Internet Marketing forEstate Planning Lawyers

Your step-by-step guide to the top 10 marketing strategies to grow your firm.

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Like most law firm practice areas, estate planning is highly competitive. It’s a constant battle for your firm to stand out online.

But you don’t have to pay many thousands of dollars in ad spend each month with little return.

A few effective tweaks and additions to your overall internet marketing strategy can generate the leads you need to grow your firm.

Best practice law marketing techniques are already covered in a previous post.

Here I’ll show you specifically how to shape your marketing strategy as a firm that focuses on estate planning.

This includes the following techniques:

  • Creating a brand not just a website
  • Niching out your practice area
  • Making the most of regional opportunities
  • Optimizing SEO campaigns
  • Investing in content marketing
  • Optimizing the user experience
  • Creating information packages
  • Gathering more reviews and testimonials
  • Optimizing your Google Ads strategy
  • Running Facebook retargeting ads
  • Running seminars and webinars

These techniques are all backed up with concrete examples so that you can start emulating the success of others and shaping the success of your own firm.

Step 1

Create a brand, not just a website

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If your website is no more than a five or six-page online brochure, you’re doing it wrong.

It should act as the hub of your firm’s brand: helping new and existing clients find what they need, demonstrating what you stand for and how you can help, and providing a simple way for people to embark on their “journey” with your firm.

Start by asking yourself these three questions and adjusting the copy on your website to reflect the answers:

What makes your estate planning law firm unique?

Are trusts and estates your sole focus, like Loew Law Group in California?

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What’s your value proposition?

What value do you bring to the lives of clients you represent?

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What do you consistently do better than other estate planning law firms?

Do you offer a personal service with home visits, like Thomas J. Hansen in Illinois?

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Step 2

Make the most of regional opportunities

Does most of your work come from local leads?

Because of the abundance of law firms, this is often the case: rather than competing on a national level with much larger law firms, it makes sense to go after local business.

Being location-specific with your internet marketing can help you stand out from the competition because:

  1. You can rank higher in search
  2. You can demonstrate relevance and relatedness to the local audience

Google My Business

To improve local SEO results, you need to look at your keyword usage and optimizing your Google My Business listing.

This is a free business listing that includes your:

  • Business name
  • Address
  • Website
  • Phone number
  • Business hours
  • Business category
  • Reviews and ratings

Optimizing your business information here will help you gain accurate citations across the web and this will be an indicator to Google to rank your pages highly.

Let’s look at how one estate planning law firm in Denver has seen success with this:

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Wills & Wellness have optimized their website for the term “estate planning lawyer Denver”.

They’ve also optimized their Google My Business Listing.

So, when anyone searches for “estate planning lawyer Denver” in Google, they come up first in the organic map listings (the first listing is an ad):

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Because competing with larger city firms is not usually an option, firms in regional areas must optimize their website for local search and also their Google My Business listing to take advantage of the opportunities out there.

Check out this one from Passages Wills, Estates & Probate Law in Calgary, Alberta.

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The Google listing for “alberta estate planning lawyer”:

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If your firm has several locations, you need to optimize your website and Google My Business listings for each location.

Refer to my multilocation SEO strategy article for some guidelines on how to do that.

You can see from the example below that the Estate & Probate Legal Group in Illinois is tapping into regional opportunities by creating separate pages for its two locations (Lombard and Naperville) off the main domain.

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Step 3

Optimize SEO campaigns

You probably already know that few searchers venture past page one of Google. So, you need to be on it for your main search terms.

That means optimizing your SEO campaigns. Follow the detailed tips in my Law Firm SEO article for direction on that.

Here, I’m going to focus on an important element of your keyword strategy that many law firms miss…

Which stage of the buying cycle are you targeting?

Are you only targeting click-throughs from people ready to hire an estate planning lawyer?

Or do you also want to attract people earlier in the process who are looking for information?

It generally makes sense to target both yet many law firms fail to optimize their site for informational-type searches.

These people want to find out more about their options.

Their main questions may be something like:

  • What is special needs planning?
  • How much to hire an estate planning lawyer in Boston?
  • How should I discuss estate planning with my aging parents?
  • What do you bring to a meeting with an estate planning attorney?
  • What happens to debt when you die?

Informational posts like the following from The Wilson Law Group blog can help you target and rank for these types of informational terms:

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These types of posts bring people to your website early in the process. Then, when they’re ready to select a lawyer, you’re uppermost in their minds.

For people at this stage of the hiring process, you can target terms like:

  • Estate tax planning lawyer St Louis
  • New York succession planning lawyer
  • Agricultural estate planning lawyer for Illinois farmers

Create dedicated landing pages on your website to convert queries for these terms into prospects who call or email you:

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Remember, the longer keywords are generally less competitive.

PRO TIP:

Note that probate clients (as opposed to estate planning clients) are likely to move quicker in the hiring process.

It will probably pay to target them more directly through ads rather than a “lead nurturing” strategy through content.

200 ranking factors to be aware of

According to the market-leader on the subject, Brian Dean at Backlinko, there are over 200 ranking factors used by Google to rank websites:

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Some notable ones include:

  • Page load speed
  • On-page keyword usage
  • Mobile friendliness
  • URLs
  • User interaction
  • Site usability
  • Volume and quality of backlinks

Refer to my SEO article mentioned earlier for further information.

Step 4

Invest in content marketing

If you regularly publish informative and engaging content on your website, you will improve search rankings and attract new customers in a natural, organic way.

The more high-quality content you produce for your website, the greater your chances of appearing prominently in search engine results pages.

But most lawyers don’t have the time to sit and write articles. So, they don’t publish content.

This is poor strategy when there are so many willing and able freelancers waiting to create great content for you.

As you prepare your content strategy, take the following approach:

Answer the FAQs of your target customers 

Estate planning can be a tough subject for people to tackle both from an emotional and a logistical angle.

People usually have many questions – and you’re in the best position to help answer them.

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Provide tips and advice on estate planning

People appreciate advice on complex topics that are confusing for them. This is a great opportunity to simplify legal processes, documentation required, and so on.

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Provide updates on news that may affect your target audience

Is there a case in the local news that your clients or potential clients will be interested in? Use your blog to update them on it.

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Comment on cases that may be of interest to your target audience

Your commentary on cases in the local area or in the news may be of interest to those in similar situations, or who identify with the people involved.

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Experiment with other forms of content

Articles are just one way of communicating with and educating your target audience.

Consider experimenting with videos, eBooks, infographics, podcasts, etc.

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Publishing regular informative content should help you build engagement, authority and trust with your target audience.

It will also help you become more visible online and generate leads through a stronger web and social media presence.

Step 5

Optimize the user experience

The user experience starts from the moment a visitor lands on your website; and people often make snap decisions based on how well a website looks after their needs.

So, how you look after a potential client online reflects heavily on the perceived ability of your firm to look after their legal requirements offline.

Taking steps to improve the user experience online therefore goes a long way to convincing them to pick up the phone to you.

Here are a few key areas to focus on.

Make it mobile friendly

Mobile devices are beginning to dominate Internet usage.

So, increasingly, people searching for estate planning lawyers are using their smartphones or tablets.

Google knows this and will penalize you if you’re not providing a good mobile experience.

Check your mobile friendliness here.

A mobile-first feel starts with large text, a collapsible menu, easy-to-fill-out forms, and prominent call-to-action buttons.

You can see several of these features in a single screenshot from The Hale Law Firm website.

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Check the page load speeds

Visitors are more than twice as likely to leave your page if it loads in 10 seconds than if it loads in one second.

Check your page speed here for free.

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Typical ways to improve page load speeds are by:

  • Enabling compression
  • Optimizing images
  • Minimizing http requests
  • Optimizing management of CSS and JavaScript files
  • Changing your website hosting platform

These will generally require technical assistance from your web designer.

Include multimedia 

Text should be broken up with images, video, and sound to engage visitors and keep them on your site.

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Create shareable content 

Infographics and videos are easy to share, encouraging people to help spread your name online.

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Post informative blog articles 

As we saw in the previous section, posting informative articles that answer FAQs is a great way to improve the user experience.

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Help users find further information about topics

Linking out to reliable resources, as in the following post from the Jules Martin Haas blog, can help your web visitors go deeper into a topic.

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Similarly, linking internally to other informative pages on your site can add to their understanding (and Google likes it too).

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In short, linking whenever appropriate will improve the user experience.

Ensure people know what to do next

Your visitors should be on a journey through your website and hiring process.

Always let them know the next step to take don’t leave them wondering.

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Step 6

Create information packages and form templates

Consider this an extension of “improving the user experience”.

We already know that estate planning, probate, wills, trusts, power of attorney and so on can be confusing for people.

A good way to help them understand and prepare the necessary documentation is to provide form templates and information packages.

Of course, anyone downloading the forms is also demonstrating a degree of commitment to your firm.

Ross Estate Planning in Wisconsin create an initial meeting package that potential clients can download:

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The same website also adds many other useful forms and then a section specifically for its main target group: farmers.

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Foley, Foley & Peterson in Alaska provide forms for getting people started with estate administration, business planning, and estate planning:

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Step 7

Gather more reviews & testimonials

Without the element of trust, a law firm doesn’t have a business.

But, unlike with personal injury lawyers or trial lawyers, you can’t prove your success by case results.

This makes the words and opinions of your clients (reviews, testimonials and five-star ratings) fundamental to your success online.

Fortunately, you have all the tools you need to build considerable credibility and trust.

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Reviews can be in text or video format. Surprenant & Beneski feature both on their testimonials page:

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Google reviews may also help improve search rankings.

In the following search for “estate planning lawyer Vancouver”, the three main featured listings on the Google map include excellent ratings (featured on their Google My Business listings):

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Anyone running this search would be quite likely to click on these firms, as they have instant credibility from their ratings.

Other organic listings on the page don’t have visible ratings.

Despite this, many estate planning law firms don’t have an active policy to gather reviews.

Remember:

  • Customers with negative experiences are likely to leave a bad review and share their experience.
  • Fewer than one in 10 happy customers voluntarily leave positive reviews.

Here’s the best way to start getting positive reviews:

  1. Set expectations from the beginning: build it into your process by mentioning it to new customers.
  2. State upfront that you’d appreciate a 5-star review if they’re happy with the service you provide.
  3. Ask for the review, once your work is finished.
  4. Provide them with links to different review platforms: Google, Yelp, Avvo, Lawyers.com, etc.

Here’s what a search for “probate lawyer New York” looks like on Yelp:

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Which one would you be most likely to contact?

The one with 41 reviews and five red stars or one of the other nondescript ones?

Step 8

Optimize your Google Ads campaigns

Google Ads is like El Dorado for many estate planning law firms. The promised riches never seem to materialize.

The problem for law firms is that the most competitive search terms are extremely expensive: up to hundreds of dollars per click.

It sometimes seems like law firms are funding Google single-handedly.

For estate planning lawyers, you may not face quite the challenges of personal injury lawyers in terms of competition for the best keywords; but it’s still fierce.

Terms like “estate planning lawyer New York” or “Massachusetts estate planner” are expensive.

So, if you’re hoping to bring in a steady flow of leads from Google Ads, you need to be smarter with your campaigns.

The aim should be to keep cost-per-click down with the number of qualified leads up.

Here are a few pointers…

Be more specific with your keywords

Targeting the buyer-intent terms discussed previously with Google Ads is understandable. After all, they translate most readily to revenue.

The problem is that they’re very expensive as everyone is targeting them.

It’s best NOT to follow the crowd here unless you can afford to pay $200 per click (plus) and outbid your competitors.

Get specific and focus on longer tail keywords to bring the cost-per-click down.

So, think “trusts and estate planning lawyer Dallas” or “probate and trust administration Chicago” rather than “estate planner New York”.

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Longer terms may not generate the search traffic of the major terms but several niche phrases can deliver well-qualified leads at good value.

Use ad extensions

With Google Ads being so competitive for law firms, it helps to use all the tricks of the trade to help your ads stand out.

That includes ad extensions.

These provide key extra information to anyone reading your ad, such as:

  • Your location
  • Phone numbers
  • URLs to other pages on your website (like testimonials or about pages)

This can increase the click-through and call rates from qualified leads.

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In the above example for “estate planning law firms san francisco”, the first ad is a standard Google ad; the second one uses ad extensions for phone number, opening hours, address, and links to the service pages of its website.

See how it helps the second ad stand out?

Need more info on running successful Google Ads campaigns? This article on Google AdWords for Lawyers will help.

Step 9

Consider running Facebook retargeting ads

Imagine you live in the Lancaster Pennsylvania area. You’re looking for estate planning advice to protect your children.

You check out a couple of local law firm websites for what you need and then click away and do something else.

One of these websites is featured in an ad that appears in your Facebook feed the next day, while it’s all still fresh in your mind.

They announce the following:

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You may very well be tempted to pick up the phone, email, or simply attend the event.

Estate planning is not like personal injury or criminal law.  It’s one of those things that people tend to put off. It can be awkward. They think “I’ll sort it another day”.

If you can present them with a compelling reason to start, then you win a new client.

Facebook retargeting ads are a great way to do that. They can greatly increase the chances that someone who has already shown interest in your law firm takes it one step further.

Facebook works best for practice areas like estate planning, personal injury, etc. because your target audience is the general public.

I won’t bore you with the Facebook usage stats but suffice to say your target audience is practically all on there!

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You’ll likely need marketing assistance with Facebook retargeting. There’s a high risk of “annoyance” with these ads unless you do it tastefully and follow best practices.

That’s where a specialist law firm marketing agency can help.

Get it right and it’s a very cost-effective way to win new clients: a fraction of the cost of Google Ads.

Step 10

Hosting seminars and webinars

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As you saw in the above section, hosting seminars in your local area is a great way to connect with your target audience.

Gathering 20, 50, or even 100 people in the room and presenting to them on a subject they’re all thinking seriously about is very powerful.

The relationship-building element is key here. People are more likely to entrust their estate planning to someone they’re able to connect with and talk to on a human level.

Some law firms prefer informative workshops for their local audience to achieve that, like this one about living trusts, advertised on their Facebook page:

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Understandably, many law firms are now moving this concept online: they host webinars, like the Socius law firm:

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A few benefits of webinars over in-person events include:

  • Lower overheads
  • Potential for a much wider audience (they’re not geographical dependent)
  • Can be recorded or in-person events
  • The presentation can be re-used as an online resource for website visitors (as per the example below from the Russo Law Group)

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What's Next?

By following the tips laid out above, you’ll get a head start on most other estate planning law firms in your area.

It’s not an exhaustive list of course: I’ve focused on the areas of your internet marketing strategy where you can most readily and positively influence lead generation.

If you want more sales leads for your estate planning law firm, book a free 30-minute consultation.