increase in new client enquiries
increase in organic search traffic
new qualified online visitors per month
To say that we have seen a positive return on investment would be a gross understatement.Majad Habib Stuart Miller Solicitors
This case study reveals the exact process I used to help transform a local, high street law firm into one of the UK’s most successful criminal defence practices.
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.
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 were unable to secure the larger cases. We were falling behind our competitors and constantly playing catch-up.
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 their law firm and not their clients.
The page copy was riddled with dense, legal jargon that 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.
Until their website could persuade 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 to the site.
We had to completely rethink what a law firm website could be and break with the tired industry conventions.
When a business realises their website isn’t performing, their instinct is often to immediately 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.
It was clear that simply rebuilding the website without first performing detailed research was unlikely to achieve positive results.
1) Understanding Stuart Miller’s business
To help clients 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:
2) Understanding Stuart Miller’s clients
Client research is less about what your customers say than how they say it.
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.
This has very 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 your online visitors, everything you 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 analysed their competitors’ websites and contacted those firms to get a feel for how they handled new client enquiries.
Once the research phase was complete, I developed a strategy to specify what we were going to do and a plan to describe how we would achieve it.
– Google was the key to gaining new clients
Very few of Stuart Miller’s clients had previously dealt with any criminal defence law firms. They don’t have friends or family to ask for recommendations, nor would they feel comfortable doing so. If Google was their primary source of information, that is where Stuart Miller Solicitors needed to be seen. Effective SEO would have 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 the lawyers understand their emotional needs as much as their legal needs. The copy and images on the Stuart Miller website must demonstrate this.
– Clients need to feel reassured
They want to feel that there is some hope of a positive outcome and that Stuart Miller has the necessary experience and expertise to deliver that outcome. So 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 are, we need 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 simple English, that is wholly relevant to the offence for which they had been charged. This content is based entirely on the questions their prospective clients are 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, making it a challenge for Google and human visitors to navigate.
We needed a fast, easy to navigate site, 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 gave me clear insights into how this could be achieved and how we could counter any objections prospective clients might have.
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 an active participant. I couldn’t have hoped or dreamt of such a huge blessing to come my way.
The copywriters would take the insights we gleaned from the research and assemble them into words that reflected our understanding of who our visitors were and what they needed to hear.
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 are 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.
I chose to use Fhoke for this 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 an attention to detail to a site, they will 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 new Stuart Miller home page from Fhoke.
It is helpful to view every Google search as a question requiring an answer. For example, 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.
Building organic search traffic takes time. So we needed to know quickly whether the new website would convert 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.
When a site ranks prominently in the organic results, bidding on keywords can often be a smart move. More people will click on your organic results when a site ranks well in the paid results and the organic results.
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.
These six questions alone receive more than 10,000 searches per month on Google UK in their various forms.
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. Instead, 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.
People arrested or charged with an offence want to read about the outcomes of other similar cases. Unfortunately, case reports on most law firm websites are typically dull, technical, full of jargon, and mainly designed to impress other lawyers. We saw no good reason to follow this convention.
Crimes are written about daily in the tabloid press. Even complex crimes can be reported in a way that makes them engaging, exciting and insightful. For that reason, we hired a crime reporter from a national newspaper to write the case reports on the Stuart Miller website.
Each case report starts with a punchy headline designed to get your attention.
A website is not just a place for your business to advertise your products and services. It must become an integral part of your product or service. When the website itself provides value to visitors, most other things will take care of themselves.
The time and cost involved in implementing a marketing campaign makes it vitally important to have a clear view of what is and isn’t working. 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. So we would know exactly how the website was performing, how much revenue each visitor generated and how they arrived at the site.
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 want as clients.
We now receive a large volume of relevant enquiries every day. The vast majority are private-paying clients instead of those seeking state-funded assistance. As a result, 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.
I am writing this paragraph two years after we first launched this project. Stuart Miller Solicitors survived a Covid pandemic causing a massive reduction in police arrests and the closure of most criminal courts. Despite this, the site has gone from strength to strength and attracting more visitors than ever.
My main concern now is that our SEO strategy has proven a little too successful. Over 93% of all new clients find us via a Google Search. In my mind, it’s never a great idea to place so many eggs in one basket.
For that reason, I am advising Stuart Miller to develop other channels besides paid and organic search. We will not be neglecting SEO, but we are exploring different ways to build the brand and generate new enquiries. While this advice may not be in my own best interests, it is the right approach to de-risk the business.
I 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. It takes a brave client to allow an external consultant to rip up your entire marketing strategy and start over again!
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 …
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.