Three years ago, the CDC confirmed the first known case of coronavirus in the U.S. in January of 2020. However, it wasn’t until a few months later that our day-to-day life was completely turned upside down. At that point, we immediately looked at the impact that COVID would have on consumer behavior in the legal field. We saw drastic changes across the board—from social validation and messaging to availability and intake. Some metrics we’ve followed the closest are business reviews, and if you’ve been following our content on these topics at all, you will know how often we conduct consumer surveys to map out the trends in this arena.
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.
Looking at the 2023 Update of Market My Market’s Customer Review Survey
*Survey Results Updated as of January 15th, 2023*
How Important are Business Reviews to You and How Much Time Would You Spend Researching a Lawyer Before Contacting Them?
If there’s anything that’s been consistent for years, it’s been the facr that consumers are still reading reviews on Google and Social Media platforms. In the most recent survey, we have seen that the minium review rating is still no less than 3.84. In most instances, you can’t afford to be any less than 4.5 if you want to be competitive against other firms in your area. One of the only major declines in this most recent survey is the number of reviews people are expecting to see. Peaking in mid-May with around 70 expected reviews, the number has finally dwindled down to pre-COVID numbers with a Weighted Average of 15, and a General Average of 27.
The first question we normally ask in our surveys is “How Important are Business Reviews to You?” On a scale of 1-10—1 being the least important and 10 being the most—survey results have been hovering around 8 for a year and a half. Another question that’s remained similar during this time period is “How Much Time Would You Spend Researching a Lawyer Before Contacting Them?” Since March of 2020, this has hovered between 30 and 40 minutes, with the last survey stating that consumers average 36 minutes. Both of these questions should remain consistent for a long time to come, so we’ll likely switch them out in the next survey we conduct.
The minimum review rating barely moved since the last time we conducted the survey. The average review rating people perceive as a threshold is 3.97. We’d advise on getting closer to 4.7-4.8, but it’s good to know that it’s unlikely you’ll deter business with a 4.0 rating.
So far, nothing is groundbreaking in our first update in roughly 9 months. The only exception is that the amount of reviews the average respondent expects in a Google My Business listing has come back down to earth. There was a meteoric ascent of Minimum Reviews respondents expected to see since March of 2020, with the peak in the last survey hitting a somewhat unreasonable 70 reviews. In the most recent survey in January of 2022, that number is now closer to 36 reviews, more in line with numbers seen back around September of 2020.
Where Would You Go to See More Reviews of a Business?
In the last question, which asks “Where would you go to see more reviews of a business?” Google saw a steep decline. In June of 2021, 64% of respondents said Google was their go-to; this time around the number was hardly above 40%. This is interesting in relation to our most recent article about the average consumer’s level of trust when it comes to Google. People agreed slightly more in 2022 compared to 2021 that Google has the best search results for their inquiries relative to other search engines and social platforms. However, there’s a 21.6% increase in respondents who believe that Google has a bias for the social/political results that are provided. Likewise, there’s a 19.1% increase in those who believe Google is providing more results that are monetized/non-organic.
This, I believe, is a “the lesser of two evils” trend that seems to be happening at the moment because, again, respondents still believe Google is the best platform regardless of these largely negative developments. That being said, 25% of consumers seem to believe that Yelp! is a reliable website to verify results – showing a mile-wide gap between consumers’ perception of Yelp! and businesses’ perception of Yelp. The 25% mark is almost exactly what it was, unfortunately, in July of 2021: 24.68%.
In the most recent survey, there are far more sources that respondents referred to to verify reviews than ever before. Now that the sources aren’t simply “Google” and “Yelp!” with TrustPilot and Glassdoor thrown in for good measure, here are the others that were mentioned that would be worth looking into for yourself, with the number of respondents that mentioned each (the total respondents in this survey was 250 for reference).
- Better Business Bureau (3)
- ConsumerAffairs (5)
- Reddit (4)
- Social Media (5)
- Trustpilot (6)
- Twitter (3)
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.