Knowing HOW Legal Clients Find Their New Lawyer is Critically Valuable
As always lately, something in my daily SEO work spawns a new SEO article. This one is no different. A very select lawyer client called today demanding of me that the VOIP phone number on one of his non-masthead, satellite marketing websites must belong to him – “a zero-tolerance demand.” That conversation hit me upside the head and mentally tossed a monkey wrench into my heretofore smooth daily process.
Yes, it sounds petty and controlling for me to become somewhat upset during the course of his call, and I was flailing about defending my reluctance to agree to his request. Though my thinking cloudy, being caught off-guard, the request is so much bureaucratic bullshit to add to my already overloaded daily workload over a marketing website VOIP number. He has no clue of my daily schedule. It is intense and ever so close to arcing on the 3rd rail of daily insanity. I jealously guard my distance from my years-long-refined 3rd rail of web marketing. My therapy to maintain that distance is more and more work station screens (random people think me a day trader), 100’s of open browser tabs, and working hours that now span 7 am to 11 pm. I decided to subconsciously stew on it while working today and then sleep on it. I’ll then return tomorrow to finish this article. I wanted to start it –as no matter the outcome of today’s call and request– the whole issue of Website VOIP numbers is a good “Basics Topic” for those new to Attorney Marketing…
Savvy Lawyers Publish 2 Types of Websites
Masthead / Corporate Websites
Definition – A “masthead” website is the PRIMARY website for a law practice (or business). The masthead or “corporate” site for a law practice is the one and only website that is ever referenced on a business card.
Phone Numbers – A “masthead” website phone number might be the primary phone number for the law firm or a VOIP number that the law firm might have purchased to (a) measure website calls, (b) separate new clients and vendors from established clients and vendors. If you are just starting out or have the stomach to change your primary hard-line copper number, I would suggest that your VOIP number be your PRIMARY business phone number, your business card number and masthead website number.
A VOIP number is very flexible, easy to accommodate physical office moves, expansions and is yours forever and inexpensive. The number, like all VOIP numbers, is 100% transparent in that it immediately forwards incoming calls (generated from a website visitor) connecting to any published or unpublished office phones or cell phones, or both. A VOIP number can be directed to a law firm’s (a) general receptionist, or (b) intake specialist / case manager. These numbers can be set to forward to the office phone Monday – Friday 9 am to 5 pm and then to a case manager, intake person’s cell or ANY PHONE after hours and on weekends.
This website VOIP number could be a VANITY number and become part of your “branding” — e.g. 1-800-ATTORNEY, 1-855-GOT-HURT, 1-800-HURT-NOW, 1-800-DOCTORS, 1-800-FLOWERS. Vanity numbers, in particular, have value and should —obviously– be owned by the law practice. Even if you picked a random VOIP number to forward a masthead website’s calls to an existing primary office number, a case could be made that this random VOIP number on the masthead site should also be owned by the law practice as some clients, vendors and associates might unknowingly record that website-only number as the lawyer’s primary phone number whether it is or is not. The law firm’s ownership/control of the Masthead VOIP number is no problem for SEO and web-leveraging people like me. Those numbers RARELY if EVER change.
Examples of: Masthead / Corporate / Primary Law Firm Websites:
- Wilson Law Firm – wilsonlaw.com
- Lathan & Watkins – lw.com
- DLA Piper – dlapiper.com
Satellite / Marketing Websites
Satellite / Marketing Websites – A “marketing” website is a specialty website that is designed, built and published for the sole purpose of finding and converting web searchers of legal services to new clients. A general practice law firm might deploy a satellite website for Personal Injury and another satellite website for Estate Planning. Why multiple satellite websites? Does the saying: “Jack of ALL Trades – Master of NONE” ring a bell? Potential legal clients who are facing a huge major legal issue are not going to take seriously a “handyman strip-mall lawyer” who does divorces, personal injury, and criminal law to defend them in against a first degree murder charge. Most of my clients –those with me for longer than a year– have, on average, 3 to 6 satellite websites. Each one of those websites typically has a unique and random VOIP phone number assigned to it as a simple measuring tool that sends to me and the law practice an email notification immediately following the call. More about email notifications in a minute.
Examples of: Satellite / Marketing / Landing-Page Law Firm Websites:
- Wilson Law Firm – LamictalClassAction.com
- Rand, Smith Partners, LLC – SacramentoDuiDefenseAttorneys.com
- Barber & Williams Law – NorthCarolinaMilitaryLawyers.com
Satellite-marketing websites are deployed JUST – to hook up with a specific demographic of legal services shoppers. These are new client only web portals. The random VOIP phone number is not of any particular long-time value to the law practice owner. These VOIP numbers are changed by me as regularly as I might change-out various LOGO variations, swap out different or seasonal Call-To-Action badges, adding or changing content, etc. In fact, often out of frustration of expected results, I will often delete a toll-free VOIP number and replace it with a random local-area-code VOIP number to test for client-preferences or for a Google AdWord campaign A/B testing pair.
Satellite Websites are always Evolving and Changing
Satellite legal websites – are used by Law Practice Marketing and SEO geeks like me to search for that “web magic” that results in the most contacts and phone calls going to the lawyer from prospective new clients. These satellite marketing sites, if you are “working the web” as well as you should, are constantly being tweaked or changed so as to be better-liked by both (a) search engines and (b) potential clients. Just as a fisherman at the local lake will change lures, or types of bait on his or her hook, we SEO folks are always changing every aspect of the satellite sites to search for the sweet spot that results in the most CLIENT CALLS.
Value of Email Notification Following Each Website Call
Side Bar – Another incredible reason to use a VOIP phone number on a lawyer’s website is the email notification!
At the conclusion of any website generated call (accepted or missed) an email notification is sent to (a) me –the guy who wants a report card of website conversions, and (b) to the attorney. My primary use is for a measuring tool and encouragement. For the attorney there is an added bonus! Let’s assume it is 12:30 pm, the attorney’s staff are all at lunch and the attorney is on the phone when a prospective new client call comes in. The call goes to voice mail, but the anxious-to-speak-to-a-lawyer RIGHT NOW caller does not leave a message. The attorney concludes his lunch time call and goes back to work forgetting that the phone had rung earlier. He checks his email and sees the email notification of the missed call. He immediately knows that the call is (a) a call generated by a specific satellite website, (b) a potential new client, or (c) a cold-call salesperson from Yodle. If it is a new client, his returning the call might interrupt the lawyer-shopper who is now looking over a competing attorneys’ website, because after calling you and striking out, s/he is determined to “connect” with a real live lawyer THIS DAY. These “new client saves” from responding to email notifications are reported to me ALL THE TIME. On the one occasion in five years, when the email advice system got backed up stalling emails by 4 long hours, I was bombarded by clients begging for me to get the email-notification system fixed! Like power windows, garage door openers, and TV remotes — you cannot go back!
WARNING: While I still have many RingCentral VOIP numbers, I would AVOID RingCentral as they totally screwed-up their once-cool email notification options for ACCEPTED & MISSED calls. Circular firing squad idiots! So sad. 🙁
Okay… So, why did the lawyer’s call of yesterday upset me and spawn this post?
During the call I was a little upset, but it was not clear to me exactly WHY I was upset. I was not being immediately compliant with my client’s request and simultaneously feeling both petty and frustrated for my reaction. Why do I care what VOIP account a website number comes from!?
After some reflection, I’ve determined I care to the degree of getting miffed because I have a very established daily routine and I am currently managing as many assets, servers, computers, screens, open tabs, and numerous accounts as I can manage without getting any closer to the 3rd rail of my mental daily capacity. I am careful to limit my SEO clients — just like a lawyer. And just like the lawyer who ends up in a state bar disciplinary action because he or she takes on too many clients and screws up, I’ve arrived at that mature place in my evolving daily web-marketing activities where I know that taking one additional, non-routine special request or burden will push me closer to that dangerous 3rd rail.
With a night’s rest and a new day I’ve concluded that I was emotionally recoiling during the phone conference because I change satellite website phone numbers like I change underwear and this particular client just added a layer of unnecessary complexity to what I do all day. I’d have to access multiple VOIP accounts, more tabs open, more stress for me. My average day working on already-launched satellite websites involves:
- Hours tweaking the look, feel, CTA’s, LOGOs, slider graphics, forms & VOIP numbers of satellite websites.
- Most changes are late at night 10 pm – 2:00 am during or following brainstorming sessions.
- Content is changed, meta titles altered, new pages published, Calls-To-Action created, etc.
- Phone numbers are always ‘on the bubble’ —on the chopping block.
- Do clients respond more favorably to a toll-free 888? —or…
- What happens if I change to a local area codes: 213, 619, 415, 212? Will we get more calls?
- A/B Testing of the EXACT same site on slightly different URLs (with different VOIP numbers).
My workhorse computers and multiple screens are never enough! On each of my 3 primary screens I have open right now 22-Tabs, 16-Tabs 11-Tabs. Many of my clients have never invoked a 2nd tab ever! My two VOIP accounts are there and ALWAYS live as I am constantly buying numbers, writing XMI IVR scripts, deleting toll-free and replacing with locals, etc. Here… I just took a screenshot:
We’ve designed and launched 1,100 legal websites, at any given time I personally am working a half dozen clients each week and their various websites are OPEN on my various screens as I round-robin my hours to work their Internet marketing. If every SEO client insisted that all my various temporary tools were set up in their name I’d have to have a whole multi-computer – multi-screen work station for each client.
The call’s conclusion resulted in pushing the request out 6 weeks – I am not a trained debater like my brother-in-law nor my litigator-clients. It is folly of me to debate a trained courtroom litigator over something so trivial as what account a particular VOIP number is birthed or controlled from: his or mine. But this had never come up before and all I see are speed bumps and that 3rd rail in my otherwise smooth and silky daily drive!
Growth Through Routine Drafting and Writing
As a lawyer, you KNOW that as soon as you hammer out your client’s claim, answer, pleading, petition, contract, trust, or even basic research for a case, that you come away all the better for it. Your client probably will benefit from your growth and understanding acquired just by drafting and writing. You become invested in your client and their plight; you envision new strategies and become more competent in lawyering.
Your future clients too, will all benefit from your keyboard exercises. Same for me. Posting these SEO articles for my lawyer buddies helps me more clearly define, in my own mind, and for my clients what it is I do, how I do it, its folly or benefit, and new possibilities. Writing for others, teaching a class, spending a week preparing a sermon, defending a clients position on paper — or preparing for deposition or trial always seem to make everything more clear.
I’ve concluded that, for me, writing down what one thinks they know often exposes to the author how much they don’t know.
I slept on the matter. This morning the subject is clear. I need to discuss these matters before taking on new clients and come to agreement in advance. I should also write an article on the subject. Thus this posting.
MY CONCLUSION: My client sees this (my 2nd website for him) –a satellite website in my mind and game plan– as his masthead site. I did not, as it is just one of two law sections of his practice. But we never had the Masthead vs. Satellite conversation. Maybe if we had… Thanks Chris for challenging me.
Is it possible that some narrowly focused legal practices have TWO masthead sites?
For example it might be that a family law attorney who happens to split their legal practice between (1) all manner of family law issues, and (2) people seeking a divorce attorney. Thus, a Dallas Family Law attorney has a first masthead site [DallasFamilyLaw.com] for all manner of family law matters, including divorce, but because his or her bread-and-butter happens to be divorce and we don’t want that message watered down with clutter, that a second “masthead” website is [DallasDivorceAttorney.com]. For a law practice like this who has a paralegal or associate that had years of QDRO experience, a satellite website for this family law firm might then be [TexasQDROexperts.com].
A second law section that might be a candidate for 2 “masthead” type websites would be a Criminal Defense Attorney who similarly splits his or her law practice 50:50. For such an attorney, the two necessary websites that are more like “masthead” sites could be: [DenverCriminalDefenseLawyer.com] and [DenverDuiLawyer.com]. If the practice brings an associate aboard at some point, a “satellite” website (just for lead generation) might be [DenverJuvenileDefenders.com].
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