How have you marketed your law firm to potential clients in the past?
Maybe, like many lawyers, you’ve run ads in the local newspaper, in the yellow pages or on billboards.
Where you shared your information in the past was your decision, driven by traditional advertising and marketing methods and a small number of available information channels. You could feel confident that people looking for lawyers were going to turn to phonebooks or what they’d seen in ads. But you can’t afford to think that way anymore because information channels have exploded with the advent of smart phones and social media sites. No longer is it acceptable for you to choose how potential clients will find you. Now you have to figure out where they are and meet them there.
When it comes to looking for an attorney, most clients have relegated newspapers and phone books to the recycling bins of history. They don’t trust information whizzing by on billboards by the side of the freeway. Now, they go online when they need a lawyer. They may start by looking on search engines or asking their social media friends and connections for recommendations.
But once they’re really serious about hiring an attorney, they tend to want more information than a law firm website or a recommendation from their uncle can provide. Potential clients want to find an attorney with experience that they can trust, understand, and afford.
According to a recent survey by Nielsen, 78 percent of consumers now turn to online consumer review sites before hiring businesses to perform services or provide products to them. That number is even higher for those looking for legal services. According to a recent survey by Software Advice Inc., 83 percent of potential clients turn to online consumer reviews as the first step in finding a lawyer. In addition, nearly 50 percent of prospective clients use online reviews to research the quality of services lawyers provide. There are many websites and apps that potential clients can utilize to research attorneys, including Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, Super Lawyers and Yelp.
You should devote your efforts to Yelp.
Yelp is a social-based website and mobile app that allows people to look for places to eat, shop, find entertainment and do business based on reviews of local businesses. All reviews are crowd-sourced, or created by the users of Yelp for the users of Yelp, and reviewers can assign businesses ratings of between one and five stars.
As of 2014, Yelp had 132 million unique monthly users and 57 million online reviews.
Many people are already using Yelp to find restaurants, hairstylists, shops, dentists, doctors and more. They are also using it to find attorneys.
According to Software Advice Inc., it is the most popular review site used by potential clients to find lawyers, with 58 percent of potential clients using it to find lawyers, a higher percentage than those who use all other sites combined. Even more importantly, 61 percent of potential clients find Yelp the most trustworthy site to use when searching for a lawyer.
Consumers who use Yelp translate their research into purchases.
Eighty-two percent of users visit Yelp with the intention of buying a product or service, according to Nielsen. Ninety-eight percent of Yelp users have made a purchase with a business they found on Yelp, with nearly 90 percent of them doing so within a week of their first visit. As it is the most respected and utilized peer review website for clients seeking attorneys, you need to take control of your firm’s Yelp presence immediately.
Claiming your Yelp business page.
Whether you know it or not, your firm is probably already listed on Yelp.
If you haven’t yet taken control of your Yelp business page, potential clients have probably already looked right past you because your firm’s profile looks like a blank avatar compared to the completed profiles of other firms.
Luckily, you can easily change this. It is free to claim your Yelp business page. Start by going to Yelp and typing in the name of your law firm. Click “Claim this Business,” fill out a simple form and take a verification phone call from Yelp at your firm’s main business line. This process takes all of five minutes to complete.
Once you’ve claimed your business page, completely fill out all information Yelp allows you to share, including all addresses of your offices, your business hours, at least three photos of your firm and your staff and include a link to your website and blog. Then you’ll have the ability to respond to reviews with private messages and public comments, track visitor engagement and client leads and utilize the Yelp for Business Owners mobile app.
Most importantly, your newly claimed Yelp business page will give you a professional, welcoming look in the place clients choose more than any other to shop for attorneys.