Consumer expectations increase every year as more and more options become available. This is no different for the legal industry and is often compounded by very urgent needs, serious issues and fears. Prospective clients make up their minds quickly – most in less than 3 days – taking steps to put their legal issues behind them. How do you continue to grow your practice when buyers move at a breakneck pace, while staying competitive and addressing client needs?
We’ll show you some key marketing essentials that give the solo attorney and small law firm a way to stand out and increase lead intake. They’re key because they’re not part of traditional marketing agency support. So, while they can simplify marketing for a small practice, they’re complementary to those utilized by larger firms and work done by agencies. In both cases, these are certainly worth a close look due to how effective they can be.
1. Use an Integrated Online Scheduling Tool
Research continues to show slow responsiveness as the biggest deterrent to consumers when hiring an attorney. 45% of prospective clients expect a firm to respond to an email or phone message within 24 hours, and 24% within just a few hours. When you combine that with 75% of consumers contacting two or more attorneys before hiring, you’ll want to be as responsive as possible to deter clients from becoming interested in other attorneys.
But how do you do this? Use an online scheduling tool that easily allows clients to request an appointment with you anytime. Make sure it includes the key functionality below so you’re in control, screening for quality leads and reducing time spent managing appointments.
- Fully integrates and syncs real-time with your current calendar.
- Ability to schedule online 24/7 so you and your admin staff don’t miss opportunities.
- Ability to confirm or reject the requests so you have complete control.
- Automates reminders by sending confirmations via text or email to avoid no shows.
- Allows you to include custom screening questions as a part of the request process to reduce or eliminate those looking for free advice or who aren’t qualified.
Although there are many of these calendaring applications available, they usually don’t integrate with legal directories like those on Lawyers.com and Avvo.com where millions of visitors search for attorneys monthly. Subscribing to scheduling tools on these sites gives attorneys an additional option for consumers to connect and convert to prospects. A simple “request an appointment” button, alongside the ability to send a message, visit your website or place a call ensures you provide all the options to fit consumers’ preferred way of contacting you.
2. Automate Your Client Review Monitoring and Responding
If you’re relying on referrals to fill your new client pipeline, you’re probably missing out on new business. That’s because almost as many clients search on their own as they do relying on referrals. And, they turn to specific resources to get the job done – 47% of consumers seeking legal help use online review sites and online directories in their efforts to find an attorney.
Sure, you have a process to watch for negative reviews and you’ve heard about the importance of responding – 77% of consumers expect a response to a negative review. But, how efficient is this for your firm and how well are you doing versus your peers? After all, time spent auditing reviews is lost billable hours. And, even if you’re keeping up, you may still fall behind if your competition looks better than you.
Take a look at tools that automate the collection of reviews from all the major sites into one place, and which give you control over responding right from the tool. Applications like Review Manager included in Avvo Advanced, Avvo Elite and Reputation Boost from Martindale-Hubbell accomplish this, along with showing review trends, and comparisons against peers. Use the marketing trick of templated responses to reduce time spent in this critical area. These are essentials to build your reputation and credibility to gain more client interest.
3. Audit and Fix All Your Online Business Listings
Most law firms have Google My Business well covered. While it’s a popular resource for consumers to find a law firm’s critical information, such as name, phone and address, it’s not the only resource. It’s a little known fact that there are well over a hundred online destinations where your information may show. The problem is that your information may not be accurate. Inaccurate information means a missed call from your next prospective client.
Solve this problem with simple marketing tools that automate the auditing of your listings and show errors so you can fix them. You may not even know you have errors and certainly won’t have time to check each one individually.
4. Increase Your Presence in Directory Listings Even More
Those needing legal help are serious about the quality of services they receive. You see this with 77% of them wanting to know a lawyer’s experience and credentials. Make sure you have a managed profile on all the major, reputable legal directories like avvo.com, lawyers.com and martindale.com. But don’t stop there.
Look for enhanced services like those from Lawyers.com and Avvo.com that display all your contact info in both search listings and on your profile page. These services should include features not found on other sites that present all of your capabilities and experience. The ability to show whether you’ll do virtual consultations, what practice areas you serve, full biographies that speak to your style are all important details often not included elsewhere. Since consumers make decisions about who to hire from their assessment of the quality of your work, look for a directory site and service that showcases awards and responses to real questions in your field of practice.
5. Build Awareness and Credibility Through Q&A Forums
Prospective clients don’t always hire an attorney right away. They spend time researching, evaluating and gathering information that aids their decision making. Asking questions to attorneys in Q&A forums is often a natural part of that process.
Look at these forums for opportunities to engage. By doing so, you are working a marketing lead that could easily become a paying client. Even if not, your answers are shown to other visitors who may have similar issues and reach out to you for help. Increasing your impressions to visitors with good answers demonstrates credibility which is critical to consumers evaluating your practice for hire.
But don’t stop there. Some sites, such as Avvo, offer packages that improve your visibility in Q&A by presenting a different version of your profile with enhanced contact information and easier ways to connect. As mentioned above, this can include the option to request an appointment within your open calendar times. These packages can even tell you those specific visitors asking a question that have stated they are seeking an attorney to hire.
Rolling it all into one solution
Whether you use an agency or go it alone, attorneys must look for new ways of marketing to stand out in a crowded field. Oftentimes, these can be the majority of your marketing efforts or they can nicely complement a larger use of other services. Either way, they are definitely worth a look.
Avvo’s new Elite and Advanced packages offer effective solutions that simplify marketing for small law practices that may not have time, resources or experience. But, these packages are powerful enough to be a complement to other marketing efforts of a larger firm.