In an increasingly technology driven and complex world, many industries have been revolutionised, but the need for high quality legal services is unchanged.
The difference is in how people are finding and choosing their legal professionals.
Word of mouth and personal recommendations have always been the main aim, but the opportunity to use technology to find new clients is enormous. Technology can act as an equaliser for those who can’t afford expensive adverts or campaigns and can reward those firms who are can establish a good online presence and reputation.
Marketing for the legal sector has changed, but that isn’t necessarily negative – there are four key areas where technology has impacted marketing and offered new opportunity:
The power of a recommendation
Before the internet, if someone was looking for a legal service, they would ask someone they knew. A friend would make a word-of-mouth recommendation, based on their own experience with a company. One happy client could pass on multiple potential clients.
As a consumer, your trust in the company was actually trust in your friend – they made the recommendation. It was also easier than having to research or do any work in finding a company you knew nothing about.
But there were problems – what if the potential client didn’t want anyone to know he was looking for a divorce lawyer? What if his friend had made bad recommendations before? One good recommendation could only really go so far.
Now, we still value recommendations from others incredibly highly – we just take them from strangers on the internet. Research from Deloitte shows that 97% of people said reviews had an impact on their choices, and when asked said that reviews were tied first with recommendations from friends and families as a trusted source of information.
Reviews have always been of great benefit to the consumer, but companies have had mixed feelings. They fear the power of an unhappy client unfairly tearing down their team and work, but they also struggle to get people to leave positive reviews, even when they say they’re happy with the experience.
Using an intermediary platform that only allows reviews from people who have actually used your services can help with that, and providing a promotion, entry into a draw or other motivator for leaving a review can up your online profile. Studies by the Association for Psychological Science found that when given a choice between two products, people chose the one with more reviews, even if those reviews were negative.
Does this make sense? Not necessarily – choosing a company with a hundred bad reviews instead of the company with four great reviews isn’t likely to be a good choice. But it does speak to our desire for confirmation of standing, experience and trust – we live in a digital age that makes research easy, but with so much choice, we want voices and experiences from ‘ordinary people like us’.
Alongside this desire for other people’s opinions, we consume information voraciously, and it is easier than ever for potential clients to make an informed decision – if you give them what they need.
Firms that don’t prioritise visibility and their online presence are missing out on people who would probably choose them if they simply knew how good they were. Reviews are a part of that, but they’re not the whole story.
Modern consumers are very comfortable asking the questions they need to be answered. Before, they may have searched for solicitor in the Yellow Pages, or looked on a local notice board.
Now, they know the service they need, the questions they need to ask and usually have access to background information on the company.
Technology has helped widen the net when it comes to being found by the right person at the right time. When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO), for example, you may be eager to find customers searching for ‘solicitors in Leicester’, but your potential clients may also be searching for information about writing a will, or how to choose the right solicitor for them. Using content marketing strategies alongside SEO and your reviews creates an online presence that speaks to your brand.
Answering the questions your potential customers are asking, being a source of authority and information, and showing how trustworthy you are can all be done online to bring in new clients.
Being in the right place at the right time
Finding the right company can sometimes feel serendipitous – someone needs to get around to searching for a service, and then suddenly a leaflet comes through the door, or they see an advert on television.
Modern digital marketing works in much the same way, working on that ‘right place and time’ feeling, but it’s much more sophisticated. Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising strategies work on finding the right person searching for the right phrase. Display adverts can be shown to those looking for your services. Facebook advertising and retargeting opportunities all work on finding that customer and showing them what they need at the time they need it.
With more and more people feeling comfortable searching out information online, there is so much to be learnt about your potential clients – not only demographics and the questions they are asking, but their concerns and what they consider most important.
The serendipity of ‘being found’ as a company was always about hard work – from the attractive signage over the door of your office to the leaflets, adverts or newspaper placements. That continues in the digital sphere, and the more you know about your customers, the easier it is to be discovered by them when they need you.
The value of transparency
Love them or loathe them, SRA transparency rules are encouraging legal firms to clearly state their prices to the benefit of the consumer. However, trying to explain the breadth and variety of your services can be difficult. You don’t want to be accused of misleading the client, but you also don’t want to understate your value. The scope of works can vary, changes can occur and being transparent isn’t always straightforward.
Before, there was no need for this and consumers would perhaps ring up to ask about prices directly – maybe you would get their business, and maybe you wouldn’t.
Digital marketing understands that users expect sophistication from websites – they expect a personalised response with the information they need, whether that’s through an auto-quote widget, or a chatbox. Listing an approximate price may not always be enough to convince them. They need transparency as part of the whole package – alongside instances of your expertise through content, multiple reviews to show your standing and a clear brand that makes them feel confident.
Where do comparison sites fit within this?
Comparison sites are often only considered from the consumer perspective – as a tool to save them time and money. The inversion of that, though, is that they are a powerful digital marketing tool for the partner firms they work with.
The main fear from companies who reject comparison sites is that it will encourage a ‘race to the bottom’ with regard to pricing. Actually, we’ve seen from our 20 years experience with reallymoving that customers don’t go for the lower price. The majority of conversions are not with the lowest price provider, they take into account location and reviews before making their choice.
This gives firms on the site access to a range of tools to help them promote themselves.
If companies tried to market digitally in all the ways we’ve listed above, they might find themselves at a loss. Both providing digital marketing services inhouse and hiring an agency can involve a high level of development, from creating quality organic content, to paid ads, growing a search engine presence, promoting through social media and presenting prices and reviews in a clear, accessible way.
That’s where comparison sites really shine as a marketing tool. They are designed to present the company to the right person at the right time– offering information, a neutral platform and the chance to research.
By the time a customer gets a quote they are ready to commit – this is a warm lead for the firm to follow up on. It’s the simple serendipity of being found by the right person at the right stage in their journey.
A comparison site also encourages a level of trust with the customer – they are being offered options and information, they can check how each company is vetted before they are allowed on the site, and the power is with the customer to choose what works for them. 90% of people surveyed by the Competition and Markets Authority said they were happy using a comparison site because they felt the sites were ‘unbiased’ and ‘there to help consumers’. Compare this to the 16% of people who felt that a company’s website was a trustworthy source of information.
Comparison sites are a natural extension of digital marketing strategies – they build your firm’s online presence, collate reviews only from validated customers, can sometimes offer an ‘auto-quote’ option on your website, and can promote you through content, directory listings and PPC.
All whilst reaching the right potential client at the right time.
The older ways of marketing aren’t done with, they’ve just adapted into faster, more detailed digital options. Whilst in some ways this can feel overwhelming, it actually offers new realms of opportunity for legal firms who are eager to grow their reputation, visibility and client list.
(Author: Andi Michael Content Marketing Executive, Reallymoving.com & The Law Superstore)
Reallymoving is a comparison site which generates leads for conveyancing. The Law Superstore provides leads for 134 legal services. Both offer free trials for new panel members.
Please contact Isa Gillen on 01727 238010 or email@example.com to discuss further.