It’s been a little more than a year since we looked at the huge surge in the importance of positive reviews back in March and April of 2020. Since then, consumers have become even more particular about reading reviews, spending time researching, scrutinizing a minimum star rating, analyzing the lowest service quality they’ll accept, and leaning on the appraisals that others have left online to come to an educated decision.
At Market My Market, we’ve established exhaustive data supporting the importance of reviews and we’ve concluded that it’s crucial to have goals in mind in terms of the quantitative aspects of review generation. One way of looking at how many reviews you should acquire on Google, for example, can be something as simple as its relativity to your competition. If you’re currently on Maps with two other law firms and they both have more reviews than you, your goal should be to consider those benchmarks. On the other hand, if you aren’t currently on Maps for your main keywords, consider those that are on Maps somewhat of a benchmark as well.
Reviews and User Behavior: Analyzing a Market My Market Study
Of course, people researching your firm are going to expect certain minimums no matter the case, so here are some number from research we conducted in June of 2021:
Minimum Review Rating: 3.96
Minimum Number of Reviews: 69.61
In the graphs below, we can see the importance of reviews and minimum review rating are almost identical now to what they were just over a year ago, with only a marginal uptick. The biggest difference we see is the number of reviews consumers are expecting. A year ago, there was already a big leap from roughly 20 to 50 reviews being the ideal number for those researching lawyers. Today, that number has increased by another 40% to 70.
The average amount of time respondents claimed they would spend researching a lawyer also increased from an average of 30 minutes to an average of 40 minutes, an increase of 33%. We can conclude from these factors that because of the increase in time allotted to doing research, the respondent will also take more time reading through reviews.
Breaking Down the Market for Review Platforms
Google still dominates the review market, with about 64% of respondents stating that it’s their go-to source for reviews. Social media has lost nearly all significance as a source of valid reviews as consumer confidence is nearly at an all-time low in trust for these platforms, with a combined 3.8% of respondents across all social media platforms.
Trustpilot, which normally rates companies other than professional services, made an appearance for the first time in this survey, along with Glassdoor. Glassdoor is an interesting source for reviews as consumers are often interested in how a law firm treats its employees when choosing the right option for them.
Looking at the Emergence of Yelp as a Platform for Reviews
What I didn’t expect to see in this survey is the long-time-coming and unfortunate ascent of Yelp. With 24.68% of respondents claiming they’d do research for a lawyer on Yelp, one of my biggest fears came to fruition considering the widespread abhorrence of Yelp in the legal industry. I haven’t heard anything positive about Yelp from lawyers during the past decade, which is an unpleasant truth that may need to be addressed.
On the bright side, the majority of respondents who claimed they would use Yelp for research were looking for somewhere between 3 and 10 reviews, which is altogether more manageable than the 70 that are required for Google reviews. Yelp users aren’t especially demanding for the average rating (3.99), but they most commonly say they’d research a lawyer for up to an hour.
Although lawyers have long dreaded the emergence of Yelp, it’s crucial today for your firm to have a game plan for tackling Yelp reviews. Though direct solicitation of reviews on Yelp is against their terms and conditions, it’s rare for a law firm to naturally acquire a positive review on Yelp that sticks and isn’t filtered. Even 5 reviews would go an exceedingly long way, according to the study. Yelp usage and adoption likely took off dramatically during the past year with more limited dining and entertainment options and has now stuck as a tool for researching all service-based businesses.
In my experience, Yelp has been an overwhelmingly frustrating company, with many practices hinging on highly unethical. I’ve heard numerous accounts of sales reps suggesting that negative reviews can be suppressed and positive reviews can be approved with some sort of ongoing campaign or advertising with Yelp, though the details are never clear and certainly not laid out in written language.
It’s perhaps a “wink wink” notion for business owners to engage them in some sort of marketing to have more control over their profile and reputation. At the end of the day, it seems to be hearsay, but I wouldn’t put it past a company that finds itself with the vitriol of literally thousands of law firms, yet no class action lawsuit (which I’m either unaware of or if it hasn’t happened, is totally baffling).
Making Review Generation a Part of Your Marketing Mix
At Market My Market, we’ve developed plenty of articles and guides over the years that have addressed the importance, processes, and best practices for effective review generation. While I have no true method for addressing Yelp reviews besides trying out some sort of basic engagement (avoid the litigious route – evidently, they are armed and ready for that), these articles are another piece of the puzzle in securing high-quality reviews and ensuring that anyone researching your firm ahead of time loves what they see:
- Keep in mind that your word-of-mouth and referrals may not immediately contact you before doing any research on your firm.
- Addressing negative reviews, especially on Google My Business, can easily flip a scathing 1-star review into an opportunity to present your firm in a positive light.
- Beyond reviews, you can find other opportunities to position yourself as an expert and an authority.
- Concerned about soliciting or bothering former clients? There are certainly some approaches that work better than others.
- Learn the ways that law firms with hundreds, if not thousands, of reviews are consistently still getting more.
- Having trouble getting reviews? Just because we make it look easy doesn’t mean it is. You’re likely guilty of a handful of these review sins, so we’ve provided you the know-how on how to fix them.
- Want to see all of this information showcased visually? This workshop is as relevant as ever
- We’ve outlined research that confirms the behavior consumers have when doing research on a law firm ahead of time.
- It’s also important to know how reviews work into many other aspects of your law firm’s branding and other marketing efforts, both on-site and off-site:
- Should people be doing reviews in your office? At home? Via email, or even SMS?
Managing Your Online Reputation Is Essential in Today’s Digital World
Now is as good a time as any to contemplate the recent progress your business has made and strategize how you want it to develop in the year ahead. By refining your online reputation and better managing the number and quality of your reviews, you can work toward growing your business and becoming the go-to source in your industry.
For assistance in refining your online reputation and reviews, consider the experienced professionals at Market My Market. Our knowledgeable team is committed to helping you apply creative strategies and gaining top reviews. To learn about how we can help improve your digital reputation, contact us for a free consultation by completing our contact form.