There are few things more intimidating than being arrested and charged with a crime. It has happened to far more people than many realized. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, approximately 23% of American adults have been arrested. In other words, nearly 60 million people in the U.S. have been arrested. Following an arrest, a person needs the right lawyer. During such a stressful, confusing, and time-sensitive moment, people act quickly to find an attorney.
Criminal defense law is a competitive practice area. By definition, criminal defense lawyers can rest their professional practice on long-term relationships with the same clients. Client acquisition is critically important. At SunRize Marketing, we provide reliable, results-focused law firm SEO services and digital marketing services. Here, our law firm marketing professionals provide a comprehensive guide to the key things to know about criminal defense marketing in 2022.
Why is Criminal Defense Marketing so Important?
Marketing is simply the process of promoting goods or services to a potential customer/client. It is important in every industry, including in law. For criminal defense lawyers, a well-developed marketing strategy is especially essential because of the relative lack of long-term clients. While there are some exceptions, most people need a criminal defense lawyer for a limited time. They may not need one again for many years (or ever). As a consequence, criminal defense lawyers and criminal defense law firms are especially reliant on client acquisition.
The simple reality is that a criminal defense law firm that cannot effectively find new clients is probably not going to be practicing for very long. There are two broad ways that criminal defense lawyers find new clients — direct recommendation, often from a prior client, or an accused person or their loved one searches out and contacts a criminal defense lawyer. A criminal defense law firm cannot rely solely on recommendations. A well-considered marketing strategy is key to finding and connecting with clients who desperately need legal representation.
How Do Criminal Defense Law Firms Position Their Brand in the Niche?
Although we do not generally think of law firms as brands, every lawyer and law firm does have a brand identity. Criminal defense is a niche practice area. As criminal defense attorneys develop and position their brand, they must pay careful attention to how they fit in their niche. A niche is simply a specialized segment of a larger market. Every criminal defense lawyer should be prepared to build a brand that they are comfortable with and that is suitable for their particular practice. Some key things that clients typically like to see for criminal defense lawyers include:
- Professional experience;
- Aggressiveness and tenacity;
- Action-oriented; and
Why Does Website Design Matter for Criminal Defense Lawyers?
As a significant share of people look for criminal defense representation online, every criminal defense lawyer should have a website. You must put time and resources into developing and designing an effective website. The design of your law firm’s website will affect client acquisition. Here are three reasons why website design is so important:
- Modern Website Design Promotes Authority and Trustworthiness: Imagine that you need to hire an accountant for your business. You find one through a Google search and end up on their website. It is very outdated, there are spelling errors, and there are broken links everywhere. Are you more or less likely to hire them? A well-designed website promotes authority and trustworthiness. These are key characteristics for criminal defense lawyers to consider.
- People Simply Close Websites that are Hard to Navigate: There are many criminal defense lawyers in virtually every market in the United States. When a potential client clicks on your website, you do not want them to close it without taking action. Website design matters because people often simply click away from websites that have a poor user interface.
- Without SEO Optimization, Your Website Will Get Buried: A website that is poorly designed is not going to meet the current SEO protocols. As a consequence, it is likely to be buried in the search rankings. A lot of people who need and want your legal services may never even hear of your law firm.
Criminal Defense Attorneys Should Create Relevant Content
Content creation is a key part of modern digital marketing. In the early days of the internet, a website could simply be spammed with low-quality content and still show up near the top of search engine rankings. That is simply no longer the case. The Google algorithm and other search engine algorithms are far more sophisticated. The search engine algorithms—and potential clients—are looking for high-quality, authoritative content. For criminal defense lawyers, this means:
- Creating practice area pages that detail the specific services that a lawyer provides in a given geographic area; and
- Creating resource guides, blog posts, and other content that provides reliable information regarding relevant criminal defense matters.
User Reviews are a Key Marketing Tool for Lawyers in 2022
Client reviews matter. According to a recent study cited by Thomson Reuters, clients are more likely to hire a lawyer that has positive reviews. Clients’ reviews and testimonials also affect SEO performance. A criminal defense lawyer that has a lot of reviews across the top third-party platforms—Google, Avvo, etc.—can expect to see better search engine results. Criminal defense lawyers should not hesitate to request reviews from satisfied clients. Many people are more than happy to leave a review for their lawyer, but they simply are not in the habit of doing so.
Criminal Defense Attorneys Must Focus on SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the pillars of modern marketing. As explained by Google Search Central, SEO is fundamentally improving a website and digital presence to increase visibility. The more visibility a criminal defense lawyer is, the more likely they are to acquire clients. SEO should be comprehensive. Here are some of the key principles of modern SEO:
- On-Page SEO: On-page SEO (on-site SEO) is the foundation of search engine optimization. A criminal defense lawyer’s website should be consistent with all of the best SEO practices. Among other things, this means the right technical design, relevant content, frequent updates, use of keywords, and high-quality backlinks.
- Off-Page SEO: SEO is no longer merely about what appears on a website. Off-page SEO (off-site SEO) always matters. The term off-page SEO refers to all of the actions taken outside of your website itself that can impact your digital presence. A simple example is a professionally built and regularly updated social media account.
- Local SEO: For criminal defense lawyers, Local SEO is really what matters. If you are a criminal defense lawyer who practices in South Florida, there is limited benefit to creating generic content that drives traffic from New York State. Well-targeted local SEO can help criminal defense lawyers better connect with their true target audience.
Social Media Marketing: Can it Make a Difference for Criminal Defense Lawyers?
Social media use continues to grow. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 70% of U.S. adults use at least one social media platform regularly. The numbers are far higher for those under the age of 40. Social media marketing can be a great way for criminal defense lawyers to connect with more clients. A strong social media presence can improve SEO performance and enhance the professional authoritativeness of a lawyer or law firm.
PPC for Criminal Defense Marketing: An Overview
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a digital marketing model whereby the advertiser (law firm) pays a fee each time their ad is clicked. PPC can be very effective for criminal defense law firms. That being said, PPC ads must be well-targeted to work. Here are four key things that criminal defense attorneys should know about law firm PPC:
- A PPC Ad is “Scored” Based on Quality and Audience: Major platforms—including Google—will effectively “score” any PPC ad that a criminal defense lawyer creates. The better the ad copy on the keywords you are seeking to bid on, the higher your score will be and the more likely your ad will get before its target audience. You need well-crafted ads to run an effective PPC campaign.
- A Dynamic Approach Can Produce Better Outcomes: Different keywords cost different amounts with PPC advertising. For criminal defense lawyers, focusing on long-tail keywords can be especially effective. Long-tail keywords almost invariably have long costs. Yet, they can still generate high-quality leads.
- Local PPC is Critically Important for Law Firms: Similar to how local SEO is king in the legal industry, local PPC is also essential. A criminal defense lawyer should always ensure that any PPC ads that they are running—and paying for—are displaying a geographic area in which they practice.
- Conversion Rate is Key: When someone clicks a PPC ad, they will end up on a website or a landing page. Will they contact a criminal defense lawyer? That depends on many different factors—including how well targeted the ad is and how well-designed the website or landing page is. Conversion rate matters. The purpose of PPC ads is to get people to contact (and hire) the firm.
SEO vs PPC: Which is Better for Criminal Defense Digital Marketing
SEO and PPC can work together. It would be a mistake to consider one “better” than the other as they refer to two distinct types of digital marketing strategies. To be sure, all criminal defense law firms should follow the best practices for SEO. Often, the best leads are organic leads.
At the same time, many criminal defense lawyers and law firms can also benefit from running PPC advertisements. A well-crafted PPC advertising campaign can generate a positive return for law firms, including for criminal defense attorneys.
The Next Step: Video Advertising
Video advertising is one of the most rapidly growing parts of the digital marketing industry. A criminal defense lawyer should consider implementing a video-based advertising strategy. As an example, they may want to create videos answering some of the most common criminal law questions that people have and post that content on Youtube. It can enhance the authority of a lawyer or a law firm and drive more leads.
Word-of-Mouth (and Other Traditional Marketing Methods) Still Matter
Digital marketing is changing virtually every industry in the world. That being said, more traditional methods of client acquisition still matter. Word-of-mouth and other traditional marketing strategies can still deliver results. A criminal defense lawyer needs to create a comprehensive and well-integrated marketing plan that is consistent with their brand image.
Criminal Defense Lawyers Should Measure and Analyze their Strategy
Digital marketing is not a “black box.” Indeed, one of the main advantages of developing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is that you can track your progress―your results can be measured, analyzed, and improved upon. There are many different digital marketing and SEO tracking tools that are available for lawyers and law firms.
Always Follow Up on Leads
As any lawyer with experience in client acquisition knows well, it can be difficult to find a qualified lead. The last thing you want is to fail to convert a strong lead—meaning not getting hired—simply because you made avoidable mistakes in the client acquisition process. Criminal defense law firms should always have a systematic process in place for following up on leads.
Why Hire the Team at Sunrize Marketing for Criminal Defense Marketing?
Client acquisition is key to the future success of any criminal defense practice. At SunRize Marketing, we help criminal defense lawyers and criminal defense law firms put the right strategies in place to identify and connect with more clients. Our team provides a full range of digital marketing services to attorneys and law firms, including:
- Digital strategy consulting;
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising;
- Search engine optimization (SEO);
- Social media management & advertising; and
- Website design and development.
Contact Our Digital Marketing Consultants for Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
At SunRize Marketing, we provide results-focused digital marketing services to criminal defense lawyers and criminal defense law firms. Our goal is to help lawyers and law firms develop their brands and put the right digital marketing strategies in place so that they can connect with more clients. If you have any questions or concerns about criminal defense marketing, please do not hesitate to call us now or contact us online to find out more about how we can help.