19 proven ways to attract and sign more prospects. Includes: real-life law firm examples, illustrative screen shots, pattern language, links to more information, and step-by-step implementation instructions.
Table Of Contents
1. Sharpen your niche
Your marketing efforts will be more effective if you at least initially concentrate on a sharply-defined niche. Look for a high-demand aspect of your specialty where you can become one of the top authorities in your region.
For example, bankruptcy attorney Michael Mack targets “eliminating credit card debt”and takes that rifle-shot approach in most of his marketing:
“I started using direct mail, but I did not use it like most other lawyers. For example, the envelopes were hand written because half the battle is getting the letter read.
“I included coupons offering, for example, a “Free Credit Audit.” These coupons created high perceived value instead versus simply offering a free consultation. I also included a “24-Hour Free Recorded Message” on the letter so folks could hear me providing useful information about a legal topic.”
A second example of successful targeting is Los Angeles divorce attorney David Pisarra’s angle for standing out from the crowd:
“When we focused our marketing on Men’s Family Law and Father’s Rights and became MensFamilyLaw.com, we noticed a sizable uptick in our return on investment in our internet advertising and internet search rankings. This demonstrated to me that one of the largest unknown problems that we had been struggling with was focusing on a target market, and differentiation of our services from the other family law and divorce attorneys.”
2. Appear in Google’s 3-pack
The key to ranking well locally is building large numbers of citations. Citations are simply profiles of your firm placed in online directories. They are as critical to your online success as they are simple, for they are used by Google along with reviews to determine which lawyers to feature in Google’s 3-pack.
Every abbreviation, initial, dot, and letter in every citation must be identical, so take care when creating the model profile to be copied by your staff.
In the description, place the keywords you most want to rank for. Don’t be too ambitious with your keyword selection if you work in a highly-competitive locale; pick a phrase you have a chance of ranking for. And don’t try to stuff a lot of extra keywords in your description.
We recommend you begin building profiles in the following directories:
Expanding your local presence is extremely important and should be a top priority. The interplay between your attorney website and your local listings can have a big impact on law firm rankings if you pay attention to the process early on.
Expanding your local presence is extremely important and should be a top priority. The interplay between your attorney website and your local listings can have a big impact on law firm rankings if you pay attention to the process early on.
3. Add SEO-friendly content
Google rewards websites which regularly add content, so either a freelancer, a staff member, or you should have at minimum a weekly writing schedule.
The content you create, or have created, should adhere to the following guidelines to obtain maximum ranking benefits:
- Pre-select the keyword phrase that each article should target (a big enough topic to deserve its own article)
- Place the keyword in the title of the article and wrap the title with an H1 tag
- Naturally use the keyword in the first paragraph of the article
- Each article should be at least 700 words in length. Longer is better
- When the article is posted, use the keyword in the article’s URL and in its meta description
4. Obtain more backlinks
Backlinks, or inbound links to your website, are the number one factor influencing Google’s ranking of your website. In a study of the rankings of one million websites, web pages ranking #1 had 168% more linking domains than web pages ranking #5. That study’s author puts it succinctly:
“If you don’t have backlinks, you’re not going to rank.”
How do you get more backlinks without paying four figures a month to an SEO firm that owns hundreds of websites from which it can link?
Ask for them. We recommend sending these emails to:
Websites which have mentioned you or your site without linking to your site
Thank you for mentioning [me or my firm]in your recent article. That means a lot to me.
I noticed that your mention of us did not link to our website. Could I trouble you to update your post with a link? Here is the link to my home page: www.smithandjones.com.
I really appreciate your help.
Websites whose owners you know or who have other reason to consider your request
I use your website to [______]and find its guidance valuable. I notice you link out to a few businesses, and am wondering if I could talk you into linking out to my law firm at www.smithandjones.com.
We assist people who have reason to visit your site, and your link to us might prove helpful to some of them.
Thank you for your consideration.
Buzzstream, which costs $24/month, can help you manage the outreach by tracking which websites have responded with a link.
At James, we subscribe to the leading website analytical platform, called Brightedge, and we use it to increase the rankings of our clients’ websites.
Brightedge used to be so prohibitively expensive that only major online players like Amazon could justify the cost. In fact, 8 of the 10 largest online retailers and 55% of the Fortune 100 use the platform to improve their websites’ rankings. The price has come down, but the service is still darn expensive, and we can only justify its cost because we manage over 100 law firm websites.
What it can do for your website
Imagine you engage us to increase the number of qualified prospects who find and contact your firm through your website. Brightedge gives us an instant, in-depth analysis of the performance of every page on your site and how to improve it:
- For each of the most important keywords, Brightedge compares the daily ranking of your site versus your closest competitors.
- For each page on your site, Brightedge tracks visits, Facebook likes and shares, tweets, backlinks, search volume, and page authority.
- Most important, Brightedge gives us specific recommendations for improving the ranking of each page on your site for multiple keywords and strategies, including on-page, internal links, backlinks, and social engagement.
Brightedge’s big value comes from instantly telling us which pages need what work for which keywords. Maybe the page title needs to be shortened, or the keyword needs to appear in the H1 (initial header) tags, in the alt (descriptive) text of the image tags, or in the meta description.
Brightedge helps both us and the client track progress weekly. For each page on your site, it shows:
- Whether visits are up or down this week, and by how much
- How many backlinks exist
- The number of Facebook likes and shares
- The number of tweets
Week by week, Brightedge also charts how many keywords for which your site is ranked on page one of Google. The big goal, of course, is to continually increase the number.
Brightedge lists the number of errors on your site, and categorizes them, so we can start fixing the high-impact errors first. Here is the list for one site we recently began managing:
129 Severe errors
73 Missing H1 (initial header) tags
56 Duplicate page title
814 Moderate errors
108 Missing or empty meta description tag
80 Page title too short or too long
310 Slow response time
316 Too many outbound internal links
Want our help?
If you have a tech-savvy online marketer on staff, and a big marketing budget, you may be able to justify Brightedge’s cost and implement its more technical recommendations.
If not, and you want to take advantage of Brightedge’s page-by-page recommendations for improving your website’s rankings and traffic, we can do it for most law firms for $1,500/month. Large marketers will cost more.
5. Receive more clicks
Ranking high for commonly-searched keywords in your specialty is great, but then having prospects click your law firm’s listing instead of your competitors’ listings is even better.
Here are three techniques to accomplish just that. They fall under what is called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), which is an area mostly ignored by law firms. CRO can help you obtain:
- More leads delivered from organic SEO
- Higher rankings on search engines
- Increased traffic to your website
- Better qualified leads from organic traffic
- Easier conversions from lead to client
Here are 3 easy-to-implement and highly-effective CRO techniques.
A. Accurate, relevant, and enticing page titles
Page titles have the biggest influence on whether a potential client clicks on your page or a competitor’s page.
Unfortunately, most lawyers and their marketing teams create page titles that may be SEO-friendly but do not stand out from the competition. You can boil down most lawyer page titles to a simple formula: [Location] + [Type of Lawyer] + [Case Types]. For example:
Not only is the title truncated, but it’s not compelling in any way. It is keyworded for Google, but there’s nothing to distinguish this lawyer from the sea of other personal injury lawyers in San Francisco.
Now take a look at this page title, also drawn from San Francisco listings:
This title isn’t truncated, meaning there isn’t any valuable copy wasted, and it manages to incorporate both the location, the type of law and a compelling reason to consider this lawyer’s services over the others. Those attributes make this title accurate, relevant and enticing.
B. Conversion-focused meta descriptions
Meta descriptions, which consist of the black text found below Google’s blue page titles, are rarely used well. Most consider the meta description to be an afterthought. Some marketers will throw in the keyword once, and many won’t bother altering the words Google automatically chooses.
A good meta description elaborates on the page title, incorporates the targeted keywords, and appeal’s to the prospect’s curiosity, search for answers, or need for authoritative guidance. Note the appeal of the black text in this example:
Meta descriptions can also be used to prequalify the visitors who come to your site. If you work with only certain types of cases or clients you can use this space to ensure that only qualified traffic is coming to your site.
Do not simply list the types of cases you handle. That approach will not distinguish your listing from its competitors.
C. Stand out with rich snippets
This is an advanced method and is rarely used by law firms. That means it will be easy for your firm to stand out.
Rich snippets are the features that Google adds to your listing beyond the standard title, link, and description. One of the most common is the reviews/rating rich snippet:
Since most lawyers haven’t integrated rich snippets, your firm can in most cases be the only one with ratings displayed. For example, in a search for New York Personal Injury Lawyer, only one law firm in the first 5 pages shows a review:
Because law firms so rarely take advantage of these 3 techniques, it is easy to set yourself apart from your competition on Google’s listing pages.
6. Obtain more reviews
Reviews are important for two reasons:
(a) prospective clients rely heavily on them when deciding who to call, and
(b) Google’s algorithm uses reviews to help determine who will appear in its local 3-pack, which for most lawyers delivers more website traffic than organic rankings.
The manual method
You will obtain additional reviews if you send 2-3 emails to all your satisfied clients. The language can be short and simple:
We hope you were satisfied with the work we did on your behalf.
If so, you can help bring our services to the attention of others in need by writing a short review.
You can place your comments on any review site you currently use (e.g., Google+, Yelp, Avvo, Lawyers.com, Nolo, or other site). Or you can simply write a few sentences and send it as a reply and we will post your comments on our website.
Be sure and follow-up a few weeks later with a reminder email:
Thank you again for retaining us to provide you legal services. If you think we did a good job for you, we hope you have had the opportunity to write a review of those services on Google+, Yelp, Avvo, Lawyers.com, Nolo, or other site. If so, thank you very much.
If not, could you take a few moments to do so now? It would be a big help to us.
We put Google+ at the beginning of our list of suggested review sites because that is the site Google pulls from (of course!) for its star rankings and review quotes in its local 3-pack.
The automated method
The easier way to obtain online reviews will cost you a monthly licensing fee, but the software will quickly build you a collection of positive reviews with little involvement on your part.
It works so well because it takes the technology hurdle out of the process. Clients need zero understanding of Google or Facebook to provide you a review. The software automatically nudges them, and alerts you when a review is received.
Best of all, the software lets you see the review BEFORE it is posted. You can “park” any less-than-stellar reviews so the public never sees them.
The great reviews will be posted, and are also collected on a custom testimonial page added to your website. Finally, the software gathers all the previous reviews and new reviews of your practice and places them on a private dashboard so you know exactly what is being said about you and your firm.
If you choose to automate your review collecting and screening, the only review software for lawyers that we know about is one component of our marketing automation software.
Whichever technique you use, do make a serious effort to obtain online reviews. Not having any reviews in this social-sharing age is almost as bad as having several bad reviews.
7. Stay top of mind
The time from lawyer investigation to retention can be lengthy. During that time, a prospective client may consider several different lawyers.
You can greatly improve the odds that you are chosen at the end of this period if you work hard to (1) stay top of mind and (2) impress the prospect with your command of the subject.
An educational drip series is the best way to accomplish both goals.
Create a strong drip series
By “drip series” we mean a lengthy series of helpful informational letters, booklets, and even videos sent automatically on a regular schedule. You have probably received many examples after providing your email address to a website.
The first drip series to create should be aimed at new prospects. We believe teaching is more effective than selling, especially for lawyers, so recommend that your pieces be educational.
Prospects have many questions, so focus on answering them. And by providing answers in your written materials, you minimize the amount of time you have to spend providing the same information over and over to new clients.
You should answer common prospect questions a variety of ways:
- Short, plain-text emails which are tightly-focused on a narrow topic
- Links to lengthier, designed PDFs
- Links to multi-media pieces like podcasts, videos, or slide shares
Your answers should be provided directly with FAQs and indirectly with lists, tips, common mistakes, and “what lawyers wish you knew” pieces. Here are some samples from the drip series provided with our marketing automation software (please respect our copyrights):
- 9 Mistakes to Avoid When You Have Money Problems
- Should I Sign a Reaffirmation Agreement?
- What to Expect When Filing Bankruptcy
- Action List for When Your Loved One is Arrested
- Flowchart: 4th Amendment Protections and Exceptions
- 6 Factors to Consider in Deciding Whether to Testify
- 8 Common Mistakes Made by Personal Injury Claimants
- Writing a Winning Demand Letter
- Next Steps After Scheduling Your Initial Appointment
In James’ legal marketing automation package we use CRM (customer relationship management) software to deliver our various drip series because it allows variations by type of prospect and stage of case. For example, we provide drip series for new prospects, old prospects, missed first call, missed first appointment, and closed case.
However, you can create and deliver the most important series – the one aimed at new prospects – using a simple auto-responder like MailChip, Aweber, or Constant Contact.
Regardless of the method you use, we encourage you to implement this fundamental online marketing tactic as soon as you can carve out some writing time. Or you can use the content that comes pre-loaded in our Legal Content CRM.
You will find that a new prospect drip series will quickly lift both the number of incoming calls and the rate at which you convert those calls.
8. Answer questions
It is hard for the average consumer to discern what is different about how you practice your craft versus the approach of the other lawyers who the prospect is considering. And since you usually don’t know what other names the prospect has in hand, you most of the time cannot diplomatically point out the differences.
As a result, the best way to distinguish yourself at the outset is to provide superior educational content. Having a broad and deep website is one way to do this, but many browsing prospects won’t take the time to read more than a few pages.
Simpler, more effective technique
A second and easier method is to send your prospects helpful materials. Since most lawyers don’t send anything to their prospects, you will immediately stand out as someone who knows their specialty and cares about the prospect.
If you only have time to create one item to send your prospects, let it be a lengthy series of FAQs. All prospects have questions, and if you answer many of those questions in the first piece you send, you will immediately leap ahead of any competitors being considered.
You also save time in your initial calls and conferences because you don’t have to provide the same introductory information over and over. Your FAQs have done it for you.
Examples of good FAQs
It is important to make a good first impression. If you do a slap-them-together job on your questions and answers, prospects are likely to think that is the caliber of the work product you provide. You should answer numerous questions in detail. Your writing should be clear and well-organized. And your finished piece should be well-designed.
Here are two examples of FAQs available in our marketing automation software (please respect our copyrights):
We also have FAQs for other specialties, but these two demonstrate what we have in mind when we stress the importance of making a strong first impression.
FAQS can be comprehensive, like our 84 bankruptcy answers filling 36 pages, or our 41 criminal questions comprising 15 pages.
Or you can create separate collections of more targeted questions dealing with a specific phase or aspect of a case, like our 5 bankruptcy questions-and-answers about debt settlement or our 6 criminal questions-and-answers about a grand jury subpoena:
At James, we generally like to begin our prospect outreach with broad and lengthy pieces, and then follow-up with shorter, more-focused content.
What is most important, whichever approach you take, is that the items you send be high-quality and helpful. If they are, prospects will figure that the representation they will receive from you will be of like quality and helpfulness.
Once you have a comprehensive set of Frequently-Asked Questions, you can use them multiple ways:
- Offer them as a lead magnet using inexpensive Facebook ads.
- Email a list of the questions without answers to your prospects, providing a link to the answers.
- Break them apart to build a digital HelpDesk that your staff can use to answer questions … and encourage clients to use the HelpDesk before calling your staff.
- If you have time to write a lengthy and comprehensive collection of FAQs, print a designed version as your book. Hand it out at talks, display it in your lobby, and feature it on your website.
- Offer to provide the FAQs in referral request letters and emails.
9. Obtain more appointmentsmo
John Morgan, founder of a plaintiff’s personal injury firm with more than two dozen locations, attributes a large chunk of his firm’s success to a maniacal focus on how his firm handles calls from prospective clients.
He starts by shopping his firm hundreds of times a year. That is certainly one viable way to learn how well your firm handles new client calls. Call monitoring software makes the task simpler; you can listen to both sides of any call with a single click.
Mr. Morgan began dedicating an individual 100% to client intake when his firm had only two lawyers, finding:
when firms implement a rotation of lawyers, staff, or paralegals to handle calls from potential new clients, it is like passing around a hot potato. Nobody wants to take it. When it is your job and you become responsible, everything changes.
Landing the appointment is key at Morgan & Morgan:
Setting an appointment, whether at your office or at their home, is the most important thing you can do in making sure that client goes nowhere else. When you call Roto-Rooter and they tell you they will be there at 1:00 p.m., you stop calling plumbers.
You can read more suggestions for managing your law firm like a business in Mr. Morgan’s wonderful book You Can’t Teach Hungry.
10. Make more follow-up calls
Stephen Fairley’s Rainmaker Intake University Program teaches 45 techniques to increase your lead conversion rate. Here are five of his top suggestions:
a. Every lead must be followed up within five minutes! When the initial follow up call/contact goes from five to ten minutes, lead conversion drops by up to 400%.
b. Every lead must be called back a minimum of six to ten times! When dealing with consumers you need to be persistent, often calling them back four, five or more times before you reach them. Once you reach them you either disqualify them and stop calling or qualify them and set the appointment.
c. The first day, each lead should be called two to three times. The average consumer calls five to seven law firms when making a buying decision and the law firm who gets them on the phone first will likely be chosen.
d. Scripts need to be written for voicemails so they aren’t always the same. Unless you give them direction, most staff will leave the same generic message as every other law firm. Come up with different voicemails that encourage the prospect to call your office back.
e. Never make an attorney or paralegal responsible for making follow up calls. They will not do it. They just won’t. Trust me. We have tried every possible incentive to get associates or paralegals to make follow up calls and they will not.
11. Reduce no-shows
No-shows will materially decline if you send appointment reminders by email and text a couple days before and the morning of the appointment.
This is such a basic step that it should not need to be included in our list of marketing tips, but many law firms still fail to send appointment reminders. Hopefully your firm is not one of them.
12. Monitor intake calls
We’ve yet to meet a lawyer who didn’t want to convert more callers to clients, but most are not taking advantage of call-tracking technology. Call software can tell you:
- What web sources are generating calls: Organic, Direct, Adwords, Local, Referral, Yelp, Avvo, etc.
- Originating web page: which landing pages are most productive?
- Prospects having cases you want: e.g., truck accidents, nursing home injuries, _______
- Time to first call: how long are prospects spending on your web pages before dialing?
- Device used: phone, tablet, or desktop
- Missed calls: how many prospects are getting away from you?
- Call duration: is your staff failing to engage many prospects in meaningful conversations?
Spot opportunities to improve
Call software helps you dig deeper when potential issues are indicated.
For example, with one click you can listen to calls of short duration, or with a new staff member. Periodic monitoring will help you coach when room for improvement exists.
Or maybe, like more than one of our clients has, you will find that a staff member is simply obtaining a callback number instead of learning whether prospects have your kind of cases and helping the right ones set appointments.
Make high-impact changes
1. Do you know which marketing efforts generate the best leads?
- Call software can alert you by text when good leads come in. The first knowledgeable and helpful law office to call a prospect is usually the one that lands the client.
- You can steer calls from your best lead sources to particular phones and thus make sure that the high-quality leads are handled by your most effective appointment-setter.
- Perhaps most important, you learn which marketing efforts should be expanded and which should be trimmed.
2. Do you know how many calls are not being answered?
- Just because you have staff present when a call comes in does not guarantee that it will be answered. And not picking up the phone is the surest way to lose a prospect.
- Who is not answering is identified, as well as when.
Free to our clients
Whether you engage us to improve web traffic, obtain more reviews, streamline administrative processes, update your technology, or improve your law business every way we know how, we understand that every law firm wants more clients.
That is why we include our call-tracking technology at no extra charge in every assignment we take on. Call-tracking technology can make a big difference in your caller-conversion rate, and we would love to explain how.
13. Convert more consults
Lee Rosen, perhaps the best marketing and management blogger in the legal field, has a checklist on reducing client intake friction. Our favorite entries on Mr. Rosen’s list are:
- Your phone goes to voicemail.
- You don’t respond to voicemails quickly.
- The person answering the phone can’t set up an appointment.
- The person answering the phone can’t answer basic questions.
- You don’t send an appointment reminder.
- You only offer consults during business hours.
- You don’t offer phone consultations.
- You don’t immediately schedule a phone consultation.
- You delay in sending the client agreement.
- The intake team didn’t make a follow-up call.
- You didn’t schedule the next appointment.
- You don’t have a regular follow-up process after the consult.
We recommend you read the entire list, which is entitled 37 Reasons Clients Hire Someone Else.
Tracking marketing results
14. Learning ROI
Phil Hardison of PILMMA offers a great free 44-page download called 7 Secrets to Getting More Clients for your Law Practice.
It includes a 6-step calculator for computing the return on investment from your marketing, and the ROI section concludes with these wise words:
I have a rule of thumb for my return on investment – If I can’t get six times my money back in a particular campaign, I either have to tweak my marketing or get out of it. I want 10 or 15 times my money back, but six is my threshold. I’ll tweak it for about 90 days. After that, if I can’t get my ROI up to six times or better, then I dump the campaign and put my money somewhere else.
You have to determine your personal ROI threshold, whether it’s three or six or ten times your investment. I think this ROI calculator will help you to do just that.
The message here is huge – you need to know your three big numbers.
1. Average Fee
2. Average Cost Per Lead
3. Average Cost Per Case
Knowing, monitoring, and building systems to leverage these big three numbers will pay massive dividends for years to come. These systems are an integral part of your sales marketing machine, a machine that you have to maintain in order to receive an optimized rate of return.
15. Solicit a network
Ben Glass’ Great Legal Marketing Program offers a wealth of marketing assistance to small-firm lawyers. Here is one example of his winning suggestions, which we have materially condensed.
In a nutshell, the technique has you send a letter to 25 local attorneys who practice in non-competitive specialties who are likely to encounter cases they don’t handle that can be referred to you. Mr. Glass cites the example of criminal defense attorneys sending him personal injury cases.
The letter explains how you two will cross-refer cases, and includes a reply form that asks for:
- The referring lawyer’s practice area(s)
- Other attorneys in the referring lawyer’s network who might want to join your new referral network
- A promise that the referring lawyer will remain “the hero” of the referral connection.
Obtain Mr. Glass’ The Ultimate Referral Letter handout for full details, including samples of the referral letter and its reply form.
16. Ask more often
Too many lawyers are reticent about asking past clients for referrals. As a result, they are missing some of the easiest prospects to sign. If you only implement one of our suggestions, make it this one.
Every 3-6 months send an email or postal letter to your past clients that offers to provide your latest educational material, including the FAQs from tip #7, to anyone they know who might be in need of your services. Here is one possible approach:
We appreciate the opportunity you gave us to serve you, and thank you for placing your confidence in us.
If you know someone in a similar situation, they probably have many preliminary questions and would benefit from reading our detailed FAQs.
Perhaps you could forward this link to that individual. Thank you for helping us help others.
17. Report outcome
Women Rainmaker’s Best Marketing Tips by Theda C. Snyder contains a large collection of marketing suggestions gathered from a variety of sources. This one stands out:
Whenever I get a referral from someone, I always write a thank-you for the referral, but I also note the referral in my file. When the matter is completed, I write to the person that referred it and say thanks again and indicate what happened so he or she knows what the outcome of that case was. This often leads to another referral.
18. Include turndowns
The ABA offers many marketing resources. This tip comes from their book How to Capture and Keep Clients by Jennifer J. Rose.
We send a sorry letter to every client we can’t represent. We add all these turndowns to our mailing list, and we send birthday cards, calendars, and newsletters. Many of these turndowns become clients years later, explaining that although we couldn’t help them with the original matter, they now want to hire us a different matter.
19. Address the prospect’s concerns
Legal marketing consultant Frankie Fihn conveys several important marketing principles in his video 5 Steps to a 7-Figure Law Practice. The most valuable but most commonly-ignored lesson is to focus all marketing efforts on the consumer’s interests.
Stop talking about yourself. Your prospect is facing a painful situation, be it unpaid creditors, a DUI or other arrest, the threat of being deported, a divorce, a breach of contract lawsuit, or a major car accident and injury. He has many questions and wants professional help.
Start building trust and a relationship with that prospect by giving him helpful information in written form, whether it is on your website, in the form of FAQs, or in a book. Taking that simple step will (a) distinguish you from the majority of your competitors and (b) boost your flow of good new leads.
If you don’t have time to create those helpful educational materials, engage an individual or company to do it for you. We have dozens of high-quality, specialty-specific content pieces that we brand for individual lawyers. You can review dozens of examples at:
We hope you have found these tips instructive, and that you can and will incorporate at least a couple of them.
For tips that address your law firm’s most pressing concerns, make a 15 or 30-minute appointment with James president Travis Hise by clicking below. You won’t receive a heavy sales pitch — just solid and personalized advice to help your law firm improve.PERSONALIZED MARKETING ADVICE GIVEN HERE