Whether you know a lot or a little about digital marketing, it may not be something else you can add to your proverbial work plate. Managing clients and cases should be your firm’s priority but learning some basics about internet marketing is essential to finding the right partner. Unless you have an on-site SEO and marketing team, of course. So, how does a non-marketing lawyer choose a partner in digital marketing? Read on to find out how!
What to do before you hit ‘enter’ on your Google search:
When considering a digital marketing agency for your law firm, the first step is to know what you want. And maybe then figure out what you need, because this could vary from what you want. Possible reasons to hire an SEO or digital marketing company:
- You want to put your best foot forward when people search for you by name and you’ve seen the statistics that show at least 38% of people search for a lawyer on the internet
- Your website isn’t getting the right traffic, the kind that results in client leads
- You don’t have time or energy to learn SEO and websites on your own
From there, you can think about your budget and set expectations for results. Outlining these items prior to searching for a good SEO and digital marketing agency will help you in the long run. Once you’ve narrowed down what you need, you’ll have the ability to search from marketing partners that could fulfill those needs. After you start searching and talking with possible agencies, ask the following questions:
Do they follow digital marketing industry best practices?
This can mean multiple things: Do the have a good reputation? Are they keeping up on industry trends? Do they follow Google Webmaster guidelines? Do they understand your industry?
Are they transparent about their SEO tactics?
If you ask how they do what they do, can they tell you in a way that you understand? Or at least, in a way that uses words as an explanation, instead of a shrug or a wink? Which leads me to the next question:
Do they claim to have a “secret SEO formula?”
If any company claims to have a formula that will guarantee you top Google rankings, laugh politely and end the meeting quickly. Every ethical digital marketing or SEO expert will tell you that there is no secret formula. The rankings and metrics change daily and you can’t game the system over the long haul. You can use specific practices that will help increase your odds, but this requires consistency, but conning the system will only hurt your company in the end.
Does their communication style match your communication style?
This one is truly important and easy to overlook, but every work partnership should be one where you feel comfortable. Who will you be working with? Do they have set account managers? If so, you may want to meet the person you could be working with, to make sure you mesh with their style. If they aren’t communicating with you clearly now or responding efficiently, imagine how they’ll treat you if a problem arises.
How did you hear about them? Referral, searching online? If you searched ‘legal digital marketing’ or ‘law firm SEO’ on Google and they came up, what did you see? Is it because they know what they’re doing or because they are gaming Google? Other considerations could be: awards lists for top SEO companies, online lists of law firm SEO companies, online reviews and others. Consider the sources for all of these reviews and articles.
Do you know any other law firms who use a digital marketing agency? Ask around for reviews or suggestions,since personal stories can often be the least filtered case studies. If the review is negative, ask why the person feels that way. Did they not get results or did they just not follow up on the leads that resulted from digital marketing?
Are they willing to give you client references?
If not, ask why. There is a fine line between client privacy and a lack of happy clients. If you are able to get client references, ask some combination of these things:
- How long did it take for them to see an increase in their search-related leads?
- Do they know how these results were achieved?
- Have they felt comfortable with the way the agency communicated with them?
- Has the marketing agency been fully transparent and open about their tactics and results?
There may be other questions you want to add to your list, but those are a good place to start.
What is the contract term?
If they do a require a specific-term contract, this could mean a few things:
- They know that results can take a while, depending upon the services you’ve signed up for, and so they want to give themselves the best chances to help you succeed.
- They want to lock you in, because they know they can’t deliver.
- Simply put, the contract term is just the way they do business.
In any case, ask about the reason for their contract term and what ending the contract would mean for your firm. Most importantly, do they let you keep your website and data after the contract is over? Imagine what terminating could mean before you sign on the dotted line.
You’ve done the research, now how do you choose a legal digital marketing agency?
At the end of the search, you should feel as though you have a better handle on what SEO and digital marketing could do for your company. You should feel confident in your narrowed-down list of possible marketing companies, with all of your questions answered and feeling as though your chosen agency knows what you want to accomplish and has the ability to make it happen. As I mentioned earlier, any partnerships you choose should seem like a match for your firm’s ethics, communication and overall style. Considering those things may head off future frustrations.
If you have more questions on how to choose a digital marketing agency, I’m happy to help answer anything I can. If you’d like to learn more about SEO and digital marketing on your own, check out Moz.com’s blog, Search Engine Journal and the Kissmetrics blog (for those who nerd out on tech babble and customer retention).
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Kelly Street is the Marketing Director for AttorneySync, a trusted digital marketing agency that helps lawyers get clients online. We accomplish this through integrated legal marketing, reputation management, website services and social media.
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or advice– I’m always happy to help.