The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Reputation Management for Attorneys

One fact you can’t escape is that your law firm has an online reputation. People are going to share feedback about your services and other aspects of your business, which will influence other’s decisions about working with you. However, you can manage your online reputation to a large extent, meaning the outcome isn’t entirely out of your control. Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of online reputation management for attorneys. 

What is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management refers to the actions you take to manage your law firm’s and attorneys’ online reputation. This involves creating and maintaining a strong online presence, delivering quality services, soliciting online feedback, and responding to client feedback appropriately. 

Why Online Reputation Management is Important for Attorneys

Your reputation might be stellar with clients and peers, but that won’t do you much good if your online reputation reflects something different. Times have changed, and a business’s online reputation now holds more weight than even personal referrals or word-of-mouth. 

According to a legal survey from Martindale-Avvo, people are now more likely to choose a law firm based on their online research than a personal referral. A report by Trustpilot reveals that 90% of online shoppers have decided not to deal with a certain business because of a bad reputation. 

Additionally, if your law firm is hard to find online, if your website is sluggish, or if the information people find is outdated, potential clients are more likely to pass you up in favor of a competitor. However, a strong online reputation management strategy can help you make connections with prospective clients that boost your overall results online, especially in local SEO results

There’s a right and wrong way to approach online reputation management. Do it wrong, and it could irreparably harm your business. The right approach can help you boost your visibility and overall results. Here are some essential do’s and don’ts of online reputation management for attorneys and law firms. 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Reputation Management for Attorneys

1. DO Have an Online Reputation Management Strategy. 

Getting a positive online reputation requires a strategy and some legwork. Decide what you’d like to achieve with online reputation management, create a plan of action, and establish some KPIs to track your results.   

2. DON’T Ignore Customer Feedback. 

In addition to reading reviews, many consumers also critique how businesses respond to reviews, if at all. If you receive any reviews, negative or positive, respond to them quickly and appropriately. Thank everyone for taking the time to provide feedback. If you receive a negative review, invite the reviewer to contact you offline to resolve it. 

3. DO Create a Strong Online Presence.

It’s essential that your firm creates a foundation for success with a strong online presence. For example, if you have some positive Google reviews and a person clicks on a link that takes them to an outdated website, your efforts would be in vain. 

4. DON’T Purchase Fake Reviews. 

The last thing you want to do is prime the pump by buying fake reviews. It’s against the terms of service for every website and directory, so it can get your firm’s page deleted. The reviews also look fake, and potential clients will see right through the tactic. 

5. DO Ask Clients to Provide Reviews. 

If you don’t prompt clients to leave online feedback, you’re more likely to only hear from the people who are upset. This won’t give you the results you need and deserve. Instead, let your clients know that online feedback will help your law firm and you’d appreciate them taking the time to leave a review on Google or some other site. 

6. DON’T React Defensively to Online Feedback.

It’s hard not to get defensive when someone criticizes your business or, worse, your legal skills. However, it’s important to consider that every business gets a negative review at some point. You can’t please everyone. In fact, some consumers will get suspicious if they only see all five-star reviews. Take the occasional negative review with a grain of salt and make sure you respond appropriately. 

7. DO Monitor What People Say About You. 

Use Google Alerts and other tools to monitor any mentions of your name or related services online. When you receive an alert, you can quickly capitalize on this by engaging with someone who has a question or responding to a review. 

8. DON’T Mix Personal and Business Online Personas. 

This is a relevant point if you have attorneys with their own personal brands. It’s important that your law firm’s business channels be separate from the attorney’s personal channels. Things like politics and other divisive issues can alienate a portion of your audience, so think twice before posting. 

9. DO Be Authentic and Consistent. 

You can establish trust and credibility through your online content and interactions with others. Be as authentic and consistent as possible when posting across various platforms. Think about how you wish to be viewed and stick to your firm’s messaging as you create content, respond to reviews, and engage with people on social media. 

10. DON’T Get Frustrated by the Process. 

Managing your law firm’s online reputation is a marathon, not a sprint. If you fail to see immediate results from your efforts, resist the temptation to ditch your strategy, thinking it isn’t working. Your online reputation management should be something you do alongside your other digital marketing efforts to get the best possible results. 

Get Help Managing Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation

Creating and maintaining a positive online reputation for your law firm is just one part of an overall legal marketing strategy. Your clients need to feel as if their voice is being heard, and potential clients value the information they find about your law firm as they make important decisions. 

At Too Darn Loud Legal Marketing, we can help your law firm create and manage a winning online presence. We offer results-driven legal marketing solutions that can help your business succeed in a competitive field. Call us today at (800) 649-1764 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. 

The Importance of Client Reviews and the Most Effective Way to Get Them

In law school, the last thing that you were likely thinking about was how to market yourself as an attorney. Instead, you probably assumed that by doing good work and providing effective legal counsel, as well as by establishing or working for a reputable firm, clients would come to you. But the days of word-of-mouth marketing are all but are gone; today, more people than ever before are turning to online information as a resource that influences their purchasing decisions of various types, including who to hire for legal representation.

If your law firm is still relying on out-of-date means of client retention and acquisition, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to reach more people. At Too Darn Loud Legal Marketing, our legal marketing team can help you to understand the importance of client reviews and the most effective way to start cultivating reviews today.

Why Are Client Reviews So Important?

When it comes to understanding why client reviews are so important, the following statistics say it all:

  • Those who are in need of a lawyer aren’t just going to ask around to find one; instead, 75 percent of consumers seeking an attorney will use online resources to identify who they plan to hire. Again, by not having online information about your firm, including online client reviews, you could practically be sending clients to your competitors.
  • Not only are ¾ of people who need a lawyer using online resources to look for one, but nearly ⅔ of people say that online reviews greatly influenced their decision in selecting an attorney.

The bottom line: people are using the internet to learn more about a business before making a purchasing decision – this includes those who are in need of legal services. By failing to provide information to potential clients about your business in a variety of forms, including client reviews, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with a potential client in a valuable way; this opportunity will likely be snatched up by other attorneys in your field.

The Most Effective Ways to Get Client Reviews

Now that you understand just how important client reviews are for your legal practice, the next consideration is how to start building a collection of client reviews on your website.

Lawyers often fail to get reviews for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that they don’t maintain the right spaces for clients to leave reviews (i.e. Facebook, Google, etc.). Second, lawyers often fail to ask clients for reviews, which is a critical step in the process of actually getting reviews. Third, if a lawyer does ask a client for a review, they often go about it in the wrong way. To get more reviews, consider the following:

  • Choose the right platforms. The first thing that your law firm needs to do is ensure that the right platforms for client reviews are in place. Facebook and Google are both great options – Facebook has more than one billion active users, and consumers say that Google reviews is their favorite source for online reviews. In addition to Google and Facebook, also consider using Avvo, which is a review site specifically for lawyers.
  • Start asking for reviews. It’s not just about having the right platforms in place; you’ll need to actually ask your former clients for reviews. This can be daunting and even feel uncomfortable, but there is a way to do it appropriately and effectively.

How to Ask Clients for Reviews

As you start to ask clients for reviews, there are a few key things to keep in mind for maximum effectiveness.

  1. Make sure your reviews are current by asking clients to leave you a review as soon as possible after representation has been completed.
  1. Ask for reviews from clients who had a positive experience – the goal is to have positive reviews reflected on your website and the various review platforms.
  1. Make it personal by asking for a review in person or by picking up the phone and calling them. Simply sending a generic email to a client you’ve been working with isn’t nearly as effective as personalizing it. If the client agrees to leave you a review, then you can immediately follow up with an email containing the relevant links to review sites.

Know How to Make Reviews Work for You

Finally, once reviews start coming in, you’ll need to know how to make these reviews work for you. Make sure that positive reviews are shared on your website in an area that is easy for prospective clients to find. Show recent reviews first.

Another tip for making reviews more effective is to respond to former clients’ reviews, both positive and negative. Be honest, empathetic, and use a negative review as an opportunity to admit fault when appropriate and highlight how much you care about your clients.

Work with a Professional Digital Marketing Team Today

At Too Darn Loud Legal Marketing, we are experts at helping law firms like yours improve their online presence and start attracting more clients. Not only are we skilled digital marketers, but we also understand the unique rules and regulations that you face as a lawyer, including client confidentiality rules and the consequences of fake reviews. To learn more about how we can help your firm, reach out to our legal marketing team by phone at (800) 649-1764 or online today.

How to Get Reviews from Clients

Getting reviews isn’t something you can sit back and trust people will do. You have to actively have a review-requesting plan in place, and train their staff – from managing partners down to their receptionists – in the best ways to ask satisfied clients for reviews.

Here are a few suggestions:

In Case-Closing Letters

Do your clients send a final letter to their clients with their settlement checks or copies of final judgment documents? Include specific instructions on how to leave their firm a review within these letters.

If your client sends copies of these letters via email, include direct links to their review profiles to make it easy.

In Text

Part of the problem with getting clients to leave reviews is them knowing how to. Remove those barriers by texting a link to their business’s Google profile. Here’s how.

In Person

The most powerful way to ask for a review is in person where your client can say, “I appreciated working with you. It would really help more people who need my help find me if you would leave a review online.”

Follow up this conversation with a texted link.

Too Darn Loud Legal Marketing has extensive experience with helping lawyers obtain positive client reviews. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about our review management programs and other comprehensive solutions for law firms.

Negative Client Reviews – Should You Reply to Them and Why?

One of the most important contributing factors of a law firm’s local search marketing strategy is the collection of client reviews. Studies show that 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a referral from someone they know and 88 percent of consumers use reviews as a deciding factor when choosing a business.

But not every review your law firm receives is going to be positive. Sure, this is the goal. But it would be unrealistic to think that you can win every case, resolve every issue favorably, or please every client. When your law firm gets a negative review, should you respond? And if so, what is the best way to approach this feedback?

Is the Review Legitimate?

If you get a negative review, the first thing you should ask yourself – “is the review legitimate”. Most review websites don’t vet the credibility of reviews and won’t take a closer look unless the business (a.k.a. you) flags it. Some of the possible scenarios include:

  • People who mistakenly leave reviews for the wrong attorney
  • Other law firms trying to damage the competition
  • Unscrupulous marketers engaged in negative campaigns on behalf of competitors
  • Family members or friends upset on behalf of a client
  • Opposing parties who are upset about a case outcome

Most review websites have a policy that the review must be from an actual client. None of the above qualify and most are fraudulent postings that could get someone removed from a platform. If you notice these red flags, ask that the review be removed.

Should You Reply to Negative Client Reviews?

If you get a legitimate review from a client that is less than stellar, you should consider responding to the review. If you do respond you should keep in mind what the American Bar Association has shared regarding responding to negative reviews.  Responding to reviews can be risky because an attorney might be tempted to disclose information about a case to counter the negative review or defend their good name.

The ABA is clear that lawyer confidentiality prevents an attorney from correcting a client’s factual information. There is no legal risk in not responding to negative reviews. However, your online reputation could take a hit, and this is something that is increasingly vital to the success of your business.

How to Reply to a Negative Client Review

If you check your online reviews regularly (you should) and notice one of those dreaded 1-2 star ratings attached to some unpleasantries about your legal services, it is important to take a few moments to gather your thoughts before responding.

Your next steps should be:

    1. Research the Client and Case 

Before you do anything, dig into the background of the client and case. Take the time to identify:

  • The legitimacy of the review (see above)
  • The client’s name
  • The client’s case and outcome
  • Your notes about any service issues

Some people use a nickname or alias when posting reviews, so it is important not to discount a review as “fake” and risk further alienating a past client and the people who are reading your responses. Before you reply, do some extensive research.

    1. Decide on a Plan of Action

Once you have answered the above questions, you can decide on the best course of action. You may determine that the review isn’t legitimate and request its removal. If you take this route, most online review sites will temporarily remove the review while they investigate your claim.

Another possibility is to do nothing. In a few rare cases, this a valid option. For example, the negative review was posted a while ago and has had no discernable impact on your business. Or maybe there is the danger of further alienating a client that is so on edge that anything you say will only make matters worse. But, in most cases, you want to be proactive with your online presence and respond to negative feedback.

    1. Attempt to Take Things Offline

Not every solution needs to be handled on a public forum, like Google. Considering the issue of attorney confidentiality, any issues involving a client’s personal information or case details should be discussed in private.

When a negative review concerns the outcome of a case, invite the client to contact you directly to resolve the matter. This demonstrates that your firm is willing to go the extra mile to resolve client complaints.

    1. Respond to the Review Publicly

Nine times out of ten, you should respond to a negative review publicly. Consumers read negative reviews just as often as they read positive reviews when making decisions about service providers. A public response to a disgruntled client can tell a prospect that you care about your client’s issues and wellbeing.

Whether you were at fault or not, respond with the client’s name and show empathy for their situation. If they have an ongoing legal issue, encourage them to seek counsel. And, if you have spoken in private and resolved the client’s issue, you can certainly mention this in your response. Finally, it is never a bad idea to have one or two people review your response before posting to make sure that it is thorough and appropriate.

    1. Encourage Positive Reviews

While you may not be able to stop clients from leaving an occasional negative review, you can make those reviews less significant by encouraging all your clients to leave online feedback for your law firm. The more positive reviews you have, the higher your average star rating will be, and the less impact a negative one will have on your reputation. In fact, consumers expect to see a few negative reviews for most businesses and are suspicious if they do not.

Handling your law firm’s online reputation is just one part of an overall digital marketing strategy. Your clients want to feel as if their voice is being heard, and a timely and appropriate response to a less than perfect review could create loyalty among those clients as well as give you valuable information to improve your services.

Contact Too Darn Loud Legal Marketing For Help Monitoring And Responding To Client Reviews

If you need further assistance with your local SEO strategy or would like to learn more about how Too Darn Loud Legal Marketing’s services can help your business, contact us today at (800) 649-1764 or through our online contact form.