Let’s face it: old school, interruptive law firm marketing strategies do not work anymore. Prospects would rather be engaged with than sold to—and frankly, most law firms would prefer the more cost-effective route of inbound marketing than dedicating massive resources to television advertisements that may not drive business.
The following 6 strategies are ideal for legal practices aiming to avoid the “hard sell” and instead, utilize research-backed techniques that consistently engage prospects, convert them to warm leads, and nurture them into clients. Read on to learn about law firm marketing strategies.
1. Client testimonials
This strategy is probably not new to anyone, as client testimonials have long been employed for marketing purposes within and outside of the legal industry. If a lack of novelty has caused you to push video and written testimonials to the back burner, though, these statistics may make you rethink that decision:
- Brands that inspire a greater emotional response in their audience receive 3x as much word-of-mouth marketing as less emotionally-emotive brands, according to the Journal of Marketing Research
- HubSpot reports that visual content is 40x more likely to be shared on social media than other content
Law firm marketing strategies that use client testimonial to evoke emotion in their prospects can gain a significant edge over their competition. The benefits don’t stop there. Because testimonials also leverage your clients’ own words to make the case for why others should work with you, they increase social proof and circumvent your team needing to sell the idea of working with your law firm directly to prospects.
Therefore, hand the microphone to your most satisfied clients—your true brand evangelists—and let them tell their story. In their own words, let them explain:
- Why they reached out for legal counsel? (What specific problem were they facing? How did that make them feel?)
- Why they chose your law firm over your competitors
- How your law firm resolved their issue and improved their life
- What they enjoyed most about their experience with you
- Why they would recommend your law firm to others
While written testimonials are valuable, testimonial videos tend to be much more powerful. 52% of marketing professionals around the world claim that video provides the greatest ROI of all content, according to Syndacast. In fact, merely using the word “video” in email subject lines can increase open rates by nearly 20%.
For the greatest impact, combine the best of both worlds: create a testimonial video like the one below—created by Lavis Law Firm located in New Orleans—and then translate snippets of these videos into written testimonials to feature on your law firm’s website, social media profiles, and other marketing materials (assuming that this is legal in your area; always check local/state law first). This combinatory approach can help to sing your law firm’s praises and psychologically convince prospects to reach out to your law firm without the pushiness of a hard sell.
2. Case studies
While testimonials tend to focus on evoking emotion to connect with prospects, case studies take a more logical approach, leveraging data to explain your law firm’s services and value to clients. Most importantly, law firm marketing strategies that employ case studies provide an opportunity to strategically highlight your successes and promote your law firm’s unique strengths.
The Veen Law Firm, PC, a San Francisco-based personal injury legal practice, excels at using concise case studies to showcase their value as a highly capable, rapid-response law firm. In just two paragraphs below, they mount a strong, real world case for hiring their firm for challenging cases where millions of dollars are on the line.
Telling the story of their win is much more effective than saying “The Veen Firm has handled high-profile personal injury cases with great success,” a sentiment that is probably echoed on many of their competitors’ websites. Whether your legal practice specializes in personal injury law or another highly-competitive specialty, such as DUI defense or divorce law, employing case studies in your law firm marketing strategies can differentiate your legal practice from the crowd.
Luckily, they are simple to write. A typical case study features four distinct sections:
- An attention-catching, descriptive title
- The client’s challenge—what made them reach out to your legal practice?
- The step-by-step solution provided by your law firm
Keep in mind that the best case studies do not just throw data points into a paragraph; they weave the above four elements into a story and strategically employ facts and figures to drive their points home. By the end of each case study, you should have clearly answered the questions “what pivotal role did our law firm play in resolving the client’s issue, and how did this improve the client’s life/business?”
Best Law Firms, The American Lawyer Awards, The Legal 500 Awards, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Who’s Who Legal Awards… there are dozens of awards programs and ranked lists that “grade” the players in the legal market. Any one of these individually or a combination of several can increase the public’s perceived value of your law firm—and when it comes to convincing on-the-fence prospects or potential clients who are shopping around to several law firms, a more positive perception can make the difference between winning and losing business.
A similar phenomenon occurs with trust seals on ecommerce websites. Research shows that featuring trust seals, such as a VeriSign seal or Norton trust seal, on a landing page or during checkout can lead to a significant increase in conversions—as much as 42% in the case of Blue Fountain Media. The psychology behind this is that it increases the company’s perceived trustworthiness and demonstrates that they prioritize customer security and privacy, which are two of the most common concerns among online shoppers.
Tip: Data security is also a huge concern among attorneys and their clients as well, which is one of the top 6 reasons that more law firms are migrating their data to the cloud.
Similarly, awards highlighting the quality of your law firm’s work and dedication to client service directly address your prospects’ most common concerns, and lend your practice greater credibility while establishing trust with your audience.
In the example above, the law firm Benezra & Culver, P.C. features several prestigious awards on their homepage to showcase their expertise and experience, and back up the claim that they are “the premier Colorado employment law firm.”
Although James Attorney Marketing & Attorney Marketing doesn’t have access to this law firm’s website conversion rate, we can bet that it receives a boost from listing their accomplishments on the front page so that prospects immediately become aware of their award-winning status. Keep in mind, though, that some of these awards only carry weight because of the source. U.S. News, for instance, is a recognizable and reputable source, and therefore has a greater impact than accolades from an unrecognizable local publication.
One last point to consider regarding legal awards: they aren’t the be all, end all of law firm marketing strategies. Yes, they can distinguish your law firm from competitors, especially if you can brag that you have been named to the “Best of Law Firms” list for 10 years running. However, that does not necessarily guarantee that your audience will care or that awards will make up for poor performance in other areas. No amount of shining accolades may convince prospects to become clients if your law firm’s online reviews are consistently low (something we discuss later in the article).
Therefore, treat legal industry awards as tool in your arsenal of law firm marketing strategies to add to your credibility and differentiate your law firm… after you have established a strong foundation by providing excellent client service.
4. Involvement in the local community
Most of your business probably comes from people and businesses within the vicinity—your neighborhood, city, or county. This makes sense for two reasons:
- Most people search for legal assistance within their comfort zone; according to FindLaw’s U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey, 71% of people looking for an attorney think it is important to hire a local one.
- Google and other search engines are now delivering more localized results (this is why maintaining a strong Google+ Local account and increasing the visibility of Google+ listings in local search rankings is so important for law firms).
This provides law firms a fantastic opportunity to connect directly with their prospects by participating in their local communities. When you sponsor a city sports team or charity run, sit on the board of local organizations, or donate time and/or resources to philanthropic causes, you are not only directly marketing your law firm’s brand but also demonstrating that you prioritize social responsibility—solid law firm marketing strategies in and of itself.
According to Cone Communications’ 2017 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Study, nearly 90% of Americans would choose a brand that supports a good cause over their competitor, price and quality being equal. Additionally, 79% of consumers actively seek out brands that are socially and environmentally responsible in order to financially support businesses that align with their values.
Take a break from your online law firm marketing strategies every so often and get involved in your community on a face-to-face basis. Not only will you reap the networking benefits and familiarize people with your law firm’s name, but you may just find that supporting local associations emotionally connects prospects to your brand in a way that a landing page cannot.
Phoenix law firm Mushkatel, Robbins, & Becker, PLLC, for instance, highlights their various community involvements on their website. Although the law firm consists of just 6 lawyers, they are involved in an impressive number of organizations and sponsor a fundraising event that assists homeless people within their community.
Like awards, community involvement isn’t a replacement for other attorney marketing efforts such as Google+ Local optimization. However, creating face-to-face relationships and spreading your law firm’s name at a grassroots level is never a bad idea if you can dedicate the time and resources.
5. Social media
Unlike the law firms of 20 years ago, today’s legal practices have direct contact with prospects and clients at the click of a button. Social media and the internet have transformed attorney marketing, making it faster, more affordable, and potentially much more effective.
Many attorneys take this to mean that they should use Facebook to disseminate sales-oriented messages like “Injured on the job? Call us now!” While this type of messaging does have a time and place, the power of social media lies in providing your prospects information that they find valuable and will share to their networks.
For instance, the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC, uses their Facebook profile to share very relevant blog articles that address specific questions that prospects may search for. The blog article below, titled “What Happens if a Tourist Gets Hurt During a High-Risk Activity,” answers questions like “I was injured during a rock climbing trip. Is the adventure company responsible for my hospital bills?” In other words, they provide value to their audience by offering pertinent, timely information.
Tip: Learn more about producing excellent attorney content, based on research and James Attorney Marketing & Attorney Marketing’s decades of experience.
Another way to use social media to indicate your law firm’s value without pursuing the hard sell is addressing prospects’ questions and concerns. Hootsuite determined that nearly 60% of Americans who have a social media account (which is 83% of the population) agree that customer service over social media has made it easier to resolve their questions and concerns. In fact, 28% of social media users prefer to engage with a brand or organization on social media rather than visit the physical location.
Don’t let those online prospects slip away. Assign a team member to observe all social media profiles (preferably the same person in charge of posting content on these profiles, since they understand your brand voice) so you can quickly address any questions or concerns that may arise, and convert information-gatherers into leads and clients.
Lastly, a final word to the wise for those who currently don’t see the value in their law firm marketing strategies that utilize social media: Hootsuite’s survey also found that more than 40% of Americans believe it is important that the brands they choose have a significant social media presence. Time to add social media to your marketing efforts!
Bonus: Once you have a steady Facebook following, paid ads can help to increase your website traffic. Read our step-by-step guide to creating Facebook ads here.
6. Online reviews: gathering positive reviews, minimizing negative ones
According to the Pew Research Center, 82% of adults in the U.S. claim to read online customer ratings or reviews at least sometimes before making a purchase decision, with a staggering 40% of those saying that they “always” or “almost always” do. This latter number is even larger among 30- to 49-year-olds, with 47% of survey respondents admitting to “always” or “almost always” searching through reviews.
How do these reviews affect their decision to work with your law firm?
- 65% of American adults who said that they “always” or “almost always” read online ratings believe that reviews are generally accurate
- 54% of review readers admit to paying more attention to extremely negative reviews during the decision stage, while only 43% consider the extremely positive ones more heavily
Even just a handful of negative reviews can quickly reduce the number of leads coming into your law practice from a gush to a trickle. Keep in mind that these damaging reviews may not even be 100% true—we consistently hear from lawyers whose clients are unjustified in their negative remarks—but the public will perceive them to be true nonetheless, as the research above shows.
Having no reviews or only a small number of them can be just as detrimental, as it can appear as though your law firm is less experienced and capable than your competitors with 100+ reviews, and can push you down the list on Google search rankings. Failing to gather reviews also means that you are missing out on valuable client feedback that can highlight your law firm’s areas of excellence and improvement.
The solution is simple: in today’s online landscape, you must be consistently gathering positive reviews from your clients and minimizing the impact of negative ones. That is where the James Online Reputation Management (ORM) tool comes into play. It is an attorney referral tool designed to streamline the testimonial gathering process by enabling lawyers to:
- Automatically solicit, screen, track, and publish online client reviews so you never have to pester clients again
- Promote positive testimonials
- Shelve negative reviews to minimize the fallout
- Respond to comments in real time
- View your average rating, track number of reviews, read comments, compare benchmarks, and assess traffic and ROI—all from one user-friendly dashboard
The results speak for themselves. By using the James ORM tool for his review gathering strategy, personal injury attorney Loren Etengoff has more than doubled his caseload. He reports, “90% of my new clients say they contacted me due to the positive reviews that James’ software generated.”
Convert more prospects into clients. Try the James ORM tool now to automatically gather positive client reviews!
All in all, review gathering is one of the most powerful law firm marketing strategies that you have at your disposal because the overwhelming majority of your prospects will be searching through what others have said about you. Meet them where they are, putting your best foot forward using the James ORM tool, and converts those prospects into clients.