Winning more clients with"Holistic" Online Marketing

Tanner Jones discusses how law firms can benefit from "Holistic" online marketing approach that includes SEO, social media, innovative resources, community involvement, design, networking, client personas, conversion rate optimization, helpful tools and more. This video is provided courtesy of PILMMA.org, and was recorded live at the 2015 PILMMA Super Summit.

Tanner Jones discusses how law firms can benefit from “Holistic” online marketing approach that includes SEO, social media, innovative resources, community involvement, design, networking, client personas, conversion rate optimization, helpful tools and more. This video is provided courtesy of PILMMA.org, and was recorded live at the 2015 PILMMA Super Summit.

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Transcript:

Ken: So, we had to do a change. John Fisher, who was supposed to be speaking, he’s in court in a trial, been in trial for two weeks. The judge told him he’d let him out, he has not let him out yet, or if he has, he did it yesterday. So he traded places with Dale Tincher, with Consultwebs, and Tanner Jones.

Now, I met Dale at my first legal marketing conference in 2000 in Las Vegas, and that was when I was just beginning to learn everything. I didn’t even have a website back in 2000, or I had a piece of one. I didn’t really have one, I had a piece of one. And after that conference, I talked to Dale and I listened to him speak, and I hired him on the spot. And 15 years later, our firm up in Raleigh still uses Consultwebs. And I think that says a lot, because how many of you in here have had the same internet provider for the last 15 years? A couple. You’ve got Dale, right? I never see that. Lawyer do not stay with one company in the internet, because they get frustrated.

And I don’t know about you, but I get calls every week from somebody trying to sell me the newest and greatest web development company or whatever, or wants to do all that to show me how I’m really screwing up. But what I do knows is this, 15 years later, we’re still getting over 20 cases a month at $313 a case, which is a hell of a lot cheaper than TV. Even though TV is really good, our cost per case is much, much better.

And I like Dale and his group because they give meat, and I’m all about giving the meat, not the fluff. And they’re straight shooters. They’re not what I call the snake old sales people. They don’t promise you the moon like some of these companies. Some of these companies out here, they’ve got more. . .it’s sort of like the drug companies. They’ve got more money in marketing than they do in actual producing the results. And that’s the one question you ought to ask somebody: what’s your ratio of employees, salespeople versus technicians? And you’ll be surprised on some of them, because it’s all about churn and churn and burn.

But these guys are solid. I always get them to speak every year because they always bring new content. They’ve got lawyers writing for them, not just people over in India. I never said they were the cheapest. But I learned a long time ago when we built our first house. I don’t know if my wife’s in here or not. I went out and got three bids and my father told me, “Don’t get this guy,” but I said, “He’s the cheapest one, dad,” and we got halfway up the house and he had it all screwed up.

I had to fire him. I had to take off the roof and burn all the rafters and everything and then go hire the guy that my dad told me to hire to start with. So the story is, what we can learn from that is, just like what I was talking about cost per thousand, it’s an illusion; sometimes cheapest is not always cheapest.

So anyway, they’re going to talk today, and he’s going to introduce Tanner. He’s been with him many, many years. They’re going to give you some great information, so get your pens ready and get this information. Dale, thank you.

Dale: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I need more of that lifting help than I did when I first met Ken. If anybody wants to help me off and on the stage, I’ll welcome it. We do thank you for this opportunity to be here. It’s an honor to talk to you. We have many friends in the room, worked with several of you. And so, again, it’s great to be here. Most of us will be here Saturday through Sunday. Some Saturday night leaving, some Sunday, so feel free to call us, pull us aside. We have five people. And we are all offering free consultation, so if you’d like for us to just sit down and take a look at what you’re doing, we’ll be happy to do that.

How do we work with our clients? We feel like we want you to practice law while we help you get cases, and we work with you to get those cases. And as Ken said, our long term goal, depending on the type of cases you want, is to help you get cases, get 20-plus cases a month for $300 or $400 cost per case. And we work with you and your team. We’ll do as much or as little as you like. As Ken said, we have four licensed attorneys. And with us today, we have Helen Bukulmez, who is also a practicing attorney that you’ll meet if you stop by her booth. But we work with you to get cases. And I’m going to turn it over to Tanner to tell you how we work with you to accomplish that. Thank you.

Tanner: Good morning. You can see the title here, Winning Cases Through Holistic Web Marketing, but I’m going to start by asking: how many of you have heard the acronym, SEO? A silly question, right? When I first joined Consultwebs, I was on stage here at PILMMA. This is going on seven years ago. Dale and I were educating firms on what SEO was, why it was important for your firm, why you needed to consider applying a portion of your marketing budget toward this. And there were a number of skeptics in the room, and rightfully so. It was new to a lot of law firms. Today, every one of you have heard of SEO. Probably the large majority of the firms in this room are investing in an SEO campaign.

SEO is part of a holistic marketing strategy for law firms

Today we’re not going to focus on SEO, in and of itself. SEO is very important but there’s a lot of folks, including Consultwebs, that think this term is rather outdated. SEO is still very important. The fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization is important, as far as driving traffic from the search engines to your website, and a lot of what we’re going to talk about supports that. There’s a lot of people online today who are in the research phase or who have intent to hire a law firm, who are Googling relevant search terms to find an attorney just like yourself. And so there is a lot of potential there to be able to drive relevant traffic to your site.

But beyond that, there’s also opportunities to be able to leverage your brand in the community, to be able to take advantages of all these opportunities online, to be able to code brand yourself with something good, something altruistic, something of value to the people in your market, and at the same time, support your SEO efforts. And so we’re going to talk in depth about that, about how Google is rewarding websites today, related to those things that I’m talking about.

So coming back to holistic marketing. To start with defining holistic, and I’m sure several of you have heard of this, it’s characterized by the comprehension of parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. So, in the medicine world, it’s basically not focusing on an individual body part or something that is hindering somebody from being healthy, but actually looking at everything; mind, body and spirit. And the same goes with comprehensive or a holistic marketing approach for a law firm. You’re looking at all areas of your firm, not just basically decentralizing your efforts with SEO and assuming that everything in the offline world, the real world, is separate from your online presence.

And so we want to talk today about how all of these efforts, everything that you’re doing as part of your firm, all these relationships that you’ve built throughout the years in establishing your practice and growing your practice, can ultimately come back to benefit your overall web marketing presence.

So to start with, community involvement. How many of you in this room have participated in some sort of community involvement activity over the years? Probably well over 80% of the room. How many of you feel like you’ve leveraged that online and you’ve pushed it online to the fullest degree possible? A very small percentage. And so, again, that’s what we’re going to cover and how it can support your search marketing efforts.

Innovative resources. This can be a number of things. The funny thing is, if you look at any legal site in the country, you’re going to find similarities across the board. Have any of you all felt like one of your competitors have copied something of yours on your website or any other marketing effort? And on the other hand, have you ever looked at a larger competitor, assumingly a more successful firm, and thought, “I’m going to implement what they’re doing”? Of course. All of you, to some degree, have done that.

And so this is just the snowball effect, where you’re constantly looking to see what the other firm is doing and assuming that they’re being successful with that. And you can see that across the board on the web when you look at other websites and you see where they’ve placed their contact form, where they placed their telephone number, what kind of photography they’re using. And you think that if you implement that, you’re going to see the success they are.

And just because somebody is doing it, doesn’t mean they’re doing it right. And so the idea of an innovative resource helps to differentiate your website from all the other competitors in your market. And the thing about an innovative resource is that it can be anything. It can be something related to content, whether it’s a book that you’ve written, something that cannot be duplicated, or it could be something more involved.

And that’s what we mean by innovative, something that is unique. Maybe it’s a program feature, maybe it’s a simulation game, maybe it’s an app that people can use on the site. Something that cannot be replicated easily by a competitor, that’s what allows you to differentiate yourself and that’s what you can utilize to push out throughout the web and to get exposure to get engagement.

Networking. This pulls both the community involvement piece and innovative resources piece together. Being able to take these resources of the community involvement and get it out to the masses, get it out to very relevant groups or communities throughout the web in a way that you’re going to be able to, again, code brand your firm and allow yourself to build your brand and get more visibility and ultimately get more cases.

And then the final piece we’ll cover, which again wraps all these elements into one, is using your main website as your hub, and all these spokes, whether it be community involvement, whether it be social media, press releases, wherever you are listed on the web, pulling people back to your website and being able to offer the best user experience possible so that you can quickly establish trust and convert more of that traffic into callers, into leads. And that’s the ultimate goal of your website. You could be getting tens of thousands of visits to your website on a monthly basis, but if you’re not converting at an optimal rate, then you’re missing significant opportunity to grow your business and sign more cases.

A law firm’s community involvement can increase the effectiveness of its online marketing

Let’s jump into community involvement. Now, a large percentage of the room has been involved in the community to some degree. And by no means would I ever suggest to implement a community involvement activity or to invest in something in the community simply as a marketing effort, simply as a way to grow your web presence. That’s the supplement of doing something like this, and people, your community members, understand the intent behind doing this. And so I would encourage you not to look at community involvement opportunities as a way to benefit your firm, but rather the ones that are existing, the opportunities that are available to you. There are ways to be able to leverage that to support your overall web marketing campaigns.

You can see this bullet list. There’s a number of different ways to be able to get involved in the community. Scholarships, a large percentage of our clients run annual scholarships. There are great ways to be able to push the scholarships out to local high schools, local colleges and universities.

And from a search engine optimization standpoint, get those local high schools, colleges and universities to list your scholarship page on their website, ultimately sending a .EDU ink from their organization back to your website, back to your scholarship page. That’s a phenomenal way to be able to get a website that Google trusts, because it’s. . .typically, .EDUs are well established and they’re credible, and they get good traffic. And that’s essentially passing domain value over to your website.

Google is evaluating the links that are coming into your site. And so a lot of the things that we’re talking about here, a portion of that involves getting other websites to link to your site. And in the past, even when I was talking six or seven years ago when we were defining SEO, there were a lot of short cuts, a lot of manipulative strategies to be able to gain Google search engine and get search traffic. You could pay directory sites over in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and get thousands of back links to point back to your site. And it worked; it worked temporarily.

Google’s algorithm has gotten much smarter and more sophisticated over the years. And today, they’re smart enough to identify the relevancy of those links. Are they coming from international websites or are they coming from local websites? If they’re coming from local websites, then it shows that you are very entrenched. You are relevant in your market. And so, again, part of the algorithm is to be able to detect that.

Another piece is to evaluate the quality of those websites coming to you. Are those websites getting traffic? More importantly, are they sending traffic back to your website? And if they’re not, then those links are of very little value and they can actually do more harm than good. Because I’m sure if you’ve not been through it, you’ve heard of other law firms who’ve invested in some level of SEO and they’ve actually been dropped from the search results, whether through a penalty by Google or just been overcome by other competitors coming into the market. And that’s likely, in large part, due to link building efforts.

So a lot of these things that we’re talking about are natural. They’re real things, real things that are of value to the community, relevant to your practice areas, that ultimately allow you to be able to get engagement from your market area, other websites linking to you, other channels coming and finding your website because of the good things that you’re doing in the market, all of these efforts.

Sponsorships, youth teams. Let’s say you’re buying helmets for the local youth football team, or you’ve been giving to a certain charity on an annual basis. Those are great ways to be able to promote these good things that are happening, not necessarily advertising your firm, but that comes as you announce the good things that this youth team is doing, or the good things that this particular charity is doing for the community. You’re code branding your firm alongside that. These charities also have the opportunity to be able to mention you or thank you on their social pages.

We’ll talk about social signals and how that’s of value to your overall web marketing campaign in the coming slides. All these areas absolutely support your search marketing campaign, but they do well beyond that. They go well beyond that in that they get you in the community on a great spotlight, and people begin to know, like and trust you. Nobody wants to hire somebody that they don’t like, obviously, but more importantly, they want to like you.

They want to know that you can do a good job for them. And so by leveraging some of these things online, you’re able to get in front of these people before they even need you, before they’ve had an accident or an injury. And by branding yourself early, then you have the opportunity to grab those potential clients, even in the offline world, before they even come to the web because they’ve heard about you some way or another throughout the community.

I want to give you a couple of examples of what these charitable or social responsibility campaigns can be. And the reason I want to give these examples, is to hopefully give you some ideas. As you’re thinking through this, think about what you’re currently doing in your firm, in your community. Think about what connections you have and think about what’s something that’s unique to your firm, to your community, that you can push online. Here was a contest that was ran. This firm takes federal cases, disability cases, and the goal was to be able to, right before Mother’s Day, encourage children to recommend their mother as a national hero.

So basically, the only people that qualified for this were federal employees, right in line with their targeted demographic. Very strategic move. And what they did, was they pushed this through social channels. There’s a lot of great targeting that you can be very specific with your ad placements with Facebook. You can even be very specific with other advertising channels like Google PPC and other Google display networks, and you can target the specific demographic. And what we did was we encouraged these children to submit a few minutes of video footage to this site. And then we opened it up for the country to be able to vote on these videos, what was the best video, basically determining who this national hero, who this mother would be.

The idea behind it is to gain engagement, get people involved. The voting contest obviously gets people involved, but if you’ve submitted a video and you want to win, you’re going to share it with everybody that you know, everyone in your circles, whether it be offline or online, and encourage people to vote for your child’s video. And so it’s a great way, again, to code brand the firm, but a great way because people love themselves. Whenever you’re submitting videos, obviously kids are cute and it’s a great social fodder. And so this was something that was enormously successful, not only from an engagement standpoint but from getting other websites to link back to this.

This next piece is an example of a firm in Jacksonville. There was a local golf scramble, and they were going to be sponsoring some holes. And I’m sure this is something you’ve considered or you’ve done in the past, because there are these golf scrambles that are happening pretty regularly during the summertime. They sponsored a hole. They also had a cocktail reception at their home there on the golf course and they were encouraging other people to submit donations to this organization.

Now, this was not the law firm who was running this scramble, they were simply involved from a donation and time participation standpoint. However, they promoted it. And by promoting this, they were able to push it through their social channels. They were encouraging other people to give to this event. And we were able to collect almost ten back links. There were nine back links pointing back to this page where people were sharing it throughout their blog sites. And then there was also tons of social media engagement with this.

Now, the question is, how does this relate back to my practice areas? How does it get more cases? And the answer is simple. This is something that, again, you’re going back to promoting something that’s very relevant to the community and something that’s going to ultimately get your brand in front of a number of other people. But from a search engine optimization standpoint, you’re gaining engagement on your web site.

You’re gaining good quality back links to your site, and it ultimately supports your search visibility. And Google wants to reward these types of sites that are involved in the community because brand and how well known and how well entrenched you are is one of the most objective ways to evaluate a business. And so this is exactly where the search engines are heading as far as the future of the traditional search engine optimization.

Innovative unique resources can drive traffic and links to a law firm’s website

Online resources. Taking this to the next step, let’s talk about the benefits first and foremost. The benefits of online resources, the resource on your site that really differentiates you from your competitors in the market, is that it pulls in traffic and engagement on your site. Traffic is something that Google is looking at. They’re looking at how visitors are interacting on your legal site.

Their algorithm is smart enough to know that if your website’s retaining visitors twice as long as your competitors, then naturally, you’re providing something of value, something of relevance, and you’re fulfilling the needs of their searchers. If you’re doing that, then it’s in Google’s best interest to continue to deliver your site in the search results because they want to be able to provide their users with the best possible results. And so they’re able to track all these metrics as part of your website and how users are interacting on it.

The next piece, we’ve mentioned branding, differentiation, a number of different times, but innovative resources allow you to produce something that is so valuable to the community that they’re going to share that with their friends, their family members, whether it be on their own personal websites, whether it be sharing it on social sites. It’s a great way for media outlets.

If it’s really of unique value and worth getting out to the community, then you have a great opportunity to use outreach professionals, whether that’s you hiring somebody who handles the outreach and PR or you have someone within your firm who can contact local media channels, local media outlets, and share this resource with them, because they obviously have a great opportunity to be able to broadcast that to the masses.

We’ve talked about links, the value of these quality local relevant links when you have something like an innovative resource on your site. And then on site metrics, going back to the traffic and exposure, as well as engagement. Those on site metrics continue to grow. They expand as you have something that’s beyond a car accident lawyer landing page. The thing is, no credible organization, no charity affiliation, no nonprofits, EDU websites, none of these sites want to link back to a car accident lawyer landing page. It’s nearly impossible to get them to do that. But if you have something on your site that’s helpful to their network, then that is the way that you’re going to be able to get them coming back or linking back to your site.

So let’s talk about what these innovative resources could be. We did a survey in the local Richmond, Virginia, market where we interviewed teens, hundreds of teens in the market. And we pushed this out. We marketed the survey through social media. We were able to collect a number of responses, and with that, was able to collect some really valuable data, not only for teens, but more importantly, for parents.

So we asked a number of questions, when they text and who they text with. And we were able to collect a wide range of data. And this is data that’s of value to parents because they can further educate their children once they see the studies of this. And this is obviously local. This is very specific to them and they know. This is not national data. This is something that very likely their children are making up the large percentage of the average data set here.

And you can see that there was a number of data sets looked at, from fatalities, to the growth of year-over-year, how certain things were declining, certain things were growing. And we were able to push this out to the community and various segments of media outlets, health and safety websites, health and safety social communities, able to get great exposure code branded by the firm, and get solid links back to the site.

Another example, Walk Safely NYC. This is where our programmers and creative team pulled in a data set from the state’s highway department and we were able to collect data related to all the pedestrian accidents that occurred on the streets of NYC. So what this did, by collecting big data, we could crunch that down into when the most dangerous times of the day are, and walking from home to your office or your office back home, what the most dangerous days of the week are, what the most dangerous months of the year are.

And this is something that it’s feeding into this data set constantly. And so it’s staying updated and we’ll be able to keep it updated on a yearly basis, and with our outreach efforts, go back to all these relevant networks and communities throughout New York, sharing this and getting a lot of social engagement from this asset.

The question often comes up, how does this relate back to getting me cases? And the answer is you’re likely not going to get immediate cases from something like this. It’s something that you’re investing in the community. You’re investing in doing social responsibility initiatives. You’re building your brand; and you’re ultimately supporting your own web presence by doing so. And so by building your web presence, naturally, you’re going to be able to get more organic traffic of people looking for, in this case, pedestrian accident attorneys.

And you have the resource where you’ve been following that, so you immediately established trust and credibility. But beyond that, you’re able to brand yourself in a way that you’re not just pushing advertisements constantly in front of your users. And people are tuning out advertisements more and more today.

Another example is this child injury asset guide. We put this together where there’s a number of relevant pieces in here related to ways children get themselves into unsafe situations, facilities they’re at, or caregivers that are responsible for their safety and well-being. And we’re pushing this asset out to mommy bloggers throughout the country. We’re pushing it out to health and safety communities and websites. And this is something where there’s very little legal intent here.

It’s a legal guide but there’s no call to action. There’s no “call us today.” That’s intentional because, again, going back to the idea of nobody wanting to link to a car accident lawyer landing page, very few credible organizations want to link back to an attorney website that’s obviously looking to convert visitors into clients. And so by no means are we trying to be slide of the hand here. This is all about providing good value. And if you’re providing good value, people will find use in it and they’ll want to share it. And by doing that, you’re going to take your website to the next level when it comes to competing with some of these major websites in your market.

Networking and building relationships can boost a firm’s online results

The next piece is networking. I’ve alluded to the power of networking, relationship building, and leveraging these assets, innovative resources and community involvement activities, but let’s talk in depth about how networking and relationships should be implemented in order to be able to make the most of your holistic online marketing efforts. Authoring articles for credible websites is a powerful, powerful way to be able to get your name in a new network or a new community.

There was a fad there for a while, where there were firms and businesses all across the country just simply trying to push articles out to any website that would take their article. And it was quickly found out that that was a link building scheme. And Google actually publicly announced that that was going to be a manipulative practice that they were going to try to start hammering. So by no means am I suggesting that you just find any website that will take your content, but there’s significant opportunity there to place good relevant content in various channels. And we’ll talk about how to evaluate those particular channels and determine which one’s best for you.

Outreach. Outreach has to be done very strategically. I was speaking with a firm this morning about how challenging it is to be able to contact local charities that you’ve given money to and basically ask for something back. That is a challenge, and that is something that has to be done delicately. And the idea behind it is not to position it as though, “Here, we just wrote you $1,000 check. Here’s what you can do for us.” But what you can do is: “We value our partnership. We value the opportunity to be able to give back to you all, because we believe in the organization. We believe in what you’re doing for the community. But we also see an opportunity where you can promote us.

There’s a place on your website where you have a list of sponsors, and there’s nobody there.” Or maybe they don’t have a list of sponsors and maybe you propose that they list that so that you can be listed there, and because you want to be able to hold that spot and it’s something that you believe in enough that you want to continue to give to them year-over-year. So there are ways that you can position that message so that you can continue to maintain a strong relationship. You don’t have to feel like you’re asking something back for giving to them, and you can both benefit greatly from that opportunity that’s existing.

Social signals. Now, this is another way that…Google has never taken social signals into consideration. A social signal is when, let’s say you have 1,000 likes on your firm Facebook page. And you’re posting to that Facebook page multiple times per week. If you’re getting zero activity on those posts, nobody is liking those posts, nobody is commenting on those posts, nobody is sharing those posts, then there’s very little social signals being passed because you have all these likes but there’s no engagement on the page, meaning that those likes probably aren’t very credible likes. Those likes probably either were paid or they were bought some way or the other, and so there’s not a lot of value in that following.

You could have 250 likes on your Facebook page and if people are commenting and sharing and liking your posts on a regular basis, then you’re getting much more value out of that very segmented list of likes than you would if you had a huge following with no engagement. And so social signal shows that a business is credible, that a business is liked.

Just this recent spring, it was said that Google has now started to pull in social signals as part of their ranking algorithm. Social has been important. It’s been important from a branding standpoint. It’s been important from an engagement standpoint. But today it’s actually influencing your overall search marketing efforts as part of this holistic online marketing effort. And so this is something to take very seriously, especially if you look at your social channels and feel like there’s very little activity happening there.

And then existing relationships. And we’ll talk again, in the coming slides, about what those existing relationships are, but it’s not always about trying to go after these far-fetched opportunities. Start with what you have available to you. You have several staff members, likely. You may have multiple attorneys in your office. All of those individuals have relationships with local businesses. They may attend a church. They may sit on the council.

They may be on a board of directors. They may have children and youth teams. Those are all great opportunities for networking, not only networking in the offline world but networking on the online world. And that’s what we call low hanging fruit. Those are opportunities that you can leverage from an exposure standpoint, from growing your social channels, and hopefully being able to have them share some of these assets and innovative resources that you’re producing.

Going back to the credible authoring, if you’re going to write for a credible publication, the idea is to be able to ensure that this site is getting good traffic. Now, a national publication like some of these listed here, The Huffington Post, phenomenal place to get an article here. But the chances of even a handful or a small handful of firms being able to get an article written in The Huffington Post or a mention in The Huffington Post in your career is very unlikely. Agreed? So then you have to look at what other local opportunities do you have in your market. And just simply talking about the latest verdict or settlement doesn’t always take precedence to a local media outlet.

So, going back to the community involvement piece, what are you doing in the community that’s of value to a large percentage of your demographic? To a large percentage of your prospective clients? And if you can identify that, that’s a great place to be able to get some of these local networks, local media outlets, to cover stories related to that. If you’re giving to that, whether it’s financial giving, whether it’s you’re volunteering your time or your firm’s time, you’re involved in Susan G. Komen walks, whatever it may be, that is a great opportunity to be able to get listed in some of these national publications.

And then beyond that, once you can establish a relationship with some of these outlets, then you have the opportunity to start producing relevant content for them, asking them: what do you feel like your audience could use, related to your practice areas and publishing content for these outlets? And what you can do there is, even if you can’t get a link from one of these publications to your site, if your firm name is mentioned, there’s value in that. Google is smart enough and sophisticated enough to be able to detect any mention of your firm name, which ultimately supports your brand, which ultimately supports your rankings, traffic and caseload.

Social signals. We’ve talked about anything that can be any time your firm’s mentioned on social, any time people are engaging on your page, that’s tremendous value. It’s branding. It’s a way to stand in front of your prospective clients even when they’re not currently hiring an attorney or in the process of hiring an attorney, but it’s also supporting your overall search marketing efforts. These relationships you’ve built, local body shops. Essentially, any kind of relationship you have in your community, you have the opportunity to start engaging with them online through social channels. If they have any websites, are there opportunities to be able to make connections with your two websites?

Again, thinking locally. That’s what Google is looking at. Over 50% of searches today have local intent, people looking for local business, local entertainment, local events. And so as that trend continues, that was at 30% two years ago and it’s going to continue to grow. More and more people are using the web to find, essentially, as the Yellow Pages. They’re going to the web to find the local information. And as Google sees this trend continue, they’re making localized results more prominently displayed in the search results. The only way to further showcase your local relevance to Google, is to get involved with the community, is to show how you are or how you have established these relationships throughout your local markets.

Networking results in trusted relationships. And naturally, firms have built their practices on relationship building, on word of mouth marketing. And it’s no different today. You cannot isolate the web as being a standalone piece to your overall business model. The web has become where people are gathering information, where they’re establishing new relationships, and where they’re communicating with existing relationships. So harness the power of the web with all these relationships you’ve already acquired throughout your market, and that’s going to result in a better search presence, better brand, and better visibility on your site.

Designing and writing for users is the key to a great website

And then lastly, as I mentioned in the beginning of this discussion, user experience trumps everything. You can be getting and spinning all kinds of money and getting people to your website, but if you’re not able to build trust and you’re not able to convert those visitors, it’s of no value. You’re better off applying your effort and your time and your money in other places.

There’s a number of things that’s part of the great user experience. Design is a no-brainer. Mobile is a no-brainer. We talked about local, people looking for local information. The majority of the time they’re looking for local information, they’re on their phone. Siloed structures, and we’ll talk in depth about what a siloed structure is, but being able to offer visitors exactly what they’re looking for, when they’re looking for it, and nothing else, not confusing them with other practice areas or other irrelevant information.

Citing sources to build credibility to your content pages. Knowing the persona, knowing the demographic of your potential clients, and catering your website design based on that demographic. And then conversion rate optimization, maximizing the potential of somebody picking up the phone and calling your office.

I want to show you a quick case study done with responsive design. How many of you heard of the term responsive design? Several of you. And that’s something that’s been the…it’s the new term, if you will. It’s been passed around along the web for the last year or more. Responsive design is simply where your site will respond to the screen that’s accessing it. It’ll respond the size and the resolution. So if somebody comes to your phone from their mobile phone, then the site is going to automatically respond.

It’s not going to serve up a different website – it’s going to serve up the same site – the design is just going to conform to that size and resolution. The same thing with a tablet. People coming to your website from a PC has very different needs and they’re looking for very different information than somebody who comes to your site from a mobile device. And so catering that site, based on the intent of that user, based on the current experience or the current setting or environment of that user, will allow you to maximize your conversion rate and get more phone calls.

So many times I visit a legal site from my mobile phone and there’s either no telephone number on the front screen, the first thing I see, or there’s a telephone number and you can’t click it. You can’t click it to dial it. How many people do you think will see a telephone number, not be able to click it but sit and pull out a pencil, write down that phone number, change over to their phone application, and then dial that phone number in based on what they wrote? Very few people are doing that. They don’t take the time to do it.

People, when they’re browsing, whether they’re browsing on a PC or they’re browsing on a mobile device, they have very little patience. And if they don’t find what they’re looking for immediately, it’s just as easy to hit the back button and find another website that does offer them the convenience and the immediacy of something as simple as a tap-to-call feature on the mobile device. Very, very important.

So going back to this case study of responsive design, this site was not responsive up through January of this year. We reprogrammed it to make it responsive. The design did not change. The elements of the page did not change. We just simply programmed it in a way that it would conform to the size and resolution of a screen. And you can see here that we let it run throughout the month of May, full month of May. And you can see here the percentage increases of traffic. You can see, even with PC, almost 15% increase from the PC, and that’s because Google is rewarding these sites, even from a PC, because they’re seeing the site is being a great resource to their users. You can see the dramatic increase in the mobile phone usage, over 45% increase in traffic from mobile devices.

Today, if somebody is searching from a mobile device, it’s very rare that Google will serve up a non-mobile friendly website now. So, their search results differ. If you type the same search from a PC and if you go to your mobile device, you’re likely going to see some variations in search results. And that’s because Google is catering, based on the user, exactly what we’re talking about for your own website. And then again, the traffic to the tablet increased pretty dramatically. So if those percentages are compelling to you, then I would encourage you to ensure that you have a responsively programmed website.

Here’s a few examples of what a mobile website would look like when someone lands on the page: tap to call, tap for directions. Those are the two major elements that people would be looking for when coming to the site from the mobile device. And then also looking through your Google Analytics to find out what the most traffic to pages are, your top landing pages on your entire website. And once you identify those, typically it’s going to be your attorney bios page or your “our firm profile” page. You want that to be linked to from your mobile page, because you can’t put all the options on a mobile screen. It’s just simply too small. So focus on the most important pages and then give the option to click on the menu and find the deeper pages.

Drop-down practice areas. I’ve come across a number of legal sites where you click on the drop-down for practice areas and the list is so long that it stretches well below the screen. If somebody doesn’t have a scrolling wheel on their mouse, there’s absolutely no way they can access the practice areas that are listed below the fold of that screen. So there are other ways to be able to guide the visitor into the right pages.

And naturally, this conversation is guiding us into the importance of a siloed practice area page, but you can see that if your list is growing and it likely. . .if you’re adding to the web and you’re constantly investing in search marketing and content efforts, this practice area list will get so niche and specific that it can get quite long. So break it up into segments. Make it easy for the user.

Most people don’t understand what personal injury is. Being in this profession, obviously every single person in this room understands that, but very few people are looking for a personal injury lawyer when they’re searching in Google. They’re looking specifically for the type of accident or an injury that occurred. So even just thinking through breaking up your practice areas into injury versus accidents, and guiding the user based on that, it’s much simpler and you’re able to actually start to funnel early on the homepage without overwhelming the person to determine whether they have a construction accident case or whether they have a scaffolding injury case.

And so you start with accident, or you start with injury, and then you draw them into a page. And then once you get them into a deeper page, incorporate graphics. All too often you’ll have a list of practice areas that run miles down this page of just practice area after practice area after practice area. People do not read from top to bottom on the web. They’re scrolling. They’re looking for something to catch their attention, to catch their eye, based on their need at that time.

Graphics or images are an excellent way to be able to grab the eye, grab the attention. And people are able to consume graphics and illustrations a lot easier than they can a long paragraph of content. So consider breaking up all your major landing pages into a nice illustration so that you can visually grab attention, and again, guide them deeper into the page that’s most relevant to their particular needs at that time.

Going to citing sources of content, when you have a page of content, whether it’s your car accident landing page or whether it’s a very deep page related to medical expenses involved with medical malpractice, for example, any time you mention a statistic, any time you mention data, any time you mention a fact, you want to be able to site that source. And this is not only from the user standpoint. To a user, when they see that you’re citing sources from governmental websites, from .EDU websites, it allows them to, whether consciously or subconsciously, just have confidence in what they’re reading. And the more confidence and trust you’re establishing with that user, the higher likely you are in being able to convert them into a caller or through a contact form.

The other important piece is that Google is actually looking for these cited sources. They want to be able to serve up the best result, but they also want to serve up factual results. And if you’re citing sources, you’re establishment credibility on those pages and Google’s going to trust the page better. And so that’s definitely something that will help separate you. It establishes trust across the board and increases your visibility and your conversion rate by doing so.

Understanding your clients, the persona of your client. Google Analytics has some great tools within it to be able to understand the demographics of your visitors coming to your site, and you can run your own studies just based on your current clientele; male or female, age, occupation. Understanding your clientele is so critical, and if you haven’t done this, that would be the first place to start.

Once you understand your ideal client or your average client, then you can start catering your website based on that. You can cater the design based on that. You can cater the call to action. If you have live chat and the majority of the people that convert from your website are female, consider including a picture of a female on the live chat bar. There’s just so many different ways to be able to cater the user experience based on the average clientele, which ultimately will increase your conversion rate.

The next piece is understanding the intent of the individual. If you’ve invested in any sort of search engine optimization campaign, you’re getting traffic a number of ways. You’re getting people coming in from your blog articles. You’re getting people coming in directly to your car accident lawyer landing page. You’re getting people coming into your homepage.

And understanding that all three of those visitors have a completely different mindset at the time they land on your homepage. If they land on your homepage, it’s likely because they searched for your firm name, or maybe you have such a strong website that your homepage is ranking in front a number of search terms. But very likely if they come your homepage, they know you. They have a good understanding of who your firm is already.

And in that case, the priority goal is to be able to a) convert them if they’re ready to convert, so giving them multiple channels to be able to convert. But number two, having a very easy, very clean design that can comfortably guide them into the most relevant pages. And that’s going back to those illustrations and breaking it up into injury and accident, where they don’t have to look all over the page, click on various buttons to try to find what they’re looking for; you naturally flow them in there.

If somebody comes in from a blog article, it’s likely that they’re in the research phase. They’re typing in something very specific and that blog article caught their attention and they clicked in. So throwing up live chat in front of them or trying to convert them immediately upon entering a blog article is going to do absolutely no good. And in fact, it’s probably going to turn people away.

So understanding that somebody coming in with a research type search term, they’re not ready to convert immediately. It’s going to take some time to build trust to be able to show value first. So incorporating more of your calls to action lower on that page or soft selling, if you will, less commercialization, will allow you to be able to attract that visitor or retain that visitor long enough to attract them to convert.

If somebody comes in from the search results with a car accident lawyer search phrase, including lawyer, attorney, law firm, they have legal intent. They’re ready to buy. They’re ready to hire. And so creating or designing a landing page that’s set up to be able to convert immediately and to build trust all at the same time, that’s what’s going to allow you to convert at an optimal level.

So again, it all depends on how the visitors are finding you and what pages they’re landing on. If you can understand the true journey, understand how these visitors are interacting and finding your site, then you have a much higher probability of being able to give them exactly what they’re looking for at the right time and convert them. You all know that when somebody converts from the website, that they’re likely converting on four or five other legal websites. And so knowing how they’re finding you, you’re going to be able to maximize the chance that you’re going to get that first phone call.

We’re going to walk through an example of an ideal legal intent landing page. Somebody who lands on this after typing in, let’s say, “Oklahoma truck accident lawyer,” they land on this page. They see an image that’s related to the community, that’s likely a very common or very recognized image. You can see the text at the top that says “Tulsa truck accident attorneys.” They know they’ve landed on the right page immediately upon entering. You can go on a number of legal sites and you have no idea, from just landing on the page, what type of practice areas they handle because there’s no clear message on that page, as simple as possible, to showcase what that page consists of.

You also have a prominently displayed telephone number in the top right hand corner, very clean up there, and then a contact form if they want to convert immediately. There’s also a testimonial related to the practice area. That’s another great tip, that if you can incorporate relevant testimonials on specific practice areas. Somebody sees that you’ve been able to help somebody with a very similar case. Incorporating a Worker’s Comp. testimonial on a truck accident landing page is going to do more harm than good. So customize these testimonials, if you have them, based on the practice area.

Moving down the page, you can see there’s a lot of content here, substance and big headers. Again, going back to people scrolling down a page, by incorporating big headers above each section, you’re able to grab attention and show that individual what each paragraph consists of, guiding them directly into the content that they’re looking for.

Related information in the right side bar. Don’t incorporate irrelevant practice areas. If you handle Social Security Disability, if you handle Worker’s Comp., if you handle construction accidents and all these other practice areas, that’s perfectly fine. You can keep those on the site, but you absolutely do not want to incorporate irrelevant practice areas along side of a truck accident lawyer landing page. People are there because they have questions related to truck accidents, not Worker’s Comp. And so pull in all related information to that particular practice area, and what do you do? You encourage the visitor to click in deeper into the website to find more relevant information, to establish more trust and credibility, and to maximize your chance of conversion.

Continue scrolling on down the page, more substance, more content, good strong headers. And then you get down to the footer of the page, which pulls in illustrated blog articles. These are programmed where when you write a blog article, you can tag it to a category. You can tag it to truck accidents. You can tag it to car accidents, whatever it may be. And this site’s programmed to where it’s going to pull in the most recent truck accident related blog articles in a graphically illustrated manner.

Hopefully, or the goal is to encourage that person to click in deeper into the website. That also helps support your search engine optimization efforts, because again, Google’s reading those metrics and seeing how long visitors are staying on the pages, how often they’re clicking in the deeper pages. And then nice images of the attorneys there to humanize the law firm, which is very important. People’s eyes are automatically pulled to faces. So, any time you can incorporate custom photography of you, your staff, your attorneys, your office environment, that personalizes the website and maximizes your conversion rate.

User Experience, again, that is what pulls everything together. You have to focus on being able to create the best user experience possible if you want to be able to maximize everything you’re doing in the community, maximize the innovative resources you’re developing, maximize all the relationships you’ve established, and any search engine visibility you’ve gained and all the traffic that’s coming in to your site.

Holistic online marketing for law firms includes even more

These four elements are most certainly not the all be all. There are a number of other ways or a number of other elements included as part of a holistic online marketing campaign. Simon is talking next about online reviews, a powerful, very powerful way to be able to build trust immediately and to convert visitors. And there’s a number of other areas: content development. But these four areas are ways that you can leverage the offline relationships. You can leverage something unique to your website. And you can take your campaign to the next level, ultimately allowing you to sign more cases from the internet, which is the goal for, I assume, every single attorney in this room.

We will be offering, as Dale mentioned, a free 15-minute consultation. I encourage you to stop by the booth. We’d love to be able to talk with you, look through your site, comparing the site to all the elements that we’ve discussed today, and other areas. If you have any questions, I’d certainly love to be able to cover those with you. I think we have about five minutes to take questions too, if you all have any.

Dale: You have to go a few at a time, just one at a time now. Okay, I apparently covered it well. I want to mention one thing. We do. . .oh, we have a question, okay.

Man: I’m jumping ahead a little bit, but I had noticed on those five star ratings that everbody rates the consumers, that some of the worst attorneys have five stars. And I don’t like that. How do I go about that? Maybe I’m getting ahead.

Tanner: I know Simon will touch on that, but some of the worst attorneys have built processes within their firm to get the reviews. Unfortunately, but fortunately for them. It’s a matter of being able to build processes. And getting reviews, by no means, is that an easy process. Google has gotten very sophisticated on how they filter reviews because they want to be able to provide legitimate reviews. Sometimes they’re good at that; sometimes they’re not so good.

If you offer any client exit interviews for your clients right before you hand them a settlement check, that’s a great opportunity to be able to explain that an online review is one of the most impactful ways that they can share their experience with your firm, and it also allows other prospective clients who’ve been through what they’ve been through, allow them to be able to find that same experience that they’ve had with the firm.

And then the next step is being able to offer them guidance on how they can do that. I suspect that the majority of your clients are not very web savvy, and so it can be a challenge. And as soon as they leave the office, the chances of them leaving that review dramatically diminishes. So being able to…if they have a smart phone or you have a smart phone that’s running on a 3G connection. Ideally, it’s not WiFi connection because then it’s pulling from the same IP address and Google can pick that up. It seems manipulative. So if they can pull from a 3G connection and leave the review right there in the office from their mobile phone, we found that to be the most successful way of those reviews getting to stick.

Another piece is having a personal relationship, an existing relationship of whether it’s a paralegal that’s dealt directly with that client for the large portion of their case, or an attorney, to ask for that review. If there’s no connection there, if it’s somebody that they’ve only spoken to a handful of times throughout the life of their case, it’s not going to be as successful as somebody where they feel like they owe them a favor after the end of the case. And so having somebody who’s dealt with that client for the large portion of that case, that’s who’s going to be most successful in getting that client to actually take the time to leave the review. Sure.

Man 2: So, I have an SEO firm. I know they hire people in India, or Pakistan, or wherever, to assist in those efforts. And we’ve been somewhat successful in increasing my presence. I don’t understand what these guys in India and Pakistan are doing. Can you help explain that to me? What is it they’re doing to try to increase the rankings in that?

Tanner: I can’t speak to the individual case, but I know, generally, whenever you outsource something to a third party, you outsource it based on a volume standpoint. There’s no customization there. There’s no understanding the needs of your firm, your brand, and how you differentiate yourself from your market. So, a lot of that is completely volume, and what they’re doing is likely building links for you. They’re getting your website listed in directories, which going back to the earlier conversation, that’s not passing a lot of SEO value.

Dale: Tanner, we’re getting the flag. And the next thing comes the gun. We’re going to wrap it up. Please stop by our booth, any of you, with any questions. We’ll discuss that further. How many of you are PILMMA Mastermind members? A lot of you. I really recommend Ken’s Mastermind program. Speak to any of these people; it’s valuable. We recommend all of our clients join PILMMA obviously, and join the mastermind groups. They’re invaluable. So, thank you very much, and we look forward to talking, hopefully, with you. Thank you.

Man 3: Thank you. I think you guys can do better than that for Tanner and Dale. They gave incredible content, so let’s hear it one more time for them.

Dale: One more.

Man 3: Hang on, don’t go anywhere.

Dale: One more time.

Man 3: One more time. Dale, where are you going? I’ll throw it at you if you don’t come up and get it, and this thing weighs a ton. On behalf of Ken Hardison and the entire team at PILMA, who’s working really hard, we want to thank you guys very much for coming out. Here’s a little token of their appreciation.

Dale: Thank you. These gold bricks are heavy.

Man 3: These are heavy. And by the way, we’re giving out these gifts to all the speakers. And when Ken handed them to us yesterday as part of the team, they weigh a lot. They’re made of marble. And he said, “I had a suitcase filled with them. Imagine that.” I said, “What did the guy do when you put it up on the scale?” He goes, “I couldn’t lift it.” So I thought that was really cute. I said, “I don’t know what you did. These things are like weapons.”

All right, how many people got some value out of that last segment? I quickly grabbed my phone and checked my web address so I could make sure it was adapting to it. How many people did that during. . .? Yeah, so you’re getting real live on the fly content.