Whether you are starting a new law firm, or at a point in your current firm when you could use a larger quantity and/or better quality of client, taking the proper amount of time and effort to develop and implement the right search marketing plan for your law firm is vital. Without an excellent plan you will waste a lot of time and money.
On this date, in 2015, this is how I would begin to develop a search marketing plan (SEO and PPC) for my law firm. As part of a more in depth business analysis, my business partner, Dan Smink and I run our digital marketing agency through this process at least once a year.
You can find training material on all of these topics on the C1 Partners website, but here is an outline of what turned out to be on this day, “12 Steps”.
Step 1: Define your firm goals
You thought I was going to say “Hire a web designer.” or “Hire an SEO Company.”, correct? Absolutely not, that’s like firing a gun randomly. You are more likely to cause unwanted damage than help the situation. You need to know where and when to aim before you pull the trigger.
You need to know “why” in your the search marketing strategy.
- What types of clients do you want to serve?
- Are you looking to grow or maintain your current revenue?
- How much do you want to grow?
- Do you desire fewer but better clients?
- Do you want more and better clients?
- Do you want a new type of client?
- Do you want to offer new products and services?
- How much growth can you handle?
Step 2: Define Your Ideal Target Client “Buyer(s)”
You may have many types of clients, but who are the 1-3 clients you want to primarily serve? Once you can define this, all of your subsequent marketing choices can be traced back to this “true north” for your firm. You must always look for the best opportunities to engage with this target client, and weigh the costs of participating in marketing efforts that do not target this ideal client.
Step 3: Define Your Target Client “Buyer Persona(s)”
Once you know who your target clients are, you can begin to more specifically define the client or “buyer persona”.
- What are their reasons for looking for you?
- Why they are looking for someone who provides your services?
- What solutions can you offer them?
- How can you help them?
- What is the outcome they desire to achieve as a result of using your services?
Step 4: Develop Your Engagement and Solution Messages
Have a copywriter help you develop this content and content for your website landing pages. These messages should permeate your website in words, pictures, questions and answers, videos and even testimonials.
- What issue of theirs will get their attention?
- What problem can you solve?
- What are the criteria that must be met to best address the persona’s problem?
Step 5: Develop Your Company’s Positioning Statement
You need to know how you are going to position your law firm to best meet the needs of your clients. If you cannot find some unique differentiators you will have a difficult time compelling other to hire your law firm. Involving a copywriter in this process can have it;s advantages, because they will be taking in all of this information to begin writing your website and other marketing content.
- Why should these ideal clients choose your law firm?
- How are you different?
- How are you better?
- What is your unique differentiator?
- How can you prove it?
- Cases Won
Step 6: Keyword Research
You will need to utilize some keyword research tools in order find out how your prospective clients are searching for your services online. I have a blog on that topic here: Keyword Research
Step 7: Develop Calls to Actions and Downloadable Assets
Calls to Actions
- Free Case Assessment Request
- How to’s
- What not to do’s
- Free resources
Step 7: Begin Developing Your Search Marketing Plan
Now that you understand your target clients and how to position your firm you can begin to develop your plan for getting that information out on the right platforms in front of your target clients.
Look for areas you can afford to dominate.
You might not be ready to compete against all of the Denver, Houston, Chicago, New York or Los Angeles attorneys online, but can you afford to dominate in a suburb? While dominating a metro market can have a much better return in the long run it may take you 6-12 months to accomplish this, but less effort in a suburb. You need to have short and long term goals.
Make tracking results your second highest priority.
Getting more and better clients is the number one priority, but a close second is tracking results. We cannot always track exactly where new clients come from, but with Internet marketing we can get pretty close. Make sure your plan includes tracking results at the acquisition level. If you are really good, you will know which search terms are driving the most calls and form submissions, and if you are great you will know which search terms drove your best clients.
Don’t stop networking.
For many law firms, referrals are the number one source of cases. Especially while you are waiting for your SEO efforts to kick, for example, networking will help you bridge the gap, make a living, sharpen your skills and help you grow your firm. The best case scenario is that when your marketing efforts begin to kick in you will be able to pick and choose cases rather than take everything that comes your way. Don’t let this go by the wayside.
Step 8: Implement Your Messaging, CTAs, and Downloadable Assets Onto Your Current or New Website
Wow. Not until step 8 that we get to the website. How many law firms do you know of who start with hiring a website designer, PPC expert or SEO expert?
Hire a professional copywriter and remember to incorporate your messaging into all kinds of media including written, pictures, graphics and video.
Step 9: Update All of Your On-Site SEO Factors
Just to name a few…
- Title and Meta Data (these still matter)
- On-site Blog
- Enough written content on landing pages?
- Proper Site Architecture
- Keyword mapping
- Schema, Breadcrumbs
- Trust Signals
- Tools for Tracking Leads and Activity
Step 10: Update and Optimize Your Off-Site SEO Strategies
- Social Media Properties
- Local and Lawyer Directories
- PR and Link Building
Step 11: Implement Search Engine Marketing Strategy (If it is part of your plan)
On-Site SEO Strategy
- Blog Content
- Editorial Calendar
Implement Off-Site SEO Strategy
- Link and Citation Building
- Content Distribution
- Social Media
Step 12: Track Results and Adjust Strategy
If you have done this right, then you will know what is working and what isn’t after 2-4 months of Google Adwords and/or 6 or more months of SEO. There are strategy adjustments you may make weekly, monthly, quarterly or longer, but you will want to at least look at things in detail once a month.
Don’t forget to track at the cost per acquisition level and split test different strategies where and when it makes sense.
Our digital marketing agency “C1 Partners” provides most of these services in our Setup and Strategy Services visit the C1 site for more information.