April 17, 2017 | Sarah Danks
Generating Quality Leads…
Lead generation is paramount to our clients’ success. To that end, we pride ourselves on attracting quality leads to their websites — we don’t focus on generating just any traffic; we focus on tailored traffic that matters the most to our clients’ bottom line.
We help many types of professional services businesses with their online marketing, but we have an extensive background working with law firms. In fact, several of our employees got their start working solely on attorney websites…
…so it’s an industry in which we excel.
The success of any law firm depends on the ability to recruit potential customers and get them in the door. In other words, their website must act as a 24/7 “sales person” to answer some preliminary questions and get web visitors to either:
- pick up the phone and call, or
- fill out the online form.
Our clients are far too busy practicing law to worry about becoming proficient at marketing.
Our team has achieved impressive results for law firms using our toolbox of marketing techniques. Obviously there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to any marketing campaign; that said, we tend to focus our energy on various combinations of these four web marketing pieces:
- Lead generation-focused web design
- Local search
- Paid search
This is another 4-part series of blog posts, wherein I’ll be going over each of the marketing aspects listed above. In this episode I’ll be talking about smart website design and how it helps our legal clients achieve their online goals.
…Requires Smart Web Design
Not all websites are created equal — that goes without saying — but when it comes to effective lead generation we like to design sites that look good AND get the job done. There are a few key functions we always want our sites to accomplish:
- Offer visitors a good user experience
- Present consistent contact information
- Show up — and be easy to use — on any device
- Stay simple-to-use
Designing an effective lead generation website that “fulfills the checklist” doesn’t just happen; there’s a lot of planning and strategy involved for each step.
A good user experience (UX) is imperative for any website — especially one whose sole purpose is lead generation. Your web visitors shouldn’t have to search around for the content they want to see; they also don’t want to be bombarded with a lot of information, imagery, navigation or any other distractions that don’t immediately help them get where they want to go.
In our experience, the features that lead to good UX are:
- helpful content,
- clear purpose, and
- intuitive navigation.
“Helpful” is like “beauty:” Often it resides in the eye of the beholder. That is to say, what one person thinks is helpful, another might not consider to be relevant. Knowing a website’s audience is key to offering good content.
You need to focus on what your visitors need. If you imagine your website as a human body, then the content is all of the vital organs that make it tick. Good content is vitally important to the workings of the website overall, and needs to fulfill its purpose and keep everything running smoothly.
Visitors want to read relevant content when they get to a website. If they can’t find what they need, or the content isn’t well-written/relevant/helpful — you’ll end up losing traffic to that dreaded “back” button.
To that end, we write content that speaks to the audience, answers their questions, and hits their pain points. After all:
“Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the customer wants to buy and help them do so.”
~ Bryan Eisenberg
In our world, “helpful content” is relevant to the website visitors, and leads them on the journey to becoming quality leads for our clients.
What goes hand-in-hand with helpful content? The purpose, of course! If you expect a website to be efficient, its purpose has to be, too. All the elements comprising the website (content, navigation, photography, calls-to-action) need to support the main goal.
Again, our clients need web visitors to fill out a form or call them. So, the purpose of our legal websites is simple: lead visitors to conversion.
If a website isn’t intuitively easy to navigate, visitors are likely to get frustrated and leave — regardless of how good your content is — and you won’t be able to lead them anywhere.
To that end, we design all of our lawyer websites with easy-to-access, intuitive navigation to ensure potential customers (as well as returning clients) can easily find the content they want.
If a site’s content is the “guts” of the operation, then navigation is the bone structure. Good, clean navigation is a key element within a website — be sure it’s strong and supports the content well!
Leading web visitors to the goal of the website — conversion, or in simpler terms, contacting the firm — is as easy as simply telling them to do so.
Often, when dealing with legal issues people want to call a law firm to discuss information, even though they initiated their search online. The next most-popular method is filling out a form — oftentimes people are researching several possibilities so this can be quicker.
Regardless of visitors’ first choice of making contact, we make it easy for them to be able to contact attorneys quickly — be it by phone, online form, or even getting directions to the law firm.
You know the old adage,”you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink?” It’s the same on any lead generation website — and it all starts with calls-to-action (CTAs).
Just as we never quite know how each visitor will want to contact a firm, we also never quite know on which page they’ll decide to convert. We use calls-to-action throughout the site to let visitors know how to get in touch so they don’t have to navigate to the Contact Us page every time they want to find a phone number or the contact form.
We like to make it easy for web visitors to know what we want them to do…
By telling them, of course.
When people are looking for a lawyer, the main concern is “can you fix my problem?” Again, probably why so many people phone into the law firm — they want to hear the truth right from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
The entire point of using good CTAs is to lead visitors to conversion. Of course, there’s no “one way” to do that — but there is an entire career within online marketing called conversion rate optimization (CRO) in which marketers study how to get the best conversion rates possible on any website.
There are many ways to go about this with lead generation sites; we like to blend CRO best practices with what our legal clients want.
I.e., many CRO experts claim that the best conversion rates come from using a specific color scheme for your CTA buttons. While there’s some truth to that belief, it’s not entirely correct. Whatever colors we’re using for a client, we ensure the CTAs are easily visible by using a color that contrasts with the rest of the website’s theme (while still following the client’s chosen color palette).
Here’s the long and short of calls-to-action: make them easy to see, easy to read and, most of all, easy to find.
Obviously the call-to-action button has to lead the visitor on the path to conversion — for lead generation sites it’s the contact form.
As I mentioned earlier, not everyone wants to contact a law firm in the same manner…
…but contact forms are so omnipresent across the web that it’s common to make them prominent for visitors to fill out, while still offering secondary forms of contacting the firm (phone numbers or addresses).
As with most things in life, keeping things simple versus making them complex often works the best; the same thought can be applied to contact forms.
We believe it’s oh-so-crucial to optimize lead generation forms to ensure we don’t ask for too much information — or too little! Knowing our client’s audience helps with determining the fine balance between requiring too few or too many form fields on the contact form.
We don’t inundate visitors with too many form fields — that can be a big turn-off — but we also want to ensure the attorneys get the requisite information they need to qualify their leads.
Responsive Web Design
Remember several years ago, when responsive web design (RWD) was introduced across the web, and there were actually designers who thought it was just another design trend? HA!
Here at ThinkSEM we only design responsive websites — no matter what type of business, services, or products are being sold — because we believe being accessible to any type of visitor, on any type of device, is crucial to success.
It’s important to have a website built with RWD now more than ever. It’s 2017; most people have Internet access 24/7 and they use it to access content with multiple devices — these days, many of those are hand-held.
A website’s content should be easily accessible on any device your potential customers could be using — whether that’s a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. And that’s true for legal websites, too.
Of course, there’s a lot more to responsive web design than merely “showing up” on any screen size. If a web developer doesn’t truly know how to build a responsive site, you could end up with a website that isn’t user-friendly, even though it’s “accessible” on phones and tablets.
If a potential client lands on a site looking for a lawyer, but can’t use the features on his/her phone…
…said potential client will go back and re-search and hire the next law firm in line.
Google wants websites to be “mobile-friendly,” which technically equates to responsive. But how do you test your responsive design on every device, screen size variation, etc.?
Never fear: there are a few online tools you can utilize to help you determine if your site is, in fact, mobile-friendly/responsive. We really like to use Google’s mobile-friendly test:
Not to shabby, huh?
(PS: don’t worry about the “page loading issues” notice. All of our attorney websites include a Google Maps location for visitors to be able to find directions; for some reason or other Google doesn’t like its own coding and will return this “warning” for this test. It doesn’t slow page load times and is necessary so we don’t sweat it.)
One huge aspect of having a mobile-friendly website is that it loads quickly — mobile visitors especially won’t wait (and wait and wait) for all your uncompressed images load, the navigation to show up, etc.
In order to get — and keep — mobile traffic, your site needs to render fast…
…because if a site takes more than 3-5 seconds to load, you’re going to lose those visitors to a competitor’s site that loads more quickly than yours, especially when a legal matter is on the line.
It isn’t just mobile visitors who don’t want to wait for anything, it’s everyone. “Going mobile” is all about accessibility; and a big part of that is how quickly your content shows up.
The faster a website loads, the quicker visitors can access the content, plus it helps with SEO, too.
When assessing website speed, we prefer to use GTmetrix — it pulls from several sources, giving you a wealth of data all on one screen.
Issues that can have a negative affect on your site’s load time can be:
- Large image sizes
- Query strings
- Browser cashing
- Bad requests
If you ever hear anyone say, “you just need to build a responsive website,” you’ll know there’s far more to it than that! A lot of behind-the-scenes coding work needs to occur for effective RWD.
Keeping It Simple
Last — but certainly not least — we like to keep it simple. Especially with professional services websites: the over-arching goal is to generate leads; so we build the website that delivers on that goal.
We don’t believe in focusing on the latest design trends or snazzy techniques that don’t support the website’s ultimate purpose.
Our legal clients know what they need in order to be successful — so we start with the main goal of the website and work backwards from there. There’s no need to make web design harder than it needs to be; we simply build the site our client needs to make their business flourish.
Not for nothing: extravagance is overkill.
Every law firm is different — even within the same practice areas — so we realize the cookie-cutter website approach doesn’t work! If our client needs a custom site, we build it to their standards. If, on the other hand, they don’t need to go all-out, then we use a clean, simple design that will work well for them.
Long story short: we don’t design ginormous, custom websites with tons of dazzling functionality for our clients if all they need is a straightforward, effective web theme to get the job done.
The Conclusion: Design It Correctly
Every web marketing client of ours has a need that we can help with — so that’s what we do!
We know all of our law firm clients want a website that not only brings in quality leads, but is also helpful to their existing clientele. And, of course, we also have to build in their branding to make it their own.
With that in mind, we focus on designing websites that integrate good user experience, prominent contact information, relevant content and the capacity to be easy-to-use on any device.
And, above all that: we like to keep it simple.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
~ Leonardo da Vinci
Analytics might outline a website’s performance and efficacy…
…but ultimately it’s our clients who tell us love what we’ve designed for them — and those are accolades we love receiving!