Legal sector marketing challenges (and how to overcome them)

The legal sector has taken a battering over the last few years. Now, as the industry begins to look beyond Brexit and Covid-19, another long-term problem is tormenting law firms across the country.

Marketing has never come easily to the world of law. Tricky, time-consuming, and often unnecessary in many fields, professionals have shied away from properly promoting their practice online, leaving a vacuum filled almost exclusively by ‘no win, no fee’ adverts.

As we continue to explore law firm marketing for legal service providers, this long-read looks at the challenges legal practices continue to face and how you can unlock new revenue streams.


Challenge: Negative industry perception

You might not believe it if you Google jokes about lawyers, but the public have a fairly positive view of legal professionals.

In 2020’s Ipos Mori Veracity Index, which annually scores trust in professionals, 61% of the public ‘generally trust [lawyers] to tell the truth.’ It’s a figure that’s been slowly increasing each year.

But how can you invite the public to come to you when the legal sector – a world often only experienced through films and TV shows – feels so intimidating, scary, and confusing? How many times have you heard the words, ‘Oh, I wish I’d seen you sooner…’?

Potential clients are wracked with reticence. Like calling 999 or calling the doctor out at night, to discuss anything with a legal expert must be serious. They want to be sure – of their decision, of the solution, and of your practice.

Solution: Let your website humanise you

Your website is your invitation. Long before they reach you, prospective clients will have searched around for legal professionals that meet their needs. We all do it whenever we’re making an investment. Your website is likely where they’ll first ‘meet’ you.
Most modern websites work well on mobiles and tablets, but it’s a top priority if yours doesn’t. Those of you who already have responsive sites will know how much of a difference it makes.
Identify your ideal clients. Ask:
  • What does your website say to them?
  • What do you want it to say?
  • What are their expectations of you?
  • Does your branding reflect this?

Often, minor tweaks are the order of the day here. You probably won’t want to splash out on a whole new website. Way to improve your site include:

Speaking the customer’s language – it increases accessibility. Legalese should be avoided wherever possible to keep your prospective clients engaged. 

Upload videos and images of partners – putting a face to the name helps develops trust. ‘Making a human connection,’ customers tell us, is very important when selecting a legal expert.

Add testimonials – social proof is a powerful psychological tool of persuasion. Upload reviews, testimonials, and case studies to demonstrate your expertise.

Challenge: Customers don’t know what they need

The SRA’s findings in its Changing Legal Services Market report were stark.

‘Research has shown that only a third of people with a legal problem seek advice, with only around one in ten seeking advice from a solicitor. Barriers to accessing legal services include cost and a lack of consumer information about how legal issues can be solved and who can help.’

It’s one of the reasons why our users can tell us what services they need, to best connect them with the right legal providers.

Prospective clients are tiptoeing through unfamiliar territory. They know they need something, but they’re not sure what it is or how to get it. At least one person has wondered how accurate Suits or Ally McBeal is, and whether any of it applies in England.

Solution: Create helpful content

The Transparency Rules drawn up by the SRA is a good starting point. It seeks to keep information ‘in plain English so that prospective clients can understand it easily’ and make pricing and services clear.

This rule should extend beyond a few webpages. Make it core to your content. As the experts, you have something of real value to offer.

You’ve no doubt heard the same questions time and again – Should I do it? Can I do it? Will it cost too much? How does it work? What happens when…?

These are questions and concerns people are Googling long before they pick up the phone. This is how you reach them. Even something as simple as up-to-date opening and closing times on your Facebook Business page is better than nothing.

But your blog is where you can offer the most help. Create a lively, relevant platform where you can demystify legal questions and nurture potential clients.

A good blog should:
  • Help your would-be client
  • Display your knowledge
  • Improve your search rankings

If your practice employs a digital agency, check the content is useful to clients, not just search engines. Would an insightful quote from one of your partners make that content more powerful?

Remember, use strong call-to-actions. At the end of this article, we’re going to say, ‘start your free trial and get 40 free leads.’ That’s a strong call to action, offering a next step and a clear benefit. Yours should do similar.


Challenge: Similar offerings from other firms

To the public, one law firm can seem as good as another. All they want is help. Location, recommendations, prices, and online reviews will sway their decision. Sometimes, it might as simple as a hunch.

This is often for two reasons:
  • Clients don’t know what to look for in a legal professional
  • Clients don’t have time to figure it all out
As the industry becomes increasingly competitive, standing out becomes increasingly critical.

Our shift online makes it necessary for every practice, of every size, to define their key differentiator. This is what sets a company apart from others in the same field. You can buy books at Waterstones and The Works, but the experiences are unique to each. They’ve successfully identified and capitalised on what makes them different.

Businesses that fail to stand out risk being drowned out. Or worse, forgotten when the client makes their choice.

Solution: Shift your approach

All that useful content you’re building helps keep potential customers informed – and goes some way to easing their problems choosing between firms. But your content is also integral in getting your ‘voice’ heard.

All businesses ‘speak’ a certain way. It’s a way of memorably communicating a specific approach to a specific audience. As in the real world, a voice helps distinguish you from other firms. And as legal experts, who else knows better the importance of what you say and how you say it?

Three words into almost any article or advert, and you’ll have a fair idea what language a business is deploying, which audiences they want to engage, and who they are as a company.

When thinking about a new ‘voice’ (or even bolstering an existing one), it should tie in with your overall business objectives. To that end, make sure you:

Research the competition – Don’t copy others. Look for a voice that isn’t being represented, or one that isn’t being properly deployed instead. See where gaps lie in the market, such as under-represented legal services or locations. If you occupy similar spaces, discover areas where your unique voice could add genuine value to clients in need.

Identify your core competencies – Look for those singular things your firm does better than anyone else; that can be communicated succinctly and clearly. If you’re a family law expert, shout about it. If no-one can navigate niche business law like your team, make it a focus. You don’t have to alter your business model; targeted digital adverts allow you to specialise even as your firm diversifies.

Focus on customers – Consider the language they would expect to hear, and what they like. Both are equally important. This doesn’t mean talking like a teenager if you offer legal advice to young adults, though. We can’t all be BrewDog or Innocent Smoothies. Most people are looking for a professional they can trust, and feel reassured that their case is in good hands.

Communicate your purpose – Finding your key differentiator often hinges on a single goal or purpose. It’s about figuring out why you do what you do (and how you do it better than anyone else). Make this a central part of your ‘voice’.

Challenge: Decreased footfall

It’s tough out there. High street law firms are in real trouble. Facing collapse – a long-term trend hastened by the pandemic – one survey estimated ‘70% of firms were likely to face closure by the end of the year’.

With footfall plummeting, eye-catching window displays and good word-of-mouth are not, alone, dependable.
And it’s forcing legal practices to change the way they do business – already, we’ve seen laws permitting video-witnessing of wills. It would surprise few to see similar digital measure introduced in future. Hybrid-working is now a popular model, dividing your time between the office and anywhere with an internet connection. Video calls with clients is now all rather commonplace.

Online client acquisition, however, remains patchy, with a natural focus on SEO.

Solution: Upgrade your digital presence

As well as quickening the crisis on the high street, the pandemic has also sped up the legal sector’s gradual shift online.

Your base digital marketing should see you:
  • Keep your search engine business pages up to date
  • Maintain a social media presence, no matter how small
  • Produce regular expert content
  • Optimise your website for search engines
  • Run ad campaigns on Google and Bing

Take advantage of location targeting. If you’re a firm operating nationally, create hyper-local microsites and location-based digital ad campaigns. Small businesses can use the same tools to promote their business to a national audience.

You’ll find with The Law Superstore, partners and users can both set coverage areas, to find each other across England and Wales.

Challenge: Slow technology investment

When it comes to digital transformation, the legal sector, as a whole, has proved cautious.

We recently looked at how technology is forcing the legal sector to evolve, backed by ongoing behavioural changes and the recent pandemic. Yet, despite promising a ‘revolutionary change in practice’, study after study suggests law firms are still playing catch-up.

The lawtech space is flowing with tech that helps you manage caseloads and simplify internal processes. Digital marketing tools that help you reach a broader customer-base are often just a google away.

It’s often a knowledge issue. Firms don’t always know they want, what they need, and what their options are. Budget constraints stay front of mind. Will implementation cost too much? Will it take up too much time? Can it really improve the service? Do we really need this?

You’ve undoubtedly had or heard these conversations more than once. They’re happening in law firms across the country – and it’s the ones who properly identify the best digital system, platform, or tool for their business that will succeed.

Solution: Start small and focus on solutions

Investing in technology doesn’t always mean ripping out all the computers, investing in new servers, funnelling every penny into pricey subscription services few use. In short, it doesn’t need to be expensive and time-consuming.

A well-chosen bit of tech should improve productivity. A well-chosen bit of marketing tech should also increase your web presence, resulting in more lead conversions.

Start small. Focus on a single marketing problem to identify the solution – and crucially, what success looks like to you. Here are a few ideas to get started.
  • SEO

Google offers a suite of tools, and others such as Small SEO Tools, can prove a goldmine for businesses looking to better optimise their websites and content.
  • Social media

If social media is to play a central part in your strategy, look to scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Buffer that make promotion more productive.
  • Email campaigns

It may be ancient in tech terms, but email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to promote your practice. Choose a platform that lets you send, track, and manage emails through platforms like Mailchimp.
  • Lead generation

With more and more customers online, lead generation is becoming an ever-more important part of any digital marketing strategy. For this, a platform like The Law Superstore would be a top consideration, since there’s no minimum-term contract or subscription fees to pay.

Once you have a good set of options, demo each one or sign up for a free trial. All respectable technology companies will offer this. It’ll give you and your team a chance to see how it works and how it meets your business objectives.

And you can begin your free trial with The Law Superstore straight away. Even if you haven't got a large marketing budget or you’re unsure how to make some of the bigger changes, our platform can put you in front of potential customers even before you strengthen your web presence.

Connect with pre-qualified clients who need the services you provide through our intuitive lead generation platform. And you only pay for the leads you receive. Start your free trial and get 40 free leads.