Law Firm Marketing Strategy: Top 8 Ideas to Grow a Legal Practice
Do you have a law firm marketing strategy? Even if you’ve created one in the past, it’s always a good idea to revisit and update it annually. To grow your law firm so that it’s thriving and more profitable, you need to attract new clients and cultivate new business. Having a solid law firm marketing strategy and plan helps you grow your law firm by ensuring your firm’s marketing efforts will be as effective as possible.
In this post, we’ll walk you through how to grow your law firm to the next level by creating a law firm marketing strategy and execute an effective marketing plan based on your goals.
What is the difference between a marketing plan and a strategy?
While the terms law firm marketing strategy and marketing plan may sound similar, understanding the difference between the two is important for streamlining your marketing efforts.
Law firm marketing strategy
Essentially, your marketing strategy explains the whys behind your firm’s marketing and drives your marketing efforts forward. Your law firm marketing strategy captures your firm’s marketing goals, target audience, services offered, core message, and more. By highlighting your firm’s marketing goals, defining your target market, analyzing your competitors and market, and shaping your core message, your firm will be in a better position to create an effective marketing plan.
Always start with a solid marketing strategy for your law firm before working on your marketing plan. You don’t want to start executing your marketing tactics, like creating social media marketing content for your law firm’s Twitter page, only to realize your target clients for your practice area respond to a completely different type of message.
Law firm marketing plan
Once you’ve determined your overall law firm marketing strategy, you can use that to guide your firm’s marketing plan. Your law firm’s marketing plan defines the specific actions you will take to execute your strategy and achieve your marketing goals. Your attorney marketing plan will also outline the types of marketing you’ll use for your firm. This includes social media marketing or search engine optimization. When developing your marketing plan, you’ll also consider what results you want from your marketing efforts.
Law firm marketing strategy
What goes into a law firm marketing strategy and how do you create one? The section below outlines the different sections you need in your marketing strategy, and what they mean:
Summarize your overall marketing strategy based on the following sections. Keep it clear and concise. If one of your employees or another stakeholder wanted the lowdown of your marketing strategy, this brief section should tell them what they need to know.
Define your marketing goals and make sure they align with your firm’s business goals. Make sure they are SMART goals. For example, one of your firm’s marketing goals could be to increase your law firm newsletter open rate by 20% by the first half of the year. Ask yourself: Why have you decided on these goals and why are they important to your law firm?
This is one of the most important foundations of a good marketing strategy. Understanding and defining your target audience—including their characteristics, purchasing habits when it comes to legal services, and pain points—will go a long way in helping you execute an effective marketing plan.
“Market” here refers to the people, businesses, and organizations that are your actual and potential clients. Think about the size of the business opportunity your law firm has, based on your practice area(s), geographical location, target audience, etc.
A good marketing plan helps you stand out from your competitors and get the clients your law firm needs. But first, you need to understand how and what your competitors are doing. What are the characteristics of your competitors? What is their market share? How do they try to differentiate themselves from other law firms?
Outline what type of legal services you will offer, in what practice area(s), and what type of clients do you offer these services to. Are you providing legal help to individuals with accident injuries? Or maybe you provide legal help to families going through difficult divorces? What are the benefits of those services and how will you provide those services?
This is the key message you want your target audience to know about your law firm. Your core message should go beyond letting your ideal clients know what services you offer—it should speak deeper to their legal and personal pain points and needs.
Pricing and promotion
How will you price and promote your services? What is your law firm pricing model and what do the different prices include? What marketing channels will you utilize and why have you chosen them?
Law firm marketing plan
Taking the time to create and execute a detailed law firm marketing plan gives you a clear roadmap to refer to throughout the year. A detailed marketing plan can also save you time, effort, and marketing budget in the long run. By having a defined plan, it becomes clear who on your team is responsible for what. This helps you stay on track and accomplish your firm’s legal marketing tasks that might otherwise fall through the cracks.
Plan structure overview
Just as you would write down your law firm business plan, having a good structure for your law firm marketing plan is important. This way, everyone at your firm can be on the same page. Having an official marketing plan also lets you measure and track your progress.
Overall, a successful law firm marketing plan means three steps:
- Define your marketing goals.
- Write down how you plan to achieve those goals.
- Execute the plan.
1. Goals and purpose
What do you want your legal marketing plan to achieve?
Without set, quantifiable goals for your law firm marketing, it’s impossible to track and measure your success. If you’ve already created a solid law firm business plan, the good news is that you aren’t starting from scratch. Look at the overall marketing goals you laid out within your business plan, and modify them if needed.
Make sure that any goals you set are SMART and measurable. You should be able to set an objective and a time frame for your marketing goals, so you can reasonably measure how well you’ve achieved them in the future.
Examples of achievable marketing goals include:
- Growing your legal practice’s client base. For example, you could set a goal of gaining a certain number of new, active clients by the end of the quarter.
- Raising firm pricing. You may want to set the goal of increasing the pricing of some of your legal services to a specific number by the end of the year.
- Elevating brand awareness for your law firm. More subjective goals like growing brand awareness are harder to measure. But one of the ways you could evaluate brand awareness is by looking at your firm’s organic web traffic—which is the number of visitors that arrived at your website from search results, and not from paid advertising.
2. Plan components
When it comes to putting your law firm’s marketing plan to paper, keep in mind that you’ll likely have more success if you keep it concise.
While the details of your law firm’s marketing plan will be customized to your specific goals, it should include the following general sections:
- Overview. Your plan should outline the how and why of your law firm’s marketing. You may want to include:
- A statement of purpose. Why are you marketing your firm? What do you want to achieve by marketing your law firm?
- Your law firm marketing goals. Write down specific SMART goals for marketing your firm.
- Financial investment. How much will your firm budget to invest in marketing?
- Marketing activities. What specific marketing tactics, campaigns, and activities will you take on to achieve your goals? When listing the specific marketing tactics your firm will use, make sure they connect with one of your marketing goals. For example, if your goal is to generate five new clients each month, and your strategy to achieve that is through social media, the marketing activities could be a social media campaign through Facebook ads.
- Measurement strategies. How will success be measured? For each marketing activity listed, have a way to measure success. For example, for content marketing, a measure of success could be a 20% increase in organic search traffic to your law firm’s website.
When planning or updating your marketing plan, assign individuals to roles. Who does what? Don’t forget to consider who will project manage—if it’s up to the individuals assigned, or if another person will be responsible for it.
Consider outsourcing to a law firm marketing agency or experienced freelancers
When you’re looking at what needs to be done to achieve your law firm marketing goals, be honest about whether your firm can achieve all your goals internally. If handling marketing internally isn’t feasible, consider outsourcing some (or even most) of the marketing tasks. You can hire an expert to help with everything from SEO to content creation—so don’t be afraid to outsource where you need it. Clio’s global network of Certified Consultants is a good place to start.
Law firm marketing plan example
Your law firm marketing plan should be tailored to your firm’s goals and strategy (more on law firm marketing strategy below), but here is an example of how one firm may write out its marketing plan.
Law firm marketing tactics
Today, there are so many ways to market your law firm. Because of this, creating your legal marketing plan can feel overwhelming. Remember to keep your firm’s goals in mind, and choose marketing tactics that you can successfully execute in your marketing plan.
Here are eight types of legal marketing tactics to consider for your law firm:
According to the 2019 Legal Trends Report, 57% of people look for a lawyer on their own. Now more than ever, potential clients prefer to find lawyers themselves. More and more of those clients are turning to online searches (according to the 2019 report, 17%). This means being easy to find online is one of the most critical marketing strategies for any law firm. Search engine optimization (SEO), can help with just that.
SEO strategies can increase your law firm website’s position in search engine results pages (like Google) to drive more visitors to your website. This is a powerful marketing tactic because if you’re easier to find, your firm will be more top-of-mind for potential clients. Many law firms put a lot of time, money, and effort into creating high-quality content for their websites. However, without a good volume of web visitors and potential clients looking at your content, your website will not help you gain the clients you need.
Jordan Couch, an attorney at Palace Law, explains how they use SEO as an important component of the firm’s marketing strategy. “At our firm, Palace Law, we have taken steps to build our internal SEO and external SEO. We have videos on our website introducing who we are and offering free information to potential clients. The latter (often called freemium services) is one of the most important things lawyers can do. Offer up valuable information to potential clients for free, form contracts, legal research, and instructional videos, and you’ll find that this not only increases your SEO, but also draws in a lot of clients. We also advertise and maintain profiles on paid and free sites.”
2. Local SEO
SEO is important for ensuring your law firm shows up in online searches, but general searches aren’t the primary way potential clients will find you—especially if you’re a small law firm. To ensure nearby clients can find you online, you also want to optimize your firm’s ranking in local search results, aka local SEO, as part of your law firm marketing strategy.
Local SEO tactics
- Set up a Google My Business page. To show up in local search results, establishing a Google My Business page should be your first step. Your Google My Business page should include details like contact information, photos, and a link to your law firm website.
- Ensure your website has local keywords. To help improve your law firm’s website ranking in local searches, add local keyword data to your website. For example, if you’re a Bellingham criminal lawyer, you would want to ingrate terms like “Bellingham criminal lawyer” on your law firm website.
- Be consistent with your NAP. Your NAP (your Name, Address, Phone data) should be consistently formatted anywhere it appears online (like your website, Facebook page, etc.) to optimize your local SEO.
- Get backlinks. Backlinks from other websites of authority can enhance your law firm website’s search rankings by building up your site’s authority online.
- Generate client reviews. Positive reviews are key to building your law firm’s reputation. Good, authentic customer reviews for your Google My Business page and sites like Yelp and Avvo are a great local SEO marketing strategy. As Kari Petrasek, attorney at Petrasek Law, PLLC, says: “My free profile with Avvo has … been a truly great marketing tool. I have received so many inquiries for legal help and many have become clients. I also utilize a strong referral network, and I am very involved in my state and local bar associations as well as the ABA where I have speaking opportunities.”
Learn more about local SEO strategies.
3. Search advertising
While SEO is an organic way to drive visitors to your law firm’s website, you can also employ a paid online search advertising campaign to help bring potential clients to your website.
Examples of search advertising strategies include:
- Pay-per-click (PPC). With PPC advertising, you can set up an online advertising campaign where you pay a set amount each time an online visitor clicks on your ad. This can be an effective way to increase your website’s traffic—but it costs money for each click. This guide to PPC advertising success for lawyers explains the essentials of the model.
- Google Advertising. Depending on your practice area, a pay-per-click Google Ads campaign could be an effective way to drive traffic to your law firm online. You can learn about Google Advertising 101 for lawyers here to determine if it’s a viable marketing strategy for your firm.
4. Law firm website
If you’re investing in SEO strategies, PPC strategies, or both, your goal is to drive potential clients to your law firm website. Your law firm website is a powerful marketing tool in itself.
- Easy to navigate and accessible. Images should be properly sized and content should be easy to read. Contact information should also be easy to find.
- Mobile friendly. You want people to be able to navigate your website on any device, and the mobile-friendliness of your website impacts its search ranking.
- SEO optimized. Content on your website should be clear, keyword-optimized, and aligned with your law firm brand.
“I’ve found that the best leads come straight from my website,” says Simon Borys, principal lawyer at Borys Law. “People Google ‘Kingston criminal defense lawyer’ and I come up in the top three results. I think I have a good website compared to the other people who also come up on the first page and it draws people in to contact me. By this time they’ve already checked me out and, I think, like what they’ve seen. I’ve found these clients are easy to land, even on the first phone call.”
When done right, social media can be a powerful marketing tool for your law firm, helping your firm:
- Reach a large audience for little to no financial investment. Today, the majority of your firm’s potential clients use social media, so having a social presence means a valuable opportunity to connect with people.
Combining social media marketing on platforms like Facebook with paid advertisements can help you reach new clients for a relatively low cost. As Barry Walker, Managing Partner at Walker Law notes, “Social media marketing is the future for lawyers. Most people perform research on their smartphones. I get one to two significant cases per year from paid marketing efforts on Facebook for a minimal investment.”
- Build community and brand authority. By sharing quality content with your targeted audience on social media, you can organically boost your connections with the community and showcase your position as an expert in the field. A strong presence on social media can also help expose your firm to new networks of people—and potential clients.
- Give your clients another way to find your firm. Being online and on social media in a professional content also makes it easier for clients to find your law firm. As mentioned previously, the easier you are to find online, the more potential for new clients to seek you out and go to your firm’s website—which is key to successful law firm marketing.
Read our guide for more tips on social media for law firms.
6. Law firm branding
Finally, how your law firm differentiates itself from competitors—or your law firm’s branding—is an important element of your legal marketing strategy. Finding ways to differentiate your firm to your target audience can also help you grow your law firm by gaining new, ideal clients.
Build your law firm’s brand
As Katy Goshtasbi of Puris Consulting writes, it’s essential for law firms and lawyers to resonate with the right clients. Here are some steps you should take to develop your law firm’s brand::
- Establish a unique selling point. What sets your firm apart from the competition? What do you do better than competitors? Figure out what makes your firm unique and what speaks to your potential clients, and then showcase that point in your firm’s marketing to establish a distinct brand. Take the case of attorney Erin Levine’s startup, Hello Divorce. Erin created Hello Divorce as a sister company to her established law firm, and dedicated the company to a unique market: subscription-based divorce navigator services. Hello Divorce has a clear mission and branding which translates to clear marketing from the start.
- Clarify your target audience. Your target audience must be narrowed down as much as possible. If you’re targeting everyone with your outreach, few people will be interested, and you could also alienate potential clients with watered-down messaging. The easiest place to start is to stop and think about what attributes your best/favorite law firm clients have. Write these down, and use them to build a profile of your law firm’s target client.
- Determine your core messages. Think about what you want to “say” to the world/your audience. It’s not enough to say, “We care and we are good at what we do, so hire us.” Use concise, authentic, unique, witty language that grabs your audience’s attention. Have a brainstorming session with your team, then zero in on the key messages that feel right to you.
7. Content marketing
Content marketing involves creating quality content related to your field of practice and sharing it online via multiple mediums. It is a marketing tactic that can help build your brand and establish expertise, offer value to potential clients, and help drive more people to your website. Content marketing could include content like blog posts, videos, infographics, or even podcasts.
Matthew J. Tuller, Principal Attorney and Owner at the Law Office of Matthew J. Tuller, explains how this strategy works at his firm: “For our law firm, we have found that we gain the most traction through writing timely educational articles about estate planning-related issues. While we post these articles to our firm’s website and social media sites, we have found the most immediate results from posting to LinkedIn.”
Embrace thought leadership
Thought leadership is a big part of content marketing. To establish your firm as a thought leader or subject matter expert for your target audience, your firm could create and share authoritative and educational content like videos (here’s a guide to law firm video marketing), blog posts, or even answers on forums like Quora. As Mandy Woodland of Mandy Woodland Law, PLC Inc. says of her firm’s marketing, “For us, (and I work in digital marketing as well as law) it’s all about internal and external SEO, and inbound marketing. The content (whether it’s videos on your site, monthly newsletters, etc.) will depend on your ideal/target clients. Setting yourself up as a subject matter expert through inbound is the most cost-effective lead generation tool out there!”
8. Email marketing
Email marketing for lawyers is an online marketing strategy that offers a lot of bang for minimal effort (especially if you use tools like Mailchimp to help). Sending out targeted and consistent marketing emails to your network can help you build your brand, establish your law firm’s expertise, and bring value to readers. Email marketing is also easy to measure, with marketing platforms offering analytics like how many people open your email. This way, you will know how well your marketing efforts are received.
Sending out a law firm newsletter can be an effective use of an email marketing strategy. Here are tips for how to start an email newsletter at your law firm.
Law firm KPIs to monitor and measure success
You’ve created a targeted law firm marketing strategy and you’re executing a killer marketing plan to bring that strategy to fruition. What’s next?
If you want to grow your law firm while maximizing your marketing budget, you must monitor and measure your marketing key performance indicators (KPIs).
Tracking your efforts is critical to success and can’t be overlooked. Without measuring, you won’t know what’s working, what’s not working, or what marketing efforts are giving you the best return on investment. When you have a clear picture of your results, conversely, you can make informed, data-driven decisions for better, faster marketing results.
How to track and measure the success of your law firm marketing plan
- Ask for feedback. “How did you hear about our firm?” is a simple question, but the answers can be extremely valuable. You could train your law firm’s assistant to ask and note the answer on the phone, or you could customize your intake form in Clio Grow with a field to ask when new clients are filling out their paperwork.
- Analyze website analytics. If your law firm’s website is the main point of contact for new clients, looking at your website’s traffic analytics (you can install Google Analytics on your site to help gather this data) can show you details like:
- Referring domains: Knowing what website clients were on before they came to your site can show where your marketing efforts are working and how effective your online advertising is.
- Bounce rate. How long are people staying on your site? If they leave or “bounce” quickly, that lets you know that your website can use some improvement to improve new lead conversion (for example, it may appear spammy and need a refresh).
- Traffic. Look at the raw traffic to your website, and compare it to the number of new clients who come in for a consultation—if there’s a large gap, that can reveal marketing areas that are tripping you up.
- Source data from your client intake software. Your firm’s client intake software can provide valuable insights for your marketing efforts too. Clio Grow’s client intake insights software, for example, lets you identify referral sources for new clients and enables you to create custom reports on lead sources. This way, you can quickly and easily pinpoint where your marketing plan has worked, and where it hasn’t been as successful.
New business is key to a thriving law firm. To get new business, you need to let people know that you’re out there—this is where your law firm marketing strategy and plan come in. There are many ways to market your law firm, but you’ll have the most success if you start with a law firm marketing strategy and SMART goals, which you can put into a marketing plan for your law firm. By executing marketing according to a structured plan—and measuring the results—you can help potential clients reach you and help grow your law firm. Contact us for more information.