Time stands still for no man, so the saying goes. This feels especially true for those of us involved in online marketing for the legal sector. While in my mind I’m still the same fresh faced Kurt Cobain wannabe as the kid in the baggy jumper, as I sit down to write this I suddenly feel rather old (because I am, my colleagues helpfully point out). Incredibly, websites, much like this photograph, have been around for 25 years (which is longer than some of our niche legal sector digital marketers!), while the first search engine was born in 1993 (Aliweb for those of you who are interested) and Google turns 18 this year. Remember a time before Google? Me neither!
In 2016, almost everything we do in our day-to-day lives is influenced by the internet, including our social lives, work, where we go on holiday, the car we drive, and importantly from our perspective, which solicitor to instruct when we require legal advice. Indeed, a recent YouGov poll suggested that 36% of individuals will carry out research on the internet before instructing a solicitor, a number that will only increase over time and mobile and internet usage continues to advance.
From what I can gather (from Googling!), the first law firm to launch a website that we would recognise as being the model that we follow today and with their own domain name was US firm Venable LLP. While their current site has almost certainly moved on a great deal from the one that launched in 1994, we are still amazed by how many of law firms we meet still have websites that look like they belong in the late 90’s or early noughties.
During this time of unprecedented change in the legal sector you need to be more visible, instantly appealing and shouting from the rooftops about how you deliver a better service, a different service, than your competitors. Your law firm’s website will very often will be a prospect’s first contact with you or your firm, whether they have found you through organic search (‘Googling’ to you and I) or through branded search (typing in your name or the name of your firm off the back of a referral, for example)). The next time you look at your website ask yourself this. Is your website making the right first impression? Is it an accurate reflection of who you are, of your value proposition? Is your website aligned to how you deliver legal services in 2016? Unfortunately, more often than not, the answer is no.
As most readers of this blog will know all too well, the Internet is constantly evolving and what is right today will probably be wrong tomorrow. What was right yesterday is almost certainly wrong today. If you want to succeed online it’s important that you don’t take your eye off the ball as far as your website is concerned and treat it as a work in progress that requires ongoing care and attention.
If properly developed and supported, your website will help you build trust with prospective instructing agents, generate new business and establish your key stakeholders as thought leaders and experts. Your website can be your best performing, and cheapest, salesperson and if it isn’t directly contributing to your firm’s bottom line then you are missing out on a real opportunity, an opportunity you can be sure your competitors are ready to take advantage of.
5 tips to help your law firm’s website succeed online in 2016
Just like we couldn’t have foreseen the impact the internet would have on our lives a quarter of a century ago, we certainly can’t predict what the online space will look like in another 25 years. We can however help you take advantage of the opportunities the internet presents in 2016.
Building a website that will help you generate business online isn’t a matter of implementing any design and hoping visitors will convert into paying clients, it's a process that requires analysis continued refinement. This website is full of helpful guides related to online marketing for law firms, but when it comes to developing your website, the hub of all off your online marketing activity, here are 5 elements to consider as a useful starter for ten…
1. Don't make me think
Ensure your calls to action (the messages you present to the visitor to tell them what they should do e.g. call, email, sign up for a newsletter etc.) are in prominent strategic positions throughout your conversion focused website.
2. Make your message clear
Ensure that your key messages are clear. Why should somebody choose your firm above all others? It's amazing how many law firms can't answer this question. Sometimes this exercise takes some deeper reflection on your firm's core strengths, but it's worth it to help you distinguish yourself from the many other firms out there offering a similar range of services.
3. Publish useful content
The father of modern advertising, David Ogilvy, noted that articles which provide useful free advice will capture 75% more readers than regular articles stuffed with sales messages. This is very much Google’s view on how content should be too. The principle of providing great free content is still as relevant as ever. The way we view it is that you should be “giving away information snacks to sell knowledge meals." (Thanks to Jay Baer as always for giving birth to one of our favourite sayings!)
4. Build trust
Building trust is crucial if you want your website to convert. If you can showcase your own expertise and gain credibility through your site you will have a higher chance of converting visitors into paying clients. You can do this through testimonials, 'trust icons' such as Legal 500 or Chambers logos or logos of your industry memberships, or through publishing relevant case studies explaining how you have helped other clients.
5. Keep it simple
Simplicity is best for a high converting website. Is your content easy to read? Is your navigation easy to use? Does your site work well on mobile? Is it easy to make an enquiry? All relevant considerations. Getting as many pieces of the jigsaw correct as possible will help you succeed with your website design.
Help your law firm’s website succeed online in 2016
For an informal chat about how to transform your website into a business generating portal of thought leadership and opinion call Chris today on 07969336526 or email [email protected] .'