Digital marketing management for plaintiff law firms
The basics of implementing the digital marketing program you need to grow the firm
Benjamin Franklin, said it best: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” No amount of monetary or human capital investment can overcome the failure to have an all-encompassing law practice management plan in place for your firm.
How would you define law practice management? You may understand what law practice management is, but is your firm executing on all aspects of management? Do your law practice management activities include marketing and legal advertising?
However, whether your firm is a legacy institution with rainmakers and a decades-long track record or a small startup firm looking to build its brand, landing new clients remains the lifeblood of your business.
To that end, you will need to market your firm by selecting law firm marketing management tools that fit your firm’s specific goals and needs.
Law practice marketing management tools
Just like the valuable law practice management systems, law practice marketing management tools are critical to a firm’s growth. Let’s look at the following tools, what they can do for your law practice marketing management, and a marketing tip for each one.
What is it? Google Analytics (GA), launched in 2005, is described as a “web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.”
What does it do?
Traffic: Tracks how many people visit (users) your website each month and some demographic data on those visitors.
Session duration: Records the amount of time a visitor spends on your site.
Bounce rate: Measures the length of time visitors stay on site. Inbound marketing software company.HubSpot defines bounce rate as “the percentage of people who land on a page on your website, then leave. They don’t click on anything else or visit a second page on the site.”
Source: GA identifies where your visitors came from when entering your website. Was it a search engine, a competitor’s website, social media platform or other source?
Device(s): Identifies if a visitor used a mobile device, a tablet, desktop, or laptop to access your website.
Tip: Google Analytics 4 (GA 4) is now available as the replacement to the current Universal GA, being used today. The date of replacement is mid-2023. GA 4 will provide a “. . . cross-platform, cross-device view of how users interact with your app or website.” Prepare now by training your staff on GA 4.
What is it? Google Ads is an online advertising program formerly known as Google Adwords. Google Ads include a full range of ad campaign types including Search, Display, Video, Shopping, and App.
What does it do?
Visibility for target keywords: If your competitors have a stranglehold on page one organic search rankings for your important keywords, it is nearly impossible for your target audience to find your firm. Google Ads can provide exposure to your target audience on those search engine results pages (SERPs) through placements either above or below the organic search listings.
Immediate results: Unlike the months, or years, it can take to launch a successful SEO program, Google Ads can begin to provide immediate results for your firm.
Targeted lead generation: Google Ads can generate targeted traffic to your website or landing page. The more qualified (target audience) the traffic visiting your site is, the better your chance to convert those visitors to clients.
Daily budget: Your team can make sure there are no ugly surprises! You can set your daily budget and never exceed that budget by placing limits on your ad spending. You have the control to pause campaigns at any time.
Conversion tracking: Conversion tracking is a “free tool that shows you what happens after a customer interacts with your ads.” The benefits include measuring your ROI for your ppc campaign(s), determining which keywords and ads are best at driving conversions, and tracking which device(s) or browser(s) your customer used to interact with your ads.
Tip: Leverage the Recommendations feature on the ad platform to help you optimize your account. While some of Google’s recommendations will be self-serving, others will highlight opportunities for improvement.
What is it? Live chat is a communication software and service that your staff does not need to manage or execute. Software is installed on your website and the service is run by a live-chat consulting firm.
What does it do?
Anonymous communication: Live chat allows the “invisible, drive-by” website visitors, visitors that would never contact the firm, to ask basic questions without being required to initially reveal their identity. This provides a level of comfort for privacy-conscious individuals.
Instantaneous response: Unlike a contact form or email to your firm, live chat provides an instant response, attractive and convenient for today’s instantaneous need-to-know culture.
Contact information: Live-chat agents will never answer legal questions. Their mission is to answer basic questions and build rapport with the visitor. Once accomplished, the agent will ask for the visitor’s name and the best method to contact them.
Economical: Live chat tends to be extremely inexpensive and provides one of the highest ROI opportunities of any marketing channel.
Real-time, 24-7 coverage: If you choose, live chat can be implemented seven days per week, 365 days a year, providing complete coverage.
Tip: Don’t ignore the fact that there is a sizable audience visiting your website that will never reach out because they don’t want to initially reveal their identity.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
What is it? According to Search Engine Journal, “At its core, the meaning of search engine optimization (SEO) is increasing your website’s visibility in the organic search results of major search engines.” The goal being to drive traffic to your website.
What does it do?
SEO is a long-term strategy that requires tools and expertise to execute successfully. There are hundreds of SEO tools, but some of the best include SEMrush, MOZPro, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console.
Organic rankings: By monitoring and managing your firm’s organic search rankings, you can begin to understand your site’s visibility on the Internet.
Competitive analysis: Monitor and identify your competitors’ keyword strategies. This data provides a baseline to measure your success and monitor your progress.
PPC success: Identify and target the best keywords to run your Google PPC campaigns.
Keyword management: Find new ideas for your content, attract targeted prospects, and grow your search rankings.
Traffic analysis: Learn more about your visitors.
Domaine overview: View statistics from your website, local and national competitors, or any other website.
Tip: SEO is complicated, intricate, and a constantly changing science. If you don’t have an expert on staff, outsource your SEO needs.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
What is it? One of the most overlooked tools in the marketing mix is a solid CRM. Industry-leading CRM firm Salesforce describes a CRM as “. . . a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.”
What does it do?
Data organization: Your CRM is a database that organizes incoming information. It’s your firm’s library for customer interaction, marketing, and sales team activities.
Historical baseline: By inputting your firm’s online interactions, website interactions, sales campaigns, and PPC ad campaign efforts, you will begin creating a historical point of reference for all marketing going forward. Once you have a baseline, your marketing team can see their progress and adjust any campaign based on past performance and future predictions.
Sales effectiveness: A partner needs to review year-to-date marketing progress, a call-center team is searching for previous quarter outreach efforts, or a CMO needs to prepare a PPC campaign report. All of these information needs, and more, are met by your CRM.
Tip: Research and take your time when choosing a CRM. Salesforce, Sugar, Nimble, Zoho, Hubspot, and others are options if they match what you are trying to accomplish.
Who will execute your Law Practice Marketing Management (LPMM)?
Here is where planning is so critical to your success. Assessing your human capital and evaluating the skills available is step one. Here are some questions to consider.
Inhouse human capital evaluation
Does staff have the complete expertise to run a full-scale marketing program for your firm?
Can a percentage of staff handle a percentage of the LPMM and what is that percentage?
What will it cost your firm to divert staff to marketing vs. the ROI?
Will you need to hire more staff to handle management duties for the firm?
Consulting marketing agency
Expertise in marketing areas staff cannot execute.
Core competency is marketing.
Law firm staff can concentrate on and perform their legal duties at a higher level, faster pace if unencumbered by marketing duties.
ROI and cost savings by hiring an experienced Google Marketing Partner agency that will create a marketing plan, test data, and outperform your inexperienced inhouse staff.
The additional cost associated with hiring a marketing agency or consultant.
An agency, if tasked with all marketing duties, could slow the development of an in-house marketing team if not properly utilized.
Not hiring a marketing agency that specializes in law-firm marketing.
Tip: If you have marketing-savvy staff or staff you want to train in marketing, consider a hybrid marketing approach of in-house staff with help from a qualified agency. The marketing agency can provide planning, expertise, and execute campaigns. Your staff can work with the agency and gain valuable experience and knowledge, leveling up their marketing expertise.
Law practice marketing management, an integral part of law practice management, requires planning and a mix of tools and systems that will meet your firm’s needs. Understanding how to implement, monitor, gather information, and analyze your progress is key to success. Although there are more marketing tools and systems available today, the tools and systems reviewed provide many benefits. The benefits include analyzing website visitor behavior, a chance to be seen in search rankings when your competitors own the top organic positions, a method to optimize your firm’s organic search rankings, the opportunity to discover hidden website visitors and engage with them, and the benefit of creating a database of information that can be utilized as a historical baseline for present and future marketing campaigns.
Dean Guadagni is a principal and co-founder at Inner Architect Media LLC. As chief social media strategist, he was an early adopter at the dawn of the social media era establishing his presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogging in 2006. Dean has written professionally since 2007 contributing pieces to Plaintiff and Advocate magazines, The Recorder, Attorney at Law, Chicago Sun-Times, Computer Shopper, and Ziff Davis “Microsoft Watch.” Dean has been a marketing consultant to plaintiff law firms since 2009.http://www.innerarchitect.com/
Susan Hanshaw is the managing principal, co-founder, and brainchild behind Inner Architect Media LLC. In 2016, she attained Google Search certification which propelled Inner Architect’s inclusion into the prestigious Google Partner’s Directory: a listing of some of the top marketing firms around the globe. Since 2016 through Susan’s leadership, Inner Architect has produced over $300 million in new revenues for our law firm clients. She is a former circulation director at Mother Jones and VP in the list industry. Susan has been a marketing consultant to plaintiff law firms since 2009.
2023 by the author.
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