Lawyers know that there is value in hiring an experienced, successful lawyer for representation. Although an inexperienced, inexpensive lawyer with a small, unskilled staff and lack of resources may cost less initially, the long-term results could be disastrous.
Web marketing is the same. There are a plethora of inexpensive website options, but when it comes to competing and succeeding online, a cheap website will typically only produce a small return on investment (ROI), if any.
Is low-cost Web development really a bargain when the Internet is outpacing every advertising medium in growth?
Below are some examples and considerations.
The Cheap Website Looked Like a Pretty Good Choice
Let’s look at “Example Law Firm,” a typical, small Personal Injury practice we talk to on a daily basis. After researching website developers, the marketing director at Example Law Firm selected what looked like a great bargain: maybe the low-bid vendor waived a few “standard” fees, then set up the website for low or no cost. All of this comes in an annual contract of $2,000 per month for maintenance and SEO services.
A year or two later, Example Law Firm has seen a $6,000 monthly return from the new, inexpensive website. What a success for the budget-minded marketing director!
And it would be hard to argue, right?
ROI Matters When Considering Your Firm’s Website
What if Example Law Firm had considered investment ROI rather than initial price when selecting a Web vendor?
A more experienced and more expensive legal Web marketing company recommended Example Law Firm devote a larger budget and develop a more compelling Web platform, including many additional methods of obtaining clients. This strategy required a $5,000- to $12,000-per-month investment for search marketing and audience development initiatives via social media, strategic paid advertising, public relations, outreach, and community involvement.
As Example Law Firm invested $5,000 to $12,000 per month, their average monthly return was $60,000 to $200,000 above their investment after the first year.
The cheap website earned Example Law Firm a monthly profit of about $4,000. In contrast, the more thorough marketing strategy netted $127,500 each month on the $8,500 investment, depending upon the competitiveness of the market, aggressiveness of the campaign, and other factors.
The “inexpensive” website cost the firm $123,500 per month, or $1,530,000 over the course of a year.
Like a virtual handshake, websites offer potential clients a first impression of the firm. Law firms achieve a strong investment return with a well-designed website, because highly talented legal marketing vendors use their experience and expertise to make sure a site establishes trust by showing that the firm is professional, credible, experienced, results-oriented and has a human touch. The successful website offers a good experience to the user, flowing smoothly between subjects and providing helpful information that instills trust in the knowledge, expertise, and abilities of the attorneys at the firm.
What Does a Bigger Website Investment Buy Me?
Many Web vendors “sell” their service but do not always back the sale up with support. They offer template reports and periodic brief meetings, but nothing proactive; these vendors lack an overarching marketing plan. They do not provide an experienced marketing consultant to proactively guide your marketing.
Most of your potential clients will visit at least three or four law firm websites before they decide which one to contact. Through great design, high-quality videos and photography, and overall user experience, a strong site engages its visitors. Ideally, the site’s users will even be greeted by a knowledgeable, understanding receptionist via a chat operator.
Reputable Web vendors are experts at search marketing, which means your firm is represented on the first page of search results. This is a time-consuming and ongoing investment that can and should earn your site visibility in organic, local, and even pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. The best strategies combine creative search marketing solutions, content marketing, webinars, eBlasts, scholarships, podcasts, and other specialized campaigns into a comprehensive, long-term plan.
Also, remember the mobile experience. Making sure your site is responsive is now crucial for successful optimization. Mobile devices are used by 30 to 50 percent of Web visitors, and when you have responsive design, you reach mobile clients.
An experienced law firm Web marketing company will tie together all the requirements for a successful legal website. Good keyword rankings, backlink profiles, local presence, citations, and strong technical SEO will increase search visibility. Compelling listings—good titles and meta descriptions—are fundamental.
The Importance of Conversions
The point of a well-designed website for lawyers is to inspire the client to contact the firm, and then the intake process must be handled smoothly, quickly, and efficiently so that the prospect feels cared for and well served from the beginning of the relationship.
Finally, a successful Web presence will foster loyalty and renewed business from clients and will include social interaction and positive online reviews—the word-of-mouth of the 21st century.
From connecting with prospects to the ongoing relationship with clients whose cases have been resolved, technical expertise is crucial. The best legal Web marketers possess the vast resources necessary to ensure that each step of your client’s experience is handled professionally.
An individual high-dollar case justifies the considerable investment of a high-quality online marketing strategy. If your firm does not land that lucrative case, your Web-savvy competitor will.
Successful law firms realize the difference between a monthly $4,000 and $200,000 ROI, and they make marketing decisions accordingly. You do not want to give up millions of dollars to your competitors because of a “bargain” that looked too good to pass up.