Many law firms are confused about or fail to see the real value in content marketing for their business. A large portion of attorneys view producing content as a waste of time that could be better spent focusing on marketing efforts elsewhere. However, the truth is, a well-oiled content marketing system is incredibly powerful and - when implemented properly - often generates new clients on its own.
The long-term gains of creating a content marketing system now cannot be overstated. Greater authority, more search traffic and higher-quality prospects are just a few of the benefits that law firms can experience. However, you can’t just go with a scattershot approach and expect results. You need focused, consistent effort and a strategy that aligns with your clients’ needs and expectations.
Let's examine the mindset of a typical legal client as they make their way through your marketing funnel.
Before you begin working on your content marketing system, it helps to understand the process that clients use to find an attorney. Each stage represents a different opportunity that dictates how your content should apply to that situation. Providing valuable information for each section of this journey is key to successfully navigating prospects through your entire marketing funnel.
Researching Solutions - the first step in the journey. Prospects are looking for answers to their immediate questions (injuries, paying bills, etc.) and are usually unaware legal action is even an option.
Considering Legal Action - stage two. After coming to terms with their situation, prospects begin to explore what legal options are available. Do they have a case? If so, what’s it worth? Where should they start? These are common questions at this point.
Considering Law Firms - the client now believes they have grounds to take action and wants to know where to turn. Who can they trust? Are they experienced? What kind of results can they deliver? The prospect is now narrowing down their choices.
Deciding to Work with Your Firm - Your clients feel that you’re the attorney for them, but they want to know for sure. Do you have good testimonials? What’s the process like? Have you worked on cases like mine and how much is it going to cost me? Stage four is where you switch from value mode to a bit of salesmanship.
The funny thing is that when you provide great content to your prospects throughout every stage of their journey, the final decision becomes an easy one. Meaning, if you’ve already earned their trust, why would they look anywhere else?
While some attorneys believe getting prospects to their site is the hard part, that’s only half the story. Keeping them there - and maintaining engagement - is often the most difficult process. A large amount of high-quality content is your best weapon in combating apathy.
Once on-site, visitors really have only four options for what to do next:
Many law firms believe much of a customer's action is beyond their control, and thus settle for whatever traffic the web sends their way. However, those in the know take a more proactive approach and create systems to maximize their opportunities for finding and acquiring new leads.
The primary goal of an online marketing plan is to keep visitors engaged and moving through your sales pipeline. Ultimately, you want to turn these prospects into active clients. This is done by utilizing a combination of different content elements working together to achieve the desired result. Let’s take a look at a few now.
Website content is the heart of your content marketing system. The number one rule for creating effective content is to always provide as much value as possible for your readers without making them feel pressured to take action. Doing so builds trust with readers and encourages them to read additional pages, download your lead magnets, and move toward scheduling a consultation with your firm.
Done correctly, lead magnets offer your visitors something they feel is valuable enough they'd like to download it and use it for reference later. Your goal is to offer them something so compelling that they're willing to exchange their email address for it. Once they do, the transition from being an anonymous visitor on your site to an actual person you can then follow up with.
Email automation is an often underutilized, but extremely powerful way to build trust with your prospects and nurture toward becoming a client. Once you have their email address, email automation gives you the ability to proactively send them helpful content that keeps your firm top of mind throughout their research process and establishes you as a trusted authority in your industry.
Even the best websites won't capture contact info for more than 25% of their visitors and most will never get higher than 5-15%. That's were retargeting comes in. Based on the actions visitors take on your website you can anticipate what area of law they're interested in and serve them with ads about the areas they're interested in anywhere the go on the web. This is one of the least expensive and most powerful paid traffic generation strategies to really get the most out of every visitor on your site.
Obviously, even the best content marketing system won't work if no one ever visits your site. You should have a strategy in place to drive traffic from search engines, review sites, industry sites, referral partners, paid marketing, and many other sources to ensure that if someone is looking for the services you offer, they're exposed to your website.
The prevailing logic is that law firms should market to clients who are actively looking for attorneys. But this theory leaves a massive amount of value on the table. A better idea is to address the client’s needs throughout their journey - both before they consider hiring a lawyer and throughout the process until a verdict is reached.
Implementing the tools of a comprehensive content marketing system - traffic generation, content, micro-conversions, email automation and retargeting - ensures firms are able to find and help prospects no matter what stage of the decision making journey they’re in.
This kind of systematic marketing approach delights visitors and ultimately becomes an automated source of high-quality leads and profitable clients.
Matt Byers is a co-founder of Smart Growth Labs and has been working in the digital marketing industry for 8+ years. Matt has developed strategies leveraging a combination of SEO, content, pay-per-click, email, mobile, and display advertising to execute effective lead generation campaigns in the fields of legal, insurance, and non-profit event marketing.