Section 1: Lead Generation, Simplified
Attracting new business to your practice means potential clients must do three things:
- Find you
- Find out more about you
- Contact you
In online marketing, we call these stages awareness, consideration, and conversion. Here’s how it works . . .
- Potential clients discover your local listing or website in Google search results — that’s awareness.
- Then they evaluate your location, reviews, and service to determine if there’s a good fit — that’s consideration.
- Finally, they take some action, such as signing as a client — that’s conversion.
This is the fundamental process of online marketing. You need all three stages working together as a system: awareness + consideration + conversion!
Now let’s find the optimal channels to apply this process . . .
The Most Effective Online Marketing Channels
Rather than throwing money at every marketing pitch that comes along, use this guide to select the best-performing lead channels. Invest in these core channels first. Performance remains reasonably consistent from industry-to-industry and from location-to-location.
I’ll compress my 12+ years exclusively in local search marketing into a prioritized list of the most effective online marketing channels for divorce professionals.
- Google Local Search (including reviews)
- Google Organic Search (including content marketing)
- Email Campaigns
- Ads (Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin)
- Social Media (Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest)
- Industry Directories and Publications
Our service focuses on optimizing the top two channels — Google Local Search and Google Organic Search.
Whether you call it the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule, we’ve found that Google accounts for a high percentage of local leads. Google Local Search is the first place people go to find professional services.
The best part: these leads are FREE.
Takeaway: Focus on Google to capture 80% of the leads with 20% of the effort.
I’m not saying that email, ads, social media, and directory listings can’t generate local leads. They absolutely can under certain conditions . . . and that’s also the problem.
Ad and social media campaigns require a specialist or agency to do them right.
Email campaigns assumes worthwhile content is continuously generated, something that takes considerable time and skill, and is difficult to outsource.
Directories are restrictive and may not perform as promised.
Every additional channel introduces complexity and cost, and may not produce worthwhile results unless done with insight and expertise.
It’s challenging to attract and convert clients. And because of that, it’s important to concentrate effort. At least at first, it’s better to “go deep” on a solution known to work, than to “go wide” across multiple channels with the idea that a shotgun approach is somehow superior. It’s not.
Now that we know Google Local Search is the most effective channel for divorce professionals; what’s next? Among dozens of SEO tactics, some make a big difference and others do little.
Based on years on direct experience and research, we have identified the key tactics that make the biggest impact and packaged them into our Local SEO solution.
Simple. Clear. Professional. It’s everything you need, done right.
Section 2: More on Marketing Channel Alternatives
1. Google Local Search
Far and away, Google Local Search is the best channel for bringing in new leads from your community.
The geographic reach of local search depends on the density of competition and the strength of your Google Business Profile. Local search reach is typically a radius of 2 – 20 miles around your business, which typically means a population of 50,000 – 1,000,000. Plenty of opportunity!
Your presence on the first page of the Google “Local Pack” (called the “Local Finder” if you click-through for more listings) ensures you’ll have great visibility locally, while filtering out many non-local competitors and directories that would otherwise eat up search engine real estate.
The most important local ranking factors are:
- Google Business Profile
- Technical Page Factors
We address each of these core factors in our Local SEO package.
Reviews are the #1 conversion factor and the #2 local search ranking factor — determining which local competitors are short-listed, and which are filtered out.
Five of the top-seven Google Local conversion factors are related to reviews; do not underestimate their power to influence potential clients. Every professional organization needs a robust review acquisition system that’s built into its business process.
Action Tip: Request a review from every past, present, and future client. Recycle positive reviews to the website (we do this automatically) and repetitively post them to social media.
2. Google Organic Search
If you can’t rank in Google Local (because you don’t have a local address), the next best option is Google Organic.
You may have noticed only certain keywords generate local search results. If the searcher doesn’t use a local-intent keyword, your listing will automatically end up here, in the general organic results.
Ranking well organically is a challenge because it relies on the signal strength of your page and its match to search intent, along with backlinks (links from other websites).
There’s also more competition in organic search results versus local. Unfortunately, that means you’ll need much more optimized content that dovetails with relevant keywords.
For certain client groups, we’re planning to create a corpus of highly-optimized content so our clients can simply upload it to their websites and be DONE, largely solving the missing content problem. (We still recommend creating original content and we provide guidance to dramatically streamline that process.)
What about other search engines . . . Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo? Traffic from these alternative search engines is usually in the low single digits. If you optimize for Google, you’ll still get traffic from these sources without additional action.
3. Email Campaigns
Wait, isn’t email marketing dead?
Hubspot’s 2021 State of Marketing report shows that 70% of the 1,500 surveyed marketers continue to invest in email marketing. Email is an effective channel and I recommend it.
Lost deals often occur due to lack of follow-up communication. Out of sight, out of mind.
Email is the inexpensive, ubiquitous solution to stay in touch. Send information about trends, updates in your practice area, insights that differentiate your organization, and results you’ve obtained. A good email campaign establishes expertise and reinforces brand. You can also send review requests, but text messaging generally works better.
My recommendation is to build an email list and send to it on a regular basis, forever. A website popup call-to-action that makes an offer in exchange for an email address dramatically accelerates list-building.
Mailerlite is a simple, inexpensive app that would work well for most professional practices. For sophisticated sales-centric automation, look at Close.
Ads can rocket your organization to the top of the search results, generate leads based on demographic data, and do it all quickly.
But hold on . . .
We know the typical conversion rate from all search activity is about 2%. We also know that less than 10% of searchers click on ads.
Therefore, average ad conversions are roughly (.10)(.02) = .002. That’s .2% — a small slice of a small pie.
Conversely, since 90% of searches choose organic search results, organic conversions are roughly (.9)(.02) = .018. That’s 1.8 % — a small slice of a BIG pie.
I know which one I’d rather have.
The point is, without solid local and organic visibility, you’re missing most of the traffic and leads.
You’ll discover that ads can be expensive. For example, the average cost for the keyword “divorce attorney” is $25 per click. With a 2% conversion rate, that’s $1,250 per new client acquisition. That cost may acceptable for some law firms, but it’s outrageously expensive compared to FREE organic conversions. You may also find the quality of leads varies from organic leads.
Imagine the long-term advantage of reallocating a portion of your ad budget into Google Local SEO instead. Yes, local SEO is a longer-term strategy, but the results stick with little permanent expense. Remember that ads do not build a marketing asset; it’s like renting an apartment instead of buying a home that appreciates over time. With advertising, leads stop when you stop paying for ads. With an organic strategy, leads continue indefinitely.
Lastly, ad campaigns must be actively managed or risk draining the budget with nothing to show. So who manages the campaign? Certainly not Google or Facebook. Agencies with true expertise either don’t want smaller accounts or charge a lot to service them. Is do-it-yourself keyword research, copywriting, landing page development, and performance tracking realistic? No, it is not.
Many professionals become disillusioned with ad campaigns for cost, complexity, and management reasons. However, if you choose to go down this road, hire an experienced individual or company to create and manage the campaign. Demand monthly performance reports that link specific conversions to the overall cost of the campaign. Watch the numbers closely. Are your ads profitable?
To minimize risk, consider a hybrid model. Run ads on a smaller set of keywords that supplement your local organic campaign in some way, for example, to expand your market area by advertising in surrounding communities or to rank for competing brand names.
5. Social Media
Social media is fine for branding, but is it a strong lead producer for professional services?
From what I’ve seen, no.
Social media gets used primarily to stay in touch with friends and for entertainment. Along the way, users may discover brands.
But look at the numbers: finding local services is not even on Statista’s list of reasons people use social media. (Statista). That may be why a 2019 BrightEdge study claimed that social media delivered less than 1% of revenue.
Beyond that, a continuous publishing effort is mandatory since the half-life of social media posts is exceedingly short, a few hours at best. Is it worth it?
If you’re skillful at creating videos, I’ll grant there’s potential to point some people from social media to your site, capture contact information, and eventually convert that lead.
I’ll leave you with a question . . . have you or anyone you know ever hired a divorce attorney from Facebook?
6. Industry Directories and Publications
Many industries have directories that sell listings or ads. For example, there are dozens in the legal industry including Justia, Avvo, FindLaw, Superlawyers, and Nolo. So far, I have not seen great results from directories and industry publications.
Directories may outrank your practice’s website for certain organic results (because their websites likely have more authority). And that’s the directory salesperson’s pitch — “We rank at the top for this or that keyword, plus your competitors have already signed-up — pay for inclusion or be left out!”
That characterization is not accurate. Directories may indeed out-rank your website in the short term, but if you build up your website authority, your firm will likely rank above those directories in organic results.
More importantly, your firm can appear on the first page of Google local results. Local search is the best place to compete. Directories can’t appear in local results . . . because they do not have a local address.
The other disappointment about directories is that your organization will be displayed next to all your competitors. There’s no differentiation except for the upgrade packages the directory company sells.
Online directory space is sold just like printed telephone directories once were, with upcharges for ad size, website links, prominence, geographic coverage, etc. Expect lock-in contracts and “sold-out” territories. Annual contracts are a wonderful cash cow for directory publishers.
Give directories a shot if you like. I have yet to see evidence that directories are effective lead sources compared to Google search, and their restrictive contracts make them even less attractive.
Are you a divorce pro that wants more leads? Call us for advice.