The Importance of Law Firm Reviews
It should come as no surprise that your online reputation influences a legal consumer’s decision to hire you. Studies found that in 2017, 97 percent of people read online reviews as part of their buying process, and 85 percent trusted them more than recommendations from family and friends. It’s a digital world out there, one where perfect strangers are helping each other find an attorney, and where they trust law firms with a long list of positive reviews.
Obviously, word-of-mouth referrals are still influential, but only for a limited number of people who already know past clients very well. That’s why they’re no longer enough to maintain a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace.
Online reviews help expand the scope of your reputation by allowing more people access to the opinions of former clients, distinguishing you from the law firm down the road. So, let’s look at where to gather reviews and how to ask former clients to rate your firm.
Where do you collect reviews?
The simple answer? Everywhere. While that fact might seem intimidating, it’s true. Reviews across multiple online platforms will touch your prospects no matter where they’re looking for an attorney. But if you want to narrow it down, focus on Google and Facebook, the two companies that dominate digital advertising and where most people end up during their search.
Google has cultivated their own reputation as the number one place for anything someone needs by reliably showing the most relevant content for any search. And reviews play a big role in the results a consumer sees when looking for, say, a personal injury attorney in Austin, Texas.
Google knows that consumers are heavily influenced by ratings, and they are interested in hiring an attorney with a quality online reputation. That’s why the more positive reviews your firm has, the easier it is for local consumers to find your law firm online.
It’s important to note that Facebook and Google serve different purposes for your next client. If Google is where people search for an attorney, Facebook offers information about the law firm they’ve found. Most people on Facebook are performing a “branded search,” which means they know who you are, they’ve done some research and are now looking at your social media pages for more information.
Facebook provides the validation consumers need before contacting your law firm, and that validation often comes from ratings. Your Facebook presence may have an effective combination of posts, pictures and videos, but it isn’t complete without detailed reviews from past clients.
Facebook is slightly different than Google in how they collect reviews. Instead of a five-star rating scale, they simply ask someone if they’d recommend your law firm on a thumbs-up or thumbs-down basis. From there, a consumer can fill in details of their experience with your law firm.
If someone finds themselves searching for an attorney on FindLaw, it’s probably for a reason. Unlike Facebook and Google, a prospect at this stage of the buyer’s journey is most likely ready to take an action.
The Ratings and Reviews platform on FindLaw reaches the prospects who are closer to making a move and in need of information on what it’s like working with your firm. Sure, your directory listing provides important details such as contact information and a picture, but without a peek inside doing business with you, prospects aren’t able to get a full picture.
How do you get reviews?
As I mention in the above video, many attorneys want to know how to get more reviews. The first thing to do is ask. If a case went well, and you’re about to close your book of business, ask people to leave a review about their experience. Also, let them know you’ll be following up with an email, including links to your Google My Business, Facebook and FindLaw listing.
The email should be from your account and include non-sensitive details about the client like personal notes that make the request unique. You can create a standard email template, but leave a section that’s customizable and do your best to tailor the email to the individual. It shows that you value their opinion, which motivates them to leave a review.
While asking former clients to rate your firm is encouraged, persuading them to leave a positive review or trying to game the system is frowned upon by both review platforms and consumers alike. Google or Facebook could penalize you for what they consider deceptive practices like setting up a kiosk in your office, incentivizing five-star reviews or asking for ratings from friends and family.
No matter how you gather reviews, remember that they affect your online reputation and are influential for legal consumers. People want to know the experiences of past clients and they’re willing to trust the opinion of people they’ve never met.
Get started building your brand with a FindLaw directory listing, complete with Ratings and Reviews to reinforce your firm’s status.
Get them talking about you.