Online Client Research Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon

This year’s U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey has just been released, and the results are hardly surprising. Like virtually every other legal industry survey that’s come out in the last few years, the Legal Needs Survey shows without question that online research, particularly on mobile devices, plays a major role in which law firm clients choose. If your firm hasn’t already seen the impact of online research, it will soon.

If you need to step up your online presence, here are three critical places to start:

Embrace online profiles and reviews. According to the survey, one third of consumers say that the internet was their main source of information when deciding to contact a lawyer. That’s up 14 percent from just two years ago. And before you think, “But we’re doing just fine with word of mouth!” the influence of in-person referrals has actually declined by 12 percent in that same time period. Now more than ever, it’s critical to claim your online profiles and encourage clients to leave their (positive) feedback online.

Know your keywords. Okay, so you’ve accepted that there’s no turning back on online research. The next step is to understand the keywords that potential clients are using to search for you. Make sure your website is optimized so it shows up higher in search rankings, and you may even want to include some money for paid search in your marketing budget. Researching common keywords can also help you discover more relevant online directories—which 41 percent of people say they use—where you can list your firm. Using keyword marketing ensures that you get in front of the right audience.

Use social media. If you’ve been struggling to commit enough time and energy to keep your social media accounts up to date, maybe this finding from the survey will help motivate you: information found in blog posts, videos, Facebook updates and tweets from attorneys all grew in importance to consumers by 10 percentage points. That’s a big jump, and it’s only going to increase. This year, 28 percent of consumers used social media, compared to 20 percent last year. Even if you’re not doing anything particularly groundbreaking on your social media accounts, just keeping them current, informative and appealing can make a huge difference.

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