(Part 3 of a series for New Attorneys)
Over the past few weeks, we have been covering an important topic for new attorneys: how you can market yourself online in an increasingly competitive digital world.
In our most recent post, we detailed two important strategies in the form of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). While these two strategies are important to any attorney’s digital marketing efforts, they can take three to six months to establish a solid strategy and show any noticeable results.
In the third installment of this series, we now focus on lead generation to help you reach legal consumers more quickly. In fact, this strategy can be even more effective than both SEO and SEM as it tends to deliver highly relevant leads who are more likely to become actual clients.
According to preliminary results from Martindale-Nolo’s 2016 State of Online Marketing report, more than 51 percent of attorneys say lead generation is their best performing advertising medium. This is up by 8 percent from 2015.
What is lead generation?
The goal of virtually every marketing tool in your arsenal is to generate leads (inquiries from prospective clients): Your website, speaking engagements, networking, etc. The particular form of online marketing known as Lead Generation makes use of highly-trafficked websites that provide useful content to individuals and organizations looking for answers to specific legal questions. These websites typically post and maintain hundreds to thousands of helpful articles covering a wide range of topics. Some of these sites, such as Nolo.com and Lawyers.com, also involve directories — listings of attorneys, organized by practice area and location, that link to individual attorney profiles and their websites.
Generally, Lead Generation services acquire leads from people who are searching online for information relevant to their specific legal problems using three main sources: organic search (SEO), paid search advertising (SEM), and purchasing leads from others.
When people are seeking information related to a particular case or legal issue, research shows that they are likely to contact an attorney shortly thereafter. To that end, these Lead Generation sites provide visitors with an opportunity to find and contact an attorney in different ways.
Imagine, for example, that an individual has been arrested for his first DUI and would like to learn more about what he should do the next day. After entering a search query on Google related to DUI (such as DWI Penalties or DUI), he’s likely to find a helpful article on Nolo.com. After reading the article, he may indicate he’d like to speak with an attorney in more detail by submitting an online form (aka submitting a lead).
A pure Lead Generation service to target DUI or personal injury leads employs a form to receive information about that consumer’s case or request. Each time a form is filled out, the service sends that inquiry or lead to one of its attorney subscribers. How that lead is vetted and routed will differ greatly depending on the service.
When you engage with a Lead Generation service, be sure to ask a few key questions, including:
- How does the service define a lead? Is it an estimated number, based on page views or click throughs to your website? Or, has the ‘lead’ filled out a form (per the above example)? While both ‘may’ result in a lead, a form fill is definitely a lead.
- How and when are you going to receive leads? Will you receive an email immediately after the consumer submits the form, or is there a delay? Can you also receive a text and get a report of all your leads? Timely delivery is everything, especially for consumers with DUI and criminal cases.
- What kind of information will be collected in the form? Too little, and you may not get enough information; too much, and the service may not be able to provide you with the volume of leads you need to retain a client.
- Are the leads shared or exclusive? A shared lead is typically delivered to more than one attorney, whereas exclusive leads go to only one attorney. At first glance, you may think exclusives are better, but they are more expensive — typically two to three times more than shared leads. Sometimes, it’s better to buy shared leads, as consumers typically will check out multiple attorneys anyway.
- What’s in the contract? Are you obligated to a year subscription, or can you quit and modify your plan whenever desired? Surprisingly, some attorneys sign three-year contracts without even knowing it.
- What is the lead credit policy? You should know that the service stands by the quality of its leads, and that it will credit you for any spam and/or bad leads that come your way.
A Key Component of Your Overall Strategy
Lead Generation services can provide a critical source of prospective clients. These services can afford to spend the money on experts to optimize keywords for Google AdWords and on developing extensive content that draws in millions of visitors. With their help, you can drastically speed up the volume of prospective clients you see come through the door on a weekly or monthly basis. It’s a method that can start paying dividends quickly for a relatively modest investment, and allows you to capture market share you’re not quite reaching today.
Remember: in order to successfully grow your business, you’ll need to determine where lead generation services fit in your overall online marketing strategy. These services complement the other tools in your marketing portfolio, including a compelling website with fresh content and reviews, visibility in well-regarded directories and participation in social media among others.
In our next blog post, we will explore how to evaluate various online marketing programs and determine their actual cost-effectiveness.
Find out more about lead generation on this site.