Competition in the legal sector is fierce. Clients no longer see their local solicitor as the first and only option when they need legal advice.
Like many business sectors, legal has undergone massive change since the turn of the Millennium, with more services moving online and, in 2008, the introduction of alternative business structures, the first of which were licensed in 2012.
A decade on, competition for clients is fiercer than ever, and it is no longer the case that most customers will see their local solicitor as the first and only option when they need legal advice.
In this rapidly evolving environment, law firms need to embrace the potential of the Digital Age to avoid being left behind – and in order to generate more business in new and existing areas of practice.
With over 15 years of experience in search engine optimisation for law firms, the team at Cure Digital have devised proven digital strategies that drive business growth and always improve on past performance.
We’ve had equal success in winning strong local search recognition for single office high street practices, and national recognition within the most competitive legal service areas.
So, how do we do it?
Leaving old habits behind
Old methods are not completely worthless, but a classified ad in the local newspaper or a business listing in the Phone Book has a relatively limited audience compared with a well performing website or social media profile.
Even within your local area, it is very likely that potential clients will search online and choose a legal advisor from the top few results. At the very least, you should make sure you have an online presence that appears if somebody searches for you by the name of your law firm.
But it’s sensible to go beyond this most basic of online profiles, so that rather than appearing passively in searches for your firm, you are actively targeting your presence in search results for relevant legal phrases and questions.
Ways to generate business online
There are many ways to generate business leads online in the legal sector. For example, these include:
- Developing your brand via…
- Colour theory in website design
- Digital logo creation
- Multimedia marketing (audio/image/video)
- Print materials to support online campaigns
- Gaining new clients via…
- Content marketing
- Pay per click
- Search engine optimisation
- Web design
- Increasing sales via…
- Business development online
- Digital call handling
- Funnel and conversion rate optimisation
- Online training for sales personnel
- Promoting your law firm via…
- Digital PR
- Email marketing
- Online marketing
- Web directory submissions
- Retaining clients via…
- Contact methods (email/telephone/video call)
- Email newsletters
- News updates and blog posts
- Reports and data analysis
A fully comprehensive online marketing campaign will take most or even all of these different elements into account, focusing on those with the greatest potential to add value to your business.
Increasing your online visibility
First and foremost, your brand must be visible online. Many traditional law firms still have little to no online presence, potentially missing out on a highly engaged and relevant audience of would-be clients in need of legal advice.
Online visibility can mean a sleek and elegant website, and it is always sensible to have a site of your own to direct clients towards. However, you can also appear in other places online, from directory listings, to Google Maps (and its equivalents), to social networks.
You may even want to build your audience by undertaking an online PR campaign, with the intention to get your firm’s name mentioned in the local, trade or national press by commenting on current events in the legal sector.
It’s important to recognise that smaller firms can embark on these kinds of campaigns just as well as the larger national law firms. You may want to keep your campaign more tightly targeted – perhaps approaching journalists only in your local area – or be ambitious and launch a nationwide promotion drive.
How to impress at first glance
We all know that online, you have only a few seconds to make the right impression whether that’s in search results, social media, or on your website.
Any online promotional campaign should start with an audit of your existing presence, to make sure accurate information is appearing in crucial places such as:
- Search result pages
- Google My Business and Google Maps
- Social media profile pages
- Online legal directories
- Your own website
Most critically of all, your contact details should be kept up to date, so that you know anyone who attempts to get in touch with you can do so.
Try to be accessible. Clients will look for you in different ways, on different platforms, and even a basic presence on each can give them something to find, which can in turn direct them to the appropriate ways to contact you.
Ways to optimise a law firm website
Search engine optimisation is a vast topic but there are a few important factors to keep in mind if you want to optimise your law firm website with immediate benefits:
- Create in-depth, compelling and useful content for your pages
- Make sure your site displays correctly on mobile devices
- Write good-quality content with SEO keywords in the right places
SEO best practice changes over time, but there are some evergreen methods that, as yet, have never fallen from grace.
These include unique content, with correct spelling and grammar, prominent but natural keyword inclusion, and good internal hyperlinks between different relevant pages on your website.
Website speed matters
The loading speed of your website is important. Page load speed is part of Google’s Core Web Vitals, which rate your site according to how fast and stable your pages are when loading.
But site speed is not just a technical consideration. Fast, stable pages that quickly become interactive are good news for user engagement, and reduce the risk of visitors leaving because they don’t want to wait any longer for the page to load.
In turn, stable and interactive pages increase the likelihood that a potential client will fill in your contact form – as well as increasing the probability that the form will work with no errors.
What is responsive website design?
Responsive web design is a way to make websites display correctly on different sizes of screen, including tablets and smartphones.
There is no one screen resolution for mobile devices. Websites must be designed to elegantly adjust to the size of the ‘viewport’, even if it means stacking elements vertically instead of horizontally, or even hiding certain page elements completely.
For law firms, responsive website design can have significant benefits in improving accessibility to clients who want to visit your site in different ways, and can allow smartphone users to call your office with a single tap of the telephone number on your website.
Speak with authority
Much of the above is about building your online voice, and the best way to do this is by speaking with authority. Your experience and expertise are unique, and by demonstrating them in editorials, opinion pieces and interviews with the press, you can generate considerable brand awareness and consumer trust.
Online PR is a great way to do this. You can produce press releases that portray your law firm in a positive light, post them as unique content on your own website, and distribute them to relevant news outlets to hopefully create some free advertising in the press.
Choose your subjects carefully. Discussing controversial topics is more likely to get your brand noticed, but less likely to achieve a 100% positive reaction, whereas by taking a more balanced approach, you can ensure clients’ perception of your brand remains universally positive.
Audit your online reviews
Reviews by past clients can be make or break when prospective customers research your law firm online, so try to stay aware of what people are saying about your brand.
If you find negative reviews, try to find out if there is a way to request their removal – especially if you think the review is inaccurate or even libellous.
Even if you can’t get the review removed, it may be possible to leave a reply. Respect client confidentiality but, if possible, add some balance to the review so that it looks less negative to anyone who comes across it while researching your law firm.
Use CTAs (Calls to Action)
Finally, don’t be afraid to tell would-be clients what you want them to do. ‘Calls to action’ (or CTAs) are a way to make sure prospective customers know what to do next.
A CTA could be as simple as providing contact details, telling clients to email or call you, or encouraging website visitors to follow your social media profiles.
However, you can also take it further, for example by linking to questionnaires that provide you with more details of the client’s enquiry, so that by the time your sales team speaks to them, you already have a good understanding of what they need from you.
How to get started
An audit of your existing online presence is a good way to get started, along with a detailed analysis of law firms in your town or city, or which are close competitors in your areas of practice.
Once you know where you stand, you can start implementing some of the 20 techniques listed at the top of this guide, along with some of the detailed suggestions given above.
Many of the gains you will make are incremental, but over time they will add up to an even greater number of new business leads – so the sooner you start building your law firm’s brand awareness online, the better your bottom line should look.
To talk to a law firm marketing expert call us now on 0161 660 3281.