Maddy Martin, Smith.ai
To drive more reliable growth, attorneys now know they need to tap other marketing and advertising channels, like paid search ads and high-quality content that drives organic website visitors.
But even the best marketing agency only delivers leads; conversion is still on you. In order to convert leads, you need to make contact with them — and quickly. According to the 2017 Clio Legal Trends Report, 2 out of 3 potential clients say their decision to hire is most influenced by an attorney’s response time to their first call or email. Wait to respond, and they’re likely to have already engaged another attorney.
The problem here — especially if you’re in a solo or small firm — is your day is booked up with meetings, court appearances, billing tasks, and admin chores. You’re lawyering and you’re laboring. There’s no time for interruptions from new clients. Most lawyers already only spend 1.9 hours on billable work each day — there’s no room to cut that even shorter.
The way to consistently grow your client base and achieve better marketing return on investment (ROI) is to outsource and automate your responsiveness and lead capture.
Here are my top 5 recommendations to do so:
1. Engage Web Leads Via Live Chat
2. Screen Potential Clients with Online "Intake" Forms
The best online “intake” forms include only the most essential 5 to 10 questions, including:
- Basic contact information
- Physical location (address, ZIP code, etc.), if relevant to your ability to serve them
- How they heard about you
- Which practice area they need help in (offer a list to choose from, don’t leave it open-ended for write-ins)
- Time-sensitive information that can be used to prioritize responses, like whether there’s a court hearing scheduled
See how Cooper Law handles these last two components:
3. Book Consultations with "Gated" Online Scheduling
Online scheduling apps like Acuity, Appointy, and ScheduleOnce make it easy to book consultations, but my main advice here is to not make it too easy, because the last thing you want is lots of calls booked without your involvement that result in wasted time with bad leads.
Employ one or more of these three tactics to reduce no-shows and cancellations, and better ensure your time will be spent with qualified potential clients:
- Charge for consultations. You can make your online calendar highly visible on your website if you gate it with a required payment. This doesn’t have to result in an extra fee for the client, if you credit it back to their balance upon hiring you for legal work.
- Outsource calendaring to remote receptionists. Live receptionists can book appointments on your behalf. Just give them a link to your online calendaring page, which you’ve hidden on your website on a page that’s not accessible through the main site navigation. After they screen the lead, receptionists can be instructed to book a consult only if they meet your criteria for a good potential client. This way, consultations can be free or paid, because the receptionists act as the “gatekeeper.” (If you’re using a live web chat service, the same tactic can be applied via chat as by phone.)
- Require leads to complete an intake form before sharing your calendar link. Web visitors who first complete a detailed basic questionnaire about their case can then be given access to your calendar link (for a free or paid consultation). Leads who have taken the time to answer questions about their case are far less likely to cancel or miss their first appointment.
Justie Nicol of Nicol Law Offices makes it crystal clear what you need to do to get on her calendar, successfully “gatekeeping” her free 30-minute consultations:
4. Follow Up with High-Conversion Emails
You can include basic FAQ, client testimonials, links to schedule a consultation, and advice pertinent to the practice area they best match with (which you will know from their selection on your “contact us” form or the receptionist’s notes from their initial phone call).
In every email, make sure you include a call to action (CTA) that prompts them to take the desired action. If possible, highlight this CTA by making it a phrase on a button-looking image, such as “book a free consultation” or “schedule a call with me,” like this:
5. Refer & Monetize Your Bad Leads
Based on your directions and custom referral list, your phone staff or virtual receptionists can provide contact information for lawyers you recommend who are better suited to serving that potential client’s needs, with no involvement required from you after the initial process is set up.
Improve Web Lead Conversion with Smith.ai Phone & Chat Receptionists
RyTech readers get $50 off their first month of either phone or web chat service with code RYTECH50. To learn more and sign up, visit https://smith.ai, call (650) 727-6484, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.