Most law firms don’t think about lead nurturing. The traditional means of marketing a legal practice involves simply getting your name and your services out there and then waiting for clients to come to you. If a prospective client inquires but doesn’t move forward, or even makes an appointment and then cancels or doesn’t show up, many law firms scratch that name off their lists and move on. The explanation firms offer for this practice is generally something like, “If they’re really interested in moving forward, they’ll contact us.”

However, that outlook has its roots in the pre-digital era, when the “buyer journey” was very different across most industries. Today, most marketing and sales professionals agree that it takes an average of seven to eight “touches” to turn a prospect into a client or customer. The legal profession is no exception. Fortunately, many legal practice areas lend themselves very well to post-contact nurturing, offering plenty of opportunities for law firms to stay in touch and help the prospective client move forward.

Different Law Areas Require Different Nurturing Patterns

The first step toward effective law firm lead nurturing is to consider the circumstances your prospective clients typically find themselves in and the time period during which they will be viable leads. For example, an individual considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy may reach out for information or during a period of high stress, then hold off on filing for six months or more. On the other hand, a prospect who contacts you after a DUI arrest will generally have to retain your services in a relatively short period of time or move forward without you.

Every law area is different, and there may be differently-situated prospects within a law area. Building on the example above, a bankruptcy prospect who is facing foreclosure or some other significant consequence will have a powerful incentive to act more quickly, while a potential client who is simply annoyed by collection calls may be much slower to move forward. Planning a lead nurturing campaign for your prospects requires an understanding of the timelines they’re facing, as well as the issues they’re encountering as they move toward a decision.

If your law firm handles multiple case types across different areas of law, this will require creating separate nurturing campaigns for prospects with different legal matters.

Keeping in Touch with Law Firm Prospects

Keeping in touch with potential clients who made contact but then didn’t retain your law firm offers two distinct, significant advantages.

First, making contact keeps both you and the legal matter in the forefront of the prospect’s mind. An individual who sustained serious injuries in a car accident may have scheduled an initial consultation soon after, but then shifted his focus to recovery, managing finances after an interruption in income and otherwise rebuilding his life. Depending on the jurisdiction, he may have two to four years to file a lawsuit in connection with the accident, and that may seem like a very long time early in his recovery. But, time flies.

Whenever that client hears from you, even if you don’t mention his case or the possibility of representing him, he’s reminded of two things:

  • He has a legal matter that will soon require attention if he wants to receive fair compensation; and
  • You are there to help him when he’s ready to pursue that claim

At the same time, you can use this ongoing contact to build trust and credibility. As you provide valuable information and insights to those prospective clients without asking for anything in return, you are consistently sending the message that you understand their problems, have knowledge and experience that can help them find solutions, and are a source of help if and when they are ready to proceed.

Law Firm Lead Nurturing Options

While the best lead nurturing systems will depend on your market and the type of legal issues they’re facing, some of the most common lead nurturing opportunities can be used effectively across a wide range of legal practice areas and timelines. These include:

  • Email newsletters providing tips and information that is useful to the prospective clients whether they hire you or not
  • Hard copy newsletters or booklets offering similar information to your prospects, particularly if your target market is older, low-income, or otherwise less likely to have regular Internet access
  • Premium content that provides information in greater depth, such as e-books and white papers

The key is to provide information your prospective clients value, so that they perceive you positively and are inclined to continue to open your emails or mailings and re-connect with you time after time.

Know When to Nudge Your Prospects

Although lead nurturing largely involves staying connected and offering value to your prospects, a lead nurturing campaign without a goal is of no value to you and little value to your clients. While you won’t want to push your services at every turn, you can gently nudge your prospects forward in a variety of ways. For example, your newsletter footer might contain a brief paragraph inviting readers to contact you if they need assistance with a legal matter in your practice area.

At intervals, you’ll want to more directly remind your prospect of the reason he or she contacted you and the assistance your law firm can provide. How soon and how many times you make this overture will be determined by the timelines associated with your legal practice area.

Don’t Miss the Opportunity to Turn Law Firm Leads into Clients

A client who doesn’t follow up may have decided not to move forward with her legal matter. She may have hired another attorney. But, very often she has simply become overwhelmed, gotten distracted, decided that she has plenty of time to pursue the matter or has just been too busy to move the matter forward. When you keep in touch with those prospects, you not only increase the opportunity for your law firm to retain a paying client but increase the chances that someone in need will see her problem solved.

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