Most law firms invest marketing dollars into getting more traffic to their websites. However, that is only part of the equation. Law firms also need to invest money and time to converting leads.

Employing a smart lead conversion strategy can translate into more actual clients and improve the firm's bottom line.

Intake process

Law firm should streamline their intake process to improve conversion rates. First impressions are important. When someone first interacts with a firm, the firm needs to build a relationship of trust. A bad first impression will result not only in the firm's failure to convert the potential client but the potential client going to another firm. Automating the firm's intake process can cut down on unanswered calls and mistakes.

Response time

An ABA benchmark study showed that more than one-third of calls to law firms were not answered by a live person. Around 32 percent went to voicemail, and three percent of calls were not answered at all. If firms do not answer the phone or respond to an email or social media inquiry, the potential client will contact another firm. Law firms can utilize tools, such as Chatbots, answering services and virtual assistants, to make sure potential clients get answers.

Responding to voicemail, email and social media inquiries quickly is important. According to a LeadResponseManagement.org study, the chances of successfully contacting a lead drops 21 times when the contact is made in five minutes versus 30 minutes after the initial inquiry. For five minutes to 10 minutes, the chances go down four times.

Persuasion techniques

Law firms can use persuasion techniques to increase lead conversions. People like to repay favors. If firms offer a free e-book, potential clients are more willing to provide their email address and permission to contact them. People hire lawyers they like. Firms can place videos or photographs on their websites of lawyers and their staff participating in charitable events. People follow what others do. Law firms should capitalize on this human tendency by including testimonials and positive reviews on their websites.

Mistakes to avoid

Law firm receptionists or other people answering the phone can make mistakes when speaking with potential clients:

  • The person answering the phone fails to get any contact information from the caller.
  • The receptionist answers the phone without identifying the name of the firm.
  • When giving the firm's website, the person misspells the website address.
  • The person puts the caller on hold for too long.
  • The person does not have a good answer to the question as to why the caller should hire the law firm.

Tips to improve conversion rates

There is hope. Law firms can incorporate best practices in phone calls to improve the lead conversion rate:

  • Dedicated person: Law firms should train one person to answer the phone. An experienced person can handle the calls professionally, respond correctly to questions and make a good first impression on the caller.
  • Answering the call: The receptionist should state the name of the firm clearly.
  • Compassion: The person answering the phone or responding to emails should show compassion for the caller. Acknowledging that the caller is in pain and expressing concern for the caller's situation builds a connection with the caller.
  • Contact information: The person answering the phone should get the caller's contact information and permission to call, text or email the caller. The person should refer to the caller by name during the conversation.
  • Placing on hold: If it is necessary to place a caller on hold, the person answering the call should ask for the caller's permission. Keep the amount of time the caller is on hold to a minimum. Ask to call the person back if necessary.
  • Promoting the firm: The person answering the phone should be prepared for the caller to ask why they should hire the firm. People want a caring, experienced and successful firm. Even if the question is not asked, the person answering the call can weave scripted answers into the conversation.
  • Voice mails: Someone should check voice mail frequently and return calls on the same day.

Website improvements to increase conversion rate

Many people go to law firm websites from their smartphones, tablets or laptops. There are ways law firms can increase the conversion rate among these users:

  • Sticky mobile bars: The bars can appear at the top or bottom of the screen. The bar remains on the screen as the user scrolls the text. Place two or three options on the bar. Make it easy for the user to call, message or email the law firm.
  • Call to action and phone number: The main action law firms want a website visitor to do is call them. Once the user calls, the person answering the phone can get contact information and screen the caller. Place the firm's number in the righthand corner of the website. Use colors to make the firm's phone number and the call to action stand out. Site visitors should be able to tap the phone number and call directly.
  • Contact form: Law firms should include a contact form on their websites. A potential client may prefer to fill out a form and have the firm contact them.
  • Chatbot: Law firm should include a Chatbot on their websites. A Chatbot engages the user in a virtual conversation. Law firms can program the Chatbot to answer common questions. The Chatbot is a 24/7 option for internet users.
  • Website speed: Law firms can increase conversions by speeding up the time it takes to load a web page. The longer it takes a page to load, the more likely the internet user is to bounce to another website.
  • Landing pages: Law firms should create a landing page for each area of practice. Include several calls to action to encourage the user to contact the firm.
  • Retargeting non-conversions: Law firms should retarget users who visited the firm's website but did not convert. Google, Facebook and LinkedIn include retargeting tools that allow firms to advertise only to users who previously visited their site.
  • Compelling message: Law firms should tailor their content to address the common concerns users have about hiring a lawyer. For example, some people think attorneys are not necessary and are not pleasant to work with.

Tracking and testing

Most importantly, law firms should track conversion rates so that they know which marketing strategies perform best. Tools like Google Analytics provide analytics and dashboards that measure things such as which pages produce the most leads and conversions.

Law firm should run tests to increase conversion rates. A/B testing uses two different versions of a website's layout to determine which performs best. Firms can perform customer journey analysis, viewing the lead's experience from the first click on the website. Law firms can have mock users test the website for usability.

Closing the deal

Law firms that employ a successful strategy will see potential clients coming in for an initial consultation. At that point, lawyers become responsible for closing the deal. Attorneys should prepare for the consultation by reading the information the firm has gathered about the potential client.

Lawyers should get to know the client during the interview and make a personal connection. Lawyers should listen to the potential client explain how the they can help and allow the potential client to ask questions. Once the consultation is over, the attorney should follow up. It may be a welcoming note or email to a new client, or it may be a chance for the lawyer to separate themselves from the other lawyers the potential client has visited.

About Author

Virginia Mayo is a contributor for Bigger Law Firm.

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