Inbound marketing is a relatively new concept made possible by modern technologies. It recognises that technology has changed traditional buying behaviours and that today, the majority of buyers research a service online before even speaking with the service provider.
When a potential client becomes aware that they have a problem, they will then generally conduct online research to better understand their problem. This usually begins with a Google search. Once they understand and can articulate their problem, they search for solutions.
Implementing the principles of inbound marketing for law firms increases the likelihood that a potential client will become aware of your firm during their initial research. Articles and content you have created will appear in their searches and help them understand their problem. Content marketing and SEO are therefore important to ensure that your content appears when the potential client first researches their problem.
As potential clients move through the client journey, they will engage and interact with your content and start recognising you as an expert in the field they require help with. Much of this content is organic, ie it is content on your website, blogs and social media platforms, rather than paid advertising.
Unlike inbound marketing, where the potential client finds your valuable content, outbound marketing is predicated on you placing advertising in media such as magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, Facebook, Google and outdoor.
One of the most important differences between inbound marketing for law firms and outbound marketing is that inbound marketing is consumed by qualified buyers, whereas outbound marketing often reaches unqualified audiences. Advertising on Facebook and Google Display is considered outbound, but these two digital channels do offer a granular targeting approach and reach more qualified buyers than traditional outbound media.
Outbound marketing is essentially interruption marketing. Your advertisement is distributed far and wide in the hope that its creative execution will attract the attention of a potential client. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is predicated on qualified buyers finding your useful, educational organic content on the internet and engaging with your firm as a result. For this reason, inbound marketing generally engages prospects with a need for your services.
Effective marketing strategies incorporate elements of both outbound and inbound marketing. There are many reasons why a combination of both usually provides better results than either one alone. While inbound marketing may sound like every marketer’s dream, in reality, this would not maximise the opportunities available. Being found online through SEO is a longer-term strategy that you need to complement with advertising, particularly digital outbound such as Facebook and Google advertising that can reach a more precise audience.
For example, Google advertising offers in-market audience targeting. In-market audiences are people Google has identified as actively researching or comparing products and services online that are similar to yours. Google takes into account clicks on related ads and subsequent conversions, as well as the content of the sites and pages people visit. It then categorises users so that you can target those most relevant to your advertisement.
Google also offers custom affinity audiences, where you can create an audience for your Google ads based on keywords a person has used in searches, websites they have visited, and places they may be interested in. Facebook also includes granular targeting options, including a person’s interests, job title etc.
If you’re interested in a deeper dive, the book “How To Grow Your Law Firm” by Gerald Chait provides a detailed look into different Inbound and Outbound strategies that should be adopted by growth focused law firms. More information on “How To Grow Your Law Firm” is available here.