Law Firm Marketing Strategies

A law firm, whether for profit or pro bono, must function as a business to survive and grow. Just like any other kind of business, law firms require effective marketing to ensure a steady flow of new clients. Yet most attorneys graduate law school having received little to no training on how to run a business, let alone how to market one.

If you’re struggling with marketing your law firm, this article will help you understand why and get you started with an overview on law firm marketing strategies.

Why Law Firms Struggle with Marketing

Most law schools teach future lawyers how to get a job at a law firm, but provide little or no training related to business or marketing. They teach constitutional law, contract law, torts, criminal law, property law, civil procedure, legal writing and research, as well as all kinds of legal specialty areas. But very little, if anything, about consumer behavior, branding, or marketing and advertising.

Because lawyers were historically prohibited from advertising due to ethical concerns about solicitation, you might even resist the idea of marketing altogether. You might feel that overt marketing could detract from your professional image or the seriousness of your work.

And as a busy lawyer, you most likely do not have the time, resources, skills, knowledge, or marketing expertise to effectively promote your law firm. Even if you are already using traditional marketing methods – like referrals, networking, and word-of-mouth – you might hesitate to adopt more recent marketing techniques – like digital marketing and social media – which are often more cost-effective and efficient in helping you reach a wider audience.

You might also struggle to assess the effectiveness of your marketing strategies and, therefore, not be able to justify your marketing budget. Many legal services are long-term and high-value in nature, which makes it difficult to attribute specific cases or clients directly to your marketing efforts.

In addition, the legal industry is highly competitive, with numerous law firms vying for clients in the same practice areas. Depending on your practice area, your law firm may have a limited target audience, which can make it more difficult to reach and engage potential clients through marketing efforts. To be successful you must develop unique value propositions and effective marketing strategies.

How to Avoid the Biggest Mistakes

Ineffective or nonexistent legal marketing wastes time, loses money, and can even negatively affect your law firm’s reputation. Three of the most common mistakes law firms make include:

  • Viewing marketing as an expense instead of an investment
  • Using a one-size-fits-all or shotgun approach
  • Not going digital

Let’s explore each of these in more detail so you can save time, money, and your reputation.

View marketing as an investment, not an expense

Because marketing requires an up-front cost outlay, you might be thinking about it as an expense. And if you view marketing as simply a cost of doing business, like paying for taxes or permits, you will be less likely to allocate time, effort, and funds to marketing efforts. This perspective may even lead you to trim your marketing budget if you need to make cuts.

On the other hand, when you view marketing as an investment in your law firm that helps you gain more clients and make more money, you become more willing to allocate time, effort, and funds to marketing. An investment is when you use your money to obtain a material result or profit.

Here are some of the returns you can expect when you invest in law firm marketing:

  • Attract new potential clients for new business and increased revenue including high-value cases and long-term relationships.
  • Make your law firm’s brand more recognizable and reputable to attract clients more effectively and allow you to command higher rates for your services.
  • Improve client retention, strengthen client relationships, and encourage repeat business.
  • Distinguish your firm from competitors in a way that makes you the go-to choice for the types of cases or clients you prefer.
  • Enhance your visibility and reputation to increase high-quality referrals from other attorneys, professionals, and satisfied clients.
  • Promote long-term growth and sustainability of your law firm.

Develop a targeted marketing strategy

The majority of law firms focus their practices in specific fields, such as criminal law, tax law, or personal injury law. Because of this, it makes sense that their marketing strategies should also be focused on reaching their desired clientele. In other words, you should focus your marketing strategy on a target market.

The common practice of “casting a wide net hoping to catch more fish” can cause several issues for your law firm including:

  • Inefficiency and waste of resources: If you do not have a clear target, your marketing efforts may become uncoordinated and scattered, which leads to wasting both precious time and financial resources. You may end up spending a lot of money on broad advertising campaigns that do not reach your target clientele;
  • Lack of client engagement: If your marketing is not tailored to the needs and interests of a specific audience, it is less likely to resonate, which leads to poor client engagement. If potential clients cannot immediately see how your services may be relevant to them, they can lose interest quickly;
  • Difficulty attracting the right clients: If your law firm does not target its marketing, it may struggle to attract the types of clients you want or are best equipped to serve. For example, if your firm specializes in corporate law but does not target marketing towards businesses, you may end up receiving inquiries from individuals who need personal legal help instead;
  • Poor brand image and reputation: If you fail to target your marketing, it may result in a diluted or unclear brand image. Without clearly defined marketing messages that are tailored to the proper audience, potential clients will likely have a difficult time understanding what your firm stands for, its areas of expertise, and why they should choose you over your competition;
  • Low return on investment (ROI): Without targeting your marketing, you may see a lower ROI from your efforts. A scattergun approach may hit the right target occasionally, but it is must less efficient than a well-planned and targeted marketing campaign;
  • Lack of competitive edge: In a highly competitive industry, such as law, your firm needs to differentiate itself. If your firm fails to clearly define and reach the target market, you may lose potential clients to competitors who have a better-defined marketing strategy; and
  • Inability to measure success: If your firm is not clear about who your marketing efforts are aimed at, it can be challenging to measure success or failure. This can make it difficult for you to adjust your strategies or to know whether your marketing budget is being spent effectively.

Don’t be afraid to go digital

Your potential clients are online and your competition is online, so focusing on traditional marketing approaches only and neglecting digital marketing techniques translates to leaving a lot of money on the table.

It’s true that traditional marketing methods – such as billboards, networking, phone books, flyers, and TV and radio commercials – are still effective. One study conducted by MarketingProfs shows that 92% of 18-23 year-olds find printed materials easier to read than digital content and also that direct-mail marketing had a higher response rate than email marketing. And the fact that large organizations still use print ads and billboards is proof that traditional marketing is far from irrelevant. But traditional marketing methods lack the precision of digital marketing and can be much more costly.

There are several reasons why you might be hesitant to embrace digital marketing techniques:

  • Confidentiality and privacy concerns: Lawyers like yourself often deal with sensitive and confidential information. You may worry about potential breaches of confidentiality or privacy that may occur online. You may also be concerned about maintaining professional boundaries and ethical standards in your digital communications;
  • Regulatory compliance: The legal profession is subject to many regulations, including rules that govern solicitation and advertising. You may be unsure about how to navigate digital marketing while staying within the guidelines. For example, Inaccurate or misleading advertising can lead to disciplinary action;
  • Reputation management: The online world can be very unpredictable and you may face negative reviews, public criticism, or damaging online comments. You may worry that this could harm your reputation;
  • Lack of control: Online traditional forms of marketing, where you fully control the message, digital marketing often encourages engagement and interaction. This may lead to you feeling as though you have lost control over your public perception and messaging;
  • Technological challenges: Not every attorney is comfortable with technology. You may feel overwhelmed by the large array of digital marketing tools and strategies that are available, such as social media, content marketing, SEO, etc., and you simply may not know where to start;
  • Time and resource constraints: Effective digital marketing requires a sustained and consistent effort on your part. If you are in a smaller firm or a solo practice, you may feel as though you lack the time and resources to devote to marketing;
  • Difficulty in tracking ROI: Although digital marketing analytics can be very detailed, it may be challenging for you to understand them and accurately calculate your ROI if you are not familiar with the tools and metrics; and
  • Reliance on referrals: You may rely heavily on referrals for new business and see digital marketing as less important or as unproven in comparison.

How to Get Started With Digital Marketing

Digital marketing gives you a more focused approach to gain interest and trust from potential clients. Certain kinds of digital marketing – such as legal forums, feedback pages, and social media – provide an interactive platform where clients can reach out to you immediately, which is not easily accomplished using traditional marketing.

There are many different options for digital marketing, and we recommend you use multiple platforms to help ensure success.

We also understand that it may feel overwhelming. So here are some examples of the most basic and widely-used law firm digital marketing strategies that you can get started with:

  • Website and SEO
  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Search advertising
  • Legal marketing platforms and lead generation services

Website and SEO

Your law firm’s website can be the foundation and starting point for your legal digital marketing. Your website serves as the first impression for your potential clients online. Because of this, be sure to put as much effort and resources into designing you law firm’s website as you put into designing the firm’s physical office.

At minimum, your law firm’s website should cover:

  • Details about your law firm and its members
  • What areas of law your firm practices
  • Your law firm’s address and contact information

It’s not enough, though, to simply have a website for your law firm. Even if it’s the most well-designed and informative website on the internet, if your site does not appear in the search results when potential clients perform a keyword search on Google or other search engines, your law firm will fail to maximize that website’s potential.

This is where SEO, or search engine optimization, comes in. SEO is a vital aspect of your law firm website strategy. As the name SEO implies, this is about optimizing your website’s content and source code to increase visibility and ranking in search engine results pages.

Website design, development, and SEO integration might be more technical than you can handle on your own – especially as your time is better spent practicing law. So know that there are many digital marketing companies providing these services at competitive rates.

Social Media

Social media is a powerful digital marketing strategy that can allow your law firm to reach a larger audience with very little, or even no, financial investment. The majority of potential clients will already have a social media profile on one or several social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. Because of this, it makes sense for your law firm to have a presence on these platforms as well.

Your social media profiles give potential clients an alternative way of finding your law firm online apart from your website. Keep in mind that using social media to market your law firm is not simply about posting an ad here and there. Your law firm’s social media presence can be used to educate potential clients by providing informational content or engaging in thoughtful discussion about relevant topics.

Closely related to social media, your law firm can (and should) also claim your spot in online directories, review sites like Yelp, and maps like Google Maps and Bing Maps. Doing so will help make sure potential clients have access to your firm’s updated address and contact information online. But even more importantly, these sites tend to rank the highest in search results – which means keeping them up-to-date is a core aspect of good SEO practice.

Email marketing

Email marketing can be a highly effective online marketing strategy because it is low-cost and low-effort. Email marketing allows your firm to send targeted emails to your network and potential clients which allows you to engage in direct communication, build trust, and provide valuable information. You can also measure the success of your email campaigns by using a marketing platform with analytics that show how many recipients actually open your emails.

Here are some beginning tips:

  • Understand the regulations: You need to be aware of the regulations that govern email marketing. For example, in the U.S., the CAN-SPAM Act provides the rules for commercial emails and provides recipients with the right to have you stop emailing them. If you violate these rules, it may lead to hefty penalties;
  • Segment your list: Not all of your subscribers will have the same interests or needs. You should segment your email list based on criteria such as the type of client (individual or business), their area of interest (legal issue), or their stage in the client journey. This will allow you to provide them with relevant, targeted content;
  • Craft engaging subject lines: A subject line is one of the first things a recipient sees. It can determine whether they open your email or ignore it. You should ensure your subject lines are engaging, relevant, and provide a clear idea of what your email contains;
  • Provide value: An email should not just be about selling your legal services. It should also provide value to its recipient. This may come in the form of educational content, insights into legal issues, or useful information. Doing this will help establish your credibility and reputation;
  • Keep it professional: Although it is important to be personable and engaging in your emails, it is important to maintain a professional tone. You should be careful not to make promises or claims in your emails that you cannot fulfill or are not accurate;
  • Use a clear call to action (CTA): Your emails should have a clear purpose and a specific action that you want the recipient to take. This may include scheduling a consultation, downloading a resource, or reading an article on your website;
  • Personalize your emails: Personalizing your emails can increase engagement rates. This can be as simple as using a recipient’s anime in the emails. It may also involve tailoring the email content on what you know about their needs or interests;
  • Test and measure: You should use A/B testing to try out different types of email formats, subject lines, and content to see which is most effective. The majority of email marketing tools with provide you with analytics that allow you to trace click-through rates, open rates, and other metrics that can measure the success of your email campaigns; and
  • Stay consistent: It is important to maintain a consistent email schedule, whether that is weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly to keep your audience engaged and remind them of your services.

Search advertising

Paid search, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, is another effective digital marketing strategy you can use that may yield significant results for your law firm when done correctly.

PPCs allow a law firm to set up an online advertising campaign where the firm only pays for each time an online visitor clicks on an advertisement. This ensures that the law firm only pays for the times a potential client actually clients on the ad and visits their website. Some of the most popular PPC ad networks for law firms include:

  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Understand the basics: Before starting with paid search, you should understand how it works. You can learn key terms, such as:
    • keywords;
    • bidding;
    • ad groups;
    • quality score;
    • click-through rate (CTR);
    • conversion rate; and
    • other terms;
  • Do keyword research: You should identify the most relevant keywords for your firm. You should consider what potential clients may search for when looking for the services you offer. You can use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner to determine the most effective keywords;
  • Use geo-targeting: Because most law firms operate in specific geographic areas, using geo-targeting can help ensure your ads are seen by individuals in your service area, which will make your marketing campaign more effective;
  • Optimize your landing pages: Your ads will direct potential clients to a specific page on your website, called a landing page. It is important to ensure this page is very relevant to the ad, has a clear call to action, and provides useful information. If your landing page is well-optimized, it can greatly increase your conversion rate;
  • Create compelling ads: You should write clear, concise, and compelling ad copy. You should include keywords in your ad text and ensure that it is clear what you are offering and what action you want the searching individual to take;
  • Set a budget: PPC advertising allows your firm to set a budget for how much you are willing to spend. You should begin with a budget you are comfortable with and adjust it as necessary based on your results;
  • Monitor and adjust: If you monitor your campaigns closely, you can see what is working and what is not. You should review metrics such as the click-through rate and conversion rate to assess the performance. You should also be prepared to adjust your ad copy, keywords, or bidding strategy as necessary;
  • Use negative keywords: Negative keywords will prevent your ads from showing up for certain search terms. These can be useful because they can help you avoid paying for clicks that are not likely to result in business;
  • Schedule your ads: You should consider when your ads are likely to be most effective and schedule them for that time. For example, if you are a B2B law firm, your ads may perform better during normal business hours; and
  • Comply with advertising rules: You should ensure that your ads comply with any applicable advertising rules both for your profession and in your jurisdiction.

Remember that paid search strategies require continuous optimization and testing. It is important not to be discouraged if your initial results are not as good as you would like them to be. With careful attention to detail and ongoing refinement, paid search can be a highly effective marketing tool for your firm.

Legal marketing platforms and lead generation services

There are also online platforms and services that specialize in linking lawyers with potential clients and vice-versa. Different legal marketing platforms and lead generation services offer different approaches. For example, some allow clients to look for lawyer profiles and corresponding client ratings and reviews while others use SEO and PPC to drive online traffic to their website which contains many lawyer profiles.

As the original attorney-client matching platform, with more than 20 years experience, LegalMatch allows potential clients to post their legal issues online where member lawyers can respond. This provides member attorneys with the ability to contact potential clients directly and schedule legal consultations that can lead to contracts.

But don’t take our word for it, read what some of our member attorneys have to say:

“LegalMatch has brought to me a clientele that I would not have otherwise seen. The market’s very competitive for lawyers. There are a lot of lawyers who advertise and it’s very easy for someone to Google or otherwise search for a lawyer and find a name and call, but I like the exposure that LegalMatch gives me.” ~Keith N., Business and Family Law

“It’s easy for me to keep track of who’s coming in that way. I’m very satisfied with how the product works, the technology.” ~Edward M., General Practice

“I’m happy with LegalMatch because they have a team of skilled, knowledgeable people and staff who are easy to communicate with and provide me with good leads versus fake leads that I get from many other advertisers out there. I get the actual true leads that I pay for at a reasonable price.” ~Zari H., Family Law

“LegalMatch provides me with a constant stream of interest from people who are in need of assistance…The communication is open and I’m happy with the exposure that I get.” ~Lillian S., Intellectual Property Law

“I think that the best thing about LegalMatch is that the clients have already put their contact information in so they’re actually real leads. And so you have basically a direct line of contact to the clients pretty much as soon as they post. And you can just get right into the weeds if you happen to catch them on the phone, which is just has a much higher success rate than, let’s say, messaging on a board and saying, “Hey, I’d be happy to do some work for you” and don’t hear back for three weeks.” ~Maris H., Family Law

How Can LegalMatch Help?

LegalMatch marketing services provide member attorneys with an excellent and effective lead generation system that ensures a steady flow of clients. You can use the LegalMatch attorney-client matching platform to obtain relevant client information that is typically acquired during the initial consultation. This allows you to assess whether a potential client’s issue falls within your area or areas of practice before you communicate at all with each potential client.

In contrast to many other lead generation services, LegalMatch does not encourage or require member attorneys to create or maintain your own website. Instead, member attorneys can create a profile within the LegalMatch platform. This is an excellent tool for solo or small practice lawyers, especially if you are less familiar or comfortable with websites and digital marketing.

LegalMatch offers many features to bring member lawyers and law firms a steady stream of quality leads, as our members can attest:

“LegalMatch has been good for me as a small practice attorney, because it really gives me a lot of control over what I’m taking on and the type of cases that I get. It takes a lot of stress off of me to know that whatever my workload is, it’s almost like a spigot that can be turned on at any time. There are always leads and most of them are pretty good.” ~William M., Family Law

Read more reviews and success stories from member lawyers about their experiences using LegalMatch and our commitment to supporting attorneys and law firms like yours.