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Without appropriate targeting and planning, it is possible to spend large amounts on (brand) awareness campaigns for law firms for little return. You need to understand the options. You need a process.

If you are only interested in prospects within a defined local area, the process is much simpler (and cheaper) but let’s first take the worst case and assume you operate nationally. How are you going to make your prospect aware first that your law firm exists and second of the services you offer (and your USP)? You have online and offline options. First online.

Website

The following relates to prospects (those in learner mode), not to FOGS. They are discussed below.

Whatever you do, you will need a website for brand building and/or lead generation. In theory, your chosen promotional tactics should drive prospects to the website to learn more and (hopefully) convert.

The standard process suggests the key is to deliver the information (content) that matches the stage of the prospect in the buying process. That content (the model suggests) should be on your website.

Clients need to build a level of trust before they will buy. The website should deliver the information they need to build that trust. This all makes sense, but the question is how do you drive traffic to the website?

Driving Traffic To Your Website

If we take the traffic driving elements from Google analytics there is organic, direct, social, referral and paid. Organic is driven by SEO (see below), paid is traffic from Google paid channels, social is traffic from Twitter, Facebook etc. Referral is traffic from other sites. Direct is more complex and we will ignore it for simplicity.

Where do you focus your efforts? It depends on the audience, where they jump into the process and the trigger. It also depends how much you are prepared to pay. Remember producing content also has a cost.

Search Engine Optimisation

Returning to the standard funnel model, it assumes you can get your content in front of prospects when they use a search engine. That is one huge assumption. We will be controversial here and suggest that if you are a medium-sized law firm starting out with an SEO exercise to drive significant organic traffic to your website, on a national scale you will find it extremely difficult.

Why? Because as a business new to SEO you have no authority (as perceived by the search engines). If you hope to rank for common terms or phrases you may never build sufficient authority to achieve your goal. Suffice to say for a business with a national customer base SEO is a complex, expensive, long term operation.

If your SEO process is a success, the standard inbound model makes a further significant assumption. It assumes once the prospect has engaged with your content he/she will come back for more. Of course, you can collect details or re-target via ads (more on that below) but that involves more effort and cost.

Social Media

Of course, potential clients use more than search engines to search online. They will often also be active on one or more social channels. Building a presence on social media channels has branding potential (discussed below) but let’s focus on content distribution for now.

Again we assume you are a medium-sized law firm with low to medium brand recognition and follower counts in the hundreds to low thousands. If you are hoping for significant traffic to your website from content posting on organic social media, you will (we suggest) be disappointed.

Why, because organic (that is unpaid) reach on all the major social channels is low. Taking Facebook as an example, it is estimated an organic post (unpaid) will reach less than 3% of your followers. If you have 3,000 followers, that’s 90 individuals. You then have to estimate how many of those will take some action (read the content). Of course, there are many things you can try to increase reach, shares and engagement. But, increasing engagement by a few percent will make little difference.

Referral Traffic

A long-running debate is content on owned sites vs content on others sites. Let’s ignore guest blogging as a link building tactic for now and only consider delivering content to those in learner mode.

The standard advice is to concentrate on placing any content you produce on your law firms website. The theory is this will help your SEO efforts and increase organic traffic. It also builds the brand.

Great in theory, but if we assume our chances of our SEO efforts succeeding are low then what is the point of loading your site with more and more content. Instead, you can piggyback on another websites strong position in the search results pages.

Yes, it dilutes the brand and to gain publication on a site your prospects value is tough. Referral traffic might be low, but we suggest effort spent here will deliver more content to more prospects than publishing on your site.

Remember, we are discussing content for small to medium-sized law firms here without an existing strong brand and profile in search. The marketing process for those with an existing strong brand/profile is often the opposite of what we discuss here.

Offline Marketing For Law Firms

There are many offline promotional techniques including print advertising, PR, direct mail and events/exhibitions. Most need some form of content. Many focus on building the brand, with some designed to generate leads.

To reach a mass audience using offline marketing techniques can be expensive. Lower cost was one of the main drivers of online marketing when the internet became a thing. That said, for smaller, clearly defined audiences, offline marketing still works well.

Slowly the wheel is turning full circle. A move from (perceived) expensive offline to (perceived) cheaper online and now back to (perceived) cheaper and more effective offline marketing.

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