…how many are you guilty of these mistakes?
Whether you’re a solo attorney or are a Marketing Director in the Am Law 200, these marketing principles apply just the same. The size of your firm shouldn’t determine your marketing strategy as much as your target audience (and budget), which is critical. For example, a firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions should have a drastically different marketing strategy than a personal injury firm.
Ok, let’s get into it. In no particular order, here are the top 5 marketing mistakes law firms make on a consistent basis. Hopefully this will help you knock a few off your list!
1. You only focus on the top of the purchasing funnel
What does this mean? Well, it means most of your marketing tactics and channels are designed for awareness. If you put yourself in the shoes of your target audience (which as a marketer, you should be an expert at!) you can easily imagine their purchasing funnel. (note: I’m not a huge fan of the word “funnel” because it implies that it’s a neat path from awareness to purchase when the reality is much more complicated, but let’s use it to keep things simple.)
To continue with the personal injury firm example, we can picture a person who was just hurt in a car accident and wants to be compensated for their damages. They have likely seen one of the hundreds of advertisements on the billboards, buses, or benches, along their commute every day, but there’s a very low chance that they’ll actually remember the phone number for “Smith and Smith” by heart — or maybe even the same. If these were the only ads that “Smith and Smith” ran, it would be a huge mistake. Because we know that the most likely path for the person in the accident is to either ask a friend for a recommendation or search online for an attorney (or both!), if “Smith and Smith” had a smart marketing plan they would have a referral strategy, as well as a google ads strategy. Awareness campaigns should be thought of as a complement to your more performance oriented channels (i.e. Google Ads), not a substitute. When the person in the accident goes and searches for an attorney online and they see “Smith and Smith” on top of the page they’ll think “oh yeah, I recognize these folks” from all the awareness ads and will be more likely to convert. But if there is no ad in Google while they’re searching and ready to hire an attorney, well… good luck!
Can you imagine McDonald’s spending millions on TV ads but not putting up signs for their stores at the side of the road when people are most likely to buy? That wouldn’t make much sense.
Note: the larger your marketing budget, the more you can afford to spend on awareness campaigns. Small or solo firms should focus on positive ROI performance campaigns first before looking to get into more sophisticated awareness strategies.
2. You point your ads to your main website
Having a clean, professional website is essential to your online presence. That should go without saying. Even though this is a given, we’ve all seen terrible legal websites far too often …but that’s a topic for another day.
The main mistake here isn’t having a bad website, it’s using your website for the wrong reasons. In the world of performance marketing (and especially in Facebook or Google Ads) pointing your hyper-specific ads to a general website should offend any and every marketer! It’s our job to convert leads into clients as efficiently as possible by understanding their needs and wants, and in this case we would be failing miserably. Why? Picture yourself in the shoes of a potential client: you just received a letter from the IRS and are scared to death. Your business is at risk for huge losses (or worse) and you need to figure out how to get out of this mess that you don’t even understand. You go to Google to look for more information and for an attorney that could help. At the very top of the page you see a link to “Smith and Smith”, and it has language that resonates with you because it’s specific to your situation, as if they knew exactly what you were feeling. You click the link, and then it takes you go a huge website with links and content about all these different “practice areas” that aren’t related at all to your situation. Dissuaded and frustrated, you leave.
This type of situation is exactly why at Convert IT Marketing we build multiple hyper-specific “conversion sites” for each campaign we run. For that tax law example, we point our ads to the conversion site that’s specific to the keywords you entered. There is no language about any other practice area or anything that isn’t immediately relevant to your situation. It’s branded to your firm and uses your photo, reviews, and accolades, but the rest of the content is built specifically for conversion. We’ve tested hundreds of different versions using principles of behavioral psychology, and because we’ve been testing and iterating on these sites over the past 10 years (and millions of dollars in ad spend), we’re now at the point where our average conversion rates are over 30%, and on mobile we often see conversion rates of over 45%!
Our performance is (by far) the best in the industry, and what this means for our clients that if they get 100 clicks on their ads, instead of getting 2 or 3 leads contacting them from their main website, they’ll get 35 or 40 leads contacting them! The best part – we’ll usually build these conversion sites for our clients for free!
A common question that we get is: “I don’t want this to interfere with my SEO or confuse people that are looking for me online for other matters”. No worries, it is impossible to get to these conversion sites unless someone clicks on one of our ads. If you were to search for “Smith and Smith” you would find the general website, our conversion site would be nowhere to be found.
3. You don’t measure the ROI of your campaigns and re-balance accordingly
If you own an investment portfolio, do you periodically check the performance of each investment? Of course you do! And if one investment consistently performs better than another, would you allocate budget from the weaker one to the stronger one? Of course you would!
The difficulty with marketing is that measuring your performance is not as straightforward. It’s not impossible, but some folks use that as an excuse to ignore measuring ROI altogether. In any other discipline this would get you labeled as a crook, but the marketing industry has for the most part been able to sneak around that. Hiding performance is in the best interest of the agencies or channels that don’t provide great results, but ignoring your ROI will ultimately end with one result: draining cash from your marketing budget and your bottom line. At Convert IT Marketing, we are true believers in assessing ROI, and in fact make it very straightforward to measure performance. It’s as easy as logging in to your analytics dashboard and seeing how many clients you’ve retained vs. how much you’ve spent.
There’s one other metric that few people measure but everyone understands, and it’s ROE: Return on Effort. You understand ROE because we’ve all been in the situation where you spend days writing a blog post that ultimately gets 5 likes – it’s not a great feeling. When looking to complement and balance out these labor-intensive tactics, you should look for completely hands-off tools that can run themselves. This is another core principle of Convert IT Marketing – we want to create results for you without you having to contribute time and effort in any way. All you have to do is call us to set up your campaign and then 14 days later engage with your leads as they’re knocking on your door!
4. You don’t use filters to determine who sees your ads
This one is for those of us who aren’t guilty of mistake #1 and are already using performance marketing campaigns as part of their overall strategy. With these campaigns, it’s incredibly important to use the sophisticated filters that determine who (and when and where) sees your ads. There is no general rule that applies here, you need to understand your business (practice area) to know what to use. The goal is to minimize expense of course, but also wasted time. For example when you fail to filter out a “tire kicker” aka someone who is not ready to hire an attorney, not only did you waste those marketing dollars on someone who will never convert, but you also wasted time in engaging with the lead — time that could have been used on billable hours.
5. You don’t have a streamlined intake process
The “last mile” problem with legal marketing is incredibly important. By that I mean the hand-off from marketer to attorney, also called the intake process. Right now you’re probably thinking “oh, yeah we have that covered” but unfortunately, you probably don’t. According to Clio’s Legal Trends Report, the legal industry has a net promoter score averaging around 25, “on par with banks, wireless providers, and credit card companies.” There is clearly plenty of room for improvement, and it all starts with communication. When a lead first comes in, not answering immediately should be considered completely unacceptable at any firm. Imagine calling your credit card company because your card was stolen, and your call goes to voicemail! That scenario is far too common, especially among small firms (in fact according to the same Clio report, an astounding 30% of calls are missed). Saying “oh but I’ll call them back soon” is definitely not good enough. Post it notes are not good enough, and the data shows it!
Because we’ve worked with thousands of firms over the past decade, we’ve been able to see this phenomenon clearly in our internal data. If a lead comes in from our campaigns and is answered and engaged immediately, it has a much higher probability of converting into a paid client versus the leads that are called back “later”.