Benjamin Boman* – Marketing automation seems to be a popular but not well-defined topic outside the world of marketing professionals. Having previously worked in the legal industry, I can understand the lack of enthusiasm for the topic.
To make the application of this type of technology and practices concrete, here are seven ways to implement marketing automation in your law firm.
Firstly, what is marketing automation?
Put simply, marketing automation is the use of marketing technology tools to get more out of your law firm marketing by either scaling the things that you do or by reducing the time required to do your regular marketing activities. It is a meta-activity, designed to improve your existing marketing activities and not a traditional marketing channel itself.
For the legal industry, this can be important because professionals are often under high time pressure and have strong values attached to their professional hours.
This means every low-value minute counts against you. It then makes sense that lawyers and law firms look to leverage marketing automation as much as possible in trying to grow their practice online when it comes to law firm digital marketing channels.
How does marketing automation help generate more clients?
Marketing as a discipline seems to have an oversupply of frameworks, but one I find useful to reference here is the classic purchase funnel of awareness, interest, consideration, and conversion modified to law firms to:
Coming back then to the purpose of marketing automation, the objective here is to ‘build in’ the improvements made to each of these stages. With automated improvements, you can grow the firm incrementally by scaling your efforts.
Here are a few ways that law firms can leverage marketing automation:
Generate More PNCs and Leads from Visitors
This stage is focused on increasing either the number of visits to your website or profiles and increasing the number of inquiries these convert.
1. Offer Content in Return for Emails
Whitepapers, research, guides, and how-tos are a stable of inbound marketing online because they are the main way of capturing interest.
While prospective clients requesting a piece of content are less engaged than a direct consultation inquiry, they are an opportunity for firms to start engaging with these contacts via automated SMS (subject to your local SMS regulations) and email to qualify and increase the PNCs interest in a consultation.
Content examples include:
- White papers, “The State of Corporate Tax Structures in 2023”
- Guides, “3 Things A Criminal Defendant Must Prepare to Properly Defend their Case”
- How-to “How To Minimise the Chances of a Contested Will”
To implement this, you can create a document of interest to your prospective ideal clients and offer it in return for an email.
You can use a variety of email capture forms to create this. Once you have this in place, you can share these details with your fee earners or business development team for further connection perhaps via LinkedIn.
2. Engage Visitors through Chatbots
Chatbots may give an impression of being impersonal tools designed to deliver information to website users. However, chatbots are can be viewed as another means of taking client information in a medium that certain prospective clients prefer more than calling or filling out contact forms.
For example, some clients prefer phone calls, others forms, and others may appreciate the instantaneous nature of chatbots.
The major difference between chatbots versus contact forms is that they are dynamic and allow you to route potential prospective clients to different pages, forms or contact methods based on their answers.
An example of this in practice is where the chatbot will route prospective clients to a booking page (using a tool like Calendly) or contact form based on their business size. If the hypothetical prospect is of a suitable business size they can be directed to a fee earner’s direct booking page or phone number to immediately schedule a consultation.
However, if the prospective business client was not a suitable size for example a sole trader with low revenues, then this prospective client could be routed to the regular contact form and engaged by your administrative staff.
Increase Lead to Consultation Conversions
3. Engaging Email Leads with Auto-responders and Drips
If you do not immediately respond to your leads you will very likely suffer lower conversions for email inquiries to full contacts.
Consider, have you ever submitted a contact form and wondered whether anyone received your email on the other end because you received no email confirmation? This is an example of a lack of responsivity to email inquiries.
If you implement simple auto-responders or even more sophisticated options like welcome sequences through a marketing automation platform such as ActiveCampaign, you can define a series of emails and SMS to send to a prospective client based on a contact form being submitted or contact our property being updated.
This can automatically follow up with engaging material to a prospective client.
An example of this engaging material would be welcoming the prospective client to your practice and introducing the lawyer that they would like to contact and the law firm.
Another example of information you could send to a prospective client is any relevant news pieces about successful cases handled by your firm and also relevant awards or tutorials or resources for this client.
Increase Consultation Attendance
Simply having booked consultations, you will likely be suffering a drop-off in actual attendance. This lever is focused on how to increase the percentage of leads that turn up to your bookings.
4. Automate Follow-up Notices for Fee-Earners Through Triggers
Fee earners’ schedules are understandably busy and often packed. However, I’m sure most fee earners will agree that business development is still equally important while pursuing client-billable work.
An easy way to reduce the mental load but also increase the amount or likelihood of business development is to automate tasks or notices to follow up with particular prospective clients or existing relationships to further nurture them into new or repeat business.
This can be particularly useful where the professional in your team has a large database and could not otherwise keep up with the number of client relationships to both monitor and remember to engage with.
If you are using a Calendar booking solution such as Calendly or SquareSpace Scheduling, you can add automated reminders to your calendar entries to ensure your prospect is receiving reminders.
Alternatively, using tools like HubSpot, you can set up trigger follow-up notices for contacts based on a previous engagement history. For example, where a contact has not or has received an email in the last three months or has scheduled a meeting in the last two weeks for example.
5. Continually Engaging Prospective Future Clients Drip Content
Websites often have a conversion rate to lead between 1 percent with 3 percent being the higher and more unusual conversion rate. However, this does not mean you are unable to address the 97 percent to 99 percent of website visitors who are not yet ready to engage in your practice.
The main technique to engage these potential clients is through the use of drip email sequences.
The drip email sequence requires you to add the user to your email database and nurture them appropriately and tastefully with useful content.
This can even include personal contact to support them further along their decision-making journey or to keep in touch with them as a favorable provider until they are ready to engage a firm.
Increase Referral Business
6. Automatically Request Reviews
Review requests are often important to firms for ranking in local search, but sadly the requests are often forgotten. Most marketing automation platforms such as HubSpot will allow you to set trigger points for sending emails on an automated basis.
For example, whenever a client’s case is marked as closed with a favorable outcome. Using this feature, you can automatically request a review at a positive stage of the client’s engagement.
7. Manage Reviews in One Place
Managing the reviews themselves can also leverage automation opportunities. Software such as ReviewShake can be set up to leverage non-free-earner time to request reviews following a defined template when instructed.
Also, the platform will allow administrative staff to see and reply to all reviews in one place, in contrast, to manually looking at each review platform or location each day to monitor the new reviews coming in and then logging in to your associated account and reply.
This can present a significant time saving when built into an administrative assistant’s routine.
These are seven explicit examples of marketing automation in practice for the typical law firm.
In this article, we discussed how automation technology can be applied to each stage of the prospect’s journey to improve marketing and sales results. I hope this discussion has provided you with some ideas of which you can consider implementing in your own practice.
Benjamin Boman is a freelance marketing consultant and host of The Benjamin Boman Podcast and The Marketing Automation Discussion. He works with clients to create data-based marketing plans, improve inbound lead generation and outsource marketing operations. He may be contacted on LinkedIn or Twitter.