While we really can’t write the typical hard sell for a law firm website, and there are bar regulations that limit the things that we can actually claim in the web copy we write, there’s also plenty of room for crafting kick ass copy that engages potential clients and gets them doing what we want them to do.
Here are some pointers on how to write great copy for your law firm website.
Before You Start Writing
Don’t dive into your copy feet first. Effective persuasive copy—the kind of writing that convinces readers to “buy” whatever you’re selling them—takes some pre-writing and thinking. Before you begin, think about what you have to say before thinking about how you’re going to say it. That is, what is the purpose of the copy you are writing? The topic and the content of your writing should focus on these points:
- The three phases of the buying cycle:
- The information phase. This is the phase when your “buyer” (or reader) is looking to understand more about what the website offers. Usually, this copy focuses more on education – how-to’s, definitions, tips, etc. The response to aim for: clicks to other pages within the website.
- The shopping phase. At this point, the reader knows more about what is available and is looking to compare your services with that of your competitors. The focus of this copy is lead generation. The response you’re looking for is a request for more information (in our case, we want the reader to ask questions by filling out the online case form).
- The purchase phase. The reader is now convinced and is ready to buy what you’re selling. This copy may focus on cases handled or case studies; anything that shows your potential clients that your law firm is the right one for their legal needs. The response you want is a phone call or an email to the contact person using email address(es) found on the website, the case form filled out, or an online chat detailing their legal problem.
- Instill a sense of urgency to act now. Give them a real reason to call/contact/email now, today, immediately, before it is too late. The message must be genuine, not invented. For example, in an accidental injury claim, there is a specific period of time in which they can file a claim (the statute of limitation); beyond that, their claim may be dismissed. Capitalize on that limitation and use it to prompt them to get started by contacting you.
- Tap the readers’ emotional hot buttons. Fear, pain, desire, aspirations…these are what connects our readers to our message. The biggest motivators are fear and pain; you’ll get more response from people by using these motivators rather than their dreams and aspirations. Losing the chance to file for damages because the claiming period has past and, consequently, having to cover their own damages out of pocket is very painful. Play on that fear and pain. The seven deadly sins—lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride—work as motivators just as well.
- Offer a “how-to” solution. Attract the reader’s attention and build credibility by providing how-to’s that show the reader how to do something—for example, how to avoid being held liable for a motorcycle accident.
- What’s new about your services? Maybe you have a new partner with multiple certifications and specializations and a record of court victories. Maybe you off a special discount to potential clients who contact you via the website. Try to find something new and interesting to draw people in with. If there is nothing, find a fresh angle on something old and present it in a way that genuinely appears new. The keyword here is genuine; no misleading information please.
- Reduce your prospect’s perceived risk to zero. Your client’s biggest fears in regard to contacting a lawyer: they can’t afford the lawyer’s fees (esp. the consultation fee); they don’t have a case; no valid claim; they’ll go into litigation; inattentive staff; etc. Here are some things we can leverage:
- Free, no-obligation consultations (where it exists)
- 24/7 online chat service or 1-800 number
- Client satisfaction department (if you have one)
- Percentage of settlements won
- Number of happy clients served
- AV lawyer rating
- Inclusion on the Top 100 Verdicts
- Proof points. While state bar rules limit (or even prohibit) the use of testimonials, there are still some “endorsements” you can tap into:
- $$$ amounts won in settlements and verdicts
- Number of clients served
- Brief case studies of successful cases handled and won
- Awards, recognitions, top ratings given by recognized groups/organizations/publications (e.g., Martindale-Hubbell AV rating, VerdictSearch Top 100 Verdicts, etc.)
- Express your Overall Value Proposition in very clear terms (otherwise known as the Unique Selling Proposition). These are the questions that the prospect will ask while reading your persuasive copy:
- What can you say that will persuade me to call you and entrust you with my claim/case and not the other 999 lawyers out there?
- What is unique about this law firm?
- What’s in it for me?
This is usually your positioning statement, often found in the Headline of the copy you write, that differentiates your law firm from your competitors.
- “What’s in it for me?” This is what your reader is asking you when they’re reading your web copy/article/blog post. When you answer, always think of first-time visitors and the types of questions they may ask themselves: “If I read this copy, what’s in it for me?” “If I call the law firm now, what’s in it for me besides the ‘free, no-obligation consultation?’” “If I hire this lawyer, what’s in it for me?” and so on.
- Craft your copy in a way that keeps the reader tuned in to you and doesn’t give them a reason to go to your competitor’s website. Your copy should be heavy on “credible, useful information” and light on “breathless, killer sales language.” The soft sell is the way to go.
Sitting Down to Write
Once you’ve carefully determined what your copy should and should not say, you’re ready to begin writing. Your web copy has three main elements: (a) the headline, (b) the body, and (c) the call to action. Each of these should focus on responding to your reader’s (your prospect’s) point of view. When reading it, the typical person is thinking:
- The Headline
- “Tell me what you’re offering and make it matter to me.”
- The Body Text
- “Engage me with a problem/solution.”
- “Give me enough details to make an informed decision.”
- “Give me some proof so I can believe you and have no doubts. (Can you show it or demonstrate it?)”
- “Remove the risk to further reduce any sense of anxiety.”
- The Call to Action
- “Convince me of the urgency to buy now.”
The purpose of your headline is to:
- Grab your reader’s attention
- Target your prospect by saying something meaningful on a personal level
- Stir curiosity
- Make a promise
- Introduce a compelling idea
- Make an offer
- Challenge the reader
Tips on writing the headline. The headline tells the prospect/reader what is in the content. It must persuade the reader to stay on the page and keep reading, but how?
- Make your headline captivating, not boring. Make it unexpected and intriguing, and make it demand an explanation.
- Make a promise your readers want to hear. Remove all potential barriers to the sale. E.g., New State Law Can Get You as Much as $100,000 in Damages, Guaranteed! (Of course, we’re scraping the limits of state bar rules with this example but you get the drift.)
- Trigger your reader’s emotions. Tapping into someone’s emotional hot buttons—fears, pains, desires and aspirations—will move them to act (Make me feel and I’ll act now, because by taking action I will immediately feel better). Give the prospect a reason to desire the benefit sooner rather than later. E.g., New Ruling Gives BP Oil Spill Victims 30 Days to File Injury Claim. Discover If You Are Affected. This headline has a sense of urgency, and triggers the fear of being left out of the list of legitimate claimants for compensation.
- Be specific in your promise. Make the headline’s promise feel real, not vague. Avoid using abstract concepts and ambiguous words.
- Deliver some exclusivity. The reader should feel privileged to have access to the information or benefit.
The headline sells the lead—it’s the “hook” that gets your reader reading further—and the lead sells the rest of the pitch. The job of the lead is to deliver sufficient motivation to ensure that the reader reads the rest of the page. It must do two things:
- Deliver on the big promise, the overriding benefit that your service offers the prospect. Create a picture of that in their mind and the benefits it brings. Usually, for your prospects, the biggest benefit is the possibility of recovering all costs/expenses related to their injury/accident, having enough money for rehab so they can walk again, and not having to file for personal bankruptcy, etc.
- Introduce the big idea. The big idea is fresh, compelling copy that piques the reader’s interest and drags the reader into the body of the copy.
In the lead, describe the problem, and then announce that there is a solution. To connect to the readers, you must empathize. Make them feel that they’re not alone and that you know what they’re going through.
The Body of the Text
The body of the copy is the meat—it describes what the service is, how it works, how it is different from what they may have tried before, and the unique attributes and benefits of your services. Within the body:
- Offer proof. You’re selling something to a stranger, so at this point, your law firm does not have much credibility…yet. By providing proof, you’re making a big step towards getting the readers to do what you want them to do; namely, to contact you in any way.
- Make your offer risk free. Give the reader/prospect a compelling guarantee that they can’t say no to. Make the prospect feel that they’ve got nothing to lose and can go ahead and contact your law firm without any worries at all. (See Point 6 of “Before You Start Writing”)
- Think feature, write benefit. The feature is your personalized representation. The benefits are never having to worry about not getting updates about the case, never being late in filing claims, and always having someone spot errors before they happen so they can be addressed early, among other benefits. Drill down into the features of your services and translate them into a benefit.
Remember: When people buy, they buy based on emotions and feelings (what they perceive as the benefits), then they rationalize their emotional purchase by banking on the features that go with it. For example, when they contract your law firm’s services, they’re not “buying” the lawyer’s time, knowledge, experience and representation (the features, though technically they are buying these), they’re “buying” the almost-guaranteed chance of winning damages/recovering their losses (the benefits). In short, people don’t buy stuff, they buy what the stuff will do for them.
The Call to Action
It’s the job of the copy [body] to get readers to the point where they want to BUY. It’s the job of the call to action to get the prospect to buy NOW. Tell the prospect what you want them to do. Be direct. E.g.:
- Call us now at 1-800-WIN-CASE (1-800-555-1234) for a free, no-obligation review of your potential claim.
- Fill out our simple case form today to see if you have a claim.
- Click LET’S TALK to chat with one of our legal staff now!
- AWAI. 2011. Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. Delray Beach, FL: American Writers & Artists Inc.
- Heather Lutze. 2009. The Findability Formula: The Easy, Non-Technical Approach to Search Engine Marketing. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Nick Usborne. Kick Ass Web Copy. www.WordTracker.com.
- Robert W. Bly. 2005. The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells, 3rd ed. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.