5 Marketing Strategy Tips for 2021
By Chad Sands, Tracers Public and Private Records Software
After I got a haircut one sunny Saturday afternoon when I was a child, I remember looking up at my mom with big wondrous eyes and saying: “Mom, when I grow up, I want to work in marketing for a legal tech company.”
Actually, that’s not true. I never said I wanted to work in legal tech. I never even said I wanted to work in marketing. But for the past five-plus years, I’ve found myself at three different “legal tech” companies. As bankruptcy lawyer Michael Hamersky once said to me: “Nobody goes to law school saying they want to be a bankruptcy attorney. I think most people just fall into it, like I did.” You could say the same thing about me — I just fell into the world of legal tech.
And while Tracers works in a number of different verticals — from law enforcement to healthcare — lawyers have used our public and private records database for decades to help them complete their legal research, locate witnesses, perform asset searches, and help with due diligence.
So, when I went on Jared Correia’s “Legal Toolkit” podcast, I shared all the dirty little legal tech marketing secrets I’ve learned over the last five years, but I wanted to dig a little deeper. In this post, I’m going to share some new strategies and tips for marketing your law firm.
Now, a disclaimer: honestly, these are just a few ideas from a marketing guy. If you want something more academic, Clio, the proverbial elephant in the legal tech room (and a partner with Tracers) recently did a pretty good post that talks about marketing strategy versus plans, tactics, KPIs, goals and … well you get the point. So, if that’s the kind of blog post you want, read it here.
Otherwise, stay here and let’s get to my five marketing strategies to grow your business in 2021
1. Build a great website
You might be saying: “Chad, this tip sucks.” Well, then just scroll to No. 2. But the truth is, just because you have a mobile-responsive website or get 10,000 visitors a month doesn’t mean your website is great (if you do get 10,000 visitors a month – nice! Please keep reading). A great website takes effort and it doesn’t come out of a GoDaddy box (no offense to GoDaddy).
A slow website does not make for a great website. Site speed is a tough nut to crack but impacts your search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience. Now, you’re not Amazon, so I’m not going to tell you that improving your website speed by half a millisecond will increase your conversions tenfold (because, I don’t think it will). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a few things to optimize your site. Use GTMetrix and Google Page Speed Insights to test and optimize, and then continue to keep an eye on it.
I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t pretend I’m one. I don’t spend my free time looking up case law or going to the local law library to learn about torts. So, when it comes to your website, I would say tread carefully. If you can, hire a professional and make sure he or she does some of the things listed below. You could also consider “bartering” for services from somebody who knows what he or she is doing. But if you do this alone, here are some more tips:
Go with Google. Make sure you have Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console set up. At the very base level, Google Tag Manager will help you set up and easily manage conversion pixels (helpful if you are running ads). Google Analytics will tell you who is coming to your website and how they got there. Google Search Console will tell you how your website is doing in SERP (Search Engine Results Page) with impressions and clicks on keywords.
Compress and optimize images. Don’t download and use the full-resolution stock image from Unsplash as your homepage hero image. You have to resize them for web and shoot for keeping them under 50kb if you can. Use plugins like SG Optimizer or Imagify to serve .webp image formats, compress PNGs with TinyPNG.com or Sqoosh, and always use alt and title tags.
Get good hosting. If you are using WordPress (powers 40% of the web), I like SiteGround because they have some decent built-in speed enhancement tools. Honestly, I like SiteGround more because if you buy a three-year plan, they are pretty cheap ($9.99 per month for their GrowBig plan). If you have the extra cash, go with WP Engine and setup WP Rocket plugin to speed things up. Another option is to go with a platform like Webflow. You can do some clean, cool things with Webflow and their site structure is much better than WordPress, but harder to manage.
Don’t just let it sit there. A website is not a satellite. You don’t just launch it into the world wide web orbit and get stuff back. You must update it. The best way is to have a blog where you post at least every week, but also update your other main pages. Google doesn’t like stale web pages.
A/B test if you have the traffic. If you do get a good amount of website traffic, use a tool like Google Optimize to A/B test headline copy or images. If you get 30 visits a month, try to get more traffic first.
Add testimonials and social trust icons to your homepage. You know your local and state bars you are a member of? Add their logos to your homepage. Top Lawyer in Texas? Add the icon to your homepage. Appeared on your local ABC affiliate? Add it to the homepage! Get testimonials from your client (or mom) and add them to your homepage. This builds trust and can help SEO. Speaking of….
Focus on SEO. See tip #4.
There’s a lot more that goes into creating a great website, but hopefully that will give you some ideas of where to start. Don’t be good — be great.
2. Start advertising with connected TV
Video can be a great tool — on social, on YouTube, and on your great website. But if you do video, do yourself a favor and make sure the audio is clear and the content you are creating is interesting. I think ESPN’s Chris Fowler’s “Tequila Nightcap” Instagram videos are a great example of using just an iPhone but consistently sharing knowledge and perspective in a really interesting, engaging way (that you can hear!). What’s your law firm’s version of this type of series for social media?
When it comes to video, I really want to talk about using connected TV ads if you have room in your budget and want to do something more polished. A couple of years ago I worked on a video campaign with Calista Flockhart (the famous TV lawyer). We didn’t have the rights — or the budget — to run the ads on broadcast TV, so we turned to social media and streaming TV.
The great thing about streaming TV is that it’s pretty affordable and gives you a nice “bling factor.” Companies like Choozle and Genius Monkey can get your 30-second professionally produced ads (not your iPhone selfie video) onto streaming networks. Even Hulu is now offering self-service ads. And once you have your well-produced TV spot, you can ask your friends who have “cut the cable” if they saw your ad during “Chopped,” “Meet the Press,” or “Sunday Night Football.” You can geo-target or even retarget your website visitors via IP addresses assigned to devices connected to computer networks.
If you are one of those firms who have been running those local TV ads during the evening news (or have been saying, “I should do that,”) consider running connected ads via streaming services and devices.
3. Don’t start a podcast … go on someone else’s
It seems like everybody and their mom has a podcast these days. But the truth is, it takes a lot of time and effort to produce the content every week. Most people don’t have that time and can’t come close to doing it as well as others do (like the Correia Family History Rump Roast).
There are tons of legal podcasts out there (here’s a list Lawyerist put together). Find out how to get on one of those before telling everyone you know, “Hey, I’m starting a podcast.” You will still get great exposure, as well as share it on social and put it on your website — you just don’t have to commit to doing it every week.
You can also go old school and try to get on the radio. Out in California and streaming online, NPR station KCRW has a great show called “Press Play” with Madeleine Brand. Every Monday she has law professor Jessica Levinson as her “Legal Eagle” guest segment. Can you create an opportunity like this for yourself? Sure you can.
4. Focus on SEO, not PPC
This isn’t a blog post about how to master SEO, but as I mentioned in tip No. 1, SEO is the way to go. I like to say, “SEO is the blood pressure of your online presence.” Nobody likes to talk about blood pressure; plastic surgery is way sexier (and like pay-per-click advertising, it gets you a quick fix). But as they say, blood pressure is the silent killer. If you don’t have good SEO, your website will die.
Okay, that’s a little extreme. But the point is, if you plan on being a lawyer for more than a decade, in five years you will be better off investing in SEO now than pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
Take Tracers.com for instance. We launched a new website on June 1st, 2020, focused on SEO, and increased keyword rankings. It has worked so far, and yes, it has helped drive more sales.
SEO has a lot to do with having a great website, but there are also tactical steps you can take to help your SEO and keyword rankings. Again, I say tread lightly because if you find yourself spending five hours a week in SEO tools like SEM Rush, Google Search Console, and Ahrefs, then you might consider applying for a marketing job. That said, here are two SEO tips:
- Optimize on-page SEO. On-page SEO includes title tags, internal links, and header text (h1s and h2s). Take for example this post. I’ll admit, my headers are not the best, but look at the internal links I have at the start of this post. Also, I could have called this blog post “5 Marketing Tips for 2021” but instead I called it “5 Marketing Strategy Tips for 2021.” Why? Because “marketing strategy” has about 25,000 more in keyword search volume.
- Get (or buy) backlinks. What are backlinks? They are links on a website’s webpage that guides visitors to another website. Backlinks matter. Backlinks on anchor text keywords matter more. Backlinks coming back to your website from high-ranking websites matter even more. If you get a backlink on the keyword “best family law attorney” from your neighbor’s blog that gets 20 visitors a month, honestly it won’t matter. If you get a backlink on that keyword from LegalZoom (that has a domain authority score of 66) or hls.harvard.edu, it matters.
5. Don’t forget, at the end of the day, you’re a lawyer
If you’re a writer, obviously you can’t write for eight hours a day (you have to drink for at least 6!). Joking aside, don’t forget at the end of the day, you are a lawyer and should do lawyerly things.
A few years ago, I worked in marketing for a real estate company, and I think the same thing applies to real estate agents. You can’t be showing houses, writing contracts, and having client meetings for 40 hours a week. Part of being a good real estate agent is networking and well, putting yourself in the position to tell people you are a real estate agent. It’s a “people” business. Same with lawyers. If I need an estate planning lawyer, I have a lot of choices, which means I’ll probably pick someone I like and want to work with. If I’m charged with murder, it might be a little different, but you get the point.
Go play in a tennis interclub league. Go golfing and play in the member-guest tournament. Like to hunt? Go hunting or fishing with people who like the outdoors. Like to drink? Well, I guess go drinking with people. Put yourself in the place where others (strangers even) ask you what you do and you can say, “I’m a lawyer .”
I realize the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a bit of a wrench in this last tip, but when things return to a resemblance of normalcy, I’m going to update this post and remove this sentence.
And probably update the year in the post title. See what I did there? If you have been paying attention, that was SEO tip No. 3.
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Reprinted with permission of Tracers. Originally published here.