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How to Get Five-Star ★★★★★ Online Reviews

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If I were to ask a roomful of lawyers to tell me how many online client reviews their firms have earned, I would not expect to see many raised hands.

Most of the legal professionals in the room would not want me to call on them. Several would fire off a text to their office administrator, hopeful for a quick reply with the needed metrics. Others might pull up their firm's Google+ page on a mobile device and begin to count.

A part of your firm's daily agenda

Whether you are a solo practice or practicing in an international powerhouse, you have someone who dedicates time to marketing efforts, to client relations and to general office administration. In 2014, you need to add "online client reviews management" to the list.

Establishing yourself on Google+, Avvo, Yelp and local review sites by proactively seeking positive client reviews will help you to earn new clients and increase your firm's outreach. Online reviews are one of the most reliable tools to convert leads to clients.

Tanner_Jones-125See Tanner Jones' webinar Word-of-Mouth in the Age of Google: Building an Office Culture for Client Reviews on Thursday August 28, 2014 at 10AM PT/1PM ET.Presented by Avvo, this webinar will equip you with tools to incorporate proven client review processes into your law firm.

According to BriteLocal studies:

  • Those who say their trust increases when they read about businesses reviewed positively has surpassed seven in 10.
  • Seven of every eight consumers agreed that online client reviews, in at least certain scenarios, were as trustworthy as personal recommendations. The conventional wisdom is that online client reviews are today's word-of-mouth advertising.

Google will reward you for positive reviews

Your long-term goal is to earn five-star reviews. More specifically, you want a large number of reviews over time, to establish a history of your strong reputation while always featuring newer reviews that demonstrate your firm's ongoing successes. You also want your recommendations to include personalized language and comments that establish the reviewers as legitimate clients.

Google assigns a high value to online reviews—both on Google+ and on reputable sites such as Avvo and Yelp. Google values reviews on G+, not surprisingly and Google goes to some trouble to make them visible to its users. Your firm's average star rating and number of reviews will appear on the Google search results pages. A healthy number of new reviews with high average rankings can help make your firm a headliner on Google.

Administering a campaign overseeing online client reviews should not cause anxiety. The number of reviews that your firm should target is not daunting. Most search marketing experts agree that as few as one to five new local reviews each month is sufficient.

Just Ask!

The best way to start a client review campaign that lands five-star reviews is pretty simple: Just ask! Most of your satisfied clients will offer positive reviews if you make a direct request.

Take a 30-second break right now and write down the names of five clients who have expressed gratitude or who were especially happy about the outcome of their cases. Send an email (or, better yet, call these individuals personally) today and you will be well on your way to an enhanced online reputation. Caveat: Yelp does not allow solicitation of reviews.

Creating a guide to posting reviews, either on your firm's website or as an email campaign that can be sent to satisfied clients shortly after the successful outcome of their case, is an excellent process with a high success rate.

Some law firms have a more formal process for expanding their online client reviews. While their approaches differ on the details, the general system is:

  • The law firm sends a short survey to recent clients to ask about their experience.
  • The firm's marketing director pulls out the names of satisfied clients -- those who rank their experience as "very good" or better. These clients receive a personal follow-up thanking them for their feedback.
  • While the marketing director has the client on the phone, he or she mentions that the firm is trying to build its online presence and asks the client to help out by posting a positive review on Google.
  • He or she then sends a guide to posting reviews and may follow up 10 days to two weeks later if a review has not materialized.

One final option your firm may wish to research is online reputation management. This type of service will oversee your online client reviews by coordinating with your clients to provide new evaluations and monitoring your existing online reputation.

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