Video: Deep Dive into Consumer Research About How Consumers Find Lawyers & Why They Leave Reviews

By September 24, 2015 October 9th, 2015 5 Comments

This is the fourth installment of our Deep Dive Into Local series. For the week ending 9/11/15, Mary Bowling and Mike Blumenthal (David is speaking in England) share their thoughts about the previous week in local. The complete video is posted in the Local U forums (paywall). In the second half of that video, they take a deeper strategic and tactical dive into one interesting area that caught their attention during the week. These deep dive segments, made available publicly, will typically be about seven minutes in length and be posted one to two weeks after being posted in the forum.

Mike: It's time for the Deep dive. I'd like to talk to you about the research we just published in the Local U forums. There are three pieces of new research there -- one which is around how consumers find lawyers, what is their preferred means. And then another piece of research about what motivates consumers to leave reviews [and third about why business owners think consumers leave reviews]. Both were done using Google Survey and using a capacity of Google Survey to filter users.

So in the case of lawyers, we asked how frequently, how recently have they had worked with a lawyer. And anybody who had indicated that they had worked with a lawyer within the last year, which was roughly 10 or 15% of the total 20,000 people we asked it of, then were asked a follow-up question to answer in their own words: How did they find that lawyer? (Note: An infographic of the research is now available.)

And consistent with this idea that high quality and excellence is necessary as demanded in the world of reviews, most people said, in fact, it was 38% said they found lawyers through referrals. Either referrals from their friends, which was the biggest category, or referrals from business associates, which was the next biggest. And then just general referrals where they didn't specify, word of mouth. We don't know quite what that is. But all of those came in at 38%, whereas those people who either searched on Google or searched on the internet was around 15 or 16% of how people found lawyers. So, it just shows that lawyers are focusing on Google searches when they maybe should be focusing first and foremost on their existing customers, taking good care of them, and making sure there is an easy mechanism for them to refer them to their friends.

Mary: That's a great point. I know that sometimes hiring a lawyer is something that you don't have to think that hard about. You just need somebody that's competent. But sometimes, if you have a criminal defense matter -- that can impact your life enormously. And in that case, I could see using the internet for discovery, but then looking for referrals and recommendations from other people that I trusted before I made a decision on who to hire.

Mike: Although if you're really concerned about privacy, it might drive you to the web. You don't want to tell your friends that you got arrested for DUI. Who's the best DUI lawyer? That might very well drive you to Google and reviews, which was the second biggest category.

Although interesting to me, about 7% did mention local media in addition to the internet. And of that 7% local media, 1 or 2% percent were TV, one or 2% percent were a newspaper .. small percentage radio .. small percentage billboards. The big chunk of those, roughly 4%, was the yellow pages. And when I dug into that number, what I found was that he Yellow Pages still appealed to people over 45, mostly 55, 65 and up, as well as rural and Midwesterners. So, I think in some areas that's probably still the case. And although law might be unique in one of these remaining use cases for the Yellow Pages, right, where there is both this need for privacy, but some way to assess the differences as a discovery mechanism. So that was interesting.

Mary: The other thing I find interesting is these people that use the Yellow Pages took your survey on the internet.

Mike: Well, that's true. Right, so the internet survey is a representative example of U.S. American adult internet users, which is around 93% of the U.S. population. So there are 7% we didn't survey, and this could be those people do use the Yellow Pages and the newspaper more. But it's only 7%, right? So it's a small segment. Interestingly, Craigslist got mentioned about half a percent, right? That's like, "Wow, who's gonna use Craigslist?" Like I said before, it's probably the hooker looking for a lawyer, right? Excuse me, the escort service looking for a lawyer. And then that was about 4/10 of a percent. Facebook was 1/4 of one percent was mentioned explicitly. And Yelp, out of the 1500 survey respondents, was mentioned just once as far as I could tell.

Mary: Wow.

Mike: So, that's interesting that those other sites -- and Avvo, I didn't find any mention of Avvo. So they may be used in that bigger category, internet, internet search, but they're not used as a brand name by users, right? I'm not saying you shouldn't be there, just saying that consumers don't think of going there first at least to look for lawyers. Certainly other things they might.

Mary: Yeah.

Mike: So...

Mary: And how about that other survey you did about why people leave reviews? (Survey results are now visible here.)

Mike: Right. So this was interesting. (Right, so... Right. I keep saying that word). The survey question was similarly structured where we asked people when they had last left reviews and gave them a choice -- they never leave reviews, they left them very rarely, they left them within the last year, within the last six months, whenever. And those that had left reviews within the last year, self-reported, were then asked a follow-up question as to why they left reviews.

And so, surprisingly, the biggest segment was either really positive or really negative experiences. Very few people mentioned negative. But the second most common, 25%, I think the first was 35%, was that people only leave reviews if they're very happy. They didn't mention that they left reviews because they were unhappy. Only 5% mentioned reviews as being the exclusive reason for leaving them if they were unhappy. So the bulk of people, either the ones that wanted a positive, a very good or very negative, or very good that, by far and away if you add up the very goods there, that's the prominent reason why people leave reviews it's because they had a great experience which, again, points to this question of excellence in what a business does.

Mary: It's very true. I know it mirrors my review habits that I normally am not going to leave a review for someone who does what I expect them to do. I'm going to leave a review if I get really excellent service somewhere, or if I have a negative experience that the business is not willing to deal with while I'm at the business. That really motivates me to go home and get on the internet and let other people know that not only did I have a bad experience, but when I brought it to their attention they just didn't do anything about it or didn't care to do anything about it.

Mike: Yeah, that's true. That was a...right, so that range, really good, really bad, was the most common answer. Interestingly, business owners way overestimated how many people who are unhappy as the sole reason for leaving reviews would leave a review. I think they estimated 25% when it was 5%. And way underestimated how many people were just happy and wouldn't review, otherwise. They underestimated again in roughly similar proportions. Interestingly, 3% did it for ego reasons, "Because I want to. Because I find it fun." Right, those are the Yelp elites, perhaps they ... the Google local guides. Those are people who probably do review good, bad, or indifferent, or great, right? They probably don't distinguish, but I think most people are like you.

And then interestingly another 12 to 15% did it to either help the community, help the business, inform the business, for somewhat altruistic objectives. And I think in those cases, those that are helping to inform the business might indicate that the business itself doesn't have good feedback mechanisms internally to find those people who wanted to tell them things that didn't go right. And I think those that want to help the community I think in there, in that percentage, which was a fairly significant number, I think there's an opportunity for local business to leverage that sentiment to their benefit. So I think there's some opportunities in this. Unfortunately, most small businesses I surveyed felt that people were unhappy [as the reason for leaving a review], that it would only take a really, really great experience. But any marginally bad experience would motivate users, right? Where I think that there's a certain odd paranoia there that seems present.

Mary: Yeah, I think there's a great deal of paranoia there.

Mike: So I think they could use a little mental adjustment on what's really going on. Well, I think with that, let's call it a wrap. I think we're good on the time. So if you don't have anything to add, I'm going to say goodbye, and we'll see you next week.

Mary: All right, see you next week, thanks.

5 Comments

  • Evan Guthrie says:

    I appreciate the video and lawyer marketing insights.

  • Dave says:

    Well I’m going to throw out comment. 😉 (surprise, surprise!!!).

    First. Good research. Now the comment.

    On the lawyer research. Interesting–referrals and word of mouth significantly over the web. When one reviews the adwords bids for certain legal terms that is sort of stunning, is it not? That strangeness also plays into your commentary that suggests that lawyers “should take good care of their clients” to help with gaining business.

    So many different types of lawyers. Lawyers that deal in litigation and litigation on the individual basis MUST attract business significantly differently than do lawyers who work in some specialty areas.

    I was a commercial real estate agent for 2 decades in a major market. I worked with what must have been hundreds of attorneys and specifically lawyers who were commercial real estate specialists.

    Over time I had a “favorite attorney”. In fact colleagues and I all favored one attorney and his firm. They were good.

    The realization came about after he “outlawyered” the person representing my client and did it in so many ways. By that time I had a lot of experience with real estate documents and real estate lawyers.

    So when the occasion arose I referred him ALL THE TIME.

    He “took care of me” by always doing a great job…and typically outlawyering the other side….continuously. BTW: He ultimately got us business.

    But how could he have “better taken care of me”? I would have done it….happily. He was that good and so significantly better than so many.

    If I were marketing my services into a regional group of prospective clients or doing a presentation…I would have happily partnered with him. A perfect example could have been a chamber of commerce, wherein I was an already active member….and was meeting with or going over basic real estate issues with business people with whom I already had a relationship. I would have easily invited him in and exposed his expertise to these folks. As business operators sooner or later they were going to have some commercial real estate issues.

    The above is one way. On the other hand if I were chatting with Mary, David, and Mike about SEO and local and localU, there would be no way in the world this person’s expertise would need to come up.

    I’d think the effort would be strategic. I think there are significant steps in “taking care of your already happy clients” to try and use it for marketing. Its all in the specifics and implementation.

    Anyways, good topics. Always interesting.

  • Mike Blumenthal says:

    I’d think the effort would be strategic. I think there are significant steps in “taking care of your already happy clients” to try and use it for marketing. Its all in the specifics and implementation.

    I think you nailed it with that. It is very firm/business specific but at least in the legal field runs rings around other acquisition strategies that it should be put front and center.

  • Robert Sababady says:

    Mary used the word “trust” in describing how she verifies her choice of lawyers.
    I don’t know how representative for your 93% of American population I am, but my level of trust for lawyers is on average very low.

    Therefore I would look toward someone I do trust to find a lawyer to work with.

    Definitely your conclusion that Lawyers need to look at their existing Customers for recommendations.

    Doesn’t say much for the level of trust for both gregslist and fb same level as a place to look for references for lawyers!

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      @Robert
      Whether your level of trust of lawyers is consistent your behavior is with 37% that said referrals….for me, I have a general lawyer that I trust deeply and when I really need a specialist I trust that she will know who to go to as her integrity is unimpeachable.

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