As we enter the 2020 year (our 15th year in business providing Internet marketing for law firms), competition among law firms who are competing for business online has never been more fierce than it is now. If your law firm advertises and markets your practice online, understanding why and how consumers choose to hire one law firm over others is critical. As one of the premier law firm marketing providers in the legal industry, it’s very important to us to try and learn as much as we can about consumer buyer behavior. For this reason, we decided to conduct our second study on how consumers choose lawyers on the Internet.
We had a wide range of participants from around the country that took part in our study. It took place over a 2 month period from September to October 2019. Some additional information:
Question 1: If you were involved in a car accident that was not your fault, and were seriously injured, would you consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to help you recover money for all the costs related to your accident? (medical bills, loss of income from inability to work, chiropractor, vehicle repair/replacement cost, rental vehicle, etc.)
Since the great majority of our clients are personal injury law firms, we wanted to find out what percentage of people would sue after a car accident. While it’s encouraging to hear that 92% answered “yes”, that leaves 8% that would said they would not. This means that there are people out there that may need to be convinced that filing a lawsuit is the best course of action. If you are a personal injury lawyer, it may be smart to have content on your website that specifically addresses this topic.
Question 2: If you were trying to find a lawyer online, which of the following would you use as your primary source for researching which lawyer to choose?
If you were wondering if Google is still the best source for potential leads for your website going into 2020, the answer is clearly a “yes”. While Google’s dominance should be no surprise to most people, the most important thing to take away from this is the tiny percentage that other sources have. For the two other major search engines, Bing was at 2%, and Yahoo a paltry 1%. Even Facebook is microscopic with only 2% of study participants saying that would be their primary source for researching which lawyer to hire. Yelp is clearly not simply an app that people use for choosing where to eat, as the data shows. Just over 9% said Yelp would be their primary source for researching which law firm to hire. Make sure you are paying attention to your Yelp reviews (more on this later).
Question 3:What device(s) would you primarily use for researching what law firm to hire?
It should be obvious as we move into the year 2020, but if it’s not, the big takeaway from this part of the study is that most visitors will see both desktop and mobile versions of your site since they will often due research on both mobile and desktop. Combined, 77% will use a desktop to view your site and 76% will use their mobile device. Are you giving your site visitors a great experience on desktop and mobile? To increase the chances of visitors not leaving to a competitors site, your site should:
Let’s take chat popups for example. Often on mobile, chat popups interfere with the overall experience. For example, have you been on a site where chat popups block phone numbers, contact info or the navigation links on mobile? That’s something that users greatly dislike and can easily cause users to leave your site. Additionally, all these things listed above can have a negative impact on your site rankings. Often with Google, if it’s bad for the user experience, it’s going to be bad for rankings. A perfect example of this is load time. Last year, Google announced that the time it takes your site to load on mobile now a ranking factor.
So, don’t give visitors a reason to leave your site. If you are already spending marketing dollars on bringing people to your site, you better be paying attention to user experience of your site visitors so you can maximize the number of leads you get from your site.
Question 4: How many law firms do you think you would need to talk to before deciding on which one to hire?
As the chart above shows, 84% of study participants said they would want to talk to at least 3 law firms before deciding on which one to hire. Clearly, people will be comparing your firm to other competitors. Our previous studies have shown that the design of your website plays a big part in the way consumers view your firm. If a consumer sees one lawyer in a Honda Accord and another is a shiny, new 7 Series BMW, which one do you think gives off the appearance of being more successful? That’s right, the BMW. Same concept applies to your website. Sites that are more visually impressive give site visitors the impression that your law firm is a successful one.
Aside from having a website that is better than your competition, you should also take a look at your intake process. How fast do you get back to people that submit a case evaluation request? How friendly are your people answering the phones? These things matter when you are being compared to other law firms.
Question 5: What age would you prefer the lawyer you hire to be?
While to 42% of consumers the age of the lawyer they hire doesn’t matter, for others they do have a preferred age. Clearly, only a tiny percent want a young lawyer as only 2% said they preferred a lawyer who is 25-34. On the other end of that spectrum, only a small percentage want a lawyer over the age of 55. The big takeaway here to me? If you are lawyer in these age ranges, make sure you don’t feature a picture of just yourself in your website “hero” image (that’s the main image at the top of a website). Include other staff in your imagery so you show some variation of age of the people on your team.
Question 6: How do personal injury lawyers charge for their services?
It’s a bit surprising here that 65% of people didn’t now how personal injury lawyers charge for their services. Only 35% of study participants correctly answered this question. The biggest takeaway here? Make sure that your site visitors can clearly see this listed on your site. “Call for a free consultation” is not good enough. Make sure that people easily see that there is no fee for your services unless you recover money on their behalf. It sounds pretty simple, but way too many law firm website ignore this. Don’t make the same mistake that others do.
Question 7: How long would you spend researching online before first contacting a lawyer?
Most people don’t make instant decisions when it comes to the decision of which law firm they want to contact. While 5% of people said 15 minutes or less (this is why click to call ads on Google can still work for certain areas of law) and 17% said they would only take 1 hour or less, 78% of people will take more than a day doing research. This is a great endorsement for running retargeting ads since most visitors will leave your website without contacting you. It also means that you should make sure your website gives those users a great user experience. You don’t want people avoiding coming back to your site because your site takes too long to load or has other annoying user experience behaviors. You can also be sure that this means that consumers are looking for reviews of your law firm online, as our next question shows.
Question 8: Would you research the online reviews of the attorney before you hired them?
Some law firms don’t pay much attention to their online reviews. We know, from the experience of trying to push our clients to put more effort into their online reviews. If you are one of those firms that say “It doesn’t matter, I get most of my business through referrals”, you can be sure that if you don’t have great reviews online, you are losing potential clients even if they are referred to you. Consumers will be doing research on your firm. Well…at least 98% of them will be.
Question 9: What review sites matter to you?
Study participants were asked what review sites would matter to them in their decision to hire a law firm. They were allowed to pick more than just one and were given the option of choosing Yelp, Avvo, Facebook and Google. Out of 1,040 participants, 936 said that Google reviews matter to them. Nearly 69% said Yelp, 35% said Facebook and just 13% said Avvo reviews matter (most consumers don’t even know what Avvo is so that’s why that number is so small in comparison to the others).
Question 10: What is the average review score/stars a law firm would need to have (on Yelp, Google, etc.) before you hired them?
A whopping 89% of consumers say that your firm needs to have 4 star ratings or higher or they wouldn’t hire you. Are you still one of those firms holding out thinking that reviews aren’t important? In 2020, reviews matter to consumers more than ever before. No matter how impressive your past results are, no matter how impressive the testimonials are on your own site, consumers still need 3rd party validation that your firm gives your past clients a great experience. Yes, fake reviews are a big problem in the legal space (that’s a topic for a different blog post) but the big takeaway here is if you aren’t already, make sure you are focusing on getting great reviews for your law firm this year. This starts with providing an incredible experience so your clients want to give you a glowing review. And of course make sure you are asking your clients to review you on Google. While Yelp terms of service don’t allow you to solicit reviews, Google has no problem with it.
We have additional questions that we can share with you, as well as a new heatmap click study that can help you decide if you should be spending on paid or organic SEO in 2020. If you would like to see this data from our study, please feel free to request it using the form below so we can share it with you.