27 thoughts on “Consumer Survey – Where do Consumers find Specialty Lawyers? Not on Facebook”

  1. 20% through search, thats a pretty good percentage!

    I usually recommend lawyers as a great target for local seo consultants seeking prospects, this confirms this!

  2. As a competitor (and friend) of Moses and Rooth, I can tell you I get over 75% of my new clients through search.

    However, once they get to my site, the items that they routinely indicate made them choose me over a competitor who also appears near me in search results are: (1) my reviews, (2) my posted case results, and (3) the quality of the content of my website.

    1. Richard

      It’s hard to discern cause and affect. Given your high positions in search and I assume your low investments in other marketing it would make sense that you would see those sorts of results.

      Also this survey is self reported as well so we don’t know what consumers actually do in this situation.


      I assume but do not know that different types of lawyers would experience different results.

      Also it is likely to depend on how itinerant your client base is. And their demographics.

      If you get a lot of drunks kids on spring break the idea of referrals goes out the windows.

      Some of that shows up in the survey also. 18-35 years were much more likely to use the Internet than other populations.

      Also if you are running an elder care practice it would be dramatically different than work men’s comp or criminal.

  3. Mike,

    My personal experience is that you are right. Search plays in differently depending on the practice area. Person injury clients are more likely to get a referral from a friend or medical provider. But certainly enough are looking online to make a good presence essential.

    I have found that bankruptcy clients, however, rely on the internet quite a bit.

    Did you look at specific review sites? I recently saw an local attorney who had 2 Google reviews but 65 yp.com reviews. (I assume that many of the yp reviews were faked or done while the clients were in the office.) I have always wondered if that worked well for him. You mention that Google is better than Yelp. What about other sites like yp.com and dexknows.com or industry sites like findlaw.com, lawyers.com and avvo.com?

    1. Jared

      I assume that those looking for bankruptcy lawyers want additional annominity and would be hesitant to ask friends.

      I think that a broad mix of the sites with the highest traffic makes sense. And that would include legal sites.

      You need to have sites where you might get some exposure AND get a broad range to keep Google happy AND make it easy for clients.

    2. @richard and Jared

      One of the incredible risks of gaining so many clients from one channel (the Internet) is that you effectively become very exposed to any changes at google.

  4. I have run billboards, yellow page ads, advertised on the back of rickshaws, advertised in university websites, and the like. I document the source of every client I take on; so the 75% from internet is pretty accurate and natural search listing has by far the best ROI.

    The secondary point I was making is that a handful of the usual suspects always rank pretty high for the same keywords. So for the consumer, the question is how do they differentiate between the lawyer sites which all say pretty much the same thing (I’m aggressive, I’m a former prosecutor, I care, etc.). My experience has been that reviews and actual results are deciding factors – but maybe that is an issue for a different survey.

  5. Mike, I agree, but it is a different world right now. As Google goes, so goes my new clients. And I am willing to bet, most of my competitors new clients.

    My anecdotal reviews of top listings for my keywords shows the firms that rank the highest tend to be the most active lawyers in the courthouse.

    While I am attune to Google’s changes, I am also lucky in that I have a web developing background, so unlike many of my competitors, I can make changes to my website on the fly and I maintain a very diverse web campaign to keep my rankings up in Yahoo, Bing, and other social networks.

    1. @richard

      The other reality of the survey is that it only asked where people start and has no way of ascertaining where they actually end up. If they ask another lawyer they are likely to get a solid suggestion. If they ask a friend the outcome is much less likely and the chance of them hitting the net goes up.

  6. I do a lot of work with attorneys in all fields, and this is just fantastic info. Validates the direction we have taken. PI still does great in Print YP, especially covers. BK does well on very early morning radio.

    We believe heavily in YouTube for our lawyers and video on the website. Trust is the issue.

    Email is a must, but a challenge to get large lists.

    We have just switched our social media effort to LI for our lawyers.

    Randy Kirk JD
    Marketing Consultant

  7. Something my colleagues and I have discussed on many occasions is how the legal industry is unique when it comes to the usefulness of social media. The results of the third question in this survey confirm our hypotheses. Why would I want to tell the people in my circles how my criminal defense attorney helped me get out of a felony charge? Even more so would I not publicly post on someone’s Facebook wall asking if my friend knows of a good divorce lawyer.

    Oh, how to leverage the “new shiny toy” that is social media…

  8. @Randy
    LinkedIN makes lots of sense if there is a large enough base of referral lawyers from your market that are active there.

    Public endorsements are a problematic in many legal fields that’s for sure. Bankruptcy & criminal are two examples. Reviews are a form of social where some sites like Google now require real names and that effectively either reduces or eliminates Google as a site for those types of lawyers. Certainly it also affects FB as well.. not a simple problem.

  9. One more thought: Where was the survey taken? Was it online or over the phone? If online, it probably misses the largest demographic most likely to use yellow pages: the non-internet users

  10. @Jared
    From above:
    The Google Survey produces “a close approximation to a random sample of the US Internet population and results that are as accurate as probability based panels”.

    The goal was to understand initial (offline) and mostly online behaviors and answers two and three dealt with that specifically; “we created a Google Survey as to how consumers might find a specialty lawyer and what things would they look for while online in their search”.

    So yes, while the survey might undercount the offline population, estimated at 20% of the total adult population, it is spot on for the internet population.

    According to Pew Research, those not using the internet are Senior citizens, those who prefer to take our interviews in Spanish rather than English, adults with less than a high school education, and those living in households earning less than $30,000 per year are the least likely adults to have internet access.

    You would need to adjust survey question one to account for those users. Given the frequency of elderly in that group, Yellow Page, asking another lawyer and asking a friend would go up (perhaps by 20%) and the internet stuff would go down (perhaps by the same amount). Clearly that would make using a search engine still very significant but would reduce Facebook to near zero.

    Like any survey, you need to understand the biases intrinsic to the group being surveyed. In the last presidential election, there was a lot of biases in the offline phone surveys since many companies didn’t survey mobile phone users. That caused errors that skewed the results to older, more republican respondents. Google Survey, despite its online bias, was the most accurate survey overall.

    Perhaps, unless your practice targets the elderly, Hispanic or the poor, a more significant group of behaviors to focus on would be that group of folks that ask their friends first who to use. What would they do as a second step? It would seem to me that many times, friends would not know who was a good lawyer and that a large number of that group would move onto the internet.

  11. @Mike

    I hope I didn’t offend by my comment. I certainly didn’t mean to. I think your blog post on this topic (and the many others you address) is of immense worth.

    And you are right. When I went back through your post, you very clearly state that it is a survey of internet users. I have been having issues with yellow pages lately, so I have been fixating on those potential users.

    Again, thanks for the insights you give to all of us.

  12. Mike,

    As a personal injury attorney who relies heavily on the internet for new clients, I found this post extremely interesting and beneficial. One problem that we are experiencing is the fact that many of our clients do not have Google+ pages and when they set one up to post a review, the reviews aren’t coming though to our Google+ page. Presumably Google is considering them spam. Any thoughts or solutions for this problem?

  13. I am amazed at how much time is being spent on deciding if print is dead or alive. Seems to me it is pretty easy to figure out: if you are spending marketing dollars on print and you are getting your money’s worth, then print is alive and well for your business. My firm made the mistake of eliminating its yellow page program a couple of years ago on the assumption that print was dead. What we didn’t do before making that decision is figure out how we were getting new clients and keeping existing clients. Our decision was a costly one! Our new clients decreased by nearly a third and, while you can argue that there may have been other things at play, what we know is that when we reinstated our yellow page program, we got back on track with our new client acquisition. So, learn from our mistake: know where your clients are coming from before doing anything rash!

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