The top 3 legal marketing strategies compared

August 28, 2016

If you’re a lawyer, you might think that any marketing that works for one firm would work for yours. But that’s not always true. To illustrate the differences and show how one method might be suited for your firm over another’s, I would like to compare three firms that I work with. The three firms specialize in DUI defense, Drug cases, and Credit Collection Defense / Reporting. For each of these three firms, we’ll look at SEO, Google Adwords, and Social Media.

If I didn't mention the speciality of your firm, that's OK! Every area of practice is likely to benefit from this review, as they have many fundamental similarities. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What is it?

Search engine optimization is a strategy where you find keywords that people use when they are looking to hire a lawyer in your field, then “optimize” your site to show up as close to the top of google as possible. Generally optimizing for google will help with other search engines. Since Google has such a large market share, most attention is usually on their algorithms. There used to be plenty of “black hat” tricks that would get you ranked higher on google faster, but as time goes on, Google changes their algorithms and usually punishes these tricks with lower rankings. The current best strategy is to write lots of content on your site and build relationships with other sites that will link back to yours. The content and links would be optimized for your keywords. This is a long term strategy that can take years to build a significant amount of traffic, especially in a competitive niche.

Does it work?

For all three firm types, SEO is a good long term strategy. When people are looking for you, they might find you. But do not rely heavily on this strategy for bringing in the bulk of your business.

Google Adwords

What is it?

Google adwords and SEO are often grouped together into SEM (search engine marketing). While SEO can take a long time to produce any results, Google Adwords is almost instantaneous. With google, you find search terms that people are using to find you, and google auctions off the top listings to the highest bidder.

Does it work?

Adwords works great for all three firm types, but depending on how competitive your niche is in your region, it can get expensive fast.

If you are looking for clients with criminal charges where you’ll be making a few thousand per client, then paying $50 to $150 per click might be worth it. But in credit collection cases where the fees might be much lower on a per-service basis, it can be a little more difficult to evaluate this cost.

People who are likely to be charged with a DUI are not easily identifiable any other way than when they type into a search engine something like “who is the best DUI lawyer in {name of city}?”.

The problem with this, in all three firms, is that you have to build your credibility as soon as the user hits your landing page. It’s likely will have never heard of you before this. The good news is that while you can target the same search phrases as SEO, Adwords can take all your traffic to a specific landing pages, no matter which of your pages has more relevant content. This means you can set up a custom “squeeze page” that is designed, not to answer the specific question they were looking for, but to ensure them that you are the best they can hire and to call you immediately.

Social Media

Social media is where these firms really start to differ. Now that you know how SEO and Adwords work, you can see that you can only reach people when they need you. But this might be a harder sell if they have never heard of you before. Things would be so much easier if they already knew who you were. Maybe they wouldn’t even search for a lawyer, they would just search for your name or even contact you via your social media page.

In DUI defense, this strategy isn’t going to work so well for a few reasons. Most people who drink and drive can be hard to identify. They might not want to be associated with you on social media for fear of the stigma that it brings. They often hide the fact that they drink and drive, and believe that they will never get caught. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use social media, it just means that you should probably focus on Adwords first.

In Drug charges, especially marijuana, people speak more freely about their use online. These are people that are easier to identify and advertise to. You can easily create a fan page with a base of marijuana users and build a relationship with them out in the open. If they ever get busted with possession, you will probably be the first person they call. While most dealers do not advertise on Facebook, some of their customers might tell them about you. And of course for those dealers who do advertise on Facebook, they are more likely to get busted and use your services anyway.

With all criminal charges, you can always go to your local jail and get a list of people who have been arrested. This might be considered a black-hat method that could raise some flags with the bar or Facebook, so be careful. With this list, you can look up those specific people on Facebook, get their unique ID, and target ads directly at them. This is similar to sending out jail mail, but you will have your ads in front of them every time they get on to Facebook. This can be highly effective because you’re not spending a lot of money targeting people who are likely to be arrested in the future, but have not been at the time they see your ad.

Social media is also where credit firms can really stand out. People don’t just get bad credit one day, or get sued by a collection company out of nowhere. They usually know they have bad credit, but might not be actively looking to do anything about it. This is great news for you. This means that they are easier to identify and engage on social media. There isn’t a small window of opportunity, as some people will go for many years with bad credit before they decide to do anything about it. Or until you come along and convince them they should do something about it.

In general, social media is much less expensive per person to reach someone. But out of all the people you reach, the number that turn into clients will be much fewer. This is also a long-term strategy that will usually not give you instant results.

So which one do you use?

The simple answer is all three. Every market is different, and every client will have a different entry point. The best strategy to get the most clients is always to use as many advertising methods as possible. You’ll want to set a budget for your overall online marketing plan, and you’ll want to divide it among the three methods based on what is more likely to bring in more clients sooner. You’ll also want to fine tune these over time so that you can get the most bang for your buck. Expect to spend more than you bring in at first, but once your campaigns are in the money, you can start increasing them.

About the author:

Dan Behrman

Dan Behrman is the founder of Top Local Marketing. He has worked in tech, video production and social media for over twenty years. In Top Local Marketing, Dan has put all his knowledge and experience to work by building an awesome team of content creators and online marketers to help small businesses compete at a higher level.

To Learn more or to receive a free, custom analysis of your business, website, and online marketing strategy, please click here.

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