Small things can make a big difference on your website.
There are changes you can make in minutes to impact your website’s performance, which will make a significant difference in how likely it is that you’ll get hired.
For the prospective client, your website is your law firm. They don’t know you yet. They are looking for reasons to trust you, but all they have is your website to make that judgment. It’s a pass/fail test with revenue on the line.
In the absence of a personal referral, your website becomes a significant part of your firm’s identity. Prospective clients will use it to decide whether to act and how to proceed. In today’s legal services market, your site isn’t just pixels and code. It’s you.
Think of how much time you spend making sure your shoes are polished, your hair is trimmed, and your body odors are suppressed. Sadly, you can’t show off your shiny, neat, pleasant-smelling lawyer body if your website fails to convince visitors to call.
The changes I’m suggesting today are easy, simple, and likely implementable without the need to call your website guru. These are things you may be able to do yourself.
1. Update the copyright date.
The copyright date is a tiny piece of your website, but it makes a powerful subconscious impression. Is this website alive and kicking? Is the website current?
The copyright date is like a pulse. You grab the wrist of the dead prostitute you find under your hotel room bed. Is she alive? There’s no pulse. Nope, she’s gone. That’s exactly what visitors think when the copyright date is 2015.
2. Say something personal.
I understand that you want to appear formal and professional. You want to brag about where you went to law school and how you served as a judicial clerk (maybe with a witty anecdote about how the judge ruined good pastrami with mayonnaise).
But prospective clients – even those big-league, powerful, successful clients – make their hiring decisions based on emotion, not facts. They’ll read your credentials AFTER they decide to hire you. Your experience only becomes pertinent when they need to justify to themselves or others that they’re making a good decision.
You’ve got to hook them with something emotional or your prior experiences won’t matter.
Tell them about your dog, your cat, or the dead hamster you keep in the freezer. Tell them how your kids keep setting the garage on fire. Tell them how your spouse ran off to Mexico with your law partner and your money.
There needs to be an emotional connection before prospects decide that you’re actually qualified to do the work. Once there’s an emotional connection, nearly any qualification will be sufficient.
Once they want you, they’ll find reasons to ignore any shortcomings.
3. Tell them you know them.
You may be interesting, but your clients would rather hear about themselves. Sure, they enjoyed the story about your law partner and your spouse in Mexico, but they really like it when you talk about their problems.
The more they feel understood and heard, the more likely they are to hire you. Empathy matters in your website copy. Show your would-be clients that you understand them and their problems. Demonstrate that you have a complete understanding of what it’s like to be them.
Give the reader that “fly on the wall” experience. Make them wonder how you understand what it’s like to have their problem. Have you been spying on them? Make them feel it.
4. Show me your face.
You may not be the sex symbol people hope to see when they visit your website, but you look normal enough. That’s all prospective clients need.
Show your picture. It builds trust and creates a connection. In fact, more pictures are even better. Give us a small behind-the-scenes tour of your life with a photo album.
Oh, and make sure your pictures were taken this decade. Don’t make the client question your authenticity when they expect 1999 you, but get 2017 you. “You haven’t changed a bit” is something that’s said at high school reunions to get you in bed. It’s not true. You’ve changed and it’s time for a new picture.
5. Don’t SEO your visitors.
Use words on your website that communicate ideas, not words intended to achieve placement of a particular keyword on search engine pages. You don’t need to repeat “Estate attorney in Boston, Massachusetts” over and over. Google knows where you are and where the searchers are looking.
Overuse of keywords makes your copy confusing, pointless and useless. Sadly, this hyper-optimized format is used on many law firm websites.
[ While I have you here, I wanted to remind you that you can get the latest articles delivered do your inbox. Just one email per week. Sign up here. ]
Attracting search engine traffic to pages filled with overly optimized copy (and little actual meaning) is a futile effort. Use words that deliver a meaningful message. Don’t waste them on search engines. Saying the right thing to a small number of people is better than saying the wrong thing to many people.
6. Tell us your why.
Why do you do this stuff? Find words that say something in the space between “because I care” and “because I love taking your money to my bank.”
There’s a reason you practice your brand of law, even if you’ve forgotten it by shutting down the part of your brain that connects emotion to motivation. You may be a mercenary, but you picked your field of practice for a reason. You’re human and you’re deeper than you remember. Tell your visitors why you help people.
7. Reveal your fear.
Don’t be afraid to be afraid.
We’re all afraid of something and the readers of your website are likely in a panic about their problem. They want a human being on their team. They want someone passionate, smart, capable, and experienced at solving their problem.
But they also need someone who gets it. They need someone who understands how much their problem matters to them. They need someone who sometimes feels fear and knows what it means to be afraid.
When you become more human, you increase – not decrease – your power. The slick, aloof, disconnected professional isn’t trusted. The trusted person is the powerful person.
8. Make your number clickable.
More than two-thirds of the visitors to my law firm website arrive via their phones. The same is likely true for your site.
When the prospective client is ready to act, it should be easy. Smooth their path. Make it easy for them to call you.
Make your phone number clickable on mobile devices. Don’t force your prospects to write your number on archaic paper before dialing.
9. Reveal your fee.
Every prospective client – from the Fortune 500 CEO to the stay-at-home parent – worries about the cost of legal services. Fee information pages will quickly rank among the most visited pages of your site. Give the visitor as much information as possible.
If you bill with fixed fees, provide a calculated estimate like we do at North Carolina Divorce. Detail the fee and provide a range of possibilities. Visitors don’t need specifics, but they need a sense of what they will pay.
You may fear that this will turn people away before you have a chance to convey your value. The opposite is actually true. Transparency makes them more likely to call for more information.
Hourly and other billing methods make transparency more complex, but prospective clients don’t require a specific quote on the website. They simply want a sense of what their case might cost. They understand that facts and circumstances will impact the specifics.
Tell stories of prior cases. Explain what was done, how it played out, and how much it cost. Use case studies to illustrate fees for different scenarios. Give these pages double duty by illustrating your understanding of the client’s situation. Use your knowledge and understanding of the client’s experience to convey your expertise as you explain your fees.
10. Show me your stuff: Articles, forms, samples, etc.
My wife buys an inordinate amount of fancy chocolate. We’ve been to four chocolate shops since we arrived in Israel a week ago.
The money spent on chocolate adds up. Truth be told, I don’t really know what it costs because I deliberately ignore it. I recently noticed that we bought two chocolate bars in Amman, Jordan, each for $23. My heart skipped a few beats, but I reminded myself to stop paying attention. I can’t handle that pain.
However, I enjoy being dragged into the shops. There are always free samples. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to one of these stores where I wasn’t handed something to try. Why? You already know that a sample increases the likelihood of a purchase. These chocolate pimps aren’t stupid. They’re not giving it away because they’re generous. They’re more like drug dealers than humanitarian aid workers.
[ I'm glad you're enjoying the Friday File. I share my best marketing and practice management advice exclusively with my email subscribers every Friday. Join now. ]
In a law firm, free samples don’t taste good, but they look good. Publish your work. Instead of telling visitors how good you are, show them. Give them a sweet taste of your legal thinking and writing. Provide informative articles, examples of forms, sample briefs, pleadings, and other writing. Be sure the content is excellent and the presentation is impressive.
11. Less is more.
Hard selling turns people off. It leaves a bad taste in our mouths.
Websites often suffer from too much of the hard sell. We get sucked in by the bells and whistles offered by the vendors. Everything they offer seems like a shortcut to getting more business. But those vendors have something new every month. They’re selling and we’re buying. Our websites get overloaded with crap.
We end up with websites filled with pop-ups, messenger buttons, counters rolling up totals, chat sliders slipping out, and tiny people walking onto the screen, talking to our visitors. While some of these tools may improve your website conversions, too many create chaos and distraction.
Simplify the experience and help visitors focus on the valuable information on your site. You need to make it easy to contact you when they are ready. You don’t need to accost them repeatedly during their visit. They’re already hunting for help. You don’t need to beat them into submission.
Make these changes and you’ll get more clients.
How is it possible for so many to visit your website, yet so few call?
Prospects make quick judgments. They act on gut reactions. They give you the smell test. It’s pass/fail and any slight misstep on your part damages the trust. By making the changes above, you’ll fashion a website that communicates with your prospective clients and begins the process of building a relationship.
Give your prospects what they need to feel comfortable. Small things make a big difference.