Most attorneys I know understand the need for a website for their law firm and they have one. The more progressive lawyers have more than one website. By now we all know that a vast majority of consumers start their search for an attorney on the Internet. Research by LexisNexis and The Research Intelligence Group found three out of four consumers look online to find a lawyer.
It is an undeniable fact that if you do not have a robust online presence, you are risking becoming irrelevant. Your firm is not even part of the discussion for people who are looking for an attorney that practices the kind of law they need. The only thing worse than having an unprofessional website is not having one at all.
And yet, there are still attorneys who look at their online strategy as just another place to dump money, instead of a lead-generating machine. There are attorneys I have worked with who have had massive success with their website, bringing a steady stream of new clients into their practice and others whose website has not made them a nickel.
At The Rainmaker Institute, we have worked with over 10,000 law firms and have seen just about every kind of website there is. Some are great, many are good and, unfortunately, there are some that are really bad. As you can imagine, the attorneys who have the bad websites are the ones who think online marketing is a waste of time and money. And for them, they are right! So what makes the difference between a great website and one that is ineffective? How can you turn your ineffective website into a lead-generating machine? There are eight tactics you can use, but it begins with identifying your purpose. Let me clear this up right away:
The purpose of a law firm website is to grow revenue by attracting a steady stream of the right kind of clients to your practice.
Stephen Covey, author of the book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” says that one of the cardinal rules is to “begin with the end in mind.” The end in mind you should be thinking about when creating a website is, how can I make my law firm visible to potential clients and convert as many of them as possible into contacts? Are there other desirable outcomes from your website? Of course! Here are a few:
• Develop brand awareness for your law firm. • Educate prospects on the types of services you offer. • Sell your services online. • Book appointments. • Provide client support. • Education for new clients on common questions they have.
However, we believe the most important reason for your website is lead generation and lead conversion. So if you have a website that is not producing the kinds of results you want, then it’s time to make some changes.
8 Steps to Turn More Browsers Into Buyers
Some law firms make the critical mistake of concentrating their legal marketing efforts on getting prospects to visit their site – just once. They miss the mark completely if they expect their legal website to be an effective marketing tool without providing compelling reasons for interested prospects to return.
By using your online presence to enhance a prospect’s experience with your firm, you will begin building a strong relationship. Here are eight steps to accomplish this:
1 – Position your firm as a specialist. When people search for attorneys online they have a specific problem (DUI, personal injury, etc) and they are searching for specific answers. If your firm has several practice areas that are very different from each other you should seriously consider having more than one website, especially if they reach a very different clientele. For example, if you have a criminal defense practice along with elder law, you should consider having two different websites. However, if you practice commercial litigation and business transactional law, multiple websites are probably not necessary.
2 – Offer free, educational information. Only a small percentage of website visitors are ready to pick up the phone and commit to a consultation the first time they visit your website. Providing visitors with educational materials, such as a free report or e-book on the “Top 10 Questions to Ask Before You Hire A Divorce Attorney” to help them make the best decision is a tried and true technique in Internet marketing. It gives you the ability to catch people early on in their decision making process and requires them to give you their contact information (name, email and phone number) in order to access your valuable content.
3 – Use fitting photos. A lot of legal websites make the mistake of similar stock photos of the scales of justice or the courthouse steps. Be sure the pictures on your website are congruent with your message and your perfect client.
4 – Give visitors easy ways to connect with you. I’m still astounded at how difficult many websites make it just to find their phone number or an email address that goes directly to an individual versus a faceless entity. Make it easy for prospects to find all your contact information, even on their cellphone. Your phone number should be in the upper right hand corner of every page on your website. Whenever possible, have a number that is in their area code (602, 480, 623, etc) versus an 800 number.
5 – Create a mobile friendly site. Last year smart phones outsold computers! This year Google estimates 55 percent of all Internet traffic will be conducted over smartphone and tablets. With slower speeds, smaller screens, the need for more immediate information, and the potential desire to easily call your office directly from their cell, a mobile version of your website is no longer a nicety, it is a necessity! Be sure to look at how your current website looks on an iPhone and an Android phone. Do you have to scroll right to left just to read the text? Did all the graphics disappear? How’s the layout? How many clicks does it take to get to the major pages? Can someone click on your phone number and will it auto-dial your office?
6 – Tell visitors what the next steps are. If you want them to download your free report or call your office for a free consultation, tell them! Don’t make them guess.
7 – Use video clips on your website. Video is a proven conversion tool. Without video, the average visitor to a law firm’s website is less than 30 seconds. With video we have seen that number increase to two to four minutes! It gives visitors a way to see you as a real person, to hear in your own words how you can help them, and how you are distinct in your approach. Create a series of three to five minute video clips on the top ten questions prospects have about your practice area. Host them on YouTube and embed them on all your major pages.
8 – Provide a clear and compelling reason why you are different from your competitors. Online buyers of legal services visit an average of five websites prior to moving into the decision making phase. Explain to them in an easy to understand manner how your firm is different from others. By the way, talking about your affordable prices or the quality of your services are not unique differentiators! The first one makes you sound cheap and every single attorney says they have good quality services. Get creative!
Bonus: Use Live Chat. Our clients have found live chat on their website to be the absolute best conversion tool! One of our family law clients was getting three to five good leads per month off their website … until they started using live chat. This last month the owner called us and said they had over 20 qualified leads just off live chat! We are a firm believer in live chat as one of the most cost effective tools to generate more leads from your website. If you want to know who we recommend, give us a call or email us.
Attracting New Clients With Your Website It’s estimated over 90 percent of law firms have a website, so what can you do to stand out online in a way that will bring you more and better clients? Here are some tips:
Give website visitors a reason to contact you with a strong call to action. The sentence “ABC Law Firm offers free consultations to discuss your personal injury case” leaves the reader saying “That’s nice. But so what? What’s in it for me?” That’s because this sentence is a statement, not a call to action. It doesn’t ask anyone to do anything. To turn that sentence into a call for action, try something like “If you’ve been injured in an accident, take advantage of our free initial consultation and case evaluation by calling (local number).”
Have your content speak your target’s language. Please remember, writing for the Internet is not the same as writing a legal brief. My recommendation is to hire a professional copywriter who has experience writing for law firms. Attorneys tend to use too much legal jargon in their writing and it doesn’t compel prospects to contact them.
Have a plan to drive traffic – Your goal is to drive tons of highly targeted traffic to your website. Here are a few ways to ensure you do: • Use the right keywords – Your goal is to have qualified prospects visit your law firm’s website. Those people will be searching by typing in familiar words or phrases for what they need information on. These words or phrases are called keywords. You will want to include these keywords in your content, so that your website will be one that pulls you up on the ranking page. • Include a blog in your site – Create a blog that is updated a minimum of three to five times every week and integrate it with your website. This will ensure that you have fresh, new content constantly updating your website, which also helps improve your firm’s ranking on Google. According to Hubspot.com, most websites do not start to generate leads until they hit a minimum of 100 pages! Lots of high quality content is critical to your online success.