This is the second post in a series about Logical Fallacies in Online Law Firm Marketing. For links to the other posts in this series, refer to the series introduction, “Logical Fallacies in Online Marketing.”
The idea that driving more traffic to your law firm website will inherently drive more business to your law firm seems to make sense at a glance. But the fact of the matter is that, though attracting more qualified traffic to your site will give you more at-bats during which you will have the opportunity to convert those website visitors to paying clients, there is no guarantee that more visitors to your law firm website will automatically equate to more business for your law firm.
Website visitors who fit the descriptions of your established client personas could well become clients for your firm, but the burden of converting those clients falls almost squarely on the quality of your website content. Build trust with those visitors and perhaps they’ll reach out for a consultation. Fail to establish your expertise or to form a connection with those visitors, though, and it’s unlikely that they will pursue taking the attorney-client relationship with you any further.
Traffic to your site from unqualified individuals — including your friends and family who visit your site out of curiosity, those who do not live in your geographic region of practice, those not facing a legal problem addressed by your area(s) of practice, or those who cannot afford your services, etc. — do not even present an opportunity for conversion. Attracting additional unqualified web traffic to your site is not going to help your firm bring in more clients. For this reason, you will want to make sure that the content on your law firm website is consistently targeting your potential clients, and that you are not simply aiming to attract traffic to your law firm website indiscriminately.
There are a number of reasons why a spike in traffic to your law firm website may not translate directly to a spike in business for your law firm. The rest of this post is dedicated to outlining some of those reasons.
Is Your Law Firm Website Content Directed Away From Your Target Audience?
It is important to keep your target audience in mind when composing content for your law firm website. This means consistently writing content that is intended for your potential clients, and not for some other undefined subset of the population. For this reason, it is a good idea to consider creating one or more client personas to help you keep your potential clients top of mind as you write.
General interest stories that are trending in the news at a particular time are usually intended for a general audience. Content on your law firm website, however, should be written for individuals in the region where you practice who are looking for information about legal issues related to your specific area of practice.
Writing general interest stories for a general audience is not likely to attract attention from those looking for representation by an attorney in your particular area and region of practice. Similarly, attracting traffic to your website from across the country, the world, or from any region other than where your potential clients live is probably not going to help you beef-up your client list, either.
Does Your Law Firm Website Content Veer Off Message?
Writing about high-profile cases from the other side of the table will probably not help you to attract clients.
If you are a criminal defense attorney who handles cases involving sex crimes, for instance, it is likely not going to be in the best interest of your law firm to write a post about a celebrity accused of sexual harassment that makes the accused sound indefensible, or that otherwise seems biased in favor of the accuser. In fact, writing in such a way could cause your potential clients to feel alienated and might actually lead them to seek representation from one of your competitors.
Similarly, if you are a DUI defense attorney, it would probably not be a good idea to write from a prosecutorial perspective when analyzing a high-profile DUI case. But when attorneys hire content writers that are unfamiliar with their employer’s area of practice, it is not uncommon to see such content written directly from other news stories, without consideration for the firm’s intended audience.
Writing in language that is beyond the scope of your potential clients’ comprehension — such as writing content that is heavy on legal jargon or is intended to be read by other attorneys — can also fail to convert potential clients when those potential clients do not have a legal background.
Unless your law firm depends on referrals for a significant portion of its client acquisition efforts, the content on your law firm website should be written for consumption by your potential clients. If most of your firm’s business comes from referrals made by other attorneys, however, then your content should focus on other lawyers as the target audience for that content, as opposed to targeting your potential clients directly.
Is Your Website Content Directed Toward the Geographic Region Where You Practice?
Since laws vary from state to state, unless you are able to connect or contrast the laws in your region of practice to those in the region you are writing about, it is unlikely that a general interest story about a high profile case outside of your region of practice will positively influence your ability to attract new clients to your law firm. If you practice in Texas, for example, your potential clients are not likely to be interested in how legal situations are handled in California or New York, unless you are able to connect the dots between the laws in those states and the situations faced by your potential clients.
However, attorneys shouldn’t be dissuaded from writing about the law outside of the geographic region where they practice: if you are able to give solid analysis about a celebrity case, or about the law in other jurisdictions, and then relate it back to something relevant in your jurisdiction, it can signal to a potential client that you are intelligent and well-versed in your practice area(s). This can help to establish trust with that potential client and boost their confidence in your ability to represent them.
An analysis of a high-profile case (or change in the law) that caters to your intended audience may well lead potential clients to call your firm. It could also lead to other opportunities to appear in the press, which could help boost public awareness of your practice, and could therefore help to drive more qualified traffic to your firm’s website.
If you are going to discuss a topic or case outside of your jurisdiction, try to add a local focus that helps readers in your geographic area connect with what you write.
Other Reasons Your Content May Not Be Converting Website Visitors to Clients
Not all law firm website traffic is created equal. Traffic generated by pay-per-click ads (PPCs), for instance, can come from qualified leads, but it can also occur as a result of clicks by friends and family members, inadvertent clicks on your ads by unqualified internet users, or even by “click fraud” committed by your competitors to deliberately drive up your marketing costs. Still, those “leads” will all cost the same, whether they are coming from real potential clients or from some other source.
It’s also possible for attorneys to attract plenty of qualified traffic to their sites and still fail to convince potential clients to hire them for representation. If the content on your site is off message, is too general, or otherwise fails to engage and build trust with your potential clients (as a result of poor navigation, unappealing website design, etc.), it will not matter how many potential clients find your site if the content of that site fails to build trust with those potential clients.
Focus Your Content Creation Efforts on the Needs of Your Clients
Inevitably, not all traffic that comes to your site will come from qualified leads. It is for this reason that website traffic alone is not a sufficient indicator of the success of your online marketing efforts. Rather, attorneys should focus on the number of clients they are able to add as a result of their content more so than simply looking at the number of people viewing that content. When it comes to law firm marketing, traffic for traffic’s sake is meaningless. In the end, it’s the conversions from potential client to actual client that count.
When you focus on the needs of your potential clients (the questions they will ask and want answered, the language they are likely to use to search for those answers, etc.), the content you produce may reach a smaller audience, but it will be much more likely to drive qualified potential clients to your law firm website. And the more potential clients can find you online, the more opportunities you will have to convert them to actual clients.