By Dan Jaffe, Esq.
Liability was clear. Damages were huge. The defendant’s pockets were deep. It was a direct referral. The referring attorney spoke highly of you. But your competitor got the case, even though the client was not referred directly to them.
What happened? I’ll be going deep on the topic in our next webinar on reputation management, but here’s a quick explanation:
The potential client Googled you. They found you. What they found led the potential client to your competitor. Your competitor looked more impressive, and your online reputation sold the client on your competitor.
If you don’t understand the dynamics of how this happens, there’s a good probability that it will happen to you in 2017 and beyond.
Is your law firm ignoring a modern king-maker and silent killer? Are you cultivating and protecting your online reputation? If you’re not tending your online reputation, you’re losing money. The dynamics are real, and part of the reason behind the widening gap between successful and unsuccessful law firms.
In years past, online reputation management was nice to have. In 2017 and beyond, it is becoming a question of to be or not to be.
Your clients may not all originate online, but they all interact with your firm’s online persona. This includes your website, your social media, and a gaggle of review sites including Google, Yelp, Avvo and Facebook.
There are two essential ingredients to having a bulletproof online reputation. You need to have a great website that you own and control, and you need credible third-party proof of your skill and reputation on trusted websites that you neither own nor control. The third ingredient, social media (for reasons that are beyond the scope of this article) is still a nice-to-have piece, that will move the needle incrementally once the two essential pieces are taken care of.
Some attorneys have amassed dozens to hundreds of positive reviews on websites including Google, Yelp and Avvo. In the eyes of potential clients, positive reviews on independent sites carry credibility. In fact, for some clients, these reviews may be more important than what a single referral source says in person. So it’s no mystery that firms that take the time to cultivate and curate their online reputations get the case more often.
Birdeye, the leading reputation management and reviews platform, estimates that a 1-star improvement in aggregate reviews rankings (out of 5 stars) results in a 5-9% increase in revenue. At LawLytics, my team and I have observed that lawyers who proactively seek reviews (and proactively manage bad reviews) not only get more business, more consistently, but also spend less money acquiring each new client.
Reputation management is a necessary extension of, and compliment to, law firm SEO. There are three things that every law firm should be doing now:
Monitoring and managing client reviews. You need to know what people are saying about you and your law firm online. And you need to be able to manage the reviews you receive, both positive and negative. You need to know when somebody writes something good or bad about your firm, so you can respond. It’s not practical to check dozens of likely review sites on a daily basis, and it’s a waste of money to pay somebody to do it manually, but there is technology that will do it for you.
Consolidate your positive reviews. You should not be sending your potential clients directly from your firm’s website to Avvo, Facebook, yelp, or Google to read your reviews. Instead, you should be sending them to a mini-reviews-site that curates then, displaying your best reviews and hiding your bad reviews. This method keeps you in control of your narrative and avoids exposing your potential clients to your competitors in the process.
Getting more reviews. If have happy clients you need to start asking them to share their feelings about you with the world. This can be a daunting thing for attorneys who are not used to doing it, because it seems self-serving, and well, un-lawyerly. It’s also potentially dangerous if not done right. Fortunately, the processes is made easier by using the right technology and methods.
On January 11, 2017, at noon Eastern time, my team and I presented a webinar for lawyers interested in learning how to maximize the benefits of online reviews and reputation management without wasting time or money. The webinar is now available to watch on-demand, is is open to all attorneys.
At the webinar we’ll talk about reputation management theory and practice, and explore the LawLytics reputation management add-on, powered by BirdEye.