© Larry Bodine. Mr. Bodine can be reached at 520.577.9759, LarryBodineNow@Gmail.com, and www.Larrybodine.com.
Today, the vast majority of potential clients will check out a lawyer’s website before retaining the law firm. To turn this traffic into new files, smart lawyers are switching to the Eureka Method, which focuses on increasing “conversions” instead of generating more leads.
There are several methods to increase conversions, and they revolve around engaging visitors. I call this the Eureka Method, derived from the ancient Greek word for discovery. It is easy to use and consists of giving consumers the emotional hooks, specific information and convenience they are looking for.
A “conversion” is getting a visitor to take an action that you want them to take on your website. This can include completing an online form, chatting with a virtual representative, subscribing to a newsletter, requesting information -- and ultimately calling your office.
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Meanwhile, most lawyers are devoting far too much effort to increase the volume of traffic to their websites. This misguided pursuit involves search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and deciphering what Google is doing in its latest updates.
There is no benefit to ranking high in Google if your website fails to engage consumers and doesn’t prompt them into action. As a result, law firm websites may get plenty of traffic, but will have a high “bounce” rate – meaning that visitors take one look at the site and bounce off to another destination. Whatever a lawyer spent to attract that visitor was a waste of money.
The Eureka Method is a smarter approach because it calls for less artificial promotion, and more emphasis on putting messages online that clients want to see when they hire lawyers. This way a law firm website will attract the right kind of visitors, who will be more inclined to hire the firm.
Convenience. Did you know that half of our potential clients are not using a computer to see your website? A new analysis by LawLytics of 733,346 visits to a random selection of law firm websites discovered that 45% of traffic came from mobile devices. Furthermore, the majority of social media time is spent not on desktop computers, but on smartphones and tablets.
This is why a key tenet of the Eureka Method is that your law firm website must be easily viewed regardless of what device is used. It is especially important that a lawyer’s website be easily readable on the three-inch screen of a smart phone. Many law firm websites are unreadable on a smart phone.
“Whether through a dedicated mobile site or responsive design, having a strong mobile presence is critical for law firms,” writes Brian Tedder of LawLytics. “That’s 329,308 visits that would have gone elsewhere had these attorneys not offered such user-friendly designs.”
A 2012 Google study showed that:
Awareness of consumers' fears. Psychologists and marketers already know that all sales are decisions based on emotion, and are ratified later rationally. The most effective law firm websites will employ emotional motivation such as fear, emphasizing what the consumer has to lose by not contacting a lawyer.
“We are more strongly motivated by perceived risk and threat of loss than by the promise of safety, according to Findlaw research. It is logical to believe that consumers will contact a personal injury plaintiffs’ attorney in the hope of getting a substantial financial recovery. “But research indicates that a more powerful approach is to frame the conversation around what the potential client has to lose from not contacting an attorney.”
Lawyers using the Eureka Method put content on their websites that discusses the high costs of care – and the risk that none of it will be provided without a lawyer. Law firm websites should describe how a permanent injury can make a person unable to work, and highlight the risks in failing to act quickly to seek a legal recovery. Consumers with personal injury claims are no doubt anxious, and your website should confirm that their fears are well-founded if they do not retain you.
“Convey a clear sense of urgency. A simple ‘contact us today’ doesn’t communicate urgency. You must explicitly present the risks and quantify the potential losses that might result from a lack of action,” according to Findlaw.
Motivating with Trust. Consumers hire lawyers whom they can trust. Plaintiffs are facing a scary situation and want a lawyer in whom they can have faith and confidence.
The Eureka Method is to post pictures of your lawyers with smiling, friendly and open faces. This kind of expression conveys sympathy and acceptance, and engenders feelings of trust.
It is a mistake to post an unsmiling, “tough guy” photo of yourself, presenting a grim and somber image. This is the face that you should save for your adversary or a claims adjuster. Clients, however, do not like to hire scary lawyers.
Short case histories are also effective. With the Eureka Method, a lawyer website will display short stories – no more than a few sentences long. Each story has a protagonist – the client – who faces an obstacle -- their injury -- but was helped by a lawyer in a specific way, and gained a recovery. Consumers want to read success stories.
Social Proof. Before the Internet, consumers would check out lawyers by talking to friends, co-workers and family in person. Nowadays the majority of consumers research a law firm online. New research from Hinge shows that 80% of consumers check out a lawyer by looking at their website, 63.2% conduct an online search and 59.9% examine a lawyer’s presence on social media. In contrast, 55.5% will talk to a reference provided by the law firm.
Lawyers using the Eureka Method will fill their websites with testimonials of satisfied clients, recounting how they feared for their future but were glad that they put their trust in their law firm. Nothing is more persuasive to potential clients than reading the story of another person in their situation. When you ask your clients for testimonials, encourage them to discuss the importance of avoiding delay and the reward of acting promptly.
Social media can be very effective at providing social proof. Facebook “likes,” the number of followers on Twitter and the number of circles in Google Plus are all evidence of social acceptance for a lawyer. Social media is now the top Internet activity, according to Business Insider. Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email.
Simplicity. The Eureka Method takes the approach that a lawyer website should have only the information that drives a conversion. This means that it should be obvious on every web page how to telephone, email or text a lawyer. Every page should have a “Contact our Firm NOW” form, or better yet, the name of a specific person to contact with a clickable link to their email address.
Unfortunately many law firms make the mistake of setting forth every practice area possible, confusing consumers with a bewildering array of legal-sounding claims. Lawyers will waste space online documenting their credentials, which consumers ignore because they can’t assess the value of a particular law school or bar association membership. Bear in mind that an excess of information leads to “analysis paralysis.”This image from LawLytics clearly displays emotion and has simplified the number of links for a consumer to click on.
In future articles and blog posts, I will describe more ways that the Eureka Method can be used to generate new case files. The heart of the approach is to engage visitors when they land on your site. A website will generate new clients if it capitalizes on emotional responses, provides the specific information visitors seek and offers them convenience as they check out your firm.
Take a look at your website and ask if it couldn’t do a better job of turning visitors into clients.