- Modern marketing increasingly uses technology to free lawyers from routine or labor-intensive marketing activities and give prospects and clients the experience they want when working with a lawyer.
In the golden age of law firms, name partners wooed million-dollar clients over drinks at the club. Today, marketing is a multimillion-dollar business that supports lawyers’ one-on-one personal touches. Modern marketing increasingly uses technology to free lawyers from routine or labor-intensive marketing activities and, at the same time, give prospects and clients the experience they want when working with a lawyer.
Today, the 1950s lawyer pedestal has broken down. Consumers see lawyers as service providers like any other professional service. Service professionals are expected to offer a relationship experience similar to that provided by Google or Amazon: fast, accurate, transparent. Consumers expect everyone online to provide instant answers to their questions, quick turnarounds, and understandable and transparent processes.
How can lawyers—who charge for time spent, prefer not to answer questions until an attorney-client relationship is established and rarely offer instant responses—compete in this new world? Some adaptations will require changes in mindset and firm cultures. For others, technology offers immediate answers. Let’s look at some website marketing technologies that respond to these modern demands.
Your website is the 21st-century equivalent of the paper brochure. It’s the place that prospects go to see if you can meet their demands. Referred clients go there to vet you. Site visitors assume that what they find on your site is illustrative of your actual approach to lawyering. If they don’t find any client-facing technology on your site, they assume you are not a modern lawyer.
Most adults transact an increasing amount of business through their smartphones and on the internet. They expect shopping for a lawyer to mirror the Amazon Prime experience.
How easy is it to reach you or your office? How quickly will their questions be answered? How understandable are your responses? Website technology can help you respond to these concerns.
To begin with, every effective website needs a phone number on every page of your mobile-optimized site that, when clicked, goes directly to you, to a person in your office or to a computer program that answers common questions. Going directly to your voicemail is probably the least effective option because typically you are not instantaneously available to talk to a stranger.
Other options include:
Chatbots can be programmed to answer basic questions or to vet a caller prior to calendaring an initial meeting. You set the scripts to answer the most common visitor questions in a way that satisfies them and moves your marketing strategy forward. Review of chatbot logs helps you keep the conversations relevant.
Paired with the chatbot should be a way for vetted visitors to calendar a meeting with you. Again, there are many calendaring programs available. You control the meeting set-up because you set the days and amount of time. You can also require visitors to fill out an information sheet about themselves and their issues prior to scheduling a meeting. People who don’t meet your threshold criteria can be directed to bar association referral resources.
Provide easy-to-digest information about how you work, what they can expect from you and you from them, and how they pay for the services.
Use customized apps on your site to personalize information for each visitor. You can create apps that provide real-time, current information applicable to specific situations—e.g., immigrants can access the latest government statistics, real estate attorneys can provide current cost data for their geographic area or matrimonial attorneys can offer forms that let site visitors try out possible financial scenarios.
In the 1950s, clients were passive observers of the lawyer at work. Today, clients want to actively participate in the resolution of their matter. They want to understand what their lawyer is doing and why.
To continue the emphasis on available, useful information once a person is a client, create a client portal on your website. Clients can access their documents through the portal in a secure environment, 24/7/365. Lawyers can also put calendars with key dates in the portal and link activity dates to the client’s calendar.
Websites that take advantage of technology to establish connections with site visitors can address their basic questions in real time and, in effect, establish a relationship with them prior to any actual in-person contact. By meeting site visitors’ expectations, the site makes the lawyers look modern and client-centric. They can then establish in-person connections at their own pace. Technology creates a win-win situation.