By Mike Chapman, Founder and CEO of Indie Ridge Legal
THE legal sector is notoriously behind when it comes to its digital offering. In a recent survey of the top 100 law firms, only one had ‘excellent’ website speed on mobiles, while 66% had poor loading speed, a major impediment on how much visibility they get on Google.
Unlike other industries that have had a leg in the digital world pre-pandemic, the bias for law firms has always been about having an excellent physical presence (i.e. great offices). But now, the challenge is more than developing an online presence that matches the physical. Planning and executing a digital growth strategy is an unwanted burden on fee earners, whose focus, very rightly, is on billable hours. Something like writing thought-leadership content, which more and more law firms realise is critical to standing out, takes time and is often delayed in a bottleneck of various gatekeepers.
Differentiating from competition
The current battle for law firms is more significant than getting found online: it’s a battle to differentiate from the competition, retain clients and talent and somehow increase client referrals, all while managing a heavy workload. While COVID directly changed things for law firms, perhaps the most significant change was on the side of their clients. A stat by Gartner revealed that 83% of B2B purchasing decisions happen before clients engage with you. And how do they form that decision? They read everything about you online. Even if it’s a referral, you can be sure that potential clients will be checking your website. And another shocking stat? They’ll form an opinion about it in 0.05 seconds.
The good news is that a 2022 Bellwether report found that for 33% of law firms web development is high on the agenda and 36% of law firms say they plan to increase their investments in tech in the near future. Yet when Bellwether asked law firms what was stopping them from implementation, the most prominent reasons were the lack of time (52%), technical expertise (46%), understanding (36%), and budget (35%).
A clear, easy-to-navigate website that showcases your values and expertise won’t just impress your existing clients, it will attract new enquiries from the right type of client. We’ve compiled a list of our recommended must-haves to help you improve your website.
1. Professionally designed branding, including your logo, colour scheme, and visuals, set you apart and distinguish you from your competitors
2. Your home page or landing page needs to have a headline that captures attention and resonates by addressing your visitors’ pain points first, e.g. feel supported, not overwhelmed; solve conflict with expert legal support; conflict resolution: get the support you need; start building your property portfolio: legal support from our experts
3. Clearly state your value proposition such as what makes you stand out from the competition, how will you help your visitors and convert them into clients? Make it clear what positive impact you will have
4. Include key areas like services and areas of practice you specialise in, testimonials/case studies, who you all are, about your business, FAQs, any published works, achievements, awards and ratings
5. Ensure your navigation is easy to use, your pages have fast loading times, and your website is mobile-friendly and accessible
6. Optimise your website for search engines like Google and Bing to improve your ranking and discoverability
7. Include enough information for people to action contact with you but not too much that they are overwhelmed – a great hint here is ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ and ‘white space sells’
8. Your tone of voice is key to resonating with your visitors – be inclusive, welcoming and helpful. Have a one-on-one conversation with your visitor rather than talking to them in the third person – show them you are client-centric. Avoid using too much legal jargon. Think about who your visitors are. If a layperson, use simpler, more concise language
9. Use channels like your social media and a blog to share helpful resources to offer more value and support to your visitors
10. Make use of your blog but ensure you are consistent when you publish a post – search engines like consistency, and so do social media channels. Match your blog schedule with your internal resource capacity, and commit to what is actually achievable – e.g. publish a blog post once a month on a Tuesday. Topic ideas include trending legal topics – especially in your expertise, thought leadership, and industry guest experts well placed to complement your offering
11. Always have a strong call to action – keep it clear and short so people can click through to a form, a chat box or your contact page – make it easy for them, but in a way you can measure the number of clicks etc., and your return on investment for your marketing activities
12. Really think about the visual imagery, and don’t forget to add alt text to all your images to improve accessibility – search engines like this too. Avoid the bulk standard stock photography – scales, cityscapes etc.
About the author
Mike co-founded Indie Ridge, a digital agency specialising in developing high-performance JamStack websites. He is an expert on digital growth and is experienced in managing rapidly expanding organisations. Previously, he co-founded the United Kingdom’s foremost staffing provider for the supported housing sector and, at the age of 27, the largest DVD archiving organisation in Europe.
Indie Ridge is an award-winning digital agency with its headquarters in London. Its mission is to help forward-thinking law firms show off their individual and firm-wide knowledge online, making them the best choice for both clients and talent.