Stephen Fairley 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Never before has so much information about online marketing for professional service firms, like law firms, been available. A growing number of organizations are conducting studies and compiling empirical data proving conclusively that online marketing is one of the most cost effective ways to gain new clients and the subsequent revenue and profit they bring. I have said for a long time to my law firm clients that if you do not have a robust online marketing presence that generates leads for your law firm you are simply doing things the hard way. The Hinge Marketing Institute of Reston, Virginia recently published a report on lead generation for professionals that provides some fantastic insight into what works and what does not when it comes to building a fast growing and highly profitable professional service firm.The researchers examined the current state of internet marketing as well as the untapped potential of online marketing for professional services firms.Two distinct groups were studied: • 500 professional services firms, consisting of representatives from legal, accounting, engineering, and architectural industries. Although some very different types of professional services are included, surprisingly the study found only minor differences in the results regardless of industry or profession. • An expert panel of 20 top online marketing authorities were interviewed to provide additional insight into current trends. There are several very important findings from the study that I will cover here, but I want to start right off with the BIG news: their results demonstrate conclusively that professional firms who utilize online marketing grow much faster than ones who don't and they are significantly more profitable! Over the last decade we at The Rainmaker Institute® have specialized in working with attorneys and we have long been advocates for using online marketing as a lead generation and business development tool. Many of our clients have benefited from moving aggressively to using websites, blogs, search engine optimization, and more recently social media, to attract more and better clients.The results from this national survey support the results we have seen among our clients.The researchers found: • Firms who generate 40% or more of their leads online grow 4 times (400%) faster than those with no online leads! • The highest growth firms obtain an average of 63% of their leads online, while typical firms average only 12%! • The greater the engagement with online tools, the faster the firms grew! These findings speak to immutable evidence that people who are looking for professional service providers, such as attorneys, are increasingly searching for them online. Many marketing consultants, including myself have seen this to be true for a longtime, but surprisingly there are still pockets of resistance out there.The results demonstrate that leads developed online are more "targeted" leads and therefore more likely to convert into a paying client over time versus leads generated from more traditional advertising methods, such as the phone book television, and radio. The first part of the study concentrated on where fast growing professional service firms obtained their leads, the second part focused on the results of lead generation on revenues and profitability. • Online marketing has a direct result on a firm's profitability; the greater the firm relies on online lead generation, the greater their profitability. • Firms generating 60% or more of their leads online are twice (200%) as profitable as those generating 20% or less of their leads online! To me, this is the clincher! Firms that acquire more of their leads online are more profitable. If your goal is to grow your law firm, and to grow it profitably, you must implement best practices in online marketing. Some of the other data developed during the study is that while online marketing for professional services is growing, there is plenty of room for significant growth. • Over 77% of the 500 firms studied generate at least "some" of their new business leads online. • 46% of these firms have redesigned their business websites within the past year, which means 54% have not. • 66% of the firms studied plan to increase their online spending in the next year. • The average firm expects to increase their spending in online marketing by at least 50% in the next year. There are two significant findings I want to draw your attention to: Firms generating 60% or more of their leads online are twice as profitable, and 66% of firms are going to increase their online spending in the next year:When attorneys realize that using online marketing is the key to increased profitability they are willing - almost eager - to spend more money in that area. For all those who believe professional services can only be sold face to face, this study is a wake-up call. However; while using online tools is necessary, it is not sufficient. To achieve optimal results, you must study and apply best practices in online marketing. One interesting part of the study showed 46% of the studied firms have redesigned their websites in the last year and there is a good reason for this. Studies by the Direct Marketing Association have shown that the average person spends less than 10 seconds on a website UNLESS a clear benefit to them is very quickly spelled out. Web design companies abound and many can give you monthly traffic reports of how many unique visitors landed on your site, how long they stayed, and how many pages they viewed, but just because a company can design a pretty website does not mean they know anything about what it actually takes to truly engage visitors enough to get them to stay and look around! Often small changes to the layout, graphics, colors, and content above the scroll can provide significant improvements! Here are eight keys to increasing your website conversions: • Position your firm as a specialist. When people search for attorneys online they are not looking for "general" legal information. They have a specific problem (DUI, personal injury, business lawsuit, home foreclosure, etc) and they are searching for specific answers to their questions. It is the death of any website to position themselves as a "jack of all trades." If your firm has more than one practice area, the best practice is to have more than one website, especially if they have a very different clientele, such as criminal defense and estate planning. • Offer free, educational information. Only a small percentage of website visitors are ready to commit to a consultation the first time they visit your website, they may still be in research phase. Providing visitors with educational materials to help them make the best decision is a tried and true technique in internet marketing. If you are an estate planning attorney give them a free report on the "Top 10 Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Estate Planning Attorney." If you are a business attorney perhaps a CD or webinar on the "7 Deadly Mistakes Employers Make and Why They Get Sued" could be just the information they are looking for: • Use congruent photos. Almost every legal website makes the mistake of using the same photo of the scales of justice or the court house steps. Be sure the pictures on your website are congruent with your message and your perfect client. • Give visitors easy ways to connect with you. I have visited hundreds of attorney websites and I'm still astounded at how difficult many of them make it just to find their phone number or an email address that goes directly to an individual versus a "faceless entity" Make it easy for prospects to find all your contact information, even on their cell phone. • Create a mobile friendly site. Last year smart phones outsold computers! If you don't have a mobile friendly site then you are missing out on a lot of potential traffic. With slower speeds, smaller screens, the need for more immediate information, and the potential desire to easily call your office directly from their cell, a mobile version of your website is no longer a nicety it is a necessity! • Tell visitors what the next steps are.Do not play coy online. If you want them to download your free report, tell them! If you want them to call your office for a free consultation, don't make them guess. • Use video clips on your website. Video is a proven converter: I believe every single attorney website must have video! It gives visitors a way to see you as a real person, to hear in your own words how you can help them, and how you are distinct in your approach. • Provide a clear and compelling reason why you are different from your competitors. Online buyers of legal services visit an average of 5 websites prior to moving into the decision making phase, so give them a reason to call your office versus your competitors. Explain to them in an easy to understand manner how your firm is different from others, what the benefits, the solutions and the results are that you offer that your competitor doesn't. All of these strategies are keys to higher conversion rates on your website. When your law firm is looking to redo their website or expand your online presence, be sure to work with a company that specializes in law firms and that has a proven track record of knowing how to convert browsers to buyers! If you would like more information about how to generate leads and develop more business online I invite you to connect with our office and set up a complimentary strategy session. We have helped over 8,000 attorneys across the nation discover the secrets in building a financially successful and personally satisfying legal practice and we would love to have your law firm be our next success story!
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