The New Year represents new opportunities and new possibilities. It’s a chance to launch new marketing strategies and business development initiatives – which will hopefully make 2016 your best year yet. But is your internet foundation in place? If not, you’re standing on shaky ground.
The fact is, a majority of your prospective clients in 2016 are going to visit your website before they make a hiring decision. LexisNexis reports that 76% of Americans use the internet during the process of hiring an attorney, and that number is only increasing.
No matter what your business development strategies may be – networking, radio advertisements, sponsorships, etc – your website is a critical link in the sales cycle. When you meet a referral source at a networking event, when a potential client hears you speak at a seminar, or sees an article you’ve published in a magazine… their next move is to check out your website. What they find will determine whether or not they call you, hire you, or refer business your way.
If your website doesn’t position you in the right light , you’re starting the New Year at a significant disadvantage.
Ask yourself the following:
Does your law firm website attract the right clients – and repel the wrong ones? It’s important that your website immediately shows potential clients that they’ve come to the right place. You have a matter of seconds to make your first impression, so your headlines and your graphics should make it clear exactly what you do and exactly who you serve. (It’s equally important, although perhaps less obvious, that your website should repel clients who aren’t the right fit.) Take a moment to look at your Home page right now and ask yourself whether it’s immediately clear who you serve and how you help them. If you’re having trouble being objective, ask friends, family, or colleagues to give you their feedback. Here’s an example of a website that does a great job at this.
Does your law firm website inspire trust? When a consumer is looking for a lawyer, chances are good that he is experiencing something stressful or frightening. Criminal charges, a car accident, financial duress, divorce, and the list goes on. So establishing trust is vital. Your website should demonstrate to potential clients that you are an expert (even if you can’t use that word) in your area of practice, that you’re well-respected in your community, that you’re approachable and engaging, and most of all that you have their best interests in mind. There are many ways to do this – starting with making sure that your website is professionally designed and that it functions properly. You can use video to build rapport and establish a personal connection. Create blog entries focused on your area of practice to “prove” that you know what you’re talking about. Provide free resources which demonstrate your knowledge and establish goodwill with visitors at the same time. This website, which belongs to another one of our clients, is a great example.
Does your law firm website resonate with your target market? Your prospective clients need to know that you “get it” – that you understand their needs and can provide a solution. If you don’t get it, in their judgement, they’re going to look for a lawyer who does. There is a lot to this, but if you can keep two simple concepts in mind you’ll be ahead of most. First, match the emotional state of your prospective clients. Are they stressed out because they’re going to lose their home to bankruptcy? Afraid they are going to lose custody of their kids? Beginning to accept their own mortality and make a plan for the future of their estate? You need to understand their mindset and craft your message accordingly. The second way to ensure that your message resonates is to use the right language. Your website content shouldn’t be written for your peers or your law professors. It should be written to resonate with your target market. Get rid of the legalese and write for your market.
Does your law firm website capture contact information? Many visitors who land on your website aren’t ready to make a hire immediately – even if they’re very impressed by you and your website. So it’s important to have a system by which you can capture their information so that you’re not dependent on them to remember you weeks or months down the road. One excellent way to accomplish this is to provide a free resource, like we discussed above, but to require an email address to access it. As an example, check out this report that we’re giving away. Or look at either of the websites we linked to above.
Do you have follow-up systems in place to maintain top-of-mind awareness? Once a prospective client or a referral source has visited your site, it’s important that you deploy follow-up systems to keep them engaged. If you’re able to capture their email address, as we discussed above, you can use email marketing as one tool to accomplish this. We recommend sending out a regular e-newsletter at least once per month. This newsletter should include practical, valuable, and relevant information for your audience so that they have a reason to keep reading it. Social media is another great way to maintain this awareness. Your website should prominently feature links to your presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ so that prospects can engage with you on their social network of choice.
If the answer to ANY of the above questions is no – then your website isn’t functioning as effectively as it could be, and ALL of your marketing and business development in 2016 is going to deliver a sub-optimal return.
If you’d like more detailed information, click here for free access to our Website Appraisal worksheet. It’s a quick and easy way to determine how effective your law firm website is – and where you can improve.
Here’s to a successful New Year!