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Speak to client needs by turning features into benefits

benefitsAttorney marketing is tricky in many ways. You must sell a service that only a certain percentage of the population will ever need, and you do not have the same ability to manufacture demand as large retail companies like Nike or Apple. Attorneys are also restricted in many different ways by a variety of recommendations unique to each state bar’s interpretation of best marketing practices. Lawyers must even approach marketing differently than other service providers who face fewer constraints on they ways in which they can present themselves to the public.

However, attorneys can learn from traditional retail marketing in one very important way: The predominant message of successful campaigns is a focus on benefits rather than features. This is true of top national brands that may not mention a product at all until the end of a spot to local businesses. A commercial for a landscape architect will not showcase (more…)

Take a closer look at how people are interacting with your website

Much of the practice of search marketing is centered around getting people to your website. Having a diverse collection of links pointing to your site and ranking well in search engine results should increase the number of people visiting your pages. But what happens once those visitors arrive at your website. Are they staying? Do they read your articles or just scan your pages? Are they contacting you?

Keeping users engaged on your website has two main benefits. First, the longer they are on your site, the more likely they are to convert. If people looking for information on legal services find a wealth of it on your pages, they are more apt to trust you and contact you. And the more engaged visitors become with your content, the more likely they are to remember you and recommend your site to others. You may not even be aware of it, but you (more…)

Five Things the Most Effective Websites Have in Common

Law firms may not want to think of themselves as small businesses, but competing for new clients increasingly requires the implementation of business strategies, from law firm practice management to holistic marketing plans. As traditional methods of attorney marketing continue to move toward obsolescence, online marketing efforts are taking a larger and larger share of marketing dollars. Because of this, your website must be effective.

MarketingProfs published a provocatively titled article this week, claiming that most small and medium business websites will fail. Small and medium businesses (SMBs), the article claims, are not as prepared to face the reality of competing online as they should be by this point in the life of the Internet. Their analysis is based largely on data drawn from vSplash’s SMB DigitalScape, which reveals some surprising facts about small and medium business websites, including:

  • 93.3% are not mobile-compatible
  • 80.5% contain no links to social media
  • 60% have no phone number (more…)

Attorneys recognize the value of simplicity in design

One of the more well-documented design trends of this year is a move toward more simple website layouts. Designers are removing clutter, utilizing larger elements, paring down navigation to the essentials and creating user experiences that are less busy and more intuitive. Simplicity is both visually appealing and increasingly necessary as firms strive to make content accessible to the widest audience on the greatest number of devices possible.

An aspect of simple design that is growing more popular among lawyers is the use of one dominant image, above the scroll, on attorney websites. This is a departure from the practice of throwing as much information at the visitor as possible, and it is rooted in the fact that people are better able to make decisions when faced with a limited number of choices. Firms are recognizing that while practice area information must be easily accessible, it does not have to occupy all (more…)

Featured website illustrates how to create designs that last

This month’s featured website is businessaviationcounsel.com, which was designed for aviation transaction attorney Stewart H. Lapayowker. Mr. Lapayowker’s site is being highlighted due to a combination of its layout, look and feel, and longevity. This project was completed in 2009, and aside from one programming update necessary to remove an outdated Flash-based menu, it has remained relevant without the need for a design overhaul for the last four years. (The fact that the design did not need to be modified to remove the Flash is a testament to the flexibility of HTML 5.)

What is it about this particular design that has given it a sense of timelessness? What keeps it from feeling dated after almost four years – an eternity in Internet years? Several features have contributed to the site’s success, including the use of imagery, structure and organization of information.

Background image: The large format background image was, (more…)

Will Responsive Design Work for Your Website?

From a designer’s perspective, responsive website design is beautiful. It is simple: one site, many devices. With a responsive design, your site will transition seamlessly from desktop to mobile without the need for distinct urls. In addition, responsive designs often emphasize white space and large elements, giving sites room to breathe at all sizes. And, the consistency offered by employing responsive design is a valuable brand-building tool, since people will always be interacting with the same look and feel, no matter how they access a website.

With mobile internet usage expected to overtake desktop usage within the next few years, most firms interested in SEO are also interested in mobile-friendly websites. In particular, having a site that functions properly on a mobile device is critical to local search marketing efforts. More and more, people are just as likely – if not more so – to perform a local search on (more…)

How much your firm’s SEO rankings would cost in PPC

Law firms often look at their SEO investment in terms of increased rankings, web leads, phone calls, and other measurable improvements. But there is another way to look at your SEO investment, the pay-per-click value.

The pay-per-click (PPC) value looks at these elements:

1) Your search engine rankings in Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

2) The cost-per-click (CPC) for those keywords at their current position (i.e., if the website is ranked number five for “Boston divorce lawyer,” the CPC would be based on a sponsored listing at position five). That is calculated for all three search engines.

3) The amount of money it would cost to run ads 24/7 on all three search engines with no daily maximum. This is essentially the level of exposure you are receiving with your search engine placement.

We ran a report on a small handful of websites in various practice areas and cities to show a comparison of what (more…)

Spec work: Free up front but bad for your bottom line

Spec work is the practice of performing a task for free – in this case design work – with the expectation that the initial offering will eventually lead to some sort of payment. It may or may not. People who request spec work are asking to receive materials, such as website layouts or logos, with the understanding that they will pay for the designs only if they are happy with the work.

Some sites specialize in convincing designers to perform spec work by offering “contests” in which some lucky winner will be chosen to be paid for their logo or other design. Every unlucky non-winner simply gave away their time and expertise for free.

Asking for spec work is like walking into a bakery, eating five different pastries and then deciding whether or not you want to pay for any of them. The proprietor would not allow it. Or, to make (more…)

Too many keywords are keeping your law firm down

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Creating a Sitemap for Your Law Firm’s Website

Since content is one of the most important aspects of your website, it is time to do some planning. For the sake of this demonstration, we are going to use the fictional law firm of Smith & White, divorce lawyers in Boston.

Decide on the type of general overview page you want to use – for example, “About Us,” “Attorney Profile,” or “Firm Profile.” The “About Us” or “Firm Overview” page is a general overview of your law firm. If you are a solo practitioner, you will want to substitute this page for an “Attorney Profile” page. If you have more than one attorney, it is appropriate to include an “About Us/Firm Profile” page as well as individual attorney profile pages.

Like anything else, your website needs a plan. So let’s start by creating a preliminary content sitemap. The list is organized by the level of importance, as if it was going to (more…)