Your website is up, and it includes all the right search terms and accurate descriptions of your practice areas and expertise in them. But once prospective clients find your website, do they contact your office?
In a recent study on how legal consumers find and hire lawyers, how prospective clients view the firm’s or lawyer’s “soft skills” mattered. So they may judge a firm’s soft skills by how quickly they received a reply to their first email or whether the person they spoke to on the phone sounded kind.
Even before a prospective client makes that first contact with your office, you have an opportunity to win them over as an empathetic professional who can – and wants – to help them. A regularly updated blog on your website, profiles on social media and online directories, and client reviews will all contribute to a positive online image. As the study, The Legal Consumer’s Journey, states, “Legal consumers hire attorneys to fix a problem. It’s only sensible that they often choose the attorney who appears to care about that problem.”
Follow these three steps to improve your online persona to promote your soft skills:
- Start a blog (if you already have one, keep it up to date)— Blogging may sound overwhelming, but you if you come up with topics relevant to your practice area(s), you’re off to a good start. Next, think of three or four tips for each topic. These might include how to know when it’s time to consult an attorney, common mistakes people make, or ways clients can protect themselves. You now have outlines for five posts, which can be anywhere between 300 and 900 words long. Stockpile four or more, then post them every few weeks on your site. That gives you three or four months to collect other ideas from news events such as a local construction accident if workers’ comp is one of your practice areas or a story about tax legislation if you’re a tax or business attorney. Don’t have time to start or update your blog? Consider hiring a reputable legal writer or service to do it for you.
- Ask for client reviews—when you obtain a favorable result, your client is typically grateful and happy to see the case come to a successful conclusion. That is the moment to ask them to post a review on one or more sites, including Avvo.com, Lawyers.com and even Yelp. Some clients are on social media platforms, such as Facebook, and will be willing to post a positive review on several sites while others may feel more comfortable writing one review on a legal site. For more tips on encouraging client reviews, read our post on exactly this topic.
- Leverage social media—just because you have a LinkedIn page doesn’t mean you’re getting the most out of it with a static profile. Same with your profile on legal sites. On LinkedIn, post relevant articles you find online. These could be locally relevant news events or an article written by another lawyer in your practice area (but who doesn’t compete in your geographic area!) On legal and other sites that seek answers from professionals, offer your answer to a consumer’s posted question. Participating online in your area of practice shows prospective clients and other lawyers who may one day refer cases to you that you are engaged and care about your practice focus. You might spend 20 minutes crafting a well-written answer to a legal question, but your picture and name will appear every time someone looks up that topic in perpetuity. Imagine the exposure to consumers searching for legal help if you answered three or four questions in a month!
Filling your website with content the first time is hard enough, so maintaining a blog, posting on social media and asking clients to write reviews may seem like a lot. But incorporating little changes into your routine can make a big difference. Get in the habit of collecting ideas for social and blog posts. Check out your competition’s online blogs or those of attorneys in other towns in your area of practice. Keep a notebook with ideas, save links as you see relevant articles online and make asking client reviews part of your standard closing email. Outsource the tasks you simply don’t have time for, such as writing blog posts, or pass them on to junior associates, if you have them. Once you have a plan and start making new habits, you’ll quickly see growth in your caseload