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Law Firm Website

Want New Business? Tailor Your Firm’s Website to Those Who Have Never Hired a Lawyer

By Mike Zellmer

A great targeted, personalized website experience can reduce the intimidation factor when new clients are considering contacting you.

The concept of catering to prospects to win their business is far from new. It seems obvious, right?

However, many law firm websites fail to reflect a fundamental aspect of marketing or, really, any type of communication: Know your audience. But that long-held tenet means more than simply knowing some demographic information, what a prospect’s average case is worth, or what types of traditional or digital media they use the most. Knowing your audience means truly understanding their circumstances and what they are likely feeling, so you can build their trust, show empathy and begin helping them as soon as possible.

Many attorneys are great at doing this once they meet someone in person or talk with them on the phone. However, you can begin to develop a relationship with potential clients before they reach out by providing them with a great website experience.

How Important Is Your Law Firm’s Website?

No matter how potential clients hear about you, they are very likely to visit your website to get a feel for your firm and evaluate you based on what they find.

SEO, Google Ads, billboards, LinkedIn and other social media, and traditional referrals will often drive someone to your website. Once they arrive, though, you need to be sure that their experience gives them enough confidence in your firm to contact you.

By assessing how your website presents, prospects will begin to gauge if they think you can help them. Consciously or not, they will also develop feelings about you, your staff, your abilities and personalities — and whether they can trust you.

Think about your website. What is a potential client’s first impression of you? What is your website doing to inform, comfort, engage and prompt action from them?

What Is Your Prospect Facing?

Depending on your areas of practice, your potential clients may be in the most stressful situations of their lives. They may be facing divorce, injuries, accidents, tax problems, bankruptcies, business disputes, criminal charges, child custody or other issues.

Many have never hired an attorney and are unclear on how the process works, which can add significantly to their anxiety. In addition to questions about the situation that has them looking for legal help, they have lots of others:

  • How do I know who the right lawyer is for my situation?
  • If I talk to an attorney, even just briefly on the phone, will I have to pay?
  • Does a lawyer have to keep my situation private, even if I don’t hire their firm?
  • How do I know how much it will cost to have a lawyer represent me?

The more thoroughly and quickly you can answer their questions, the better your chance t0 build rapport and sign them as clients. Providing some answers and a bit of critical information through your website, perhaps in an FAQ section or “How It Works” page, can ease fears and doubts and build positive feelings in a prospect before you even know who they are.

Does Your Website Show You’re Qualified?

For a prospect to contact you, logic would say they should have confidence that you are capable and qualified to help them with their legal issue. To help, your website can include evidence such as:

  • Testimonials and case results. Seeing positive outcomes for, and feedback from, clients that you have served can help someone to envision you representing them as well, especially if their legal issue is similar. Words of praise from satisfied clients can be much more powerful than your own and carry with them the element of social proof. (Note: Be sure that any information or language you share is explicitly approved and permitted by the client and that any use of testimonials, reviews or case results follow your jurisdiction’s ethics rules.)
  • Knowledge, skills and experience. Your attorney bio pages are the place to include relevant information about your education and professional endeavors to build support for your unique qualifications and areas of specialty, if applicable.
  • Certifications and awards. A quick word of warning — this can easily be overdone. Including too many logos, badges, memberships, awards, rankings and certifications can be dizzying for a prospect. It may also lead them to think that you are overqualified for their case and that your fees would be too high. These awards may imply your knowledge, achievement, skill, and ties in the legal community, which can add to a prospect’s estimation of you, but settle on a reasonable number of relevant items to include.

Does Your Website Show You’re Approachable?

Once they are satisfied that you are qualified to represent them, many prospects will, consciously or not, evaluate what their experience would be like in contacting you and working with you and your team.

Remember, contacting a law firm for the first time can be intimidating. Many prospects are more comfortable reaching out once they have a better feeling for who the lawyer is “as a person.” If they feel that your firm is filled with personable, friendly, approachable people, they may be much more likely to reach out.

To encourage prospects to contact you, your law firm website can include:

  • Photos and videos of attorneys and staff. People want to put a face with a name, and videos can give them better insight into personalities. Be sure any photo or video on your website is high-quality. A poorly done image or video will reflect badly on your firm and potentially keep a prospect from reaching out.
  • A bit of non-legal information. Not all the copy on your website should be about practice areas, procedure and cases. Feel free to talk about hobbies, interests, philanthropic activities, pets, family and other (noncontroversial) topics that bring out more of your “human side” while still maintaining your professionalism.
  • Language about why you do what you do. If you haven’t read Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action,” please do. It’s a fantastic, insightful read. The short and slightly adapted version: People know what you do, and maybe they even understand how you do it that makes you different, but on a base level, they are most interested in, connected to and inspired by why you do it. By talking about your “why,” you can more successfully motivate actions, including encouraging new prospects to contact you. (Here’s a video of Simon’s TEDx talk on the concept.)
  • Contact methods to appeal to a wide audience. Let’s face it. People have different communication preferences. Some see a phone call to a law firm as intimidating and would rather chat online or submit a form. Others may prefer to send you an email and await a response — a less “in the moment” method of reaching out. Provide a wide variety of contact options and make sure they are easy to find and easy to use. Another suggestion: If you have an online form for initial contact, make sure it is short. Aim for no more than five fields, and ask for name, contact information, and how you can help them. You can get the other details later. Lastly, respond quickly to their inquiry. You can easily lose a case to a competitor who answers a prospect before you do.

Focus on Helping People Who Are Inexperienced With Legal Services

By tailoring your website experience to people who have never hired an attorney, you can engage more prospects and encourage more contacts. Remember that your day-to-day work may be routine for you, but not for the people who suddenly find they need your services. For them, it’s a brand-new and often quite stressful event. By answering their questions, showing you understand their situation — and by demonstrating your skills, qualifications and personality — you can increase your firm’s caseload.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Mike Zellmer

Mike Zellmer is Client Marketing Manager for PCLaw | Time Matters. His 20 years of experience includes 17 in the legal vertical, with legal professionals as his clients and customers. Mike has a passion for marketing, strategic planning, content creation, website optimization, SEO, SEM, client service, and creating effective communications. Mike held marketing director positions at two organizations, including a niche digital marketing agency serving law firms.

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