Once you are getting visitors to your law firm website, the next step is getting them to interact with it. If your website or blog is part of your law firm marketing plan (and it should be), merely getting people to look at your site isn’t going to equate to potential client inquiries and new clients.

Video can be an effective tool to turn traffic into a potential client inquiry. However, the overwhelming majority of lawyer internet videos have been, quite frankly, bad.

What makes a bad law firm website video?

The typical problems with most law firm website videos stem from a misunderstanding of the very nature of online marketing. Law firm website videos should not be like television advertisements (in fact, lawyer TV ads would do better to be more like web videos).

The Internet serves many different purposes. Understanding these different purposes is critical to producing an effective video. For example, one of the Internet’s most common uses is as a research tool. Think about your video from the perspective of a legal services consumer. Does a video of a lawyer telling them how hard they will fight, a famous actor endorsing the firm’s services, or my favorite, a dramatization, provide any assistance or value to the researching consumer?

Let’s look at a more specific example in the one of the most searched for practice areas, criminal defense. An individual has been recently arrested for a crime. Now they are at home and want to learn more about their situation including possible consequences and what action they should take from here. They go online and begin to search. They will likely perform many searches. Let’s assume they arrive at the website of a criminal defense law firm. What will they see?

Will they see an angry lawyer talking about how aggressive, serious, and experienced they are? How will that be viewed by our example consumer? Assuming that this “lawyer ad” does resonate with the consumer, will it motivate them to fill out a contact form or call the law firm? Often times, if the law firm advertisement is well-done, it doesn’t engage the visitor or differentiate the lawyer. The consumer has already seen this.

Now let’s assume they arrive to a law firm website that has a video of a lawyer discussing what actions an individual should take following an arrest for the type of crime the consumer has been arrested. Perhaps the lawyer discusses the various options a criminal defendant has in defending their case. Maybe the lawyer describes the consequences and potential outcomes of various courses of action. Now the consumer has been provided valuable information from a legal professional. The lawyer has demonstrated her knowledge of the subject matter. Which video would resonate more with you (let’s hope you never need to hire a criminal lawyer).

What makes a good law firm website video?

Two of the most important components to producing effective videos online are talking identifying the problem the visitor has and offering information information about how to solve the problem. Too many lawyer videos focus on the qualities of the lawyer and not on the needs and problems of the visitor.

Another aspect of videos that is often overlooked is production quality. Poor video and sound quality can ruin even the best education-based marketing performance. Depending on your experience with video production, number of videos to be produced, and budget, buying the proper equipment or hiring a professional production studio are typically worth the investment.

DIY vs. hiring a professional

Typically, the DIY route is only for those lawyers with some experience in producing videos. Further, if you’re planning to set your handycam on a stack of books, forget about it. Not only will it take much longer to “get it right”, even your best efforts won’t produce quality results. Also, if you think going out and spending a couple thousand dollars on a high-end camera is the answer, think again. Just like any other tool, in the hands of a novice, it won’t perform. However, if you have some experience, some time, and are planning on regularly producing videos, then doing it yourself might make sense.

For most lawyers, hiring a professional production company is the most effective and efficient option. The question is figuring out which one to hire. Many of the biggest legal web marketing providers have video production services. In terms of quality and options, FindLaw produces very professional-looking videos. However, their videos often come with a steep price tag. Further, if you’re going to hire a production company, it’s very helpful to have a producer that understands the unique considerations that are specific to marketing a law firm online.

Whether you’re a DIY’er or are looking for professional help, a great resource for law firm videos is New York lawyer Gerry Oginski. As you can see from the videos on his own site, he is knowledgeable on both producing professional-looking videos and the components of effective education-based marketing. He’s also on the faculty at Solo Practice University. You can find more examples of his work on YouTube.

The next step: getting found

Once you have produced some quality videos for your practice, the next step is publicizing them. While simply posting videos on your law firm website is a good start, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the next couple years, the Internet will continue to move in the direction of interactivity. More and more search engine results pages contain universal search listings. Taking steps to get your videos found online will make a big difference in their effectiveness in the years to come. In fact, more and more legal directories, like Avvo are providing the ability to post videos. Publicizing your videos will greatly increase their value to your online web presence.