Tricks and Tips for a Successful Law Practice Website
In the next few articles, we are going to talk about how a combination of things might work for you and why you should work “on” your practice more than working “in” your practice.
Now, if you are an attorney with a local firm or have your own practice, you know that the advertising technology to reach a larger audience and get new clients is crazy expensive, not to mention extremely complicated.
No matter how hard you try, you cant compete with bigger firms with their deep pockets, or is there?
Of course, there is!
You can start with having your own website. Your website will be your most potent tool to compete with big law firms. On spot SEO and great content will enhance your online presence and help you stand out from the $3000 suits and still get the business just like they do!
Nobody Cares About Your Law Firm
And the person who has suffered and looked out for a personal injury lawyer is most definitely not up to it.
Think of a hit-and-run accident victim. The first thought that crosses his mind is “how did it happen?” Moves on to “ Why me?” before a friend or a relative and in some cases someone authoritative suggests him to consult a lawyer.
To this person, your great law firm with 20 lawyers and combined work –experience 35 years doesn’t matter.
This person is not even interested in knowing what you tweeted or Instagrammed last night.
Or how your conference with fellow PI lawyers was a sure “ hit”. (Ouch, sorry for the pun)
We will discuss how you could use social media effectively, but before that, let’s answer the first question –
Do you know your clientele?
Before you start rustling up a website, you should first understand who your online audience is. Then you need to create appropriate content for that audience.
If you design a website without really thinking who it’s for, you are like that lone speaker holding a megaphone in an auditorium, hoping and praying that someone out there is going to listen to what you are saying.
There is a number of different audiences that you might want to target. For example, a retiree will respond to may be a website showing images of people in his age group. Or they would like your website to have a larger text size for them to read easily. But a millennial would want to watch a few videos, maybe download an e-book about their rights as an accident victim.
Remember, whatever the segment, you need to reach out to them quickly.
If you have ascertained who your audience is,
Here comes my second question –
What do your typical clients in need of a personal injury lawyer looking for?
When a potential client searches for a personal injury lawyer and heads to your website, he/she is looking for a few things –
- Are you an expert in the field?
You have an impressive college degree, great work experience, but do you have the required knowledge?Are you willing to share that knowledge with people? Do you have blogs or a legal advisory presence on social media platforms? You can’t dole out proof of your professional qualifications to accident victims in a hospital, but your website can inform them as much.
- Can you be trusted?
You claim to have won a case worth millions of dollars. But is it supported by facts? Do your clients give you great reviews on Angie’s List? Or do you have great video and text testimonials from your happy clients? The lady who was denied an insurance claim on her car for some reason might be impressed if she sees someone in her church fraternity commenting how you helped her in her insurance claim as a testimonial on your website.
- Have you embraced technology?
You may have years of experience to stake a claim on a prospective client’s case, but do you have a way to reach out to them? Unless your website is mobile responsive, chances are you are losing a chunk of your business and leads. People who look up online mostly do so on their mobile devices while traveling or doing some other work and a mobile responsive website is most likely to be picked up than a non-responsive one.
- How easy is it to reach out to you?
Was it easy to find you online? Does your website have the essential keywords to rank you higher in searches? Do you have a website that allows users to reach you in multiple ways- a phone call, email, direct walk-in or through contact forms? Gone are the days where lawyers could brazenly walk-in, introduce themselves and expect the business to come to them in return. People today want less personal contact unless they truly need you, and the easiest way is to have a website.
There are more than 117,000 personal injury lawyers in the country.
You can do a local search online on any of the listing websites to check how many are in your locality.
Do you think the prospective client looking for a personal injury lawyer is going to wake up one morning to check out- what “Williamson & Co- Personal Injury Lawyers in Minneapolis” has posted on the social media?
OR what is new on their website?
The answer is a huge NO.
As much as you would like the prospective visitors to get hooked on as clients, they are not impressed easily. And the best way to impress them is to give them a crisp, clear, neat, professional and functional website with a fantastic design, great user interface, excellent user experience, and to the point information.
Personal injury lawyers are generally looked down upon until something grievous happens. Till then, you are just another ambulance chaser, and no matter how hard you try, unless you have a great web presence, it’s hard to shed that image.
average personal injury lawyer makes about $237000 a year according to a survey. You know that in many cases, you might not get anything beyond the retainer fee.
But that doesn’t dissuade you from cutting above the average earnings level.
In our experience, the vast majority of injury or accident attorneys that we’ve come across are ethical, incredibly hard-working, and genuinely interested in the welfare of their injured clients and of course, shed the image of being the Tort or ambulance chaser in return.
If you build a website
This can be done in a very neutral, non-intrusive and professional manner by creating a great website. A website that will help people come to you, instead of you chasing them.
Launching a good, secure, well-structured and content-rich law firm website is absolutely the first step to successful online marketing in the personal injury legal field.
How to design a remarkable website?
First I convinced you that nobody cares about your law firm.
Now I am saying that 99.9% of the time, what goes on your website is totally irrelevant to your target market.
Before you wonder what the heck are you doing here, or I get a big note of “thanks for nothing” from my editor, hang in there, and listen to my argument, for once ? let’s turn the tables so you are at the listening end.
Nobody wants your free reports or your FAQs unless they’ve just been in a car accident. It becomes suddenly relevant when they do, and only then they start caring about it- that is about 0.1% of the time there are chances you will get their attention.
But you can not blink and wish your website away only to appear magically like a genie when the need arises. So what do you put on the website that works and gets your clients to come back to you on their 99.9% normal days as well?
Lets cut the chase and explore the website design strategies for your personal injury (PI from now on) law practice.
What should be there on your PI Law practice website?
From here on, I want to give you a list of things to do as well as stuff that matters and should be there on your website.
Step 1: Finalize your web marketing collateral’s
Like you always do with your clients, I decided to go with a little jargon here too!
Your web marketing collateral’s are all kinds of media that you use on your website to create a distinct brand identity for your practice.
These include logos, videos, images, and content that makes your website unique.
While you are doing this, if your practice has a name, find out if the domain name is available for you to buy. Domain name is nothing but the name of your website.
For example, if your firm is known as Denver Personal Injury Law Services, try finding the domain names like Denverpersonalinjurylaw.com or denverlegalservices.com or personalinjurylegalservicesdenver.com
You could also go extremely innovative and call your practice “denverlaw” or go for your name if you are a known legal figure in the locality you operate in.
Lawyers typically use their surnames along with keywords like “Law” or “Legal Services”.
Once you have a logo, some content to go with your brand’s identity, and a domain name that reflects your website’s identity, you could now pick a host that will keep your website on the internet. Look for exclusive hosting instead of a shared hosting, because the speed of your website, how it uploads, and its availability when users search for it matters. Choose a host like you would a car service station- reliable, fast and optimally priced.
Step 2: Choose a platform on which to build your website and a designer to do so
Let’s assume you are on a tight budget when it comes to designing a website for your practice. Let us also assume that you are debating whether you should hire a professional designer to do so or go for one of those DIY website builders and go ahead and design your website by yourself.
How difficult could that be, right?
I would want you to leave the second thought out of your mind. A professional designer brings to the table what you bring to your client. They know their job and know how to stretch your already stiff dollar to the maximum and get you a website that works for you for the long run.
Sure, you could design your own website by trial and error, you really don’t need coding skills these days to come up with a website of your own, but I would rather have you invest that energy in working on your cases than wasting it on design of a website which you might not even like.
Before you do something for your website, only to look out for someone to improve upon it, think of going for a professional consultation first, you can always go back to doing your own thing if you find it too expensive.
I have gone into detail on pros and cons of various website building platforms available on the market in another blog. It is sufficient to say here that I am floored by the versatile WordPress and would like you to give it a try before thinking of anything else.
Check out a list of premium WordPress themes that suit your PI legal practice here
With premium WordPress themes, you can get a customized, fully functional website that has content which is tailored to suit your requirements.
Your clients are the ones who need this website and to help them understand what you do, how you do it, who you are and what differentiates you from every other lawyer they will ever come across, you need a website that is sincere, accessible, easy to navigate and has tonnes of value-added features.
That brings us to Step 3- Fixing the content for your website’s pages
- Look at the various websites around you, check out the pages that they have. Do you think you could have more? Or fewer pages than they have?
- These are the lists of pages that you should focus on, you can add or remove some based on your requirement, and budget of course, because more pages mean you need to pay more money for designing and developing them.
Homepage– This is the page everyone is going to come to the moment they approach your website. It should provide a list of everything that you do, and should also have a contact form for the impatient surfers who want to check in and check out immediately without going through the whole website.
About You – This page will carry you biography, probably the second most visited page after people have landed on your homepage. They would want to know who you are, what are your qualifications, past experience, what you believe in, things you have done, and even causes you support.
Stay away from cheesy stuff, and don’t be pushy, people just want to know who you are, and take it from there.
For example, if you are a keen baseball player, talk about your skills. You know who will find that interesting? People in your market who are also big into baseball. You’ll give them a reason to connect with you before they need a lawyer.
Then, if they do need a lawyer, who do you think they’ll contact first?
Team Page – If you have a team of lawyers working with you, this page will have the pictures and a brief biography of the whole team. You have already set the tone of your website through your homepage- Serious, light-hearted, formal or casual. All you need now is to make sure you are adhering to the tone of your website on this page as well. So if you have a formal image on the homepage and About Me page, ask your team pose in business formals and not give the image from their last trip to Hawaii. (that would be the end of the road btw, you will be perceived as blowing away client’s money on frivolous holidays! Stay aware!)
Practice Areas page – Explain your practice areas, highlight your specialties. If you are an accident claim specialist or an employee compensation expert, share all the practice areas in detail. People are probably visiting your website for the first time. And they are stressed out because of the situation they find themselves in. Many don’t even know they need you. Don’t give them jargon, tell them simply what they can find if they come to you. Explain your practice areas.
Testimonials – I am sure you all know the value of good reviews by your satisfied clients. We sure can rave about people who trusted us with their website design and left a good word or two on our website.
Cultivate these people, be aware of the laws of the land, you can not pay someone for a good review. Focus on reviews on third-party listing sites like Yelp, Google Plus, and Angie’s list.
Apart from your qualifications, experience, and your team, people would want to hear from other people who were helped by your legal advice. So make sure you cover this ground.
FAQs Page – Along with your practice areas page, this page practically makes up for all the doubts that a client might have. You can answer some very basic questions like your fee structure, how you approach, timelines for cases, and what can the clients do in case they find themselves in a particular situation. You can discuss scenarios, the possibilities for this page are endless.
Blog / News Page – Your last case got featured in abajournal, you would want it to be known to people you work for! You want to explain to people about the latest insurance norms, you can write a blog and share it on various social media platforms. Truly, a “blawg” will help you make a connection with your audience. You can write about your cases, latest rulings and a lot more. You need not be boring and use only the legal terminology. Your blog could be entertaining too.
Contact us page – Though lawyers can advertise in most states within certain norms, it is always advisable if clients solicit your business instead of you approaching them.
In view of various rules regarding matters such as Confidentiality of Information, Communication Concerning a Lawyer’s Services, Advertising, Direct Contact With Prospective Clients, Communication of Fields of Practice & Specialization, you can make your life much easier by asking clients to contact you with reason and their legal issue.
Do not forget to put a disclaimer on all pages along with your name, address and contact details.
Pay a little extra if you want for the security of the site as leaking of confidential information pertaining to cases is again a very serious situation for lawyers.
Appointment and events calendar – Another important value-add to your website, I will strongly recommend an appointment calendar that helps you organize your appointment diary more effectively. Most of the visitors to your website will be first-time appointment seekers, and if they can get an appointment without calling or emailing you, that too at the click of a button, they would love it and thank you for it.
You can sync this appointment calendar with your personal calendar to ensure you are aware of the new appointments and they do not clash with your court appearance or any other commitments. Similarly, events calendar can help you market your services to people who might not be keen on choosing you at the initial stage. A free consultation or a legal camp might sound like a great event to boost your marketing through your website.
Hiring page – If you want to hire more people, you can have a hiring page with contact form and option to upload resume by the prospective candidates.
Step 4 – Let’s make the website more effective
Consider these few steps to make your PI legal practice website work like your very own personal assistant.
Mail integration – think about integrating an email software in your website so whoever leaves a contact detail, you could approach them to see if you could be of any help without wasting too much time
CRM integration – birthdays, anniversaries, veteran’s day, labor day, other important dates for your clients, they are important aspects of a 360* marketing approach. Integrate the CRM with your website and reap the benefits of being in touch with your clients at a higher level.
Localisation and Map integration – You would want your clients to be able to locate you in case you have an office. Enlist your business on local directories, share the link of your site’s map with the local search engines, and make sure this is a part of your contact us page
SEO – Search engine optimization is required to make your site appear on the first few pages of any search pertaining to your field. You could also do paid advertising on various search engines, but if you want the search engines to pick up your website, follow some basic rules for a great SEO here.
Social Media Integration – once you design your website it is really a launchpad for you to launch your practice in any direction- platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn help you keep in touch with current as well as prospective clients. These are your free propaganda specialists as well if handled nicely.
In SEO as well as Social Media integration- regular, unique updates, use of correct keywords, and constant activity and buzz on and around your website helps you reach out to more people without spending too much of your valuable dollar.
Some last words for your website design
No matter what we do to design your website, it is essentially You, the personal injury lawyer, the crusader against injustice(don’t even think of using that line in your website’s content ) that gives character to your website. Your clients know you, they know you can be trusted, and they spread the word about you. But still, a new client would like to check you out before reaching out to you. So make sure that
Your Law Firm’s website: is About People
You may have heard the phrase “People buy from people”. It’s about people. You and your employees have the relationships with your clients and potential clients. Make the most of that relationship, instead of trying to build it on a website where nobody cares.
My second advice is to make sure you create original content regularly but do not succumb to self-promotion. You could boast that you are the best personal injury lawyer in Chicago, but you will lose the battle to the next guy who claims on his website that for him every client matters and he makes sure to meet them personally.
Your law firm’s best practices and great service to your clients will reach out to an unlimited number of new prospects through a well-designed website.
But don’t forget who your audience is. You have to develop a website keeping in mind your audience’s tastes and preferences.
Website design is actually a science as well as art, and don’t get overwhelmed by the process. You can tackle it in small manageable chunks steadily over time and gradually you will have a website that really works.
For a PI lawyer, nothing is more important than credibility. Instead of just providing information, try to share your knowledge through your website. Your website’s goal should be to help people solve problems or reach out to you for help.
For millions of Americans, PI lawyers are literally lifesavers.
Personal injury lawyers are the foundation of American legal system.
They often stand by people who have little hope and are there for the people who don’t even know their legal rights.
There are over one million attorneys in the USA today, so locating one who possesses the ideal combination of expertise, experience, knowledge and a proven track record of success, is challenging. That is where stories , not facts alone, would help.
If there’s a story behind why you started your law firm, use that story and make it a part of the conversation with your clients.
Find out what your clients really need to make their lives easier and help them make it happen. You can be about more than just juggling office and court. Lawyers change lives. Give your clients that life-improving story to share about your law firm.
You have to be both technically competent and give your customers a great story to tell. And it all starts with first impressions. In today’s world, the best way to make a first impression is through a website.