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Advertising for Lawyers: A Complete Guide

by Brian Colling - August 07, 2020

The Attorney Selection Research Study by the Research Intelligence Group reveals 75% of adults do an online search when looking for a lawyer. Before people call an attorney, they do an internet search – making your law firm’s top-of-mind recall vital in today’s ultra-competitive legal battle for winning new clients. What is the best advertising for lawyers? What are the law firm advertising rules? How does attorney lead generation work? And how can you ensure your law firm’s marketing beats your competition? Discover the answer to these questions and more in Advertising for Lawyers: The Complete Guide.

The Only Law Firm Advertising Rule

Keep advertising. Like your investment portfolio manager is telling you to keep investing during uncertain times, now is not the time for your law firm to pull its advertising budget. Call it fear of missing out (FOMO) marketing. Every time a potential client sees another law firm’s billboard, tv commercial, top four Google search results, or Facebook ad – your firm’s top-of-mind recall goes down. Keep advertising.

Television Advertising for Lawyers

Traditional advertising is not dead. If it were, Geico, McDonald’s, Amazon, and T-Mobile would have stopped spending billions a long time ago. If you can afford it, advertising your law firm on local television should be a priority. Television advertising is the quickest way to put and name and face to your law firm. Many attorneys use it to build a law firm or lawyer persona. Most lawyers use TV advertising because it makes the phone ring.

In the last few years, Over the Top Advertising (OTT), has become the perfect way for lawyers to target potential clients. Streaming media services deliver content through the internet and bypass cable, broadcast, or satellite television channels. OTT advertising allows companies to deliver ads to consumers watching content on streaming services like Amazon Fire, Apple TV or Roku, Smartphone, Smart TV, or gaming device. The advantages of using OTT advertising include non-skippable ads, view-through conversion tracking, higher recall, less interruption, and advanced (compared to traditional channels) targeting capabilities. For more on OTT Advertising, read out the blog post How to Take Advantage of OTT Advertising During COVID-19.

TV advertising tips for lawyers

  1. Pick an audience because if market your law firm to everyone, your law firm is for no one. The easiest way to accomplish this is by starting the copy off with a question. “Have you been hurt in an auto accident?” or “Have you been diagnosed with <insert aliment>?”
  1. Pick a theme because your law firm needs to be remembered tomorrow by someone hurt in an auto accident. Many law firms accomplish this by showcasing a partner or partners. Others do it with patriotic imagery like a bald eagle. And some become memorable with a catchy jingle.
  1. Create a sense of urgency because you may not get another chance before a potential client runs into an ad from the competition.

For more on TV advertising, read our blog post Is TV Advertising Still Effective, Relevant, and Worth it?.

Radio Advertising for Lawyers

Local radio is still an incredibly effective way to stay top-of-mind with potential clients. The perception during COVID-19 is many consumers are not in cars commuting to work, and radio listening is down. According to Inside Audio Marketing, radio listening continues to climb across all demographics and dayparts. The total amount of people who tune into the radio for at least fifteen minutes per week index hit 95% in a national June survey in nearly every demographic.

Broadcast radio, audio streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Sirius XM Radio offer excellent targeting capabilities. For getting even more niche, consider running commercials on podcasts. Edison Research provides a look into podcast listening trends.

Radio advertising tips for lawyers

  1. Go for frequency because it increases your law firm’s top-of-mind awareness.
  1. Consider a radio personality endorsement because hosts can influence the decisions of listeners.
  1. Consider sponsoring a show, traffic report or news report, or show segment because the ads air in non-content interrupting places, and outside of typical commercial blocks.

For more on radio advertising, read our blog post The Unique Advantages of Radio Advertising.

Billboard Advertising for Lawyers

Billboards have long been a marketing mainstay for attorneys. Freeways in every city have billboard advertising showcasing every kind of lawyer. As with radio, most billboards find potential clients in their cars. Drivers typically use regular travel patterns, ensuring increased repetition and higher recall.

According to an Arbitron National In-Car Study on billboards:

  1. 71% of Americans consciously look at billboard messages while driving
  1. 37% report looking at an outdoor ad each or most of the time they pass one
  1. 58% learned about an event or restaurant they later attended
  1. 56% of Americans mentioned a billboard they found interesting or funny in conversation
  1. 26% noted a phone number written on a billboard and 28% indicated a website address written on a billboard

Today, attorneys have options with billboard advertising. Traditional and digital billboards are available, and there are more locations to choose from than in years past.

Billboard advertising tips for lawyers

  1. Choose your audience. Like TV, advertising a specialty or one type of law service performs better than a one-size-fits-all attorney message.
  1. Keep the text to a minimum. Billboard space is minimal. Word economy is paramount. Avoid small print or add-on copy.
  1. Use a simple call-to-action (CTA). Do you want potential clients to call now or visit the law firm’s website? Choose one CTA.

For more on billboard advertising, read our blog posts Top 10 Rules for Billboard Advertising and Traditional Vs. Digital Billboards: Pros and Cons.

Content Marketing for Lawyers

If 75% of people research attorneys before making contact, showing up for what people are searching for is critical. Content marketing is how your law firm is found when someone searches for “what to do if you’ve been arrested.” or “how to hire a DUI lawyer.” Creating website pages or blogs answering these questions helps potential clients find your law firm and gives an excellent opportunity to present your law firm as the best solution.

Content marketing tips for lawyers

  1. Avoid writing content in legal terms. Write content in easy to understand language for potential clients to follow along and digest.
  1. Content solving problems for potential clients work best. Ensure articles give potential clients actionable takeaways. Providing solutions builds trust. Trust moves people to act.
  1. Use empathy to connect with potential clients. Many attorneys present content to readers, making them feel talked down to or ignorant. Use supportive and positive language instead.
  1. Longer content ranks higher. Not all legal blogs are created equal. Short, shallow, or fluff content typically does not rank well in search results.

For more on content marketing, read our blog post Content Marketing: Is Your Content Effective?

Search Engine Optimization for Lawyers

Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are connected. In addition to ensuring content is solving potential client law issues, SEO works to optimize a firm’s website for Google searches. Search engines visit websites regularly to discover content and how it relates to user search inquiries. A search engine optimized website is the foundation of quality digital marketing for lawyers.

Descriptions of content elements and keyword phrases help Google understand what an attorney’s website is about when the search engine crawls it. For example, criminal attorneys should want to have keywords and content with search terms like “criminal attorney <insert city>”, “criminal attorney <insert state>,” “criminal defense attorney”, and “criminal defense lawyer.”

In addition to websites and blog posts, search engine optimization also involves YouTube video descriptions and what is known as off-page SEO or backlinks. Backlinks are links to a law firm website from other websites and increase the authority score Google assigns to each website. The more links to a back to an attorney site from trusted sites (CNN, for example) increase a website authority score.

Search Engine Optimization Tips for Lawyers

  1. Start with a deep drive into keywords for practice area specialties. Start by typing questions into the Google search bar. As the question is populated, Google Autocomplete lists related searches. SEO tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and Spyfu offer advanced keyword research capabilities.
  1. Ensure content and website are mobile-friendly or mobile-optimized. 75% of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design. (kinesis)
  1. Keep content less than three clicks from the home page. Making potential clients hunt for information is an easy way to turn them off and gives them a reason to bounce.

For more on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), read our blog post 8 SEO Tips to Drive More Leads in 2020.

Website Lead Generation for Lawyers

A website is the cornerstone of law firm advertising. Typically, an attorney’s website is the largest source of leads – either through form submissions or phone calls. A law firm website designed must be mobile-friendly. 75% of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design. (kinesis) Beyond mobile-friendly and search engine optimization, user experience (UX) is critical. When was the last time you were on your law firm’s website to look for information or to fill out the contact form? If you are having issues with UX, so are potential clients.

Website lead generation tips for lawyers

  1. Answer three questions on the home page above the fold: What legal services does the law firm offer? How will being a client make life better? How do I contact an attorney?
  1. Offer Tools (if applicable). Providing website visitors with an easy-to-use tool fosters trust and authority. Potential clients trying to determine child support amounts may find a child support calculator helpful.
  1. Prominent Contact Information & Calls-to-Action. Ensure potential clients are not lost because the phone number is not available on every page or the form is hard to fill out.
  1. Avoid bombarding website visitors with pop-up windows.

For more on website lead generation, read our blog posts Top 17 Website Design Mistakes Costing You Money and 14 Best Practices for High Converting Landing Pages.

Social Media Advertising for Lawyers

Despite how you feel about Mark Zuckerberg or the little app he made, social media advertising starts with Facebook. Paid social media advertising should be a staple for law firm marketing. Potential clients are on Facebook and most likely researching your firm through the app. Facebook ads have the potential to reach a staggering number of people in a short time. There is a bit of an art form to executing Facebook campaigns, so many law firms hire social media advertising agencies to run campaigns.

Social media advertising tips for lawyers

  1. Typically, images displaying what a client is afraid of getting arrested for or going to jail for, perform the best
  1. Sending traffic to a website form helps a person know how to take the next step.
  1. Ad copy should focus on what makes a law firm stand out from others. Be clear and to the point.
  1. Run multiple ad sets and let Facebook test them then choose the highest converting combinations.

For more on social media advertising, read our blog posts The 6 Do’s and Don’ts for Facebook Ads and 3 Things You’re Probably Not Doing With Facebook Ads.

Paid Search Advertising for Lawyers

Paid search, or pay-per-click, is where your law firm’s top-of-mind recall comes together. All your marketing comes down to what someone types into the Google search bar. Was it the radio or TV commercial a person remembers? Was it the billboard on I-17 or Facebook ad this morning that triggered a search? If 75% of people research before calling a lawyer, all that matters is your law firm is searched or shows up in the search results.

Paid search advertising tips for lawyers

  1. Avoid ad copy using legal jargon.
  1. Use negative keywords or phrases for searches not related to the practice. If you practice criminal law, you will want to add negatives for family law or personal injury.
  1. Send potential clients to webpages about the search topic. Targeting bankruptcy? Use the bankruptcy page. Targeting Chapter 7, Bankruptcy? Send traffic to a specific page focused on Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  1. Use “Free Consultation” or “Free Case Review” for pushing a potential client to call your firm.
  1. Search terms with “best” and “top” works well.

For more on paid search advertising, read our blog post Quick Wins for Google Ads Campaigns.

Email Marketing for Lawyers

Email campaigns should still be a staple for marketing law firms. Most law firms have thousands of contacts and former clients who are open to hearing from their attorney. Beyond newsletters and birthday wishes, email marketing can be a secret weapon for lawyers who take advantage of it.

Email marketing tips for lawyers

  1. Ask for client referrals. Take advantage of positive client outcomes and ask for referrals regularly. Start by following up shortly after a client’s case resolves. Then follow up two times a year about someone who might need legal counsel.
  1. Ask for client reviews. Potential clients are reading reviews before calling an attorney. Email is the perfect way to request a happy client to leave a Google review.
  1. Increase leads with blog and newsletter subscription options. Ensure the website collects emails from visitors who may not fill out a form or call today.

For more on email marketing, read our blog post Calls-to-Action (CTAs): Breaking Email’s Golden Rule.

BONUS: Organic Social Media Marketing for Lawyers

Organic social media management is one of the areas lawyers and attorneys struggle with most. Monitoring social media channels for comments and customer service issues is unrelated to billing and time-consuming. Remember, potential clients researching attorneys look at social media accounts. Gaps or lack of posting content gives off the wrong impression. Unanswered comments show a lack of caring and follow up, each of which is not suitable for a law firm trying to establish trust.

Organic social media marketing tips for lawyers

  1. Limit the number of social media channels. Lawyers do not need to be on all social media apps. Choose two social media accounts: Facebook and one other.
  1. Designate (at least) two company employees to be Social Media Listening Managers. The second is for backup when the primary person is sick, on vacation, etc.
  1. Social Media = Customer Service. The goal of every social media customer issue should be to resolve it as quickly as possible. Create an escalation system allowing Social Media Listening Managers to push customer service issues to employees who make decisions or who will follow up.
  1. For Facebook, Page Roles should be clear. Page email address is a shared email account, like [email protected], to ensure changes in employment do not hinder page access.

Advertising for Lawyers Conclusion

Despite the fierce competition for new clients, law firms of all sizes can advertise and market services effectively. Colling Media provides a full range of marketing services and consulting for lawyers. Want help increasing your law practice? Contact us today.

You may also enjoy: 5 Benefits of a Cross-Channel Advertising Strategy

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