Introduction

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.

Word-of-Mouth Referrals

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.

Geography

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.

Keywords

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”:

Keyword Type

Description

Designation in Adwords

Example Search

Broad

Your keyword or words, included in any arrangement, potentially with other search terms

Keyword

How can I find a lawyer who practices Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Phrase

The exact keyword phrasing, potentially with other search terms

“Keyword”

How can I find a Chapter 7 lawyer?

Exact

Exactly the keyword and nothing else

[Keyword]

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:

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.

Search Engine Optimization

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.

Direct Mail Marketing

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.

Print Advertising

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.

Radio Advertising

Stay tuned…

TV Advertising

Stay tuned…

Conclusion

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.