Here is valuable advice from an internet veteran who has learned many marketing lessons over the years.
Emery Brett Ledger is a lawyer specializing in personal injury. He’s been practicing law in California since 1998 and is the founder of The Ledger Law Firm. Ledger has worked on numerous wrongful death and catastrophic trucking accident cases.
His online presence is robust but when it comes down to bringing in new leads, he calls his firm “old-fashioned.”
“One of our strongest mediums is word-of-mouth,” he says. “We bring in new clients and service them in such a way so that the lawyer jokes don’t ring true.”
Ledger’s firm accomplishes this in a few distinct ways. The first of which he calls a “zero-second response time.” When someone calls the firm, they get back to the client immediately, whether it’s through the site’s contact form or over the phone. “[Clients] speak to an attorney within one minute of contact,” he says, noting the feedback on this practice management technique has been “paramount.”
He also believes his firm stands out from the competition for the simple fact that he was a defense attorney for 10 years. “I was in the courthouse every day and a lot of civil attorneys don’t have that experience,” he says, primarily because a lot of personal injury cases are never tried. “This gives us an advantage because we’re not afraid to go to court,” he says.
And again, he emphasizes client service. “It’s what we focus on,” he says, pointing out the fact that people usually call them at the worst moment in their lives. “Conveying empathy and that we’re here for them is something we hear we’re doing right time and again.”
Still, despite what Ledger calls an old-fashioned approach, there aren’t many places online you won’t find him or his firm. And his online marketing approach has been quite effective. I recently spent some time discussing the details with him.
“I was a pioneer in SEO,” Ledger says. “Between 2008 and 2012, our SEO campaign put us on the top page for the term ‘lawyer.’” The most recent Google algorithm changes from Panda through Hummingbird have caused a bit of a backslide, however. The firm now targets more specific, local keywords, which has netted better results. “We attract more potential clients on the internet now than when we ranked for ‘lawyer’,” he says.
He accomplishes this by following Google’s best practices. “Quality content is key to our success,” he says and emphasizes the importance of not having somebody oversee content externally.
Ledger uses Google Adwords tools to conduct keyword research before writing new content. “We’ve found [keyword optimization] is somewhat academic,” he says, noting the firm’s content marketing strategy has relied on a lot of “trial and error” before finding success. “We throw it all at the wall,” he says.
Google Ads used to play a larger role in the firm’s budget but is now reserved for niche markets. “I used to buy traffic at around 12 cents per click but now it’s $20 per click,” he says. It can no longer be a “shotgun approach,” he says due to the increased expense, but believes it’s still worth using for highly targeted, local markets.
The website for The Ledger Law Firm is quite attractive. It features a large image slider front and center with a fully responsive layout. I asked Ledger to walk me through the decision-making process behind the site’s design.
“It’s always a work in progress,” he says. And though the most recent version of the site has more “bells and whistles” than previous versions, it’s “underperforming” those past sites.
“Sometimes, a better looking site isn’t always as effective,” he says. That’s why he relies on a multiple site strategy. The main firm’s site is more about branding and establishing client trust. It’s less about lead generation. The other sites are made solely for lead generation, however, and have “better calls-to-action and larger forms,” he says.
One of those sites is Ledger on the Law, a lawyer directory that accompanied Ledger’s radio show. The prominent video and call-to-action, “Enter your zipcode,” demands attention and action from site visitors.
And there’s a definitive reason why this kind of lead generation site stands alone as opposed to existing as a part of the The Ledger Law Firm’s main site. “There’s always a problem when you make a site too informative,” he says. “The user will come in and read and read and read and self-help their situation and won’t reach out to the lawyer.”
That’s why his lead generation sites, “have very little content, but drive user to an experience of outreach.”
Despite The Ledger Law Firm’s decreased performance over previous versions of the site, people use the LiveChat box located at the bottom quite frequently. “We have about 20-30 people using it per day,” he says, “And when we’re not monitoring it, the box disappears.”
Ledger believes this is the only ethical approach. “We monitor it ourselves and answer it ourselves.”
Social Media and Directories
Ledger has a presence on just about all of the popular social media sites. Though he has several Twitter accounts, each of which correspond to a different lead generation site, his primary account is @LedgerOnTheLaw.
He currently has over 12,000 followers on this account. Much of this account’s success can be attributed to Ledger’s promotion of it on his radio show, which aired on KABC. “Most of my Twitter followers came from media,” he says and notes that he continues to get, “a couple of followers a week,” and that a Twitter presence is good for SEO.
He offers a quick tip: “If you say something too promotional, your followers will drop off, so you’ve got to be careful.”
Ledger has a YouTube account as well, which currently has about 30 videos. He describes his approach there as a “slow strategy.”
It’s very much so a case of “If you build it, they will come, but they won’t come right away,” he says. Some of his videos have around 1,000 views but he points out YouTube’s view count tracking can be rather deficient.
More importantly, he’s heard feedback from clients who’ve had use for the content his videos provide.
Ledger also has a presence on Facebook and just about every other social media site. “I haven’t found it to be super effective,” he says, though he admits, “we’re still early in social media.” He hasn’t yet been able to track a direct correlation between his social activity and building his business. The major issue he’s found is social media as a whole can be difficult. And this can lead to a temptation to outsource these tasks. He finds that move to be ill-advised.
“Having a marketing firm handle it is dangerous,” he says, “And after Panda and Penguin, we decided to keep all social media in house.” He will no longer let anyone outside the firm handle its marketing.
Of legal directories, he admits there “aren’t many we’re not listed in,” and that his firm takes a “comprehensive approach.”
“We’re looking to be everywhere,” he says. “Our goal is that a client not only finds us by doing a direct Google search but also, if possible, by every directory out there.”
Specifically, he finds Avvo to be a “great partner.” On that site, he’s contributed several legal guides and has answered many questions posed by site visitors. He also has a 10 rating.
“It’s a great place for peer-to-peer referrals,” he says because more lawyers look at the site than clients, but it’s still “a very good marketing partner for lawyer to lawyer or B2C” referrals.
Before ending our conversation, Ledger offered a few more pieces of actionable advice from which other lawyers can benefit:
- Photographs are key. Having non-stock photos and images of the firm on your site can help to increase trust.
- Bios of the firm and its employees are important too. You have to offer something people can relate to.
- After you achieve some intimacy with the client and show off your personality a bit, it’s time to move to a landing page over multiple page site format. “This is the best way to produce leads,” he says because the “user can’t get lost” and “all [the client] needs to do is enter their information and someone from the firm will contact them.”
- You’ve got to do it yourself. Write content internally. Communicate internally.
- If you want to dominate the internet, you need to learn the internet. “We wasted a lot of money between 2000 and 2006 trying to outsource our internet campaign,” Ledger says, “But it wasn’t until we brought it in house that we achieved success.”