Law firm websites are about to undergo a seismic change. The old-fashioned “electronic brochure” websites will soon be supplanted by a new type of website called the lead-nurturing website. These next-generation law firm websites will be much more than pretty branding pieces – they will actually generate and nurture new business opportunities.
So, what does a lead-nurturing website look like? Before exploring its design and features, we'll briefly address the basics of how these websites work to develop new business.
How Lead-Nurturing Websites Work
Lead-nurturing websites work as part of an “ecosystem” of market technologies. At the center of the ecosystem is your website – and it works in conjunction with a variety of other tools such as email, CRM and advanced analytics software (that can actually track website visitors by name). The resulting ecosystem basically does three things:
- Engages Prospects – You engage prospects by feeding them a steady stream of cutting-edge thought-leadership content. One way is by regularly emailing content to your prospects as a means of getting them to visit your website.
- Tracks Them – Once a prospect is on
your website, you track them (by name). For example, the ecosystem’s advanced
analytics tools enable you to track every page they visit, every document they
download and every webinar they sign up for. You also track how often they come
- Identifies Leads – Based on how enthusiastically prospects interact with your marketing content, the advanced tracking software generates a list of high-value leads, complete with numerical scores indicating their likely level of interest. This list tells you where to focus your business development efforts.
Designing a Lead-Nurturing Website
To successfully deliver new business opportunities, a lead-nurturing website needs to be designed to keep visitors engaged and wanting more. This is because the lead-nurturing ecosystem identifies which prospects are worth pursuing, based on the amount and type of content they consume. In short, more engagement equals more leads.
So, what kind of design and features maximize engagement and trackability? Below are some of the key characteristics:
- Content Teasing – Lead-nurturing websites need to encourage visitors to consume content for as long as they are interested. One way to accomplish this is by designing a website with no dead ends. For example, when users reach the end of an article, your lead-nurturing website will be able to offer “related publications” – just like you see on other large content sites like NYTimes.com.
- Calls to Action – In order to maximize
engagement, lead-nurturing websites will feature many more calls-to-action
(CTAs) than do traditional law firm websites. Websites will be designed to
accommodate CTA prompts such as “sign up for our newsletter” or “download a
whitepaper” in the sidebar of every page of the website. And because they will
be ubiquitous, the design of CTAs will become an integral part of the website
design process – and your website CMS will include functionality that allows
you to deploy them with just a few clicks.
- Lead-Generation Forms – Lead-nurturing websites will abound with signup forms that allow visitors to “subscribe to a newsletter,” “register for a webinar” and “request more information.” These forms allow you to:
Tracking – Forms allow you to begin tracking website visitors by name. These
forms are the only way for your marketing ecosystem to track visitors who are
not already subscribed to your email list.
- Identify Hot Prospects – Forms are a great way to gauge the interest of a particular visitor. People willing to sign up for a webinar or download a document are likely to be fairly interested in your services – and your tracking software will recognize these “high-value” prospects.
- Enable Tracking – Forms allow you to begin tracking website visitors by name. These forms are the only way for your marketing ecosystem to track visitors who are not already subscribed to your email list.
- Walled Content – One way to generate
leads is to write in-depth reports or whitepapers on a hot topic and require
users to fill out a form in order to download the entire piece. Lead-nurturing
websites will give you the administrative control you need, to deploy walled
content with a few clicks. Additionally, they will be configured so as to track
who fills out the form.
Side note: At Great Jakes, we recently wrote a whitepaper on lead nurturing and required people to fill out a form to view it. This resulted in our being able to track over 500 possible leads.
Blogs and Satellite Sites
– Many law firms have their best content located
on blogs and satellite websites that exist apart from the firm’s main site. We
call this the “hub and spoke” model. Since people don’t like clicking back and
forth among websites, the hub-and-spoke model hurts engagement and tracking.
To solve this problem, lead-nurturing websites will be built in a way that incorporates their blogs and other satellite websites into the firm’s larger website. We call this the “nest” model, and it offers an array of benefits (beyond lead nurturing). We expect that this will soon become the standard for all law firm websites.
- More and
Better Content –
In order for lead nurturing to be successful, you’ll need
to create compelling content that will attract prospects – and keep them
surfing. If you don’t have the right content, lead nurturing will inevitably
fall flat. The ideal content for lead nurturing would be:
of smart, cutting-edge insights – and well written.
- Plentiful. You’ll need a deep repository of articles, blog posts and webinars.
- Fresh. Ideally, you would continually add new content.
- Focused on an emerging issue – an area of the law that is new, exciting and poorly understood (more about this below).
- Full of smart, cutting-edge insights – and well written.
How about an example?
Want an example of a real, live lead-nurturing website? You won’t have to look far, as you’re on one. We recently redesigned our website to take advantage of lead nurturing. Take a look around, and see how we’ve implemented the various features described above.
Want more information?
If you’re looking for more information about lead nurturing, check out our whitepaper entitled, “From art to science: the coming paradigm shift for law firm websites.” It’s 15 pages and examines what it takes to implement an entire lead-nurturing ecosystem.