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Don’t Be Misled By Your Website Company

Don’t Be Misled By Your Website Company - Award Winning Lawyer

Working on behalf of a law firm client, I recently requested that their website hosting company make changes to the contact form that appears on the Contact Us page of their website.  Specifically, I wanted the hosting company to add a required field that asked the submitter “How did you find our law firm?”.  This simple change would force a prospective client to choose from a number of marketing campaigns the law firm was running at the time, which included:  Google, Findlaw.com, Lawyers.com, Avvo.com, Billboards, Press Release, Radio Ad, Referral, Other. 

The purpose of this change was to increase the accuracy of the firm’s new client tracking.  In other words, each prospective client who completed the contact form would be forced to “tell” the firm how they found it.  The firm could then keep an accurate log of where all new business leads were coming from – or at least those ultimately generated via the website contact form.  Pretty simple concept, but a very often forgotten one by law firms.

Here’s where it gets interesting though.  After several days, the website hosting company responded to my request with an email stating that the firm would have to pay a higher monthly hosting fee if it wanted a “custom contact form”.  Really?  This company, with which the law firm spent a lot of money on other marketing products, was going to increase their already exorbitant monthly hosting fee to make a couple minor changes to the fields on a website contact form?  Why would they do that?  Certainly the cost to them is less than nominal as the requested change is very simple to make even with the most archaic website coding software.

I’m confident the reason for the fee was to discourage the law firm from making the change altogether.  You see, the website hosting company doesn’t simply forward prospective client emails generated from the website to the law firm.  They go a step further and put their branding on every email generated via the website contact form… even if that website visitor came to the website as the result of a different marketing investment.

Here’s an example that will clarify:

  1. Prospective client hears the law firm’s radio commercial and visits the firm’s website.
  2. Prospective client completes and submits the website contact form.
  3. Hosting company ensures prospective client’s contact form information is sent to the law firm for follow-up. But before it does so, it labels the lead as “This is a lead generated from your ­­_____________ website.”

So when the law firm receives the lead, it has no idea it was generated through their radio campaign.  They only see a lead that is designed to make them believe it was generated by ______________, their website company.  At best, this is a poor business practice by the website hosting company.  At worst, it’s a sinister attempt to take credit for leads they certainly aren’t generating for the law firm.

Here are our takeaways:

  • Make sure all of your website contact forms have a required field for how the submitter found your website.
  • Understand that your website hosting company’s name on an email lead doesn’t mean they generated it.
  • If your website company wants to charge you for a change to the fields on your contact form, start looking for another website company.
  • When you have your renewal meeting with your website hosting company, pay close attention to how they discuss the number of leads generated via your website. See if they want to take credit for all leads received from the website, or whether they acknowledge that some of those email leads may have originated through other investments.
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