Client-Centered Content: Give Readers What They Want
Every law firm has a lot of enthusiastic things to say about themselves. Websites and marketing brochures everywhere are sprinkled liberally with “we” and “I” statements that tout the outstanding qualities of a firm.
While it’s okay to state what you’re good at, it’s also really important to remember why potential clients are reading your website in the first place. With law firms, it’s usually because potential clients have questions and are trying to find answers. Never underestimate the power of useful information in converting users into leads. That’s why client-centered content is so important!
Don’t Give Readers a Reason to Click “Back”
Of course, your content must contain SEO keywords and phrases so that search engines and readers can find you. But after arriving at your website, the quality of your online content is paramount in determining whether — and for how long – a reader stays there. Minutes and seconds matter in the world of consumer engagement and Google rankings, so the longer a user stays on your page, the more likely it is he or she will become a lead.
Travis McAshan, founder and managing director at Glide Design in Austin, Texas puts it this way:
“Not only does a customer-centered site do a better job of selling, but customer-centered content can make or break your site’s ability to create quality conversions. You should be doing more than just defining your services and puffing yourself up. You should be reaching out to the customer like you were standing right in front of them.”
McAshan, whose web design and marketing firm serves clients in multiple industries, offers five tips for writing customer centered content:
- You can use “you”.
When you write, pretend that you’re speaking confidently to someone you know. You’re never lecturing. You’re engaging in a helpful conversation in which the other person’s voice isn’t heard, but is anticipated and valued.
- Write in a conversational style.
Strive to write in a conversational style. Just remember, the more friendly and approachable, the better. Use common words not business jargon, which will draw the reader closer.
- Tell the readers what’s in it for them.
Speak to the significant benefits for readers. Focus on their needs, not on yourself. They want to know, “what’s in it for me?” Of course, you have an agenda, but you can’t connect to your readers unless you write to their self-interests, not your own.
- Speak in the reader’s language.
Your style and your choice of words should match your reader’s style. A letter to baseball fans should have the slang and punch of a sports column. [A more serious and compassionate tone works when your reader is looking for a lawyer to represent them in a divorce or car crash].
- Be a mirror.
Ultimately, the best content isn’t really about you, your business, or even its products and services. The best content is about your customers. Your content should be a mirror. When prospects read it, let them see themselves: their hopes and fears, their values and dreams, and their best idea of who they are or would like to be.
Your Web Content Either Helps or Hurts You
There’s very little in-between where web content is concerned. Your content either engages readers and draws them in, or causes their eyes to glaze over. Within the first few seconds, you either “hook” a reader or their mind wanders and they’re thinking about that sandwich they’re going to have for lunch.
Tips on What to Include
So, what kind of content helps your law firm where readers are concerned? Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
Your reader is probably traumatized, worried or unhappy. Be compassionate. Most visitors to law firm websites have a problem they’re trying to solve. They’re going through a difficult ordeal (bankruptcy, personal injury, death of a family member, divorce) and they need someone they can trust to help them through complicated legal issues.
Establishing trust and credibility is essential. Law firm website readers are often dealing with highly personal and confidential information, and they want to know that you are professional, trustworthy, authoritative, and possess expertise. Demonstrate that you are highly regarded and trusted within the legal field. For more about this, read Gladiator’s recent blog about E.A.T. – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.
Define the “win.” Website readers are looking for reasons to choose your law firm above all others. They want to know what you can do for them and how you can make their lives easier. Remember, they’re likely going through a very hard time and they’re trying to find a peaceful port in a turbulent sea. They want to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Client testimonials on your website can be particularly effective at helping to “define the win.” When other satisfied clients write a few sentences about why they like your firm and what you achieved on their behalf, this can be very persuasive to website readers. Customers listen to other customers. To learn more, read our blog about how to request and highlight client testimonials. Client reviews posted on Google My Business (GMB), Avvo, SuperLawyer and other legal platforms can also be persuasive. Read more about how to successfully ask clients to post reviews here.
Design matters. When we speak of content, we’re referring to both the written word and the visual design of your website. Make sure that your web design is user-friendly, intuitive and not overly cluttered. Site visitors should not have to work hard to figure out where to find the information they need. Where design is concerned, clever never surpasses usability. Make navigating your site effortless. Read more or our tips on effective web design and its impact on SEO.
Figure out what sets your firm apart and make that part of your brand. Establishing your firm’s “differentiators” – those qualities that are specific, unique, concrete and actionable – is important. Your brand should stand for something, and your firm’s performance should back it up over time. By determining what your firm does better than any other law firm in the region, you can begin to build a buzz in the market and generate word-of-mouth referrals. Stay away from “undifferentiators” that are broad and general promises to consumers, and instead focus on narrow and specific positive qualities and performance, especially if you’re a smaller or boutique law firm. Read more about building your brand with differentiators.
Anticipate Readers’ Questions
Most visitors to law firm websites have questions and they’re trying to find answers. By anticipating readers’ questions and proactively answering them, you engender trust. You also set yourself up as an authority on these issues and prove your expertise.
A question-and-answer format for web content can be especially effective on practice area pages. Whether that means you ask a question in a headline and then answer it in the text below or you actually use a “Q” and “A” outline, that’s up to you. Either way, it helps a reader easily identify the information that’s most important to them.
Remember, a lot of site visitors scan a page before they read it. That means their eyes run quickly down a page as they scroll making note of headlines, graphics and callouts. After scanning a page, readers will then typically go back and read the sections that interest them. That’s why it’s critical that your web content passes the “scanability” test. Content needs to be easily digested at a glance, broken up into chunks that share a common theme, and not too copy dense. Very large sections of black and white text can be intimidating to readers. Visitors will leave a page that they can’t figure out how to navigate, which means a lead lost.
It’s a website’s job to do the heavy lifting so readers don’t have to. Anticipate the top-of-mind questions that a potential client might have, and then provide well-researched and concrete answers. Then offer to provide greater details via a phone conversation and list a contact number to call.
Here’s the Takeaway
- Give readers what they want with client-centered content.
- It’s far less important what you say about yourself than it is to create feelings of engagement and emotional satisfaction in the reader.
- Those first few seconds are critical in hooking a reader and keeping them on your page, so make sure you are giving them the information they’re looking for.
- Time on page boosts your Google rankings and increases the chance of converting a reader into a lead.
- Anticipate readers’ questions and answer them proactively, particularly on your site’s practice area pages.
- Establish right off the bat your firm’s authority and trustworthiness and reinforce these themes with persuasive client testimonials.
Remember that law firm web readers may be hurting, confused or scared because they’re facing big, life-altering problems, so be compassionate and reassuring. A little kindness goes a long way. If you follow these suggestions when creating client-centered content, you’ll enhance your sites ability to convert readers into leads.
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