Within the legal community, law associations serve a very important purpose. Associations are a vital resource for legal professionals, providing up-to-date information about their area of the law and putting on a number of educational and networking events throughout the year. But how does a law association grow its membership so it can serve more legal professionals?
The answer is effective website design and marketing.
But effective website design and marketing is not quite the same for a law association as it is for a typical business. While the end goal of a business website is to market a product or service, the goal of a law association is to interact with (and encourage greater participation from) its current members, and of course grow its membership base.
Here are 4 tips to help law associations get more out of their online properties:
1. Make a Lasting First Impression
If you’re not familiar with bounce rate, it is a means by which we gage how many visitors came to your website and left without clicking any more pages. The lower your bounce rate, the more your visitors are interacting with your site – and that’s what we’re going for.
To keep your bounce rate low, you must have a site that is modern-looking and attractive. You are a law association after all. When visitors come to your site, they expect professionalism. If, on the other hand, the site looks cheaply built, a legal professional will not stick around long enough to see what else is on it.
2. Make Your Website User-Friendly
Lawyers are smart, but they are also very busy. The last thing they want to be doing is navigating a site that looks confusing. Make sure that the design is clean and free of unnecessary clutter. The navigation bars should be large and easy to find, so the user can find their way around without any trouble. This will require efficient use of your online real estate.
Remember the main purposes of your organization:
Keeping members updated on upcoming events, industry workshops, and professional development courses.
Allowing easy access to online membership renewals and event registration for current members.
Offering prospects easy access to sign up as members and/or sign up for your email newsletter (if you have one).
An easy, hassle-free checkout/payment system (very important, just ask the creators of heathcare.gov.)
Now make sure everything about your site fosters these purposes.
3. Make Your Website Responsive
Studies show that nearly 40% of all Internet activity (as of 2013) is conducted on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. That’s 4 out of 10 users! And you can bet that this trend toward mobile will continue for the foreseeable future. A market this size is simply too big to ignore. To adapt to the current mobile trend, you need to ensure that your website is responsive, meaning that the layout and design automatically adapts to the visitor’s device. This will give your users a far greater overall experience.
4. Make Your Website Visible
The first 3 steps are great, but they are utterly meaningless if nobody is visiting your website. To make sure this does not happen to your association, you need a comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. This involves several elements, including:
On-page SEO: Your web developer should have the “bones” of your website optimized around the keywords that legal professionals will use to find you online.
Consistent Content Production: Content Marketing is a term that is becoming commonplace in the web development world. The reason is that with the continual Google updates, there is one SEO method that has stood the test of time; developing quality content. This could mean articles, blog posts, newsletters, white papers, video, and many others.
Social Media Promotion: Producing relevant quality content is only part of the content marketing equation. The other is promoting your content across multiple distribution channels, namely high traffic social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and YouTube. Bring valuable content to the places where your target audience hangs out, and they will most certainly put your website on their favorites list.
Keep your Eye on the Prize
Effective website design and marketing for law associations may seem like a lot of work. And sure, you may need to bring in some help to get it all done. But at the end of the day, a successful internet marketing strategy will keep your current membership happy, build a steady flow of new members, and give your organization the strength and stability to effectively serve your members for years to come.