Having an online law firm marketing plan is crucial for any legal business. The size of your law firm doesn’t matter, nor what kind of legal services you provide. If you want your business to thrive, you need a law firm marketing strategy.

The phrase, “If you’re not online today, you won’t exist tomorrow,” applies to everyone. For lawyers, it’s even more important because the competition is fierce. A clearly defined law firm marketing strategy is as critical as any other business plan.

In this article, we will discuss the key elements of an online law marketing plan. We’ll be answering the three big questions:

  • Why do you need a law firm marketing plan?
  • What problems will a law firm marketing strategy solve?
  • Once you have your plan, how will you execute it?

Creating a law firm marketing plan starts with figuring out your company’s “big why.” You should begin by asking yourself questions like, “Why do I need a law firm marketing plan?'' "What is its purpose?" To be successful, your law firm needs a law firm marketing plan, just like the captain of the ship needs a map to navigate his crew.

creating a marketing plan for a law firm

Finding your “big why” means clearly defining the purpose of your law firm and each of its initiatives and activities. For instance, if you work for a personal injury law firm, you’ll need a specific personal injury law firm marketing plan. The goals for your practice’s marketing plan could be to:

  • Establish your law firm as an authority in the field of personal injury.
  • Pay particular attention to specific fields like "construction-related work injuries."
  • Ensure your firm’s online presence and message is consistent with how clients view it in the real world.
  • Generate sales leads and new prospective clients.
  • Generate marketing leads — website followers and readers of the content you produce — who may become clients later.
  • Increase caseloads by a certain percentage annually.

Split your goals into two categories — countable and uncountable. Establishing your law firm as an authority in a specific field can be challenging to measure. However, you can count the number of sales leads, new cases, clients, and so on. It’s up to you how many different metrics you want to measure.

It’s important to define goals relating to lead and client generation, so you have a way of knowing if your marketing strategies are succeeding or if they need more work. You can measure them on a monthly or quarterly basis.

The Key Elements of an Online Law Firm Marketing Plan

To simplify this section, we’ve split it into two parts — online marketing and its more manual, traditional forms. The primary components of successfully creating a marketing plan for a law firm online include:

  • Website design
  • Content
  • Search engine optimization
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Podcasts
  • Attorney directories and business listings
  • Social media

Meanwhile, the critical elements of offline marketing are:

  • Networking
  • Events and seminars
  • Public relations
  • TV and radio advertising
  • Print advertising
  • Business cards
  • Brochures
  • Gorilla marketing

Let’s start with the online aspects of a law firm marketing strategy.

Website Design

Your law firm’s online presence begins with your website. So many other components of your marketing efforts like search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and email marketing tie into your site.

Even if your law firm marketing plan is modest and most or all your new business comes from referrals, you still need a polished, modern website that:

  • Is easy to navigate
  • Is mobile-friendly and looks great on any device
  • Loads quickly
  • Helps visitors get in touch with you
  • Includes testimonials or case studies from your existing client base
  • Contains pictures of your team and office
  • Has separate pages for each lawyer and practice area
  • Is search-engine-optimized

How much does it cost?

When it comes to designing a website for your law firm, you have three options:

Option 1: Do Everything Yourself — You can create your own website using open-source content management systems like WordPress and Joomla. If you are willing to put in the time to learn the system, you can make your own website and simply pay for the hosting and domain. For example, Bluehost costs $4.95 a month including a domain.

So, over the course of a year, your website will cost you $60 to run. If you opt for a longer contract, you can reduce hosting costs even further to about $36 a year. Learn how to set up your account with Bluehost.

Website Design law firm marketing strategy

Option 2: Hire a Freelancer — There are plenty of sites where you can find a talented freelance web designer to create your site for you including Upwork, Freelancer.com, and PeoplePerHour. Average costs range between $500 and $3,000 per website.

Option #3: Work with an Agency — Working with a web design agency is a whole other story. You will interact with multiple stakeholders who are responsible for different areas of your site like design, branding, development, and SEO. This makes the process much longer and pricier, costing around $3,000 all the way up to $50,000 for each site.

Here’s our in-depth guide on law firm web design.

Content

The cornerstone of any web-based law firm marketing campaign should be content. Your law firm marketing plan should include the generation of an ongoing stream of content that your target audience will find interesting and useful.

Content for lawyers is beneficial for a variety of marketing goals including:

  • Generating more website traffic via SEO
  • Building and engaging a social media audience
  • Generating referrals through email newsletters and content sharing

Your team should be creating content that talks about the practice areas you excel in via a variety of online mediums. This accomplishes two very different goals that most law firms should be including in their marketing strategy.

1: It Establishes That Your Team of Lawyers Are Experts in Their Field

Often, potential clients will read your blogs and whitepapers before they make the all-important call. Relevant, helpful content can maximize your firm’s credibility. If you’re already providing captivating material, your ideal clients will be well on the way to hiring you before they’ve even picked up the phone.

2: Content Marketing Is an Effective Way to Generate New Business

If you write a great article about hostile work environments, it might show up in a relevant Google search to be found by thousands of potential clients. A blog on your website will serve as the bedrock of your content marketing strategy, but before you start, here are some tips for creating the perfect blog for lawyers.

  • Write about the things people are searching, and not just what you want to write.
  • Write for your audience, and not for search engine optimization.
  • Use simple language that a high schooler can read and enjoy. Lawyers tend to use a sophisticated legal vocabulary that an average person finds intimidating.
  • Make sure your content intrigues the reader. An easy way to achieve this is by using the “inverted pyramid” writing style.
  • Ensure your content is easily scannable and has engaging headings, bullets, graphics, images, and infographics to break up blocks of text.

Don’t forget the technical elements like:

  • H1
  • Slug
  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • Keyword in the first few sentences
  • LSI keywords
  • Alt tags
  • Image size

How much does it cost?

The cost of content creation should be split into two parts:

  1. The cost of copywriting. For a 3,000-word article, you can expect to pay about $200. You can find cheaper options but keep in mind that the quality may be lower too. Upwork has plenty of good copywriters.
  2. Designing content for the purpose of SEO. Costs for search-engine-optimized content can vary between $150 and $500 per article.
Pro Tip: If you don’t understand some of these terms, don’t worry. Our guide on how to create good content for law firms covers everything you need to know.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is the process of making your content easily found via Google. For a law practice, the goal of SEO is for your web pages and blog posts to show at or near the top of any relevant search. Say you practice personal injury law in New York — you’ll want your firm’s name at the top of the page when someone searches for “personal injury lawyer NYC.” SEO is an ongoing process of:

  • Publishing new and best content and updating existing content
  • Website optimization — making sure every page and post on your website is optimized to be found and ranked by Google
  • Generating quality links to your site from others

Successful SEO is a long process. From the moment you begin executing your SEO campaign, it may be many months before you start seeing significant results. You’ll see monthly growth in organic traffic and new leads.

Search Engine Optimization law firm marketing plan

Results tend to last and pay ongoing dividends, provided you keep up your SEO efforts. Even better, you don’t have to pay each time someone clicks through to your website from an organic search, unlike pay-per-click. SEO is an art and a science, much more than simply writing and publishing blogs every week.

Many law firms hire a legal marketing agency to plan and execute ongoing content and SEO for them. Lasting Trend is here to help you overcome this challenge. You need to utilize SEO for your law firm website.

How much does it cost?

The average price you can expect to pay for SEO services will be somewhere between $1,500 and $10,000+ per month. It will all depend on your SEO team’s level of experience.

Check out our SEO for law firms guide to get a better understanding of this topic.

Pay-per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, is advertising within a search engine. Advertisers pay for their campaigns to appear within search results and pay a substantial fee each time someone clicks on their ad.

Your law firm can create a Google AdWords campaign and have their ads appear when users search for specific keywords like “labor and employment,” “real estate,” “immigration law,” and so on. The cost of each click is dictated by the number of other advertisers also “bidding” on that keyword.

Using our previous example, you could create a paid search result to show up when someone searches for “personal injury lawyer NYC.” Each click might cost you between $50 to $300, depending on the practice area and location.

An effective PPC campaign for lawyers involves far more than just ads. You must define search terms, create ads, and build the landing pages that the people who click on your ads will see. Then you must continuously test and improve upon each ad and landing page — a process called “A/B testing.”

This all helps to ensure you achieve the lowest possible cost per acquisition — the amount you pay for each new client — and an optimal amount of leads for your money.

The downside of PPC advertising is that it costs money. Every click will take a chunk out of your advertising budget. The upside is instant traffic — your phone will begin to ring almost immediately. Create a Google Ads account and start showing up in Google searches today, and you’ll be taking on new clients tomorrow.

Unlike SEO, PPC has an immediate impact. It can start yielding a return on your marketing dollars very quickly. For many law firms, an ongoing PPC campaign is also an effective long-term strategy for lead generation.

Managing a PPC campaign is time-intensive, especially when it comes to the nuts and bolts — evaluating impressions, cost per click, cost per acquisition, and click-through rate. Many firms also hire a legal marketing agency to build, monitor, and manage their PPC campaigns.

How much does it cost?

The threshold we recommend as a starting point for PPC advertising is $2,000 per month. Don’t forget to include fees for management, which usually equates to 10% of your budget.

Pro Tip: It’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on PPC without any return. Take a look at our PPC for Lawyers article for more practical advice.

Email Marketing

To start working with an email marketing tool, you’ll need to build a database of email addresses. Often, people who find you are interested in learning about a particular area of law but aren’t ready to hire yet.

By capturing prospective clients in your email database, you can nurture them. Push other components of your law firm marketing plan such as your blogs and videos through your email marketing engine, keeping clients and prospects close. Get in the habit of publishing a newsletter on a regular basis to keep your followers informed. Your newsletter might include:

  • A summary of blog posts and content published since the last issue
  • Announcements — significant cases you've won or new team members who've joined
  • Commentary on any recent news in your practice area
  • A call to action — compel your audience to call if they need assistance

How much does it cost?

You can start sending emails for free. Mailchimp offers a basic free package which allows you to send up to 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers each month.

You can also choose a paid-for plan that lets you send more emails to a broader range of people. Keep in mind that any email marketing campaign needs good content. Factor expenses for copywriting and content design into your email marketing plan.

Pro Tip: Do you want more practical advice on email marketing for lawyers? Check out our blog post on this very subject.

Video Marketing

Video is not only a highly effective means of marketing, but it’s also more visible than ever. According to Recode, by 2021, 67% of general internet traffic will be from video.

Video marketing can range from expensive, high-production testimonials from your clients to simple, low-cost talks shot on your phone. The latter can be beneficial for building credibility and connecting with your audience on a deeper level.

Video Marketing small law firm marketing plan

Think of the kinds of questions your clients ask and the aspects of law you find yourself explaining repeatedly. A video that is helpful to your audience can help generate new leads. Substance is more important than polish or production values.

We tend to use blog posts with video recorded on a basic camera where the lawyer covers the same information contained in the post. If a prospective customer doesn't have the time to read a blog, they have an alternative way to absorb the information. For those too busy to watch a video, we have podcasts.

How much does it cost?

At its cheapest, video marketing will cost you only your time. You can record and edit a decent video using your phone. If you want to create higher-quality content, costs may range from $300 to $3,000 per video for things like studio rental, camera equipment, shooting, and editing.

Podcast

Podcasts should be considered another string on your law firm marketing strategy bow. A podcast is a series of audio or video files, released episodically, and downloaded via the likes of iTunes. It’s like a radio show you record and edit in advance. Having a podcast is a great way to differentiate yourself from other law firms, display your expertise, and connect with your audience.

Ideally, you should release a new episode on the same day every week. Your listeners will expect and look forward to it. They will also appreciate your show having some structure. Think of your podcast as a hobby, something you do for fun.

How much does it cost?

Recording a podcast can cost you nothing. You can record yourself using a phone app. Upload your recording to Soundcloud, embed the link on your website, and add it to a blog post or landing page.

Pro Tip: Video marketing and podcasts are relatively new strategies. If you’d like additional support to get set up, contact us and schedule a one-to-one session.

Attorney Directories and Business Listings

Testimonials are essential. It is certain that, before putting any money down, whether it be on an item or service, most consumers look at reviews and testimonials. Take a look at these statistics:

  • 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 10% of website traffic is attributed to online reviews
  • 90% of consumers say online reviews influence their purchases
  • Product page visitors who read reviews convert at a 58% higher rate

Clients are looking for your firm’s services. Attorney directories like Avvo, FindLaw, and Justia have powerful built-in search engines that categorize and rank lawyer profiles. These websites show up high in search engine results, enabling you to get even more eyes on your firm.

However, no listing is more valuable than your Google My Business listing. It’ll be one of the first things to appear in a search for a related service in or near your area.

How much does it cost?

Having a presence on attorney directories is free. You just need to register. Many local business listings used to be free to sign up to but aren’t anymore. Check out this list of local directories where you can register your law firm. Most of these websites charge a listing fee of $35+ per month.

Social Media

Social marketing may also have a place in your law firm marketing strategy. Your firm should have a company page on the major social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Your plan may include a concentrated effort to build followers and nurture your audience in the same way as email marketing.

Many law firms use social media for distribution. Each time they write a new blog or record a new video, they push it out via their social pages to increase exposure. Social media can enhance the other components of your law firm marketing plan.

Pro Tip: Do you want to go big on social media? Read our article on “Social Media for Lawyers” and become a social media guru.

How much does it cost?

Creating a profile for your law firm on social media platform is free, but social media advertising campaigns do cost money. For example, the current average cost-per-click (CPC) for the law industry on Facebook is $1.32. LinkedIn is significantly more expensive, at $6.50.

The Key Elements of an Offline Law Firm Marketing Plan

Networking

For most law firms, referrals are a primary marketing activity and a significant source of new business. People who know, like, and trust your firm are more likely to refer friends and colleagues. However, consistently generating new referral sources takes time and effort. It involves:

  • Playing an active role within professional associations
  • Entertaining clients and colleagues
  • Attending networking events
  • Presenting at CLE events
Networking law firm marketing plan

Two ways that your law firm can enhance its networking strategy are to:

  • Expand your professional network to increase your reach.
  • Keep in touch with people in your network to stay at the forefront of their minds.

While you should expand your network to increase your pool of potential referrals, you must also maintain your relevance with the people already in your network. Colleagues are bound to have cases they can refer your way, so touch base  occasionally. Reach out and socialize with the people in your network.

For instance, if you are a contract lawyer, you may find it useful to attend networking events alongside small and medium-sized business owners who might need your services. Personal contact is still one of the most effective ways of finding new clientele. Log on to Meetup and book your next networking event.

How much does it cost?

Networking costs vary. Many of the events on Meetup are free but you do have to pay to attend some larger events. Prices vary from $30 to $200 per person.

Events and Seminars

Putting on live events can be a highly effective promotional strategy. In your law firm marketing plan expenses, factor in the funds to organize a few seminars. Launch a seminar on updates to local or federal laws that may impact your client base, announcing it online via social media and email.

After the new tax bill came out, one of our clients received so many questions about it; they decided to host a seminar for real estate brokers and agents. Word-of-mouth spreads quickly. If you see the right opportunity, act fast.

How much does it cost?

Organizing an event or seminar can be an expensive, tedious, and confusing process. You must ensure that all the moving parts work together seamlessly for your event to be successful. The average cost of putting on an event is $1,000+.

PR

Reach out to industry magazines, blogs, or journals to get a story published about your firm. This can help to build your reputation and establish yourself as an industry leader. For instance, if you work predominantly with the Russian population of New York, contact the community’s most popular local newspaper.

How much does it cost?

PR costs anywhere from $100 to $20,000 and beyond, depending on whether the publication is local or national, the size of your ad, whether you use color, and if you've negotiated a multiple-ad rate. The inside front cover of some national magazines will cost you somewhere in the realm of half a million dollars.

TV and Radio

These channels are not cheap, but for certain practice areas working higher-value cases, TV and radio can be incredibly effective forms of advertising. They provide the means for a big-money practice to reach the broadest possible audience.

TV and Radio law firm marketing strategy

How much does it cost?

TV and radio commercials are expensive and can include several hidden costs. The price will depend on the length of the ad, the station or channel, timeslots, and frequency. On average, TV commercials cost a minimum of $2,500.

Print Advertising

Classic advertising strategies like billboards and newspapers can still work within specific areas of law. The downside is their results can be much more difficult to measure than online methods.

How much does it cost?

The cost of billboards in New York ranges from $3,000 to $20,000 per month.

Business Cards

A tried and tested method; business cards are a simple yet impactful way to “leave your business” with a client. Keep a stack in your wallet, briefcase, car, desk, and anywhere else you find yourself regularly. You could use a simple business card or invest in a personalized design, using a service like Vistaprint or employing a freelance designer via an online job site such as Upwork.

How much does it cost?

Through Vistaprint, for example, business cards start at $9.99 for 500.

Brochures

Design a brochure that puts your firm’s best foot forward, distributing it anywhere you can. Do you know anyone with a lobby at their office? Does the local jail or detention center allow brochures? Do you have relationships with any clinics or counseling centers near you? You will need a designer — head to Upwork and find a talented freelancer to create an attractive brochure for your firm.

How much does it cost?

The cost of brochures depends on paper quality and size, as well as the quantity. For example, 500 copies printed on 5.5” x 8.5” gloss paper will cost you about $65.

Gorilla Marketing

The price of PR, TV, and radio, and print advertising is high, but you don't need to spend thousands of dollars. If you run a small or medium-sized law firm, you may not have that kind of budget, but it doesn't mean that type of marketing can't work for you. All you need to do is be creative.

You could hire a sign flipper to attract attention to your law practice. Record a fun, short video of them making noise about your firm and post it online. It's an excellent opportunity for you to get a lot of likes and shares.

How much does it cost?

Specific rates vary by market but, for example, at $30 an hour for a professional sign-spinner, it would cost you $750 to advertise five hours a day for five days.

Pro Tip: Do you want a comprehensive guide regarding the costs associated with each kind of marketing activity? Check out our Guide to Better Advertising: Online Marketing vs. Tradition Offline Marketing.

Wrap It All Up Together

These are the critical components of a successful marketing plan. You can design a small law firm marketing plan or a big one, whatever’s best for your practice.

Hopefully, you can see how each aspect relates to the next. PPC and SEO generate leads and followers. Followers can be nurtured by email marketing. This ties back into your website, where visitors can contact you. Best practice for creating your plan depends on a few factors like your marketing budget, practice area, location, and your competitiveness within it.

A competent legal marketing agency like Lasting Trend can advise you on what components are likely to yield results — and which are a waste of time and money.

Time to Execute

In your marketing plan, include a checkbox beside each task, to be ticked off as you put the different parts of the plan into action. If your law firm marketing strategy calls for a weekly blog, make sure it happens. Create a recurring reminder in Outlook or Asana. Do this for each component of your marketing plan.

Your PPC campaign needs ongoing attention, or its results will wane over time. How often will you review PPC performance, optimize ads, and swap out landing pages? Who will do this? The same goes for SEO, which requires even higher levels of consistency. You need to be diligent about creating SEO-optimized content on a regular basis. If you plan to source blogs from multiple people in your firm, who will manage the content schedule and make sure you’re publishing content on time?

Law Marketing Plan FAQ

Q: What is law firm marketing?*

A: A law firm marketing plan defines not only what you plan to do to market and grow your law firm, but also how you plan to do it.

Q: How do you successfully market legal services?*

A: Choose an area of law and a specific niche within it. Build a list of clients and referrals and create a helpful website. Give away free resources in your community. Network with local businesses and consider building a social media presence.

Q: What is legal marketing?*

A: Advertising and other practices like client relations, public relations, networking, participation in professional organizations, and more.

Bonus Section

Tracking the results of your law firm marketing plan is essential. The only thing you can know with absolute certainty is that your marketing plan will change. The only way to know what's working and what isn't is to track your results. As leads and clients start rolling in from your new law firm marketing plan, you need to know where they came from.

Did they come from an organic Google search (SEO) or a paid advertisement (PPC)? Have they been receiving your newsletter for months before finally calling? Which article was the one that compelled them to pick up the phone? Is that Facebook ad you’re paying for getting any leads? You need to be able to see every lead that has come in and where they came from. Your prospective clients will come in primarily by calling you or via a contact form on your website. Make sure you set up web and call tracking so that you can view and measure both metrics in one place.

Pro Tip: Do you need more ideas on how to advertise your law firm? Take a look at our article, 10 Unusual Ways for Law Firm Advertising.

Writing and Executing Your Marketing Plan

Whether you’ve written an individual attorney marketing plan or a solo law firm marketing plan, your killer law firm marketing strategy is ready, and it’s time to execute it. Remember, you can revise and add to it later.

Bring in an Expert

If your law firm marketing plan is made up of multiple components — and it probably should be — you may find it challenging to execute it week after week consistently. In many cases, it’s a good idea to recruit an expert. Lasting Trend can help you boost your presence with an effective law firm marketing plan.

Schedule a free consultation with us, and you’ll soon see that we can professionally deliver measurable results for your legal practice.

December 17, 2018

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