Every year, marketers learn more about their audiences, consumer behavior, and what does and doesn’t work.
Surely you want your business to stay relevant, attract more clients, and use its time and marketing budgets more efficiently.
To do so, you must stay on top of relevant findings and adjust your strategy.
This applies to law firms and solo lawyers.
After 2020, various marketing techniques are no longer useful — but others are flourishing.
In this blog post, you’ll learn:
- 15 marketing trends and predictions for 2021
- 1. Pay For Performance Advertising
- 2. Content Marketing for Brand Awareness
- 3. Social Media Marketing
- 4. Prioritizing Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- 5. Google Screened Program
- 6. Digital Over Traditional Advertising
- 7. Optimizing Content for Voice Search
- 8. Video Marketing
- 9. Live Chat and Chat Bots
- 10. Mobile-First Optimization
- 11. Remarketing and Retargeting Campaign
- 12. Be Found in the Legal Directories
- 13. Newsletter and Email Marketing
- 14. Creating Sales Funnels
- 15. Referral Marketing Campaigns
- Why you need to adopt them
15 marketing trends and predictions for 2021
1. Pay For Performance Advertising
PPC (pay-per-click) advertising has been a staple in online marketing for years.
While most digital advertising channels charge businesses for impressions, PPC only charges for what matters most — clicks.
What attracts many businesses to PPC is its low price and high ROI (return on investment). According to Google, companies can earn an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 spent on Google AdWords.
What’s more, WordStream reports that the average cost per click for PPC ads on Google is just $2.69 across all industries. The price is even lower for display ads just $0.63.
However, the legal industry has the most expensive cost per click, making PPC campaigns much more expensive for lawyers.
According to Attorney at Law Magazine, criminal defense and personal injury attorneys can spend as much as $150 per click.
As a result, many law firms are turning to pay for performance advertising instead of PPC.
Considering the high budgets they need to run successful campaigns, PPC advertising firms are expanding the services they offer lawyers.
Pay for performance allows lawyers to pay for qualified leads rather than click — providing them with a fixed advertising cost and regular traffic of potential clients.
2. Content Marketing for Brand Awareness
While many people treat content marketing as a new invention, it’s existed since the 19th century.
In 1895, an agricultural magazine called The Furrow gained millions of new customers due to its print advertorials. John Deere, the magazine’s publisher, is credited with creating content marketing.
What’s more — The Furrow is still alive and active today!
However, content marketing has spiked in popularity recently — but it hasn’t reached its peak yet
Most successful law firms have one thing in common — they focus on helping their communities and target audience by publishing educational content on their sites.
And content marketing is effective for lead generation and customer retention.
Regularly publishing insightful content keeps your clients faithful — and you can even create content specifically for them (e.g. blog posts that detail what they can expect during their legal case).
3. Social Media Marketing
Social media provides many avenues for lead generation and raising brand awareness.
You can approach it the organic way by producing high-quality content optimized for algorithms or run ad campaigns that increase impressions fast.
However, the best strategy is to use a combination of both.
Attorney at Work reports that 70% of lawyers use social media as a marketing strategy. What’s more, the same study found that between 35 and 49% have acquired new clients as a result.
Smaller firms might prioritize social media marketing over other types, such as PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns. PPC can become expensive quickly, whereas social media marketing is possible on a much smaller budget.
Not only does social media increase your revenue, but it also decreases your workload thanks to social selling. According to OptinMonster, 39% of B2B professionals say social media saves them time on typical workload tasks like researching and hunting for new leads.
Social selling refers to finding and nurturing leads on social media.
It’s not only businesses that use social media as a search tool. According to the Global Web Index, 54% of consumers use it to research products and services. By bringing your law firm to social media, you’re exposing it to over half the users who are planning to buy.
4. Prioritizing Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Like content marketing, SEO (search engine optimization) has evolved over the years.
In 2021, lawyers will need to step up their SEO game. As Google continues to update its algorithm and more brands populate the internet each year — it becomes harder for any law firm to dominate the SERPs (search engine results pages).
According to BrightEdge, over 53% of all website traffic comes from organic searches. The study also found that compared to social media, SEO drives 1,000% more of these searches.
Not only is SEO an effective strategy for gaining traffic online, but it’s also one of the best ways to generate and close leads.
HubSpot found that 60% of marketers say inbound marketing — such as SEO and blog posts — is their highest source of leads. What’s more, another HubSpot study reveals that SEO leads have an impressive 14.6% close rate.
It’s clear that — if done right — SEO brings more traffic and new clients. But according to Ahrefs, a whopping 90.63% of pages don’t receive organic traffic from Google, and only 0.21% receive over 1,000 visits.
So how can you become part of the 0.21%?
It’s simple: strategy and consistency.
According to Cision PR Newswire, 70% of small businesses don’t have an SEO strategy despite the importance of establishing an online presence.
And so many websites fail to receive organic traffic because most aren’t prioritizing it correctly.
If you want your law firm to succeed in 2021, you need to create an SEO strategy and stick to it long enough to see results. It can take as little as 4-6 months or more than a year, depending on the competition.
Regardless, HubSpot’s data reveals that small blogs should publish 3-4 times per week and large blogs 4-5 times when organic traffic is the goal.
5. Google Screened Program
In 2021, lawyers are earning the equivalent of a social media “blue checkmark” on Google.
The Google Screened Program allows law firms to partake in background and license checks to receive an icon from Google, indicating that they are “verified.” The icon then appears next to the law firm’s Google My Business listing.
Not only does being verified by Google showcase a law firm’s credibility, but it can also boost its visibility
You can receive two types of icons — the “Google Screened” icon or the “Google Guaranteed” icon.
Both are green checkmarks and prove that Google has vetted the company, but the “Google Guarantee” promises your potential customers a refund if they’re unhappy with your services.
Google Screened is the newest icon, birthing in September 2019. For an example of what it looks like — here’s a screenshot of what you’d see after searching for “personal injury lawyer in Chicago”:
The three lawyers — along with their headshots, ratings, and amount of time in experience — appear at the very top of Google’s results page, even before the PPC ads and #1 organic spot.
Also, they’re rendered trustworthy by Google thanks to the little green checkmark above their heads.
You can easily see if you’re eligible on the Sign Up page of Google’s Local Services Ads.
6. Digital Over Traditional Advertising
Over the past decade, thousands of law firms are now using digital marketing. If you don’t use it, now is the time to change that.
Experts predict that traditional advertising — such as billboards and radio ads — will be less effective this year. As a result, law firms should consider prioritizing digital advertising not to be left in their internet savvy competitors’ dust.
Attorney at Law Magazine even says that firms should consider going “absolutely digital,” adopting marketing strategies like SEO, PPC, social media, and the like.
Data from the American Bar Association (ABA) confirms this sentiment. Their 2019 Websites and Marketing survey reveals that 86% of respondents (solo lawyers and law firms) have websites.
Solo lawyers are the least likely to have a specially designed website — but 57% say they do. On the other hand, 90% of law firms of all different sizes report having a site.
7. Optimizing Content for Voice Search
Voice search is becoming increasingly popular, with over 50% of all smartphone users leveraging their device’s voice technology in 2020.
What’s more, data from BrightLocal reveals that, in 2018, 46% of consumers use voice search daily to find local businesses.
These statistics mean daily voice searchers are increasing in numbers and that nearly half of them are shopping for a product or service.
In the past, digital marketers only used SEO in hopes of ranking for a specific keyword. Today, many realize the importance of voice-optimized content, and law firms should, too.
Voice search optimization is different than search engine optimization. When people use search engines, they typically search for keyword phrases that wouldn’t sound natural if said aloud.
But when speaking to Siri, people use natural language that would usually be too time-consuming to type. So instead of targeting chopped-up keywords, your content should also be optimized for natural-sounding queries made through voice search.
8. Video Marketing
Video is quickly becoming one of the most consumed content types, with over 85% of American internet users consuming it monthly.
Further research reveals that people don’t just watch videos for entertainment. Instead, they also enjoy video content from businesses. When surveyed, 54% of consumers said they want to see more videos from brands they support.
In 2021, most companies are catching on to the trend, with over 60% already using video marketing.
So, not only is video vital for staying relevant and appealing to new audiences, but also for outperforming your competitors.
And like organic search, videos drive a large chunk of website traffic. According to Cisco, video content is predicted to drive 82% of all internet traffic by 2023.
YouTube is a superb option for dipping your foot in the video world. Not only does it bring traffic to your site and raise awareness for your brand, but once monetized, it can generate passive income.
Lawyers are making all kinds of videos on YouTube, from informative how-to videos to entertaining and funny reactions
Take these two videos, for example:
9. Live Chat and Chat Bots
As time goes on, consumers set their standards higher and higher for customer service. Nowadays, it’s relatively easy to meet them thanks to tools like chatbots and live chats.
A chatbot is a programmed piece of software that can maintain conversations with users using text or text-to-speech. Its responses are automated, so they’re never 100% foolproof. However, its ability to interact with people effectively is impressive.
A live chat, on the other hand, is an actual human. Like chatbots, live chats can be found on multiple websites in the form of a pop-up or chatbox.
However, live chats aren’t AI (artificial intelligence). Instead, they’re a way for users to send messages to a real customer service representative and receive an answer within a few minutes (or even seconds)
While a live chat would be the best option, both tools boost user experience and are effective methods of generating leads
Like video content, chatbots in particular are a fast-growing trend. In 2019, the usage rate of chatbots increased by an astounding 92%, according to Drift.
While more consumers engage with chatbots, they still can’t outperform the human experience live chats offer. According to Software Advice, live chat has a customer satisfaction level of 73%, making it higher than other communication channels such as email and phone support.
10. Mobile-First Optimization
According to Statista, the number of internet users on mobile was at 4.28 billion in 2020. Considering that these numbers mean 90% of people use their mobile devices to go online, optimizing your site for mobile is crucial in 2021.
Not only does your site’s mobile design and responsiveness impact user experience, but it also impacts keyword rankings. In 2016, Google introduced “mobile-first indexing,” announcing that mobile-friendliness is now a ranking factor.
Due to the increasing number of people browsing the internet via mobile devices, Google’s previous ranking factors quickly became outdated, as they focused primarily on desktop responsiveness.
However, since 2016, Google has continued to prioritize mobile optimization, expanding the role of mobile-first indexing in September 2020.
Lawyers should take this as a sign to continue emphasizing mobile in 2021. If you truly want your website to be a powerhouse for lead generation, you can’t risk leaving mobile visitors unsatisfied with its UX (user experience).
According to Oberlo, 60% of consumers have poor user experiences on sites that aren’t mobile-friendly, causing them to exit the page.
And like many other website metrics, mobile friendliness directly impacts the performance of others. Therefore, a site that’s not optimized for mobile will experience high bounce rates.
When a user exits a web page without interacting with other pages on the site, it’s called a “bounce.” Bounce rate, then, is the metric that measures what percentage of users leave the site without exploring more
High bounce rates indicate to Google that your site isn’t trustworthy and that users find it unpleasant. Thus, high bounce rates can prevent you from ranking highly on the Google SERPs (search engine results pages)
If you’re not consistently checking that your site has good UX on mobile, then doing so should be added to your weekly regimen in 2021.
You can easily do so by using the Mobile Friendliness Test from Google Search Console. After entering the URL of a web page, the test shows you a screenshot of what it looks like on a mobile device and in big letters reveals whether or not it passes as “mobile-friendly.”
After viewing your results, the test then provides you with other resources about mobile-friendliness and optimization.
11. Remarketing and Retargeting Campaign
When running ad campaigns, you have a wide variety of targeting options to choose from. Certain demographics will convert easily, while others will rarely take interest.
Retargeting ads is the process of marketing to a certain group of people who — when you first tried to appeal to them — failed to convert but still showed interest. It’s a popular practice among e-commerce stores, and lawyers are starting to leverage it, too.
Retargeting ads are effective because — instead of targeting a demographic who you’ve never dealt with before — you can go straight to the people who are already interested.
Why these people choose not to convert might always be a mystery to you, but you can form hypotheses and run tests to see if you can find out.
For example, maybe your landing page consisted of too many fields, and some visitors didn’t want to fill all of them out. Or, perhaps your chosen ad image caught their eye, but the copy didn’t convince them to click.
Other times, your target audience just wants to see your brand multiple times before handing over their money. One experience with you won’t be enough for most people, so reaching back out to them with a fresh set of content will make you more memorable and trustworthy.
However, the downside to remarketing is that it simply shouldn’t be done by various law firms. Lawyers practicing in the criminal defense, personal injury, and divorce fields aren’t recommended to try retargeting
The reason is that potential clients in these fields are usually under extreme stress, and any lawyer they work with will need access to sensitive information.
Facebook and Google even have guidelines in place that prevent marketers from using sensitive information about their target audiences in their remarketing lists.
12. Be Found in the Legal Directories
Being featured in a legal directory can dramatically boost your traffic. FindLaw — one of the most popular legal directories —allows you to include a link and citation to your website.
Plus, having your firm listed in a well-established directory will help build your credibility online. Also, a citation to your site by a third-party website can improve your domain authority (DA), which is beneficial for SEO.
Directories like FindLaw and Avvo also function as search engines for people actively looking for legal services. By focusing on improving your presence there, you’ll be exposed to new potential clients who are already prepared to buy.
Depending on the directories you choose to use, they can either be free or charge you a monthly or annual fee.
Because these directories act as search engines, some — such as Avvo — even allow you to use marketing strategies to improve your visibility.
While it’s vital to adopt more modern strategies in 2021, not all traditional advertising methods should be abandoned — legal directories being one of them.
13. Newsletter and Email Marketing
If you have a blog (which you should), then you should start email marketing.
Email marketing is basically running a mini-blog that’s delivered directly to your target audience’s inbox. Your emails will go to consumers who are already leads, as they signed up to receive them.
Email lists — AKA newsletters — are a great way to nurture leads, build a relationship with your audience, and drive sales.
What you send your subscribers is totally up to you and can range from personal stories, discounts, to snippets of new blog posts.
Not only does email marketing let you send content to qualified leads, but it also keeps your brand at the forefront of their minds.
If someone interested in legal services is subscribed to your list and receiving regular emails from you, you’ll likely be the first lawyer they think of when they’re ready to buy.
Research has shown that email marketing produces a strong ROI (return on investment). According to DMA, for every $1 spent, you receive an average of $42 in return.
For a marketing method that can be run for free and has a $0 startup cost, that ROI makes it a no-brainer to use
Not only is email marketing a superb way of converting leads into clients, but also for retaining your current base.
According to Emarsys, 81% of small businesses use email marketing for customer acquisition and 80% for customer retention.
14. Creating Sales Funnels
A sales funnel — also called a “customer journey” or “buyer’s journey” — is the process a person must go through before becoming one of your clients.
There are 5 types of consumers in a sales funnel
What type of consumer your current audience is depends on which stage of the funnel they’re in. There are 4 stages:
- Awareness stage
- Interest stage
- Decision stage
- Action stage
When a consumer is unaware, they haven’t yet entered the sales funnel. Being “unaware” means they haven’t come across your brand yet, but when they do, it can be through any of your marketing channels.
For example, consumers can enter the awareness stage through:
- Social media ads
- TV commercials
- Blog posts and content marketing
- PPC ad campaigns
- A physical location
The main benefit of using a sales funnel is that you can easily identify which stage a consumer is in, and thus know how to market to them.
For example, people in the awareness stage need to be presented with different content than those in the interest or decision stages.
In the awareness stage, consumers are still researching their problem and figuring out how to solve it.
In other words — they aren’t ready to buy yet. To ensure they become a lead, you need to build trust with them through quality UX, informative content, social proof, and credibility.
In the interest stage, consumers convert into leads.
They’re now comparison shopping and weighing the pros and cons of all their options. To support consumers in this stage, write high-quality content that educates your audience or run an email campaign that addresses their pain points.
Finally, the decision stage is where you want to make your move.
Prompt users to book a consultation, offer a discount on your rates, or present them with your best offer.
You might think your job ends there, but it doesn’t. After a consumer reaches the bottom of the funnel (the action stage) and becomes a client, you now have to give them an incredible experience, provide excellent client support, and focus on client retention.
In 2021, sales funnels will be vital to improving your marketing strategy and increasing conversion rates.
According to Demand Gen Report, a full 95% of consumers buy from the vendor who provides them with content that supports them through their current stage in the buyer’s journey (or sales funnel).
What’s more, businesses with identified sales funnels are 62% more likely to close a high-quality sale, according to Harvard Business Review.
Despite these impressive numbers, a whopping 68% of businesses don’t have a sales funnel or don’t attempt to measure it — this allows you to beat them to it.
15. Referral Marketing Campaigns
Perhaps the oldest lead generation tactic — referral marketing — is still hot today. Truth is, referrals are still the primary way most lawyers acquire new clients. However, they shouldn’t be an excuse not to venture out into new types of campaigns.
A well-managed referral campaign can bring in a steady inflow of new work when used alongside other marketing methods.
To make referral marketing one of your primary streams of clients in 2021, you need to follow a few steps:
- Know who you want to receive referrals from. You can receive referrals from current clients, lawyers in other specialties you don’t compete with, other professions that work with your target audience, etc.
- Create referral letters and programs. After identifying your chosen source(s) of referrals, draft letters that explain your goals, how you plan to help the potential clients they’ll bring you, and what they’ll get in return. For example, you could participate in a referral exchange, where in return for referring their clients to you, you recommend their services to yours.
- Make follow-up calls or emails. Sometimes, people get busy and forget to respond to you. Just because someone doesn’t respond to your referral letter doesn’t mean they aren’t interested, but most likely because it’s not at the top of their priority list. Instead of giving up, plan on making a follow-up call or email a few days or weeks after mailing your letter.
- Send personalized “thank yous” to your referral sources. When you meet with a potential client referred to you by one of your sources, get in touch with them to show your appreciation.
Getting referrals can even be as easy as embedding a form on your website asking for them. For example, Inland Empire Law Group has a whole page about referrals.
At the bottom, non-competing attorneys can fill out a form that details the case they’re referring to the firm.
Make These Law Firm Marketing Trends Your Best Practices for Success in 2021
With these 15 law firm marketing trends, your firm will be set up for success this year.
Not only do you now have new ways of generating leads and retaining clients, but you also know how to stay relevant.
When starting a new campaign, incorporating a new website feature, or even just optimizing a web page, be sure to track your metrics, measure ROI, and tweak your strategy to improve your results.
Take time to work out what methods work best for you — and keep at it.