If you own your immigration law firm, or partner with others in ownership, you are a business owner. And as a business owner, you are responsible for driving the growth of the business while providing the core of its deliverables - immigration services.
There is a lot from the business world that, as an immigration lawyer, you can find useful to learn about, such as developing marketing strategy, setting growth goals, and creating an overall experience that leaves your clients happy. Sometimes, however, business content that’s available online uses lingo that isn’t well-known to immigration lawyers, and it certainly doesn’t have the immigration law context in mind either.
Thinking about how to take all this valuable information and help you find relevance for it in the immigration law space, so we’ve put together these 20 sales and marketing terms that can help you think more strategically about the growth of your business and establishing better relationships with your prospective and existing clients.
Here's our list of 20 of the top business and marketing terms you should know. Of course this list is not exhaustive, and we always recommend you continue to study and learn about the business and marketing side of your practice. But hopefully this is a great place to start.
API stands for Application Programming Interface. In technical terms, it’s a “piece of code that acts as an intermediary between two different pieces of software and enables them to communicate with each other”. An API is an intermediary between a client and the action they want to execute on a software, and the backend of that software and its ability to execute that action for the user. Most of the work that can be done with an API falls under the expertise of a software developer, but even as a non-developer, it’s helpful for you to know what API integrations are available to you on your tech stack.
The most important thing that APIs do for you is that they allow you to integrate a service without having to learn how to build that into your website or platform. That way, you can put unrelated pieces of software together, sometimes developed by two different companies, and have them work seamlessly. For example, Docketwise has a Quickbooks integration, meaning that if you use Docketwise as your forms, case management, or CRM tool, invoices created and payments recorded in Docketwise are automatically pushed to Quickbooks. If you want to explore this particular integration more closely, check out our support guide.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a term that typically refers to software that helps you consolidate all the information about your clients into one place, and follow their interactions with your firm step by step. In other words, it’s a database of prospects and existing clients.
In our other post about why immigration law firms need a customer relationship management tool, we discussed the advantage that having all the information concerning a client in one place represents, especially when multiple staff members need access to that information. All of this information together can be used to run reports that can help you make decisions in areas like marketing or profitability based on the data of what’s actually happening in your practice.
A Call to Action is a prompt included in a piece of content asking potential clients to take a specific action. Some examples of CTAs can be:
As you can see, not every CTA leads to an action that costs money. Many CTAs are designed to keep the client engaged with your content, in order to continue building a relationship that, at the right time, makes you the first option for a service when the client needs it.
Conversion is the process of turning a prospective client into a paying client. The conversion process is not just the persuading of the client to sign up with you. In immigration law practice, it usually takes more than a visit to your website or one look at an ad for a client to decide to choose you as their lawyer, making conversion a multi-step process.
Successful conversions also involve your online presence. With more and more people searching for services online, the reviews your firm has online, how easy it is to contact you, and how responsive you are become crucial factors. Be sure to ask your past clients for reviews whenever possible! Some tips to facilitate your potential clients converting to paying clients as easily as possible include:
At it's core, client conversion is simply finally getting a prospective client to pay you for your services.
This is the cost to a company in bringing in a new customer. Knowing this number can help you calculate the return on investment you will get from onboarding new clients.
Traditional recommendations dictate that a business should set aside about 7-8% of its revenue for customer acquisition costs. With the availability of free online platforms you can incorporate into your digital marketing strategy, marketing costs are not the same as they used to be. Your online presence and the value you provide through it in platforms that are mostly free to use, or come at low yearly costs, may cost far less than 7-8% of your firm’s revenue and bring more clients for a lower cost. Be sure to check out our two-part series on digital and social media marketing for immigration lawyers if you haven’t already.
Shopify, the largest host of online stores around the world, defines Customer Lifetime Value as the amount of money a customer can be expected to spend on your business throughout their lifetime. This is an important metric to know when you’re considering the investment you will put into acquiring new clients and retaining existing customers.
To calculate CLV, multiply the average value of a purchase (in immigration law, your rate for a specific type of case) by the number of times the customer will buy each year by the average length of the customer relationship (in years). It’s important to remember that in immigration law, the timeline of one client spans periods of time during which no action is needed and they are not eligible to apply for any additional immigration benefits.
When it comes to immigration law, start by looking at the first kind of case you’re handling for a client and then consider any other benefits the client may become eligible for over time.
According to HubSpot, a leading marketing software company, “Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.” Think about it this way: this very article is part of an inbound marketing strategy. The purpose here is to educate you, the reader, about business concepts. If you learn something from it and never reach out to us as a potential client, that’s perfectly OK. But if you do decide you’d like to learn more about Docketwise for your immigration forms and case management, and reach out to us, you would be coming in-bound to us as a potential client.
One way to start with your inbound marketing strategy is to address the common problems clients in your target market face and create digital content and experiences that address those problems. For example, look at most common search terms for these common problems, like, “RFEs for adjustment of status,” and address possible solutions in your digital content.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are sets of hard data you can use to see track and measure goals within your practice. With KPIs, you can determine what’s working well, what could be improved, and what isn’t working at all. There are specific ways in which you can categorize your Key Performance Indicators to look at your firm’s performance overall.
In immigration law, some important key performance indicators to look at could be:
Tracking and measuring KPIs will ultimately allow you to take a data-driven approach to understanding and growing your practice.
Lead generation is the process of consistently attracting prospects to your firm through nurturing (more on that below) with the goal of turning them into a paying customer. How do you generate leads?
Once again, we return to digital marketing. Given how widely you can cast your net by cultivating an online presence that focuses on your knowledgeable and helpful interactions with others and relevant content shared. Some ways in which you can generate leads can be through an email newsletter, a live event (in person or online), or a free guide, webinar, newsletter or blog updates that someone needs to sign up for to access. When you generate leads, in order to establish the level of trust in you and your expertise that leads to signing up with you, you need to nurture them.
It’s not enough to get leads - those leads have to be nurtured in order to get results. According to leading creative software company Adobe, nurturing a lead involves “developing and reinforcing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel”. Successful lead nurturing involves listening to the needs of your potential clients and understanding their pain points, providing relevant answers that portray you as a reliable source of information, with the goal of persuading your potential clients that you are the best provider of immigration law services in your niche.
How do you nurture leads in immigration law?
Let’s take an example from employment-based immigration. Imagine you work with H-1B visa clients. In the “off-season,” put out “how-to” guides on the H-1B visa process, helpful tips on completing the Labor Certification process, and updates as the H-1B application window opens and the cap is reached.
Your “Net Promoter Score” is the answer to the question “how likely are you to recommend to a colleague/friend/family member/etc?”. Most of the time, this question is asked on a scale of 1 (not at all likely) to 10 (extremely likely). A simple formula to calculate your Net Promoter Score, based on the responses to this question is NPS = % of Promoters ( — ) % of Detractors. Depending on the score, results can be qualified as promoters, or people that are very or extremely likely to recommend your services, passives, who are neutral and who may or may not recommend, usually involving scores between 7 and 8, and the detractors, who have scores that fall between the neutral-negative and the very negative end of the spectrum (0 to 6).
Why is this important? According to Bain and Company, companies that are seen by their customers as delivering value in their services and are achieving sustained growth over time have higher NPS scores than the average company. Your NPS can help you evaluate the full scope of your client loyalty too - if your clients are very or extremely likely to recommend you to someone else, that means that client may be generating leads for you possibly long after their own immigration timeline is over, resulting in more business for you in the longer term.
Pain points are, in simple terms, client problems. This term is used often across industries to refer to the difficulties and frustrations encountered by the potential client for which they seek a solution, and while there isn’t usually any actual physical “pain” involved, your job is to be aware of what pain points your clients, or potential clients, may have in order to focus on providing solutions that address them. In some cases, you may actually have to first make the potential client aware of their pain as they may not have it consciously formulated in their mind or be able to articulate it. Pain points typically fall under problems associated with money, time, support, and process.
Here are some examples of how you can address specific pain points in immigration law:
Solve your clients' pain points, and they're more likely to come back.
Instead of paying a fee for putting up an ad for a specific number of days (like a traditional billboard) or on a specific part of a website, Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) allows you to pay only for the number of clicks on your ad, hence the “pay-per-click” moniker. PPC is viewed as a way to drive more traffic to your website.
One of the most popular ways to use pay-per-click advertising is search engine advertising. This shows your website as a top result for specific keyword searches, like when you see search results on search engines or e-commerce sites like Amazon, with the words “Ad” or “Sponsored” next to them. PPC advertising is a good option for small firms with a limited advertising budget, though beware that the more popular or general a search term, the more expensive it may be. Still, with the right keywords leading to an appealing landing page, PPC advertising can help improve your online visibility overall.
A prospect is, in simple terms, a potential client. Whether it’s an individual or an organization will depend, in immigration law, largely on the kind of law you practice: in family-based immigration, for example, your prospects are mostly individuals, whereas in employment-based immigration, it may be a combination of individuals and companies.
This is one of the reasons why focusing on a niche within immigration law is important: it helps you determine who your ideal clients are, which allows you to focus your marketing efforts on people that have the characteristics you’re looking for in a prospect. It’s also important to remember that a prospect is anyone who could potentially be a client, based on the type of immigration law you practice, not just the people that express interest in working with you.
Some of the ways to engage your prospects include putting time into your digital marketing, encouraging your past clients to refer others, meeting prospects in community events, and reaching out to clients cold (this last one applies more to higher volume, business immigration clients).
You may have heard the term Return on Investment or ROI in the context of actual investments (like in the stock market, for example), but ROI also applies to business and marketing. When you’re calculating your law firm’s ROI, you’re looking at the amount you spend on a particular case type versus the revenue you obtain from it over time.
The same happens with marketing your law firm. In that context, your ROI is the money you spend on your marketing versus the revenue those initiatives generate for your firm. Understanding this concept is extremely important if you want to ensure that you’re paying for the kinds of advertising that really brings in clients. It’s also smart to consider ROI in immigration law in light of the Customer Lifetime Value, as that can affect the ROI calculation. The more revenue a single client generates for your firm over time due to multiple status filings, dependents included in petitions, and future sponsored petitions, as well as referrals, the more ROI you get from that single client.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it may be one of the most pervasive business and digital marketing terms used in everyday business discussions, no matter the field. SEO has to do with the visibility your online presence has, and how searchable it is in relation to all the online searches conducted using specific keywords. Even if SEO is an imperfect science, as no one outside of search engine companies really knows how their algorithm works, understanding how to find and use keywords in a way that is SEO friendly, using links to reputable sites in your content to enhance your site’s searchability, and making your online presence friendly to search engines can help your visibility online tremendously.
One simple way to improve your website’s SEO is location. If you’re serving clients in your niche in a specific area, make sure to feature that location in your website and the digital content you share. That way, you will come up as an option when people are searching for immigration lawyers in your niche in that specific area.
For example, if in addition to finding your website, a potential client finds engaging, easy-to-understand content when they search, for “H-1B visa lawyer in St. Louis, MO,” that helps you build rapport with the client even before you have a conversation with them, as your content, positive reviews, and engagement online can help establish you as an expert. Better yet, if you’re one of the top results coming up on the first page of a search, it’s very likely that a potential client will click on your link and become part of your sales funnel.
A sales funnel is a multiple-step process that goes from the time a potential client discovers your services to the time they become a paying customer. Sales funnels are used to track the way in which prospects are responding to your marketing and client outreach strategies, and whether they need adjustments along the way to make the process more efficient. The reason the term “funnel” is used is because on the top of the funnel, you have all the people you attract as potential clients, which then trickle down to the ones that remain to become paying clients.
The most important thing to remember is that your sales funnel should be personalized to the area of immigration law you practice. Stay engaged with your ideal clients, and get feedback from existing and past clients in order to ensure you are consistently delivering helpful content to your audience online and your communication during the process itself with a client is as helpful and clear as possible.
Social proof is both a psychological phenomenon where individuals look to others for cues on correct or socially acceptable behavior, and a marketing term that refers to people finding value in a product or service based on the value others have found. You can capitalize on social proof by showing potential clients how well received your services are, through a variety of evidence.
Some examples of social proof include:
Social proof is important to clients because it helps them feel reassured that they are making the right decision.
In simple terms, a technology stack (usually called a “tech stack” for short) is all the software you use to do your job. It includes software that you purchase, subscribe to, rent, or have an account with. Your tech stack includes your email client, your website host, your social media platforms, your bookkeeping software, your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, your digital payment integrations, and so on. If it’s tech you use, it’s part of your tech stack.
It’s always important that you spend time evaluating whether the tools in your tech stack are working for you or against you. Check whether the tech tools you have in your firm are being used, how much, and whether your clients have requested anything specific that your current tech doesn’t offer. We’ve put together a quick guide on what to consider when you’re assembling your tech stack, including recommendations that are particularly friendly to use and specifically tailored to the immigration law space.
User experience (UX) covers every aspect of the interactions a client has with your firm, including, but not limited to, what they see when they reach your website, how easy is it to use, what kind of service they receive when they contact you, whether you meet the level of communication they can expect after agreeing upon terms, and how they feel throughout their experience working with you. As with many others of the terms we’ve covered in this glossary, the focus here is in understanding the needs of your clients, what’s important to them, what challenges may arise as you work together, and what their expectations are.
As a business owner, understanding the key concepts that drive growth through marketing, communications, and client interactions can make a significant difference in the growth your immigration law firm’s business.
Docketwise is made for the business of immigration law, a system with everything you need to keep track of your client interactions, assign tasks with ease, and see how your business is growing with analytics based on what’s really happening with your clients.
With our CRM, full library of immigration forms, easy-to-use client questionnaires and industry-leading API integrations, Docketwise helps you stay up to date on all your immigration cases, communicate easily with your clients, and otherwise build and manage your immigration law firm.