We live in a hyper-connected world. People find and connect with their lawyers using everything from the phone to Facebook messenger. But in an era where there are ways to connect at every turn, does your website still need a contact page?
Are There Good Reasons to Forego the Contact Page on Your Website?
A lawyer for a website I was working on recently had an unusual request: he didn’t want a contact page on his website. It struck the web designer and I as strange.
In most cases, modern web design tries to make it as easy for potential clients to contact the company as possible. This can include:
- Click-through phone numbers for mobile-enabled websites
- Pop-up messenger apps that connect readers with virtual assistants
- RSS feed plug-ins
- eNewsletter subscription services
But this client wanted none of those things. He didn’t even want clients to be able to send him an email from his site. It got me thinking, are there good reasons to forego the contact page on your website?
Reason: Skipping Posting Your Email to Eliminate Spam
There is something to be said about not listing your email in a way that spam-bots can skim it from your content. A variety of less-than-reputable companies use software that reads website content for anything that looks like firstname.lastname@example.org and then sends spam to those emails. For some people, that is reason enough to avoid posting their email online.
However, there are ways to make yourself accessible without exposing yourself to spam. By using a contact form, you can receive emails quickly and easily. Clients can even opt to receive a copy of what they send you. Then you can respond from your company email once you’re sure the person is a legitimate lead.
Reason: Avoiding Accidental Attorney-Client Relationships
For highly confidential industries like law, an online contact page can raise confidentiality concerns. You may worry that potential clients will email the firm with personal details or accidentally create a conflict of interest. This may make you hesitant to use email or a chat program as an initial form of contact.
However, these concerns can be addressed with a two-part system:
- A disclaimer warning contacts not to provide confidential information, and clearly stating that use of the contact form does not create an attorney-client relationship
- A character limit on your contact form
This combination will remind people not to dump their information into the contact page, and will keep them from providing enough to create conflict of interest problems.
Reason: Protecting Attorney-Client Confidentiality
Another aspect of attorney-client confidentiality involves existing clients. You may be concerned that your current clients will use the unsecured email system on your website to convey protected information.
In most cases you can integrate a secure client portal into your website. By directing clients to this secure portion of your website, you can encourage them to communicate with you through the convenience of your website, without worrying about hackers or confidentiality concerns. This technology may even be part of your internal client management system.
Reason: All Your Clients Come from Word of Mouth
Another common reason attorneys may want to skip the contact page is that they don’t believe their websites will actually bring them new clients. Perhaps history suggests that all your clients come as are referrals from other attorneys or past clients. Maybe you rely more on face-to-face networking. Or maybe, like the client I mentioned at the start of this post, your practice is such a niche market that you are concerned your website will attract the wrong people.
In this case, the problem isn’t with the technology. It has to do with changes in how people receive referrals. As a society, we have become more skeptical when people offer the services of a professional. Increasingly, potential customers will trust, but verify. That means they’re heading to your website to be sure you do what their contact said you would do, and that you do it well.
When that happens, you want to be able to convert that contact to a paying customer as quickly as possible. People lose business cards, or forget to follow up all the time. If you don’t make it easy for them to reach you after they have visited your site, you could lose the contact, and the chance for closed business.
What to Include on Your Contact Page
Once you have decided that you do need to include a contact page on your website, you should know what to put on that page. The contact page is not the place to include extensive content or worry about SEO. Instead, your contact page should be short, sweet, and to the point. Be sure to include:
- Phone number (ideally in a way that mobile users can click through and call you directly)
- Contact form (with or without a publicly view-able email address)
- Formal name of the firm
- Full street address
- Map widget to display how to get to your office
- Instructions for parking or your location within the building (if needed)
A strong contact page is the best way to convert viewers into paying clients. If you have reservations about how it is used, smart choices and a skilled web developer can help you protect privacy and confidentiality for you and your clients. Rather than skipping the contact page entirely, you can find a way to include just the right information and accessibility in the contact information.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. She writes blogs and web contents for lawyers and small businesses. If you need help maximizing the return on your web-marketing investment, contact Legal Linguist to schedule a meeting.