Lawyers and law firms, take note: you need online content more than almost every other person trying to market their expertise.
Because very few people trust lawyers.
According to a Princeton University study carried out by Susan Fiske and Cydney Dupree, lawyers – despite working in a notable and envied profession – are frequently regarded as being “cold”, “untrustworthy”, and people often feel mixed emotions of both admiration and resentment when thinking of them.
As difficult as this may be to hear, it’s important to understand how current and potential clients may be feeling when trying to understand and connect with your personal or firm’s “brand”. One of the best and also easiest ways to inject warmth and care, and to win the trust of audiences unfamiliar with you or your firm, is by writing to them.
Don’t panic though, I’m not suggesting you write letters or emails to every one of your potential prospects. Rather, I am encouraging you to add valuable and relatable content to your website.
There can be little argument that most of your potential clients will look for you online, even if they have received a recommendation from a friend or relative. And what they find on your website will without doubt influence their decision of whether to pick up the phone to call you, or to email an enquiry to your office.
But simply adding what YOU want to tell people (sadly for many law firms, this is often how great they are….) you should instead focus more on what your site visitors want to find there.
Here are some tips to guide you:
Step 1: Be Helpful
Create content that will educate and empower those who are reading your content. As much as you may want to add more clients to your list, interesting and helpful content that walks a reader through what they need to do to tackle a legal situation will help you gain their trust. Giving top-line answers to often-asked questions is a good way to start.
If you offer free initial consultations, providing such answers via a blog post or practice area page is a much better use of your time: write it once and answer the question that potentially 100 others may put to you. It will likely filter out genuine clients from time-wasters, while at the same time show you as a knowledgeable and caring legal professional.
Step 2: Focus on Format
With so much information online information-seekers often need to weigh through so much information before they get what they want. As a result, online readers have become skimmers – they rarely read every word in the first instance. They will scan a page before deciding whether it contains the information they need, and if they determine that it does, they will go back to read the detail.
So your content should be easy to scan so that they can find that information, and have a clear call-to-action that tells them what their steps are and how to contact you.
Easily scannable information is:
- Mobile friendly (it can be easily read on handheld devices)
- Includes engaging headlines and subheadings
- Has short sentences and paragraphs (creating white space on a page)
- Includes bulleted lists in the content (like this)
- Highlights important words or phrases
- Incorporates graphics
Step 3: Write To Your Audience
One big mistake that I often see on law firm websites is the language used. I’m not sure whether using legalese is meant to impress their colleagues and peers, or they think it will make them seem more knowledgeable. But what it does do is disconnect from their target audience: the man in the street. It is so very important to remember you readership, and speak to them in terms they will understand. If, after reading your website content, they are more confused than when they started, they may feel too intimidated to pick up the phone.
Step 4: Write Relevant Content
Put yourself in the shoes of those who would be looking for you online. What are their issues? What are their worries or concerns? This will differ from what you specialise in, and writing content that supports your legal niche will elevate you in that one specific area in your community and possible throughout the entire country.
Be sure to keep your finger on the pulse and to write content based on current events or stories in the news. Both nationwide and local stories are appreciated by your readership, and they will want your expert opinion on any and all matters related to your legal experience or firm.
If your website content isn’t delivering the results you want, I invite you to contact me for a complimentary content review which should point you in the right direction.