What’s the secret to effective content marketing for lawyers? Incorporate these 3 critical steps into your process.
- Identify your target clients
- Speak their language
- Understand the buyer’s journey
Get to know your target audience
Before you can begin to incorporate keyword research into your client acquisition strategies, you’ve got to put yourself in the mind of your target client.
- What do they need from you?
- What problems can you help them solve?
- What questions do they have?
- What’s most important to them?
Client personas can be a useful tool to help you “flesh out” important segments of your target audience. For example, you can segment the target audience of a divorce attorney by looking into factors such as whether the divorce is contested, if they have children, and if they have significant assets that need to be divided.
How you segment your target audience will largely depend on your practice area, but there are some general categories of market segmentation that may apply.
- Geographic – cities, states, countries, etc.
- Demographic – age, gender, education level, occupation, income, etc.
- Behavioral – decision-making and buying processes, etc.
- Psychographic – values, personality, interests, motivators, etc.
Where do you find this information? Here are a few places to start:
- Look at website analytics. Website analytics can provide some information about your current website visitors, including age, gender, location, interests, and more.
- Interview current and previous clients about their top concerns, needs, goals and objectives.
- Send out surveys via email or social media channels like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
- Research existing statistical surveys related to your practice areas.
Use common sense to determine which attributes matter so that you don’t get bogged down with too much data. You can use a simple chart or a longer-form narrative, like this example persona for a DUI lawyer.
Don’t overlook critical segments of your target audience
Keep in mind that the person who searches for your firm’s services may not be the same one who signs on as your client. If you are a DUI lawyer, for example, your target audience may not always be the person arrested for DUI. Your content needs to speak to the father of the underage driver or the wife researching the best options for her husband. Be sure to create personas for them as well as the one arrested.
Keyword research tools can help you delineate your market segments
Keyword research is the backbone of law firm SEO, and it needs to be a key component of your content marketing strategy. Use keyword research tools like SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, and Moz Keyword Explorer to learn which words and phrases people are searching around a specific topic.
Start building a list of keyword phrases that are relevant to the services provided by your law firm. Export relevant search queries into a spreadsheet so that you can sort through it all later.
As your keyword list grows, patterns will begin to emerge that highlight the distinct questions and concerns of your individual market segments. You can start grouping keyword sets and match them to one or more personas.
Go beyond the keyword research tools to learn the language of your target clients
Attorneys are fluent in the language of the law, but “legalese” can be confusing for the average layperson. That’s why you have to understand the words prospective clients might use to search for your services, which is often quite different than the legal terminology that you use within your law firm, in legal documents, or in court.
This is where many law firm content marketing efforts fall short.
Keyword research tools are great, but they’ll only take you so far. Even if someone is ready to hire a lawyer, they may not know the common legal terms for the services they need. For example, if someone’s son was killed by a drunk driver, they might not know that they need to search for a “wrongful death attorney.” Instead, they may search “Can I sue the drunk driver that killed my son?”
While Google’s search algorithm is good at interpreting queries and pointing people in the right direction, the most competitive firms don’t rely on search engines to understand the needs and wants of their target audiences. In fact, the two queries above yield completely different search results because the searcher intent is slightly different for each query.
So, how do you learn the real language of your target clients? Listen to them.
- Talk to your front office staff. Your receptionist is likely the first point of contact for most of the client leads at your law firm. Make sure the person answering the phones logs any questions or concerns into your client intake system or CRM, specifically noting the precise words and phrases used by each caller.
- Monitor online forums, community sites, and social media. Find out where your target clients discuss their legal issues with their peers before they are ready to speak to a lawyer. These are useful places to discover the fears and misconceptions people have that you can be directly addressed through your content.
- Check out online reviews. Read reviews left for your firm and your competitors online. Start with Google My Business, Avvo, Yelp, and Justia.
- Review your intake forms. Are there words that people use over and over that aren’t part of your legal jargon?
- Talk to non-lawyers. Step out of your legal bubble and talk to people who don’t work in a law office. Ask them to review your content and offer suggestions.
Create content for every stage of the buyer’s journey
Don’t just write for people who are ready to hire an attorney. Successful content marketing addresses each stage of the buying cycle. Depending on who you ask, there are 3-5 stages of the buyer’s journey, but we’ll look briefly at 3.
At this stage, the potential client becomes aware of an issue that needs to be resolved. This may have been precipitated by a specific incident (arrest, accident, etc.) or life circumstances (new baby, financial stress, marital discord). They may or may not immediately realize that a lawyer can help.
At this stage, the potential client names their issue and begins to look for answers and solutions. They research using search engines and ask for advice on social media or online forums.
At this stage, the potential client knows they need an attorney and actively look for someone to hire.
Look at your personas and consider what questions they may have at each stage of the buyer’s journey. What search queries might they use?
Content marketing can be a powerful marketing tool, but it takes time to develop an effective strategy. That may be time that you don’t have. If that’s the case, give us a call at 678-824-5560 or use our contact form below.