Most law firms know that reviews are generally important, but few can quantify their real worth. The fact that only a paltry 36% of firms invest time and resources in gathering reviews stands in stark contrast to the 97% of potential clients that use reviews to reinforce their decision to select one firm over another. Why is there such a large gap between these two figures?
The answer lies in the ability to quantify the value of a review. Attorneys know at a high level that they are important as part of an overall marketing strategy, but can struggle to justify the spend on it because there is not a clear return on investment. One attorney told me last week that one new Google review for his firm is worth over $1,000. Considering that more reviews and a higher review average result in a higher likelihood of getting quality cases, that dollar value makes sense.
To understand the value of a new review, let us first look at what happens to firms that do not actively think about reviews. When a potential client searches for something like “best divorce lawyer in my area,” the first thing they will see is the firm’s review average and the number of reviews they have. For law firms that do not focus on reviews, not only is their review average of risk at being low (e.g. 3.5, 3.7, even 4.3), but they will have a low number of reviews (5 or 10). For a searching client, the choice becomes simple – go with the firm that has better reviews or the one that has poor reviews?
In the minds of searching clients, reviews are a quick way to sort through many firms that at first glance, all appear pretty similar. Just in those first few seconds that a client searches, your firm can be instantly knocked out of the running if the client cannot quickly justify giving your firm serious consideration. At this point, “not having reviews” becomes a much worse problem – “losing a client.” This is perhaps a much easier question to answer – how bad is it to lose clients, especially to competitors?
Conversely, what is it worth to get a new client? While not every case taken will result in a successful outcome, the average across all of your firm’s cases can be a simple way to approximate the value of a new client. Plainly, this means that depending on the practice area, a new client is worth anywhere from $5,000 for family law or $8,000 for a standard personal injury case.
From an SEO perspective, reviews play a critical role in where your firm appears in a list of local search results relative to competitor firms. Search engines use the number and quality of reviews when determining how to rank your law firm in search results. While it is one component of a much larger algorithm, smart firms avoid the risk of being listed on page two, which essentially means your firm is off the grid.
Google is not the only place a firm should think about in terms of reviews – Facebook and Yelp are both important platforms to consider as well. Despite recent controversy and a general downturn in favorable sentiment, Facebook is still widely used by clients to gauge a firm before deciding to move forward with them. Meanwhile, Yelp, with its nearly 130M online reviews, can lead to a 5% increase in top line growth. Claiming your Yelp profile, just like claiming your Avvo profile, is key to driving more traffic your way.
In summary, how much is a review worth? It comes down to how much a new client is worth – for any law firm or business, maintaining a consistent flow of new clients is critical. As great reviews can lead to new clients, it is easy to see why they are valuable – but only if getting reviews is made a priority by putting the right tools in place. You do great work and help people every day, so help yourself by giving your clients an easy way to review you online.