strategy reached the desired audience, was over-inclusive, or resulted in new business.  By contrast, digital marketing allows you to measure visits to your website, and the number of people who opened and read your marketing emails.
  • Re-Calibrate Marketing Strategy Right Away.  With the added ability to monitor digital marketing metrics in real time, you can easily pivot to your law firm marketing strategies that are working, and pivot away from those that are not.  Why engage in speculation about the effectiveness of your paper flyers, when you can see results of digital marketing and react accordingly?
  • Develop Your Brand.  The real power of online marketing is that you can be flexible in the content provided, and personalize the content to certain demographic groups.  Rather than a single TV spot or flyer that has one shot at promoting your services, a digital platform allows you to provide your audience with a constant flow of substantive content that demonstrates how your firm is different from the rest.
  • Allowing Your Audience to Share.  It is not often that a hardcopy marketing flyer will be passed from one person to another to expand your marketing reach.  However, digital marketing pieces can go viral, since sharing on social media platforms like Facebook is done so easily.  If you have some news about a recent case you won, share it digitally.  You may be surprised at how many people will be interested and share the news with their friends.
  • It Is, After All, a World Wide Web.  A digital platform allows your content to be accessed by anyone in the world, literally.  Traditional marketing campaigns do not allow such reach.  In addition, with some strong SEO techniques employed in your marketing, your information can be among the first items to appear as a result of a simple Google search.
  • Less Intrusive Than Traditional Marketing.  Oftentimes, a person will be less bothered by an email blast after they subscribed to your mailing list when compared to hardcopy marketing.  In addition, people can opt-out of digital communications, which gives your digital audience further peace of mind.
  • Active Engagement.  Traditional marketing techniques most often require passive engagement from the target audience.  In other words, your traditional marketing audience can only receive marketing information from you.  With digital marketing, you can engage your potential clients by allowing them to take action, be it visiting your website, rating a certain news article, or giving feedback that other potential clients can see.  An active potential client more likely seek to become an actual client.
  • Cost!  Saving the best for last, digital marketing will save you lots of money.  Employing digital marketing strategies will likely take as much time as employing traditional ones, but at a fraction of the cost, if any cost at all.  We all know saving money is music to the ears of any solo or small firm practitioner.

I’m Sold, How To Get My Digital Marketing Campaign Started?

Using digital marketing is not that difficult, even for the uninitiated, but it requires planning.  Here are some suggestions on how to get your law firm digital marketing campaign off the ground:

First, define your law firm goals.  Are you new and need to get clients?  Have you begun to specialize in a different area of practice and wish to take on cases in that one practice area?  Have you been established for many years and want to reconnect with your old book of business?  Whatever your circumstance is will define your highest-priority marketing goals.

Second, define your brand.  The term “brand” is bandied about quite a bit in the marketing world these days.  While your “brand” could mean a number of things, it generally refers to your unique selling proposition, or the thing that distinguishes your firm from the competition.  We all know that there are many, many, many lawyers and law firms in the world.  Having potential clients distinguish between them is a true challenge.  So, take some time with this step to really hone in on what makes you and your small law firm different from everyone else.  It may be a challenge, but everyone brings their own unique personality to their work.  Finding that uniqueness will be worth the introspection in the long run.

Third, plan which digital marketing approaches you will take.  As the “types of digital marketing” section above indicates, there are several building blocks from which to choose.  Here are some thoughts on the most important:

  • Start with a website.  Your firm’s digital presence should be established with a website.  Your goal should be to do what it takes to get traffic to your website.  So, how do I build one?  Consider these three things:
  • Building the actual site.  Once you select a web hosting service to host your site, you can choose from many web-builder options.  Some hosting services provide their own web-builder tools, or you can outsource the job.  In short, you can take the time to create your own website, or you can hire someone to do that for you.  The choice depends upon the balance between time and money you wish to devote to the project.
  • Optimize for mobile.  Even though we all know that the large majority of people surf the Internet on their mobile devices (phones and tablets), only about 33% of law firm websites are optimized for mobile devices.  As you develop your website, be sure that it is optimized to look attractive on mobile devices.
  • Content.  The keystone of all digital marketing, particularly your website, is content.  Creating meaningful, substantive, interesting, and updated content is king in order to generate traffic.  Many law firms have a blog that provides short articles and news on topics relevant to the firm’s practice.
  • Social media.  By 2018, Facebook is expected to hit 2 billion users!  That number is not only amazing, but presents amazing marketing opportunities.  Further your “brand” on social media platforms like Facebook just makes good business sense.  Moreover, Facebook and other platforms have helpful tools to help you capture more client leads.  When it comes to other social media platforms – e.g., Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn – be aware of the potential reach of those platforms, and be sure not to spread your digital marketing resources too thin.
  • Don’t Forget Email Marketing.  A 2016 McKinsey report indicates that email marketing has an impressive ROI, with a return of $44 for every $1 invested.  So, building and maintaining a large email address database is an important digital marketing component.

A Final Word – Getting Help For Your Small Law Firm

Digital marketing has many technical aspects, but it is not as difficult as it sounds.  As long as you have Internet access, you can begin to create an effective digital presence to bring in those new clients.  However, if you really want to separate your firm from the crowd, consider hiring an experienced digital marketing expert.  Oamii Digital Marketing Agency provides its clients with top-notch website design and other digital marketing tools.  Allow Oamii, at www.oamii.com, to provide you with a comprehensive package of law firm marketing in West Palm Beach to bring in the clients and cases you want.  Our goal is to sync your firm goals with your digital marketing approach, while minimizing development and maintenance costs.

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