Law firm marketing doesn’t need to be a guessing game. You can and should know exactly how many leads your marketing efforts are bringing in. In the pre-historic days, lawyers used to advertise in the Yellow Pages and in print media. Then, eventually they’d get some clients and ask said clients, “How did you find our firm?” Some clients would respond, “The Yellow Pages,” and the attorneys would associate that client with the particular referral source. But, some clients would not remember or would misremember how they found the attorney, giving the attorney bad data to rely on.
Today we don’t have to worry about that, because: Internet. It is now relatively easy for you to track your law firm marketing efforts to be able to see where your new clients are coming from.
If you knew that your Yellow Pages ads weren’t bringing you any good clients, you’d stop advertising in the Yellow Pages. Just the same, with Internet marketing, we can see precisely where your clients are coming from to determine if each particular channel for marketing your law firm is worth the effort and expense.
Since there are many different law firm marketing methods out there, we’ve created this guide to walk you through them, and how you can track your marketing efforts.
You may be wondering, “What the hell are they doing writing about referral marketing for law firms? Every firm does this. SKIP.” I promise you we’ve got a few tricks that will make you reconsider your referral-based law firm marketing.
For decades, generations, centuries, millennia, since the dawn of the legal profession, attorneys have relied on word-of-mouth referrals to generate new business for their practices. To their friends, colleagues, and fellow professionals, lawyers hand out business cards. Eventually, one of the people in the lawyer’s network remarks, “I need a lawyer that does this,” and the other person says, “Well do I have a lawyer for you!” and then that person gives out the lawyer’s business card. And the lawyer gets a new client. Then, when the lawyer interviews the client, the client remarks, “I was referred to you by X person.” Or, the client forgets, and the lawyer has no way of attributing the client to a particular referral source. That’s how it’s happened for billions of years in the legal profession. Yet, phone numbers on business cards haven’t been traceable to a particular source, until now.
Tracking Word-of-Mouth Referrals
Call tracking software exists to keep track of how many calls you’ve received from a particular referral source. Services like Call Tracking Metrics and Call Rail can provide you with tracking phone numbers so you can see how many calls you’ve received from a particular source.
How Call Tracking Works
First, you purchase a call tracking number. Then, you use that tracking number on your marketing materials. Next, someone sees the call tracking phone number and calls it. When you set up your call tracking number, it will automatically forward any calls to these tracking numbers to the phone number you designate, whether it’s your office, your cell phone, or a call-in service like Ruby Receptionist or My Receptionist. Because the client called the tracking number, the tracking software will log the call in its system, along with the caller ID and call duration. So, when you check your call tracking system at the end of the month, you can find out that you received several calls per month attributable to each referral source. If you don’t get any calls from a particular referral source, you may want to stop marketing via those channels and spend more money and effort on the sources that bring in the best ROI for your firm.
Actual Data on Referral Tracking
Here’s what you’re going to do: Instead of putting your cell phone or office phone number on your business cards that you hand out to people who can refer you business, purchase a call tracking number, set it up, and put that phone number on your card. This way, you will know exactly how many calls you’re getting from that source each month. No more guessing. No more relying on what other people are telling you. The data doesn’t lie.
Pay Per Click (E.g. Google Adwords, Bing Ads and Facebook Ads)
Pay Per Click advertising (also referred to as PPC, and most often associated with Google Adwords) describes the practice of having a search engine (for the purposes of this guide, we’ll use Google) display your advertisement in search results, and then having you pay every time the advertisement is clicked. Though PPC can be expensive (if you’re a New York City personal injury attorney), if done right, it can provide a great ROI and be a very effective way to market your law firm.
How does it work?
PPC advertising works on a bidding system. Think of it as an eBay for advertising – you bid on what you are willing to pay for the top spot in Google for a particular keyword click. Based on your bid, you get a certain search ranking.
1. You tell Google the search terms for which you would like your ad displayed (e.g. “CA probate lawyer” / “Los Angeles probate lawyer” etc.) and how much you’re willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad (your bid)
2. Google decides where in the search results to include your ad, or whether to include it at all, based on your bid and competing bids for that search. The more you bid per click, the more likely your ad shows up more prominently and gets you traffic
3. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay Google a fee based on your bid (called a Cost Per Click or CPC)
Targeting the Right Searches
When you run a PPC ad, you have the ability to target searches by keywords and by geographical area of the visitor. You have the ability to choose what keywords your advertisement shows up for. So, your bankruptcy firm can choose whether to show up in search results for “Chapter 7 lawyer” or “Chapter 11 lawyer” or both.
With PPC, you can target a specific geographical area (e.g. your county, city, or zip code). Not only does this make it easier to meet with someone, should the need arise / if your firm does in-person consultations, it also encourage better conversion since people are more likely to hire an attorney who is close to them. And always, at the very least, make sure to only target searches conducted within the states that you are licensed to practice.
Targeting keywords is a little more complicated. Not only do you want to target very specific, granular keywords, you also need to specific the correct match type.
Adwords offers three different types of keywords that you can set when targeting your keywords – broad, phrase, and exact.
Broad match targets any search that contains all of the keywords you set. Phrase match targets searches that use the exact phrase anywhere in the search. Exact match only targets the searches that match the keyword exactly.
Here’s a chart distilling the difference in keyword types in Adwords for the keyword “Chapter 7 lawyer”:
Designation in Adwords
Your keyword or words, included in any arrangement, potentially with other search terms
How can I find a lawyer who practices Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
The exact keyword phrasing, potentially with other search terms
How can I find a Chapter 7 lawyer?
Exactly the keyword and nothing else
Chapter 7 lawyer
Typically it’s best to use Phrase match and/or Exact match to get the most relevant results.
Writing Great Ad Copy
There are two reasons why it’s important to write great ad copy. First, increasing your click through rate (the percentage of times your ad is clicked when displayed) actually lowers the price that you pay for each click. The second is that this is the first chance you get to create interest in your firm.
Writing great ad copy is a skill that some people seem to have innately. But we can’t all be Don Draper. Luckily, it’s also a skill that can be learned. There are three different approaches to writing ad copy:
1. Building trust
2. Creating intrigue
3. Instilling fear
To see how this would affect ad copy, let’s start with a boring PPC ad for an elder law attorney:
New York Wills Attorney
Create a Complete Will
Collins & Whitmore, LLP
Boring, right? Now let’s see what happens when we apply the above approaches to this ad:
Wills that Protect Your Loved Ones
Over 80+ Years of Experience
Speak with an Attorney Today
Is Your Family Protected?
Ensure that You Have An Experienced
Lawyer Create Your Will. Call Now.
Perils of an Incomplete Will
Include These Key Elements
Or Your Family May Suffer
Each of these revised Ads play to different emotional triggers. Is any one better than another? Probably, and that’s why you test.
Test Different Ad Copy
Even though we do this stuff for a living, rarely do we get everything right the first try. That’s why testing is so important. To be honest, we have no idea which one of the above ads would have the highest click through rate and have the lowest Cost Per Click (CPC). But, luckily, Google Adwords lets you A/B test your ad copy.
What is A/B testing?
A/B testing is when you run two versions of the same ad during the same time period, version A and version B. Half the time, version A will be shown, the other half, version B will be shown.
After the ad has been clicked enough times so it’s statistically significant, you’ll be able to tell which version of the ad has performed better. By running multiple A/B tests on your ad copy, you can significantly lower your CPC
Landing Pages: A Key to PPC Most Attorneys Miss
A Landing Page is the page that someone is brought to when they click on your ad. Please, for the sake of all that is good, do not use your homepage as your landing page. Why?
Say you’re an elder law attorney and your practice includes Wills, Estates, Trusts, etc. Information about your entire practice and multiple practice areas can be found on your homepage. If someone just searched for an attorney who does Wills, why would you send her to a page that also describes Estates and Trusts? Why hope that she navigates through your site to find the practice area that she was initially looking for when you could just send her there right off the bat? If you send a visitor to your homepage after they click on a specific ad, upon seeing your homepage that doesn’t speak specifically to their search, they can easily hit the “back” button in their browser and click on someone else’s ad.
If you send a visitor to your overly broad homepage after they click on your very specific, relevant ad, they can easily hit the “back” button in their browser and click on someone else’s ad to find what they’re looking for.
Every PPC campaign should target as specific a practice area as would be searched for and have a landing page that describes how you help clients in that area specifically. And your ad copy headline should be duplicated on the landing page itself to improve continuity and quickly help orient the searcher.
For example, if you’re a bankruptcy attorney, this means you should have separate ads and landing pages for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And if your ad headline for a chapter 7 bankruptcy search is “A Happy Restart with Chapter 7, ” then your headline for the corresponding landing page should also be, “A Happy Restart with Chapter 7.”
Landing pages should strive to include: all of the information needed to convince a visitor to contact your firm, a contact form, a phone number, and nothing more. While that concept is simple, in practice it’s not easy, but here are some elements that you’ll probably want to include:
An image of the attorney or attorneys who assist clients in the practice area in question, or an image that is representative of the practice area
A bulleted list describing how your firm assists clients in the practice area
Social proof such as testimonials to show that you’ve helped clients successfully navigate similar issues before
A clear call to action telling the visitor to contact your firm
A/B Testing Landing Pages
Not only should you A/B test your ad copy, it’s also a good idea to A/B test your landing pages. Ultimately, you should be striving to get as many people who visit your landing page to contact your firm as this reduces your Cost Per Lead. The best way to do that is to test. Almost anything you can think of is fair game to test, but the following list is a good place to start:
Call to Action text
Placement of the contact form/phone number
Bulleted list of ways your firm serves clients in the practice area in question
How We Track PPC
Leads for PPC are countable via calls received and form submissions. On each of your landing pages there should be a contact form specific to that landing page. So, your Chapter 7 bankruptcy page has a form, your Chapter 11 bankruptcy page has a form, etc. This way, you can know which page is bringing you new clients. Getting 10 form submissions is great, but if all of the form submissions are coming from Chapter 7, maybe you should spend less money on your law firm marketing for Chapter 11.
As we’ve mentioned in earlier blog posts, you can also track how many phone calls your firm has received related to a particular Adwords campaign using a phone call tracking service. Two that we recommend are Call Rail and Call Tracking Metrics. By inserting a line of code onto your landing pages, you can find out how many phone calls your firm receives each month via these campaigns.
With PPC, you should be also tracking your ad spending and ROI to see:
How much you spend on ads each month
How many leads you get per month from the ad spend
How many clients you get each month from your Adwords campaigns
How much these clients are bringing in to your firm
What’s your ROI on your Adwords ad spend
For more information on Adwords, check out some of our other posts:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving your website’s ranking in “organic” search engine results for specific search terms. For example, if your firm does bankruptcy law in NY, one search you’d want to optimize for is “NY bankruptcy attorney.”
The difference between SEO and PPC is that while PPC ads show up in Google in the “paid ads” section and you have to pay for each click, you don’t have to pay for SEO traffic (though SEO traffic isn’t a guarantee like it is for PPC).
SEO relies heavily on trying to figure out Google’s ranking algorithm to get your website better visibility. Because we’re dealing with Google’s ranking algorithm, which is for the most part a trade secret and changes constantly, SEO is an inexact science. There are published guidelines that Google has to let you know you need to get better visibility, but even so, nothing is guaranteed to get you the top search result in Google. Even so, SEO is often the first type of law firm Internet marketing that firms will test out since it’s often cheaper than PPC.
[SEO] is a very lengthy process, often taking many months to notice any appreciable results.
SEO is not without its drawbacks though. In addition to being very inexact, it is a lengthy process, often taking many months to produce any appreciable results. It is also harder to determine the ROI of SEO compared to other forms of law firm marketing because of the heavy initial time investment.
If done right, though, SEO can be an incredibly effective way to market your firm and can lead to a steady stream of clients, often for a lower cost than PPC, direct mail, print, radio, or TV marketing.
To get better search engine visibility, following Google’s published guidelines, there are steps you can take to put you on track to getting a Page 1 result in Google. With SEO, there are two main components: on-site and off-site SEO.
The easiest part of SEO is optimizing the existing content and structure of your site. This includes:
Creating proper meta tags for your content
Making use of H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags
Interlinking your content
Improving your site load speed
Making your site mobile friendly
Creating a sitemap
Creating Proper Meta Tags for Your Content
Every blog post and page should have its title tag and description tag set. These tags tell Google how to display your page in search results. This is the first place that search engines look to figure out what a particular webpage is about.
Making Use of H1 – H4 tags
H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags are HTML heading tags that you should use to break up sections of content. After the title and meta tags, these are the most important indicators to search engines about what the content on a particular page is about. Keywords that you would like to rank for should be used in these headings, though you should never sacrifice readability for SEO.
Interlinking Your Content
When content on one page of your site provides elaboration on a particular subject being talked about on another page of your site, link to it. Not only does this provide a better experience for the user, as he/she can more quickly know where to go next to get more information, it tells search engines how different content in your site relates to each other and gives a fuller picture of the content on your site.
Improving Your Page Load Speed
Not only do page load speeds greater than 3 seconds lead to reduced conversion rates, fewer page views, and a worse user experience, Google actually takes page speed into account now when ranking results. To see how fast your site loads, go to Pingdom and enter your site’s URL.
If your page load speed is greater than 3 seconds, it’s probably a good idea to switch hosting providers or check to see if there is any functionality on your site that increases page load time and is non-essential. If you’re on Wordpress, you can also try using caching plugins like Super Cache or W3 Total Cache.
Making Your Site Mobile Friendly
Google now penalizes your site if it is deemed not to be mobile friendly. Load your site on your phone. Do you have to zoom in to read the text or click on navigation? If it does, Google may not be as likely to display your site in mobile search results. And with 40% of all web traffic now coming from mobile devices, this is a big deal.
Creating a Sitemap
Sitemaps are pages that simply display the title and URL of all of the pages on your site, usually in XML format. They aren’t as important as they used to be, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to include one and there are many plugins that will do so for you automatically if you’re using Wordpress.
Off-Site SEO includes a number of ways to get other sites to “validate” your website to get you better visibility.
Your firm should have local directory pages that feature your firm’s phone number, website URL, and address (if you have a brick and mortar location). Some sites include Google+ for Business, Yellow Pages, Manta. To see the local directories that your firm is and is not included in, check out Moz Local.
Considered the most crucial element to SEO, getting quality backlinks (i.e. links from other websites to your website) boosts your search visibility. One key to getting backlinks is to write quality content on your site. Other websites will link to you if you have good content to share. This is why many law firms maintain blogs. Good blog content gets shared and linked to, boosting the SEO of the hosting site.
How We Track SEO
Like Adwords, you can track SEO with call tracking software. Call tracking software can allow you to see how many visitors came to your site from local search results and what pages they landed on. Call tracking reports can even tell you what search engines your traffic came from – it may turn out that your website has a huge presence in AOL search…
Direct mail marketing has lost its efficacy for law firms in many practice areas, but there are still some firms that can benefit from it. The problem is, most law firms that still do it, don’t know if they’re among the firms benefiting from this type of marketing because they aren’t tracking their campaigns.
You Can Track Direct Mail Marketing?!
Yes! And I don’t mean by asking each client how they found your firm, which many attorneys forget to do, and even those that do are relying on the reporting of the leads themselves, which is prone to error.
When you send out a direct mail campaign, you typically offer up to 3 ways for people to get in touch with your firm:
Your website URL
Your phone number
Your email address
Tracking Direct Mail Marketing Through a Phone Number
With a call tracking service, you can assign a new tracking phone number to your particular mailing campaign. How it works: The call tracking software will issue you a phone number within your area code. Then, you put that phone number on your mailers (instead of your firm’s regular phone number). When someone calls that tracking phone number, it will automatically be routed to your firm’s main phone line but because it is a tracking number, you will get a notification any time someone calls that number. So, by having a dedicated number for direct mail marketing, you can find out exactly how many calls you’ve received related to a particular campaign. And, call tracking numbers are not expensive. A single number for a call tracking campaign is usually around $3 per month – worth the cost to find out how many people actually called you.
Tracking Direct Mail Marketing Through an Email Address
If you’re going to run a direct mail campaign, you’ll want to set up an email alias address specifically for that campaign (e.g. instead of [email protected] an alias would be [email protected] or some other variant, specifically for this campaign and not used for anything else). An email alias will send any emails to your regular firm email address even though people will be emailing an alternate email address. And, email aliases are free.
How to Set Up An Email Alias
Setting up an email alias is very easy. Just go into your email settings and create an alias (here are instructions for Gmail as an example). Then, put your alias email in your marketing campaign materials, and you’re good to go.
Although the mail will automatically be sent to whatever address you forward your alias email to, you’ll be able to see the alias that the forward is coming from. In this way, you’ll know when an email inquiry is coming in to your law firm as a result of your direct mail marketing.
Tracking Direct Mail Marketing Through a Website URL
Hopefully you’ve already read the section on PPC marketing, but if you haven’t, you may want to refer to the section on Landing Pages, because this is another type of marketing where attorneys will benefit from using landing pages.
Instead of simply directing recipients of your direct mail pamphlet to your homepage, you should create a landing page specifically for your direct mail campaign where you give prospects more information about the service area in question (e.g. yourfirm.com/mailer).
Again, you’ll want to include all of the information that you think it will take to convince this prospect to contact your firm on this landing page, a phone number, and a contact form, and nothing more. If you want to be ultra-specific about how people are making the decision to contact your firm, you may want to use a different tracking number than the number you use on the pamphlet itself.
Ways to Improve Your Results
For advanced “mailers” who send a high volume of direct mail messages, and send the same messages out repeatedly at different times, it is probably worth putting in a little effort to maximize the results of the campaign. Once again, A/B testing to the rescue!
Though it may take longer to get statistically significant results from direct mail marketing than it might for PPC, it’s definitely possible to A/B test direct mail. To do it, simply create two slightly different version of the pamphlet or flyer being mailed out, testing different headlines, calls to action, or ad copy. Then use unique tracking numbers, email addresses, and URLs for each version.
We can’t ignore print advertising completely. It does exist. Attorneys still advertise on billboards, in magazines, and, for some reason that we still cannot fully grasp, in the Yellow Pages. We’ve even come across such morally questionable activities as DUI attorneys sponsoring open bar nights at pubs, providing flyers and bracelets with the firm’s information on it. If you’re that kind of attorney, though, please don’t read further. In fact, please don’t read our website at all. We have no interest in helping you grow your practice if you take that kind of approach. For the rest of you though, please read on.
Tracking Print Advertising
Since direct mail marketing is so similar to Direct Mail Marketing, I’ll refer you to the previous section for ideas on how to track and improve your print advertising.
Just like with mailers, you can track by using call tracking, email tracking, and specific landing pages. With your print ads, make sure you use a call tracking number specifically dedicated to the campaign so you can see how many calls you got related to your ad placement. Also, if you include an email, be sure to use a campaign-specific email alias. And, a campaign-specific landing page is the surest way to continue your print ad’s messaging online.
There are a lot of different ways for you to engage in meaningful law firm marketing. Aside from word-of-mouth referrals, PPC, SEO, direct mail, print, radio, and TV campaigns provide avenues for marketing your firm that are trackable, allowing you to know whether it’s worth the expense and effort.