You want to get more clients. You’ve heard online marketing works, but you’re not sure where to start. Between Google, Facebook, PPC, SEO, and online reviews, there’s a lot to consider—and there are plenty of consultants who will claim that their solution is best.

How do you know what law firm marketing tactics will work for you? How do you know what to invest in and what to ignore?

Asking other lawyers what’s worked for them is a great place to start. That’s exactly what Jonathan Schmidt of Nazette, Marner, Nathanson & Shea, LLP did, via a discussion in Clio’s Advocates community. He asked:

I’m curious to know what everyone thinks is important/essential for online marketing … What do you do? How effective has it been? Are there other things that you have done that have improved your organic traffic/leads?

Plenty of lawyers have responded with accounts of what worked and what didn’t for their firms.

With permission, we’ve republished a few of their responses here in the form of tips you can use for your law firm. We hope you find them useful.

1. Take advantage of free law firm marketing options

“I think you should maximize your free marketing opportunities before spending a lot of money on marketing. For example, claiming your listings, getting a 10.0 Avvo rating, etc.”

– Heather Meglino, Managing Partner and Owner at Meglino Morse Law

2. Position yourself as a thought leader

“For us, (and I work in digital marketing as well as law) it’s all about internal and external SEO, and inbound marketing. The content (whether it’s videos on your site, monthly newsletters, etc.) will depend on your ideal/target clients. Setting yourself up as a subject matter expert through inbound is the most cost-effective lead generation tool out there!”

– Mandy Woodland, Owner at Mandy Woodland Law, PLC Inc.

3. Create educational content and promote it in the right places

“For our law firm, we have found that we gain the most traction through writing timely educational articles about estate planning-related issues. While we post these articles to our firm’s website and social media sites, we have found the most immediate results from posting to LinkedIn.”

– Matthew J. Tuller, Principal Attorney and Owner at the Law Office of Matthew J. Tuller

4. Build meaningful relationships with clients

“We are located in a very small, conservative resort town. Business is still based on relationships—who you know and how you are perceived as contributing to the community. A website is essential for credibility and general info, but networking and relationships are key.

It will be interesting to see how this changes as the current face-to-face generation phases out and the face-to-phone generation phases in.”

– Karen Klukiewicz, COO at Patrick Neale & Associates

5. Focus on securing referrals

“I have a referral-based practice. It’s important that my website be modern, clean, and work on both desktop and mobile.”

– Danielle Huntley, Principal at Huntley Inc.

“We do a lot of cross referrals and have a very strong referral network. We also blog, speak at symposiums, teach, and are regular guests on talk radio.”

– Leslie Lelii, Office Manager at Virtus Law, PLLC

6. Take steps to multiply your referrals

“[T]ry to categorize the best groups your referrals come from and hone in on them. Develop relationships with your referral sources. Reach out, thank them, recognize their contributions. The referrals will not only keep coming, but will multiply.”

– Sean Robichaud, Lead Counsel at Robichaud’s

7. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth

“The best marketing is word-of-mouth. I still get about half of my clients from word-of-mouth. Past clients are the best source of getting new clients!”

– Jonathan G. Stein, owner, Law Offices of Jonathan G. Stein

8. Prioritize online reviews

“Our paid and free profiles on Avvo actually seem to be the best return on investment, combined with the intense level of effort that we have put into building our website and newsletters into a real library of resources for people who are trying to learn more about estate planning. SEO of our website and making sure the many, many, many directories that are out there have accurate listings for us seem to be the next most useful steps.

We have been blessed with a ton of great reviews, and I hear all the time that the reviews were one reason even people who were actually referred by another client or a professional adviser made their appointments.”

– Loraine DiSalvo, Partner at Morgan & DiSalvo, P.C.

“My free profile with Avvo has … been a truly great marketing tool. I have received so many inquiries for legal help and many have become clients. I also utilize a strong referral network, and I am very involved in my state and local bar associations as well as the ABA where I have speaking opportunities. I’m still working on my website.”

– Kari Petrasek, Attorney at Petrasek Law, PLLC

9. Claim your presence online, but also focus on your community

“I do everything I can to claim my online presence with websites, directories, and assorted profiles. I do get several calls from having a good Avvo profile and a premium (paid) profile.

Otherwise, I pay little for advertising. We instead cultivate a good reputation in the community by sponsoring/supporting community events and organizations, personally networking within the community, and sending care packages to referral sources and others who seek to help us. We try to be very genuine in our approach and it has always worked for us.”

– Ruth Goldner, Attorney & Counselor at Goldner Deeg PLLC

10. Build a quality website that convinces visitors to choose you

“I’ve found that the best leads come straight from my website. People Google “Kingston criminal defence lawyer” and I come up in the top three results. I think I have a good website compared to the other people who also come up on the first page and it draws people in to contact me. By this time they’ve already checked me out and, I think, like what they’ve seen. I’ve found these clients are easy to land, even on the first phone call, with no follow up.

I’ve found that referrals from lead generating sites are less committed. They’re often shopping around or are just looking for free legal advice, it seems.”

– Simon Borys, Principal lawyer at Simon Borys

11. Invest in SEO …

“For online marketing there are two primary principles: Have a valuable website, and create valuable content. If you demonstrate your value instead of describing it, potential clients will flock to you.

At our firm, Palace Law, we have taken steps to build our internal SEO and external SEO. We have videos on our website introducing who we are and offering free information to potential clients. The latter (often called freemium services) is one of the most important things lawyers can do. Offer up valuable information to potential clients for free, form contracts, legal research, and instructional videos, and you’ll find that this not only increases your SEO, but also draws in a lot of clients. We also advertise and maintain profiles on paid and free sites.

– Jordan Couch, Attorney at Palace Law

12. … But know that it’s a long game

“I like SEO marketing, in that it helps keep you top of mind for people for when they need you, but I find the issue with that is timing.

People only retain a lawyer when they need a lawyer. [Legal services are] not an impulse buy item. So unless your SEO marketing is catching [potential clients] just when they need you, it doesn’t seem to generate a lot of immediate, direct ROI.

I think when people need a lawyer, they either think of you because you’re top of mind because of your previous SEO marketing, or they just Google you, which is why I think my website is the best tool.”

– Simon Borys, Principal lawyer at Simon Borys

13. Target local prospects with digital ad campaigns

“Our firm is currently running a Google Ad campaign for our surrounding counties—any time someone performs a Google search for family law attorneys in our county, they see our website. It has produced a huge surge in new client intakes.”

– Ebony Anderson, Paralegal at McCabe Russell

14. Try QR codes

“One fun thing we have had success with is running traditional print ads with scannable QR Codes [that lead] to our website … After each of our ads, we always seem to get business through the QR link.”

– Seth Kruse, Associate Attorney at Kasper & Associates, PLLC

15. Get onto social media

“Social media marketing is the future for lawyers. Most people perform research on their smartphones. I get one to two significant cases per year from paid marketing efforts on Facebook for a minimal investment.”

– Barry Walker, Managing Partner at Walker Law

16. Consider your practice area

“[Questions about marketing strategy] really can’t be answered meaningfully without knowing what areas you practice in, and without thinking about how your clients find lawyers. My practice is limited to representing other lawyers—90% or more of my business comes from referrals. A good website, occasional blogging, some Twitter use—these may be helpful, but you still need to differentiate yourself from all the other lawyers buying Adwords, sending out email newsletters, etc. What works for a lawyer in one practice area may not work for someone with a different practice.”

– Eric Cooperstein, Attorney at the Law Office of Eric T. Cooperstein, PLLC

When it comes to law firm marketing, find what works for you

Investing in marketing can get your law firm plenty of new clients—but it needs to be done right. Consider your practice area and your clients, and what works best for them (and you) before spending your time and money on any law firm marketing efforts.

To conclude, here are a few overarching themes from everyone’s advice above:

  • Invest in your online presence. A well-designed website and strong online reviews can help potential clients find you and choose to hire you.
  • Invest in SEO. Investing in SEO for your law firm website can do a lot to help people find you.
  • Build your referral networks. Build relationships with your referral sources, and be active in your community to help gain more referrals.

Clio customer Sean Robichaud of Robichaud’s said it best:

“Overall, a web and social media presence is essential in 2017. If you don’t have one, you are truly not competing.”

Get the online marketing tips you need to make your firm successful. Get the free guide to marketing your law firm online.