I cannot tell you the last time a day went by when I was not solicited by some marketing or advertising company. Each company trying to sell me on their product and how it was going to transform my law firm and generate more new leads and clients then I could ever dream of handling. These promises come from companies specializing in the phone book (print and online), social media, internet marketing, etc. Each one promised that their medium was the one I should devote the bulk of my time and marketing budget. Our law firm along with Mike Blumenthal decided to make our decisions based on facts rather then rely on dogma. We created a survey using Google Consumer Surveys. As you can see below we were trying to find where people would go to find a specialty lawyer, if you chose to use the internet to find a specialty lawyer what would be the most important to you, and finally if you used Google to find a specialty lawyer, what would you do first?
What us young attorneys forget or maybe never knew is that our work product is more important then our website. Contrary to what yellow page salesman and some seo (search engine optimization) consultants would have you believe, the most important marketing tool has not changed. Almost 55% of those surveyed will be asking a friend or their current lawyer. So what does that mean? Well, working hard, getting results, and developing a good reputation means that past clients will not hesitate to recommend you and other lawyers will feel comfortable referring you business. This is not to say that your website is not important or that seo is a waste of money, because that simply is not true. Of those surveyed over 30% indicated that they would be using the internet to find an attorney. However, it is also worth noting that the new shiny toy being promoted, social networking does not seem to have any benefit in generating clients, leads, or money. Social networks may have their place in branding or reminding people that your law firm exists, but at this time it is not a revenue producer.
Having a diversified presence throughout the web is the key to internet marketing. Nearly a third of those using the internet to find a specialty lawyer searched the web in areas other than Google, Facebook, or the law firm's website. The survey shows that recommendations and endorsements play a significant role in a potential client's decision making. As you can see 44% of individuals using the internet to obtain a specialty lawyer, are looking at reviews, from Google, Yelp, or endorsements from friends on Facebook. The second survey question reinforces the findings of the first inquiry, your reputation as an attorney is the most important marketing tool that you have at your disposal. If past client's are not speaking highly of you, or worse, your past client's are speaking poorly of you, 44% of those people looking for a specialty attorney are not going to like what they see.
Having strong seo and presence on Google is significant. If a consumer used Google to find a specialty lawyer, your firm's website better show up. Of those surveyed 61.2% of the respondents are either looking at your website, reading your Google reviews, or looking at your photos and description of your firm. Considering Google's dominance in the search engine world, optimizing your site for Google is of the utmost importance. This survey reiterates the importance of your reputation. The survey shows that when a consumer is using Google to search for a specialty lawyer 46% are reading reviews of your past work.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The internet is a wonderful and complicated marketing tool. However, as the survey showed your reputation within the legal community and service provided to client's is still tops. A law firm can have the best seo, show up on the top of every keyword search on Google, and pay a fortune for leads on pay-per-click, but if your past client's would not recommend your work it will all be for naught.
This Google Survey used a sample population of 1500 people. Google indicates that the survey winner was statistically significant in the first two questions. The third question was too close to call and required more responses before results can be determined with statistical significance. The survey was available on the following types of sites, Arts & Entertainment 43.1%, News 36.4%, and Reference 20.4%.