If you are like the majority of law firms we work with, a lot of your business comes from referrals—and you want that to continue.
Many firms contact us because they’re feeling a slowdown in the number of referrals calling their firm. This slowdown prompts them to begin working on their online presence to drive new business from the internet.
When these firms work with us to improve their online presence, most of them find their referral business is back or even stronger, and they now also have new leads coming from the internet.
This turnaround after some fundamental web presence work is because your referrals are moving online.
What do I mean by referrals moving online?
A couple of years ago, we conducted a survey among non-lawyers. We first asked people “If you were faced with a legal issue, where would you search?”, the overwhelming majority said they would look online and only 18.3% said they would ask a friend or family member. This makes sense, we understand that many people use the internet to answer questions they have about different issues, especially ones that they aren’t sure about and maybe not ready to discuss with a professional or even a friend.
But the study returned some interesting data when we changed the question from searching about a legal issue to something more specific that impacted them or a loved one. We asked, “If someone you know needed an attorney, how would you find one?” and the answers quickly moved from a focus on online research to looking for a referral from a friend or family member. As we knew from all the lawyers we talk to, referrals are still alive and well and a key source of new business.
Another question we asked in the survey was “When are you likely to visit a law firm’s website?” This is where we see why many lawyers felt they were losing referrals. The referral was likely “Googling” them before they called. If this referred, prospective client didn’t like what they saw in the results online, they are only one search away from finding another attorney.
If this lawyer hasn’t put much effort in their online presence, there are a lot of things that this prospective client may not have liked when they Googled them.
Maybe they had very few online reviews or the online reviews they had were not overall positive. Or maybe they searched the lawyer’s name and had a hard time finding information about them as the first few returns were for a different person with a similar name. Or when they visited the website, it looked like it was 10 years old and they had a little doubt if the lawyer was even in business and if they were, how up to date they are on their issues. Or worse of all, they go online to find the lawyer, see a few listings and click the phone number in the listing to call (they are likely on their mobile phone after all) and the phone number is wrong.
Not doing the basic work to ensure you have a strong internet presence when someone searches your name or your firm name means that you could be losing referrals that you didn’t even know you had.
A Real Life Example
While this data is compelling, we also have a real life example of how this affected a client of ours. The first thing we do with our clients is to make sure that the “Protect Your Referrals” work is completed. This work boils down to a lot of what will be in this challenge, claiming and optimizing scores of directory listings, working to get some online reviews, and creating a modern, mobile-friendly website. This effort takes around 90 days. After that, we kick in different tactics depending on the law firms’ goals, anything from content marketing, SEO,
If we had access to a client’s site analytics leading up to starting to work with us, we could compare the previous four months against the first four months of work with us. This allowed us to isolat the benefit of just doing the “Protect Your Referrals” work vs. other online marketing activities.
For the case study, we did this research with a number of clients, here is one that was an average representation.
During the previous four months before we started working with this client, here is what the traffic analytics looked like:
As you can see they only had an average of 139 sessions per week across the four-month period. They were able to provide that they only received 7 leads per month during that time as well.
After four months of working with GNGF, we had claimed, and optimized their directory listings, launched a mobile-friendly website optimized to their firm name and lawyer names, and we guided them on how to start getting positive online reviews. The traffic increased to an average of 200 sessions per week and they received 19 leads per month as well.
Remember, this is work that everyone can and should do. This is not the more complex work of trying to create a Google Ads campaign that provides positive ROI on expensive legal search keywords. This is not doing all the content marketing and SEO backlink work to try to rank on the first page for terms like “divorce attorney near me” or “best DUI attorney, St. Louis, MO”.
We are focused on controlling and influencing as many of the search results on the first page when someone searches your name, your firm name, or any of the other key public facing people in your firm. You want the result of someone searching your firm name to look something like this.
The search result for your firm name may not look like this in 30 days, but with the lessons that you will learn in this challenge, you should be able to dominate the search results for your firm name in less than three months. Then, you too will see new life being breathed back into your referral business.
I will be very honest, there is some tedious work involved in the next 29 days. You may want to recruit someone in the office to help you out. Maybe an office admin, paralegal, or a new associate. Some of these steps you will have to do as a leader in your firm, but some of the others you can print off the accompanying worksheets and delegate. Block off some time in your calendar each day for the next 30 days, and get ready to Protect Your Referrals.