10 Questions To Help Transform Your Law Firm

10 questions transform law firm

Here's 10 thought-provoking questions to help you transform your law firm:

  1. Have you taken the time and determined who your ideal client is?

  2. Are you focusing on ONE high ROI marketing activity like Value Marketing or PPC (Pay Per Click)? Or are you diluting your efforts chasing Bright Shiny Objects and vanity metrics (like SEO and Facebook likes)?

  3. Have you set aside dedicated time each day to focus on transforming yourself into a Thought Leader? Do you take real action every day during that time?

  4. Are you regularly reaching out to your current ideal clients to provide them more value and seed referrals?

  5. Have you begun a referral program with new clients that are coming in the door?

  6. Are you utilizing outsourcing or software to help minimize your labor involvement?

  7. What have you done or planning on doing to help you stay in touch and strengthen trust and relationships with your current network?

  8. Are you letting irrational fears hold you back from taking action and changing your circumstances?

  9. Are you low energy? Are you eating right (avoiding sugar), exercising and maintaining a healthy weight? I have yet to see an obese Thought Leader.

  10. Are you utilizing scarcity and language to change how your law practice is perceived and help you elevate your value and fees?

8 Trends That Will Drive Digital Marketing For Law Firms

digital marketing law firms trends

I’ve been involved with digital marketing for over a dozen years now.

That’s a lifetime in internet years.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the BSO (Bright Shiny Object) Syndrome of the web I have found that when it comes to getting the most out of your law firms digital marketing budget - it's focusing on the basics and execution.

With that being said, here are 8 of the strongest trends driving digital marketing and the growth of your law firm.

1. To Rank In The Search Engines - Answer Questions

I have articles written five years ago that still pull in eyeballs and attract leads. I wrote articles at the same time that got ignored.

So what happened? What's the difference? 

Value.

If you’re producing valuable content (in whatever form that is) you’ll get noticed, talked about, shared and referred to. Your relevance in the marketplace will grow … you’ll be building your brand.

More specifically, you'll slowly be positioning yourself as a Thought Leader. And as a law firm competing on a more local level (as opposed to regionally or nationally) achieving Thought Leadership status is even easier.

So what's the best way for a law firm to produce valuable content?

First, forget about all the bells and whistles (SEO and special software). Instead, focus on helping your reader.

What's the best way to do that? Simple, help people by sharing what you already know.

One of the strategies that I've always had good luck with is simply answering everyday questions I get from people. I did this as a pharmacist and now have my answers as the featured snippet at the top of their search results.

Getting to the top of the search engines via the "Featured Snippet" is a good place to be. A great way to get there for your law firm is to simply start answering everyday questions that you get.

Getting to the top of the search engines via the "Featured Snippet" is a good place to be. A great way to get there for your law firm is to simply start answering everyday questions that you get.

I repeated this basic process almost everyday for a year. You can see the effect this had on traffic levels when you provide readers with genuine value.

Answering common questions may not seem that valuable to you. But it is to your readers who don't know what you do. While I hardly ever update this site it still gets 500-600 visitors each day.

Answering common questions may not seem that valuable to you. But it is to your readers who don't know what you do. While I hardly ever update this site it still gets 500-600 visitors each day.

I've written before about ranking in the search engines. While it's a great goal most law firms go about it the wrong way.

They want to rank for more popular terms.

Unfortunately, those 'popular' terms are also 'high commercial intent keywords'. And, in those cases, roughly two out of every three searchers clicks on ads - not the organic search results.

However, many more searchers who are doing research click on the free search results. This is why answering questions can be so effective for appearing in the search engines.

It's also important to mention that while this wasn't part of my goal - other opportunities came my way.

I got asked to appear as an expert witness in a trial that was being mentioned on ESPN.com at the time. I was interviewed by numerous other podcasts and perceived as the expert.

2. SEO’s Effectiveness Continues to Drop

I’ve long warned that search engine optimization (SEO) is a fools errand with a low ROI tactic*.

This is not some hair brained theory I’m spouting off. It's from testing and experiencing algorithm updates and loss of traffic, time and capital.

I also hear from more and more law firms who’ve spent considerable sums of money to boost traffic only to see it fail.

They failed to educate themselves about the reality that SEO is a gamble:

  • It takes a long time to rank
  • You may not ever end up ranking for the terms you really want
  • You may end up ranking for search terms that get very little traffic
*I want to be clear - my definition of SEO is not based off creating content. SEO is more about trying to reverse engineer what everyone 'thinks' Google wants to rank highly in their algorithm. It has nothing to do with helping your reader.

3. The Internet is Getting Better at Mimicking Real Business

Ten years ago the internet was a medium that could be ‘gamed’ more easily and was in it’s infancy.

Social media wasn't mainstream, email marketing and building your all-important email list was much easier and ranking in the search engines was child’s play.

The truth is ten years ago you simply didn’t have to be as valuable online to gain traction. It wasn’t like the real world of business.

Those times are gone. The internet has matured. Reputation, value and trust are of paramount importance.

But here's the kicker - in today's environment you must SHOW - not tell.

Case studies, testimonials, helpful articles, guarantees, interviews, media attention, etc.

You can't simply throw up a nice looking website with a lot of buzzwords and hope to gain any traction online.

4. Email Marketing is Still Beating Social Media

Go ahead – spend some time on social media development (I'm on LinkedIn a lot and find it valuable). So it has it’s place.

But, pound for pound and dollar-for-dollar your best investment is to grow and cultivate your email list.

I’ve tested response rates for the same message sent to social media followers versus those on email lists.

So have others.

Even though social media is what all the cool kids are using. Email has still won ... usually by a lot.

5. Be Authentic

My testing has proven that if you want to build your trust online you have to be authentic.

That can mean different things to you but the fact remains what you stand for and your opinions are actually valuable. Besides, there’s no point in trying to hide them anymore. You can’t with the internet.

Authenticity also allows you to disqualify prospects. This is a good thing. As the old saying goes – if everyone is your client than no one is.

6. Good Things Do NOT Come to Those Who Wait

Being online in the RIGHT way is important for law firms. But not at the expense of 'waiting until the time is right.'

You need to start now.

So where should you start? Let me give you a simple digital marketing plan that you can carry out for the next year.

  1. Most small law firms would see the highest potential ROI from PPC (Google Adwords).
  2. Once leads and revenue are coming in then you can direct that revenue to producing valuable content (YouTube videos, articles, etc.). This will help build your Thought Leadership and naturally draw clients to you.
  3. Gather contact information to build trust, relationships and a referral system.

7. More Competition

In the last ten years technology has developed so rapidly that it’s made it immensely easier to get online, communicate with customers and display your value.

But this is a double-edged sword: it’s also lowered the bar for entry and allowed competitors to flood the market.

Online, success will come down to your value and your execution.

Remember, no matter how much coffee you pour in the cup the cream always rises.

8. Smart Law Firms Leveraging PPC Will Win Big

Law firms are discovering in droves that paying an SEO firm to appear on the first page of Google is neither cheap, quick or guaranteed.

According to HubSpot's survey of SEO agencies most of them charge $2,500 to $5,000/month.

In addition to the high costs of SEO - there's simply no guarantee it will work for you firm. Secondly, are you targeting the right type of keywords to actually get results?

In addition to the high costs of SEO - there's simply no guarantee it will work for you firm. Secondly, are you targeting the right type of keywords to actually get results?

But you could ‘pay’ to appear at the top of the first page of Google for your desired search term in one day with Google Adwords.

But there’s the kicker: producing high quality leads via Google Adwords involves a lot more than just paying to throw an ad up there.

You have to know how to write a high converting ad, know where to send those leads (landing page design is critical) and how to follow up and track them to know what’s working.

Overall, it’s very much a multi-step process. Which is where most law firms drop the ball and then claim, “I’ve tried Adwords, it didn’t work.”

The problem isn’t Adwords - it’s the implementation.

Where Should Small Law Firms Focus Their Marketing First?

Q: My law firm is small. I was recently reading this article by Forbes that said larger law firms are embracing SEO and content marketing. But as a small firm I don’t have that kind of budget. What would you recommend for someone in my situation to build my client base?

Part of the article is correct - most of your potential clients start their search for a lawyer online. But that doesn't mean SEO and content marketing is the best way to reach them.

There’s a couple of major problems that pop up for law firms trying to do SEO that are seldom discussed. I'll cover those and then show you what I believe is a better option.

Problem #1: INTENT

When your potential client types in a keyword in Google what is their intent behind that search?

Let’s look at a quick hypothetical to illustrate this.

Let’s say that you’re a Divorce Attorney in Dallas. Your potential client has just decided to get a divorce from her husband. She gets onto Google and types in “Dallas Divorce Attorney” or “Best Divorce Attorney In Dallas” or some other variation of that main theme.

This is a prime example of a “high commercial intent” keyword. Meaning that person is a ‘hot’ lead and looking to purchase in the short term.

That would be a great term to try to rank for with SEO and content marketing, right?

Actually - NO.

One of the biggest misconceptions online is that 'free' listings are better than paid listings. Searchers who type in 'high commercial intent' keywords actually click on the ads twice as often as the free listings. Guess what type of searchers type in high commercial intent keywords? Your potential clients.

One of the biggest misconceptions online is that 'free' listings are better than paid listings. Searchers who type in 'high commercial intent' keywords actually click on the ads twice as often as the free listings. Guess what type of searchers type in high commercial intent keywords? Your potential clients.

Look at the infographic above from Larry Kim at Wordstream. For keywords with high commercial intent 64.6% of the clicks on that page go to the sponsored results (the ads at the top and bottom of the page).

Only 35.4% go to the ‘free’ search engine rankings.

Problem #2: DIFFICULTY

There’s another big problem here as well that I’ll illustrate with some screenshots below.

In this first screenshot 'divorce attorney dallas' the entire page is dominated by ads.

Google Adwords dominates the entire screen on this search page. This is why we see 64% of clicks on this page go to ads - not the 'free' search rankings as some people believe.

Google Adwords dominates the entire screen on this search page. This is why we see 64% of clicks on this page go to ads - not the 'free' search rankings as some people believe.

Even if you scroll down again you only begin to see the beginning of the actual search results at the very bottom of the second screenshot and they’re dominated by the large websites like Avvo (how realistic do you think it is to beat them out?)

You don't actually see any of the 'free' listings until the bottom of the second page

You don't actually see any of the 'free' listings until the bottom of the second page

Finally, if you scroll down all the way to the third screenshot you’ll start getting the organic rankings that show some of the more local firms.

dallas divorce attorney organic listings screenshot 3

But here’s another problem - even if you wanted to rank at the bottom and get fewer clicks you probably won’t outrank even those listings because they’ve been trying to rank for a long time and have a ton of backlinks.

NOTE: backlinks are links pointing to your site from other websites. Google uses this as one of their ranking factors when they decide where to put your website. In the screenshot above you can see that one of the firms in Dallas that ranks at the bottom has over 500,000 backlinks.

Problem #3: MONEY

Continuing down this same theme - I don’t have a crystal ball but it’s likely going to be difficult and expensive to rank for this keyword. This is why most SEO firms sign you to six month contracts because it take a long time.

Neil Patel - one of the most knowledgeable online marketers has echoed this sentiment.

Even if an SEO firm were to only charge you $2,000 per month you're looking at a minimum six month investment of $12,000 - and you may not even rank.

SOLUTION FOR SMALL LAW FIRMS: GOOGLE ADWORDS

For every problem I’ve pointed out with SEO - Google Adwords (the sponsored results at the top of the page) solve them.

First of all with Adwords you’re targeting high commercial intent keywords an getting the bulk of the clicks.

Secondly, instead of pouring thousands of dollars into SEO in the hopes of ranking two to three screenshots deep you can be at the very top of the search page in one day.

Thirdly, you don’t have to pay anything to get there because you don’t pay to display your ad. You only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad.

“But aren’t those clicks expensive?”

Yes. They can be expensive. But again, it’s relative. When an average divorce case is worth $6,000 to $10,000 you can afford to pay more for a click.

Here’s What Your Numbers Might Look Like

Let’s say that you took that $2,000 you were going to spend on an that SEO firm and put $1,000 into buying Google Ads and another $1,000 into hiring a lead generation firm that really knows what they are doing to set up a basic Adwords campaign.

IMPORTANT: even a basic PPC campaign goes well beyond just your Google Ads. It should also include a high converting landing page, copywriting, testing, tracking and adjustment based on results and more

At the end of the first day you could be at the top of the search results and getting results.

They can be good or bad - but you can adjust based off what you’re seeing.

Taking it a step further you’re probably going to be paying around $10/click for your divorce keywords. So you’re $1,000 ad spend turns into about 100 clicks on your ad.

You should be able to get about 15-40% of those clicks to call your office or take some sort of action if your ad or landing page is doing it’s job.

So in one month you’ve had one or two dozen people call your office. How many of those would convert to actual, paying clients? I don’t know but I would venture to guess you’d be able to sign at least one if not more.

If an average client is worth $6,000 to $10,000 (I know, numbers vary) then you find yourself in an enviable position: you’re generating high quality leads at a positive ROI and you’re doing it predictably. You can do a lot of things with that extra revenue.

The point is with SEO you’re gambling. You really have no idea if you’re investment is going to pay off now or in the future. With Adwords you can test for a fraction of the cost and adjust based off your results.

16 Ways To Promote And Grow Your Law Firm

I once listened to an interview with a chiropractor who had become a multimillionaire.

His preferred method of building his wealth was to go into an area, start his practice, grow it, sell it then repeat the process in another area.

Someone in the audience asked him what his Top 3 ways are to quickly grow a practice. His answer was instructive - he said he didn't know 3 ways.

He knew 100. But that wasn't important.

What was important is that he would take just 1, focus on it, take action and then adjust based on his results.

Along the same lines - here are 16 ways that I've seen law firms grow. I have my personal preferences - but the point is you could take any one of these and gain ground if you focused on actually implementing them.

  1. Create regular, valuable and thought provoking content for your website. Listed first for a reason. By doing this you will get noticed and create attraction from high quality prospects.

  2. Write a niched non-fiction book. Very underutilized because most lawyers are scared off by the amount of perceived work involved. While it’s far from quick or easy - writing a niched, non-fiction (how to) book is not writing War and Peace. And a book easily sets you apart from other firms.

  3. Use PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Marketing. This can be a very effective way to immediatey begin generating leads. But you must know the game and analytics to win.

  4. Begin creating an email list. Mission critical. If you have a list you have a valuable asset.

  5. Create an autoresponder sequence for that list. This is one of the biggest Achilles Heel’s of any firm: lack of follow up. An autoresponder sequence is an excellent way to build trust and relationships over time with prospects who have yet to become clients (or referral sources).

  6. Begin leveraging the #2 search engine (YouTube). Video’s do NOT have to be high end to be effective. Find a good mic and begin recording.

  7. Guest publish anywhere your potential clients may be hanging out. Effective and underutilized because it requires effort. If you reach out to editors in the right way (aka - show them what’s in it for them) your publishing efforts can reach far and wide.

  8. Begin holding educational webinars. You’re an expert. Share your knowledge. These are inexpensive and effective.

  9. Approach local and regional news outlets with content ideas. You’re the expert (seeing a trend here). Reach out (especially to local outlets) with content ideas that can be helpful to them and position you as a go-to resource.

  10. Publish a regular printed newsletter. Yes, electronic is easier (in some ways). But consider printed. When done correctly I have found the ROI to be higher.

  11. Proactively institute a referral system. Every attorney I’ve ever spoken with wants a true referral based firm. However, in most cases, referrals don’t happen. They are proactively encouraged and sought out. Another way to leverage your autoresponder.

  12. Leverage LinkedIn to expand your network. LinkedIn - when used correctly - can be a great tool. I think it’s an excellent place to start building real relationships and a network. But again - do it the right way.

  13. Pursue Joint Venture opportunities. Quick example: do you work with business owners? They often congregate with banks. Consider joint venturing with a bank (small banks are better) and offer a free, short educational seminar focused on a helpful topic. The bank, the business owner and you win. Also low cost for both parties.

  14. Leverage the PR’s (public relations and press releases). Masters at PR learn to ‘create’ news.

  15. Pursue speaking opportunities. Whomever is speaking in the front of the room is the defacto leader and expert. I have found speaking to be very effective but - on a local level - very seldom pursued.

  16. Add products or service offerings. Listen to the market and adjust by offering new products or services that may fit a need, generate attraction to your firm and grow your profits in the process.