Search Wins the Prospecting Case for B-to-B Law Firm

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

A southern California law firm specializing in business employment law has seen a 200% ROI from a search engine marketing effort designed to attract new clients.

Prior to contracting with Web Visible in mid 2009, Merhab Robinson & Jackson had been getting most of its new business via referrals and leads generated through public speaking at seminars targeting professionals like insurance agents, and from hours of networking at social events. Marla Merhab Robinson, founder of the 14-year-old firm, says that she was skeptical that online marketing would work for a B-to-B focused law firm. Nonetheless, the Southern California law firm specializing in business employment law has seen a 200% ROI from a search engine marketing effort designed to attract new clients.

“There was no way I thought it was going to work,” says Robinson. “I understood the need in B-to-C, but for what we do, representing businesses, I thought professionals would want a referral from someone they already trusted—like an insurance agent or stock broker.”

Reaching the New B-to-B Marketers

But as younger professionals—who get all their information online—have been entering the workforce, that has changed. So the firm began concentrating on search, using methods such as posting articles offering tips on employment law to drive traffic to its site.

“Part of building trust is being able to do research and check out an attorney’s credentials—and you can easily do that online,” notes Carla Fitzgerald, vice president of marketing, Web Visible.

Today, Robinson estimates that the firm is spending about $500 per month on search. “It’s a great success for us. If we get one individual to do an incorporation, we’ve usually got that client for life, because they have to maintain that corporation forever until it is dissolved or sold. And then they need legal services if they are buying other companies, hiring companies—once they are the door, there’s so much other business.”

As for keywords, Robinson says nothing really unusual has surfaced, noting that the usual suspects pull well—corporate attorney, corporate lawyer, etc. One client who called after finding the firm online said she was drawn to the practice because it was led by a female attorney. Robinson isn’t sure if the client had searched on the word “woman,” but is considering adding the keyword to her repertoire.

Other than search and networking, the firm hasn’t done much other marketing. It has advertised in some programs for local charity events, particularly causes for which the firm has done pro bono work. While that is good for the firm’s image, it isn’t great at bringing in potential clients.

Connecting More Economically

“Networking is expensive,” Robinson says. “Every hour I’m doing that, I’m not billing. In search, it can hit so many people. I can just throw money at it and let it work—that’s a big, big plus.”

The success of the search initiatives is being tracked by dedicated phone numbers and landing pages, says Fitzgerald.

The firm is considering increasing its budget for online marketing as a way to boost search results, says Robinson. It currently has a Facebook page, which she concedes probably hasn’t driven any new business, but she hasn’t yet tried other social methods like tweeting or blogging.

Still, online is where the new clients are, and where the firm needs to be now more than ever.

“Clients are doing more and more business online,” she says. “It’s odd for me. People don’t even want to do an in- person meeting before they become a new client and start doing business with us.”


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