Whether you are just starting a new law firm or you are rethinking your marketing strategy, you may be considering the benefits of online marketing. While online marketing has been around for a number of years, internet marketing strategies are changing. Rather than using online marketing resources to reach out to potential customers, law firms and other businesses can use certain methodologies to draw customers in. This distinction is one of “outbound” versus “inbound” marketing. While certain outbound marketing strategies may still have appeal in particular markets or for particular firms, it’s important for any twenty-first century law firm to consider the benefits of inbound marketing. The following information is designed to provide you with some essential information about inbound marketing methodologies for law firms.
According to HubSpot, there are three major elements of inbound marketing: attracting people, engaging people, and delighting them. We’ll give you more information about how to do each of these tasks, and we’ll explain why they’re important for any law firm’s inbound marketing strategy.
Attracting Potential Clients
The first element of any inbound marketing methodology can be summed up in the idea of attracting the right visitors to your online materials. You’ll want to develop your online content in such a way that you attract the ideal client, or the specific kind of person you’re hoping to work with. To be clear, you’ll need to think carefully about online marketing and how you can be found by the people who are seeking out your legal services. There are a number of elements involved in attracting your ideal client. The following are some key examples of ways you can attract the people who want your legal services and are seeking them out:
- Crafting detailed buyer personas: When you’re thinking about inbound marketing, you’ll want to spend a substantial amount of time building buyer personas for your ideal visitors. Law firms certainly may have—and often should have—more than one buyer persona. When you craft a buyer persona, you’ll want to think through everything about your ideal client. For instance, where does that client live, and how does that person’s professional life intertwine with his or her social and cultural life? To what socioeconomic or sociocultural group does the person belong? Why is the person seeking out legal services? For every imagined client who you’re targeting with online marketing, you’ll want to think about buyer personas well in advance—your carefully curated content will only produce the desired result if you know who you’re producing it for.
- Using search engine optimization (SEO): There are many different elements of SEO, and some of them may require that you work with an experienced web designer. In short, though, SEO is what allows your online content to be found by potential visitors. It’s how search engines like Google or Yahoo! see your pages in the first place and “crawl” them, and how your online content ends up in Google search results when a potential clients types keywords or key phrases into a search engine search bar.
- Keywords and key phrases: While thinking about keywords and key phrases is part of SEO, it’s important to keep certain keywords and key phrases in mind in all of the content you create. While you may need outside assistance to ensure that your website or blog is being “crawled,” it’s in your control to ensure that certain keywords or key phrases end up in the online content you create.
- Blogging: Creating a legal blog is an important way to bring in potential visitors to your website and your online content more broadly. You’ll want to create a blogging calendar that allows you to stick to a regular publishing schedule, and you’ll want to make sure your blog topics are tailored to your buyer personas.
Engaging Online Visitors
The purpose of engaging online visitors is to convert them to leads, and to continue developing your relationship with those clients. How do you convert website or blog traffic to a lead? Typically, you create material that educates and engages your reader, and ultimately gets that reader to act in some fashion—e.g., to fill out a contact form, to sign up for a newsletter, to enter an email address for regular blog updates. To engage and ultimately convert a visitor on your law firm’s website into a client, you’ll want to consider employing the following methods:
- Use “call to action” buttons on your website, at the bottom of your blog posts, and on other pages to ask your reader to take the next step. What should a “call to action” button say or do? It might ask the reader to request more information about a certain legal topic or issue, or it might ask the reader to request a consultation with your law firm.
- Use a web form that asks the reader to enter his or her contact information in order to get help with a particular legal matter or question. It’s usually best to keep these web forms pretty brief so that a reader is not burdened when filling it out. You’ll usually want to ask for a name, the best contact information (email or phone number), and a brief description of that person’s legal question or concern.
- Ask the reader to subscribe to blog updates or emails. If your reader likes what they see on your blog, you can ask them to enter their email address into a pop-up button to subscribe to your blog.
Engaging online visitors, and ultimately converting those visitors to leads, is an essential practice for any law firm that is using online marketing and, specifically, inbound marketing strategies. Not only can information from visitors to your website provide you with contact information to get in touch with potential new clients, but it can also provide your law firm with data you can use to help tailor your blog posts and other online content even further. For example, you may get a number of web form submissions from visitors who have questions about a specific legal issue that you haven’t yet addressed from a particular perspective on your blog. By adding a blog post or two to answer some of those frequently asked questions from website visitors, you can build trust in your readership and gain additional website traffic from other internet searchers who are seeking the same information.
Delighting the Visitor
Once you’ve converted an online visitor into a lead (or you’ve turned the online visitor into a client), you want to do everything you can to delight that client so that they will in turn promote your online content themselves. This theoretical person might share your blog posts on their social media accounts, such as on Facebook or Twitter. Or they might direct other potential clients who require legal services to your website. For some law firms, one buyer persona might be a popular legal blog that can link to some of your content in that blog’s own online output.
For law firms in the 21st century, inbound marketing is an effective strategy for building your business and gaining clients at your firm. For many law firms, inbound marketing becomes an essential element of marketing the business in the present and for the future.
Find more information about the Inbound Methodology in our Guide to Law Firm Marketing.