Can law firms really make money on the Internet?
Yes. Here's the proof and 4-step recipe for success.
When we first started helping law firms succeed, we always had a hurdle to overcome – the doubt and scepticism of lawyers. MLT’s Founder Stephen Moore explains in the following insightful guide how we have overcome the doubt of even the most sceptical lawyers and converted them into evangelists for what we do. This piece will, in particular, discuss how law firms can make money on the Internet and will include a free 4-step recipe for how your firm can also start to taste success through harnessing online strategies and technologies.
Buying Behaviour Applied to the Internet
I would like to say that that the doubt and scepticism amongst law firm leaders has disappeared, but I’d be lying. Despite using the Internet themselves to find and buy all types of products and services sometimes lawyers, for some bizarre reason, think that this same type of buyer behaviour does not apply to their clients.
In fact, the opposite is true. Often the purchase of legal services is a distress purchase – people need help NOW! As such they are ready to convert if the platform they are on (such as a law firm website) looks and works as they would expect and their enquiry is dealt with quickly and professionally.
New Clients, Increased Turnover. All from Online Sources
One of our clients (a progressive law firm that in the past would have considered themselves to be a ‘High Street’ legal practice) now generates 70-80% of their business online – there is no reason why you can't do the same.
With high online enquiry levels, leads will inevitably result in new long-term clients and contribute significantly to increased turnover for any similar law firm. Sometimes clients will come to us saying their board has advised they need to be acquiring an extra £10k-£50k+ per month. ‘Make it happen’ is the instruction. We have delivered and continue to deliver such results for law firms despite an increasingly competitive environment.
So how can you achieve such results for your own firm? Here is your five-step recipe for success:
1. Think About Your Services
If you offer retail type legal services (family law, employment law, personal injury, estate planning, ‘private client’ etc) then the opportunities for you online are myriad. Certain elements, such as personal injury, are more competitive online but others aren’t particularly and by covering every base service-wise you have a good chance of generating business online.
If you are more focussed on the business sector then this is good news too as it is almost entirely competition free. We regularly encounter a school of thought that suggest business people won’t instruct a lawyer just by finding them online. Think again. I’m a business owner and I’m ready to instruct a firm which:
- offers the service I’m looking
- for has demonstrable expertise
The other upside is that average fees are higher and businesses can have frequent legal needs. For any commercial lawyers reading this post, consider also our Operations Director Gavin Ward’s blog: “I'm a business owner therefore I don't use the Internet to find a lawyer...”
Advertising on Google for family, employment and in particular business orientated legal services is, for the time being, pretty cheap. Some of our customers operating in these areas can gain 1000 visits from a £300 spend on Google Adwords (‘PPC’) per month. If this traffic alone generates 100 enquiries which the law firm converts at rate of 30% then this can easily result in a £15k per month return, assuming a new client average spend of £500.
Think about the services which are most profitable for you and ensure that they are detailed on your site. Even if you get only one instruction per year, if that instruction is worth £10k for you, then it is surely worth at least 500 words of service content? If the service isn’t included on your site then you definitely won’t generate business online for it.
2. Ensure that your online marketing initiatives are focussed on converting visitors into new business
Take a look at your own online platform(s) today and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you make it absolutely crystal clear what you want your visitor to do?
- Can they get in touch with you with no difficulty at all?
- Is there a phone number and online enquiry form on every page?
- And in prominent positions on mobile devices?
- Do you have any independent accreditation?
- If so, it visible on your site?
- And visible on your site if looking at it on a mobile device?
- Do you have any testimonials from happy clients?
- If so, are they on your site?
- Are they on your Google My Business (Local) listing?
If the answer to any of the above is ‘no’ then you are losing business.
3. Instruct a boring agency with a track record of making money for their customers
Agencies with names like Blue Banana, Yellow Orangutan or Spaceship are, in our experience, not right for the majority of law firms. They may come up with pretty pictures, grand brand ideas and plenty of pizazz but this exercise is purely and simply about money. There’s no point in having a great looking online presence which nobody sees. Even if it does attract some traffic you need to make sure that the visitor does what you want them to do – either call, fill out an online enquiry form or undertake some other action, such as sign up for your newsletters.
Obviously, it's good if you can get both but don’t let vanity get in the way of results. Client feedback would suggest that we are managing to deliver on both aesthetics (particularly with our growing law firm branding team)and the bottom line.
Your site (provided you haven’t managed to suffocate its lead generating abilities) and online marketing activities are clearly measurable sources of new business and any agency with a history in this area should be able to provide you with details of previous campaigns. They need to be able to advise you on at least the following key ‘success drivers’:
- Web design to maximise conversions
- Content optimised for search engines and also for the end user. If possible the agency should write this content for you to review.
- Pay Per Click (PPC); (Not ‘Paper Click’ as one of our solicitor clients once thought)- Advertising on Google is a quick and effective way of quickly driving traffic and enquiries
- SEO – Your online marketing efforts should be prevalent in as many online arenas as possible but the most important, by some way, is Google. Search engine optimisation is critical but it needs to be done in a long term, sustainable way by a reputable agency.
- Call tracking - how many calls have your online platforms been generating?
At this point you may wish to get in touch with us? Call 03333 442 722 and ask for Chris.
4. The more you want the more you should spend
What is a good Return on Investment (ROI) for you to help your law firm succeed? Is it 3 x spend, 4 x spend or 5 x spend? Work this out and plan for it. The customers who spend around £2k per month with us get proportionally more from their online marketing efforts than those who spend around £1k per month.
At the £2k per month level a ‘retail’ legal firm should be generating between 120 and 200 enquiries per month (unless you’re in the personal injury market) whereas around£1k per month the same firm would get between 50 and 70 enquiries per month. Using the average initial fee value of £500 and 30% conversion the ROI looks as follows:
5. Work on your conversion rates
This is critical and is the final piece of the jigsaw. Every form fill and every phone call is potentially a piece of gold.
- Telephones not answered during lunch? Forget it. Law firms will, on average, have around 20% of all new online enquiry calls being made to their offices between 12.30pm and 2pm.
- Receptionist doing a number of other things and letting the phone ring to voice mail? You’ve lost it. Using voicemail used to fend off phone calls? Are you mad?
There is absolutely no point in getting your firm’s online strategy motoring if your internal conversion & sales procedures are on pedal power. If we revisit the above, but with a 50% conversion rate, this is how the ROI begins to look.
Create your Law Firm's Success Plan Today
At this point I should be politically correct and say something like if you want to do well choose an agency you can trust blah blah blah. Instead I'm just going to say that if you want to make serious money from your online growth efforts contact us on 03333 442 722 or fill out our online enquiry form.