This is the next post in my series on which website providers attorneys should be using in 2015. My recent posts have looked at whether lawyers should use AVVO’s website service and whether Justia is a good option for law firms.
In this article I’m going to take a look at a company with which I was pleasantly surprised – Foster Web Marketing.To be honest I hadn’t heard of Foster Web Marketing until a reader of our blog requested that I review it as part of this series. I found their approach to be quite a bit different from other companies’ that offer web marketing options to law firms. This is a company which wasn’t included in last year’s review of options. After dealing with Foster and taking a look at their offering I can say that they provide a better service than many others who hold themselves out as servicing attorneys. My conclusions on Foster is that if you’re willing to pony up some money then you will receive a good service. That being said, Foster isn’t going to be for everyone due to their pricing structure. I’ll be evaluating Foster based on the same factors against which I’ve looked at other options. These include the cost of the service, the SEO potential of the product, how well the company is adapting to the changing web environment, as well as other considerations. Let’s get to it.
My experience with evaluating Foster Web Marketing
Evaluating Foster was a night and day difference compared to AVVO, Justia, and Scorpion Web Design. I found those companies to be unresponsive and I was left feeling like I must have been trying to find out about closely guarded military secrets. In other words, I felt like this guy:
Foster, by contrast, was quick to respond to my requests for information, answered all of my questions, and gave me a walk through of their software. The experience I had in conducting the review leaves me with the impression that an attorney hiring this company can expect good customer service.
Evaluating the cost of Foster Web Marketing
Foster is expensive. There’s not another way to put it. One good thing is that this cost isn’t being paid for ancillary services one has to buy to get another product. The company doesn’t have packages with a set price. Instead they will put together a customized quote based on your needs and put together a list of services meant to help you meet your goals. These services can include content creation (such as blogging), search engine optimization, video production, ongoing coaching for social media, as well as a variety of others. Prices, therefore, will vary based on the particular needs of your firm.
Attorneys utilizing Foster’s services will typically pay around $7,000-$8,000 for the initial build out of a website. This includes the writing of the content, training on how to use the company’s in-house designed content management/lead-tracking system (website and marketing software), etc. Ongoing support is going to start at around $500 to $1,000 per month (this includes use of the company’s software, web hosting, email, coaching, customer support). The main bulk of Foster’s clients utitlize that level of service and draft their own content.
Average customers, who go for a more “full service” approach, typically spend $4,000 – $5,000 per month for extra marketing services although prices range from $3,000 to over $20,000. This obviously puts Foster out of the initial price range for most starting a new law firm as well as many smaller firms. Cost, for obvious reasons, is going to be something you have to consider when utilizing Foster’s services.
Analyzing the SEO potential of Foster Web Marketing
The Foster websites I reviewed were better optimized for search than the ones I analyzed from Scorpion, Justia, and AVVO. A number of the issues I cited with those offerings were not present in Foster’s products. Foster’s websites performed better when analyzed under Google’s page speed analyzer. Of the three sites I looked at, one had issues with using photos which had too large of a file size but, all in all, Foster performed better in this area. Foster also did a better job of structuring the <H> elements in each page and had better formatted meta descriptions.
One issue with Foster, which was common throughout all of the sites I reviewed, was the use of underscores in URL’s. This was common on all three sites I reviewed and is frowned upon by Google. This was also a problem with Justia and Scorpion Web Design.
The content I reviewed on various websites was more individualized to the specific firms than on sites I reviewed from Foster’s competitors. While there were things I would have done differently, from a content standpoint, in my opinion Foster beats Justia and Scorpion on this front.
I believe that attorneys concerned about SEO will get more bang for their buck from Foster than from the other options reviewed so far in this series.
Foster Web Marketing and the changing web environment
All of the sites I reviewed from Foster utilized a responsive design. This is Google’s preferred approach to mobile. This is highly important for the reasons explained in my article on how Google is cracking down on mobile friendliness. The conversations I had with Foster’s representatives leave me with the impression that the company is on top of things and that they will continue to be so.
Other considerations regarding whether attorneys should use Foster Web Marketing
The biggest thing to stress about Foster is that they offer individualized coaching and support for those who wish to utilize such services. This is an approach I really stress to attorneys seeking a website designer/consultant and I think this sets the company apart from Scorpion, Justia, and AVVO. If you hire Foster then I strongly, strongly, strongly (strongly) suggest you make use of the coaching services they offer.
My opinions as to whether lawyers should use Foster Web Marketing
When compared to the other options I’ve looked at so far, I give Foster Web Marketing a thumbs up. The main consideration for most firms is going to be the cost of services. From a technical standpoint, the company appears to be putting more effort into ensuring that their websites meet the standards provided by Google. Also, the fact that the company individualizes its approach to each client is a big plus. If Foster is within your budget then this is likely a solid option.
Have you used Foster in the past? If so, how was/is your experience? Please chime in on the comment form below.