This might seem outlandish, but we believe that law firm websites should function more like the New York Times website, NYTimes.com.
You’re probably asking, “What the heck does NYTimes.com have in common with law firm websites?” Increasingly, the answer is: a lot. This is especially true for firms that have embraced content marketing
Like NYTimes.com, progressive law firms use their website as a platform for disseminating smart, insightful content. Additionally, both types of websites are most effective when their visitors are highly engaged – consuming one article after another.
However, there is one glaring difference. Sites like NYTimes.com and Bloomberg.com are built to maximize engagement. They use an array of “suggested content” teasers to keep visitors surfing. Consider your own experience when on a website like NYTimes.com: as soon as you finish one article, you’re teased to another.
Although large media sites have been offering visitors “suggested content” for years, law firm websites haven’t traditionally been built with tools that enable the cross-promotion of content. At Great Jakes, we saw this as a major deficiency, so we decided to build some technology to address it.
Introducing Dynamic Sidebars
In an effort to build websites that keep visitors engaged, we created the Dynamic Sidebar Tool. This new tool gives firms tremendous control over their sidebar content, including suggested content teasers. This is a major advancement over traditional sidebars, which are hard-coded onto the page, making them very difficult to modify. Dynamic sidebars, on the other hand, are
- Easy to deploy – With just a few clicks, you can activate sidebar teasers for any type of related content, including upcoming events, publications, case studies, and even blog posts.
- Extremely flexible – Any number of sidebar items can be added to a page – and you can easily reorder them using drag-and-drop. Sidebars can contain practically any content format such as photos, text, and videos.
- Automatic – Select “auto” in the CMS, and the system’s algorithm will automatically select relevant “suggested content” to promote, like blog posts, articles, and press releases.
Why is this important?
Firms dedicate considerable resources to creating reputation-enhancing content, like articles and blog posts. However, most of this content is buried. By borrowing the idea of “suggested content” from sites like NYTimes.com, you can maximize the number of eyeballs that see your content. And in turn, you can maximize the ROI of your content.
Some of the Tool's Benefits
The Dynamic Sidebar Tool also provides benefits that will please website visitors and your marketing team. Here are just a few:
- Keeping your site fresh – Your website can always be configured so that visitors see the newest and best content – regardless of what pages they happen to visit while on your website. This will keep visitors surfing your website and experiencing your brand.
- Cross-promoting your content – Real estate events can be promoted on your real estate case study pages or on pages that are only tangentially related to real estate, such as your environmental practice. This helps visitors to the site understand the firm's breadth of knowledge.
- Eliminating dead ends – When a visitor finishes reading an article, the sidebar tool allows you to spoon feed them the next piece of “suggested content.” By eliminating dead ends (which are so common on law firm websites), you can keep visitors engaged with your content and learning about your firm’s capabilities.
- Enabling calls-to-action – In addition to promoting content, dynamic sidebars allow you to include calls-to-action (CTAs). For example, you can push people to “Subscribe to Alerts,” “Register for a Webinar,” or “Download our Whitepaper.” These actions could allow you to capture the contact information of your visitors (and potentially begin tracking their future visits).
- Enabling persona-driven marketing – Do you want to promote certain articles, case studies, and events to a certain type of visitor -- and different content to other visitor types? The Dynamic Sidebar tool allows you to do so. (This is actually a feature we have in development now. However, if you’re interested in learning about it, we are happy to discuss.)
- Facilitating advanced visitor tracking – The newest visitor-tracking tools allow you to know the names and page-visit histories of your website visitors. This can provide actionable insights into a prospective client – as long as you’ve gathered enough page-visit data. The Dynamic Sidebar Tool can help gather such data.
If you’re thinking about building a new site for your firm, and your firm is committed to the development of reputation-enhancing content, you should consider incorporating flexible content-teasing tools that make your website act more like NYTimes.com. Contact us if you’d like to see a demo and discuss how our Dynamic Sidebar functionality could help you.