|This article is based on my presentation at the PILMMA Summit in Chicago in July. You can get a copy of the slides I presented at the bottom of this article.|
Let me share what I’ve learned since I started blogging 10 years ago. Using the tactics I am about to describe, my blog at Larrybodine.com has gotten 1.2 million visits. When I was editor in chief of Lawyers.com we built the traffic up to 4 million visits and 7 million page views per year.
We all know that the #1 way that consumers search for a lawyer is on the Internet, and a Hinge survey proved that this was true. However lawyers focus at the wrong part of the sales process — trying to increase the number of leads and visitors they get with PPC and SEO techniques. Instead you would be smarter to pay attention to the prospects and visitors who already come to the site, and turn them into clients.
For starters, law firms must have five visitor conversion basics in place:
• A chat feature to talk to clients live.
• An online form to contact the form.
• A toll free number displayed at the top of the page.
• Videos about settlements and verdicts.
• Lawyer bios that discuss client service, that is, how well you explain legal options to clients.
Creating a content culture
Once the basics are in place, then you are ready to create a strategy, which entails creating a content marketing culture. You must tie content marketing to new business goals and lead generation. The firm’s owner and partners must be active players, and the must devote enough time, budget and staff to content marketing.
It’s true that the more you blog, the more clients you will get. Let me repeat that: the more you blog, the more clients you will get, according to a 2012 Hubspot survey. A law firm website should be updated 2-3 times per week with articles running 300-400 words long.
For example, I update The National Trial Lawyers website 2-3 times per day, and this has led to doubling of our visits and page views in less than six months. I devote my efforts to involving the website in current events, news and trial outcomes that trial lawyers are following.
Ways to harness emotion
Law firm websites need to create feelings of trust and rapport with the images and text on the site. This can be accomplished by showing friendly faces of lawyers at the firm, by writing blog posts that address a consumer’s hidden fears in a personal injury case, and by complementing the mood of visitors with uplifting statements — like recounting a verdict where a plaintiff recovered a settlement or verdict.
It is also important to consumers to see “social proof” that you are worth hiring. Consumers like to see lawyers who have a lot of Twitter followers, who are in many circles on Google+ and who have a lot of Facebook likes.
Ideally, the best way to hook visitors is by storytelling. It’s an effective method that all of us learned in childhoold. Storytelling makes people feel emotions, and people remember stories and respond to them. In the stories on a law firm website, the protagonist should be the potential client and the viewpoint should always be that of the firm’s clients.
When I write an article, I always look for a twist to make the story interesting. I’ll find a counterintuitive point to open an article, support it with statistics and illustrate it with a verdict or settlement. I find that these are the stories that web visitors like to read. For an example, see my article Avoid the Leading Cause of Death in America which I wrote for the Price Benowitz law firm in Washington, D.C.
There’s a famous saying that a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client. I would add that a lawyer who is his own marketer should hire a pro. Ask yourself: How much free time I really have to write blog posts? How good is my journalistic nose for news? Wouldn’t I rather edit a well-written draft?
Once you make the decision to bring in a professional writer, you should beware cheap content sites that sell blog posts for $30-$40 per post. They come from content sweatshops in Asia that produce thinly rewritten text that will contain mistakes in the law. Others use law students, paralegals or non-lawyer marketers to produce content. You get what you pay for.
When seeking a content writer, you should look for a writer who is an attorney, has practiced law, has a journalism background, has web and SEO experience, is part of a team (not a solo), and can actually show copy that was published on a law firm website.
If you find that you are blogging more and enjoying it less, I encourage you to get a free content evaluation from me. You’ll get an honest appraisal of what your site is doing well, and how it could convert more website visitors into clients. Simply fill out the short form at bit.ly/LawBlogGuru to request a no-obligation evaluation.
You can get a copy of the slides I presented by visiting http://bit.ly/PILMMASummit and filling in the short form.
Larry Bodine is a lawyer, journalist and marketer who speaks and writes frequently about law firm marketing. Currently he is the publisher of the National Trial Lawyers and is the former Editor in Chief of Lawyers.com. Readers can follow @Larrybodine on Twitter, on Google+ and on LinkedIn, where he moderates several law-related groups.