Is your law firm website getting “reads” or is it getting leads? Many law firms resign themselves to the idea that a website is only an online brochure – a place for visitors to view practice area descriptions and professional biographies. This is misguided. While lead generation has not traditionally been a priority for most professional services websites, failing to optimize and integrate a site as a part of a firm’s holistic business development initiatives is a big mistake.
Law firms are paying tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars to design and develop new websites, and investing even more to drive traffic to the site via spending on advertising, events and content marketing. Despite these investments, most law firm websites are doing little to nothing to capture the traffic and convert it into new business. Is your website passively displaying information, or is it serving as an inbound lead generation machine? If your website isn’t playing an integral role in generating and nurturing new business leads, then I have both bad news and good news for you.
The bad news: You’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Your law firm website is the hub of your marketing. If it’s not generating leads it’s not doing its job.
The good news: While there may be many things you could and should be doing to improve your website (for example, reducing the amount of copy on your website, and rewriting copy so that it is much more client-focused), there are three relatively simple steps you can take to dramatically improve your website’s lead-generating potential.
Before moving to the three steps, I want to discuss a single caveat. The strategy and tactics I describe below require a commitment – not a huge one, but some commitment – to producing valuable content for your audience. Sure, some people will simply stumble upon your website or visit for a specific purpose (to check out a lawyer bio, for example), but to generate leads and not just traffic, you need to be willing to put in some time to generate content that potential leads are interested in. There is a massive amount of information available to people these days. Information is not valuable. Wisdom, defined in this context as deep analysis and actionable insights, is what is required to turn a casual reader into a new business lead.
STEP 1: CREATE A LEAD GENERATOR
The strategic objective of this process is to grow your firm’s email list of active and loyal subscribers. I believe that email marketing is one of the most valuable and effective ways to spread the word about your law firm and keep potential clients engaged with your brand. Many law firms have an email list. Far too few are leveraging it in ways that lead to new business.
Step 1 in this process, therefore, starts with offering potential clients something valuable, which I call a “lead generator,” on your website. Website visitors can access the lead generator in return for their email address. A lead-generator is a resource, such as a downloadable PDF document or a series of instructional videos, that is of intense interest to members of the audience you’re targeting. Different pages or blogs on your website may feature different lead generators. For instance, your firm’s healthcare law practice page may feature “5 Things Every Hospital Administrator Must Know About HIPAA” and the business law page may feature “10 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating an ESOP.”
A lead-generator does not often lead to immediate new business. It’s more of a transitional call to action. in that it invites someone to engage in a conversation with your firm over time. It’s a cup of coffee, not an engagement ring.
A lead-generator is something that provides value and establishes your firm as an authority in its field. When creating a lead generator, here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: It should take no more than 5 hours to create, and no more than 10 minutes to consume. It needs to have a strong title and be chock full of great information. After all, you’re asking your law firm website visitors to turn over something valuable to you (their time and attention), so you need to provide them with something valuable in return.
The purpose of the lead generator is to pique the potential client’s interest with the “What” and the “Why” of a problem or opportunity they are facing, and then position your firm as the guide that will show them “How” to achieve the outcome they are seeking.
Advanced Tip: In order for people to find your lead generator, and provide you their email address, you need to drive traffic to your website. Accordingly, the page content on which your lead generator(s) is featured should be optimized so that it ranks highly in search engine results. You may also want to consider driving paid traffic to your site through targeted ads on Facebook and LinkedIn.
STEP 2: SET UP AN EMAIL MARKETING
Step 2 is easy and can be accomplished quickly. Before launching your lead generator, establish an account with a good email marketing service provider such as MailChimp, Infusionsoft, or ConvertKit. Many firms already have such a resource in place.
Once a website visitor downloads a lead generator, their email is fed into a list maintained in your email marketing service provider so that you can begin communicating with them.
Advanced Tip: If you feature multiple lead generators on your site, have emails acquired from each lead generator feed into separate lists. This segmentation will allow you to provide more customized and relevant information, as discussed in more detail in Step 3 below, based on the new subscriber’s interests and industry.
STEP 3: INITIATE AN AUTOMATED EMAIL DRIP
CAMPAIGN CULMINATING IN A CALL TO ACTION
The purpose of capturing email addresses with a lead-generator is to implement an automated email drip campaign through which you can send potential clients regular, valuable emails.
Some of you may be thinking: We already send our subscribers emails, including newsletters, blog posts and announcements about the firm, so what’s different about your approach?
Good question. By simply slotting new subscribers into your regular email system, you’re missing an opportunity to ease them into your ecosystem and tell them your story from the beginning. Yes, you may be sending them valuable information, but with little context. It’s like sitting down to watch a movie that’s halfway done – you may pick up on the plot line, but you never really get immersed in the story and connect with the characters.
What I’m suggesting is onboarding new subscribers into your law firm’s brand with a strategic campaign consisting of six to eight emails sent over two to three months that invites them into the story you’re telling as a firm. It’s a pre-written “nurturing” sequence that triggers when someone subscribes to your list. The sequence introduces your firm, explains how you help clients solve problems, continues to provide valuable information, and positions the firm as an authority. It’s a funnel that leads to new business.
The final email in the sequence should be a soft call to action. Don’t ask for the potential client’s business – simply suggest having a deeper conversation about issues of relevance to them. It may be an opportunity to schedule a free consultation with an attorney or perhaps an invitation to an educational seminar or webinar hosted by your firm. The form this call to action takes is up to you, and should be based on your comfort level and existing resources.
By connecting with the new subscriber, and then nurturing them along with valuable information, you’ll have built up a level of trust and awareness that will make the prospect much more receptive to business development overtures
Don’t Forget: New subscribers who receive the nurturing sequence should also be added to the firm’s general email list so they receive other firm updates and newsletters as well. Some firms are hesitant to send emails to subscribers for fear that they will unsubscribe from their list. Move past this fear. If someone unsubscribes, chances are they would never buy from you anyway. Even if they do unsubscribe, it may just be that they don’t like receiving emails. But the fact that you landed in their inbox a few times still means that you branded your firm into their ecosystem.
START SMALL AND SLOWLY
I know, I said this would be simple, but you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. Don’t be. Start small. Create a simple lead generator and hire someone to lay it out, or use a tool such as Canva to do it yourself. Write a few emails in a word processing program and paste them into your email program. Just get started. You’ll soon have a funnel of activity and engagement that ultimately will lead to new business.
Creating a lead generating law firm website should be an important priority for your law firm in 2018. The 3 Steps described above are something that any firm can implement themselves with a bit of research and work. If you need assistance, however, we’re here to help. We specialize in helping law firms build websites and execute digital strategies that lead to new business. Give Jay Harrington a call at 313-432-0287 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how to improve your website’s performance.