I’m what you’d call an inbound marketing evangelist. I have no doubt that using inbound strategies is the key to quality leads and substantial growth. Unfortunately, not every industry has embraced it and prefer to stay stuck in traditional marketing. One industry that seems to be lagging behind but has so much opportunity is the legal field.
Attorneys love advertising. I know this because they are constantly on my TV or smiling at me from the vinyl wrap of a bus or everyone’s favorite on the back of a phone book (just so you know, I don’t have a phone book, but I think they still exist). When I see the ads on TV or read their billboard, I am amazed at how little they have progressed. From their shiny hair to their 90s suits, it’s bad. But maybe it works for them; although, I am not sure exactly how they derive ROI from ad spend, and I would assume that ad spend is substantial.
An introduction to inbound
So, attorneys or marketers who work for law firms, I’d like to introduce you to inbound marketing. When people need an attorney, it’s usually not for a good reason. And most people may already have a negative feeling about lawyers (sorry, you just aren’t likable). So how do you get a prospective client to like and trust you? By providing users content to answer their questions. A content plan that targets the specific reasons someone may need an attorney could be much more valuable than your billboard. Here’s why. When we need something now, we ask Google. We, for the most part, trust the results that Google provides. So if I’m asking Google what I need to know about some legal predicament, like personal injury, negligence or family matters, that’s probably what I’m going to ask Google. If you have relevant content that answers the question and is optimized correctly, there’s a good shot you’ll be in the results.
Not all law firms have resisted the inbound revolution. Hubspot shared a case study of a law firm that cut paid advertising and increased its leads by 186 percent by adopting inbound strategies. The firm moved away from traditional formats and started creating a content marketing strategy that generated interest and in turn new clients.
Some are dipping their toes into the inbound pool
I did a little research myself looking at some law firms in Charlotte, N.C. I did some simple searches wherein I was seeking answers to legal problems. This is what I found:
- For family law, there were a lot of paid ads on Google, none of which went to a dedicated landing page that would have been considered an Awareness stage offer, like an eBook.
- Some of the family law practices I looked at did have blogs, but the publication was sporadic, and there didn’t seem to be a real content marketing plan; the topics were too general and didn’t really answer my questions.
- For personal injury, there were plenty of paid ads, none of which would be considered an optimized landing page. The designs were dated, and nothing about the testimonials or content felt authentic.
- The personal injury firms also had blogs, but the tone was off in that it didn’t feel human or compassionate, which is what prospective clients are seeking. It makes me question if they understand their buyer personas.
Inbound can work for you
Whether you are a boutique or international law firm, inbound marketing can work for you. It starts with relevant content targeted to your ideal client. The content can’t be about how amazing your firm is; rather it needs to focus on answering questions or providing tips to help those in need of legal advice. Of course, the blogs would never be considered legal advice (as I’m sure all attorneys may worry about this if producing content), but they must sound human. The general public doesn’t understand legalese, and they will be immediately turned off by it.
Here are three ways to introduce inbound into your firm:
- Start a blog; if you already have one then create a strategy for it to include topics, frequency, tone and promotion.
- Create conversion-centric landing pages to use in paid ads and organic search. Don’t distract your prospect with 10 different actions. Offer them a piece of content that is relevant then follow up with a friendly email, but don’t push.
- Get active on social media. Post your content here. Engage with thought leaders, prospects and clients. Depending on your specialty, you may find success on a number of different platforms. Let the platform dictate the content. For example, on LinkedIn write posts that may help businesses who need legal services; on FaceBook, post an infographic on data related to divorces, as this may be the platform that users would be looking for individual legal advice.
I’d love to hear from law firms that have been successful with inbound and content marketing. Or if you think your firm is ready to adopt inbound and need some help, let’s connect and chat.