How do consumers behave when the need for legal representation arises? Do they generally conduct some type of research? If so, what resources do they use? The answers to these questions will be covered in this article, but a brief synopsis is that it appears many consumers ask family and friends for referrals, and an equal amount of consumers use online resources.
Online Search and Referrals
The ABA (American Bar Association) Journal reports that consumers needing legal assistance turn to the internet 38 percent of the time in their search for a lawyer. Comparatively, 29 percent of those seeking legal counsel ask family members and friends to recommend or refer an attorney. Within a group of surveyed 18 to 24 year-olds, approximately 12 percent of them used lawyers they found through referrals from a friend, while 17.8 percent of the group used attorneys found through online searches.
What Devices Are Used to Search Online?
For initial lawyer searches done online, mobile phones have surpassed the use of desktop computers. For this reason, a site must have a responsive mobile design and provide a seamless experience for users. Having a separate non-responsive, static or mobile site is now a red flag that leads to user frustration and a sense that your law firm is seriously outdated. This is not the impression you want a potential client to find when first visiting your site.
According to the Huffingtonpost, the average consumer spends over 3 hours a day on their smartphone and about 87% of smartphone users use a search engine such as Google at least once a day to find information. Google has also begun prioritizing websites with mobile-friendly design rather than traditional desktop sites for organic mobile search results.
Here the essential elements to have on your law firm’s mobile site:
- Responsive design
- Clear call-to-action (CTA)
- Click to call options
- Online contact forms
- Maps and directions
- Social media integration
- Multi-language support
Online Reviews Are Key Influencers
When a prospective client enters your name into a search engine, your website and some online review sites will likely populate the first few results shown. Sites such as Google My Business and Yelp will most likely appear. If your profile shows with an average of only three stars out of a possible five, a potential client may instantly distrust your firm. Your name will likely slip to the bottom of their list, all because of negative reviews that decreased your rating to a three.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can all be used by others to mention you and your firm, without your knowledge. Check periodically for hashtags and mentions that relate to you and your firm’s name to stay updated on what consumers are saying.
Avvo is a reliable resource for consumers when it comes to directories. The proprietary rating system used there, however, can be frustrating for attorneys if they are scored low. The answer to this dilemma may be to ask a couple of contented clients to give you a positive review, thereby leveling the playing field.
Negative reviews do not have to create turmoil for you and your firm. The thing that matters most is your public response to the reviews. You may want to do one of the following:
- Apologize directly on the review site and offer to discuss the issue via a phone call
- Reach out personally to the reviewer privately if you know who it is, apologize, and offer to help resolve the situation.
Without question, you will be judged by potential clients based on what they find on your website. Analyze your attorney bio page and determine if it has “stereotypical lawyer” written all over it, or are you presented there as the personable individual that you are? While your legal experience related to a searcher’s problem is extremely important, they will never want to connect if you appear unapproachable or unreachable.
Testimonials are open windows that allow prospective clients to peek inside your firm. If a former, satisfied client isn’t comfortable appearing on camera, create an online review with only their first name or a pseudonym marked as such. Additionally, providing online content that is relative to your areas of practice can help potential clients educate themselves and become familiar with you at the same time.
Your years of experience and biography may impress a select few online visitors, but your quick responses to inquiries, emails, Facebook messages, and phone calls will do even more. When you receive contacts from prospects, they need to immediately know you stand ready to help them. Victims of personal injury are looking for immediate help and usually want to get their case started right away.
Many law firms take three or more days to respond to a message and while this is understandable for small firms with little to no support staff, these three days offer your competitors plenty of time to sign with this person. One effective strategy is to add texting or online live chat on your website as a contact option. Younger clientele might be more comfortable using these means, rather than making a phone call.
Be Available to Online Searchers
The significance of having a prominent online presence for an attorney can’t be overstated. You and your law firm need all of the following, at a minimum:
- An interesting, informative website
- Other websites that link to yours
- A Google My Business account
- Active blogs for updated content and information
- Email newsletters that keep clients engaged
- Establish a strong social media presence
- Free guides or white papers
- Mentions of your firm all around the web
By utilizing online tools to communicate with potential clients and provide useful information, your law firm will be able to reach a wider audience and increase clientele.
Working With a Legal Marketing Company
Each law firm will need to evaluate the areas in which to put the most effort, however many attorneys are too busy helping current clients and are unable to dedicate enough valuable time towards seeking new clients. Broughton Partners offers a unique and efficient way for law firms to connect with plaintiffs seeking legal representation. We provide you with retained plaintiffs who are properly vetted and prequalified and follow your criteria for acceptance.
To learn more about our services and how to connect with retained clients contact us today for a free consultation.