Attorneys: How to Engage Potential Clients on Your Website
An Attorney Marketing Problem
Every week we encounter attorneys who have a very specific law firm marketing problem: they have great law firm websites that receive a decent amount of traffic, but their phones aren’t ringing and potential clients don’t seem to be emailing. For all intents and purposes, their sites should be converting search engine traffic into paying clients; however, business is stagnant and something needs to change.
Sound familiar? You might be surprised just how many law firm websites have nice designs, slick features, and great content, but don’t convert visitors into solid inquiries or clients. This is one of the most confusing—and annoying—problems an attorney can face, as it seems to have no rational explanation. A site that looks nice, offers helpful advice, and can be found on search engines should make the phone ring, right? Not always.
Potential Reasons for Low Conversions
Though there are various reasons why this might be the case, the sheer amount of sites that online browsers view these days means that an eye-catching design may not have the same impact that it did several years ago. As attorneys have become more savvy about lawyer marketing, the gradual build quality of lawyer sites has increased, and with it, the expectations of potential clients. How can attorneys separate themselves from the pack?
Suggestions for Improving Conversions on Law Firm Websites
Understanding what potential clients are looking for should be the most important facet of any attorney’s online and offline attorney marketing. Once searchers find your law firm website, if they aren’t immediately motivated to pick up the phone and call, you need to convince them to leave their name, phone number, and email address so you can get in touch with them instead.
Static website forms to gather this information can still play a major role, but adding an interactive, human element to your site will generally appeal to potential clients who are unsure whether you are the right lawyer for them.
The Human Factor
Your potential clients may be nervous and anxious about their situations. They may not want to immediately pick up the phone and call your office. Instead, they may prefer to speak with someone directly on your website. This is where live chat can set you apart from your competition.
By offering 24/7 monitoring of your site, complete with a friendly voice that potential clients can interact with, you immediately reassure them that you care about what they are going through (so much so that there is always someone for them to speak with, even in the middle of the night). The chat agents do not need to represent themselves as attorneys for this to be effective—nor should they—but the mere presence of a human being that can relay information to the attorney right away is comforting and provides a level of interactivity on your site that would otherwise be lacking.
Evidence of Success
At Optimized Attorney, we use live chat on both of our primary websites and it brings in new inquiries and leads daily. Additionally, attorneys who have tried live chat themselves generally see an increase in their website conversions. The correlation is clear: adding more interactivity to your site in an effort to engage potential clients is effective.
If you are happy with your website, but believe it should be performing at a higher clip, interactive elements like live chat may be something that you want to experiment with in the future. Attorney marketing tactics change rapidly, and staying a step ahead of the competition is only going to become more important in the future.
Law Firm Website Design: Elements That Convert Prospects To Clients
Your law firm’s webpage is like a resume; it provides a snapshot of your services, justifies why prospects should retain your firm over a competitor, helps to demonstrate a track record of success, and establishes your firm as an expert in your industry and market.
An impressive and well-written resume can mean the difference between landing a job and being overlooked, and your firm’s website is no different—an appealing and informative webpage can transmute prospects into customers. With the right legal website design elements in the correct locations, it can lead to a higher customer conversion rate and steady incoming business for your firm.
First Impressions Matter: The Power of Attention-Grabbing Headlines
Website visitors—especially tech-savvy Millennials (those born between 1980 and the early 2000s)—will mostly likely stop at your website seeking a brief introduction to your firm. Make the interaction a positive and memorable one!
At the top of the homepage, feature an engaging headline that concisely describes your services. If you have trouble keeping the headline short and sweet, remember that you can also feature a more descriptive subheading. For example, a San Francisco divorce and family law firm might feature a headline like “50 years of experience supporting Bay Area families” with a subheading that reads “The Law Firm Group: keeping families together while navigating divorce.”
Design Webpages with Viewers in Mind
Research has found that website viewers spend roughly 80% of the time above ‘the fold,’ the area of the page that is immediately visible without scrolling down. Inserting the most valuable and visually appealing content above the fold is essential when contemplating your law firm’s website design.
For instance, consider including a short video about your law firm’s services and a sidebar with a strong testimonial or two. Text above the fold should be in list or bullet format whenever possible. When it comes to legal website design, brief and scannable content is typically better; most viewers skim content instead of reading every word.
In addition, the website navigation bar at the top of the page should link to the most important landing pages like ‘About Our Firm’ and ‘Client Testimonials’ pages. Website viewers are more likely to view influential content such as positive client reviews if they can easily find the appropriate page.
Success Stories and Outside Verification
Prospects may feel more at ease about consulting your firm after reading rave reviews. Featuring client testimonials on your website is a must, and including (or linking to) feedback from outside sources such as Yelp can do wonders for customer conversion.
Frequently Urge Prospects to Contact Your Firm
A call to action is a powerful conversion tool to keep in your legal website design toolbox, especially when used in conjunction with informative and well-written articles. If possible, include calls to action on every landing page of your firm’s website and accompany them with contact information. Your law firm’s contact information should also be prominently displayed above the fold of the homepage.
Google continues roll out updates to its ranking algorithm with increasing frequency. What made a website rank highly a year ago may not score too well now. Google has particularly pushed to rank mobile sites, accessible from smartphones and the preference given to local business has been greatly enhanced. You may decide that now is the time to audit your law firm’s site and get all or parts of it rewritten. If you don’t offer mobile content, you really need to add it now.
The SEO information sites have posted articles of particular interest to those considering a new website. This week’s SEO trends roundup features articles from Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land.
If your law firm already has a website, your first design decision is going to be whether you should alter and add pages or scrap the whole site and start again. The driver behind this decision is a site audit. This article will give you some idea of what features to check on your site.
This Search Engine Watch article is a good place to start when you are thinking of commissioning a new website for your law firm. The article describes the different skills required to put together a winning website. You will probably have to buy in freelance expertise to get the proper skills required for the task.
This article explains that many SEO driven tweaks to a website can only gain you minor ranking gains and sometimes a complete rewrite is the best option. The writer makes the point that the is no point in tweaking something that is fundamentally rotten. This may be the case for your law firm’s website. The article gives some pointers on how to conceptualize the purpose, and therefore, the design of your site.
If you take one step back from the question of how to design your law firm’s website, you might come to ask yourself whether the practice actually needs its own website. Time was that only the most out of touch business didn’t have their own sites. But nowadays, with Facebook, Google + et al, you might do very well with just a social media profile rather than a full custom site.
You may not realize it, but Adobe Flash will not run on a majority of smartphones, so, you can have Flash on your main website, but only if you have a mobile version that redirects those accessing your site via a smartphone. Do not use Adobe Flash in the mobile version of your site. This is because Apple smartphones tend to run using a standard media implementation framework called jQuery. If that little nugget weren’t enough, Apple’s iPhone doesn’t support Flash at all. But, Android phones, for the most part, do. This presents a conundrum that must be decided on during the development process: do we use Flash, or do we use the most platform independent method to reach the most customers on the most devices: jQuery?
The most common implementations of the latest HTML5 websites use this technology framework, which runs completely independent of Flash. Because of this framework, websites can take less time to load and can run regardless of which platform you are on. Flash is an application that requires itself to be installed on the user’s machine, which makes for an awkward situation when these machines do not have Flash installed and you try to access a Flash-based website. The benefits of jQuery are great and do not require such a limited scope of installation.
If your website is currently antiquated and is still using Flash, you may want to consider a website overhaul to make sure your site runs regardless of whether or not Flash is installed. The websites Optimized Attorney builds for attorneys always run on the latest technologies which are perfect for SEO, and we’d love to be your partner in your next website endeavor.
You may have read about the Panda 4.0 update and be wondering whether the new Google search engine algorithm warrants the expense of re-designing your website. The short answer to that enquiry is: yes, it probably does.
It takes a Google algorithm update a while to bed in and until the company’s process of effect analysis and adjustments has run its course there is very little point trying to decipher exactly what Web strategy the new ranking algorithm seems to be promoting. More than two weeks after the new algorithm rollout began, it is now possible to formulate a new approach to your online marketing and revamp your website.
The opening article of this roundup comes from Search Engine Watch. Industry analyst, Glenn Gabe, relates his findings about the effects of the new Google algorithm. He observes that the standard ranking-gainer of focusing all your inbound links onto your law firm’s home page is no longer a winner. Instead, he recommends filling out your site with lots of expert advice. The inbound links should point to your articles that are relevant to the keywords of each search term instead of to the firm’s homepage. This is great news for all of you who have been striving to provide a quality user experience on your site. Not only does such a strategy present your firm in the best light to potential clients, but now it also improves your rankings on search engine results pages.
You may be a bit bamboozled by this article, but it is worth a try reading it even if you are not an IT boffin. It covers a development in Google’s presentation in its results pages for smartphones. If you don’t have pages written specifically for mobile phone presentation your entry in Google’s results pages will contain a warning, which would be off-putting to any potential visitor to your law firm’s website. The warning arises if there is no smartphone-compatible version of the page in question and the surfer gets redirected to a default smartphone-active page on your site instead. You need to make sure there are smartphone-readable versions of all your website’s pages to avoid this warning.
Now you know you need to beef up the content on your site, your thoughts have probably turned to how to go about that task. This Search Engine Journal article talks about that process. For law firms, however, the need to present your key practitioners as credible experts and impart some knowledge of their specialization to the general public should be a good starting point.
The title of this Search Engine Journal article clearly declares against content marketing, but the body of the report is not nearly so anti. The point this writer is trying to make is that you shouldn’t try to attract links to your law firm’s website by posting articles all over the Internet. Instead, crowd all your expertise onto your own site, keep all your content relevant and easy to understand and don’t waffle.
This Search Engine Land article reviews a recent video-musing by the all-powerful Matt Cutts. The writer succinctly makes the point that, although content is important, it still hasn’t removed the need for link building.
5 Signs of a Poorly Designed Law Firm Website
A law firm’s website is a snapshot of its services, reputation, and selling points… or it can be, when well-made and maintained. More prospective clients than ever are turning to online resources like websites, social media profiles, and online reputation platforms when considering which law firm to consult, so establishing a solid online presence via a high-quality website is essential to say the least.
If you’re wondering whether your site is living up to its potential and truly driving business to your firm, turn a critical eye to your webpage and be on the lookout for these five signs of a poorly designed law firm website.
1. Difficult to maneuver
Is it easy to revisit the homepage from any page on your website? Does your site feature a navigation bar providing visitors quick access your blog, About Us, FAQ, and awards/accolades pages? If not, reconsider adding those elements and others that may streamline your website and make the entire experience more user-friendly.
For instance, on text-heavy pages that require significant scrolling, you might want to include a button at the bottom that swiftly takes users back to the top of the page. Don’t underestimate the effects of seemingly insignificant steps like this; they can make a huge difference to the overall user experience.
2. Cluttered with advertisements or unnecessary additions
An ad here or there is fine but promotions and sidebars shouldn’t distract from the main content of your law firm website.
3. Unappealing to the end user
Neon colors and images of puppies and kittens probably do not fit on a law firm’s medical malpractice homepage. That may be an extreme example but the point is that the style and attitude of your website should appeal to the end user. When designing or redesigning your law firm website, ask yourself: What kind of tone am I trying to portray—sympathetic, serious, compassionate? Should the copy be professional and concise or more casual?
4. Not optimized for your marketing purposes
The main purposes of your website probably include providing information to potential clients and driving prospects to consult your practice. However, if your webpages do not funnel visitors toward contacting your law firm, they are not achieving one of their main functions. Be sure to highlight your contact information on each and every page of your site or feature a button that enables website visitors to directly reach out via email, live chat, or telephone.
5. Hard on the eyes
Small, red text on a black background? Size eight font throughout your blog page? Contrasting colors and miniscule or gigantic font are just two signs of a poorly designed website, and you can bet that they will turn prospects off from exploring your website for very long. Choose complementary colors and readable font for your law firm website to please visitors and increase the odds that they’ll poke around your page and contact your firm!
We can overhaul your website to boost SEO and increase incoming traffic. Contact us today!
Grade Your Attorney Website
Your website should win. Take the quiz below to find out how your site measures up.
The investment and return on each legal marketing channel you use should be tallied and compared at least annually.
If you speak at conferences, your time out of the office should be valued and added to your travel expenses to obtain a total conference marketing investment. If you run ads in newspapers, yellow pages, and/or Google Adwords, those costs should be totaled regularly.
If you write your own website copy, the time you spend producing those articles should be tallied, a dollar value assigned, and the total added to site hosting and other maintenance expenses.
Need an Attorney Website? We’ve Got You Covered (In 20 Minutes or Less)
As an account manager here at James, I am fortunate to be one of the few who actually gets to work directly, one-on-one with our clients. Combine my time here at James and two years working in a law firm, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that attorneys have zero time to spare.
If you’re an attorney tossing around the idea of building a new website for your law firm, you likely know two things: that you need one, and that you don’t think you have the time to get involved in building one.
It’s an understandable concern. Looking at a website and all the pieces that put it together can make it feel a bit daunting. But wait! At James, we’re acutely aware that you have more important things to worry about all day than which shade of gray complements periwinkle blue or what type of content will keep readers eyes on your pages longer or whether or not a case evaluation form should be on the left hand side of the page or the right hand side (I recommend the right).
So, just how much time will be required of you? The simplest answer is: as little as you want. While we do need some basics from you (10 minutes max), we’re very good at narrowing down the questions to just the essentials if you’re willing to hand over the reins to our team. And the process? It’s a breeze.
Here are 8 easy steps to launching your new attorney website:
1 (and most important): You decide you need a website! (You do!)
2 (the most fun): You get a call from an account manager, like myself, who will ask you approximately 20 painless questions, to which you can give as detailed or un-detailed answers as you’d like. “Pick the color for me” works and so does “Please use Cyan Blue hex color #278291 348726.”
3: We take your answers and put together a snazzy “ mock-up” of what your site’s homepage will look like.
4: You approve it or tell us just what you’d like to change in order for it to be just what you’re looking for.
5: You see a second revision, make any additional changes you want, you seal it with your official stamp of approval.
6: We build your site!
7: We send you a test-link to view your site online with all content up so that you can navigate your way through every page and make sure you love it all the way through.
8: Pending your approval or any minor changes, we take your site live!
If you’ll notice, 99 percent of the work listed in these steps is on the extremely capable James design and coding teams. Really all you have to do is answer a couple questions and say “Yes I love it” or “Change this and then I’ll love it.”
Bottom line: if you can spare 20 minutes, we can build you a top-notch website. And, heck, that’s like the time it takes to sit in a drive through at In-n-Out these days — so call us while you wait.