How Do I Impress My Law Firm’s Leads?

How Do I Impress My Law Firm’s Leads?

Half of the competitive battle in turning law firm leads into clients is standing apart from the other lawyers the prospect has reached out to.

With voice search, Google My Business, and click-to-call, it is so easy for prospects to quickly generate a list of qualified local lawyers that they frequently contact more than one. The first law firm to impress the prospect is generally the one to land the office appointment and a signature.

How do you stand apart from your competitors? Here are seven ways. All but one can be created once and used forever.

Starting Strong

1. Lead magnet on your website.

A proven technique that online businesses have been using for years but law firms have ignored is to offer an attractive piece of content on your website using what is called an exit-intent popup.

The exit-intent popup appears when your visitors move their cursors to the website address line, which indicates they are preparing to leave your site. The popup offers an attractive piece of content in exchange for contact information and answer to a qualifying question.

We use an extensive set of frequently-asked questions on our popups, and inquire about the urgency of the legal issue. If the FAQ downloader says the issue is urgent, we call and ask to set an office appointment.

This popup with telephone call generates additional appointments from the same website traffic.

2. Shock-and-awe package.

Every prospect who calls your office, completes your website form, and downloads your lead magnet should receive your digital shock-and-awe package. The best prospects should also receive a hard copy of your package (more on this in the next section).

What should your shock-and-awe package consist of? We use a 200-page book, two educational booklets, a detailed practice brochure, and explanatory cover letter.

The number of lawyers with shock-and-awe packages is miniscule, so the odds are high that none of your competitors will be sending comparable materials to your prospects.

Converting Leads to Appointments

3. Call to offer hard copy and qualify.

We have had excellent results calling leads to offer a free print version of the content they downloaded. Most will say yes to our offer and confirm their physical address. We then inquire about their situation and seek to set appointments with those who are well qualified.

You can readily implement the same approach using your book, FAQs, or other content you offer on your website or through webinars or eblasts. Try it; the technique works well.

4. Nurturing series.

Every lead name you obtain, however you obtain it, should receive a lengthy email series that explains in detail how you help.

Walk your prospects step-by-step through the legal process they will experience when working with you. Empathize with their problem, explain how resolution will occur, and then describe how much better things will be when the problem is resolved. Offer to help and provide your contact information.

Our series run 15-18 letters long, and are sent automatically. The pace varies by specialty, but one email per week is the average. The emails generate appointments that otherwise would be unlikely to occur, for most leads are quick to forget who they reached out to.

Converting Appointments to Clients

5. Office materials.

Your content collection is most effective when tailored to the prospect.

For example, one of our injury-attorney subscribers had an appointment with a seriously-injured prospect who wavered during the appointment and during the follow-up call said he was going to negotiate with the insurance company himself.

The attorney then sent our booklet “How Insurance Companies Work” to the prospect. A week later the prospect retained the attorney, saying he now understood that he was ill-equipped to handle the matter himself.

In addition to sending targeted booklets to wavering prospects, you can display relevant booklets in your lobby, provide them at your front desk, and personally hand them out at the conclusion of your appointment. The key to success is to provide ones directly on point with the prospect’s questions, concerns, or objections.

Avoiding Buyer’s Remorse

6. Welcome kit.

This a modified version of your shock-and-awe package and serves the same purpose — create a positive initial impression. You want your new clients to speak favorably of you and your work, and a well-crafted welcome kit will get them doing so.

In our kits we include a collection similar to the shock-and-awe package, but use booklets that cover questions arising during representation rather than before retention. The cover letter explains what will occur next, and how the client will be updated throughout the matter.

As with many of these techniques, you can create your welcome kit once and use it without modification for years.

7. Reassurance series.

Salesmanship does not end once a client is signed … especially if there is a time gap between signature and visible work. Lawyers are notoriously poor at communicating the work being done behind the scenes.

The easy solution is to create a series of emails that explains what is occurring, and then automatically send these emails at the pace of one per week to every new client. The series, consistent with its name, will reassure clients that work is being done on their matter, all is well, and they don’t need to call your office to ask what is occurring.

We recommend that you set yourself the goal of creating one of these items every quarter. If you have decent website traffic, say several hundred unique visitors per month, adding a popup and placing follow-up calls will prove productive.

Alternatively, you can begin writing educational booklets that can be used multiple ways: as tailored sends and handouts, as part of a shock-and-awe package or welcome kit, and as waiting room reading.

But do begin … before your competition does.

Ready for a demo of our Referral System?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How Can I Improve the Effectiveness of My Law Firm’s Intake Process?

How Can I Improve the Effectiveness of My Law Firm’s Intake Process?

When it comes to converting leads into customers, small law firms do a lousier job of it than most any other type of business.

In addition to the dozen years we have helped hundreds of lawyers generate leads only to see them mis-handle those prospects, we back up our statement with these two pieces of recent research.

A. No Engagement Device

The primary goal of a website is to capture contact information and build a list of prospects, for most of your visitors will not be ready to take immediate action. When researching our book The Most Effective Law Firm Marketing Agencies, we reviewed the websites of well over 1,000 high-ranking law firms. Less than a dozen offered a lead magnet.

B. Failure to Respond

We completed the website response forms of 25 local lawyers, claiming to have a sizable and urgent legal issue. Only 3 of the 25 called us. The vast majority didn’t even bother to telephone.

Lots of Upside

The positive side of this dismal marketing performance is that your firm, if it is like most small law firms, can provide a material boost to its flow of new clients simply by improving your intake processes.

Here are the seven high-impact intake-improvement steps that we recommend you take. Once set up, none of them should require any material time from you.

1. Periodic Monitoring or Mystery Shopping

Unless you regularly monitor both sides of your intake calls, you won’t know whether your prospects’ calls are being handled with compassion, patience, and purpose. Most important, do they obtain full contact information, learn details of the matter, and set an office appointment?

There are two ways to achieve this monitoring. You can engage a mystery shopping service to periodically call and complete forms, and report their experience back to you. The more modern way is using software (we like Dialpad) which allows you to (a) listen to both sides of any call, (b) at a glance learn the length of each call (a material percentage of short calls is worrisome), and (c) see which calls went unanswered.

2. Dedicated, Rewarded, and Motivated Phone Person

Whoever is answering your phones and responding to your completed website forms should have no higher priority than setting office appointments with as many of the qualified prospects as possible. That priority handling needs to be regularly confirmed with words and financial incentives.

Having hired dozens of phone-team members, and overseen multiple inbound and outbound phone teams, we can confirm that it takes a high degree of empathy, positivity, and confidence to work the phones day after day. Be sure you have the right individual in this very important position.

3. Minimum Follow-up Call Requirements

One of the most common shortcomings we encounter in the intake processes of small law firms is the failure to repeatedly call prospects until a connection is made. The first law firm to have a conversation with a prospect is most often the one who lands the office appointment.

Of course, the fewer prospects you have to call back, the better, so adequately staffing your phones is important. But when a form is submitted or the initial call is not taken live, prompt and repeated attempts to call back must be made. We recommend at least 3 attempts the first day, and 2/day thereafter.

4. Automated Sales Funnel

If your firm’s website does not offer some helpful information using a popup activated when the visitor is readying to leave your site, you are missing a sizable opportunity to engage and convert more visitors than you do now.

A well written and complete sales funnel will include (a) an information offer, (b) a request for contact information, (c) a couple questions asking about the size and urgency of the legal problem, (d) a thank you page offering a phone conversation to discuss the details of the prospect’s legal matter.

5. Shock-and-Awe Package

Assume your prospect has also contacted two of your competitors. Even if your prospect has scheduled an appointment with your office, you can bet that your competitors are also reaching out. To counter their efforts, you will want to stand head and shoulders above them.

By creating an impressive collection of helpful materials one time, and having it automatically sent to every new prospect, you will set yourself apart. And with soft prospects like booklet downloaders, you can call them, explain that you want to send your package of information, ask about their legal issue, and offer an office appointment if they are a qualified prospect.

6. Nurturing Series

In addition to your shock-and-awe package, every prospect should next receive a staggered collection of educational emails. This is also a write-once, use forever endeavor.

Your emails should address: common prospect and client questions, explain the primary legal issues, list the pros and cons of choices to be made, and discuss potential outcomes. Doing so will demonstrate your expertise and show you are ready to help.

7. Results Tracking.

What is measured and incentivized will improve. If you track and publicly display your lead conversion rate, and tie bonuses or prizes to hitting conversion targets, you will turn a higher percentage of prospects into clients.

We recommend separating form fills from inbound calls, and setting different targets for each. Form fills can be tougher to convert, for they require prompt and repetitive phone calls to reach the prospect.

High ROI, Low Spend

Conversion improvements can generate a high return and frequently cost little to implement. The extra revenue generated usually drops unimpaired to the bottom line, for you are signing additional clients while not spending any more marketing company.

Of the seven techniques listed above, we recommend you focus most heavily on #2 Minimum Follow-Up Techniques. The cost is zero, and the return is immediate and high value.

Secondarily, we suggest #7 Results Tracking. If you are not measuring your key performance indicators, you do not know whether you are improving or falling short.

No matter which techniques you choose to begin with, we strongly encourage you to pay more attention to improving your conversion rates. There is little you can do in marketing your firm that will have a higher return on investment.

Ready for a demo of our Referral System?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Secrets and Strategies for Getting More Referrals

Secrets and Strategies for Getting More Referrals

James President Kara Prior recently chatted with Ken Hardison at PILMMA on the Grow Your Law Firm Podcast.
What you’ll learn about in this episode:
  • How Kara’s book How Small Law Firms Can Obtain More Referrals offers a detailed roadmap for getting more clients for your firm, and how to get a free copy of the book
  • Why referrals can be a powerful tool for law firms to affordably obtain new high-quality clients, and why it is important to find the time to grow a referral network
  • How Kara and her team help law firms develop strong referral networks, and how their simple and straightforward process works
  • How branded consumer-facing FAQ booklets can be a great value-added way to start off a new relationship on a positive footing and showcase your firm’s expertise
  • How Kara and her team target specific types of professionals as referral sources, such as drug rehabilitation clinics and mental health professionals for criminal defense firms
  • Why past clients can be an incredible resource for referrals, and why newsletters can help past clients keep you in mind
  • Why physical mail newsletters are cost-effective and are a better option than email for making an impact with past clients
  • Why it is important to provide value and offer content to your past clients to help nurture relationships
  • Why branded booklets and books are a fantastic way of helping past clients “break the ice” and make a referral
  • What first steps to take to begin creating a referral network and build relationships with potential clients
Does the Legal Referral System Work?

Does the Legal Referral System Work?

The short answer is “yes it does.” But as we explain below, it doesn’t work alone. While we do the heavy lifting, you have an important role to play.

Calendaring Phone Appointments

We begin by compiling a list of 50 local professionals, both attorneys and non-attorneys, who in our experience are likely to be interested in discussing a referral alliance with you. We share the list with you, and you have the option to add or delete names.

We then start calling each name on the list. We explain that we are calling on your behalf to ask whether the professional is interested in discussing a referral relationship on a 15-minute call with you. If we are unable to reach the professional, we leave a voicemail and send an explanatory email. Those explanations frequently result in a return call.

It takes us about two hours of dialing and emailing to set one telephone appointment. To calendar these appointments, before we begin dialing we ask you to give us some times each week when you are likely to be available.

You and the interested professional will receive text and email reminders of the appointment. Sometimes one party re-schedules, but most phone appointments are held at the time initially set.

Similarly, most phone appointments result in a positive connection. A small percentage do not, and when we are alerted that the conversation did not go well we quickly set a replacement appointment.

To quick-start your partnerships, we set two appointments per month for your first three months. In subsequent months we calendar one appointment per month with a prospective referral partner.

We have set hundreds of appointments for lawyers using this approach, and have a good understanding of which professionals are (1) likely to be interested and (2) willing and able to refer.

The Phone Appointment

Your primary goals in your introductory call should be to: (1) learn about the professional’s practice and clients/patients, (2) listen twice as much as you talk, and (3) establish a connection.

Ideally, you will have a few minutes before your call to prepare by reviewing the professional’s website, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, and any other Google search results. You will also want to have several questions ready so you (1) are listening more than talking and (2) learn about the professional and his or her practice. Potential questions are:

— How did you come to start your practice?
— What do you enjoy the most about your work?
— What about your practice drives you nuts?
— What are your favorite types of clients/patients?
— What constitutes a great outcome?
— Who is an ideal referral?
— What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

The last question will help you learn personal information that can assist with your gives and enable a connection, as we explain below.

After the Appointment

Because establishing new referral relationships is mostly about giving and not taking, especially in the beginning, we work to help the professionals with whom you have promising initial calls. Being a publisher at heart, we do that primarily with content.

We begin by sending every-other-month in your name a print copy of our private journal “The Prosperous Professional.” This practical periodical covers Management, Marketing, Technology, People, and Outside the Office for private practices.

In the alternate months, we email an educational piece on techniques for building a referral-based practice. We include offers to brand our educational booklets in the professional’s name. Those offers are always well received.

We also provide a link to our full-length book 33 Marketing Tactics Working at Small Law Firms.

You can supplement our efforts with more personalized gives based upon the personal information you obtained in your introductory call. Consider sending (1) a link to a great article about the professional’s hobby, (2) a small gift related to that hobby, and (3) holiday greetings.

What Results Can You Expect?

Roughly half of our introductions will result in productive referral relationships. The volume of referrals will of course vary with both the source and the strength of your relationship.

If you want referrals to be a material contributor to your client flow, your goal should be 10-12 productive referral partner relationships with each partner sending you a minimum of 3-4 clients per year.

As your new referral partner relationships evolve, you will learn which ones are most fruitful and deserve the most attention from you and us to further tighten the bond.

75% Us, 25% You

Our Referral System is not 100% done-for-you. You need to show up for the phone appointments prepared, and you need to make an effort to establish a personal relationship with the partners we introduce you to.

But if you participate in a modest way and give the program time to deliver, working with us to grow and cultivate your referral network will pay off in a steadily expanding group of productive referral sources.

Ready for a demo of our Referral System?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Law Firm Referral Marketing vs. SEO vs. PPC

Law Firm Referral Marketing vs. SEO vs. PPC

The three major marketing channels for small law firms are referrals, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click ads. Each has advantages and disadvantages, which we will cover in this article.

Which channel is right for you to invest more or less time and money into is for you to decide, but we hope the data and analysis we provide in this article will help you make an informed judgment.

Full disclosure: we focus on referral marketing and do not provide SEO or PPC services. Nonetheless, we have worked hard to provide a fair and unbiased assessment of each marketing channel, including pros and cons.

We begin with analytical details on each of the three marketing channels, and then compare them side-by-side.

1. Referral Marketing

Unique benefit

Referred prospects are nearly always the highest-quality leads you can obtain, for vetting will have been done by the referrer. The best vetting and prospects will come from other lawyers, but non-attorney professionals are a close second.

Even prospects referred by past clients will be a notch above, as there will have been some discussion between the prospect and your past client about you, the service you provide, the legal issues you handle, and the prospect’s situation.

The marketing work

Consultants frequently advise to reach out to prospective referral partners with postal letters, but in our extensive experience (we set 80-100 referral partner appointments every month), it is far more effective to use phone.

Generate a list of 25 local attorneys in complementary specialties and 25 non-attorney professionals who serve your clientele. Have a non-attorney team member call the prospects’ gatekeepers, explain the purpose of the call, and ask to set a phone appointment between you and the prospective referral partner. Leave an explanatory voicemail and send an email with more details. Expect to spend 2-3 hours obtaining each appointment, and more time cultivating the new relationships.

Outsourced costs

We know of no one offering this service except us. Our Referral System costs $595/month, and includes far more than just referral partner appointments and cultivation. Details can be obtained below.

Do-it-yourself costs

Zero. You might choose to send some low-cost gifts to your new referral partners, but you don’t need to for the program to be effective.


— Generates high-quality prospective clients
— Reasonably-priced outsourcing, or free when handled in-house
— Upfront work can deliver clients for years


— Takes months to deliver results
— Results vary with attorney’s expertise and involvement
— Requires ongoing cultivation of referral partners

2. Search Engine Optimization

Unique benefit

The Holy Grail of online marketing is high organic search engine placement for popular keywords having buyer intent — e.g., Denver auto accident attorney or Charleston estate planner. If your landing page or website does a good job of converting visitors to appointments, strong placement in the search engines can deliver a steady flow of leads.

However, the best keywords are aggressively pursued by capable marketers with sizable budgets, and space on Google page one is limited. Instead, you can successfully pursue placement for longer and lower-trafficked keywords that have been ignored by the big SEO spenders.

The marketing work

Good search engine placement requires regular creation of high-quality, original, and optimized content. Ideally, that content answers questions and addresses issues frequently searched by prospects, and does so in detail and with at least 2,000 words. Even better, the articles will be illustrated with images, infographics, charts, and tables.

In addition, inbound links need to be obtained for the content you create and post on your site. Many techniques exist, from guest posting to broken link substitutions. All require some teaching, time, and luck.

Outsourced costs

Most online marketing agencies focusing on the legal market charge a minimum of $1,500/month for SEO services, so figure on $1,500 – $2,500 per month for full-service search engine optimization work.

You may be able to pare those costs if you supply all the writing and your agency is willing to work with you on that basis.

Do-it-yourself costs

Plan on lots of educational reading if you want to do your own SEO work. Optimization is both science and art, and due to a high pace of change, requires ongoing research and experimentation.

Most lawyers are better off outsourcing their firm’s SEO work, but if you have the time and motivation to do your own SEO your only expenditures will be for educational and analytical subscriptions. Budget $200-300/month.


— When successfully obtained, high organic Google rankings can be a wonderful and reasonably-priced source of website traffic
— For some low-competition keywords and cities, all that is needed to rank well is good writing


— Ongoing work is required to obtain and maintain your Google rankings
— Quality backlinks are difficult to obtain
— Most lawyers have neither the time nor the expertise to handle the work themselves, good SEOs can be hard to find, hire, and retain, and marketing agencies are expensive

3. Pay-Per-Click Ads

Unique benefit

Quick results can be obtained with Google or Facebook ads. When you need more leads in weeks rather than months, PPC can deliver them. Most any keyword phrase can be targeted if your budget is large enough.

You also have near-immediate flexibility with PPC. You can turn the lead volume up by spending more and down by spending less, and the volume will adjust immediately. You can also pause lead flow when busy and reinstate it when slow.

As with SEO (and most marketing), you will have to sift through some unqualified prospects when dealing with PPC leads. But your lead funnel can do some of that sifting for you with education and qualifying questions.

The marketing work

Fine-tuning is critical in PPC work. Continual A/B testing of ads and landing pages will be necessary, and can materially lift your results and lower your lead costs.

You will want to regularly target new keywords, strengthen the grouping and organization of your keywords, test additional negative keywords, tighten the alignment of your ads and landing pages, and adjust your geotargeting and its exclusions.

Outsourced costs

Plan on paying $500+ per month in management fees, plus your ad spend. Some agencies will set minimum ad spend levels of $1,000, $2,000 or more, so figure a minimum of $1,500/month to run a PPC campaign through an agency.

Do-it-yourself costs

Like SEO, someone at your firm will need to dedicate themselves to learning PPC for you to bring management of your ad spend in-house. You will save the $500+/month in PPC management, but the mis-spent ad dollars may cost you far more. We recommend at least starting with professional management before you consider bringing the work in-house.


— Near-immediate results
— The ROI can be steadily improved with experimentation
— Lead volume can be readily adjusted up or down


— Targeting the best keywords is expensive
— Obtaining or hiring the needed management expertise is also costly
— Continual fine-tuning is required
— Ad costs have been steadily rising

Comparing the Three Marketing Channels


Each of the three major marketing channels offers a unique benefit, and has a place in the marketing efforts of a large-budget firm with aggressive growth plans.

Medium spenders will want to team a low-cost referral marketing effort with either SEO or PPC, selecting SEO for its long-term benefits or PPC for its quick results.

Firms with tight budgets can pursue do-it-yourself referral marketing and content creation, spending a bit on a freelancer for on-page optimization and link-building of the content created by the firm.

Build A Referral-Based Law Firm

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.