Merit Badge? Rethinking the Role of Badges on Your Law Firm’s Website
Written by Leigh Ebrom
There’s a good chance your law firm’s website contains a series of badges that tout your Martindale-Hubbell AV rating and other accomplishments. You’ve probably also received notices that you’ve qualified for other badges that aren’t peer-reviewed or are “pay-to-play.”
While law firm badges may appeal to some your ideal clients and reaffirm your stature and credibility, they can also have significant disadvantages. If you’re wondering if these vanity badges are worth the cost or bother, please keep reading.
Avoid Badges That Direct Readers to Your Competition
Not long ago, we had a client who asked us to add a new badge to their website and sent us the embeddable code. Upon closer examination, we immediately advised our client not to add the badge.
Why did we do this? While badges that highlight your awards and recognition can build credibility with website visitors, they almost always include links to the awarding organization’s website. Many times, the organization says that the badge will direct readers to your profile on their directory site. They may also suggest that you buy paid advertising on this website to improve your visibility.
If you look at the links on many law firm badges, however, they don’t just link to your profile. They often also include a link to the organization’s more general law firm directory. That means that when a reader clicks on the badge, they are directed away from your well-crafted client journey and funnel. Even worse, your readers could be distracted by advertisements and profiles of some of your top competitors.
When a reader arrives on your website, you have complete control over their experience and can track their engagement. Your content is crafted to reflect your firm’s mission and message. Every page includes calls to action and opportunities for form fills. You can assess your website’s performance and track key performance indicators (KPIs). But when your readers click on a badge, you lose the opportunity to dictate the action. Simply put, you want your ideal clients spending as much time as possible on your site and with your brand, not someone else’s.
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Low-Quality or Vanity Badges Can Dilute Your Message
Not all law firm badges are created equal. If you have earned coveted badges that tout your impeccable, peer-reviewed credentials or the value of your jury awards, why would you minimize it by also boasting of a “Your City’s Favorite Lawyers” or “Local Business Group’s Coolest Places to Work” designation that cost your law firm $100?
Consumer skepticism is at an all-time high. In its 2018 Experience Brand Index, Jack Morton (a global branding agency) found that 41% of American millennials assume brands will not live up to their promises and “want me to believe it is something it’s not.” Instead, these savvy consumers, who are increasingly becoming your target audience, want concrete examples of your performance.
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For most consumers and potential clients, their preferred sources of credibility are people, not companies. In a 2014 study, Deloitte discovered that while 60% of consumers equally trust recommendations from their friends, family, and online reviews, only 46% trust “independent experts.”
Before you add a badge to your website, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it consistent with my law firm’s brand image?
- Does it add real credibility or value to my brand?
- Will the badge appeal to my target audience?
- Does it further the user’s client journey?
If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, it’s probably not worth posting the badge (and certainly not worth buying it).
A Badge Isn’t a Substitute for a Well-Articulated Value Proposition
So many cookie-cutter legal websites overload their homepage with convoluted keywords and dump an assortment of badges at the top. However, if you look at their content and messaging, it doesn’t clearly articulate the law firm’s brand or value proposition.
Boilerplate legal websites won’t engage your ideal clients. When readers visit these sites, they see the same badges that are on every law firm’s homepage. They read content that sounds just like the pitches and advice on everyone else’s site. What they’ll miss is your law firm’s voice, mission, and how you differentiate yourself from everyone else. You need to shout these unique value propositions from the rooftops!
A badge can never replace a thoughtful marketing strategy. At LaFleur, we work closely with our clients from Day One digging deep to understand and identify what sets them apart. Then we get to work developing content that is on-message, compelling, and informative, cultivating a digital experience that aims to convert users into clients, and delivering metrics that accurately monitor your digital marketing performance.
Refresh Your Digital Marketing with LaFleur
If your law firm’s messaging and website have become dated or ineffective, we’d love to help. At LaFleur, we specialize in legal marketing and pride ourselves on our hands-on, practical approach. If you’re looking for a marketing partner that truly understands the legal industry and is committed to your success, please call us today at 888-222-1512 or complete our contact form.
Jack Morton Experience Brand Index: Half Of All Consumers Skeptical About Brand Promises And Demand Proof. (2018, September 19). PRNewswire. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/jack-morton-experience-brand-index-half-of-all-consumers-skeptical-about-brand-promises-and-demand-proof-300715232.html
The Deloitte Consumer Review: The growing power of consumers. (2014). Deloitte: London, UK. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/consumer-business/consumer-review-8-the-growing-power-of-consumers.pdf