Is referral marketing helping you get all the calls and cases in your area?
For a long time, law firms have depended on networking and referral marketing to get more clients through WOM, word of mouth. A big part of this tactic revolves around investing in personal relationships in order to grow. To date, this has always meant attending conferences, fundraisers, chamber of commerce gatherings, workshops, and more. And while networking is still a valuable part of your overall marketing strategy, it comes at a cost: time.
Today, especially after recent events that have changed the way we function as a society (yes, we’re mainly talking about the pandemic), this is changing. Client WOM goes beyond in-person meetings and is now shifting over to the digital realm at an increasingly fast pace.
This is good news! It means the marketing arena is opening up to more ways in which your firm can excel and get the new business you’re looking for. New challenges bring new opportunities, they say. Networking and referral marketing in this day and age require firms to navigate new territories and find up-to-date tools to grow, and there are perhaps even more than you might think! One way you can amp up your referral game is through your digital presence on social media. You could also start by investing more time in your blog or maybe even pick up podcasting! The options are countless, and the more focus you dedicate to how you look and what you offer prospects online, the better your chances of getting noticed and talked about.
While investing time in personal relationships is still great, your firm’s steady growth requires more than just referrals and networking. Consider them valuable additions that should support your overall marketing strategy, as opposed to your full marketing strategy.
WOM vs Digital Marketing. Should my firm go for one or the other?
Word of mouth has been the catalyst for most law firm’s networking and referral marketing strategies. Seeing consumers that are using or have used your services in the past voluntarily share how happy they are with you as a firm with their network is a beautiful and humbling thing, particularly because it just works to get you more new business.
The main reason this is so powerful is that it positions your clients like your best marketers – and free of cost! When former clients tell their family, friends, and acquaintances about the excellent job that an attorney did, it will typically result in new leads coming your way. Additionally, WOM already brings in clients with an increased level of trust, leading to a more positive attorney-client relationship.
There’s a caveat, though. Relying exclusively on word of mouth basically means you are leaving the control of acquiring cases and calls in your clients’ hands. Let’s keep in mind that no matter how talented of an attorney you are, you just can’t please’em all! Negative comments and opinions on your firm will always exist, and this is what makes depending on WOM to get business through the door so risky. With digital marketing, the power is in your hands. By this, we mean that you can control what content goes where, with what approach and with what intensity your target audience will be served this content. Your competitors are already in line doing just the same, and as the saying goes, where the bait lies, sharks will come. This is not to say your clients are necessarily bait, but the fierce competition in the legal industry has definitely turned attorneys into sharks. It’s all a matter of Darwin’s law, just applied to the digital marketing world.
According to a recent study, the primary source the majority of searchers (86%) use when researching a lawyer is Google. Let’s stretch out the bait/shark analogy a little further, shall we? If you’re after new business, and online is where the sharks are, you will need to be the strongest one in order to take the biggest share. This means adapting to your surroundings and being where your prospects are. Don’t be intimidated to embrace new technology as it comes out. Rather, jump on the bandwagon as soon as you can! The more steps ahead you are of your competition, the more likely it is that potential clients will find you and ultimately sign with you.
With that said, WOM and digital marketing are most efficient when they work hand-in-hand. Here’s an overview of some of the benefits:
- Heightened awareness of your firm.
- Promotion of your services.
- Highlight of your expertise and USP, unique selling points.
- Strengthened client-lawyer relationship.
- Increased brand awareness and trust.
eWOM refers to any positive or negative statement made by customers about your firm which is available to multiple people and/or institutions and is spread over the internet. It comes in many forms, but the most significant are online reviews.
Online reviews are a must because they increase your rankings, trustworthiness, visibility and generate even more. Therefore, actively seeking them out online is critical for your firm’s growth.
The marketplace is, always has been and always will be, heavily influenced by what people say. Seeing as the digital landscape is expanding at a formidable rate each day, and there are more and more users online that search for both services and products on the web, the traditional market has shifted into a digital one. People trust others on the Internet, even if they don’t personally know them on the grounds of them having left behind a review without much, or anything to gain. According to a recent survey, 93% of consumers say that online reviews influenced their purchase decisions. Online testimony of your services can legitimize your work, and just like referrals and traditional WOM, it comes from the clients themselves.
Reviews can help for a number of reasons, including:
- Improvement of your visibility.
- Higher rankings on SERPs, (search engine results pages.)
- Heightened trust.
- Increased calls to your firm from interested prospects.
Fun fact: 98% of potential clients research the online reviews of an attorney before hiring them. Because of this, your firm should learn how to seek positive online reviews actively.
Boosting your firm’s online presence.
Networking, referral, and digital marketing equally depend on providing the best customer experience. To do so, you’ll need to constantly evolve, meet the clients where they are, and tap into their pains and desires. On top of that, the need for more calls and cases is pushing many attorneys to find new ways to advertise, which means establishing an online presence is no longer a nice-to-have, but a necessity.
However, we understand learning the ropes of digital marketing requires time. Time you likely don’t have enough of as it is! Because of this, we’ve created a checklist with some best practices you can start with:
- Add your NAP+W (name, address, phone number) and website in directories in listings like Avvo, Lawyers.com, and Justia.
- Claim your business on GMB, Google My Business.
- Build a social media content strategy. This is the perfect avenue to lend a helping hand to users by providing answers to some of their basic legal problems. For example, you can create a blog explaining what a contingency fee arrangement is.
- Incorporate an SEO strategy to boost your organic rankings on search engines like Google.
- Network with other professionals on social media platforms like LinkedIn.
- Attend online webinars and conferences.
Venture uncharted territories and find more clients.
Your clients can be your best marketers offline and online. There are many ways to stay ahead of the game in the current virtual landscape, and one of the most powerful is allowing your clients to speak for you. Having said this, remember that it is very risky to rely solely on this type of strategy and we highly recommend incorporating your positive reviews in a fully stacked digital marketing strategy. Not only will you be able to balance out any negative reviews you may have received, but your efforts will be more targeted and efficient in getting your firm the calls it needs.
As you find new ways to grow your firm online, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with the intricacies of digital marketing and your legal responsibilities simultaneously. We know that time is precious and therefore, stretch out a helping hand. We have a team of seasoned digital marketing experts that are ready to set your firm up for success. While you focus on closing cases, we can help your firm navigate the digital realm.