In Reviews & Millennials Part 1: How Your Online Presence Can Make or Break Your Firm, we discussed how the habits, preferences, and overall style of millennials impact not only the legal industry but your firm as a whole.
Today, we are going to take a look at how you can use your online web presence to protect and gain referrals, how you can utilize the power that is Google, and how to begin thinking about social media as a point of leverage, not as a pain point.
Importance of Directories
Millennials and other consumers, in general, are looking for third-party validation. They want to see information about your firm that is written from other people outside of your organization for the obvious reason: The reviews will be the God’s honest truth. Today, these websites, or directories, are mostly viewed online through sites like State Bar websites, lawyers.com, BBB.com, Google, or even social media (to name a few).
When you think about why you would want to be listed in all of those places, you should be thinking about two things.
- Protecting your referrals – A searcher rarely leaves page one of Google, so if they see an entire page of nothing but positive reviews with your name and firm tied to it, you can bet that the odds that they’ll be calling you are pretty high. Make it easy to reinforce their decision.
- Protect branded searches- A branded search is when a PNC specifically types in your firm or an attorney’s name into Google (or whichever search engine they’re using). This is important because not only do they know your name, their foot is almost in the door. There is an element of trust and expectation in this type of search because whether they were referred or not, they have made the conscious decision to dig deeper into who you are in the hopes that you can be the firm to help them.
In both of these cases, there is an element of control that you have power over. Is all your information listed correctly? Is the appropriate phone number available? Is your list of attorneys up to date? For all of these details, it is critically important that you make sure they are accurate because many times, it’s the first thing a person will see. Sometimes, these directories will auto-create a review page for you. In these instances, it is your responsibility to check and make sure the information is correct and how you want it to be displayed.
The most important point to walk away with here is that having a presence on as many directories as possible, with good reviews, is crucial.
The Local Search Ecosystem
The internet is crazy. If you put a piece of information in one place, another site or directory may pull from that without warning.
We know, this chart looks crazy but how it can be broken down is simple. The sites boxed in red are comparable to travel sites like Experian. They will pull information about your business, and mind you, this information comes from all different sources (be it business listings you file with the state, yellow page, etc), and they will pull it all together to create what they believe is the true picture for your business.
The yellow boxes represent search engines that smaller sites use to collect data from. For example, Alexa and Siri use a lot of Yelp data, so once Yelp aggregates what they need about your firm, Alexa and Siri will pull what they need from it. If you can stay on top of these four search engines, you will be on top of the game. The idea is to contain and control the information that is at the top so when it is dispersed down the pyramid, you know exactly what is being written.
So now you have all this information and you may be feeling overwhelmed. Don’t start sweating yet. Here is what you need to do…
Start with Google: Knowledge Graph
Google added the Knowledge Graph a few years ago and uses algorithms to determine which search result most accurately reflects the searcher’s intent (this graph is presented to users as an infobox on the right side of page one. It is used by Google and its services to enhance its search engine’s results with information gathered from a variety of sources).
As Google gets more extensive and complex, they continue to add more and more information to it. In one infobox, you have:
- Photos of your firm and links to Google maps
- Google’s “rating” of your firm
- All information needed to call or visit your firm
- Google posts on Google My Business
- Questions and answers
- More reviews of your firm
This is a lot of information! Control what you can control and make sure your basic information is correct because it matters.
This feature in the Knowledge Graph is relatively new, google searchers can pose a question in this box, and your firm has a chance to respond to their questions. The worst thing you can do for yourself here is to leave the question unanswered. Even if it is a general inquiry or something your firm does not specifically handle, good customer service goes a long way. Also remember, that future PNCs can see these questions and responses too. So if you leave someone unanswered, that will leave a bad taste in other people’s mouths.
Anyone with a Google account can ask a question on your Google My Business listing and the kicker is someone else can answer. So what should you do? Monitor it! You can set your notifications to be alerted in real-time as inquiries come in. Regardless of whoever is in charge of this platform at your firm, responding as quickly as possible is the best practice. Taking charge of inbound conversations or questions will help you lead where the discussion goes.
Google My Business: Insights
With your Google My Business account, it is easy to either overlook the data you can collect from it, or you may just not know that it is available for you to use.
Google My Business insights come with every account. However, this information does not show up in your Google analytics or whatever analytical tool you use, because this information is not on your website.
What will this information show, you ask? Well to start, these analytics will show how often your firm is shown or brought to attention in various searches, how many people click on the maps, if it led anyone directly to your website, and if it resulted in phone calls. For a free resource, this data does a great job helping you gauge your conversion rate and will indicate to you whether or not you need to pivot your strategy.
Your firm’s website should still be the center of your web presence. Your website should be on brand and should accurately represent your firm. In many cases, this is the first impression PNCs will get of your firm, so make it a good one!
As for the basics, if you do not have these four things readily available for PNCs to view, you need to take the time to fix that as soon as possible.
- What do you do?
- What can you do for me?
- How can I get in touch with you? And when?
- Proof I should call you?
All of these points should be displayed prominently on the first page. The first place your eye goes is to the header of a page, so keep it simple and keep it direct.
The second or third most visited page on a law firm website is the attorney profile. Treat this page as a mini-website that features you. Don’t lead with where you went to school, or what you did prior to law school, because for most people, especially millennials, will not care. Today, people want to know how you can help them, and why you will be the best person for the job.
Also, consider having different pages for each attorney at your firm. That supports the branded search and referrals, and if you have all your attorneys on one page, it will be much harder for one person to show up at the top of that search page. Additionally, consider including client-facing, non-attorneys on your site as well. People like to know who they will be dealing with, and a smiling face never hurts.
We will keep this short and sweet, you should have some form of disclaimer on your site, on every page. And if your site is bilingual, you need to make sure that disclaimer is in the second language as well.
On average, millennials spend 3.7 hours a day on their mobile devices – the equivalent of 22.4 hours (almost a whole day) every week. We don’t know what you’re morning routine looks like, but for 24% of millennials, they’re turning on their smartphone as soon as they open their eyes, and then that percentage hikes to 52% after being awake for 5 minutes. That is a lot of screen time… which means there is a ton of time for you to capitalize on being in front of these people.
In a report done by Custom Legal Marketing, they concluded that mobile visitors to law firm’s websites are ahead of the global average by 2%. Over 25% of visitors on lawyers’ websites use a mobile device to search for information. Mobile is definitely on the rise for lawyers and do you know why that is? You guessed it, millennials and the younger generations are always on their phones. So make sure your site is mobile friendly and easy to navigate.
The Way Millennials Want To Interact With Your Firm
In this day and age, you can order pizza from Alexa, change your plane ticket on Twitter, and book appointments at the best rates in a matter of seconds. It is all about removing the friction. How can you use the technology and resources available to you today to seamlessly guide clients to your firm? When it comes down to it, you have to be able to support a generation that has this expectation. An example of this is how they can contact you through their website. Remember, millennials don’t always like picking up the phone, so a Live Chat, or messaging system solves that problem, reduces friction, and increases efficiency.
If you have this Live Chat service, you can update your listing to available 24/7, which will open the door for new leads who don’t have time to contact you when you’re listed as open. Google is also now allowing potential leads to text message attorneys via Google Adwords.
Social Media Presence
It is no secret that millennials are tied to the satisfaction they receive from the engagement that is created through their social media presence.
And although the legal industry has come a long way, it is also not a secret that most firms and attorneys prefer to maintain a professional standard. In other words, this professional standard means no social media.
This is merely a blog, we can’t tell you what to do, BUT, as far as unsolicited advice goes, don’t turn your back on millions of people on social media who will need legal services one day.
Instead of viewing Instagram and TikTok as channels for the immodest youth, view it as an opportunity to reach an untapped audience. And if you read that and thought to yourself, “I’m not interesting,” or “What would I post about?” look no further than this attorney who has built a following from merely being himself:
Right now, attorneys (your competitors) are taking business away from you because they are engaging in the practices that the young professionals are active on. Remember, if you can speak the language of the people who are looking for representation, you have already won half the battle.
Here are our tips about how you should engage with millennials on social media:
- Use social how it was intended to be used
- Social media can’t be outsourced – it must come from you
- Build an authority, be genuine, and help people
That was a lot of information thrown your way. You don’t have to become a millennial expert overnight, but you should consider taking these steps. They may seem like extra work now but they will be incredibly rewarding for you and your firm in the future.