According to eMarker, online advertising spending surpassed traditional advertising spending in 2019 and is on track to expand even further in the coming years. By 2023, it’s estimated as much as two-thirds of all advertising dollars will be spent in digital venues. Digital advertising offers the following advantages over its traditional counterpart:

Digital advertising is essential for 21st-century law practices to thrive.

Digital advertising is fast and flexible

The 21st-century marketing environment shapeshifts and pivots with lightning speed compared to pre-digital conditions, and digital advertising provides the of-the-moment messaging suited for today’s sharply focused ad campaigns. Campaigns can also be modified on the fly when circumstances require a fast change of direction. Traditional advertising still requires substantial lead time, which means that messages are often outdated by the time they see the light of day.

Digital advertising is also flexible across a variety of platforms. You’ll be able to use the same campaign on multiple online and social media venues instead of being confined to one page.

Digital advertising offers measurable metrics

With digital advertising, hard metrics are built right into the campaign. For instance, you’ll be able to see at a glance who’s clicked on your ad, how much time they spent, and whether they shared or referred the material. It’s also possible to track individual users from the point of the first click to the initial real-time contact. This helps fine-tune marketing strategies and determine advertising budgets.

Digital advertising reaches mobile consumers

Sourcing goods and services via mobile devices is on pace to continue its rapid expansion. The mobile universe is an excellent way to reach millennial and Gen-Z consumers, and you may actually have difficulty connecting with this valuable consumer group without digital advertising.

Digital advertising reaches a target audience

Advertising has traditionally taken a broad approach due to the limitations regarding venues, but the digital revolution has changed all that. Instead of newspaper, magazine, or over-the-air broadcast-style ads that by definition are designed to reach the widest range possible, the focus is much narrower. Digital marketing targets those who are most likely and who may be already actively searching for your services rather than playing a hit-or-miss game.

Digital advertising is the new normal

Digital marketing was already a major player in the advertising arena before the pandemic came on the scene, but the last few years have solidified its role as the new normal. The culture shift ushered in by the digital age not only means that the average consumer is spending more time online, but it also means that consumers are spending that time more wisely. They’re far more likely to seek out necessary services from behind a screen than from any other source, and those who stay solely in their traditional advertising rut will be left behind by default.

Getting the most from online legal advertising

Online marketing offers many opportunities for solo practitioners and small firms to generate new clients. However, the first thing those who are new to online advertising need to know is that even though there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for online legal advertising, the most effective way to get a law practice noticed by the right people is two-fold: concentrate on getting listed in online legal directories and add a multitiered social media approach. Listing in a directory like Avvo or Lawyers.com can give you immediate and valuable exposure. These sites have millions of visitors monthly, looking for legal help. In the case of Avvo, you can even claim an already established legal profile for free, opening up access to additional exposure. And Martindale Hubbell provides attorney exposure on multiple sites at the same time.

Legal directories are online sources listing law firms and individual attorneys. Unlike traditional online listings that are little more than digital phone books, today’s legal directories promote lead-building, help generate a solid reputation, and improve visibility in online searches. 

Here’s why getting listed in an online legal directory makes sense for private attorneys and law firms.

Consumer preference

Consumers who perform online searches for legal services often wind up with several paid Google ads at the top of their screen followed by organic search engine results. Organic results are not affected by paid advertising and are strictly determined by the search engine’s inner algorithm. Organic results appearing in searches for legal services include online legal directories, and many consumers bypass the ads in favor of the organic results. Legal directories are often at the top of these results and comprise approximately 1/3 of the overall organic listings. Be sure to check if the directory presents review stars in search results which can help drive more traffic to your profile.

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a given website’s visibility in organic searches. One of the major factors involved in SEO is credibility, which being listed in a legal directory can provide. For instance, if the link to your law practice’s website is detected on an authoritative site by a search engine’s algorithm, that increases your ranking in searches. As mentioned above for driving click interest, you’ll be better off if the review ratings from your directory profile are presented in search results as well.

Most consumers seeking legal services are looking within their geographical location, so local SEO is also important, not only for how you rank in Google but also for how broad you appear in directory ranking engines. By advertising in directories, you’ll often get a broader range of geographic considerations when consumers are searching near a specific location. This helps you be seen when otherwise you may not without advertising.

Reputation management

Most online directories allow clients to post reviews.  Although this may seem like something with the potential to hurt your practice, you’ll be able to respond to any negative feedback that occurs. A sincere, professional response often turns these situations around. Additionally, bad reviews provide the opportunity to provide the client with a resolution if the issue was indeed an oversight on your part. Review managers are an excellent tool to stay abreast of real-time reviews so that you can respond promptly.

Furthermore, the occasional negative review isn’t likely to hurt your practice. Most modern online consumers are savvy enough to be naturally suspicious of any service that has nothing but glowing reviews, so a few bad ones sprinkled through positive feedback create an air of authenticity.

You’ll also be able to leverage the positive reviews in your favor by linking to them on your website.

Choosing the right online legal directories

Like everything else, online directories aren’t all the same, and private practitioners and small firms need to choose carefully in order to get the most for their advertising dollars. Most opt to purchase listings on multiple directories to gain the maximum benefits, but that still involves picking and choosing. Some individual legal directories are focused on specific areas of law, for instance, while others, usually the larger ones, are all-encompassing. A small number are highly exclusive and require a nomination and selection process to get listed.

The following points are designed as a buyer’s guide to choosing which law firm directories independent lawyers or small law firms should consider when purchasing sponsored advertising. Even if you decide not to purchase advertising, many of these points can help you in what to look for in selecting a free directory to list in.

The amount of exposure you’ll receive

With most directories, there’s a linear link between cost and the amount of exposure you’ll receive. Because the law is still a very geo-specific business, the most value lies in listing with directories that allow the attorney to select specific and multiple geographic areas, along with different practice areas. Each of these can align to different advertising and services that your firm provides.

The quality and functionality of the website

It’s important to spend some time on the website itself before making a financial commitment to a legal directory. Does it navigate smoothly, use high-quality visuals, and is it optimized for mobile devices? Does it set the kind of professional tone with which you want your practice to be associated? Can the user filter by common criteria to quickly get results? Keep in mind that anything that would cause potential clients to click away has the potential to cost you business. The website should also have an up-to-date security certificate.

The quality of their marketing plan

The most well-designed and functional website won’t do much for you if the marketing plan is lackluster or otherwise fails to produce results. The only reliable metric when it comes to determining marketing success is a verifiable measurement of the ROI in incoming leads and new clients. Does the directory provide an easily accessible way to track this?

Their reputation among others in the industry

Reputation is everything in the legal business, and legal directories are no exception. Always seek feedback from other attorneys and law practices prior to making a decision on whether to use a particular directory. 

Peer endorsements and reviews

Legal consumers like to feel that they’re making wise, informed choices. Legal directories allow peer endorsements and reviews, which have the potential to make you more likely to be contacted by new clients. Case studies are also useful for making decisions about legal directories.

The ability to add content to your profile

Your legal profile on a directory should never be set in stone. The ability to add content helps your practice remain relevant to your target audience. Make sure your profile gives you the opportunity to showcase your experience the way you want. Look for the ability to display awards, questions answered, legal guides written, reviews from both clients and peers in your industry.

The flexibility of the program and analytics

Flexibility is another important consideration for those new to using online directories. For instance, if a certain strategy isn’t working, do the terms of the directory allow you to pivot your focus, or is there a penalty for this? It’s important that new users have some wiggle room for experimentation.

Look for what data is shared about performance. This should include not only advertising you’re paying for but the organic impressions on the directory site. Look for the ability to tie contacts made to your firm (calls, website visits, etc) to unique ads for different office locations and areas of specialization. The more you know about what’s driving new prospect interest, the better off you’ll be in increasing your return on investment.

The amount and quality of onboarding efforts

Directories that don’t provide a comprehensive onboarding plan may not be the best choice for new users. Look for a clear and consistent onboarding strategy that comes from a representative that’s experienced in the field of legal marketing, not just basic account management.

Contact Martindale-Avvo for more information

Martindale-Avvo offers 21st-century marketing solutions for legal practices of all sizes. Please feel free to peruse the testimonials on our website for success stories of those who’ve partnered with our service. Contact us today to find out more about how the right kind of legal directory advertising can increase your visibility online and grow your customer base.