By Shamil Shamilov, managing partner at dNOVO Group.
While most industries moved online in keeping with evolving technology, the legal industry held strong to traditional marketing methods.
However, all that changed with the pandemic, and law firms globally were forced to transition into the digital age. Law practices today grudgingly accept that their clients are online, and that is where they are searching for legal services. So that’s where they need to be, too.
And while it is important to establish an online presence, skimping on marketing to save money or time is not a smart idea.
Some firms might be tempted to use prepackaged social media solutions. For example, an agency offering “10 blogs/month” or “100 tweets/month” seems appealing at first glance. However, in a rush to provide volume, such agencies often create low-quality content that does not live up to Google’s constantly changing search algorithms and therefore does not meet their clients’ business goals.
But is it possible to engage in digital marketing without wasting money? The key is knowing how much to spend and where. Here are my best recommendations on exactly how and where to spend your marketing budget.
Website Development And Ongoing Maintenance
A website is the backbone of your online presence, a way to communicate who you are. Without one, it would be harder for clients to find and trust you.
A brochure-style website costs $14-$28 per month to make on a website builder like Wix and comprises a few pages with key business information, which should suffice for independent law practices.
If you’re a large law firm, consider custom websites that cost up to $50,000. These can be created using code on platforms like WordPress.
WordPress is an excellent choice for creating a user-friendly, mobile-optimized website, but a custom website will be more beneficial if you want to stand out. First, it is specifically designed to meet your needs. Second, everything is built directly on it, so it loads faster, enhancing the user experience.
Keep in mind, website hosting can cost at least $2.95-$228 per month, domain registrations can cost $10-$15 per year and SSL certificates can cost $50-$450 per year.
Apart from a website, you’ll also need SEO to appear at the top of search results on Google.
How do you make your website SEO-friendly? Start with these tips:
• Ensure each landing page has a unique title and meta description
• Use descriptive URLs
• Use image titles and alt text
• Optimize your website for mobile
• Optimize site speed
Content and SEO go hand in hand. A robust content marketing plan is necessary to create search enginge-optimized content. The plan should cover all the tools, distribution channels, resources and costs you incur.
Keyword research tools can cost about $200-$500 per month and are necessary to know what your audience is searching for and to develop relevant content. Content creation can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars for a small firm and $3,000-$5,000 for a large firm, depending on volumes and the writers’ caliber.
Collaborating with well-known legal publications in the industry like Lawyer.com and Canadian Lawyer magazine through sponsored posts is also good for SEO.
A guest post is when you publish your article on another website. This is typically done in exchange for links or money. Prices can vary depending on the size of the publication. For instance, one can publish in Attorney at Law magazine for $500 per month, while for bigger publications, it can be upwards of $50,000.
Search engines consider sites with high domain ratings more authoritative, reliable and trustworthy. Publishing on such sites using the right keyword and links can drive more traffic to yours.
Off-page SEO is a set of strategies to boost your search engine rankings on places other than your website. Publishing content and backlinks from reputable online websites are a few of the most effective ways to do this. The goal is to get exposure to a new audience, establish yourself as an expert in your field and show Google that you are credible.
There is no specific price range for off-page marketing. It depends on the publication or the writer’s fees. You can also use some off-page tactics for free, such as blog and forum commenting, business profile creation and a local business listing on Google.
While it may sound simple, it is a lot of work. Research blogs, forums and social media sites that might be interested in linking to your website. Then you must generate linkable content, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Depending on the vendor, you could consider a monthly budget of at least $6,000-$7,000.
Social Media Marketing
Paid ads on Facebook can help drive traffic to your website or gain you followers thanks to its wide reach. While it costs $1,000-$2,000 per month, it can be a powerful way to attract new clients.
You can also open a free business account on Twitter to advertise your services via sponsored tweets, which can cost $450-$1,600 per month, depending on how actively you want to promote it.
LinkedIn is also great for business outreach. Their Sidebar ads display in user feeds, while InMail ads let you email millions of LinkedIn members. These cost $1,000-$1,500 per month.
Google Ads And Other Paid Advertising
Google Ads can generate a lot of quality leads for your website quickly. However, these ads require you to bid on competitive keywords and can be costly.
You might consider using an ad agency specializing in law marketing to ensure your campaigns are monitored and optimized for cost efficiency.
Depending on your practice area, agency-managed campaigns can cost about $5,000 per month.
Allocate Budget For Tools
Digital marketing is complex and continuously evolving, requiring that you streamline your process. Otherwise, your efforts could go to waste. For example, you might need a social media scheduling tool to visualize and plan content or legal CRM software to automate email campaigns.
At the end of the day, you should know exactly where your money is going and your returns on investment. Outsourcing the bulk of your digital marketing efforts can save you time and money. A professional agency has the required resources and expertise and access to insights. These factors can contribute to higher ROI and successful digital marketing campaigns for your firm.