Ask Nearly-Clients To Actually Enquire – Naturally

(Use Proven Marketing Rules On Your Modern Website)

Push for a decision and prevent “i'll think about it” delays

'Normal Marketing Methods' Don't Work For Professionals.

Many professionals' deeply focussed training takes them further away from marketing than they realise. In practice, tempted to emulate 'normal' marketing, they may be disappointed.

The nature of professional work makes marketing difficult.

  • There are elements of traditional marketing that often can't be used
  • The professions have difficult-to-describe aspects of their services
  • The emotion-laden client is usually more sensitive about what to expect

So the professions cannot design their marketing materials exactly as other businesses do.

Table of Contents
  1. Invite Potential Clients (Explicitly!) To Contact You - Now!
  2. Encourage Those Nearly-Clients Hesitating To Contact You
  3. Actively Build Trust To Comfort Would-be Clients About To Contact You
  4. Boost Enquiry Numbers: Make Your Contact-Us Page So Easy To Use

Invite Potential Clients (Explicitly!) To Contact You - Now!

Many professionals' deeply focussed training takes them further away from marketing than they realise. In practice, tempted to emulate 'normal' marketing, they may be disappointed.

In this blog series, we're tracking through how to adapt the 5 fundamental stages of marketing to suit your ideal clients:
Previously, you've considered (1) getting potential clients' attention, (2) promising an advantage, (3) providing proof and (4) convincing people they personally will gain...
Here, you have to Ask for Action (5) – to encourage readers to actually contact you.
The final step in the traditional sequence is vital.

Normal marketing always makes a point of asking potential customers to take action.
All successful adverts, leaflets, mail order catalogues and e-commerce websites explicitly ask the reader to email, phone, send a coupon or click – to make the purchase.

For professionals, the appropriate invitation is usually for a call or email to arrange an appointment.

All the explanations, reassurances and encouragements work towards this final step. It is the vital end of the logical sequence of activity. Marketing without this Call-To-Action is simply giving away research fodder.

Repelled by the idea of asking out loud?

But some professionals seem to feel repelled by the thought of explicitly asking for action. Perhaps it's because their whole raison d'etre is to offer help, advice and assistance; so asking clients to 'buy' that service feels conflicted.

They would rather provide bald contact details and hope that clients use it.

(Mind you, lawyers are not alone in this. Many other professionals – and even other commercial concerns – work assiduously at the first four steps but cut this final step to nearly invisible.)

This leaves website visitors confused, off-balance and probably feeling rejected.

Let's review normal transactions.
Listen in to any purchase in a High Street shop.

Beware contradictory messages

Beware contradictory messages

At the psychological level, it takes (minimum) two people speaking one sentence each. These are “Please may I...?” and “Yes, thank you”. In practice, we often hold out our goods silently. And the assistant may just smile "Thanks".

It doesn't matter who goes first. In a shop it is usually the buyer, at the till. In a more expertise-driven discussion, it is often the expert.

So any natural face-to-face or telephone enquiry is likely to reach an end-point where you ask “If everything is clear, shall we...?” or “do you wish to...?”. This brings things to a decision-point.

Surely this is right and proper?

It's just as professional to do the same on your website.
That is, to politely suggest they email or call you, and confirm that you are pleased for them to do that.

Beyond providing factual information, clarifying the next step is proper client care. Making it simple, direct and easy-to-do is right.

Useful Point: Encouraging contact clearly and politely takes only a sentence or two on any publication. It is quick and easy, and effective.

Less obvious perhaps, is the 'tone of voice' you do it with. Using plain English, speaking directly to the reader and using active, optimistic and results-focussed language all make it sound natural.

Revising this one area could immediately bring you more enquiries, or more suitable enquiries. So it is worth spending a little time on.

Encourage Those Nearly-Clients Hesitating To Contact You

It is a human trait to hesitate before stepping into risky situations.

Entering unknown territory or interrupting someone perceived to be powerful causes most people a moment's doubt. Even when their own issues may be pressing, and they see you as their salvation, they may still delay.

So if we want them to act we aim to actively ease people's natural worries.

Build Essential Trust

There are various ways we can nudge them.

  • Overcome this with an absolutely explicit invitation.
  • And make it warmly welcoming.
  • And make it easy to RSVP.

In a recent survey of solicitors, the Bellwether Report says that inspiring trust is the third most important attribute to thrive as a solicitor (out of a list of 22).
I suggest this is the factor that will help you encourage nearly-clients who are hesitating to contact you.

Unfortunately, solicitors are not known for their people-skills.

Oxford English Dictionary definition of Trust

An IPSOS MORI poll in 2017 showed that the general public trust solicitors less than the ordinary man-in-the-street.

(Mind you they trust politicians a great deal less!)

Veracity Index 2017 - IPSOS MORI

What To Do?

I recommend you take a look at your competitor-colleagues' websites – their Contact Us page.

Check whether it has any form of invitation.
A very large proportion just give the facts: addresses, numbers, a webform and sometimes a map.
No invitation. No explanation. No encouragement. Not making much effort to build trust...

Compare your own.
Would you like to improve your invitation?

Write an explicit invitation on your Contact Us page

Include these steps in brief sentences:

  1. A list of what problems you solve
  2. A reminder of what you provide before the legal work
  3. A summary of your proofs-of-ability
  4. An invitation written as a real person
  5. And then provide methods of contact
  6. And make the phone number a button for mobile phone users.

All this means that your 'contact us' details will be below the fold, forcing people to scroll. They will red – or at least scan – your persuasions as they scroll to find it.

Long pages like this can double the number of email contacts you receive.

So all the positives will be foremost in their mind at this critical moment.

If you provide your contact information on your Contact Us page, then logically, every other page should contain at least one link to your Contact Us page.

Build Up Comfort For Would-be Clients About To Contact You

People are naturally nervous about the unknown.
If this stops too many would-be clients from contacting your firm at the last minute, you can write to build up the trust they need.

One helpful response is to provide information to reduce the sense of unknown.

This is the last of five stages in the marketing formula 'AIDA'.
It is about Prompting Action - ie asking potential clients to contact you for an initial consultation.
An obvious place where people's hesitations will stop them is your Contact-Us page. If people visit your website but then don't get in touch with you, all your work has been wasted.

Your Contact-Us page is your most important page nowadays.

While you can provide reassurances in many places throughout your website, consider doing it again (or more) on your Contact Us page.

Prepare people who are actively considering contacting you for the early parts of the process. The more they know, the less anxious they are likely to be.

And feel more cared-for during what is probably a difficult time.

And become more likely to return with other matters, tell friends and colleagues about how caring you are, and even write positive online reviews about their experience.

How To Build A Comfort Zone

Nearly-clients may feel you can provide the legal skills. Other pages on your website will usually address that issue. But worry about how well cared-for they will be during the process may be the cause of hesitations.

In the recent Bellwether Report, all of the top seven priorities (out of Solicitors rate these skills as priority22) that solicitors feel are important to thriving in practice, are about the clients.

Here are some simple things you could do to build comfort.
Mostly they only need doing once on the website – an easy step forward!
(There are many more things you can do, and on pages other than your Contact-Us page.)

Give reassurance directly

Give immediate reassurance to people who have never been to a solicitor before. You can speak to them directly and say you recognise that on top of their pressing legal problems, a solicitor's office may be so unfamiliar that it's causing worry.

Confirm that you want them to enquire

Even if they are not sure what to ask for, or who, or how... you still invite them to get in touch.

Provide photos of your place

Many solicitors display a photo of their frontage, which might help pedestrians. But adding photos of your car-park, your reception area and your meeting room would reassure so many more people.

Offer a more detailed map

You don't have to show the map on the website, but you can explain that you will send them a map by post or email. You can say that it shows routes to your office from the bus station, train station and by road from surrounding towns. And it might also mark local car parks in case yours is full (or if you do not have one).

Prepare an agenda for the first meeting

Describe to people who will be present, what you will talk about, how they can ask questions, and how long it usually lasts will give them a good idea of what to expect.

You can even tell them how you greet them

Will you personally find them in Reception, or will secretary show them to your room? How many can you seat for eh meeting? Will you offer them a hot/cold drink? Might it help to warn them that you have building works or noisy neighbours if that might be off-putting at the time?

And you can explain process as it continues

What happens after the first meeting? What happens along the way? How long is it likely to take? What else might become important? And so on...

How To Use These Confidence Boosters

You don't have to list all these on your Contact-Us page.

If your website has accordion blocks functionality, it will be to hand for those with these sort of questions. (These enlarge or shrink after a click when you want to toggle between hiding and showing large amount of content.)

Or you can put the list on another page with a link like “Have you got any further questions about our first meeting?”

Much of mine is on my Services page.

The Project Process

In fact, you can create a FAQ page to handle these reassurances, styled as a Q&A list. 

Your Second-Most Important Page

Search engines strive continually improve their machinery. Google made 3200 algorithm changes last year. On average, that's several times a day – including Sundays!

Recently, they have focussed on the page where all your most explicit answers are. Not many people know this.
Your FAQ page. Because Google knows people want answers to their own questions (not what other people think is important!).

That makes it your second most important page.
It is most likely to pop up in Google search results, and most likely to answer hesitant nearly-clients' questions.
So that means that you can turn your clients hesitations to your advantage, simply by giving answers in the best way!

All the best, Dave

PS If you want help in getting both the technology and the psychology of this right, do get in touch - this sort of project excites me!

Boost Enquiry Numbers: Make Your Contact-Us Page So Easy To Use

Most website visitors clicking through to your Contact Us page have not yet made up their minds.
(It's true a few will be past clients searching for your phone number – but they'll probably get that from your Homepage, won't they?)
On your Contact Us page, most first-timers are still looking for clues, still seeking reassurances.
Because you want enquiries, this is the Most Important Page on your website – its performance is critical to your website's productivity.

We've already discussed ways to provide reassurances at this last moment decision-point. And next I will show you how to adjust your subsequent processes to be the most productive and profitable they can be - see details at the bottom of this email.

Now let's look at the actual contact methods you provide. Let's see how they can be improved to make it as easy as possible for nervous potential clients to use.

Provide a choice of communication channels

Give people the chance to use their preferred method of contact.

1. Phone-call

Provide your general enquiries landline. Make sure the number is displayed in a large font size so that people using their own landline can see it easily as they dial. This will allow them to get it right first time, and to avoid any double-checking frustrations as they dial. Then they will be clear of mind and easy to help when they get through to your receptionist.

  • You can also make the number into a very-user-friendly button to press on mobile phones. Because mobile phone usage surpassed desktop devices in May this year (2019), this is very worthwhile for private clients.

  • On this subject, your answerphone message is an important function with make-or-break implications. Administratively correct messages can be very unfriendly and leave enquirers feeling rebuffed.
2. Email

Provide your general enquiries email address. Make sure it is displayed as a functional link so that people don't have to type the whole address into their email app; they can just click on the link and their software will be automatically brought up for them.

  • You can go further and write the title and even parts of the body.

  • But do avoid “Enquiry via website”: while it's technically correct, it is dehumanising to the client and could raise sufficient negative feelings to stop the enquiry then and there.
3. Webform

Research says people hate these forms. They require lots of typing and on a mobile phone that's very difficult. Research also says that the fewer fields you present the more likely people are to try to use it. So consider the balance between putting people off and making it easy for admin systems to route or respond to the email appropriately.

  • Avoid the word “Submit” - it implies loss of control and even surrender, which may inflame antagonisms already present in their legal circumstances.
4. Fax.

Fax usage by the general public has shrunk to near zero. While this method may be important for some professional colleagues, it is unlikely to be used much by would-be clients.

5. Live chat app

This texting channel works for both mobiles and desktops, and will help hearing-impaired clients and those in very windy or noisy conditions. It is easily supported by reception staff.

6. Chatbot

This is an artificial intelligence version of live chat and can help in limited ways.

Motivating people to enquire

Nine out of ten people with a legal need do not contact a solicitor, according to the SRA. Some are just too nervous of the authoritative aspect of solicitors. They may be worried about looking foolish, confidentiality, loss of control, losing in litigation, fees or other things.

While providing choice will help people, offering too much choice can induce mental paralysis and rejection. Plain and simple has its attractions.

The challenge for you is to make your Contact Us page as easy as possible to use – both technically and emotionally.

Most law firms' Contact Us pages appear to be designed as after-thoughts. The assumption is obviously that potential clients will have made up their minds after reading the relevant parts of the rest of the website, and only go to the Contact Us page to get the mechanical details of how to make the enquiry.

But with a clear invitation, a summary of reassuring facts and a very-easy-to-use contact method, a higher proportion of website visitors will actually enquire. Some of these may be from the nine who don't currently contact a legal adviser, and others may prefer your new user-friendly style over your colleague-competitors' more traditional styles.

Your Invitation

"With the changes to the SRA Handbook coming in November of this year opening up the market to non-law firms it is more critical than ever that Law Firms and individual solicitors take a long, hard look at what really drives success. The time when to do nothing was an option is rapidly disappearing." (LexisNexis Bellwether Report: The Good Solicitor’s Skill Set, 2019)

If this is important to you, and you want to explore ways of improving your Contact Us page to stimulate more enquiries – or better-suited enquiries – please RSVP here.

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