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Getting Clients

What’s Really Wrong With Your Law Firm’s Website?

By Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

It really doesn’t matter how much money and time go into your law practice’s website. You’ll likely always be left wondering if it is actually doing the job you need it to do — and if not, what the heck is wrong with it. Like some, you may have overblown expectations for the work a mere website can do. Like others, you may be unwilling to fully invest what it takes to maximize a site’s impact.

Six Questions to Ask About Your Website Marketing

Let’s look at the bare bones of the problem and identify the critical pieces of your firm’s website marketing effort. After all, it is more than just some images on people’s screens.

1. What Does Your Website Look and Read Like?

Does your firm’s website clearly express who you are? Sure, it may include your “brand statement,” you know the one: “We do everything amazingly well!” (Sorry, a little cynicism slipped in there. Only a few extraordinary brand statements actually stand for something.) But does everything about your site support your argument for your identity as a firm? If you say your lawyers are super-efficient, is the experience of visiting and reading your website hyper-efficient, quick and clear? How many clicks does it take for visitors to find what they want? A website must demonstrate what you say you are. (Based on many law firm sites I visit, there are a lot of boring, turgid and outdated lawyers out there. Surely that’s not the case.)

2. Does Your Website Offer Relevant — Even Provocative — Information?

Do you tell potential clients what they want to know, or do you tell them what you want to tell? A lawyer explaining her many degrees and years in practice may possibly be making an argument against hiring her if the client is seeking a market-savvy, inventive young business lawyer. Think about who your ideal client is and then provide the kind of information that person would require. Make the information easy for them to find across your site. And don’t neglect to surprise your readers with information they don’t expect but will really value!

3. Even If It’s Perfect, How (and Why) Will People Find It?

The biggest mistake, by far, made by lawyers on the web is assuming their fancy new website will by sheer magnetism draw visitors and turn them into clients. Not likely. The task of drawing, driving and sending people to your website should be a daily concern. (I know, you didn’t want to hear this.) By using social media, newsletters, email, on- and off-line advertising, speeches, giveaways, client portals, business cards, search engine optimization (SEO) and any number of other means, you and your staff must entice your specific public to go to that URL and peruse your website. Make the URL simple. Feature it everywhere. Provide the first half of something and require a click-through to your site to get the remainder.

4. Is One Visit Enough?

Make sure that every time a viewer visits your site they find something new and intriguing to them. Include references to new additions they can click through to on the initial landing page. Link to lots of interesting places on your site. Promote repeat visits. Invite subscription to items featured on your site. Make it a place they want to return to.

5. Does Your Website Have Good Interactivity?

Always be asking for feedback and questions. Offer the chance to interact with a live person via the site. Conduct surveys and link through to results. Offer resources like expanded and printed versions of materials you can only hint at online. Use your imagination and all the wonderful tools at your disposal to lure your visitors in to share information going both ways.

6. Do You Know How Well You’re Doing? 

While tempting, it’s just not a good idea to assume you know how well your site is doing. You need to actually measure it. You should be able to track visits, responses, entry and exit information, and so much more. You, or someone who knows about such things, should be monitoring your online activity and tweaking your efforts regularly. (Daily is good!) And I’m not just talking about Google Analytics. Set things up inside your firm to learn how each new client finds you — track over time how many are following a trail that winds through your website.

Always Be Learning About What Is and Isn’t Working on Your Website

Websites require constant attention. Monitor what is working, consider how you can tune it up, and add new functionality to make it work better for you. Constantly examine the data and apply what you learn to improve things. Or, I suppose you could just let it lie there on the internet and hope it’s not boring, turgid and outdated.

Here’s the bottom line: People will use the internet to learn about you, regardless. But your website is your opportunity to make sure they get it right and straight from you. Work it!


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Merrilyn Astin Tarlton Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Merrilyn is the author of “Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over.” She has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Merrilyn was a founding partner of Attorney at Work. 

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