The way that lawyers and law firms have traditionally marketed themselves, has often followed a similar strategy – business cards would be dished out, there’d be a website, some investment may be made in listings and adverts, and referrals would form a big part of the sales funnel.
However, in the digital world, we now live in, where smartphones and browsing the web is part of daily life for most people, a whole host of new lead generation opportunities have opened up.
So, how can a law firm successfully take advantage of online marketing and the opportunities it presents?
A website that works for you
The first step is to look at how you are currently using your website. To make it work for you, it needs to be far more than just a glorified online brochure. It needs to have an inbuilt mechanism that picks up and guides any new visitors into your sales funnel and beyond.
That means having steps in place that will encourage visitors to share their contact details with you, so they are turned from an unknown into a lead, which you can then nurture along until the day arrives that they need a lawyer.
What are you offering?
Another trap that you can fall into with your website is to list out the services you offer, but never describe what you actually do. Think about your services from the viewpoint of a potential customer. You need to explain what you do, how you do it and how it could benefit them, were they to become a client.
It’s usually wise to call on the services of a professional copywriter here, as they will be able to help you express yourself in a compelling and understandable way.
Due to the nature of the legal sector, there is a tendency for copy to be quite wordy and jargon-heavy, but that’s a huge no-no – especially for a website. So, seek help if you need it and ensure your website is as strong as it can be.
Also, consider hiring in the services of a content marketing strategist, who will be able to streamline your processes and pull together a website that is informative, interesting and relevant for your target clients. They will also be able to help you put a strategy together, based on your individual business goals.
Sales funnel development for a law firm
As with any company in any industry, you need to start the process by defining:
- Your buyer personas – a representation of your core customer types
- Your buyer journey – the different stages potential prospects will go through, from start to finish
Start with one piece of content that will act as your “lead magnet” and pull people in. It should be helpful and of value to most of your website visitors.
If you’re a one-man-band, then choose one subject to focus on and write a solid piece of content that’s designed for anyone seeking legal advice in that area. Keep it informative, just be careful not to give away actual legal advice.
There is an art to good storytelling and that’s what you need – good, engaging copy. If you can’t do it yourself, then get someone in who can.
One route to take is to showcase some fictional stories, or slightly adapt real ones, as a way to get your points across. You could also put together a paper for clients on preparing for a particular situation and what to expect.
For example, if you want to keep the content more generic, then prepare something along the lines of:
- “What to do if you want to sue and what to do if you get sued”
- “How to avoid your descendants arguing over your estate”
The sales process
Now let’s take a detailed look at the sales funnel that potential clients will pass through and what you can do to maximize your opportunities.
- Drive web traffic
It all starts with the top of the sales funnel, where you need to be driving traffic to your website. There are loads of ways to do this and our blog is full of advice on B2B marketing if you want some more ideas. Take a look and adapt any activity to fit with your particular circumstances.
Your aim should be to attract a specific audience, using targeted activity that will appeal to them. Consider using a mix of channels, for example, local media advertising, PPC and/or native advertising, PR, building a social media following, or experimenting with Facebook ads.
Top tip: Don’t just send traffic to your home page. Instead, create separate landing pages, where people who click on a link will go through to. That way you can guide them in and manage the exact messaging they see (or you could even consider website personalization)
- Build a lead database
The next thing to do is to get visitors to ‘convert’ into leads by encouraging them to share their contact details with you (usually starting with their email address) in exchange for downloading a piece of content you have prepared.
If you are a Lead Forensics customer then you do not even have to wait for this step, as thanks to your software you’ll be able to see which businesses have been on your site, looking at what, for how long and when – even if they never convert. Our huge database can then connect you with the right people at any company who has visited your website.
- Follow up
Once someone has downloaded your content, you need to stay in contact with them. Have a follow-up process prepared and ready for action. This should include sending out an immediate (automated) email, with further information.
Then continue sending emails at set intervals. Keep the content interesting and educational, and always avoid trying to ‘sell’ in any of these emails. It is quite clear that you are a law firm and what kind of services you offer. If you impress them with your content and give a good impression of your company and what it may be like to work with you, then they will come back to you when they have a need.
- Add additional content
Consider what other types of content you could offer and start building up your content library. Remember, content doesn’t just have to be the written word. It can be anything from video to webinars, a slide share, infographics, how-to guides, white papers…the list goes on.
- Segment your leads into groups
Now your lead database is growing, you need to ensure you are getting enough information from your leads to be able to segment them into specific groups – hot leads, warm leads and cold ones. You then need to think what information you can send to each of those specific groups.
The key is to realize that the more you can segment your list of leads and provide them with highly targeted content (as they’re not all the same!), the more successful you will be. They’ll want different information at different times and all sorts of other factors can influence the type of information they may be interested in.
- Dealing with inquiries
When you finally get a call or email from someone with an inquiry, have a clear process mapped out. Start by scripting what a receptionist will say to the person, or what the initial email reply will be.
A good way to test the seriousness of an inquiry is to ask for more details on a form. Aim to find out more specifics about what they need help with. Avoid making it too long, or too complicated, though, and don’t ask too much. Just keep it light and informative. This will give you a good indication of how serious they are. As you monitor your progress you can use this as segmentation criteria, to uncover serious or not so serious leads.
Every sales call needs to be followed up, no matter what the outcome was. Continue the relationship with the person until they tell you not to contact them anymore.
- Free consultation
Offering a free, first, consultation is a mechanic often used by law firms. If you do this, make it clear to the person coming exactly what they can expect. During the consultation, yes your aim should be to convince them they need to hire you, but the session must also give them a lot of value. They need to feel they will get even more when they pay you.
This is good advice for anyone offering any kind of consultation. There’s a fine line between giving away too little or too much information for free. This will come with experience.
- What it’s like to work with you
Another great piece of content for any law firm is to prepare a document that outlines what it’s like to work with you. Many people have reservations about lawyers – they may be afraid you are going to be expensive and all sorts of other concerns. Put them at ease with a piece of content that explains exactly how it all works and what to expect.
You can use this document for those leads who are in the middle, to the bottom stages of the funnel. i.e. leads who have a need and are busy investigating their options.
- Look for opportunities to upsell and cross-sell
As a lawyer, you will benefit greatly from having an effective upselling or cross-selling process built into your sales and marketing tool kit. This simply means you have looked at ways to create opportunities for existing and past clients to remain customers or become one again.
Top tip for solo lawyers – If you’re starting out on your own then automate the entire process as much as you can. Concentrate on getting ‘X’ number of good leads per week to follow up on. Over time, you will get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.
Managing your funnel
If you prefer, just keep the whole process very simple. Have one download to convert your web traffic and a well thought through a sales process that is designed to guide hot prospects on towards agreeing to a free consultation.
You can of course spice things up by working on your content offering, so it includes things like webinars or even your own podcast.
The best part about working with a sales funnel in this way, is that it will help you to build a long list of potential clients. You’ll then have a clearly defined process to manage them. All you have to do is to concentrate on driving traffic to fill the top of the funnel, online and offline, to get those leads.
In the end, your decisions are likely to depend on the budget you have available, but the good news is, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out.