Harnessing Digital Marketing to Grow Your Practice

Harnessing Digital Marketing to Grow Your Practice

In today's legal market, digital marketing is essential for attracting new clients and growing your practice. Don't let this reality overwhelm you, though—it is simply means using web-based platforms and products to promote your business. Given this broad definition, digital marketing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. You have many options, so your online presence can (and should) reflect your unique personal style and target clientele. Consider the following tools, technology, and techniques to expand your digital presence and track the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.

Digital Marketing Options

1. Website: Your professional website is the foundation of your online presence. According to the 2022 ABA TechReport, 94% of law firms surveyed reported having a website. An engaging, informative, and user-friendly site is crucial to remain competitive when people often rely on internet searches to find legal representation. This is true whether you are a solo practitioner or work at a firm. A well-designed website increases your credibility and communicates your firm's unique value proposition.

Whether you are launching your website or refreshing an existing one, develop a clear goal for your page guided by a few key principles to optimize effectiveness. First, address your target clients’ primary concerns and speak to them in a relatable tone. For example, if you are a family law attorney, your site should prominently address domestic relations issues and use empathetic language that resonates with individuals facing those situations. Second, clearly state the services you provide and your areas of practice. Third, your website should be visually engaging, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly.

If you are not sure where to start, you can use a website builder such as Wix.com, GoDaddy.com, or Squarespace.com to create a simple site from a template. You can also hire a web developer or digital marketing agency to assist with more complex projects, depending on your budget.

One effective strategy to drive web traffic is to leverage Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. SEO increases your website's position on search engine results pages based on two primary factors: on-page SEO (e.g., site content, images, and metadata), and off-page SEO (e.g., external website references, site speed, and mobile responsiveness). Implementing SEO best practices is a worthwhile investment to consider, as it drives organic traffic to your website and is often less expensive than PPC advertising in the long run. Numerous resources, including online articles, tutorials, and professional services can assist with SEO development and implementation.

2. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: PPC advertising is a popular type of online marketing where businesses pay a fee anytime a web user clicks on their advertisement. Here’s how it works: a legal professional decides what keywords and which search result page they want their ads to appear on. When someone searches for one of those terms or phrases, your ad will appear and the user can click your ad and be directed to your website.

Clio's 2019 Legal Trends Report notes that one of the most common ways people find lawyers is by using an online search engine. PPC can be an effective way to reach a broad potential client base by using targeted search terms. Some of the most popular PPC platforms include Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Amazon Advertising. You can visit their websites to learn more about their features and pricing. If you pursue PPC, it is best to develop a budget upfront for a couple of reasons. First, you must bid on the specific search words or phrases you want to trigger your ad, and your budget will determine the prominence of your link. Second, PPC advertising can quickly become expensive when paying by click. That said, this type of marketing offers fast results, and you can choose from several credible platforms to help manage your campaigns effectively.

3. Social Media: Social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn are an effective way to promote your practice online. Social media allows you to creatively market your brand, showcase your firm's personality, and engage with your audience and potential clients. Do  your research to determine which platforms are best for your target client base.  For example, if you want to reach clients in their 20s and 30s, consider using Instagram or TikTok, while Facebook and LinkedIn are better suited  for an older, professional audience.

When using social media, remember to keep your ethical obligations top of mind. Two provisions are particularly relevant—Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct (ORPC) 1.6(a) and 7.1. ORPC 1.6(a) prevents a legal professional from revealing information related to the representation of a client without informed consent. Keep in mind that attorneys should not reveal information about clients on publicly accessible forums unless they receive client consent—including a successful outcome in a case. Moreover, ORPC 7.1 prohibits a lawyer from making false or misleading statements about the lawyer or the lawyer's services. Both rules should guide any social media marketing you engage in.

4. Content Creation: Writing content such as blogs and articles allows you to expand your internet presence and establish yourself as an authority in your practice area. Legal blogs are a great way to build a following, demonstrate your knowledge on a particular subject matter, and ultimately, attract new clients. The startup  cost is also relatively low, typically requiring just your time and expertise.  If you have a limited time commitment, however, consider writing an article for a legal publication. There are many options available, including local bar association newsletters, the PLF's quarterly inBrief newsletter, and the Oregon State Bar Bulletin. You can reach out to the editors to submit article ideas or to be added to a list of potential authors.

Don't Forget to Measure Success

Once you have a digital marketing strategy in place, resist the urge to "set it and forget it." Select a time (ideally monthly or quarterly) to review whether your efforts are converting into new business leads and clients. Google Analytics is a popular tool for analyzing website performance and tracking customer data, although other options exist as well, such as HubSpot and Semrush.

Whatever platform you choose, take ownership of your successes and failures so you can continually optimize the return on your investment. The legal landscape is constantly evolving, and so are the expectations of today's clients. By embracing digital marketing as an integral part of your firm's business development efforts, you can ensure your practice remains competitive, accessible, and well-positioned to thrive in the years to come.

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