The BBC recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its news website. 20 years! Some of our staff wouldn’t even have started primary school when the Beeb online were reporting on plans to harmonise tax policies across the EU (how times have changed!)
Time stands still for no man, so the saying goes. While BBC news has continually evolved to keep pace with technology and digital trends, has your law firm done the same?
From what we can gather, 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 moved on a great deal from the one that launched in 1994, we are still amazed by how many of the law firms we meet still have websites that look like they belong in a time when Palm Pilots were all the rage.
Your law firm’s website will very often be a prospect’s first contact with your firm, whether they have found you through organic search (‘Googling’ to you and me) or through branded search (typing in the name of your firm off the back of a referral, for example)).
The next time you look at your law firm’s website ask yourself this question. Is your firm’s website making the right first impression? Is it an accurate reflection of who you are, of your value proposition? Does your website represent how you deliver legal services in 2017? Does it show your target audience what you offer over and above your standard legal services, and how you do that? Unfortunately, more often than not, the answer is no.
As most readers of this blog will know all too well, internet technology 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 your law firm 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 absolutely contribute to your law firm’s success. It 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 most cost effective, salesperson. 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.
10 tips to help your law firm succeed online in 2018
Just like we couldn’t have foreseen the impact the internet would have on our lives 20 years ago, we can’t predict with any great certainty what the online space will look like in another 20 years. We can however help you take advantage of the opportunities the internet presents now.
- Don’t be all things to all people
Develop your niche and work towards becoming the ‘go-to’ solicitor for your area of practice and location(s).
- Develop your brand to differentiate
People trust lawyers to do a good job. What will set you apart from your competitors is what you offer over and above standard legal services. That’s your brand, and it’s more important than ever.
- Provide a sophisticated design and user experience
Your website is very often a prospective instructing agent’s first impression of your firm. Is your site aligned with your brand and value proposition? Does it offer a level of sophistication in design and user experience that is comparable to the service you provide?
- Mobile matters
In 2018, having a mobile friendly web presence should be taken as a given, particularly with Google stating its intention to roll out a ‘mobile-first’ index, making mobile pages the default pages for ranking purposes. With the number of people searching for a legal service from a mobile device increasing all the time, optimising your website for mobile searches and providing a positive mobile experience is no longer optional; it’s mandatory.
- Content is king
The phrase ‘Content is King’ is as relevant as it’s ever been. Content is crucial to the success of any online activity designed to help you highlight your expertise and authority and generate more business. Developing robust quantities of relevant, authoritative, on-brand, targeted content will help you present better to Search, convince potential instructing agents that you are the firm for them and help increase the number of enquiries you receive via your website.
- Increase your online visibility
‘Search Engine Optimisation’ is the name for the tactics, techniques and practices designed to get you to the top of Google. You could have the best law firm and best-designed website in the world but if people can’t find it online, you won’t grow your firm. With Google moving the goalposts in their quest for perfection, it’s vital to remain aligned with best practice.
- Pick your low hanging fruit by marketing to existing clients
It’s amazing how few firms take advantage of their existing client contact database; people who already know you and trust you. Sending out an email newsletter to current clients who may have a limited understanding of the scope of your services will help to keep you front of mind for such a time as when they require the services of a solicitor again. Maintaining contact between instructions also helps to create a stronger relationship by building a sense of trust and familiarity with your brand or business.
- Google Ads for quick wins
Utilised within the context of an overarching growth strategy and for particular areas of practice and times of year, PPC is a great way to achieve high visibility and quick results by driving additional conversion focused traffic to your website.
- Knowing is better than guessing: understand your marketing data
Do you know how many leads your website generates for you each month? Do you know how many of those leads turn into new instructions? Are the leads of a good quality? What is your internal conversion rate? What is your biggest barrier to conversion? To make sensible business decisions, to determine the long-term value of your marketing outlay, and to generate more and better-quality leads, to need to continually analyse, review and improve.
- HANDLE. CALLS. BETTER!
Answering the telephone can often be viewed as an ‘admin’ task. And not just any admin task, one that is frequently delegated to employees who may have the least to gain from converting an enquiry – those who are further down the salary bracket or those that might be least engaged with the long-term health or growth of the business.
Call handling should be viewed squarely as a business development task. After all, what’s the point of investing your hard-earned cash in generating new enquiries if the leads are being lost at the first point of contact?