It’s always a little awkward when you refer an out-of-state client to counsel halfway across the country. Let’s say you’re contacted by Ms. Jones about a new injury case in Wyoming, and (since you’re not admitted in Wyoming), you call a plaintiffs’ lawyer in Wyoming to refer the case. The phone conversation with the plaintiffs’ attorney in Wyoming goes something like this,
Plaintiffs’ Lawyer in Wyoming: “I can’t believe it–Ms. Jones lives two blocks from my office and she called a lawyer halfway across the country. It’s like you just won the lottery.”
The “Dumb” Online Marketer/Lawyer in New York: “I know [playing dumb]—it’s crazy, right?”
For lawyers who are not serious about online marketing, it’s just blind luck when a lawyer halfway across the country refers a case. And it’s no wonder—these are the same lawyers who have no system for online lead generation and automated follow-up systems.
Converting Prospects to Clients is the ONLY GOAL
Why do 98% of lawyers fail at online marketing? The big name webmasters (yes, that’s you, Findlaw) create websites that look identical—yes, they’re pretty with nice graphics and flash animation, but they have no system for converting new leads into clients. While converting prospects into clients should be the ONLY GOAL of a lawyer website, this is sadly ignored by almost all webmasters.
Okay, great, you say, how exactly do you convert a web visitor into a client? You begin with a free give-away, a/k/a Call to Action, that almost forces the consumer to pick up the phone to call you and stop their search for a lawyer. The Call to Action can be an e-book, audio CD or white paper—it doesn’t really matter—just make sure you’ve got an a free give-away, or Call to Action, on every page of your website and ideally you should have different Calls to Action for every practice area.
One Thing that (Almost) No Lawyers Do
The Call to Action gives something of value, i.e., e-book or audio CD, to the consumer in return for their name and email address. This is where your online lead generation kicks in—once you’ve got the email address and name, the new lead is entered into a 365-day nurture campaign consisting periodic emails, direct mail and even text messages. The nurture campaign begins as soon as the consumer gives her permission by submitting her name and email address on your website.
Now, you’re in business. If you want to put your nurture campaign on steroids, your nurture campaign provides valuable information to the prospect that is relevant to their initial inquiry (called “segmenting”). Let’s say the prospect requested your e-book on a web page that is about Lyme disease in Connecticut. Now the nurture campaign will consist of email and direct mail about Lyme disease in Connecticut and the prospect will love that she’s not getting generic, junk emails from you. You are actually nurturing the relationship with the prospect, rather than annoying them!
The beauty of a nurture campaign is that you don’t have to do a damn thing once it’s created. Once you create the content for the nurture campaign on Customer Relationship Management software (Infusionsoft is amazing!), the follow up occurs automatically once the prospect gives their contact information. And you can get the metrics for your nurture campaigns with reports from your Customer Relationship Management software.
Instant Feedback is Critical for New Prospects
Okay, you’ve got the basics of a lead generation system with a Call to Action and nurture campaigns, but new prospects usually want to speak with someone RIGHT NOW. And you can’t be a million places at one time, so how do you give instant feedback to those “hot” new personal injury leads?
You begin with a Live Chat box (I prefer Ngage Live Chat) that appears on your website within seconds following the moment the prospects arrives. The prospect will be asked if she “wants to chat?” and a live person will correspond electronically with the prospect to get their contact information and the facts of their new case. The contact information about the new case will be emailed to you and your staff and your paralegal can follow up with the prospect.
But let’s say you don’t want to bog down your staff with the prospects who are contacting you from your website. You can hire a call answering service, such as Legal Intake Professionals, to call the new prospects as soon as the new lead is received. Now, your new prospects get to speak with a live person within minutes of visiting your website. The combo of the live chat service and a phone answering service is a great way to stop the prospect from online “lawyer shopping”.
A Simple Online Lead Generation System that Works
I know what you’re thinking—“sounds great, but who has the time for this stuff?” You’re busy and you’ve got important lawyer work to do. Okay, fair enough, we’re all “busy”, but if you neglect the marketing of your law practice, it will neglect you…and you’ll still be wondering how some strange lawyer in Michigan is referring a client who lives in your town.