The marketing and social media landscape for law firms is constantly evolving, and quick adaptability is crucial to maintaining and growing a client base.
Today’s best practices are likely to reach obsolescence quickly and be replaced by the newest online engagement trend. Even so, smart law firm marketing executives understand that non-engagement is a recipe for disaster and will result in a downward trend in client acquisition. Potential issues related to lack of repeat business due to weakened credibility may also arise.
Size aside, all law firms must periodically step back and assess their online marketing strategy, and place a particular emphasis on their online reputation. Systematic and disciplined online reputation management has the potential to enhance profitability or turn around a negative client acquisition trend, even if the firm is a late entrant into this type of marketing.
Let’s review 10 power moves that can help you get back on track and tie all the loose ends of your reputation-based marketing strategy.
1. Learn to See Your Online Reputation as a Valuable Asset
Pride comes before the fall, and for many law firms, it is not uncommon to attempt to ignore their online reputation, thinking that by ignoring it, negative reviews will disappear. This is untrue and highly damaging in the long run. Successful law firms understand that an increasing number of new clients will resort to online research to find an attorney and evaluate his or her capacity for representation. Almost everyone relies on the opinions of prior clients voiced via lawyer reviews or through word-of-mouth.
2. Up the Ante by Creating a Client-Focused Corporate Culture
We cannot overemphasize the importance of sincerity, humility, commitment, and client focus as tools to enhance your law firm’s online and offline reputation. Many attorneys live up to the stereotype of aggrandized and indifferent professionals only focused on getting the next billable hour.
Don’t let that happen to you. Failure to provide a positive and memorable customer experience can result in a negative review likely to influence the decisions of thousands of potential clients exposed to review websites where someone has conveyed a negative experience with your firm. Stay ahead of the competition by ensuring your corporate culture prioritizes the way your clients engage with the firm and, ultimately, whether or not they are willing to put in a good word on behalf of your legal team. Keep in mind that while you cannot win every case, you can win the heart and mind of every client by ensuring they are treated with dignity, provided with clear communication, and given the highest standards of legal representation.
3. Encourage Online Engagement by Providing Education
As a general rule, your clients lack expertise on issues of the law. Providing not only solutions but also a good understanding of the whys and hows can equip your clients to make a better assessment of the quality of service provided, and this will result in a better opinion of your services. An educated client is one that is equipped by the firm with the right words and clear ideas to fully and fairly voice his or her opinion about the firm’s representation. Empower your clients with what you want them to say about their case and your service. It is as simple as taking a didactic approach to the way you communicate the details and outcomes of their cases.
4. Prioritize Review Websites Relevant to the Legal Segment
Get to know which review websites are generating the most traffic and leads to your law firm. Implementing the right review management platform and combining it with data originating from your Google Analytics can achieve this. Once you know where potential clients are finding you and current clients are reviewing you, it is time to get all your ducks in a row and establish a disciplined review management strategy.
5. Don’t Focus on Association-Based Awards and Rankings
We have news for you. While receiving awards from legal associations is certainly an honor, and we all want to be in a good position as perceived by our peers, aside from peer-to-peer referrals, association awards and rankings are not likely to be as important to potential clients as online reviews are. If you want to ace your marketing strategy and maximize your client-acquisition model, then invest your time and effort in establishing and managing an online reputation that rocks.
6. Diversify Your Practice to Include Review-Conducive Clients and Cases
If your law firm works exclusively on criminal law, then you stand little to no chance of securing highly coveted online reviews in association with such cases. Many attorneys seeking to enhance their online reputation and facing a similar conundrum have found a viable solution in taking some cases on legal matters more likely to trigger engagement, such as family law and tax law. By allocating a portion of time and resources to these sub-specialties, attorneys are often able to improve their popularity ranking and show up more frequently in search engines.
7. Learn the Ins and Outs of Responding to Online Reviews
Responding to reviews about your law firm provides you with a great marketing and reputation management outlet, and it can be significantly helpful when it comes to your search engine performance. Take time to learn how to best reply to online reviews while respecting your client’s confidentiality.
8. Create and Enhance Professional Profiles on Review Websites
Your professional profiles on popular review websites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and others must be handled with the same level of attention and professionalism as your website. In fact, chances are more people will find you via these websites than by heading to your website directly. Learn best practices to take over your online review website profiles and manage the contents associated with each page.
9. Consider Blogging to Tackle Commonly Escalated Review Issues While Protecting Privacy
As a legal professional, you have an enhanced duty to protect the privacy and confidentiality of your clients. Oftentimes, this limits what you can say in a review response. One way to circumvent this hurdle and still demonstrate client commitment and knowledge of the law is by blogging on topics frequently escalated via reviews, using neutral examples on blog posts, and pointing the reviewers to your blog to expand your responses. This not only helps your credibility but also does wonders for your website’s search engine optimization performance.
10. Use Your Online Reputation to Enhance Your Offline Marketing
If you are already a highly ranked law firm in many popular review websites, then don’t let your ranking go to waste. Utilize your score and specific positive feedback as a core element of your online and offline marketing strategy. Include links to your reviews or verbatim copies of five-star opinions. You may even want to consider displaying review-website marketing callouts in the waiting room of your firm.