Why Online Reviews Matter for Your Law Firm in 2017
June 14th, 2017 | By: Walker Advertising | Posted in: Reviews
Law firms have traditionally relied on word-of-mouth marketing to get new customers in the door. These days, there’s a modern version of this concept, better known as online reviews. If your firm is not paying attention to online reviews, you are ignoring elements of both marketing and sales.
According to BrightLocal.com, a company that focuses on the local aspects of marketing, 92% of consumers now read online reviews as a means to determine whether a business, product, or service would be right for them. While it is completely okay for you to encourage real-life referrals, you may be putting your business in jeopardy if you fail to realize that a large percentage of leads is initiated online – via review sites.
Consider the following statistics:
- 88% of people trust online reviews from strangers as much as personal recommendations
- 40% of consumers form an opinion on a business, product, or service by reading between 1-3 reviews
- Only 13% of consumers will consider using a business that has less than a 3-star rating
- The star rating is the #1 factor used by customers to judge a business
Potential clients expect to get a well-rounded picture of your firm when they do an online search. Even if you are doing a great job with marketing channels like social media platforms, your corporate website, and blog, lack of reviews may give the impression that you haven’t done a good enough job with cases to compel clients to leave reviews.
Therefore, if you are not actively controlling or managing your online presence when it comes to review sites, you may be sending a message to potential clients that you don’t care about your brand, your reputation, or getting their business. Such a negative sentiment is strong enough to drive them away, straight to your competitor.
The Benefits of Online Reviews
Positive reviews from your former clients give prospects confidence in your ability to solve their legal troubles. Think about your own experience with researching a product or service online. After reading a dozen glowing reviews, there’s a good chance you are enthusiastic about the idea of contacting a particular company or ordering the product.
Online reviews also allow customers to get a sense of the culture of your firm. Some clients may want a “hip” boutique firm, while others feel more comfortable with a “traditional” corporate culture. The way you respond to feedback – both positive and negative – provides clues to prospects as to whether you would be a good match.
In terms of negative reviews, it’s only a matter of time before you get some. And if you are not monitoring review sites, there’s a chance that you may already have them. Your response to dealing with unpleasant feedback shows your commitment to listen to what customers have to say and offer solutions to remedy the situation. A negative review that has not been addressed is an indication that you are not concerned with client feedback once you have been paid.
Did you know that online reviews help bolster all your other online marketing efforts? Google pulls data from third-party review sites for quality search results. This means that the more positive reviews you have, the higher you may rank when it comes to organic search results.
Another advantage of online reviews is insight into your business. There may be a few elements of working with your firm that really puts you at an advantage when it comes to your practice area, and until you read multiple reviews you may not realize how you can use it to your advantage. Likewise, there may be certain elements of your business that could be more efficient, and while learning about them through reviews may not be ideal – it will only help you strengthen your business.
Online Reviews 101
Setting up a system for getting and managing online reviews is relatively simple – and even better, it does not cut into your budget.
First, you need to know what is already being said about you online. Do a search for your firm and see what shows up. Sites like Google, Yelp, Avvo, and Martindale are all relevant to your online reputation. Claim your listing if you already have reviews, or create a new profile. Add all the necessary information, such as business hours, location, website, phone number, etc.
Decide which website are best for online reviews. The sites mentioned above are some common sources of reviews, but there may be a few others that specifically pertain to your practice area. A good indication of where you need to be is to do searches on your competition. You should have a profile on all the sites they are listed on.
Start getting the reviews you need! This can be done in a variety of ways:
- Ask your clients at the end of a successful case.
- Set expectations during your client onboarding process that you would appreciate an online review and referrals at the end of your work together.
- Provide a wrap-up email that provides an easy-to-follow link so your clients can save time.
- Get your staff involved by training them on how to request a review from satisfied clients.
Respond to negative reviews. It shows both the reviewer and prospects that you value feedback. Keep your response brief, and offer to take the matter offline. Never, under any circumstances is it okay to respond in an aggressive or unpleasant manner.
Use your reviews across various marketing platforms. Once the reviews starting coming in regularly highlight them on Twitter, Facebook, etc. You could even consider creating a dedicated testimonial page on your website. This allows prospects to understand the services you provide and how you can help them, read up on attorney bios, and learn more about what past clients have to say. It will make their experience on your site much more comprehensive.