August 2009 • Vol. 29 No. 7 | An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association

10 Internet Marketing Tips for New, Small Law Firms

By Debra Regan, vice president of the internet marketing agency at LexisNexis, part of the Lawyers.Com and Martindale-Hubbell networks since 1999. www.lexisnexis.com/lmc

An unprecedented series of law firm layoffs has thousands of lawyers looking for work. Many are hanging out their own shingle for the first time either as solo practitioners or as part of two- to five-partner “micro” firms. To turn a pink slip into a profitable new business opportunity quickly in this tough economy, every nonbillable hour needs to generate leads and build business.

Here are 10 Internet marketing suggestions for budding solo practitioners and micro practices:

1. Advertise online. Yellow page print advertising alone won’t cut it. The investment for a one-time, print display ad is an expense that is difficult to justify unsupported by demonstrated or measurable data. Investment in online marketing will likely yield more qualified leads and enable easier measurement of return on investment as compared to a similar investment in print advertising or print directories.

2. Invest in a professionally designed and developed Web site. A polished, professional Web site is a must-have for anyone launching a new firm regardless of size. In 2008, 32 percent of solo attorneys and 20 percent of firms with two-to-five attorneys did not have a Web site, according to a 2008 Harris Interactive study on marketing among small law firms. Don’t be one of the unfortunate few.

3. “Consumerize” your Web site. When prospects seek an attorney, they want someone with obviously good credentials, but they also want to know what kind of person the attorney is. Pepper in some personal data about schools, hobbies, and outside interests.

4. Incorporate video on your site. Develop an introductory video of the managing partner that showcases personality as well as expertise. Post the video on the Web (and YouTube) and even consider a television spot down the road.

5. Get listed in and link to online directories. Identify all online directories available for posting attorney and firm profiles. These include attorney-specific portals and social networking sites. Link to these on your Web site, and don’t forget to add your firm’s Web site to each online listing you post. Take a look at the social media applications used by LACBA here.

6. Hire an expert. You practice law—Let others grow your business! Consider outsourcing your Internet marketing campaign to qualified experts. First, ask for a consultation and determine a comfortable budget. Earmark usually 2 to 5 percent of your monthly budget as a good starting point. Let the experts generate leads for your fledgling practice.

7. Optimize your Web site. Experts in search engine optimization can be tremendously helpful in improving online visibility and optimizing a firm’s organic search rankings. Select a search marketing team that offers transparent and results-driven metrics.

8. Engage in pay-per-click advertising. No firm is too small to reap tangible benefits from pay-per-click campaigns. PPC ads are used on search engines and content sites, and advertisers pay the host site only when the viewer clicks on the ad. PPC ads are displayed when a keyword query matches an advertiser’s keyword list or when a content site displays pertinent information. Ensure your marketing experts select appropriate keywords, based on analysis, that are geographically and topically suited to your firm. This strategy helps favorably position small firms to directly compete with larger firms in your market.

9. Understand and use appropriate metrics. Learn how success and return on investment are measured in an online marketing campaign. While you don’t need to be an expert, you do need to understand the difference between organic and paid search as well as clicks, impressions, and conversions. Tracking leads is an appropriate metric used by only 20 percent of attorneys. Find more tips on how to track leads here.

10. Be responsive. While your Internet marketing team brings in qualified leads, put a system in place to respond to each one. Make a phone call, send an e-mail in response to an inquiry, or schedule a meeting. Keep these leads in a simple database so that when you are ready to send the first newsletter from the firm, you can easily access clients and prospect lists. To get the marketing wheels turning, reference the marketing checklist here.

For more than 10 years, LexisNexis has delivered a full suite of online marketing services to lawyers as a trusted brand. The in-house internet marketing agency is staffed with search marketing, pay-per-click, video, and Web design experts along with a full team of Web developers with key industry certifications. For more information, visit www.lexisnexis.com/lmc.




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