Digital marketing is more than social media and developing a website. An important aspect is building a strategy to create loyal clients by supporting their journey from the beginning of their problem until after the case has closed.
Choosing a law firm does not happen without background work. The process of a potential client going through five different phases until they become a loyal client, is called the customer journey.
Generally, a customer journey starts with awareness; the potential client might see a billboard or hear a good review from a friend. In the next phase, the potential client may consider committing to your service. The next phase is called purchase in which the potential client becomes a client. However, purchasing is not the end of the customer journey as the client might need help or customer service in the retention phase. Then, as the last step, if the client is satisfied, he or she becomes a loyal client, this phase is called advocacy.
Throughout this journey, the customer has various touchpoints with the company; he or she may see an ad, receive an email, visit the website, chat with a chatbot, subscribe to a newsletter. These touchpoints are opportunities to build a relationship with a potential client and convert them into loyal clients.
Journey of a legal client
To be able to guide your potential clients through this journey, it is important to know your target audience. Questions like: What do they want? What do they need? What is their lifestyle? Where are their pain points? and When are they satisfied? – help create a user persona profile. With this profile, you are able to create the content your client needs to move through the journey.
In contrast to most new products or services, legal clients are aware of legal services. Their journey might not start with seeing an ad, but by having a legal problem or an accident. Their first touchpoint is informational searches online about this problem. They consist of questions like “What happens after …?” or “What to do if …?”. Your client wants to know what their first steps can be. Then, questions become more focused; “Lawyers near me.” The potential client finds options and their searches become navigational. Only after that, potential clients start to consider law firms with transactional searches like “How do I sign up?” (Smartgrownlabs, 2019)
While most firms focus their strategy on transactional searches, only 10% of all searches fall into this category. Informational searches, however, account for 80% of the total search volume. Potential clients are inclined to choose the first law firm that has shown up in their research. This makes it much more favourable for any law firm to be present in the first searches and provide value for your potential client throughout the whole customer journey (B. J. Jansen, D. L. Booth, A. Spink, 2007).
Providing value throughout the customer journey
Informational searches – awareness
Your potential client has stumbled upon a problem and is trying to decide what to do about it. Legal action might have crossed their mind, but the first step is to gather as much information about the situation as possible. Information could be an article about people with similar problems, advice for dealing with these problems, or a webpage from the government with information. This content is purely informational and has no sales connotation.
As a legal firm, you can help your client by providing helpful information about what to do about their immediate issues. An example could be practical information on what to do after a car crash.
In turn, Google will reward you by supporting customers in finding suitable answers to their queries. Internal linking within the articles will enable lead generation.
Navigational searches – consideration
After gathering information about the situation, the potential client might have seen that legal action is possible. Searches now shift to navigational searches around pursuing a claim, e.g. Articles on when this claim is applicable, legal processes, or various claim types will be of value for this research.
As a law firm, you have the professional knowledge that the potential client needs. Educate them through various channels. Having knowledge about their problem encourages your client and helps them move forward.
Transactional searches – purchase
If your potential client believes they can take legal action, they will start looking for a law firm that could help them. Your client needs confirmation that their claim is legit and a firm that is to be trusted and helpful in their case.
This phase is an opportunity to showcase your unique selling points. Provide your client with your portfolio, level of experience and expertise, previous cases, and a personal touch from your attorneys.
Retention and Advocacy
After your client has decided to hire your law firm, you can start building a relationship with them. A client wants and needs a confident, secure, and valuable companion standing next to them, even after the case is closed.
All in all, a customer profile should be the foundation of any marketing strategy. Every possible touchpoint of the customer journey should connect to this profile and answer their wants and needs. Throughout the phases of the customer journey, opportunities arise to build a relationship with potential, loyal customers and increase clientele.