When it comes to selecting the right platform for your law firm website, there are many options to choose from. Many different vendors offer solutions for each part of the platform and its various extensions.
The three main components you should consider as the core of your platform are:
1. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) - Database that stores and integrates data on specific visitors and tracks interactions, preferences, and behaviors.
2. CMS (Content Management System) - Central repository for all content assets, including web pages, blog posts, white papers, case studies, emails, and more
3. MAP (Marketing Automation Platform) - Technology component that links CRM and CMS to deliver customized content to individual customers, automatically.
Not only does each solution offer its own set of functionality and features, but each component also integrates and works with the other components. This means that selecting the right platforms--the ones that meet your needs and also work well together--is extremely important for developing an effective web presence.
In this article, I’ll walk through seven fundamental questions you should ask when selecting the products that will comprise your website platform. Asking these questions early can save your firm huge headaches down the road, as choosing the wrong technologies for your website platform can have residual effects on performance and business outcomes.
1. Does this platform support a multichannel experience?
With the proliferation of channels, web experience, email experience, print experience, mobile experience, app experience, social experience, commerce experience, each piece of your marketing platform must be integrated and work together to deliver a unified omnichannel experience to your customer.
In the age of data- and technology-driven marketing, customers expect to receive a consistent experience on each channel. This means that they should be able to jump from interaction with your firm--on their laptop, on their smartphone, via social, through email, and more--without feeling they’re starting from scratch.
2. Does the platform support responsive as well as adaptive design?
We should all know by now that the way we use the web has shifted dramatically. Over just a few years time, we have shifted from primarily browsing on desktops and laptops to consuming almost all of our web content via mobile devices and tablets.
This presents a specific challenge for many websites that are built to work for existing technology and then quickly become outdated as new devices introduce different screen sizes, aspect ratios, or pixel density.
Responsive and adaptive design help to solve this challenge by creating a framework for your website that can be resized and adapted to different screens. The bulk of this work is dependent upon the code beyond the site, but the platforms that you choose can make creating and maintaining a responsive and adaptive website either very simple or incredibly difficult.
3. Does the platform support a great search experience?
There are few things more frustrating that trying to find specific content on a website and dealing with a difficult search feature.
Unfortunately, many platforms do not support robust search features and often leave visitors stranded by returning irrelevant or poorly sorted results. This can cause potential customers to leave your website instantly--possibly to never return again.
Carefully test and consider the search functionality of your platform and be sure that it meets the needs of customers who will come to rely on it.
For more about website search please read - Websites Search Best Practices-Helps your visitors find what they are looking for
4. Does the platform allow you to highlight the most relevant or important content?
Beyond just a basic, working search functionality, your firm will likely want to custom-tailor the results that are displayed in such a way to promote the most relevant or important pages.
Using contextual data about the search--and historical interaction data--your platform could be used to prominently show high-converting landing pages or biographies or relevant staff based on the content that the user is searching for.
This is generally a more robust search feature that isn’t available on every platform.
5. Does the platform support a high level of individual customization?
One of the key interactions between your CRM and CMS is providing a contextual and customized experience to each user. In order to accomplish this, your CMS should be able to integrate data from the CRM and use that data to deliver a customer experience that draws on the needs and interaction history of each individual.
Consider how data will flow between these two systems and create a cohesive platform that delivers the experience to your visitors across all channels and touchpoints.
6. Does the platform adequately handle a large content library?
Your firm may have hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands (or more!) pages of content and assets that need to be integrated into your web platform and then managed easily and seamlessly by your team.
Managing huge amounts of content can be excruciatingly painful--or entirely impossible--if the system that you are using is not designed to scale to meet those needs. Your firm should first conduct a full audit of existing content and then test drive various interfaces and systems to determine which one makes the most sense for the amount and type of content that you’ll be working with on a regular basis.
7. Does the platform drive engagement?
Ultimately, the purpose of your firm’s web presence
is to generate business--to engage customers.
How your firm measures and tracks that engagement and which specific metrics are used to determine success will ultimately depend on your larger strategy. But whatever those metrics are, they should be pre-defined before choosing your website’s platform. Each component of the platform should be chosen for its ability to generate the kind of engagement that you’ve set out to achieve, through personalization, email list growth, time on site, inquiries, or any other KPI that is defined as important to the success of your site.
Each of these seven questions gets at the fundamental importance of choosing the correct platform for your law firm’s website.
Creating a new website can be a big investment. But that investment can be squandered without properly considering the role of the technologies that you choose and the integrations of those technologies within your organization.