I spend a lot of time talking to lawyers about the Internet. Quite often, usually at our first meeting, I will hear the comment: “We don’t get any business at all from the internet”. This is usually said in one of two ways; with pride or as a lament. Those who talk with pride believe their reputation alone brings them work, and thus they have no need of ‘internet work’. Those who speak with despair talk of their website never serving up business opportunities, either through not being prominent online or the site being nothing more than an online brochure, which doesn’t in any way articulate their expertise and service offering.
The common link underlying these two viewpoints is that they either don’t see or utilise their websites as windows into their business.
In the digital age, the internet features in nearly all of our purchases of goods and services. So when a friend provides a glowing recommendation about a business, what are we likely to do? We might just take a contact number and call the person or business. However, in ever increasing numbers, we’re choosing a different approach: even when we trust our friend dearly, we investigate the business online. The ‘customer journey’ prior to purchasing or making contact almost always involves an initial online assessment.
The likelihood is that we will first go to the website of the recommended business. What will the prospective customer mainly be hoping to see?
• A site with a modern design, that is easy to navigate and responsive so that it works well on the device that is being used to view it, e.g. smartphone, tablet, laptop. If it isn’t, the visitor will quickly leave.
• A site that is up to date, that looks alive. If the site lacks vibrancy, prospective customers will think the business is possibly the same.
• A site with engaging, valuable content – both written and, increasingly, video. Visitors expect increasingly sophisticated content which really helps them understand their own position and how the business can help.
• A site that shows a confident business which has a clear brand and values. We all want to deal with businesses which have a clear identity, approach and purpose.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but what is clear is that when visiting websites, the online visitor is assessing every aspect of the online presence trying to answer one question - “Are these the right people for me to choose?” They are looking for trust.
So, when a law firm receives a call from a new potential client, the internet has played a part. Both proud lawyer and the despairing lawyer mentioned above get clients from the internet, whether they know it or not – if they receive a call at all, it is likely that their online presence has helped them win an opportunity.
What is terrifying though, is the number of times that the call might never have come through because the potential customer didn’t call after their online ‘investigation’ – the online presence didn’t convince the potential customer to get in touch.
Clearly, making sure your online presence convinces customers you are the right law firm for them is a wise thing to do. By ensuring your site provides a compelling case to instruct your firm means that more and more clients will contact you, whether they have arrived on your site after a recommendation from a friend or have found you through making a Google search for the types of services you offer.
Failing to do so in the internet age means that more and more people simply won’t get in touch – even if you are actually brilliant atwhat you do. The experience people have when they look at your website is the digital equivalent of looking in a physical shop window and if your shop window doesn’t display your goods effectively, customers will quickly move on to the next one that does.
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