A Digital Marketing Case Study

How Murderers, Fraudsters and Thieves helped me increase Stuart Miller's conversions by 2,256%

  • How do you transform a generic, corporate website into a digital asset generating 150 qualified client enquiries in a single day?
  • What does it take to understand your target customers so intimately they consider your business to be their only viable option?
  • How do you develop a marketing strategy that makes this all possible?
  • How do you grow your business when you have neither the time, knowledge nor in-house resources to achieve this yourself?

 

I spend most of my time providing training and consultancy for in-house marketing teams. Occasionally, and for only a small number of clients,  I also devise, manage and implement their entire marketing strategy. This case study reveals the exact process I used to help transform a local, high street law firm into one of the most successful criminal defence practices in the UK.

 


The Problem

Stuart Miller Solicitors struggled to understand what their clients wanted and what it would take to persuade them to choose their practice over other competing law firms.

Established in 1984, the directors felt out of touch with modern marketing practices and how to reach and persuade people charged with serious criminal offences.

They had spent a small fortune on new websites and online advertising that never seemed to achieve positive results. They struggled to find marketing professionals with the experience and track record to achieve the right results.

 

How did this feel for Stuart Miller’s directors?

 

I felt we were haemorrhaging money, not being competitive amongst our peers and ill-prepared for the future. I was concerned we weren’t catering for the true potential of private-client business and unable to secure the larger cases. We were falling behind our competitors and constantly playing catch-up.

Majad Habib (Stuart Miller Solicitors)
 
Why was Stuart Miller’s website not performing?

The Stuart Miller website was typical of most legal websites. It attempted to convey the experience and professionalism of the firm and the individual lawyers working within the practice. The focus was entirely on the law firm, and not their clients.

The page copy was riddled with dense, legal jargon which spoke in glowing terms about the firm’s achievements. The home page was little more than a navigation tool directing visitors towards specific offence pages. The site was slow and over-optimised with keywords created purely for SEO.

 

The old version of the Stuart Miller home page was little more
than a navigational menu using generic copy and cliched stock images.

 

Why did this need to change?

Until their website was capable of persuading prospective clients that Stuart Miller was not just one option, but the best option to defend their case, there would be little point in driving more traffic.

We had to completely rethink what a law firm website could be and break with the tired industry conventions.

How do you even start to put this plan into action?

 


The Research Phase

When a business realises their website isn’t performing, their instinct is often to hire a web design company and set about building yet another new site.

 

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

Albert Einstein

 

It was clear that simply rebuilding the website without first performing detailed research was unlikely to achieve positive results.

How did I set about this research?

1) Understanding Stuart Miller’s business

To help a client achieve their goals, I first have to understand who I am helping and what the directors, personally, are hoping to achieve.

Until this is fully understood, it’s unlikely we will be working towards the same goals.

Here are some of the questions I asked Stuart Miller’s directors:

  • What do they believe makes them different/better than other criminal law firms?
  • Why do they believe their clients choose them over other law firms?
  • What type of cases did they most want to attract?
  • What were the personal and business goals of the company’s directors?
  • What were the business’s key strengths and weaknesses?
  • What internal resources, assets or expertise did the company that could be used to our advantage?

 

2) Understanding Stuart Miller’s clients

Client research is less about what your customers say than how they say it.

  • I spent several days in the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts observing criminal cases in action.
  • I conducted interviews with people arrested or charged with rape, fraud, murder, sexual and indecent images offences.
  • I spoke with lawyers, probation officers, barristers and prison inmates.
  • I frequented ex-convict forums and spoke with the partners and families of those charged with serious crimes.

I needed to get inside the heads of the people we were aiming to reach and try to understand the experience of being arrested, interviewed, charged and tried in a Crown Court.

It was a period of mixed emotions, to say the least.

 

What did I learn from this process?
  • Everyone arrested or charged with a serious crime feels scared and confused. This was just as true for repeat offenders as for those arrested for the first time.
  • In the early stages, they needed as much information as possible to gain some clarity on their situation.
  • They wanted to know they had someone on their side. They felt isolated and terrified about what this could mean for themselves, their family, their livelihood and their social and professional reputation.
  • Above all else, they needed to feel there was some hope of a positive outcome.

 

This has little to do with lawyers or the criminal justice system. It has everything to do with feelings of fear, hope and liberty.

When these are the primary concerns of our online visitors, everything we communicate on the site must serve to address those concerns.

 

3) Understanding their competitors

I asked Stuart Miller for a list of the other law firms to which they most frequently lost clients. I also asked which of these firms they most aspire to be.

I performed a competitive analysis of their competitors’ websites and contacted these firms to get a feel for how they handled new client enquiries.

How do you turn this research into action?

 


Devising a Strategy

Once the research phase was complete, I developed a Marketing Strategy to specify what we were going to do, and a Marketing Plan to specify how we were going to achieve it.

 

What were the key insights?

– Google would be the key to gaining new clients

Very few of Stuart Miller’s clients had any previous dealing with criminal defence law firms. They didn’t have friends or family to ask for recommendations nor would they have felt comfortable doing so. If Google was their primary source of information, then that is where Stuart Miller Solicitors needed to seen. Effective SEO had to be an integral part of this strategy.

 

– Clients needed empathy as much as they needed legal advice

People arrested or charged with a serious criminal offence feel terrified and ashamed. They need to see that a law firm understood their emotional needs as much as their legal needs. The copy on the Stuart Miller website had to demonstrate this.

 

– Clients needed to feel reassured

They wanted to feel that there was some hope of a positive outcome and that Stuart Miller had the necessary experience and expertise to deliver that outcome. We had to demonstrate that expertise with proof, not just empty words.

 

– Don’t tell it, show it!

Rather than trying to persuade prospective clients by telling them how great Stuart Miller Solicitors is, we needed to show them we were the best option by making the website a goldmine of valuable and helpful information.

We would provide practical, relevant and informative advice, written in plain-English, that was wholly relevant to the offence with which they had been charged. This content would be based entirely on the questions prospective clients were asking on Google.

 

– Remove visitor friction

85% of Stuart Miller’s online visitors access their site from a mobile device.

The existing website was slow and riddled with technical errors which made it a challenge for Google and human visitors to navigate.

We needed a site that was fast, easy to navigate and fully optimised for mobile devices.

 

– Create the right impression

The existing Stuart Miller branding was perceived as old-fashioned.

We needed a complete rebranding to convey a modern, proactive and empathetic law firm while maintaining a sense of experienced professionalism.

 

– Make Stuart Miller’s positioning immediately clear

We had to demonstrate how Stuart Miller was uniquely positioned to help their prospective clients.

The research and interviews had given me clear insights into how this could be achieved and how we could counter any objections their prospective clients might have.

If you want to know more about the process I used to define Stuart Miller’s positioning, I highly recommend this book on the subject by April Dunford.  

 

I watched Danny implement a plan to produce the most comprehensive, most effective and attractive online presence in our field and then witnessed that plan come together step by step, every day.

Working with Danny was just easy. He studied our industry, our clients and our audience. He decided and dictated pretty much everything. Although Danny did run a few things past me, I was left as a spectator rather than as an active participant. I couldn’t have hoped or dreamt of such a huge blessing to come my way.

Majad Habib (Stuart Miller Solicitors)

 


The Marketing Plan

Find a great copywriter

The copywriters would take the insights we gleaned from the research and assemble them into words that reflected our understanding of who our visitors are and what they needed to hear.

For this project, I engaged the talented copywriters Joel Klettke and Rachael Bueckert who are always a dream to work with.

Rachael and Joel got to work on three key pages of the new site; Home page, About Us and Contact page.

These are the most-frequented pages on the site and likely to have the biggest impact on visitor behaviour. They also set the tone and style which influenced all of the remaining content on the site.

 

A wireframe the copywriters produced for the new home page
demonstrating how we understood the needs of their clients.

 

Find a great web agency

I prefer to use Fhoke for any website project. Fhoke build clean, fast, modern websites. They do it, without a fuss, on time and on budget. When the scope of the project inevitably creeps, they don’t complain or take advantage of the situation. I can’t even begin to tell you how rare that is. (I have no financial relationship with Fhoke. I just love what they do.)

Great web design is crucial to a project. When visitors see you have applied care and attention to detail to a site, they assume the same about your products or services. Web design is not, however, a sticking plaster for a business with poor positioning. However pretty a site, it won’t wallpaper over the cracks.

 

 

The final version of the new Stuart Miller home page from Fhoke.

 

Perform detailed Keyword Research

It is helpful to view every Google search as a question requiring an answer. Even a transactional search such as “fraud lawyers London” is really the question, “Who are the best fraud lawyers in London?”

Every piece of content on the new website would answer these questions in plain-English, with expertise and authority.

I researched all of the search terms frequently used by Stuart Miller’s prospective clients and those driving qualified traffic to their competitors’ sites.

 

Test the site with a PPC campaign

Building organic search traffic takes time. We needed to know quickly whether the new website was capable of converting online visitors into qualified client enquiries.

We assigned a budget to target several key search terms covering the most lucrative offences and then tracked those visitors closely.

The data we gleaned from this campaign was invaluable. The fact that the campaign generated lucrative new clients was just a bonus.

Once we had determined that we could affordably bid on these competitive search queries, we continued to run paid ads alongside the organic campaign.

Bidding on keywords when a site also ranks prominently in the organic results can often be a smart move. When a site ranks well in the paid results and the organic results, even more people will click on your organic result.

 

Create great content based on Google searches

People who have been charged or arrested with a serious criminal offence are not only looking for a lawyer, they also need answers to some important questions.

  • What is the sentence for fraud?
  • What is a suspended sentence?
  • How long does it take for the police to charge you with a crime?
  • What is a Sexual Harm Prevention Order?
  • What is the age of criminal responsibility?
  • How long is a life sentence?

These six questions alone receive more than 10,000 searches per month on Google UK in their various forms. I have to say, it surprised me how many people were asking questions on Google in relation to serious crimes!

People also have questions about the type of defences they might be able to use. They want to read about cases similar to their own. They want to know what will happen if they are sent to prison. Every one of these questions is a touchpoint at which the accused could be made aware of the services of Stuart Miller Solicitors.

That doesn’t mean that we now create sales-driven landing pages pushing visitors to a contact form. The goal is to produce helpful and empathetic content persuading visitors to contact Stuart Miller because they seem like the best source of help. We use a nudge, never a push.

 

Track and measure everything that matters

The time and cost involved in implementing a marketing campaign make it vitally important to have a clear view of what is working and what isn’t. The directors of Stuart Miller Solicitors also have a right to know the level of return they are getting from their investment.

I set up monthly reporting to track every client enquiry made through the website and connect it to Stuart Miller’s internal client management system. We would know exactly how the website was performing, how much revenue each visitor generated and how they arrived at the site.

 


What were the results?

At the time of writing, Stuart Miller’s organic search traffic looks like this:

 

1,105% increase in organic search traffic since the new site was launched in August 2019

 

For commercial reasons, I can’t reveal exactly how many new client enquiries this traffic generates every day. I can, however, tell you that the site’s conversion rate has increased by 2,256% since we launched. Organic search traffic to the site has increased by 1,105% since launch.

Stuart Miller Solicitors have had to hire new staff to cope with the extra work this generates. They have even employed someone just to log the new client enquiries they now receive every day.

 

The results have far exceeded any expectations we ever had. We have reached the stage in just 12 months that we expected to reach in five years.

I had a target of 5,000 online visitors per month. We now have 70,000 visitors per month across all sources. That traffic is now 98% targeted to the exact audience we would want as clients.

We now receive a large volume of relevant enquiries every day. The vast majority are private-paying clients as opposed to those clients seeking state-funded assistance. We now have the highest number of open case files in the office, since our records started in 2005.

I have wiped off 33% of my personal workload, targets and objectives by having Danny taking over the marketing.

I now have the freedom to focus on other aspects of the business and extract some more personal time. I no longer have to even think about the marketing side of the business.

Majad Habib ( Stuart Miller Solicitors)

 


What are your goals?

I have loved every minute of working on this project. I will be forever grateful to Majad and his team for allowing me to be involved and trusting me to get the job done.

If you need someone to manage your marketing, I currently have the capacity to take on one more client.

To ensure we are a good fit …

  • your business should have an annual turnover of at least £1m
  • your business should operate in an ethical industry
  • you must be ready to commit to a 12-month marketing strategy

 

If that sounds like you, let’s chat

 

Nobody I have ever hired has been as efficient, effective, engaging and as profitable as Danny. It is also the first time I have worked with someone who didn’t need constant attention, guidance or support.

Danny took our firm’s marketing into his own hands. He studied our firm, our entire industry, our clients and performed deep market research in a way I did not think possible. He also gained a deep understanding of our commercial goals.

There could have been no better choice than to work with Danny. The question for me was not why we chose to work with Danny; but rather, whether he would agree to work with us.

Majad Habib ( Stuart Miller Solicitors)

Meet Danny

Danny Richman is an approved marketing consultant to The Bank of England, BBC and the Department for International Trade. He has 20+ years’ professional experience in Search Marketing.

Danny is a guest lecturer for the University of East London and a volunteer trainer and business mentor for The Prince’s Trust. He was awarded “Mentor of the Year” in 2017.