Business Strategy, Digital Marketing, SEO

By Postali

10 Legal Marketing Agency Red Flags to Watch Out For

Many attorneys we talk to have some skepticism about law firm marketing agencies. As a marketing agency, we’ll be the first to admit that this skepticism is extremely valid.

In a perfect world, a marketing company should act in your firm’s best interest. They should offer thought leadership, expertise and help your law firm grow in a profitable way. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and it can be difficult to distinguish between a marketing agency that will deliver on its promises and one that will not.

Before you engage in conversation with a potential marketing partner, you should have a clear idea of your law firm’s goals. In addition to knowing what to look for, it’s also important to be aware of red flags. If a marketing company does any of these things, they may not be the best fit for your firm.

1. They lack an understanding of attorney advertising ethics

As a law firm, you have to operate in accordance with your state’s Rules of Professional Conduct, which will often align with the ABA Model Rules and set standards on ethical attorney advertising. Your state will likely have specific guidelines in regard to direct mail advertising, naming your business or digital marketing.

This can create problems when law firms work with marketing agencies who do not typically specialize in the legal profession. In addition to being a marketing expert, your marketing agency needs to be well-versed in attorney advertising ethics and act in accordance with them.

2. They promise SEO rankings in a short period of time

 Of course, you want to be on page 1 of Google tomorrow. The reality is that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. You cannot guarantee rankings, and a website needs time to build relevance and authority with Google. Establishing strong SEO rankings for attorneys can take anywhere from 6 months to over a year.

Any promise for SEO rankings in a short period of time is a promise that cannot be kept.

3. They’re unwilling to share their work

Any reputable marketing company will proudly share the work they’ve done. It’s extremely important that you are able to see examples of recent work from any company you’re evaluating using. In addition to sharing their work, they should be able to speak to the results that it drove.

4. Their websites are not optimized for all devices

In today’s mobile world, it’s important to think about all the ways in which a potential client will discover your law firm. Oftentimes, it’s a Google search on their mobile phone.

When you’re evaluating the law firm website design work of a marketing agency, be sure to assess the website on mobile phones and tablets. Ask about their approach to mobile. Any company that is not thinking mobile-first is not staying up-to-date with current marketing best practices.

5. They offer extremely low prices

You want to keep your firm’s expenses low, so a no-contract marketing company offering services for very low prices may sound tempting. Be extremely wary of this. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Hiring cheap marketing consultants often will cost you more in the long-run. When they fail to deliver results, you will have to re-start your search and potentially hire someone to clean up any damage, such as a Google algorithm penalty, that your website has incurred.

Experienced, talented marketers will come at a higher price tag, but the business results they can help your firm achieve is worth it.

6. They work with your competitors

Your marketing company’s goal should be to outsmart the competition in your area. That’s difficult to do if they’re also working for your competition. This puts your firm at risk, and it’s is a conflict of interest that ethical marketers will avoid.

A good legal marketing agency will be transparent about potential conflicts of interest and even refer you to another, reputable company if they cannot provide marketing support.

7. They don’t know what CLE means

Legal marketing is a common topic at CLE events, as attorneys often don’t have formal marketing training and are looking for ways to improve their firms’ business operations.

A good legal marketing company should have a solid understanding of challenges that affect the legal industry. Attending CLE events is a great way for marketers to connect with attorneys to discuss business challenges, current topics and strategies. If your marketing consultants aren’t familiar with these events and haven’t attended any, they may not be as engrained in the legal space as they claim.

8. They mention buying links

Links are an important ranking factor for SEO. Earning links from relevant, high-quality websites can help your law firm website’s rankings, but it’s extremely important to understand and follow Google’s guidelines on linkbuilding.

Buying links is a spammy, “black hat” SEO technique that will lead you to a Google penalty. If any marketing agency offers paid linkbuilding services, steer clear. It’s also important to ask any potential SEO partner about their stance on linkbuilding and how they approach it.

Many agencies will engage in the practice of buying links without their clients’ knowledge. We work with many attorneys who have been hit with algorithm penalties due to work of a marketing consultant, so it’s important to establish an understanding of the linkbuilding tactics your marketing company uses.

9. They cannot provide references

 As a law firm, you know that happy clients are often a powerful tool for your business. The same holds true for marketing agencies.

A reputable agency will have no problem putting you in touch with attorneys they work with so you can develop a better understanding of their services and what to expect.

10. They don’t make you feel 100% comfortable

No matter how big their promises are, the most important thing is to find a marketing agency that you trust. You should feel comfortable with your decision to hire them.

It’s a good idea to get to know not only a sales representative but to speak to the people who will be working on your law firm’s marketing on a daily basis. You should feel comfortable in their pricing, marketing knowledge and personality.

When engaging with a potential marketing partner, it’s important to ask the right questions and know what to look for. If you’d like to discuss your firm’s marketing, we’re here to help.