Law Firm Digital Marketing and Why Strategy Matters
Before the digital age, “marketing” was usually a fairly straightforward affair for law firms. A few billboards or public transit ads, some well-placed television commercials, and your job was mostly complete. But today, marketing encompasses a vast sphere of advertising and outreach methods, and not all of them are a good fit for individual law firms.
With such a wealth of possibilities, how can your law firm approach its marketing activities with an eye toward maximizing your return on the investment, but do it while still upholding the highest standards for integrity and client reputation?
For most firms, the answer is complex but relatively straightforward: Build a digital marketing strategy that targets the right people, in the right location, with the right messages.
Easier said than done? Not quite.
Here’s what you need to know about how digital marketing can benefit your law firm, as long as you’re choosing the right strategies.
Choosing the Field of Play: Search vs. Social Marketing
One of the most fundamental questions for a digital marketing strategy is deciding where it will be put to use. While the goal of every marketing campaign is to drive clients to your website where they can contact your firm to seek legal services, how you try to achieve that goal has an enormous impact on your chances for success.
Online Search Marketing
Search marketing is the most traditional method of digital marketing—indeed, it was the only effective method until the mid-to-late 2000s.
Search marketing can take two different forms. In the first, you focus on optimizing your webpage content to improve the site’s SEO ranking and help it become a top result for relevant search terms like “lawyer in my area.” In the second form, you can buy search ads directly, so your law firm’s ad is displayed above relevant search results even if your website wouldn’t normally appear in those results.
Optimizing your website for SEO is the only way to ensure long-term success, but with such high competition for popular search terms, even the most optimized sites can struggle to improve their search rankings. In that case, buying ads can help you close the gap, but usually at a greater expense than improving the website itself.
Additionally, you’ll need to continue buying ads to stay visible, and will need to treat advertising campaigns as fully-fledged efforts, with professional marketers evaluating ad performance and tweaking the advertised content to improve results.
Social marketing has the same end goal (driving traffic to your website) but relies on social momentum instead of ad buys and SEO. While you can also buy ads directly on social media platforms, “true” social marketing is usually thought of as an attempt to capture grassroots momentum so that previous clients mentioning or conversing with your law firm will organically spread that message to other viewers in their social network.
Social networking is a great way to raise awareness of your firm and its services within clearly defined social groups, but it also requires your firm to maintain an active and engaging presence on the social platform. Social media users typically respond poorly to overt advertising and promotion, so effective social campaigns make an effort to genuinely participate in conversations and become productive members of related networks.
Generally, most law firms are best served by pursuing both types of marketing, as long as each campaign is effectively tweaked to target the specific audience you’re hoping to attract.
In the pre-internet world, most traditional marketing was focused first on simple brand name recognition and contact dissemination. In other words, the purpose of a legal ad on a bus bench isn’t to send a highly targeted message, it’s simply to let people know you exist and how to contact you.
In contrast, digital marketing requires much more precision when it comes to targeting specific messages to the right audience, and those specifications can often determine which type of digital marketing you should pursue.
A digital marketing campaign is only likely to be successful when it’s supported by the website content you’re directing users to. If every digital ad or social media post you make is pointing users to the same all-purpose home page, you’ll always struggle to convert visitors into clients or contacts.
Instead, you need to view every campaign—even every specific message—as a single straight path leading from the initial point of promotion to landing pages on your website that are individually customized for that message. Car accident ads need to lead to a car accident landing page, divorce social media posts to a divorce services landing page, and so on.
Avoid the Ad Hoc
Digital marketing is a highly skilled profession, and no law firm has ever been well-served by taking a shotgun approach to their marketing efforts.
Instead of “taking a shot and seeing what happens,” you need to work with qualified marketing professionals who can help you determine the precise goals for a campaign, and who will have the tools necessary to properly monitor and evaluate a campaign’s progress and success rates.
Marketing professionals can help you identify the specific audiences you should be targeting for a given objective, then ensure you’re creating marketing material that’s the best fit for getting those audiences to pay attention and click-through to your website.
Ultimately, it’s best to view digital marketing as an ongoing effort that requires active management throughout. The days of “set it and forget it” newspaper ads are gone, but with professional assistance and effectively targeted promotional material, you can ensure your digital marketing strategy yields valuable dividends.