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5 (Free) Ways To Kick Start Your Law Firm’s Digital Marketing
Friday, January 10, 2020

Law firm marketing can feel like a Catch-22. You need to get the word out if you’re going to increase revenues and grow your firm, but if your client roster isn’t full, you may be reluctant to spend money on marketing. Digital marketing has opened up a world of possibilities, especially for small law firms that may have had difficulty competing with bigger players through traditional marketing.

Still, few firms have fully tapped into the advantages digital marketing offers, and some not at all. 14% of respondents to the American Bar Association’s 2019 Legal Technology Survey reported that their firms didn’t have websites, and that number is much higher for solos. Just 57% of one-attorney firms have websites. Only 30% of law firms and 9% of solos have blogs. In other words, there is a lot of untapped opportunity for legal marketing online.

The good news is that if you’re ready to take advantage of digital marketing opportunities, you can make a strong start—or add to your existing marketing efforts—with these five strategies that won’t cost you a dime.

  1. Make the most of your Google My Business listing.  

Google My Business is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools available, and it’s absolutely free. Not the type of free many business listings and promotional tools are, where you can use a few features and it’s really just a foot in the door to sell you a better version. Just free, 100% (for now).

Some of the key benefits of claiming and building out your Google My Business profile include:

  • Eligibility for prime placement in the boxed local business section (3 pack) of Google’s search results

  • Ratings tied to your profile and visible when your profile appears in search (aka social proof)

  • Easy ability to interact with your market—if you choose to enable it, prospective clients can even book an appointment through your listing

  • An authoritative listing, since Google verifies your business location

  • Useful information such as your hours of operation, phone number, and website link presented in a format that’s familiar and predictable to most people who use Google search

When you invest in building out your profile and encourage clients to leave reviews, your Google My Business profile can function as a mini-website, combining information, client ratings and communication tools in a simple, convenient format. It takes a little more time and care to verify your business and create an effective profile than most free directly listings will, but it’s well worth the investment.

  1. Manage your social media marketing in-house.

The power of social media for marketing isn’t quite what it used to be, as leading platforms like Facebook shift further and further toward a focus on paid promotions. Organic posts reach fewer people than they once did, even if those people are your followers. That’s one reason many law firms are opting not to hire someone to manage social networking. But, working your social media accounts still has value:

  • Though the numbers are smaller, social networks still offer an opportunity to get your content in front of followers, keeping your firm in the front of their minds when they need legal help or someone asks for a referral

  • Social sharing by your followers is one of the quickest and easiest ways to spread your content to a larger audience

  • The opportunity to respond and engage through social media helps build trust and credibility

  • If you do choose to make a small financial investment, boosted posts and targeted ads on most social platforms are easy to manage, start up almost immediately, and can be tested with a tiny budget

Still, social networking likely isn’t your first priority when it comes to allocating your marketing budget, and it shouldn’t be. Social media can be managed in-house with a relatively small time investment and handing it off to the right member of your team will very likely yield better results. After all, no one is better qualified to connect with and build relationships with prospects, colleagues and potential referral sources on behalf of your firm than a member of your firm.

  1. Publish regular blog posts.

You’ve been hearing for years that your law firm should have a blog. Maybe you’ve even added a blog to your firm’s website. But, if the last post on your legal blog is from 2017, you’re far from alone. Busy attorneys are often daunted by the idea of regular blog posting, and creating that new post keeps getting shuffled to the bottom of the metaphorical pile.

Effective blogging doesn’t have to be a burden. Just one 500+ post per week can help your firm:

  • Keep fresh content on your site, which is a key factor in capturing and maintaining search rankings

  • Provide a steady stream of content to share through social networks

  • Build credibility by demonstrating your knowledge and your desire to help people understand the legal issues they face

If you’re strategic about blogging and invest just a little time in keyword research, you can also use your blog to significantly increase the number of keywords you’re targeting. A blog post is a great way to hone in on a phrase or question that may not have high search volume, but will bring very targeted traffic because it’s important to your prospects.

Blogging is especially painless if your law firm site is built on WordPress. The platform was originally designed for bloggers, and any member of your staff with the right permissions can easily post blog content. And, of course, if even one post per week sounds like more than you can commit to right now, you can always hire a freelancer to provide blog posts.

To make the most of your blog, be sure to:

  • Write for your audience—if you’re serving consumers, keep your language relatively informal and avoid long sentences and legal jargon

  • Set your posts up for social sharing—at the most basic level, that means including a featured image, crafting an interesting headline, and making your post inviting with sub-headers, bullets, and other formatting that breaks up the text

  • Install the Yoast SEO plug-in to help ensure that you’re using best practices and track which keywords you’ve already targeted

  • Use a social sharing plug-in to make it easy for your readers to distribute your content

  1.  Update your name, address and phone number (NAP) around the web.

One benefit of directory listings is obvious: a directory is one more place people looking for legal services can find you. But, there’s a less obvious benefit that may be even more important. Google looks to information around the web to help determine the credibility of your business. And, some directory listings also offer valuable backlinks to support your SEO efforts.

Consistency counts, so you’ll want to make sure that your NAP information in directories (and anywhere else its online) exactly matches what’s on your website. Begin by conducting searches for your law firm and for each of your attorneys and checking existing listings. You may be surprised to find listings on sites you’ve never visited, let alone registered with—and these sites often have outdated or inaccurate information. You’ll want to clean up that conflicting information by updating your NAP data on the credible sites and requesting removal from any undesirable ones. Even though you’ve done a general search, don’t create a new profile in a directory without specifically searching that directory to find out whether you’re already listed. For more information on your NAP, visit www.yext.com.

In addition to your Google My Business listing, here are some valuable directories to get you started:

  • Avvo

  • FindLaw

  • HG.org

  • Justia

  • Martindale / Nolo / Lawyers.com

  • BBB

  • Infousa

Each of these directories has a premium listing, featured listing or subscription to sell you, and of course those listings are most prominently featured when you visit these sites. But, each also offers a basic free attorney listing or law firm profile.

While legal industry directories are most relevant, you may also want to consider profiles on general directory and ratings sites such as Yelp.

  1. Publish a free law firm newsletter.

One of the most effective ways to stay top-of-mind with prospective clients and possible referral sources is to provide useful information. A monthly newsletter reminds your contacts of your firm, increases their sense of familiarity with you and your practice, and provides an opportunity to show your expertise and build trust.

Fortunately, modern technology makes creating and distributing a newsletter easier than ever. One good option for a firm just getting started with newsletter publishing is a free Mailchimp account. The free account allows you to store up to 2,000 contacts, segment them into lists, use pre-existing templates to create your newsletter, and send up to 10,000 emails each month. You’ll even get basic reporting to help you understand what captures your audience’s attention and how to fine-tune your content.

As your contact list grows or you want more sophisticated options for design and testing, Mailchimp offers tiered paid pricing that makes adding features affordable for most law firms.

In Summary

The bottom line is that being on a tight budget is no excuse for not promoting your law firm. Online marketing has gone a long way toward leveling the playing field for smaller firms with lower (or no) advertising budgets. With a little time and effort, you can significantly expand your reach without ever reaching for your wallet.

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