Research shows that 80.8 percent of potential clients check out professional services firms by looking at their websites.1 Clients will also search for lawyers using Google and review social media by lawyers more often than asking friends or colleagues if they’ve heard of a lawyer.
The advantage of online marketing is that it is one to many, as opposed to in-person marketing, which is one to one. By adopting the eight habits of effective online marketers, lawyers can generate more business for their law firms.
1) The More You Blog, the More Clients You’ll Get
Include blogging in a lawyer’s individual marketing plan and establish a content marketing schedule for the firm. A law firm website should be updated at least two or three times per week. Research shows that 76 percent of blog writers acquired a client by writing at this frequency.2 Posting once per month or less produces far fewer results.
com Larry LawLytics Larry Bodine, Seton Hall 1981, is a Wisconsin lawyer and the Senior Legal Marketing Strategist for LawLytics.com, a web marketing company. He is also the editor of The National Trial Lawyers.
“A thorough content plan includes what will be published, when it will be published, and who is responsible for each step in the publication process. Ideally, this would include specific dates for each task associated with content publication,” says marketing blogger Victoria Blute.
Make it easy to write a draft post, using web software that opens a box for the title, a box for the text, and functions to insert illustrations and videos.
2) Make the Most of Online Reviews
This is the online equivalent of creating good word of mouth. Today 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.3 Pew Internet Research found that, “Fully 82% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews.”4
It comes as a shock to some lawyers that what is said about them in Facebook, Yelp, Avvo, or Google reviews can determine who gets a client. Lawyers are wary that they’ll get a bad review, and therefore firms should use Birdeye or a similar review management software to manage reviews. Happy clients are guided to their favorite review platform, while unhappy clients are invited to contact the firm.
Collecting positive reviews and publishing them is very powerful. For example, the Shouse Law Group in California assembles positive reviews on its website5 and the firm’s Facebook page is brimming with positive reviews.
3) Market with Millennials in Mind
With 75 million members, the millennial generation is the largest in history. They are roughly ages 18-35. This changes everything:6
Baby boomers respond to print, radio, TV, direct mail, newspaper ads, and the Yellow Pages.
Millennials respond to online news, podcasts, streaming video, texting, shareable content, content marketing, Facebook, and Google reviews.
Commission infographics to appeal to millennials, because eye candy can overcome short attention spans (but don’t use cliché images of gavels, scales, or columns). To attract millennials, use the magic of giving things away, such as free downloads, e-books, and free subscriptions to e-newsletters. Give people articles, images, and content they can share. Finally, millennials are socially conscious and want to see what law firms are doing to give back to the community.
4) Think Mobile First
Design any new site or blog first to display well on a small screen. Mobile now accounts for nearly 70 percent of digital media time spent, according to comScore.7 Mobile device users universally spend an average of double the amount of time online than do desktop users.
This means your next client will visit your site on a cell phone. Firms should create web pages that are responsive (by expanding or shrinking text to be readable on any size screen). Potential clients get a bad experience when they look at a law firm website that has been crushed down to mouse type.
To attract millennials, use the magic of giving things away, such as free downloads, e-books, and free subscriptions to e-newsletters.
Give cell phone visitors a “mobile experience” – tell them a memorable story about a lawyer’s work. A good example is a case history in which the client is the protagonist who faces an insurmountable challenge, and the law firm is the hero who came to save the day. Tell a story that starts with a question that clients ask in person or on the phone, and provide the answer. Most clients are looking for a local law firm, so tell a story set where your ideal clients live.
5) Set Up a Video Studio
At Lawyers.com, where I used to work, and today at LawLytics, there are rooms dedicated to video. The cameras, lights, and set are all pre-focused so that a lawyer can walk to a marked spot and record a video using a teleprompter. We favor a 90-second video that matches the typical viewer’s attention span on YouTube and Facebook.
That’s because 80 percent of people would rather watch a video than read text on a website, and 81 percent of businesses use video as a marketing tool.
Record a lawyer’s next presentation, continuing legal education program, or lunch-and-learn with clients. Rather than writing a complex article, invite lawyers to present a video instead.
One large law firm that has embraced video in its marketing is Allen Matkins, San Francisco, which issues video news releases and in the past nine years has uploaded 425 videos on YouTube. The firm even hired a helicopter to record “B-roll” of the city’s skyline.8
A subset of this approach is to record podcasts. Many people listen to The Daily podcast from the New York Times, or Serial, the true crime podcast by the creators of This American Life on NPR, or perhaps the progressive political podcast, Pod Save America. New research shows that half (51 percent) of Americans have listened to a podcast, up from 44 percent in 2018.9
6) An Attorney Bio Should Not Be a Dead End
Recraft lawyer biographies to be online launchpads, leading visitors to videos, case histories, blog posts, and other activity of the firm’s lawyers.
A bio is an online business card, written to be 300 words maximum (not a wall of text), describing whom you serve, problems you solve, and how clients can expect to be treated. It is an opportunity to make an emotional connection with visitors, by describing how much the lawyer cares about the problems of their ideal clients. A good bio shows an attorney’s journey in the law – but not a bulleted list of 10-year-old articles and case captions.
Before I tell what works, here's what does not get new clients:
Old articles (over three years) and anything written in law school
Neglect: a bio that is out of date
Text that goes on and on (and the opposite: one content-free paragraph)
Bios that start out with where you were born or went to school
No links to the lawyer’s speeches and articles
Elements of a bio that do generate new business are:
A lawyer’s familiarity with an industry
Case histories of specific problems solved
Client reviews and testimonials
Text describing how the lawyer works with clients
A recent color picture
7) Get Referrals Online
The best new business comes from clients who were referred to you. A person who got a recommendation to call you is no longer shopping for a lawyer – they are looking for you.
Make it easy for clients and lawyers to refer business to you. A top source of referrals is past clients. If they know, like, and trust you, they are in the best position to give a personal recommendation. Unfortunately, many lawyers make the mistake of letting the relationship end when the matter ends.
A person who got a recommendation to call you is no longer shopping for a lawyer – they are looking for you.
A better approach is to be sure you have the client’s email address, and email them a quarterly newsletter. Again, fill it with answers to questions that you get from clients, set forth a few case histories, and ask recipients to recommend you. (Clients don’t know how you build a law practice, and you have to tell them to refer people to you.)
If you want referrals from attorneys, be sure to include a link on your site for “Co-Counsel and Referrals.” State that you are delighted to accept referrals and describe how the co-counsel process will work. Be sure to mention that you are also happy to share your resources with other attorneys by referring potential clients to them.
8) For Social Media, Focus on Facebook and Forget the Rest
Facebook is by far the most effective social medium. Facebook is social media to consumers. According to Social Media Explorer, 66 percent of adults log on to Facebook every day; 80 percent of consumers use the Facebook smartphone app.
54 percent of consumers said they’d be likely to hire a lawyer with an active social media presence. Among millennials only, 72 percent would.
Absorb the facts that Facebook:
Has far more engagement with people than LinkedIn or Twitter;
Is the second most used web browser (after Chrome);
Has the highest percentage of daily users;
Has the highest average number of daily sessions;
Is where most Americans get their news; and
Is where 34 percent of consumers find help to select a service provider, such as a lawyer, plumber, or doctor.
Your law firm’s Facebook page is where potential clients get to know, trust, and like you. It’s the perfect place to publish an article or video, post news reports, and show the firm in a good light. Firms should view Facebook as social networking, the online equivalent of lawyers going to networking events and trade association meetings.
In sum, firms should develop the eight habits of effective online marketers and guide attorneys to adopt them. The habits are synergistic and each one builds on the others. Writing a blog, appearing in a video, and optimizing online reviews are great ways to start developing new business and generating new clients.
1 Hinge Research Inst., Beyond Referrals: How Today’s Buyers Check You Out (2014).
2 HubSpot, The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing.
3 Myles Anderson, 88% of Consumers Trust Online Reviews as Much as Personal Recommendations (July 7, 2014).
4 Aaron Smith & Monica Anderson, Pew Research Ctr. Internet & Technology, Online Reviews (Dec. 19, 2016).
5 Shouse California Law Group, What Our Clients Are Saying About Shouse California Law Group, (last visited June 15, 2019).
6 LegalInk magazine, How Law Firms Can Successfully Market to the Millennials, (last visited June 15, 2019).
7 Greg Sterling, Mobile Now Accounts for Nearly 70% of Digital Media Time (March 29, 2017).
8 See www.youtube.com/user/allenmatkins.
9 Marketing Charts, Milestone: More Than Half of the US Population Has Listened to a Podcast (March 18, 2019).