Feb 8th, 2008
The other day an attorney that hired us to design his law practice website sent me an email asking about his options to increase the number of potential clients who contact him. Here’s the lengthy but useful answer:
"Your website can be used as a basis of information, as well as a direct marketing tool as well. Of course, the main purpose of your site is to increase business and allow you to make more money. Your website can enhance traditional media or be a alternative to it. A law practice that specializes in personal injury, especially niche areas like yours, can utilize both traditional and new media outlets. The simplified idea is that there are people in your area that need your services and you need them to know that you are available to them.
In a nut shell, there are 3 basic ways to drive potential customers to contact you:
1. Referrals and Networking- By far the least expensive and the leads are worth weight in gold because they come with credibility already attached. The problem is that most businesses need more than referrals to generate other leads to be as successful as they’d like to be. A website can help "seal the deal” because a client is referred to you can utilize it to get more information about you or it can come up on a search for your business name, allowing them an easy way to contact you, in case the person that referred you just gave them your name and not your contact info.
2. Creative Advertising- This includes purchasing any media that involves "front of mind branding”. Traditional media includes TV commercials, billboards, magazines, etc. An example of new media creative advertising would be a banner ad on a website such as My Space or Louisville Mojo. The disadvantages of this type of advertising is that most people who see these types of ads are not actively seeking your services, and this type of advertising is expensive. The advantage is that if you do enough creative advertising for a long enough period, people are likely to call you once they are injured and do need your services because they are more familiar with you and you have "name brand” status. Darell Isaacs is a perfect example of this.
3. Directional Advertising- This includes any any source where people who are actively searching for your services, and have no other point of reference, will look for your type of business first. For your field there are basically 2 directional advertising outlets: The phone book and the internet. Since you’ve already ruled out the phone book, you may want to seriously consider the following options.
The obvious advantage of directional is that the customers already need you, so you only have to be easily "findable” when they go to look for someone in your field. We call it your "findability factor” and the idea is to for your to be findable where your customers are most likely to look. However, The first goal is to have a good site that is capable of converting future visitors to contacts and ultimately to paying clients. Then, once your site is up and running, the next step is to drive traffic to it. Here’s some ways to do that.
1. Search Engine Optimization. The best way, and the cheapest in the long run, is to have your website rank highly (preferably the first page) of the major search engines like Google and Yahoo, for common key word searches. In your case, for search terms such as "trucking injury attorney” or "medical malpractice attorney”. That way, people actively seeking out your services have a very good chance of finding you. The problem with this is that it’s very competitive within your field and it takes constant vigilance to remain in the top results. To do this, you must have a website that is "optimized for search engines” as well as make sure that your site is indexed by the major search engines and has a good amount of links from other high ranking sites. This takes a good deal of effort and hoop jumping, but can ultimately be very worthwhile.
2. Search engine advertising. This involves creating a pay-per-click program on either Google or Yahoo for selected relevant key words. The advantage of utilizing a SEA program is that it’s very flexible in that there are no contracts, you can set your own budget, and with the right budget you can appear on the first page of the search engines immediately. The disadvantage is that, if done wrong, you can lose money, and it’s also very competitive in your field. Done properly it can have a high return on investment.
3. Local SEO/Online directories. These include advertising on service specific websites like FindLaw, Yellowbook.com, or Craig’s List. Assuming these sites get enough traffic and your placement is good, these can be a great way of driving qualified traffic to your website.
Oh, and those mini-sites I told you about in the last message can be utilized to rank higher on the search engines organically than a multi- pratice area site because the are more specific, and therefore relevant to a series of specific search terms.”