All posts by Jo

Should Lawyers Buy .law Domains?

If you are considering a website or a blog to showcase your legal services and expertise, there are many different Top Level Domains (TLD) to choose from:

  • .com
  • .gov
  • .org
  • .law

This article will examine whether lawyers should buy .law domain and briefly review a few methods to succeed online.

What are Top Level Domains (TLD)?

Without going too in depth about the concept of domain names, here’s a simplified version of what domain names are.

Domain names are the important piece of information that provides a readable internet address of your website. The ending of the domain name is what is known as a Top Level Domain with the most common being .com, .org, and .net.

Overall, there are more than 1000 TLDs available.

Is There Any Significance In Having A .law Domain Name?

Having a TLD can be useful in marketing, search engines, and website optimization. When you consider the most common TLDs like .com, .edu, and .gov, these are recognizable, popular, and rank well courtesy of their authority.

They is some speculation that having these TLDs do not provide measurable proof that you will get ranked higher (such as with .edu and .gov domains).

Also, according to Matt Cutts, new TLDs, like .law, might not receive a boost in the search rankings. Your .law domain will not be treated much differently than other domain names already available.

“Sorry, but that’s just not true, and as an engineer in the search quality team at Google, I feel the need to debunk this misconception. Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.”

While Google may not rank a .law domain higher, from a personal point of view, there is significant value to be considered.

What Are The Benefits Of A .law Domain Name?

From a branding point of view, having a .law domain allows you to position yourself as a professional and a figure of authority.

Anyone who registers a new .law domain, must provide a phone number from the licensing of your agency or firm.

Having to go through this additional step during the registration process creates a trust factor for those searching for you.

Buying a .law domain name will provide an additional layer of credibility courtesy of the verification process required.

This is a summary of some the benefits you’ll receive when you buy a .law domain:

  • Brandable & Authority. Using this TLD allows you to create a strong and memorable brand. A .law domain can be descriptive and capture the core of your practice. When deciding on your domain name, consider using your own name, area of practice, or your target market.
    • Examples:law, NewYorkCity.law, StultzandBrinks.law, jones.law
  • Verified & Trusted. When you register your .law domain, you become verified and trusted by those seeking your services online. Only qualified lawyers can apply for this domain. Once approved, you will have a branded and trustworthy domain surrounding your legal profession.
  • Competitive & Professional. Your new .law domain will stand out amongst others. The .law is exclusive to lawyers and provides a distinct and official finish to your online presence.

If You Already Have Another Domain Name, Should You Transfer To A .law Domain?

As mentioned before, there may not be any considerable boost to your rankings in the search engines. If you already using a domain and it is working well, you may not want to transfer your website to the .law domain.

Consider .law as an investment in your practice but only if you don’t have a domain name already. When you transfer a website over to a new domain, you may lose traffic and potential clients.

Getting a new .law domain is an ideal choice for those starting a new website.

Aside From A .law Domain, How Can Lawyers Succeed Online?

A domain name is only one of many factors to consider when putting your law practice online.

One of the most critical areas of getting noticed and finding new clients comes from the content you provide.

Here’s a few things you may want to keep in mind:

  • Offer meaningful, relevant and original content. Most search engines approve of original content. However, they should be written in a way that’s natural and connects with your target audience.
  • Create backlinks on authority sites. When you have published quality content, try to get your site linked with .edu or .gov sites as these have authority. Read law firm SEO Tips hereNote: Never buy backlinks — you could be penalized.

As an authority on the web and a professional of law, you have a responsibility to provide quality content that is relevant and informative to your visitors.

This update from John Mueller on Google’s Webmaster Central makes it clear that content is crucial and the domain name is not given “artificial advantage in search.”

So, Should Lawyers Buy A .law Domain?

Getting a .law domain could be the strategic edge you need to have a competitive advantage online.

However, while a TLD like .law adds a professional touch your online service, providing good content that follows Google’s recommended practices will be much more powerful.

If you are preparing to settle on a .law domain name, remember to incorporate this into your website development:

  1. Publish high quality, original content on your site
  2. Provide relevant content to your potential clients and targeted audience
  3. Avoid SEO practices that could penalize your website (i.e. keyword stuffing, purchasing links, or other Google violations)

Achieving this will lead you to an authority site on the internet especially if you’re considering starting a blog.

What’s Better, In-Person Or Phone Consultations?

In today’s tech driven world, there is significant comfort and convenience using instant messaging. Since legal advice is not likely to be delivered in this way, what’s better, in-person or phone consultations?

There’s no denying that in-person consultations lead to stronger rapport, deeper connections, and easier conflict resolution. However, some people are just too busy to put aside a few hours to receive a consultation on the far end of town.

Which method will you use?

Ease of hiring an attorney

Almost everyone is looking for the quickest and safest route that answers their problems. Having access to your services can likely be best achieved by providing a place to find you online.

Your website may be the key place where you find new clients. Knowing precisely what you can offer (in-person or phone consultations) will make the ease of hiring an attorney that much simpler.

Also, if you have started a blog, you have likely already built a relationship with your prospective client and their phone call or message to schedule a consultation is the next step forward.

Overview Of Phone Consultations

There is a clear convenience for both you and your client when it comes to phone consultations. Whether you have a website scheduling appointments or a staff member taking your calls, providing this style of consultation may free up more of your time which you can devote to more prospective clients.

Consider the following:

  1. Will providing phone consultations affect the number of clients you receive compared to meeting in-person?
  2. Will providing phone consultations allow you to help more people?
  3. Will providing phone consultations led to more successful outcomes?

Phone consultations have the ability to start a relationship. There is some commitment to both your service and their legal needs that will be discussed over the phone.

Whether in-person consultations build stronger rapport or not, people seeking a phone consultations are looking for a solution to their problems and are likely unwilling to wait any longer to get that.

Features & Benefits:

  • Flexibility in scheduling for both you and your client
  • Provide urgent solutions for some clients
  • Attract more clients who don’t want to/can’t meet in-person
  • Convenient for clients with busy schedules
  • Expand your reach for legal services

Overview Of In-Person Consultations

There are somethings that can never be replaced by technology and that’s the level of intimacy that comes from face-to-face human connections.

Regardless of whether you decide to offer phone consultations or not, there will always be some people seeking to speak with you in person.

Perhaps this is your selling feature. You have established yourself as a respectable and impressive performing firm and clients are eager to walk in to sit in your offices to get your advice.

It could be the handshake, the assurance of your character, or simply the process of entering into your office that makes things “feel official.”

In-person consultations are irreplaceable.

In person consultations can give your clients the opportunity to engage in high stakes conversations. If you are addressing sensitive topics, providing this style of consultation is advised.

In general, there are simply some topics that should not be addressed over the phone. Any cases involved emotional situations like divorces, children, and death requires that human element to be handled well.

Features & Benefits:

  • Comfort in disclosing sensitive information (i.e. emotional cases involving children)
  • Access to traditional styles of consultations
  • Generally, more practical for elders (may have problems hearing over the phone)
  • More security and privacy for corporate clients

Consider Whether An In-Person Or Phone Consultation Is Right For You

If you are marketing your legal services well, you may be getting 20 to 50 requests for consultations per month. Perhaps you’re getting more and screening hundreds of calls and concerns.

Depending on the size of your law firm (i.e. individual practice vs. group of associates) you may or may not be able to handle the amount of consultations requests.

If you’re a small law firm, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Do you have the extra hours (100+) to provide all these consultations this month?
  2. Does your staff have the additional hours to handle the logistics (i.e. scheduling consultations, following up with those who don’t show up, etc.)?
  3. If needed, are you willing to put in the extra hours — working into the evening and weekends?
  4. How successful are you in these consultations? How often do they lead to your legal support?

If you have a high number of requests for in-person consultation, this can take up a significant amount of your time. If you have a website set up and it is capable of making bookings, you can save yourself a lot of personal struggles.

Investing in a lawyer website may be an ideal choice as it can alleviate the weight of calls coming in to request in-person consultations and direct prospective clients to book a phone consultation at their convenience.

Contrasting Consultation Styles

What if phone consultations led to a lower no-show rate? Convenience is key when people are seeking answers to their problems. Being able to get an answer over the phone rather than wait for an uncertain amount of time is what many people are looking for. People don’t want to wait.

This demand for immediacy can eliminate the need to “build rapport” for a relationship to build between client and attorney. The urgency some people are facing leads to people making faster decisions based on other sources (i.e. your website, reviews, etc.).

Imagine this, your legal office is empty. Can you be trusted to take on their case if you don’t have any clients that keep you busy? Your perspectives may not commit to you because you don’t appear to be very busy. And, if you aren’t busy, perhaps they may think that you are not very good.

However, if you are offering more phone consultations than in-person, it would be easy to believe that previous presumption.

So how should you value your time?

Phone consultations should be limited to lower-stake cases. These are great for clients who don’t want or need an in person conversation and they are much more flexible with their time.

What Does Research Say About Using In-Person Or Phone Consultations

Research by Heather Hewitt, Joseph Gafaranga, and Brian McKinstry examined the differences in consulting methods used by doctors: in-person or phone consultations.

They interviewed 18 professional medical practitioners and 65 of their patients.

Their results showed that phone consultations are capable of dealing with smaller, single issues and concerns. Whereas in-person consultations led to many more problems to deal with and discuss.

The phone consultations tended to be shorter while in-person consultations led to periods of silence. This research article suggests that it is during those moments of silence that new topics and problems are introduced.

One final point that was discovered, in-person consultations tend to elicit more concerns and questions from the doctor and phone consultations were more direct and focused at solving the problem at hand.

Their conclusion: Phone consultations take less time and focus on a single problem. In-person consultations involved more problem disclosure.

Knowing Your Consultation Style

So what’s going to be your style: in-person or phone consultations? There’s no right answer to this question and your decision should be based on the kinds of legal services you provide.

There are certainly some situations, such as bankruptcy and criminal defense, where providing phone consultations is the quick and easy solution for your clients.

Providing phone consultation can even give you the freedom and flexibility to work remotely.

However, the traditional in-person style is a standard in the legal world, especially for emotionally charged situations.

Whatever you decide, defining your consultation style allows you to provide legal services in a way that suits your client’s need, scheduling, and personal preference.

Should A Lawyer Have A Blog?

If you already own a website, why should a lawyer have a blog?

Nowadays, when people have a problem they immediately turn to Google and other search engines to find the answer. The way things work online, a few words or phrases are typed into the search bar and websites that best match it will show up.

For certain legal concerns, you may see searches like this:

  • Wife wants divorce
  • Can my brother sue me
  • What do I do if I get arrested?

In these situations, having a blog and writing about the legal perspective can bring more visitors to your website and potentially lead to new clients.

To achieve this, you will need to write articles with headlines like the following:

  • 7 Things You Must Do When Your Wife Wants A Divorce
  • What To Do When Your Brother (Or Family) Wants To Sue You
  • How Your Arrest Will Affect You And Your Family

Blogging is a powerful tool that takes time, commitment and a little online knowledge to make it work. Here’s a few things lawyers starting a blog should know.

Guidelines For A Lawyer’s Blog

You may not be a web designer, but there are a few things you should know if you intend to provide your thoughts, ideas, and professional advice online. A website is just like your office space: the way it is organized, the overall aesthetic, and the level of professionalism all play a part in whether people will stick around or click away.

Here are a few guidelines to consider when it comes to lawyer’s having an online blog:

  1. Create a responsive website. Many people are navigating the online world from a smart device. This means that your lawyer website has to be 100% responsive and mobile friendly. When it comes to the design elements on the page, keep it simple and keep it clean. And, don’t over complicate the language. People from all kinds of backgrounds will be reaching out to your online. Using simple, everyday language will be the best way to connect with potential clients.
  2. Have a clear way to contact you. There is a purpose to providing a website and this is amplified by adding a blog. Whenever you have visitors coming to your site, your contact information should be clear and distinct. Visitors should be able to send an email with ease or touch your number causing it to instantly dial. Reducing the level of frustrations on your website and in your blog will make the experience that much better in the palm of their hand.
  3. Educate your prospective clients. The main purpose of blogging is to exemplify your professional and answer any questions they may have. The information you provide is often the best place to begin a relationship with you. They can get to know who you are, what you offer, and how you think. Your blog is the place to build trust so that the consultation can happen without any doubts and uncertainties.
  4. Answer questions and solve problems. You might think that there is already a lot of information on the web and as a lawyer, it may be a waste of time to be blogging about it. Your competitors may be hundreds of articles ahead of you and you keep wondering why they continue to get more and more clients. Start blogging. This is an investment in your services and the easiest way to get started is by answering the most common questions your previous clients have asked you before. When people are coming to you online, they are hoping you have the answers to your problems, which the only way you can prove to them that you have it is by writing a blog.
  5. Add special offers. As a lawyer with a blog, this is a great opportunity to attract new clients. One of the best way to do this can be done by offering a free initial consultation. Inside your blog as well as on the side, you can create banners and advertisements that tell your visitors they can sign up for a risk-free, no obligation and no money consultation. Or, perhaps you are doing something special and offer flexible phone consultations.

 SEO Benefits Of Blogging

There’s a few things behind the scenes that lawyers should know about blogging. If you’re unfamiliar with how websites work and how Google shows your website to people searching you could be wasting your time blogging online.

Here’s a little summary of lawyer SEO and how a lawyer that blogs can benefit from it.

  1. More authority. There are elements of your website that determine your overall “web authority.” This is known as Domain Authority (DA) and is ranked on a 100-point-scale. Websites that provide more content will have a higher DA which boosts their rankings in the search engines.
  2. More web pages. Whenever you publish a new blog post, you are expanding the depth and details of your website. Each page URL gets indexed by Google and other search engines which increases your likelihood of being found and is supported by all other benefits found in this list.
  3. More Links. Links are an important variable that determines how well you are ranked. When you link out from your site to another authority site, Google recognizes this. However, when you link to other pages on your own website, this too is counted toward your overall ranking. Blogging gives you the chance to greatly enhance the quality of your site and give it that added boost.
  4. More trust. Many people are seeking solutions to their problems online. If you can position yourself in a way that provides online advice and trusted information, this too helps your ranking. Google tends to favor sites that give visitors trusted information that people actually need. Having a blog will provide that added trust that other websites lack.
  5. More traffic. Publishing regularly will allow you to generate significantly more traffic to your website, and ultimately, to your legal services. Google will often refer people using its search engine to sites that are active and consistently providing relevant and trusting content.
  6. More long tail keywords. Keyword stuffing (i.e. using a common keyword or phrase over and over again in an article) can lead to Google penalties. When you are blogging with quality, original content, you will end up with much more “long tail keywords” in on your website. Over time, this will increase your chances that you will be able to answer specific problems that prospective clients are seeking for online.
  7. More user experience. Google wants people to have the best user experience. To ensure this, Google expects websites to provide visitors with real answers and solutions to their problems. This will be measured by the amount of time people are spending on your website. If many people are leaving, you site is likely not the solution. However, that’s where blogging can help.
  8. More SEO. Blogging is content marketing. And, when you are blogging you are directing your content to a specific, target audience. In doing this, you are already creating the right SEO conditions to succeed online and the more you publish the more you can expect will return.

The Value Of Blogging As A Lawyer

Aside from the technical benefits your website receives with having a blog, there is considerable value when a lawyer blogs.

Take these into consideration:

  1. Save time and improves services. Imagine dealing with a client who didn’t do a background check and they continue to ask basic questions before even getting to a consultation. Having content in your blog is a quick and simple resource to redirect inquiries to the answers they are looking for. After they get the information they need, the next steps can be made with less hassle.
  2. You get noticed more. You already learned a little about the influence that Google has, however, if the information your provide is truly valuable, it’s going to be shared. When a lawyer has a blog and they can connect with the needs of people experiencing legal conflict, it’s quite common that they will share this advice with their friends and family.  Blogging allows you to share your experience and expertise as well as provide trust and support for those in a legal crisis.
  3. Perfect for advertising and announcements. Another great advantage for a lawyer to have a blog is that you can showcase your past successes. Perhaps your firm was featured in the news for a big case, or you were appointed an award in your community. Posting an update about this and sharing this online gives your website that dynamic edge and professional appeal.

There are all kinds of reasons for a lawyer to have a blog. However, as a final note, the most important reason for any lawyer to start blogging, whether you are a fresh our of law school, an experienced attorney, or a retired judge, is that you can continually develop and hone the legal skills as a lawyer.

Your Ultimate Guide to Getting More Referrals

How do I get more referrals?

Wow, what a question. It’s the single most important question you’ll ask when starting and growing your law firm.

Fortunately, I’ve got the answer. Below, I’m giving you the ultimate guide to getting quality referrals for your law firm. Even if you’re a complete beginner, here are the best tips to growing your law firm through word of mouth marketing. Let’s get started.

Network

play-stone-1237497_640Network with anybody you can get in front of. This includes fellow attorneys for sure, but also expands beyond your colleagues.

Consider networking with other small business owners in your area, too. These small business owners have access to a wide group of customers along with their own friends and family.

If you’ve niched down and offer specialized services, consider reaching out to businesses within that industry. Establish relationships with them. For example, if you specialize in prenups, you should cozy up to wedding planners. It’s a congruent relationship that makes sense.

Join groups online and in person, too. LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to start. But you can also contact your local chamber of commerce to find out about area events and social hours where you can mingle.

If the word “mingle” gives you the hives, I get it. Believe me, I get it. But if you want more clients, you’ve got to put yourself out there and be personable. Putting yourself out there is quite frankly the only way to get more exposure and earn referrals.

Here’s a list of networking tips to help you get more referrals.
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Make Customer Service a Top Priority

Even if you’re a one-person-shop, your customer service should be second to none. It doesn’t cost anything to smile, be friendly, and respond in a prompt and professional manner. And it doesn’t cost much to hire someone else to do it for you, if you find that you’re too busy to answer phones, make coffee, and meet with prospective clients.

When you make the client a priority and go out of your way to offer outstanding service, you’ll find that your current clients are more willing to recommend you to their friends and family.

Be a Referrer

It sounds counterintuitive— you want to get referrals, not give them. But there’s so much truth in the old saying, “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” If you find yourself with a client that’s not the right fit, don’t hold onto them— that’s not going to serve them or you. Instead, send them to someone who’s right for them.

This will do 3 things:

  1. It will free you up for a client that makes more sense for your law firm.
  1. It will build trust with that referred client. He may not need your services now, but he’ll definitely remember you if he needs your services in the future. Plus, you’re demonstrating that on the scale of trustworthy to money-grubbing, you’re leaning way over to the trustworthy side. You’re not just taking them on because you want the money. You’re passing them on to the right person.
  1. You will ingratiate yourself to your fellow attorney you sent the client to. Now, the attorney will be in your debt, and much more likely to send you clients, too.

Woo Your Current Clients

When you have a client, he or she is worth his weight in gold. Not only are they willing to pay you for your service, they’re also have the potential to advertise yours services to their own circle of influence.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to groom them as potential referrers.

And, not just when they’re in your office. Keep in contact with your clients throughout the year. Keep it simple and send a card to commemorate birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries. Make yourself a part of their family. This will keep you at the top of your clients’ minds, so that when the time comes, they’ll be ready to pass your name to their friends and family.

Simply Ask Your Clients

Although I recommend nurturing your clients, there’s no shame in simply asking your clients to refer you straight out. The best time to do so is after successfully rendering a service. This is the time when they’re happy with you and willing to evangelize on your behalf.

Be Specific With Your Ask

When asking for referrals, don’t be vague. Be clear about what type of client you want. For example, if you’re interested in finding musicians to represent, ask your network if they know that specific type of client.

Thank Referrers

Don’t forget to thank those who’ve referred clients to you– this way, they’ll do it again! Whether clients, fellow attorneys, or others that you’ve networked with, send them a small token of your appreciation. Food gifts (cookies, cupcakes, dave and harry pears, omaha steaks, you name it) are always great. It’s a folksy way of saying thank you.

Take Advantage of Avvo

avvo(1)Image Courtesy of Avvo

Avvo is a crucial part of marketing yourself online. As we discussed in our ultimate guide to Avvo (that you can read here), many prospects turn to Avvo to research potential attorneys. Users rely heavily on Avvo’s review system to decide which attorney is right for them.

As you see, Avvo can serve as both an advertiser and a referral source for you.

Be Social

Believe it or not, social media can work as a superstar referral agent for you. Think about it: you’ve got access to a whooping one billion members through Facebook alone.

Use paid ads to extend your reach on social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.

If you don’t want to pay for ads yet, you can still make it through organic reach on video channels like YouTube and, to a lesser extent, Vimeo. Make a video to attract clients (we show you how here), and then enjoy the influx of social referrals who would’ve never known about you otherwise.

Buy Radio and TV Spots

if you can afford it, why not go for the gusto and pay for a radio ad, a tv commercial, or both? Depending on your market, it may not be as expensive as you think. For example, a radio ad in Miami, FL may be $1500, but one in Pensacola, FL may only be $250.

Also, prices vary based on what time you’d like for the ad to run. A rush hour spot may be much more expensive than at mid-evening.

The benefits of running radio or TV ads are that you will open yourself up to your community at large. It’s another level of market saturation that can positively impact your referral efforts.

Final Thoughts

Referrals are the bread and butter of most law practices. Use these tips to build up your referral network and bring in more clients. If you’d like ongoing advice on getting clients, and growing your law firm, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

Here’s a list of networking tips to help you get more referrals.

 

Avvo For Beginners: What It Is And Why It Will Benefit Your Practice

Love it or hate it, Avvo, along with other third party lawyer review sites, is an inescapable part of the Internet landscape. Clients (past, present, and possibly imaginary) can leave reviews about your service that can either mar or bolster your law practice, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Or is there?

Like the old adage says, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. In this post, let’s discuss how you can use Avvo to attract more clients, build your brand authority, and win at life.

What is Avvo?

Avvo is a service that provides legal resources. In addition to its function as an online legal directory, Avvo makes it possible for users to review and rate attorneys.

Lawyers can easily interact with the Avvo community at large, either through Avvo’s premium-level Advisor service or through the free Q&A forum.

Avvo is one of the most popular and well respected services of its kind.

Why should I be on Avvo?

If you’re a lawyer, you’re probably on Avvo anyway. It’s suggested that 95% of all US-based attorneys are listed on Avvo– whether they want to be there or not. This is because Avvo populates its site using public information obtained from the State Bar Association.

That said, you don’t really want to leave it with just that basic information, do you? Especially since it’s free to claim your Avvo listing, why not optimize it with the type of information that will win you leads?

Check out our tips for creating a winning profile on Avvo!

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are a few other compelling reasons to claim your Avvo listing now:

+Avvo is great for SEO

If you’d like to get found via search engine (and who wouldn’t?), don’t overlook Avvo. Avvo frequently ranks on page one of search engine results for both individual and generic results, as you can see here:

avvo seo generic

avvo seo

That said, I wouldn’t recommend putting all of your eggs in the Avvo basket. You should also have a solidly built website that serves as your online hub. (We can help with that. Click here for more information.) This website should be search engine optimized and the definitive resource for your legal practice online.

However, actively maintaining a profile listing on Avvo will only help your search engine rankings, and may even drive more traffic to your website.

+Clients use the Internet for researching attorneys

While word of mouth is important, clients also turn to good ‘ole Google to find out more about an attorney before even the initial consultation. Clients don’t just look for your phone number and hours of operation online, they look for reviews, areas of expertise, and a winning smile.

This is why full representation on Avvo is a must. You need to be everywhere that your prospective clients are looking for you.

+Control the conversation

While you can’t exactly change what the reviews say about you, you can make it a two-sided conversation.

A lot of attorneys make the mistake of pretending like a bad review doesn’t exist and never responding. Ignoring an unfavorable review doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it reflects badly on you, making it look like you don’t care.

When you get actively involved on Avvo (and other review sites), you can add your response to a review, whether that review is good or bad.

When you respond, keep in mind the prospective client who will read what you’ve written. Choose words that are professional but warm, with a hint of appreciation and insight. Those are the responses that will win the argument every time compared to a “this client was horrible” type of response.

Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to Using Avvo

In order to reap the benefits of being on Avvo, you must actively participate. In fact, the more you participate, the more you can positively impact your Avvo rating. Here’s a rundown of how to use Avvo effectively:

Claim your listing right now for free, and then optimize it.

After claiming your listing, it’s time to optimize it. Be sure to subscribe to receive a list of our top tips for creating a winning Avvo profile.

avvoImage Courtesy of Avvo

Participate in Avvo’s legal Q&A section.

If you’d like to build authority and raise your profile with site visitors who are looking for answers, get involved with the legal Q&A section on Avvo.

Consider upgrading to Avvo Pro.

Use Avvo Pro to track important analytics, such as how many people are contacting you based on your Avvo listing. You’ll also receive a “Pro” sign next to your name, which indicates that you are invested in the Avvo community (quite literally).

Another benefit of Avvo Pro is the ability to remove your competitors’ ads from appearing on your listing.

Advertise with Avvo.

Speaking of showing up on a competitor’s profile, you can opt in to Avvo Advertising. This service allows you to create an advertisement for your service that pops up on another attorney’s free listing.

One of the benefits of going with Avvo advertising, aside from greater exposure, is the fact that you can also target your ads to a specific demographic.

Get as many reviews and ratings as possible.

Avvo offers two types of reviews: client and colleague. Urge your clients to leave feedback for you on Avvo after successfully rendering a service. Similarly, court peer endorsements by asking for them the same way you would on LinkedIn.

To clarify, your Avvo rating is not the same as a client review or peer endorsement. Avvo ratings are determined by how active you are within the Avvo community, along with professional achievements and other information. For a more detailed look at the differences between ratings and review, check out this post: What is the difference between the Avvo Rating, Client Reviews, and Peer Endorsements?

Join Avvo Legal Services.

Another feature that Avvo offers its customers is a fixed-fee advice session. You provide the service and Avvo works as a marketer. It’s offered only to those local to your geographic area, and it’s not available in all states.

Why should you care?

Participating in Legal Services gives you more opportunities to increase your ratings. And higher ratings means that you look better in the eyes of prospective clients.

For information about Avvo Legal Services, check out this page: Avvo Advisor.

Final Thoughts

If you’re an attorney, Avvo is an essential part of your online branding efforts. Your name’s on there whether you like it or not, so claim it and control how prospective clients are introduced to your brand.

Check out our tips for creating a winning profile on Avvo!

Your Guide to Finding the Best Topics For Your Law Firm Blog

One of the hardest things about law blogging is consistently coming up with topics that resonate with your audience.

Are you struggling to find decent topics for your blog?

Does it feel a bit like reading the tea leaves?

It doesn’t have to. In fact, today I’m going to share with you several ways to find the best topics for your blog, no divination necessary.

Would you like a list of potential topics for your legal blog? Check this out!

Know Your Clients

Understanding who your clients are and what they want most is the first step to finding relevant topics for your law blog. Your blog should serve as a resource of information for your target client. So, the first question to answer is:

Who is your target client?

You may specialize in real estate law, and more specifically landlord tenant law. If you do, come up with housing law topics that these types of clients would be most interested in. These topics may include posts on landlord rights, tenant rights, how to terminate a lease in your state, the eviction process, and/or privacy laws.

It’s tempting to make general and superficial posts that only parrot state law and not much else. However, I recommend that you challenge yourself to give a thorough treatment of each topic that you tackle in your blog. The reason is that your blog will serve as a marketer for your services. If a prospective client comes to your blog via a Google search and finds it useful and authoritative, he or she will view you as someone who:

  • Knows the law
  • Knows the problem the client is facing
  • Knows the solution

You need all of these three components to build trust with your prospective clients. By creating in depth blog posts that appeal to what your specific clients need at the moment, you’re showing them that you know who they are and what they’re going through. That’s the beauty of a blog post done right.

Not sure what type of content your target clients want to know about? Here are a few questions to help you figure it out:

  • What is the most important concern for your clients?
  • What law-related questions do they search on the Internet?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are the most common questions you get from your clients asked over and over again?

Make a list of the answers to these questions, and you’ll start to see a list of potential blog topics develop. Then, start generating blog post idea around each topic. It may help you to break each blog topic down into a series of questions. Keeping with the landlord tenant example earlier, here’s what the process may look like:

Topic:
Security Deposit

Potential Blog Posts:
Is a security deposit the same as last month’s rent?
How much can a landlord deduct from my security deposit for cleaning?
How can I dispute a security deposit deduction?
When should I expect my security deposit?

Ask Your Clients

If you already have an established audience, don’t miss the opportunity to ask them what type of content they’re most interested in. Periodically poll them to research future blog topics from the exact audience you’re hoping to reach. Use all the channels available to you to discover the learn about the topics your audience wants to learn about.

Let’s discuss where you can survey your clients, and how.

Survey Your Site Visitors

Did you know that you can ask for blog post feedback right on your site? My favorite way to do this is with a tool called SurveyMonkey, although there are plenty of other great options available. I like SurveyMonkey because the first 10 questions and 100 responses are free, and if you need more, they have an affordable monthly pricing plan, too.

With SurveyMonkey, you have the option to embed the survey on your blog, show a quick popup survey, or invite readers to participate in a longer survey.

For the purposes of idea generation, I’d recommend keeping it short. Go with the embed survey or quick popup survey.

Survey Your Email Subscribers

If you have an email list, let’s put them to work. You can send surveys along with your newsletter. Directions vary depending on your email newsletter service provider. However, if you use MailChimp, SurveyMonkey integrates perfectly.

Follow the instructions here to create and send your email subscribers a link to your survey.

Ask Your Followers on Social Media

SurveyMonkey to the rescue again!

In your survey creation dashboard, select the “Collect Responses” tab to determine how you’ll gather answers to your survey. In this case, select “Post on Social Media”. This option will give you a short link that you can post across all of your social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

surveymonkey collect responsesImage Courtesy of SurveyMonkey

What Should You Ask?

The next step is deciding what to ask. I suggest you go with a multiple choice. Ask something like, “What type of blog posts would you like to read from us in the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts!” Then, give them a choice list of between three to five blog post topics.

Analyze Which Blog Posts Do Best

Another way you can find out which blog posts resonate best with your audience is to look at the data. There are two ways to do this:

If you already have content on your blog, take a look at your blog’s analytics. Which posts are the most popular?

The second option is to discover which blog posts do well for your competitors. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find out which posts are the most shared. Search for a keyword phrase related to the topics you feel most qualified to write about. In this example, I’ll use the phrase “landlord tenant law”.

buzzsumo landlord tenantImage Courtesy of BuzzSumo

With BuzzSumo, you can narrow the search field by date, such as past year, week, or within the last 24 hours. You can also find out the latest news surrounding a topic (more on this below).

Other Ways to Source Blog Topics

Let’s discuss other ways to generate topics for your blog.

Let the News Guide You

Is there some interesting case that’s popular in the news right now? Analyze a hot topic case for your blog. You can highlight it as a cautionary tale, add your expert opinion on the facts of the case, or attach a do and don’t guide to help readers who may be in a similar circumstance.

Another idea is to discuss new laws or trends that affect your clients that they may not be aware of. Consider yourself a teacher who simplifies the often complex issues in the law by using stories to illustrate your point.

Create a Regular Series

You can create a regular post series on your blog such as “Ask a Lawyer” or “Your Legal Questions Answered.” Once a month, answer a commonly asked question. Hey, when you think about it– it’s only 12 questions a year, but you can cover a lot of ground.

Another benefit to creating a series around commonly asked questions is now you’ll have a place to direct those questions when they come through your email and social media. You can even link to them on forums, too.

Visit Legal Forums

Another great way to find topics for your blog is to scour legal forums. Look for popular questions that are asked (even if they’ve already been answered). To determine the popularity of a particular question, look at the amount of views it has received. This indicates that a lot of people have a vested interest in the same topic.

expertlaw viewsImage Courtesy of ExpertLaw

You probably know quite a few legal forums already, but these are among the most active:

If you’d like more information on creating an engaging blog, check out this post here: 8 Steps to Creating a Law Firm Blog that People Want to Read.

Remember to download our list of potential topics for your legal blog!

How To Craft An Email Newsletter Your Clients Will Actually Want To Read

Are you subscribed to an email newsletter?

If you’re like most folks, the answer is yes. In fact, you probably have several newsletters sitting in your inbox right now. Some you may find useful, while others are destined for that great “unsubscribe” button in the sky.

So, what makes one newsletter interesting and the other one blah? Why do you read one, and discard the other? You subscribed to every newsletter in your inbox, but some of them are just not worth the click.

We’re not going to allow that to happen to your newsletter. Your newsletter will be worth the click every time, and you’ll earn that distinction by following the tips below.

Since you’re here, I bet you already know the value of an email newsletter. If not, check out this primer: Why You Need an Email List for Your Law Firm & 7 Easy Strategies to Create One. In the above post, I also discussed a few of the very best practices for creating an email newsletter.

Below, let’s expand on some of the ideas introduced in the previous post, and also discuss advanced strategies to take your newsletters from “oh, not them again” to “yay, I love their emails.”

Start with an Email Newsletter Service

I have some good news for you– you don’t have to send email newsletters from your inbox. That would take a lot of time, and it may even get you in hot water with your email provider.

Instead of sending emails from your inbox, you can send them through an email newsletter service provider. There’s plenty to choose from, but I highly recommend MailChimp.

MailChimp is easy to use for complete beginners. It’s free up to 12,000 emails a month and 2,000 users.

mailchimpImage Courtesy of MailChimp

MailChimp also integrates beautifully with AmazeLaw.

Because it’s free, easy to use, and works great with sites built by AmazeLaw, I recommend that you start with MailChimp. Setup takes less than five minutes. We’ve actually created a detailed guide to help you through the setup process here.

Don’t forget to create a signup incentive!

Also known as a lead magnet, a signup incentive persuades your website visitors into subscribing to your list. In exchange for their email address, you’ll give away a free gift, generally in digital form (an ebook or a resource guide). But you’re not limited to digital goods. You may also offer something service related, such as a free 10 minute phone consultation.

Would you like more signup incentive ideas? Check out this post: The One Thing You Need to Do to Grow Your Email List.

Have a Purpose for Your Newsletter Other than Updates

Here’s the thing: Boring company updates are just that– boring. Your clients (both current and prospective) aren’t on your list to hear about you. They’re on your list to hear about them, specifically what you can do for them. It’s all about them.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t share information about your law firm. Just remember to present the information in a beneficial way.

For example, introduce the new paralegal on your team by explaining how he or she helps your practice provide better service: “Mindy, our newest paralegal, specializes in real estate law, and brings her extensive knowledge and research skills to our law firm.”

It’s a matter of shifting your perspective (and wording) to engage your readers and make the information relevant to them.

Now, let’s take a look at the different categories of email newsletters.

Newsletters fall into three categories:

Educational

Use your newsletter to answer questions and educate your clients about the law.

Promotional

Use your newsletter to announce upcoming events, advertise new services, and share coupons.

Nurture and Build Trust

Use your newsletter to stay at the top of mind and turn prospects into clients.

Segment Your Newsletter

Segmenting is one of the best things you can do for your newsletter, but if you haven’t heard of it, don’t feel too bad. Most law firms haven’t heard of email segmenting at all, but it’s a proven strategy that will help you create more relevant emails for your subscribers.

Would you like a list of easy ways to segment your email list? Check this out!

Segmenting is when you group people together based on behaviors or demographics.

Let’s say your law firm specializes in family law. You provide services in the areas of child support, divorce, and adoption. Your clientele is varied, and those who sign up to your newsletter will naturally want different things. Some may want ongoing advice about child support, others may want to know the laws surrounding adoption, and others still may want to know what to expect during divorce proceedings.

While there may be some overlap, your audience is likely to need different content. In this case, one size doesn’t fit all.

Enter segmentation.

You can separate each group in your email newsletter service provider and then send relevant emails based on the needs of that group. If there’s a new law that affects adoptions in your state, you may only wish to send a newsletter to the group that’s most interested in adoption.

Start the segmentation process immediately upon signup. You can have a general signup segment for everyone who subscribes on your home page. Then, create another signup segment for those who subscribe on your adoption information page, or your divorce information page.

If you already have an active email list, you can easily send out a survey via email, asking each subscriber what type of content they’d like to receive more of from you in the future. Armed with this information, you can go to your email newsletter service provider and group your subscribers based on each individual answer.

Get to the Point As Quickly As Possible

Email is no place for long, sweeping content. Make your point immediately and then give your audience direction on what to do next.

Ask yourself: What does the subscriber want to get or learn from my emails? Then, set about delivering that type of content every time.

The average email newsletter should be way shorter than the average blog post. Shoot for three paragraphs, maybe four. If that seems too restrictive for you, consider increasing the amount of email newsletters you send out from once every month to twice a month, or even twice a week, if both you and your subscribers are up to it.

This way, you can share more information without forcing your subscribers to read too much at one time (they won’t anyway).

Of course, another option is to segment your subscribers so that you can send each group targeted information without getting too wordy.

Include a Call to Action

A call to action is a simple directive you offer to the reader, telling them what to do next.

Every email newsletter needs a call to action, preferably one that drives subscribers back to your website. Give them a reason to return by teasing the benefit to the subscriber, for example, “Learn more about X on the blog” or “Download this ebook now.”

End each email with a call that gets your subscriber to take the logical next step. It may be obvious to you, but not to them. Spell it out.

map-455769_640

Send on a Schedule

Humans like routine– this extends to the humans on your email list. Create a pattern of trust by showing up in their inbox every second Thursday (or whatever schedule you choose).

The last thing you should do is constantly switch up when you send your emails. Sending two email newsletters this month and then waiting six months to send a third is never going to work.

Instead, commit to a schedule that your subscribers can rely on. If you don’t, they’ll quickly forget who you are and may even hit “spam” on you.

Let’s pinky swear on this: set a schedule and stick to it.

Final Thoughts

When a client gives you their email address, it’s quite an honor. It’s also a mark that you’ve already impressed them. All you need to do now is follow the above tips to create a newsletter that clicks with your subscribers.

Oh, don’t forget to check out the Busy Attorney’s Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing. Pair that post with this one and you’ll be email marketing like a pro.

Check out our list of easy ways to segment your email list!

 

How To Use YouTube Video To Attract Clients

When given the opportunity, most people would rather watch a video than read a book. Is that a sad commentary on our society or a powerful opportunity to market your services to a wider crowd?

As an eternal optimist, I’m going for the latter. In fact, I don’t think it’s sad at all that most people prefer watching video. It just proves that most of us are visual thinkers.

While I’m a big champion of the written word, I’ll also argue for the use of video in your lawyer marketing strategy. Video can reel people in, help them “meet” your brand, and add tone and humanness to your online marketing efforts.

Together with written content, video can educate your prospective clients. It can also increase your brand’s trustworthiness. Let’s take a look at why you should consider video marketing in your ongoing effort to attract more clients:

Why Use Video Marketing

It’s easy to get people to trust you.

Prospective clients are much more likely to trust you if they can see you with their own eyes. This includes observing your body language and hearing the inflection of your voice as you speak. Without these social cues, clients must rely on the other content you’ve produced to gauge whether or not to trust you.

While it’s possible to do this through other types of content and visual branding (check out this post on building a visual brand identity that inspires trust), no other method is as direct and fast-acting. There’s a new level of trust you can establish just by showing your face, and you can do it in two minutes or less (more on this later).

Would you like a printable guideline for the do’s and don’ts of online video?

It’s easy to get started.

Thanks to smartphones and associated apps, producing a video doesn’t need to be a Hollywood-style endeavor. It’s you, a camera, and a microphone. If you want to get fancy, you can purchase an entire light kit for less than $200 on Amazon. This kit includes lights, stands, and three backdrops to add a professional look to your video.

limo-studioImage Courtesy of LimoStudio, Amazon

Some of us are better at speaking than writing.

For me, it’s vice versa. But for you, it may be easier to speak extemporaneously or with a very light outline. If you hate writing and find it easier to just start talking, you can use video to sell your services to potential clients.

It’s great for SEO.

We’re all fighting to dominate the search engine results page, but there’s one secret way that may push you to the top of the results: YouTube video.

Google actually owns YouTube. If you create a YouTube video and assign a relevant keyword, your video may rise above everyone else’s content to occupy a prominent spot in the search results. Observe:

great-seoGoogle Search: How to pay for an old ticket

great-seo2Google Search: Do I own my music if it isn’t registered

Some of these results are seven years old. In Internet years, that’s equivalent to 60. Pair this knowledge with the fact that Google’s search bots are constantly looking for relevant and updated information to give to its users. If you can create such a video, you’ll knock these ancient videos off their throne and become the new leader. The king is dead; long live the king.

Three Types of YouTube Video to Use

Now, let’s take a look at how you can use YouTube video to advertise your law firm and get more clients.

A Brand-Focused Commercial

Create a commercial for your law firm. This is your opportunity to connect with viewers and make them like you. No stiff body language and monotone voices, please. Rigid and robotic only work if you’re an animatronic character on stage at Chuck E. Cheese. Even then, it’s still creepy.

chuckecheese

Image Courtesy of Giphy

Here’s what you should do in your commercial:

  • Speak in everyday, relatable language. Odds are, your client isn’t a lawyer and doesn’t understand legalese. Talk to him or her in terms they can understand.
  • Make it about them, not you. Instead of listing what services you offer, discuss benefits. For example, don’t say, “We have 25 years of experience in helping folks file bankruptcy”. Instead say, “We’ll help you protect your assets, stop creditor harassment, and start over fresh.”
  • Inject personality into your video. Sure, you’d like to maintain a professional persona, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same script everyone else is using. Spend time thinking of fresh and original ways to introduce your law firm to others. It doesn’t have to be gloomy and serious, especially if your area of expertise is on the more creative end of the spectrum (such as sports and entertainment law).

Testimonials

There is nothing more persuasive than watching a relatable person share his or her experience. It’s called social proof, and it’s the top way to get people to buy what you’re selling.

If you have a client who is happy with your work, don’t just rely on him to tell others about you. Put him on the spot and ask if he’d agree to do a video testimonial for you. The worst response is a “no,” but you may be surprised at how many people are willing to shoot a short testimonial.

The key there is short. Don’t try to slice and dice a 30 minute video in 30 seconds. Keep it short by asking a few specific, open-ended questions (not yes or no) to get the response you’re looking for.

Educational

Use videos to educate your clients, both current and prospective. Let’s take a look at two types of educational videos to use:

Answer frequently asked questions. I’m sure there are a few questions you’re asked time and time again. In addition to writing a frequently asked questions page, create a YouTube video for each.

Be sure to use the frequently asked question as the title of your video. For example, entitle a video, “How long does it take to finalize a domestic adoption?”

By creating a YouTube video to answer these questions, you’ll bring in people who have specifically searched for that question in YouTube and/ or Google.

While the prospects of them finding your FAQ page is hit or miss (so many other law firms may have similar questions/ answers), you can separate yourself from the pack with a video. Most likely you will rank higher in the search engine results because of your video, and that means more people will click on your link.

Discuss what to expect. Your prospective client probably has no idea of what to expect. He’ll be forever grateful if you can provide a cogent list of what to expect during the case, trial, procedure, hearing, you name it.

Be a guiding light and help your viewer figure his way through this previously uncharted path.

Best Practices

Get a clear idea of who you’re targeting with your videos.

Don’t set out to make viral videos or entertain everyone on YouTube. Get narrow with your focus. Only a small group of people on the Internet will pay for your services. That number is likely less than 1000 people in a pool of billions that could potentially stumble up on your video. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to appeal to everyone – only those people who will retain you matter.

Select testimonials from those who represent the types of clients you’re actively seeking. These testimonials will attract and be much more relevant to those prospects.

Keep your videos short.

No longer than 2-3 minutes. After the two-minute mark, you’ll lose over half of your audience.

Be authentic.

Don’t stick to someone else’s script. Sound like yourself on your video, not like what you think people expect.

Invest time and money into editing your videos.

The average viewer will give you 10 seconds to get to the point. If you don’t engage your viewer quickly, they’re going to leave and never look back.

The smartest YouTube videos start with the end and then work their way back to the beginning.

Choose Keywords

A keyword is a word (or a collection of words) someone types into the Google search bar. Think like your prospective clients and consider which search term(s) he or she would most likely use to find your content. Next, use that exact search term to title your video. Support your video with other keywords that are related to that search term.

An example of this may be to title your video, “How to File for Divorce in Boulder, CO.” Your supporting keywords could be “divorce lawyer”, “Boulder law”, and “divorce Colorado.”

Add a Call to Action

End each video with a call to action. Ideally, you’ll want to send your clients back to your website to get even more information. But don’t just send them to your home page. Instead, send them to a specific landing page or contact page where you can encourage them to call you. Incentivize this page with freebies, such as a free ebook or a complimentary consultation.

Final Thoughts

Don’t overlook video as an effective way to build trust and appeal to a wider audience. You can dominate search results and be visible to more people than you would by just sticking to written content only. Fortunately, video is easy to produce thanks to the all-present smartphone, and it’s absolutely free. All you have to do is press record.

If you have a video, leave your link in the comments below.

Would you like a printable guideline for the do’s and don’ts of online video?

Use These Tips To Manage Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation

Have you Googled yourself lately?

I know it sounds silly, but it’s probably the single most important task you can do this week to learn about your online reputation. Armed with the knowledge you’ll receive, you can take control of your online image and turn prospects into clients and clients into superstar referrers.

Online reputation management always starts with a quick search on Google for your name and/ or your law firm’s name. What are the first results that show up when you do a Google search?

Go on. I’ll wait.

Your search results probably look a little bit like this:

YOUR-WEBSITEImage Courtesy of Google.com

You should see your own website, followed closely by review sites like Yelp, Avvo, and Yellowpages.com. You may even find a Google listing with star ratings by your name, indicating your clients’ satisfaction levels.

Some people do vanity searches on Google for kicks and giggles, but when it comes to your online reputation, there’s nothing more persuasive than the first few results that return on a Google search. For many of your prospective clients, this will be their first encounter with your brand.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s play a scenario. Let’s say you have a satisfied client who refers you to one of their friends. Your client can’t remember your website, so he tells his friend to Google you.

While the referred prospect trusts his friend, he may get scared away from choosing you due to negative one and two star ratings on the first page of Google results. And if you don’t have any strategy in place to counteract that negative rating, you may just lose a prospective client.

Another scenario is that you’re competing with every other lawyer in your area. A lot of prospects simply search “family lawyer in town, state”. People often make their decision based on who seems to have the most amount of positive information out there. This includes positive reviews, but also an active presence on these review sites. The final part of the puzzle is your own website that operates as your hub and a library of information.

Let’s take a look at some other best practices for managing your law firm’s online reputation.

Here’s a checklist for how to manage your law firm’s online reputation.

Set Yourself Up for Success

+Set up shop on Avvo

Claim Your Profile on Avvo. While Avvo populates the basics of your profile with information from your state’s Bar Association, you should also fill in the gaps. Here are a few things you should include:

Up-to-date information about your law firm, including your website, phone number, email, and physical address.

A professional headshot. People like seeing who they will be working with. Putting a face to the name humanizes your brand.

List awards you’ve won, publications that have featured you, and organizations you’re a member of. It can improve your Avvo ranking and boost your reputation in the eyes of potential clients.

Get Reviews

+Ask for Reviews*

You’re a great attorney who cares about your clients (or else you wouldn’t be here). Based on this, I know you have clients who care about you, too. Now, it’s time to get them to show it.

How are your powers of telepathy?

Okay, so if mental communication doesn’t work, it’s time to go verbal or at least written. At the end of your case or legal preparation, ask your client to share a review about you or your law firm. You can ask face to face, if your client is in your office, or via email if you prefer.

When asking face to face, I recommend having a review-optimized business card handy. On your business card, point to the key places you’d like for your client to leave a review.

connect-with-us

Image Courtesy of Access Publishing

When asking via email, I recommend that you provide a mini-guide to make it as easy as possible for the client to leave a review for you. Ask for the review, leave a link to your profile (or directions on how to get to your profile), and provide guiding questions such as:

How was our service?

Would you recommend us to your friends and family?

Did we promptly respond to your questions and concerns?

Would you return to do business with us? If yes, why?

Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. That way, you’ll get a lot more people to leave reviews.

*You can’t actually ask for reviews for Yelp. Yelp specifically forbids it. What you can do is inform your clients that you are also on Yelp, and hopefully they’ll get the hint.

Alternatively, instead of asking for your clients to review you on third party websites, you can ask for good old fashioned testimonials. Then, you can put these testimonials on your own site.

While this may limit the amount of people who actually see your testimonials, you have a lot more control over what’s said on your own site. Review sites routinely delete reviews (both positive and negative, real and fake). This means a lot of your positive reviews may be lost forever because of a capricious algorithm.

That’s no fair.

Control the conversation by hosting all of your reviews (both good and bad) on your own website.

+Highlight Video Testimonials

If you can get your clients to leave video testimonials, do it! There are few things more persuasive and reputation boosting in the eyes of a prospective client than watching a relatable person tell his or her story.

You don’t have to hire a film crew and make a big production, unless you’re going to use this to create a commercial. If it’s strictly for your website or to market your law firm through Facebook or YouTube, you’ve got all the equipment you’ll need with your smartphone.

That’s right, a smartphone, a chair next to a window for good lighting, and (if you want better audio) a $15 lavalier microphone is all you’ll need to capture a compelling testimonial that will woo your prospects.

powers-law-groupImage Courtesy of Powers Law Group

Keep an Eye on Reviews

While you should make a habit of checking the top review sites regularly, it may be hard to catch every mention of you and your law firm on the Internet. That’s why I recommend setting up a Google Alert to get notified every time you’re mentioned.

Simply go here to set up a Google alert. You’ll need a Google account (if you have a Gmail address, that works). Then, enter any term you’d like to be notified of. This may include your name, your law firm’s name, or even a name of your competitors.

google-alertsImage Courtesy of Google Alerts

Then, set a notification schedule. You may wish to receive a daily email digest, or an email once a week. And you’re done. It’s easy, free, and a great way to monitor your online reputation.

Respond to All Reviews (Even Negative Ones)

So, now that you’re monitoring all mentions of your name, it’s time to make a commitment. Commit to responding to each and every review left about you and/or your law firm.

A lot of attorneys don’t do this, and the result ranges from appearing out of touch to just not seeming to care at all.

The fact is, if someone cares enough to leave a review on a website about you, you should care enough to respond.

Especially to negative reviews.

You may be thinking, why should I get down and dirty with a negative review? Don’t think of it that way.

Instead, think of it as an opportunity to show how much you’re invested in resolving problems. Plus, prospective clients are watching carefully to see how (or if) you respond to negative reviews. Your response also will indicate whether or not you’re argumentative (well, of course you are– you’re a lawyer!– but you’re also an advocate, and that’s the side you should show when interacting with online comments).

Last but not least, respond promptly. Responding a year later doesn’t have the same impact as responding a month after the fact. That’s why it’s a good idea to set up Google Alerts and implement a schedule for checking your reviews.

The First Step

The first step is to set up a website and control the conversation. AmazeLaw can help with that. Let’s talk.

Here’s a checklist for how to manage your law firm’s online reputation.

How to Find Qualified Clients

Whether you have a small or medium-size law firm, one need remains the same: clients. But not just any warm body will do. You need to find clients who are qualified and have a need for your services. That’s a tall order, but one that we’ll fill by the end of this post.

Stick around to find out how you can use the magic of the Internet to find qualified clients for your legal practice. Let’s discuss!

Would you like a worksheet for finding the perfect client? Subscribe to receive this extra resource.

Identify Your Ideal Client

The best way to start is by identifying your ideal client. To aid in this, I’ve provided a list of questions to help:

Who are they? Include basic demographics such as age, gender, location, and income.

What do they need from you? How likely are they to reach out to you?

Why do they need your service? If you offer more than one service, consider creating a client persona for each.

Where do they live online? Are they mostly on Facebook, Google (everyone’s on Google), Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp, Avvo Law, or Pinterest? If you’d like to know which platform you’d be more likely to find clients, check out this post on Choosing the Best Social Media Platform for your Law Firm.

When do they research lawyers? Does your target client wait until the last minute? When they do reach out, what time do you get the majority of your calls? Is it 10 AM? 3 PM? This can indicate a lot about your average client.

Create a Website

Now that you’ve compiled a client persona, it’s time to create a marketing strategy to welcome those clients in.

When trying to find and nurture clients, always start with a website.

Remember, it’s not the 90s anymore. Folks use the Internet (not the Yellow Pages) to find everything from appliances to Zumba. As an attorney, you’ve got to make sure that your services are represented online, too. The way to do that is with a website.

A website is like an “always on” salesperson. Your website works for you even at midnight and on holidays. If you plan it right, your website can provide just as much information as your front office staff (but don’t tell them I said that).

On your website, be sure to create a blog that people actually want to read. Blogs are a powerful tool that can help you educate your site visitors and establish yourself as the knowledgeable pro that you are.

Use Paid Advertising

We’ve discussed how to use paid advertising before, so I won’t rehash it here. Check out how to use paid advertising to dominate the local search listings. Be sure to click on that link because there we discuss what SEO and search advertising really means for your law firm. I also give you the exact formula for how to get on a first-page listing on Google’s search results.

Create a Call-Only Ad Campaign

Have you ever searched on the Internet with your smartphone? Chances are, you’ve seen a little call button to the right side of the top few listings. That’s little button is going to transform your online marketing campaign, and here’s how:

People who search for lawyers with their smartphones are motivated to go beyond “research mode” and into results mode. They want to speak to a live person. Instead of directing them to a webpage, you should offer a call button for quick access.

This is known as a call-only ad campaign.

It costs the same as a regular headline click, but you’ll have a much more engaged prospective client who wants to act now.

In the order of things:

website < phone call < consultation < representation

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Here’s how to create a call-only ad campaign with Google.

By the way, don’t forget about Bing. While Google is the undisputed giant in Internet search, Bing does have 20% of the market share. You can follow these same steps on Bing to find qualified clients there, too. And it may even be cheaper.

Provide Enhanced User Experience

Did you know that a bad first impression of your website can lower your chances of getting clients? It’s true that you can lose site visitors just by a slow website– and by slow, I mean a site that takes three seconds or longer to load.

Three seconds.

No one wants to wait for answers. You’ve got to make sure that your website is fast load and provides all of the answers your prospective clients need immediately.

Even worse than a slow-loading website is one that’s completely disorganized and hard to navigate. If your site visitors have to click a lot of links trying to find the answers they’re looking for, they’re going to give up and hit the back button.

Here’s how to prevent a disorganized website:

Get clear about what information you’d like to share on your website. Here’s a good idea of where to start:

On your Homepage: Discuss what services you offer and who would benefit most from them. Keep it short, simple, and clean.

On your About page: Discuss who you are but keep it client-focused. Craft your About page to help the prospect understand why they should choose you. It’s good to underscore the kind of cases and clients you often work with in this page.

On your Services page: Be very clear about what services you offer and then break it down even further. Remember, your prospective client probably doesn’t know much about law, they just know that they need a lawyer. Use language they would understand. Oftentimes, a layman doesn’t know exactly what something’s called. Here’s your chance to educate and empower them to figure out what service they need from you.

You may also find it helpful to create a separate page for each service that you offer.

Prepare a Thorough FAQ Page: A lot of folks head straight for the frequently asked questions page, if you have one, to decide whether they need your services. This is yet another golden opportunity to answer common questions that you’d normally discuss over the phone. It’ll free up your phone lines for more specific questions, and provide a valuable resource to online prospective customers who are searching for answers.

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Image Courtesy of Thurman Law

Follow Up Immediately on the Phone

There are times when you’re just not available. For example, maybe the caller left a message after hours. Perhaps you’re on another line. Whatever the case, don’t let that prospect fade– be sure to follow up immediately whenever possible.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind: a prospective client who doesn’t reach you will oftentimes go to the next attorney on the list. Boo. But, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re out. By calling that person back in a reasonable timeframe (by the end of the business day), you may be able to persuade them to choose you – especially if you’re presenting yourself as friendly and helpful.

Unlike emails and voicemails, phone calls are great for gauging interest.

Push the In-Office Consultation

Of course, you don’t want to give away everything in a phone call. It’s so crucial to get the caller into an in-office consultation. This is where you’ll be able to separate those who just want free legal advice from actual paying clients.

Should you offer free or paid consultations?

There’s compelling opinions on both sides. The benefit of offering:

A free consultation – You’ll definitely set more appointments because everyone loves “free”. You’ll also separate yourself from your competitors because they’re more likely to charge for consultations.

A paid consultation – You’ll get more motivated prospects. People who are willing to pay an initial consultation fee are more likely to sign a representation agreement.

A happy medium? Consider charging a consultation fee but then crediting it back to their account if they choose to retain your services.

You can also explain your process over the phone and on your website to help drive the in-office consultation.

Polish Your Profiles

By now, you know how important it is to have a website, but that’s not the only way to represent your law firm online. You also need to expand to social media networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter

We’ve actually covered this in-depth here: Choosing the Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand. If you need help figuring out which platform to use, be sure to check out that post.

Being on a social platforms helps you extend the reach of your online marketing. You can start amassing followers and then updating them through your social platforms. While they may not always come to your website, they can always be connected to you through your social media updates.

Also make sure you’re fully utilizing online review sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Avvo. We’ve also gone in depth on those topics here: Pick Me! Your Beginner’s Guide on How to Attract Local Clients Via the Internet.

Prospective clients may head to these review sites first before even starting a Google search. What will they find once they get there?

Negative reviews are one thing; negative reviews without a follow up from you are a death sentence. Don’t make that mistake. Follow up on all reviews, trying to resolve those that you can, but acknowledging everyone else with a heartfelt thanks for their feedback. No sarcasm, please. Remember– you’ve got an audience.

Final Thoughts

Remember how we discussed that a website is fundamental to finding qualified clients? We can help with that. Let’s talk about building you a site that you can be proud of.

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