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Case Study: Jeff Herman


Jeff Herman

"My web strategy has made it easier for me to reach even more survivors and to help them regain control."

- Jeff Herman, HermanLaw.com

Email from prospective clients doubled in one year

In our darkest hours, a beacon of hope is often the only thing that pulls us through. After years of working as a commercial litigator, attorney Jeff Herman decided that he wanted to be that beacon of hope for victims of sexual abuse, exploitation, and rape. In order to reach these victims, however, he needed a website strategy that would make his practice as visible as possible. 
 
Through the steady expansion of his content, he is now able to deliver his message of hope to thousands more people in need each year, giving them the strength to come forward and be heard.

The Challenge: To Use Technology to Deliver a Very Human Message

In December 2012, Mr. Herman was interviewed by the Baltimore Sun for an article detailing the sexual abuse lawsuit he filed against Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash - the voice of "Elmo" - on behalf of alleged victim Cecil Singleton. Mr. Herman traced his desire to give a voice to victims of sexual abuse back to a 1997 case in which he successfully represented a five-year-old autistic boy in a lawsuit against a convicted pedophile.
 
"I strongly believe that victims do not heal until they make a full disclosure," he told the interviewer.
 
As any personal injury lawyer knows, however, instilling trust in prospective clients can be a challenge no matter what the case. Convincing victims of sexual abuse to trust anyone in the aftermath of their traumatic experiences, let alone an attorney whom they've never met, can be profoundly difficult.
 
Even before launching his website, Mr. Herman was widely known as a leader in the fight against sexual abuse. He had been in the national spotlight on several occasions, most notably when
He needed a website that would capture the attention of victims, themselves
he won a landmark $100 million verdict on behalf of a victim of Father Neil Doherty, a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami.
 
What he needed was a website that would capture the attention of victims, themselves. This would be the most effective way of letting these people know that, yes, someone cared passionately about their rights and, yes, someone cared even more passionately about helping them heal.

The Solution: The Medium Is the Message

Sociologist Marshall McLuhan once famously suggested that the medium is inseparable from the message. In the case of the Internet, this claim has largely proven true. People are more likely to trust the message if it is presented using a medium they trust. They then extend the trust inspired by the message to the messenger.

In order to reach as many people as Mr. Herman wanted to reach, his strategy needed to expand beyond the simple five-page website he started out with in 2005.

76% of adults seeking an attorney's help used online resources
The Research Intelligence Group (2012)1

We knew that his message needed to be communicated through as many trusted content channels as possible. This would include:
 
  • Blogging: According to a BlogHer report, 81 percent of online consumers trust information and advice contained in blogs.
  • Video: Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D., consultant to companies such as Amazon and Disney, claims that people are naturally drawn to the combination of voice , emotion, facial expression, and movement that are contained in videos. Recognizing this, Google is 50 times more likely to rank a site with video on its first page listings3.
  • More comprehensive, engaging, and simple-to-use website content: A study published by the Research Intelligence Group found that 76 percent of all adults who looked to hire an attorney in 2011 used online resources at some point in their search.

81% of online consumers trust info and advice from blogs
BlogHer (2013)2

In the past, it was possible to get Google's attention simply by adding content. In many ways, quantity was more important than quality. With its well-publicized algorithm changes over the past three years, however, Google has begun to reward websites that put the user first.

Sites that contain original, high-quality written and video content are more likely to be seen as useful resources than sites with dozens of pages of poorly organized, repetitive, keyword-heavy content.
 
In the meanwhile, people have become accustomed to Google delivering results they can trust. They have learned to search smarter and to distinguish between reputable information resources and blatant spam. More often than not, they know what they're looking for, and they know how to recognize it when they find it.
 
Likewise, Mr. Herman's audience was out there, looking for that beacon of hope in the depths of the Internet. Mr. Herman turned to us to make it shine as brightly and as brilliantly as possible.

The Result: Twice As Many People Are Finding the Strength to Come Forward

Since identifying the challenge before him, Mr. Herman has:

  • Integrated both custom videos and clips from his appearances on CNN, Fox News, NBC, and other television news outlets into his website
  • Blogged routinely, posting several times a month
  • Added eleven pages of original written content
  • Moved his content into a custom-designed, visually striking Lucid CMS
This comprehensive content strategy has made him highly visible on Google, with his website appearing on first-page search results for such terms as "abuse lawyer" and "sexual abuse attorney." What this means, ultimately, is that Mr. Herman's message is becoming more accessible to thousands of people who could potentially benefit from his services.
 
And they are responding:
  • In October 2013, the website received a record 33 unique daily visits on average.
  • The next month, that record was broken, as 241 unique visits were paid to the site.
  • Between October 2012 and 2013, emails from people inquiring about Mr. Herman's services doubled.
In the end, Mr. Herman's success story transcends numbers and statistics. His successful verdicts against large, powerful institutions have helped to bring the issue of sexual abuse into the light, sparing thousands of potential future victims from the nightmares they might otherwise have faced. These verdicts also allow him the opportunity to represent individual victims pro bono through the Sex Abuse Victims Equal Rights (SAVER) foundation that he founded.
 
Jeff Herman

"The site has helped me to help so many others, and I'm grateful for that."

- Jeff Herman, HermanLaw.com
"There is nothing more important to me than helping these survivors of abuse find their voices and ultimately to heal," Mr. Herman says. "They shouldn't have to suffer in silence. My web strategy has been instrumental in my ability to reach out to them and let them know that they can regain control over their lives. The site has helped me to help so many others, and I'm grateful for that."
 

1 "12 Mind Blowing Statistics Every Marketer Should Know." HubSpot.com. 2011-04-01. Retrieved 2013-06-04.
2 "Inbound Leads Cost 62% Less than Outbound." HubSpot.com. 2011-03-01. Retrieved 2013-06-04.

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