So you’re figuring you’ve got a $25,000 budget for lead generation. Question is, what’s the best way to spend your budget and maximize your lead intake?
The days when lawyers could expect to reach clients by simply renting a billboard, airing a commercial or getting their firm’s name in the Yellow Pages are over. Today, the Internet reigns supreme as a means for reaching customers, and most lawyers really aren’t too savvy when it comes to search engine optimization and third-party website advertising. Consequently, lawyers can be a target for legal marketing companies pitching schemes and scams to generate business. Hiring trusted consultants who have a sound track record in online legal marketing and legal website development is an effective strategy to boost your reputation—and bring in leads.
So what should you do?
Step 1: Invest in Your Website and Blog
A good website is really the backbone of your business. Yes, competition is stiff online—according to a Hoover’s report, legal service websites were a $245 billion industry back in 2011, with the largest 50 firms generating about 15 percent of revenue. But while it may seem like a no-win proposition—how can you compete with those kind of numbers?—if you don’t yet have a website for your firm, you’re drastically limiting your chances of being found. Word-of-mouth referrals are great, but how many potential clients personally know someone who’s been through the mass tort process and can recommend an attorney? A lot of people can recommend a lawyer to have a will drawn up—but looking for an IVC filter attorney? Not so simple. That’s when most people turn to their computers and smartphones to start researching their situation and find legal help. Having a website and blog ensures you can at least be found.
The key is to ensure that you (aka, your website) can be found. That’s where hiring an SEO or Internet marketing consultant comes in. Many consulting firms, including Online Legal Marketing, provide end-to-end web-based legal marketing services. That’s because creating an online presence involves more than just building a website.
Remember that line from Field of Dreams? The one about “if you build it, he will come”? Unfortunately, building a website alone doesn’t open the traffic floodgates. Online legal marketing consultants who provide content strategy, content development, blogging, SEO and social media integration can help drive that traffic—and ultimately leads—to your firm.
For example, one strategy marketing consultants will use to ensure you’re more visible online is boosting the volume of your indexed pages in Google. According to a recent HubSpot study, once a website has more than 300 pages indexed in Google, the growth in leads accelerates substantially—by as much as 236 percent. Even small firms can boost their number of indexed pages by including a regularly updated blog. Featuring unique, quality content peppered with the right keywords will help generate even more leads. And here’s another stat: firms with blogs that feature more than 52 articles have been found to generate 77 percent more leads. (Ibid.)
If you use a third-party-run website, just make sure you own your own domain name and the content so if you want to break your contract, you can retain your asset.
Step 2: Enlist a Lead Generator
Lead generation companies like OnlineLegalMarketing.com (OLM) can supply your law firm with a steady stream of quality leads. For a relatively low cost, you can put yourself in touch with thousands of potential plaintiff’s looking for a lawyer. For example, every year, over 3 million unique visitors browse OLM’s established, trusted websites, including LawyersandSettlements.com, BigClassAction.com, CALaborLawNews.com and HealthEffectsofAsbestos.com. With an online lead generation company, leads are often sourced through websites, landing pages, social media—channels other than your own firm’s website. So just a caveat if you decide to use a lead generation company—it will bring clients to your door, but it won’t build name recognition for your firm (aka, reputation). And, many firms use lead generation for a limited time only in order to get leads for a specific case or practice area. That’s why it’s still important to have your website up and running.
Options to Skip on a Limited Budget…
Online lawyer directories, Yellow Pages listings and Verizon Superpages ads can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars a month to a few hundred dollars a year, and there are no guarantees that you will get any return on your investment. Similarly, many state bar associations offer an online lawyer referral service for as low as $40 per year, but again—no guarantees.
Depending on your target audience, creating a television commercial can be effective. But if you want decent production value and to actually reach your target audience, airing a commercial can easily exceed your $25,000 budget.
Conclusion—Invest in Your Website and a Trusted Lead Generator
You wouldn’t recommend that a layperson represent himself in court. Similarly, in today’s world of online advertising, you shouldn’t go it alone. Find a marketing firm that comes recommended and can deliver results. First, develop your website to enhance your reputation. Then bring customers to your door by purchasing leads or using traditional means of advertising.