Part II: The Awareness Stage (Top of the Funnel)
The Awareness Stage (Top of the Funnel)
The awareness stage is one of the most important stages of a law firm’s marketing funnel.
Without enough leads, there’s no one to advance through the funnel.
Lead generation is the process of attracting leads to a law firm’s (online) presence.
It’s the key to maximizing the effectiveness of a marketing funnel, and it relies on:
- Understanding the target audience
- Utilizing the right methods to attract leads
- Capturing lead information
For example, a law firm that specializes in personal injury may look for leads among people who have been in an accident in the past few months (or in the period defined by the statute of limitations).
It’s always useful to know exactly what kind of people are in that target audience, from demographic to psychographic information:
- Demographic information: sex, location, age, education, occupation, marital status, income level, etc.
- Psychographic: Values, habits, hobbies, information channels, etc.
The more information a law firm has on their potential customers, the better can they shape their messaging.
And when the messaging is solid, leads will develop a sense of trust in the law firm, converting into customers easily.
Depending on the type of marketing a law firm wants to do, lead generation can be:
If a law firm wants prospects to come to them, then it’s inbound marketing.
A good example of this is setting up a blog that answers questions about the legal areas the law firm specializes in. This way, when leads google their problems, they’ll come to the practice’s website.
Generally, inbound marketing produces steady rates of conversion (leads turning into prospects and prospects turning into customers) and it’s lighter on the budget than outbound.
Outbound marketing typically consists of promotional campaigns in which a law firm reaches out to their prospects.
It can be implemented through pay-per-click advertising, direct mail, and so on.
There are many methods of lead generation. However, we’ll focus on the most effective ones.
But before that, any law firm that wants to generate leads needs a lead magnet and a landing page.
How can law firms use lead magnets and landing pages?
In order to capture a lead’s information, a law firm has to create something called a lead magnet.
A lead magnet is an incentive a law firm can offer to leads to get their contact information and advance them through the marketing funnel.
For example, a law firm could offer a resource list with information on personal injury court proceedings to educate their potential customers about the process.
However, in order to get to that resource list, the leads have to hand over their email addresses.
It’s a win-win.
Leads get valuable resources, and law firms get contact information which they can use to email leads and qualify them to see if they have the potential to become customers.
A landing page is the page where a law firm places their lead magnet offer.
For example, a visitor could have clicked through a social media post from the law firm to reach the landing page.
On it, they can see the information about their legal problems, and a potential solution (or source of information) in the form of a lead magnet with legal resources.
As a rule of thumb, a good landing page:
- Understands visitors’ intent (Why did they visit that page? What problems are they facing? What goals do they want to achieve?)
- Contains straightforward, clear information on the problems they’re experiencing (Validates leads’ problems)
- Contains multiple Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons
- Loads quickly and is simple to navigate
A law firm’s landing page should confirm the intent the visitors came to the page with (e.g. learning more about personal injury proceedings), and offer them a valuable resource in exchange for filling out a lead form with personal information. There is a science behind creating a highly converting landing page. For this reason, many law firms hire a digital agency that specializes in creating landing pages that convert to create the page.
Finally, when leads fill out a form and download a lead magnet, they’re already committed. This micro-commitment is what ultimately drives the purchasing decision.
Now, the challenge is in getting leads to visit that landing page.
Promoting lead magnets: social media
Generally, leads trust businesses (law firms included) they are either already familiar with, or which come as a result of a recommendation.
For many law firms, this isn’t an option. Not every lead has friends who can recommend attorneys for particular legal problems.
This is why law firms use social media marketing to promote their lead magnets.
Lawyers can connect directly with prospects by:
- Creating insightful social media posts
- Participating in groups and conversations
- Posting videos and other forms of valuable content
Depending on the particularity of a law firm’s target audience (this is where psychographic information comes in handy), law firms can integrate themselves into the conversations taking place on the social media their leads use.
The goal here is providing value and communicating.
It’s never good to behave like a used car salesman, constantly promoting what the law firm does.
Instead, it’s better to have a designated social media person at the firm or hire a marketing agency, and communicate with the audience consistently and organically.
Social media marketing builds relationships with leads and their communities.
For example, a person from a law firm specializing in personal injury could join Facebook groups discussing it, and start offering their insight, posing questions to people, all with the goal of providing value.
It creates trust and ultimately drives conversions.
Law firms stop being strangers and turn into teams their leads can trust.
Promoting lead magnets: SEO
Another way of attracting visitors to law firms’ websites is search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is a practice of improving websites and leveraging content to rank highly for certain search queries.
It’s primarily an organic, non-paid method for improving law firms’ visibility.
Additionally, SEO typically creates long-term results so law firms can generate leads without having to pay for new traffic.
The staples of SEO are:
- Keywords and search queries
A great example of content are blog posts. However, content can be any other resource, including videos and PDFs.
The majority of businesses go with blog posts because they’re what audiences are already used to seeing on Google.
The key to creating content for SEO and lead generation is the right mix of quality and quantity.
There should be enough articles to cover the most important topics leads often search for. However, the articles have to be well researched, offering enough information for the leads to stick around.
The more people click on a law firm’s content in the search results, the more will Google promote it.
Another important ranking signal is dwell time.
If people spend a lot of time on the law firm’s website, Google will take it to mean that the content is useful, leading to increased visibility of that same content.
Keywords and search queries
Google search operates on the basis of keywords and search queries.
However, that doesn’t mean law firms have to “keyword stuff,” i.e. add so many keywords to the content that the text is ineligible to actual leads visiting the site.
Instead, it’s much better to cover the subjects they’re writing about in depth, while using the appropriate terms, as well as terms that searchers with no legal expertise would use.
It’s important to keep the content simple and easy to understand, as well as explain any terms that leads may not be familiar with (i.e. legalese).
Just as Google focuses on user and searcher experience, so should law firms.
Finally, Google understands the internet through links. For it, all the properties online are connected with links.
So while a blog post may be useful, it doesn’t have to rank well.
For example, if a law firm is trying to compete for a keyword whose results are already dominated by other websites, it may be hard to reach the coveted first spot.
The key is obtaining backlinks, which can be done by connecting with communities that target audience members participate in.
Law firms can also guest post on relevant blogs and link back to their content from those sites.
Speed and mobile
While we create websites on our desktop computers, the majority of searchers come from mobile.
This is why it’s important that a website follows clear, simple hierarchy, and isn’t bogged down by unnecessary elements.
Finally, the majority of searchers won’t wait for longer than 3 seconds for a page to load, so law firms should make sure their pages load within that time.
Just like any other business with a physical place of work, law firms should set up a Google My Business profile.
Once completed, Google will display a window with all the information about their law firm.
When customers google the firm, they’ll see the information they need; from work hours to reviews and posts.
The posts are a particularly good place for linking to landing pages, as they appear prominently on the GMB profile.
Promoting lead magnets: paid advertising
Finally, law firms can also use paid advertising to promote their lead magnets and landing pages.
The first option is pay-per-click advertising in which law firms only pay for ads when leads click on their ads.
Facebook, Reddit and Google Ads all support this option.
The most important aspect of PPC advertising is intent.
The landing page and the lead magnet messaging should answer the same intent as the ad.
For example, if the ad was placed for “personal injury claims,” then the landing page should reaffirm that the visitor will receive a resource on personal injury claims.
Some law firms choose to create highly-specific ads, only to redirect people who have clicked on it to a general page or their homepage.
This is not a good move, as many visitors will leave. Few want to dig around to find the things they clicked on the ad for.
Advertorials are also a great option for lead magnet promotion.
They don’t have to necessarily be in magazines; advertorials can be on other websites, or even in social media posts.
They can serve as pre-landing pages, where the leads can learn more about the services.
Once they’re interested enough, they can simply click through to the landing page and fill out a lead generation form.
When it comes to paid advertising, the more specific the law firm is with their ad messaging and targeting, the better.
While not every lead will turn into a customer, it’s much easier to get higher conversion rates when a law firm understands their ideal customer profile.
Conversational Marketing and Chat Bots
Finally, the majority of marketers use the simple landing page – lead magnet – lead generation form combination.
However, there is a better option: conversational marketing with chat bots.
Instead of directing visitors and potential clients to a lead generation form, law firms can engage them while they are on the page with a chat bot.
A chat bot can:
- Ask leads qualifying questions
- Provide immediate answers
- Get leads’ email addresses and contact information
The ultimate appeal of chat bots, as Thomas Martin puts it in his brilliant article on chat bots, lies in the human touch:
“Wouldn’t it be great if you could clone yourself? Well, now with chatbots, you can essentially do that.”
People simply respond better to conversations, even if actual lawyers aren’t there to lead them. They can always hop in when the customer is interested enough to be given a call.
Not only can chat bots be used on a law firm’s website, but they can also be used on social media.
Whenever a lead likes the firm’s page on social media, chat bots can be prompted to message them and ask more questions.
The possibilities are endless.