In today’s digital age, online reviews are critical to your law firm. As a matter of fact, industry experts tell us that 99% of consumers read reviews online and 84% trust those reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
In light of those telling statistics, law firms would be wise to leverage positive online reviews as a regular part of their business development efforts.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the key ways that online reviews can help boost business for your law firm, and we’ll provide actionable tips for leveraging those reviews to their fullest potential.
The benefits of online reviews
Even though consumer reliance is important, there are numerous additional benefits to positive online reviews. These include:
- Improved search engine rankings
- Increased visibility
- Enhanced credibility, and
- The potential for increased revenue
In fact, there are even benefits to negative reviews.
For example, negative comments can help firms address issues that they might not have known about otherwise.
Like it or not, people are more likely to complain online than they are to your face. Once you know there’s an issue, you can fix it and provide a response to the negative review in the same forum. Just make sure you can do so without breaching client confidences.
How to ask your clients for online reviews
Of course, law firms can’t leverage reviews if they don’t exist.
That’s why many firms now actively solicit reviews from satisfied clients. Although asking for reviews can be awkward, there are ways to do it without making anyone too uncomfortable.
Here are our top tips for making the ask:
The wrap-up email
To increase the chances that clients will follow through, provide links to the desired review sites.
If you handle a high enough volume of cases to justify the expense, you can automate this process with a tool that helps you solicit and manage online reviews. For most mid-sized law firms, this isn’t a necessity, but it’s an option if you can’t spare the time to send review requests manually.
Timing is everything
The timing of your request is key. It’s important to strike while the iron is hot and ask for the review when the client’s positive experience with your firm is fresh in their minds.
Although you’re more likely to get a thorough review after a matter has concluded, your firm might also consider asking for feedback during the engagement just to ensure that lawyers and staff are meeting client expectations.
Don’t be mechanical
For most clients, choosing a law firm is a big deal. After all, they’re trusting their attorneys with critical life situations.
In light of that, law firms should take the time to personalize review requests.
Rather than sending a generic email, include specific details about each client’s engagement, and don’t forget to express gratitude for their business. These small details can help build a stronger connection with the client and increase the likelihood that they will leave a positive review.
Responding to reviews
For most businesses, it is wise to respond to all online reviews, both positive and negative. This shows that you value feedback and gives you an opportunity to quickly address any concerns or thank your clients for their business.
Law firms, however, must also be mindful of ethical obligations when responding to reviews.
Obviously, it is never ok to reveal privileged information about a client in a public forum, even if the firm desperately wants to defend itself against a bad review.
In fact, getting defensive in response to a critical review is never the wisest option, anyway. Remember that these responses are public, and your reply can make you look argumentative, uncooperative, and even immature.
Here’s a much better approach: thank that person for their feedback, apologize, and, if appropriate, offer to make it right somehow.
Positive reviews are much easier to answer. Be sure to thank the reviewer both for their business and for taking the time to leave you a review.
Leveraging positive reviews
Once your firm has accumulated a handful of positive reviews, it’s time to leverage them across various marketing channels.
When we talk about sharing reviews in this section, we mainly refer to two strategies:
- Sharing a link to your reviews so that visitors see it on the site where it was originally published, and
- Quoting or otherwise reposting those reviews on channels that you control.
The first situation is the most straightforward. You can always point your clients to an original review without needing anyone’s consent. This is because the review was posted voluntarily, and if a reviewer wants to go back and change their comments or remove that review, they can usually do it themselves without needing to contact anyone.
Quoting, screenshotting, or reposting reviews is a different story.
If you’re going to quote a review, and especially if you plan to include the person’s name or other information, always reach out for permission first.
Yes, the comments they made were public and voluntary, but the implied consent only extends to the review platform on which they posted. Writing a positive review on Google is not the same thing as freely giving you a testimonial to include in your marketing materials.
Whether you’re prepared to reach out and ask for permission or not, there are plenty of ways to leverage positive reviews in your marketing.
Display positive reviews on the firm website
The first and most obvious place to show off those positive reviews is on your law firm website.
There are different schools of thought about which page to use for showcasing testimonials, but the most important thing is simply getting them on there somewhere.
Ideally, you’ll place them on a high-traffic page in a manner that’s easy for potential clients to find and digest. Think about the pages your potential clients will visit when they’re deciding whether or not to hire you, and choose one of those to share your positive reviews.
Do you need permission to share these reviews?
Ask your website manager or IT specialist about using a tool that displays reviews from other websites on one of your pages. If your website is merely showing the reviews that are actually hosted on the original site, you’re good to go.
Sharing reviews on social media
To the extent your firm relies on social media marketing, by all means use those venues for sharing positive reviews.
Of course, your firm can also allow clients to post reviews directly onto its social media pages. Considering the vast number of people who regularly use social media, this type of publicity can quickly and easily increase visibility and help persuade potential clients to choose your firm.
If you really want to highlight reviews on social media pages, consider creating social media graphics containing quotes from positive reviews or sharing screenshots of reviews across the firm’s social media accounts. Make sure you ask for consent before creating these graphics to use as marketing materials.
Use reviews in ancillary marketing materials
Once you have permission to use a review for marketing purposes, you have plenty of options on how to do that. Just because a review came from the internet doesn’t mean it can’t be shared in old-school print materials.
Take some of the firm’s best online reviews and paste them into your trifolds, client binders, and other paper material.
If particular attorneys have received positive reviews online, you can also paste those into their bio sheets.
Make podcast topics out of reviews
Customer feedback, whether it’s direct or through online reviews, is a spectacular way to figure out what your clients care about. Look for clues that you can use to make your firm even better at serving your customers.
These days, more and more firms are turning to podcasts, YouTube videos, and other dynamic forms of media as part of their marketing kit. There’s no reason why the learnings from your online reviews can’t be used there, too.
For example, if the firm received a review saying something like “I was consistently impressed by how quickly they returned my phone calls,” then do an entire podcast about the horrors of attorneys who don’t return phone calls.
The options are endless; just remember to consider reviews when coming up with new audio and video content.
Ultimately, positive reviews can be used across multiple marketing channels in order to build credibility, increase awareness, and sign new clients. Isn’t it time your firm starts taking advantage of these kind words?