“Why does your law firm have a website?”
You might not have ever asked this question, because you have either made up your mind and have a website for your law firm, or don’t.
However, to truly understand what you are hoping to achieve with a website is the only way to make it work for you. Your website should have a mission statement. Only then can you build, change, adjust, add to and improve your site, with the key concept of driving leads and getting cases.
In our opinion, the following statements, by themselves, are not strategic reasons to have a website:
- “Every firm needs to have a website these days.”
- “We need something to point the rest of our marketing to.”
- “So people can get in touch with us.”
- “All of our competitors have websites, so we need one too.”
- “That’s how people find lawyers now, on the Web.”
- “We want a website to show people how great our firm is.”
These are important considerations, but if these reasons explain your law firm’s website, you are missing out on a lot of potential. The statements above don’t provide much guidance for strategy. They certainly aren’t mission statements.
Finding the ’Right’ Answer
There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of why your firm has a website. A site’s purpose will vary depending on many factors, such as:
- Your practice areas
- Your geographic location
- What your firm’s goals are for growth, income and specialization
- The size of your market and potential audience
- The size of your firm
- Who your clients are
- What sources your cases currently come from
- Other elements of your firm’s brand and marketing
By focusing on the right pieces of information, and crystallizing some concepts in your mind, you can begin to analyze whether your site is fulfilling its mission, whether you had previously defined it or not.
The following questions are meant to help you achieve additional clarity about your firm’s goals, its website, its target audience, your site’s purpose and your desired outcomes for it.
Consider your firm and your clients…
What are your firm’s overall goals? By examining what your firm wants to accomplish on a larger scale, you can better develop a Web strategy to help achieve firm objectives. Think about how your website fits into the overall plan.
Who is your current clientele? What are the geographic, demographic, psychographic, and other characteristics of the people who your firm currently represents? What, if anything, do they have in common? What makes them different from any other group of people?
The more you know about who you serve, the better you can serve them with your website (if that is one of your goals). Also, you’ll understand more about how to find and cater to more prospects who are like your current clients (if that is one of your goals).
How did your current clients find you? Was it by reputation and word of mouth? Was it by referral? Did they find you on Google when searching for attorneys in your area, or did they go right to your site because of another marketing effort?
Do you want more prospects to find you through search engines? Knowing where your clients come from, and what parts of the funnel your website is involved in, is helpful in gaining insight and planning strategy.
What questions do your clients have? Are they concerned about cost, timeframes, and how the whole process works? Does your website provide helpful resources that can help existing clients and new prospects, addressing their needs and making them more comfortable with their situations? Can your website help in communicating with current clients, providing FAQs to answer their questions and minimize the volume of nonessential calls to your office?
Now let’s think specifically about your website…
What is your website really for? Serving and communicating with current clients? Impressing referred clients so they feel comfortable signing with you? Providing helpful information to the public? Sharing news about the firm and its results? Bringing attention to an important legal issue? All of these and others may be possible answers to that question.
Many firms would say their website’s purpose is to increase awareness about the firm, bring in new prospects with the right kind of cases, and sign them up as clients. Many firms are looking for a positive return on investment from their websites as marketing vehicles.
Only you can answer that question, specifically, for your firm’s website, but knowing what you hope to accomplish with your website is crucial. How can you design and develop a website, write content for it, drive traffic to it, and make additions and changes to it, if you don’t even know what it’s for?
Obviously there may be a lot of steps in improving your website to fulfill its mission statement, but you certainly need to know what you want your website to do before you can plan out and execute how to accomplish it.
And perhaps the most important question…
Who is your website really for? In just about all cases, the answer should not be, “for the firm.” Unless your site is an intranet page for your attorneys and staff only, chances are your site should be designed and developed for clients, prospects, and/or the public as a whole.
Does your site speak mostly about your firm, your record of success and your attorneys’ impressive backgrounds, or is your content focused on informing and helping clients and prospective clients? Do you provide unique and informative resources that the public will find helpful?
Is your content written in a way that your clients and prospects will understand, or is it more in the language of your colleagues? Would a visitor need a JD just to understand what is being said? It’s often suggested that sites for the public be written between a 5th and 8th grade reading level. How does your site compare?
Be sure you know who your site is meant to speak to, and strategize accordingly.
Once you have successfully defined your website’s mission, you can begin to analyze its current performance in fulfilling that mission. For example, if you’ve decided that you want your website to drive six new case signups from Google searches each month, you can start to analyze all of the aspects of your website that would lead to achieving that goal.
- Is the site ranking for relevant terms to bring enough searchers to your site?
- What strategy can be used to get better rankings?
- After visitors hit the site, are they finding information they need and engaging with the site, or are they leaving?
- Can changes be made to pages to increase the percentage of visitors who will contact the firm?
- Can improvements or additions be made to the available contact options that would lead to more case sign-ups?
By determining where your site may be lacking, in terms of accomplishing its mission, you can lay out a plan to make adjustments and improvements to work towards achieving success.
To Sum It up
Just about every law firm has some kind of Web presence these days. Far fewer have a deep understanding of what they want from their website, how it fits in with their law firm’s goals, and who are the most important people to consider with regards to the site. By clearly defining your website’s mission statement, you can ensure that all of your decisions are governed by a unified purpose, which will lead to greater success.