It’s true. Yelp is the most trusted website for attorney reviews. And if you are not getting good reviews on Yelp you better start having a plan in place to do so.
I love to give examples taken from real life. While this particular story isn’t about lawyers on Yelp it is about the influence of crowd-sourced review sites.
After over a year of planning, I took a cruise this past April. (Unfortunately, our cruise was interrupted due to the sudden death of a close family member.) However, throughout the whole planning phase from travel agent, to airline, to cruise ship, to excursions, I religiously consulted Trip Advisor. I read all reviews. It didn’t matter what the airline, cruise or excursions advertised, I made my final decisions based upon crowd-sourced reviews from those who had actually gone through the experience I was interested in. When I had questions, I joined a Facebook Group designed to share information, answer questions and get guidance. No details were too small and as a result, I was very pleased with all the final decisions.
Now, here is the really interesting part. Before our trip was interrupted, we were able to do two wonderful excursions; snorkeling and swimming with the stingrays. At the end of each excursion, our guides handed us business cards with information on how to write a review on Trip Advisor. Each told us that their livelihoods depended upon a positive review (providing we liked the excursion) and rather enthusiastically encouraged us to use the ship’s wifi and participate in writing a 5 – star review of our experience, to even post pictures if we had them. It was so important to them that they didn’t mind being rather heavy-handed when asking us to do so. But the message was clear – they understood how critical a positive review on these crowd-sourced review sites was and they weren’t ashamed to work for a good review and ask for a good review. They didn’t take their jobs lightly or give short shrift to the power of social media.
Then just last week I was looking for a dog trainer. I found an interesting website, checked out the reviews and called. When the prospective trainer talked with me on the phone the first thing he asked was, ‘How did you hear of me?’. I told him I found his website and there were some good testimonials. He said, ‘Did you see my Yelp reviews? I’ve got some really good reviews on Yelp.”
Lawyers, on the other hand, the ones who are starting to wake up to the fact that crowd-sourced reviews sites are the ‘new’ word-of-mouth, are going to sites advertised specifically for lawyers. Shouldn’t they first be going to sites where the consumers are actually congregating and seeking out advice? They can always work the other sites later.
That brings us back to Yelp. Why aren’t more lawyers actively going to Yelp and participating?
“Yelp is the most commonly used site to search for attorney reviews online—58 percent of respondents in our sample said it was the first place they turn. It’s also the website that 61 percent of users view as the most trustworthy,” says Chantelle Wallace, Managing Editor of Software Advice.
This is dramatic news considering that most consumers go online to look for an attorney. In fact, the new survey finds that 83% of consumers use online review sites as the first step in searching for an attorney. Furthermore:
- 90% of Customers Say Buying Decisions Are Influenced By Online Reviews
- 79% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations
“…more consumers are reading reviews as part of their pre-purchase research before selecting a local business to use.
However, it also shows that they are forming opinions faster and needing to read fewer reviews before they trust (or don’t trust) a local business. This puts increased emphasis on local businesses to manage their online reputation closely and ensure that any negative reviews are dealt with in a swift and positive way.
As for the big name legal review sites, they have a very small market share for lawyer review searches compared to Yelp’s 58% lawyer review searches…. and this number is growing.
A lawyer may offer clients a $50 credit on their legal bills to provide voluntary, honest and independently generated reviews of the lawyer’s services on websites such as Avvo that allow such evaluations, the New York state bar’s ethics committee declared March 25.
At the end of the day, even the legal profession, known for being far behind the learning curve when it comes to the importance of marketing, is conceding there is value in social media ‘word-of-mouth’. This is a type of ‘social selling - when (salespeople) use social media to interact directly with their prospects. (Salespeople) will provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy. Using a review, while not direct to one particular prospect, falls into this category, in my opinion. What does strike me odd is that this is dangerously close to a ‘gift’ for generating business, something which has been frowned upon since long before I became a lawyer. But the opinion referenced does address this issue and they’ve managed to skirt it quite nicely and, for once, in the lawyers’ favor.
I would like you to consider one other thing before you read the post I’m going to refer you to below. Word of mouth marketing is the brass ring which every attorney aspires to grab. Traditionally, word of mouth was from one person’s mouth to one person’s ear. Today’s word of mouth is social media – one person’s keyboard to tens of thousands of eyes. Review sites are word of mouth and you should take review sites such as Yelp as seriously as the guides for my excursions did. They were clear. Their livelihood depended upon a positive review from satisfied customers. Yours will, too.
Here is a great guest post on the Referral Power of Positive Reviews on Yelp written by a lawyer who uses Yelp successfully.
Are you using crowd-sourced review sites? If so, please share your experience with us.