Our data shows some interesting trends on divorce in March, April, and early May 2020. We also experienced family law firms upping their marketing ante with some urgency during this COVID-19 pandemic.
By Dan Couvrette and Martha Chan, Marketing Experts for Family Lawyers
Our company, Divorce Marketing Group, has been working with both divorcing people and family lawyers for 25 years. Aside from marketing family law firms, we publish Family Lawyer Magazine/FamilyLawyerMagazine.com, Divorce Magazine/www.DivorceMag.com, and DivorcedMoms.com, and these divorce-focused websites receive about 3.4 million visits a year. This makes us uniquely well-suited to share data, experiences, and observations about the impact of COVID-19 on divorcing people and family law firms’ marketing activities.
This article is based on actual traffic patterns of our and our clients’ websites and on consultations with existing and new clients over the last three months. Our broad perspective allows us to provide some highly relevant information, trends, and insights that you cannot find anywhere else. We hope this helps you with growing your family law practice – both during and post-pandemic.
Online Divorce-Related Searches Increased in April & Surged in May
Let’s start by sharing the traffic volume to www.DivorceMag.com, which is 100% focused on helping people before, during, and after divorce. The chart (on this page) shows traffic data between January 1 and May 16, 2020 (about 1 million visits for the first 4.5 months). While our traffic was steadily increasing since January, it began to drop in late February when COVID-19 began to dominate the news headlines.
Our traffic hit a low in the third week of March when most states had either declared or were about to declare their stay-home orders. It took a few weeks for people to adjust to their new work and home situations, but by the end of April, traffic had climbed back to where it was before the drop. Then, in the first week of May, our traffic surged – it was twice that of the lowest point in March and last week, we had the highest traffic in 2020.
This suggests that COVID-19 might have delayed some people from moving forward with their divorce, but now that they have lived with the pandemic – and their spouses 24/7 – for a couple of months, they have decided that life and divorce have to go on. In fact, there is likely to be a surge of new cases just around the corner due to the “deferred” divorce, unhappy couples having to spend a lot of time together, and conflicts between exes over parenting during a stay-home order. China, for example, reported a spike in divorce filings when the country began to emerge from quarantine in March.
Our Family Lawyer Clients’ Experience over the Last Three Months
Traffic reports from our clients’ websites show that same pattern with a dip in traffic in March and a rise in May. Some of our clients say they have actually been busier than before the courts were closed. As co-parents continue to interpret the stay-home orders differently, child custody and parenting time cases have increased dramatically. Some have experienced a drop in new cases in March and April and an increase in May. One client said she had 30 cases too many and is now hiring. While these are anecdotal stories from some of the 250 family lawyers currently working with us, the trend matches the DivorceMag.com traffic pattern for the same period.
Close to 99% of our clients have not reduced their marketing programs – especially their search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising budgets – they have contracted us to deliver. They continue to use our monthly newsletter to stay in touch with their referral sources; they are seeing a much greater value in using a monthly newsletter to stay connected with their clients and referral sources on a regular basis to provide updates about courts, new office procedures, etc., than ever before.
A Surge in Divorce and Family Law Firm Marketing
There’s a Growing Sense of Urgency to Market Their Practices
Some clients are seizing the opportunity to publish articles on their firms’ and our websites, and record podcasts and videos with us. Although shooting a professional video in a client’s office isn’t possible right now, we are recording many Zoom videos on topics related to divorce and COVID-19. One video we recorded with a client in April received 10,500+ views in just two weeks after it was posted on DivorcedMoms.com and on our DivorcedMoms Facebook page.
An article we posted on DivorcedMoms.com resulted in our California client being interviewed by a French media company. Now, she cannot wait to record her podcasts with us – something that has been put on the back burner for 6 months. A Pennsylvania family lawyer-client is eagerly awaiting her new firm brochure and stationery to be printed since we rebranded her company with a new logo and website design last month.
Clients who have contracted us to redesign or build new websites for them want them to be ready when their stay-home orders are lifted. A new client in Chicago wants us to take over their website, redesign it, and launch it in 30 days. A client in Newport Beach just found out their courts will be reopening on May 22, so he asked us to help launch his new Google PPC advertising campaign a few days prior to the reopening.
We Have Had Our Best Two Months in New Business in 25 Years. So Can You.
Since March, family lawyers have been actively contacting us and asking how we can help them better market their practices. These new clients have also taken a much shorter time to make their decision to hire us than what we had experienced prior to COVID-19 – and they cannot wait to get started.
Our new clients not only want us to build new websites for them, but they are also taking our advice to let us edit existing – and write new – text that is optimized for search engines and that helps differentiate their firm from the competition. They realize they need much more than window dressing – such as an improved design and new pictures of their attorneys – to be successful. They want podcasts, newsletters, and to lease our Divorce Guides to make their website a resource that will have prospective clients return and pass along as a resource to others.
The stay-home orders have made some law firms realize they need to increase their online presence and find new ways to keep referrals coming. For 25 years, Divorce Marketing Group has been telling family lawyers that they need to attend to their online footprint, and some firms are now taking this advice to heart – asking us to audit then clean up their online reputation and help them collect 4- and 5-star reviews on their Google My Business page. Some clients have expanded their marketing efforts into social media by asking us to create/improve their Facebook and LinkedIn pages and even post for them regularly.
Our marketing agency has set a record high for new business in March and April, and as we write this article, May is trending in the same direction. We assert that our new business did not increase overnight just because of COVID-19. It is about being ready. Divorce Marketing Group has created a roster of great products and services, built an excellent reputation among family lawyers, and consistently invested in marketing before and during the last few months.
The same is true for your family law practice: if you have a good practice and it is supported by a solid marketing foundation, you can grow your practice both during and after this pandemic.
Get More Referrals While Practicing Physical Distancing During COVID-19
Family Lawyer Magazine emails a newsletter to 24,000 family lawyers and divorce professionals twice a month. The recipients are extremely busy people who one may think would not have time to read newsletters. But as we have always told our clients, if you train people that you have a newsletter with valuable content, they will open and read it. The open rate of our Family Lawyer Magazine newsletter has always been above the industry average, and it increased from 18% in January to 20% in April.
Your job is to stay top-of-mind with prospective clients and referral sources so they will remember you when the time comes to recommend a family lawyer. A newsletter is a very good way of keeping in touch when physical distancing is ordered or encouraged. While trapped at home – especially if they have experienced a decrease in new business – many family lawyers are very interested in giving and receiving referrals.
A Great Need for Family Lawyers Is Around the Corner. Are You Ready for It?
Being able to take advantage of the expected surge in need for family lawyers is about your preparedness: those who make the effort to get their law firm’s marketing in order now will benefit the most from this surge. You already know about preparedness – after all, that is how you win cases and succeed in negotiations, right? If having a successful and growing family law practice is a top priority for you, now is the time to polish and expand your law firm’s marketing and increase and/or improve your online presence.
Dan Couvrette and Martha Chan are the co-owners of Family Lawyer Magazine, Divorce Magazine, DivorcedMoms.com, and Divorce Marketing Group. The CEO of Divorce Marketing Group – the only marketing agency dedicated to promoting family lawyers and divorce professionals – Dan has been working in the divorce and family law niche since 1995. Martha has been a marketer, speaker, and educator for 40 years and provided her marketing expertise to many fortune 500 companies. She has been focusing solely on marketing family lawyers and divorce professionals for almost 20 years. www.DivorceMarketingGroup.com
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Gaining Market Share During & After COVID-19
Family lawyers who are willing to adopt new ways of thinking about marketing can grow their practices significantly – even in these most uncertain of times. For more in-depth marketing advice, download the complimentary Marketing Guide for Family Lawyers here.