10 Updated Lawyer Marketing Strategies for Criminal Justice Attorneys To Find More Clients Fast

Josh Brown - SEO Consultant

Written by: Josh Brown

The criminal justice profession is more crowded and competitive than ever, making it a must to find new ways to stand out to potential clients to defend. No matter how good a criminal defense attorney you are, it’ll be challenging to get new clients if you can’t get their attention. So how do you increase your visibility and turn an audience into verified leads?

Read on to learn more about the top 10 marketing strategies you can use to stand out and get more clients. I’ve put together a list comparing the best digital and traditional strategies – try any of these (or a combination of them) to turn those clicks and glances into acquired cases.

Top 10 Best Criminal Defense Marketing Strategies That Work in 2024

Because the legal profession is so competitive, attorneys and firms need to learn about marketing trends and strategies that will successfully promote their legal services.

These are the 10 best traditional and digital marketing strategies for criminal lawyers, arranged in order of effectiveness. Each one has a different necessary investment amount to yield the best results – keep reading for a thorough breakdown of how they work:

  1. Local Service Ads (LSA)
  2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  3. Google Ads
  4. YouTube Ads
  5. Meta Ads
  6. TikTok
  7. OTT Advertising
  8. Radio
  9. Intake Optimization
  10. Website Redesign

1. Engulf Google’s Hottest Real Estate for Your Criminal Defense Law Firm with New Local Service Ads

Google’s Local Service Ads (LSAs) are ads that look a bit like business cards. They display your firm’s name, service area, Google ratings, and operating hours. With just a click on your Local Service Ad, potential clients can browse your criminal defense firm’s reviews and get your contact information.

One of the advantages of LSAs is that you’ll only pay for the leads you acquire, and your ads can be scaled based on your budget and area. Prices vary depending on your location and job type, but generally, these ads are charged based on every valid lead you receive. Valid leads try to reach out to you through the contact details provided on your Local Service Ad via phone calls and direct messaging to a lesser extent.

Criminal defense lawyers can expect to pay around $30 per Local Service Ads lead. Ideally, at least one out of three leads will become an acquired case. However, there are a few challenges:

  • You need to answer every call immediately within 1-2 rings, or return a lead’s message with a text message. Otherwise, your rankings will go down.
  • It can be tough to reach this target if you’re in a very competitive location or your intake department is inexperienced
  • Google might increase the cost-per-lead price in the future, making it pricier to get more leads and more acquired cases.
  • There may be poor leads (ex: a person looking for a Georgia labor lawyer instead of a Georgia criminal defense attorney). Note that if the leads are completely irrelevant, you may charge them back.

Stack LSAs With Other Marketing Strategies

What you can do to make Google Local Service Ads more effective is combine them with other digital marketing strategies, such as SEO or PPC (pay-per-click) ads. By ranking higher in Local Service Ads, Google Maps, and organic Google search results, you can gradually push your firm’s brand to dominate the first page of your targeted Google search terms across all Google products – true omnipresence

2. Get Criminal Defense Leads From Google’s Most Trusted Traffic Channel with SEO

One tactic you can try is getting leads with great search engine optimization (SEO). Simply put, SEO is the process of making your official website rank more highly in a search engine’s results. A higher rank increases your site’s visibility and drives more traffic, and a bigger audience means more potential leads.

There are two sub-channels to consider when improving your website’s SEO: Google search results (particularly the first 10 that show on the page) and Google Maps. Most law firm owners think that SEO will get their criminal defense firm the most leads. However, a quick analysis of your firm’s call data will show that it’s probably Google Maps providing well over half your leads.

Because Google Maps is driving more potential leads compared to organic SEO, it should be your priority. Do expect to spend a bit to rank well for both sub-channels, regardless of which you choose. Generally, you’ll have to spend $2,000/month on the lower end and up to $5,000/month or more to hire SEO professionals with experience in ranking specific search terms and keywords.

Sounds steep? Remember: ranking on the first page of the search results for a term as broad as “criminal defense lawyer” is a big challenge and can take months to achieve. It’s well worth the cost if it means increasing your firm’s reach and expanding your target audience.

The benefit here is lead quality. Ask yourself, do you trust sponsored ads?

Google Ads PPC is exactly what it is: pay-per-click. Instead of paying a flat rate to run your ad on a website, you can opt for Google Ads PPC and only pay for every click your site gets.

True, clicks can still rack up big costs but you’ll still get leads with this strategy. Whilenot as efficient as Local Service Ads where you pay for every valid lead, virtually any firm can advertise in PPC (text ads). With LSA, you might have to don camouflage and prepare for war in some metros.

So how does one get click costs down and stay visible?

Pro Tip: Location extensions.

Set up your text ads to, via the location extensions, to show up in the sponsored section ofthe Google Maps pack (a.k.a. search results which appear on Google Maps when someone is doing local searches for businesses). This allows you to reach a more targeted audience and pay a lower cost for each acquired lead. And I’m talking dramatically lower. We routinely get personal injury clicks for $5 that otherwise fetch $100.

Ssh! Don’t tell anyone.

4. Leverage Low Cost-Per-Views, Brand Awareness & Huge Reach For Your Criminal Defense Law Firm with YouTube Ads by Google

YouTube is the world’s largest video-sharing platform with over 2.7 billion active users as of 2023, so running ads on it can create awareness of your services to a wider audience. Think of YouTube ads by Google as similar to TV ads – but at a lower cost. They can also be run in your location (a.k.a. your local geo), so you can increase awareness of your firm or office to people in your area.

However, note that you’ll need to either get creative with videos or hire someone to give you a hand with editing and producing YouTube ads. This extra cost and effort is often a hurdle for criminal defense attorneys.

YouTube ads are also limited by the fact that people don’t search for lawyers on YouTube. While running them to visitors in your local geo boosts visibility, it doesn’t help you target an audience that’s already specifically looking for your services. Keep these in mind if you want to extend your criminal defense law firm’s reach through YouTube ads.

5. Affordable Interruption Marketing For Your Criminal Defense Firm on Social Media Platforms via Meta Ads PPC

Interruption marketing inserts ads into a user’s stream or feed. Unlike traditional advertising methods that show ads when you deliberately look for related content, interruption marketing gets attention by inserting itself into your current activity.

Doing this through Meta ads will allow you to insert your criminal defense firm’s ads into local users’ Instagram and Facebook feeds, showing up whenever they scroll through content on these platforms. Note that while running Facebook and Instagram ads is a cost-effective way to get more eyeballs on your firm, lead quality isn’t the best.

Consider this marketing strategy if your main goal is to increase awareness of your services to local users. Just take advantage of the low cost-per-action, have eye-catching ads, and be prepared to deal with a sea of poor-quality leads to acquire cases.

6. Short Form Video Ads on TikTok To Raise Awareness for Your Criminal Defense Practice

More than 1 billion videos are viewed on TikTok every day, with over 150 million monthly active TikTok users in the U.S. With a potentially vast reach like that, it’s no surprise that more than one attorney has been convinced they can go viral and take the Mike Mandell route. But this pro is also the reason for TikTok video ads’ biggest drawback: it’s hard to get organic, local leads.

While you may hit the jackpot and have your post earn thousands of views, there’s no guarantee that those views are from people in your area who will hire you. Case in point? Even Mike Mandell has to run a nationwide referral service despite his reach.

Awareness ad campaigns and organic campaigns can produce “okay” results. But they can be a real drain on your time, money, and effort. Here’s what you should do instead.

How To Really Use Social Media & SEO As a Criminal Defense Firm To Get Leads

Social media leads aren’t the strongest prospects for acquiring cases. But because they’re cost-effective, it’s worth figuring out a way to make up for their weakness. Maximize social media and SEO by running local awareness campaigns into an organic search funnel.

Run a social media ad that directs your audience to do something outside of social media. The ad should be structured so it has a strong call to action and pushes people to look up your firm on Google or other search engines.

SEO kicks in once your audience reaches this stage. When someone searches for your firm name, they should typically find your Google Business profile, official website, and ancillary properties like your social media pages. This is your audience’s conversion point, and it has a low cost per acquisition to boot.

7. Over-The-Top Advertising: Streaming TV Media Buying for Criminal Defense Lawyers with Precision

Over-the-top (OTT) ads are ads on streaming platforms and services accessed by devices connected to the Internet. Through OTT advertising, businesses display ads to users when they watch content on their:

  • Smart TVs
  • Mobile phones
  • Laptops
  • Tablets

Some OTT ads are banners or pop-ups displayed on the screen when users watch content. Others are in-video ads that play before, during, or after watching content.

Streaming services have become so popular over the last few years that 99% of all U.S. households pay for at least one or more streaming services. Because of this vast reach, running OTT ads on the most well-known services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime can give any business a much-needed boost in brand visibility.

If you’re unsure how to plan out your ads and when they should be aired, OTT reps can even give suggestions to maximize your ROI. For example, criminal defense lawyers may opt to air their ads to users who watch legal dramas on a streaming service.

OTT ads can get pricey, especially if you don’t narrow down when your ads are shown and just have them displayed everywhere in a run-of-network campaign. If you want to try OTT advertising but need to curb spending, stick to these guidelines:

  • Select your target audience so you know when your ads should be displayed.
  • Measure your ads’ performance with tracking services like CallRail or WhatConverts. Cut ads that aren’t performing.
  • Be decisive and end an OTT campaign when the leads aren’t coming in or start to go down.

8. Old School Radio Advertising for Criminal Defense Attorneys

Radio advertising is an old-school way to spread the word to potential clients. Radio ads are easier to produce and more affordable compared to TV ads, and they can be aired as soon as your ad is produced. You can even target your ads to a specific audience by choosing a specific station and time slot.

However, radio ads are short and they risk being ignored as background music, so you may have to repeatedly air your ad before you see any results. Primetime slots on air are also more expensive – an important consideration if you have a limited budget for advertising.

Results may vary for different businesses, but from our experience, our clients haven’t gotten great results from radio advertising. This could be because of the increased popularity of video marketing, with 91% of businesses using video as a marketing tool and 89% of consumers saying they want to see more videos from brands in 2024.

With video marketing’s popularity, the rise of short-form videos like TikTok, and limited budgets for advertising, it’s unsurprising that some businesses opt out of radio advertising. While radio might increase your reach, it’s not a high-priority strategy simply because it doesn’t seem to be as effective as the others on this list.

9. Squeeze New Cases From Existing Criminal Defense Leads by Embracing Intake Optimization

Intake optimization can help you acquire new cases from the criminal defense leads you already have. Optimizing the intake of a criminal defense firm involves improving existing client acquisition processes, such as:

  • Reduced response time to emails, calls, or other inquiry methods
  • Robust, personalized follow-ups
  • Prompt, professional communication during consultations and inquiries
  • Data analysis of your firm’s documentation and CRM processes

Improving your target market’s experience and current conversion rates will reduce missed opportunities for acquiring clients. It also boosts ROI as you make the most out of existing processes without spending on other strategies.

Every business should work on intake optimization to efficiently prioritize strong leads. Note that this will need a long audit process, but it has the advantage of improving lead flow without spending on marketing.

10. Facelift: Redesign Your Criminal Defense Website To Improve Client Trust

A well-designed criminal defense website is often your first (and only) chance to make a good first impression on potential clients. With the sheer number of criminal defense service websites that clients will see, the last thing you want is for your website to be clunky and unprofessional-looking.

There’s no getting around it: the average viewer is unlikely to meet you in person, let alone visit your office. So if the first impression you give is made with a poorly designed website that barely loads, they won’t think much of your criminal defense services and will move on to someone else.

Every criminal defense firm or attorney should have a polished website that runs smoothly.

Note that revamping your website will improve visitor trust, but it doesn’t guarantee visitors will click and follow your calls to action. Let the design make the first impression, then follow through with a solid marketing plan to turn those clicks into acquired leads.

A.P.B. About Criminal Defense Lawyer Marketing Agencies

While looking up law firm internet marketing, you may have seen promotions from criminal defense marketing agencies promising high-quality content that will boost your lead conversion. In reality, most marketing agencies are focused on their profits instead of their clients’ results.

Why? Because that’s what agencies are optimized for.

Because agencies handle scores of clients (often in the same city), your account may be given less attention than a client with a higher or longer retainer. Likewise, their workforce is usually p overworked, underskilled, and just trying to meet their numbers for the month. If you’ve ever wondered why your account manager at Agency XYZ keeps turning over, now you know. Additionally, there’s a strong chance the agency will turn over the cheapest deliverables possible and call it a day.

Let’s Talk About Getting Real Results For Your Criminal Defense Firm

Criminal defense marketing is warfare. Attorneys are all vying for the same goal with a wide array of resources, but only few can win. The odds your firm will make it are slim.

You need serious representation by an experienced lawyer marketing consultant who will work tirelessly as your advocate. Your firm needs a transparent and ethical marketing partner, one who has tenure in the game and results to back themselves up as an elite-level operator. Best-in-class deliverables with nothing held back until you dominate page one, that’s what your firm deserves.  

Contact Josh Brown Consulting at (310) 462-2034 or send us a message via our secure online form now and let’s get started on a winning strategy for your criminal defense law firm’s lead conversion.