As a lawyer, your reputation and credibility are everything. And your online presence can make or break how potential clients perceive your law firm. In this post, we’ll share everything you need to know about managing your law firm’s reputation, how it fits into your marketing strategy, and steps to monitor it in-house.
What is reputation management?
Reputation management is the process of discovering how consumers perceive your law firm’s reputation on and offline. It is an important but often overlooked component of your digital marketing strategy.
It also involves taking action to improve and protect your law firm’s online reputation via social media, search engines, and customer reviews.
For a law firm, these services include reviews and star ratings left on Facebook, Yelp, Google Business Profile, Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, and others like this.
Is reputation management part of marketing?
Reputation management is a crucial part of marketing for any law firm these days.
This is because of the impact that your brand’s image has on growth, client retention, and practically all areas of your business. A positive reputation can help foster brand loyalty and drive sales.
But a negative reputation can be damaging and hinder growth. Reputation management can even help with learning customer preferences to help you better meet business objectives and position your law firm’s messaging.
Keep in mind that you need to regularly monitor your online reputation for your efforts to have an impact. However, reputation management is well worth the time and resources invested in maintaining it.
4 steps to monitor my firm’s reputation
Monitoring your law firm’s online reputation involves being proactive. In addition to watching out for your reputation, you also need to make it possible by encouraging people to leave reviews and testimonials. It’s simple when you break it down into manageable steps. Use these 4 action steps as a guideline to stay on top of your digital presence.
1. Set up your online directory profiles
The first step to monitoring your online reputation is to create a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) account. This free account will give your clients an accurate business listing where they can leave a review. With your Google Business Profile account, you can add details that will help your customers reach you, like your address, phone number, hours of business, and a quick description that defines what you do.
Rinse and repeat these steps for Yelp, Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, and Facebook, to name a few.
Pro tip: When writing your description, don’t try to stuff keywords into the copy. Instead, speak to your audience in simple terms so they can understand how you’ll help them.
2. Ask for reviews
As happy as your clients are with your services, you likely won’t get many reviews unless you ask for them. Every time you close a case, make a habit of sending a follow-up email or letter asking your client for their feedback and an honest review. Be sure to thank them for trusting you as their attorney.
For thank you notes that you send via email, you can include a link to the online profile of your choice, or use a service like FeedbackAutomatic and list all of them to make it even easier for clients to leave you a review. The fewer obstacles to leaving a review, the more likely they are to take action.
3. Collect positive testimonials
Positive remarks on reviews are great for reputation management, but there’s another way to leverage your client’s glowing reviews. Testimonials, aka statements of recommendation, are essentially the same thing as a positive review. However, a testimonial goes on your website instead of your Google Business Profile page or other third-party listings.
To get a testimonial for your website, all you need to do is ask! Simply ask your satisfied clients if they would be willing to write a testimonial or be interviewed for a quote that you can use on your website. To make things even easier, take your favorite posted online reviews and add them to your site as a testimonial.
4. Check every site you’re listed on
As frequently as possible, but ideally a couple of times a week, check all of the sites you have a digital presence on. This includes your social profiles like LinkedIn and Facebook, Google My Business, and any applicable lawyer directories like Lawyer.com, Nolo, and Avvo. You want to check these sites for any new reviews to respond to.
However, don’t just look for negative reviews to address. You should be engaging with all of your reviews, the good and the bad. This shows that you’re active and attentive, as well as that you care about the experience of every client that you assist.
In the section below, we’ll share some tips and examples to help you address each review.
Best practices for responding to positive online reviews
Responding to positive customer reviews is just as important as responding to negative ones. Here are some tips to help you respond effectively to yours.
- Respond immediately: You should respond to each review as soon as possible. This is why it’s crucial to monitor your review activity weekly or even daily. The sooner you respond to a positive review, the better it reflects on your law firm.
- Be gracious: Expressing gratitude in your responses is important because it shows the client that you value their trust in your firm and their time.
- Personalize with names: Refer to the reviewer using their first name and sign your name to show that a real person has responded to them.
- Add a personal touch: Show the reviewer that you were paying attention and value them by adding a personal detail. For instance, in the example below the attorney mentions that they enjoyed hearing about the client’s future plans. Of course, any personal details shared should be appropriate and not reveal private information.
Here’s an example of an effective response to a positive review using the pointers above:
“Hi, Jane! Thank you for taking the time to write such a nice review. It was great working with you, and I enjoyed hearing your plans for the future of your business! We’re excited to see how it grows! If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter on our website. That’s where we share free tips and legal insights for small businesses like yours. Thank you, and we look forward to working with you again.”
Best practices for responding to negative online reviews
Ignoring negative reviews will not make them go away. The best thing you can do for a negative review is to respond professionally and humbly. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Respond immediately: It’s important to respond quickly to positive reviews, but even more so for negative ones. The longer a negative review sits without a response, the angrier the reviewer could get, and the more it looks like you’re avoiding the problem.
- Be apologetic: Even if you feel that your firm did nothing wrong in the situation, you should always apologize to the reviewer for the situation. You don’t have to admit wrongdoing if there wasn’t any, but still, let them know that you’re sorry they had a negative experience.
- Offer to make it right: The solution you offer will vary based on the situation, but even suggesting a phone call to discuss what happened can help. It’ll also show prospects looking at your reviews that you care enough to talk through the issue.
- Ask questions as needed: You may not understand why the reviewer had a bad experience, or you simply may need more information from them to know what went wrong. Ask clarifying questions that help you learn more without getting defensive, then give them your name and contact information so they can reach out directly to discuss.
Here’s an example of a good response to a negative review using the pointers above:
“Hi, John. Thank you for taking the time to let us know about the issue you experienced with our law firm. That’s not the type of experience we strive for, and we’re sorry for the frustration this has caused. Could you please tell me who you spoke with that was rude when you called last week? My name is Jane Doe, and I’m a legal assistant at ABC Law Firm. You can reach me on my direct line at 555-555-5555. I hope to hear from you soon.”
When to hire a reputation management service
As you can see from this guide, there’s a lot involved with reputation management. As your business scales, you’ll likely have more clients and reviews to monitor, too. The key is to stay on top of it.
At a certain point, you may want to outsource your reputation management and potentially all of your marketing to a company like TitleTap.
Here are some signs that it’s time to hire a reputation manager or reputation management company:
- Negative reviews are impacting your business: If you have multiple negative reviews, it can have a big impact on your business and hinder new leads. Most customers check reviews before deciding on a law firm, and if you have multiple, unaddressed negative reviews, they’ll probably go with another firm. Poor reviews (justified or not!) add up, and a reputation management service can help you dig yourself out of a hole.
- Your law firm is growing: As your business grows, especially if you branch into multiple locations, the more you’ll have at stake when it comes to your reputation. A reputation management company can help you avoid PR nightmares before they begin.
- You lack bandwidth: Between working with clients and managing your growing team, you have plenty to deal with in your day-to-day business. Reputation management is likely to fall at the bottom of the list. A reputation management service will ensure that your online presence and reviews don’t fall through the cracks.
Ready to get help with your law firm’s website, marketing, and reputation management? Schedule a free call.
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