Welcome to episode three of “The Josh Gerben Show.” If this is your first time here, this is a show about the business of law. I strongly believe that if every attorney would think a little bit more about the business of our profession, we would all have much more fulfilled legal careers in the long run. These videos are never going to require your email address to access all this all free content. The idea is that I’m hoping everyone will come together and start throwing me questions. So, if you have a question about something you want answered, email me, send a comment through one of the videos, and let’s try to start a discussion about the business of law.
Today’s episode is one of my favorite things to talk about on the business side of any law practice, and that is the website. I’m a huge believer that websites for law firms are absolutely critical to new client development, especially in today’s world, and especially looking forward five or ten years. The reason I feel this way is because I built a law firm out of the clear blue sky with zero clients, simply by having a web presence. When I started my firm in 2008 with no clients, when it wasn’t really “the thing” to be out there and trying to acquire clients via the web quite yet, I put up a website. Slowly, but surely, through advertising that website and pushing traffic to that website, I would get calls and I would start acquiring clients. That took me from zero clients in 2008, to over 5,000 clients we’ve served in the last 11 years.
Tips for Creating an Effective Law Firm Website
So, if you’re drinking the Kool-Aid and you believe me that websites are extremely critical for the survival of your law firm and bringing in new clients going forward, thinking about how the website markets the firm and the individual attorneys is critical.
There’s a lot of content out there about, about how to design a law firm website, where the contact forms should be, what kind of pictures to use, and all that kind of stuff. I’ll do a few quick hitters later to go over a few of those things that I found to be successful over the years, but what I really wanted to talk to you about is the higher level, theoretical idea of what you should be thinking about when you’re building your website.
How Law Firm Owners Can Optimize Their Website
So many lawyers put up a website and don’t get much response from it, because the traffic that’s coming to the website isn’t the right traffic. This is not a situation where if you build it, they will come. You can put up a very fancy, nice website. But unless people are coming to it, it is completely unseen and unheard. You have think about who is the type of visitor that you want to acquire, and what they will see once you’ve acquired them.
Most law firm websites will look something like this: They will have a homepage, some nice looking attorneys, some accolades, a little bit about what they do, an about page, maybe there’s a few interior pages on services, and then a formal contact page. It’s not a lot. Some lawyers have a blog, and that’s nice. Typically, it’s not updated regularly. So that tends to be your very typical law firm website.
The problem is that if you direct a client to your homepage or prospective client to your homepage through whatever you’re doing, whether it’s social media, pay-per-click advertising, being out in the world and giving people your business card, and they land on a general law firm homepage, that’s not going to serve whatever need they have of the day, right? If somebody is coming to your website, they’re coming there because they need an attorney for something. But if they’re hitting a page on your website that doesn’t address the something they need, now they’ve got to go hunt for it.
The one thing I can tell you about all of the analytics I have from my website over 11 years is that people do not spend a lot of time on law firm websites. We’re lucky if somebody spends a minute or two. Lucky. I feel we do a pretty good job on our website to try to attract and keep people on there, but nobody’s coming to your website for a treasure hunt, right? They want to come to your website, get the information they need, see if you’re the right attorney for them, and maybe contact you. And that’s what you should be enabling.
You can’t just have a static homepage that addresses all the different things you do or, some very general thing. You need to have what we call landing pages. If somebody comes to a particular page, it’s because they’re coming there for that particular service. So, for example, your law firm does corporate formation, trusts in the states, leases, and employment contracts. Somebody comes to your website and is greeted by a homepage with all these different things, now they’ve got to try to navigate to where they need to get to see about that particular issue. They should be landing on a page that says, “Hey, we’re the best wills, and trusts, and estates attorney in the area, and here’s why.” Or, “Hey, do you need to form a new company? Here’s why you should consider using us and not going to LegalZoom,” Right? Or, you know, “Oh, do you have a problem with an employee? Do you need employment contracts? Do you need an employment policy?” You know, “And here’s all the information about the work we’ve done around that.” It needs to be hyperfocused to what the person is coming to your website for.
That’s a very difficult concept to execute because it means you can’t just put up a seven-page website and call it a day. It means you must be detailed in thinking about how each visitor is going to come to your website. So, if you are putting an ad up on Google for wills, but your firm does three or four other things, you need to make sure whatever page the person’s landing on from that Google ad is just devoted to wills.
In addition to that, it has to look nice. A lot of the interior pages to a law firm are just text. They don’t have all the glitz and glamor of the homepage. The landing page should have all the glitz and glamour of a homepage, but it’s not actually the homepage. And that’s really the secret right there, because then that page is going to convert the person just like the homepage is designed to try to do, but do it in a way that’s very focused to the particular issue that that prospective client is coming to your website about.
So now that we’ve got the prospective lead to a page on your website where they haven’t navigated around and gone on a treasure hunt to find, and this is the page that talks about the services they need, now we need to talk about what the website needs to do from there. Obviously, what you want to have happened is you want that person to call or contact you, right? So, there should be obvious places for this to happen. There should be phone numbers or Contact Us buttons on this page in a way that’s very prominent and easy for the person to find you.
The other thing you need to do, and this is the hardest thing to do, is you need to make sure that when someone comes to your page, it’s memorable and they would want to select you as their attorney over somebody else for the particular reason that is your differentiator in the marketplace. If you go and look at your competitors’ websites, I can almost guarantee you they’re going to look all the same. As attorneys, we tend to be monkey see, monkey do. If a lawyer puts up something on their website, we tend to copy it. You know how I know this? I cannot tell you how many other trademark attorneys have taken the way my website looks, feels, and works, and pretty much copied it verbatim. Every time I find it, I’m stunned. Sometimes, it’s legitimate copyright infringement, and we’ve had to address it, but very rarely do attorneys have a unique and original marketing idea. I very much encourage you to take some time and think about what makes you different.
In my case, that has changed over the years. You know, at first, our main differentiator was, “Hey, have great access to an attorney at an extremely affordable price,” because I was very young and new. Now that I’m older and have a lot of experience in my field, our value proposition is different. We’re no longer the cheapest attorney that you can access, but we’re one of the most experienced attorneys you can access at a fee that’s very reasonable. We talk a lot about our experience because there’s very few attorneys that just focus solely on trademark law. When you get into the attorneys that do focus solely on trademark law, a lot of times they’re in larger law firms. Or, if they’re in smaller firms, they simply do not have the depth of experience that we do.
Trying to get that through and convey that is very difficult, but I feel we do a decent job. When people do call us, they say, “Wow, I’ve been on your website. I’ve seen all your reviews. I’ve seen all these things you put out, videos, articles, whatever it may be, and I know you’re the right guy for me.” So, before I even open my mouth on a phone call, a prospective client has decided they really want to work with me. As long as I don’t say something or do something that is inconsistent with all my marketing that has led that person to contact me, very likely I’m going to be able to engage that client for whatever trademark need they have. That’s what I think you need to do for your practice. You need to think, “Okay, what is my differentiator? What makes me unique?” And then you need to scream it from the mountain tops on the website.
Don’t have your website look like everybody else’s. Use language on your website that is fun, engaging. Don’t use this legal ease stuff you see on so many websites. It’s just going to make people put you in the same category as everybody else. If your website is fresh, and fun, and creative, and differentiates you and really pops, you’re going to be remembered. Most likely, you’re going to get that call.
If you come view our website, I don’t think we’ve hit the holy grail in making that perfect either. It’s completely a work in progress, and one that we’re always working on. But the one thing I would encourage you to do to get there is have a video of yourself on this page. Again, we don’t want people hunting for stuff. You can have other videos throughout the website and you have a small percentage of people that will go through your website and find these things and really enjoy them. But I encourage you to have an easily accessible video of yourself on the homepage explaining your differentiator and talking to the person. Because if someone can come to your website, and see you, and meet you, and see how you interact, see your mannerisms, see how you talk, you’re going to become human to them, and they’re much more likely to want to trust you with whatever problem they’re facing.
How Law Firm Employees Can Optimize an Existing Website
Now, before I move on to what I think you can improve on your website for existing clients, I want to talk about how the two things I just discussed would be applicable if you’re working in a law firm and you don’t own the law firm. So, if you’re working in a law firm that has an existing website, you need to think about two things.
1. How do I direct visitors to a web-page dedicated to my services?
I suggest that you come up with a particular service, ideally a flat rate package, and say, “This is what I want to offer new clients to get them in the door and start working with me.” In the business world, it can be referred to as a loss leader. Maybe it’s not even something you make a lot of money on, but it’s a way to engage a client and get them in the door to start offering an array of other services. Or, maybe you do make money on it. Think about the one thing you would like to offer and ask your law firm if you can build a page on the website that talks about this particular service that you can provide. Then, get a little budget, and start pushing some traffic. Go online, buy some advertisements on Google, put up some social media post and start to try to push traffic to that landing page.
Try to have the content be fresh. If you can get a video of yourself on there, do anything you can to try to be memorable. This may take a little bit of convincing, depending on your law firm, but the idea is you should think about this and offer it as a test. Put yourself out there. I think if you start getting phone calls, you’re going to get a lot of attention in your firm.
2. How do I differentiate myself?
When you’re thinking about the website for your law firm, remember to make it a resource for existing clients. Once somebody is in the door, it’s unlikely they’re going go back to the website unless you prompt them to do so. Occasionally, they may go back to check on something just to make sure they feel like they’re with the right person. They might want to compare you to somebody else, but the idea is going to be to use your website as a library or a resource for your existing clients.
One thing I did is create a resource that we call the Trademark University, which is essentially a page on our website that has a whole bunch of videos about frequently asked questions that we get from our clients, sometimes prospective clients, but mostly from existing clients. This way, if I get an email from somebody, and they say, “Hey, I have this question,” and I might get that question seven times a week, I can respond with an email that says, “Here’s a video I did on this very question. Please go watch and enjoy. And if you still have questions about this for your matter, then let me know.”
And 9.9 times out of 10, this takes care of the problem, and they love it. They say, “That was a great video. Thank you so much.” People can absorb the content in their own way. In other words, if I’m just talking to the person and giving them an answer on the telephone, it’s in and out of my mouth and in and out of their ear, and they may not really have understood it. But in a video, they could watch it multiple times, and they can stop at the places where they’re not exactly getting it and think about it. So, it’s a very, very good resource for an existing client.
It also shows that you have taken a lot of care and thought about these things. For example, sometimes you have issues that you may be advising a client on and the client will push back and say to you, “Well, I don’t know if I agree with your take there.” If you send them a video you did, which explains why you think your take is correct, that’s going to get you a lot of credibility because you’ve put it out there that this is the way it is, and it’s on video, right? It’s not just so they know you’re not just telling them that you’re telling everybody, and it gives you a lot more credibility with the client when you need it. Having this resource for existing clients is incredibly important, because it will make your practice easier, and it’ll also make your clients happier to interact with you.
Finally, when they get back to your website, you can try to upsell or cross-sell them to other services you offer. There can be ways where if you send a client something and you’re finishing a matter, you might be able to say, “Hey, please also take a look at this page on our website, which goes over all the other things we could help you with. Is there anything here you may need?” Or, if you identify a need for your client, you can send them to a page on your website that says, “Hey, we’re working on this, but I know it looks like you also need to be doing X, Y, or Z. Here’s a page on our website that describes why this is important.” You have the existing marketing materials that help you cross-sell or upsell to the existing client on your website. Use your website as a resource. You can really grow your practice by focusing on clients that already trust you and are already working with you.
Three Things to Consider When Creating or Updating Your Law Firm’s Website
I hope you have found all the things we’ve talked about so far helpful. I’ve got three quick hitters that I think are going be really important to you from just a practical perspective when you’re trying to think about creating or redoing the current website you have.
The first is one of my favorites, which is thinking about web design. I think there’s so much that can be done, but the number one is KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. You hear that a lot in business. But if you have one of these websites with all these bells and whistles, nobody is going to go through all of it. So, it needs to be extremely simple and to the point. Don’t make people hunt for things.
If you have a video of yourself talking, that should be a focal point of the website and build the rest around it. Don’t try to put that there and 20 other bells and whistles on the same page. Think about how clean and simple you can keep the design, and, for the love of God, please don’t have one of these websites that scrolls on forever. Nice, simple, clean. Get them to call you or email you as quickly as you can while providing a good amount of baseline information. I think you’ll have a lot of success if you follow that.
2. Your inputs will equal your outputs
The second tip is that inputs equal outputs when you’re working with your web designer. The outputs of how your final website looks, is highly dependent on the unpot you give your website developer. If you don’t give your web developer good photography, videos, or good content to use, and they’re just left to try to figure it out on their own, it’s not going to look good.
So, before you even engage the web developer, you want to think about a couple of things.
a. Get your photography done yourself. Hire a good photographer, have a bunch of different pictures that they can choose from and use for the website.
b. Record some videos that can be used for the website.
c. Think about how you’d like the website to be laid out. Do look at other law firm websites, but, most importantly, look at other service-based websites that are meant to convert visitors. Really look at websites that you like. Just the general feel of them that would make you feel like you want to contact the company and then lay it out. When I’ve done it, I just sketch it out on a piece of paper, and I say, “Hey, here’s what I think the general look should be.”
d. Obviously, you also want feedback from your web developer. But most of the time, unless you’re paying the top-of-the-line designers that are out there, which most of us are not going to be doing, they’re just going take what you have and turn it into a website.
So, spend some time and think about how you want it to look, about what the text should be, about where things should be on the website, do some research, learn yourself, make it a fun process. I know it’s going to be time-consuming. But I promise you that the more you put into that homework and give that to the developer, the better your website is gonna be.
3. You need to spend enough money
My final tip is you’re going to have to spend real money on this. You can go online and get a template and put a website up for $20, fine. If you’re not spending $10,000 at minimum on your web developer, you’re not spending enough money. And I know that’s a lot of money, and you probably can easily spend $20,000 or $30,000. It’s because when you look at how many pages you need to create to do what I’m talking about and have a page for each individual service, and think about all the design that goes into that and all the infrastructure that goes on into your website, you really need to let somebody spend some time and help you with it.
Now be careful because there’s a lot of companies out there that claim they do lawyer websites. I’ve seen some of them at $30,000, $40,000 $50,000. I would be very careful about something like that. You want to have a proper leash on the web developer, and that’s why I think $10,000 is a good starting place. If they’re quoting you, you know, $3,000 to $4,000 to $5,000, they’re definitely not considering that they’re going be doing a lot of design work. They’re basically going to be putting everything you give them into a template.
So, $10,000 to $20,000 is really the sweet spot for most attorney and law firm websites. Anything more than that, you’re typically into some heavy design work, which is fine if that’s what you want. But if you’re getting quoted more than $20,000, you really need to make sure you understand what you’re getting. If you’re getting quoted less than $10,000, you must to keep in mind there’s not going be any design work being done on your website, and they’re going to be plugging and chugging with a template.
So those are my three quick hitters. I hope that the episode today was helpful in getting you to think about your website in a bit of a different way.
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