And, even if they do, that doesn’t guarantee those visitors will evolve from merely a web surfer to an actual paying client or customer. Fortunately, there are steps attorneys can take to try to ensure that the interaction between a site's visitors and the attorney continues.
Get the Most Bang for Your Marketing Buck
Just because a website sits atop Google's rankings doesn't mean it is generating income for the site owner, according to Randy Kauffman, founder and CEO of Columbus-based Super Cool Sites, a company that focuses on web site conversion optimization.
If the interaction between the potential client and the lawyer ends with a mere visit to the attorney’s website, its not driving trackable revenue. “Unless you take other steps first, you don’t know what you’re making from those visits and you don’t know your ROI," he says. "Unless you know what a conversion is worth to your company, you don’t know how much to spend to draw visitors to your web site.”
Tracking how a site generates money for an attorney allows he or she to invest marketing dollars into income-producing efforts while foregoing wasteful expenditures. Kauffman has several suggestions for attorneys seeking to improve their websites. They include:
- Include buttons at the end of each page so visitors can request additional information or even pricing
- Make the firm’s phone number clickable from smartphones in case visitors are reading the site from their cell phones
- Make the opt-in buttons stand out using color (red works best)
- Use testimonials
Kauffman also advises lawyers to feature “a good value proposition” on their websites. Elements of good value proposition include great graphics, attention-grabbing headlines, a brief summary following the headline, three bullet points and an opt-in button.
Rather than promising clients that Super Cool Sites can dissect the complex and constantly changing system of Google analytics to ensure it achieves top billing among search results, Kauffman’s company focuses on ways to convert website visits into income.
In Kauffman’s world, conversions arise from actions taken by site visitors. His company also builds websites that encourage interaction between visitors and the site. “Optimization is the art of getting visitors to do something, such as signing up for a newsletter, contacting the office via email or phone or even buying a product,” he says.
Super Cool Sites works by attaching a monetary value to each conversion, allowing the site owner to determine how much each site visit generates. That way, the owner can gauge if the site impacts a law firm’s bottom line. Websites are a business necessity, he says. “Ninety five percent of people are going to your website before they do business with you. That’s just the way things are done."
Say, for example, half the people who visit a lawyer's site end up retaining that lawyer. Assuming a lawyer generally knows what he or she charges per case, it will be easy to them determine if the costs of maintaining the website are justifiable. Those bottom line considerations are far more important to a wallet than where a site sits in a Google search, Kauffman says.
Arizona-based LawLytics takes a different approach to lawyer websites. According to Dan Jaffe, a non-practicing attorney and CEO of the four-year-old company, says attorneys generally have two choices when it comes to their web sites. If a lawyer understands marketing, which also means comprehending the technology needed for a website, he or she can do it themselves.
If that’s not an option, a lawyer can hire a professional. Either way, it is paramount a lawyers remember that as Officers of the Court, they are bound by rules of confidentiality and must abide by limits on advertising that other professions are not. "That’s why it’s “important to hire a company familiar with the peculiarities of lawyer advertising,” Jaffe says.
If a lawyer with an existing website hires LawLytics, Jaffe’s technology experts determine the platform used to build the site. WordPress is most often utilized, although Drupel, Joomla and others are also used, Jaffe says. While all three offer an important feature known as responsive themes, it varies in complexity and compatibility with other software.
Responsive themes are paramount, because they ensures a site “automatically adjusts to the size of the browser (being used to see the site), be it mobile phone, desktop of tablet,” says Kauffman. According to Kauffman, his company tracks the types of devices being used by people who visit his clients' websites.
In Jaffe’s experience, today’s website platforms are not as conducive to lawyer sites as they need to be. That's why his company does not use them. Instead, his team created its own platform, designed for the unique needs of lawyers. For example, the LawLytics platform “was created to eliminate the need for the attorney to mess with technology,” he says.
Another key offering is that a LawLytics website automatically inserts metadata, which summarizes basic information about data contained in a site. That makes it easier to find background information on a site, such as who authored it and the dates of modification.
Metadata is important because it “helps the ranking go up, even if content doesn’t change,” Jaffe says. Regardless of how informative a website is, or if it features red opt-in buttons or not, Jaffe says it’s simple to determine whether a website is successful or not. “The bottom line is: is the phone ringing more than before you embarked on your marketing campaign?”
Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and writer.