Strategic Referral Marketing for Lawyers

Build referral-worthy relationships to generate leads and convert them to clients. Learn how to establish an empathetic connection and utilize social media's strength to build your referral network.

While online marketing is increasingly important, it hasn’t replaced referrals. They work together symbiotically. It’s common for anyone who receives a referral to then check out a law firm’s website and social media to get a better idea of what they have to offer.

People are much more likely to trust an attorney recommended by a friend than a random one they found on the internet. Recent studies indicate that 46% of people referred to a lawyer still browsed the law firm’s website and read reviews before contacting them.

Build referral-worthy relationships

The first step to obtaining referrals is to develop meaningful relationships. You can begin this by following a client-centric approach and always putting the client's needs first. After you are finished working with someone, it's also worthwhile to keep in touch by reaching out several times throughout the year. To learn more about creating long-lasting relationships, read our blog post, 5 SIGNS YOUR LAW FIRM IS CLIENT-CENTRIC.

How to gain more law firm referrals

The first step to gaining referrals is to make a game plan and consider where to focus your efforts. The best referral sources for lawyers are often other attorneys and past clients. Are there people who come to mind that you know will encourage their friends and family to use you as their attorney?

Once you know who you would like to receive referrals from, it’s time to begin using marketing automation for law firms to streamline the process. For example, you could use Intaker to send automated messages every few months to different people.

You can also automate follow-up sequences that will stop once you receive a reply. Marketing automation software allows you to perform outreach without doing the busy work yourself.

Intaker also offers text templates, so you can have a reusable outline rather than type up a custom message each time. If your company uses newsletters, you could create some email campaigns specifically tailored to referral sources. Send these monthly to stay in the forefront of their minds. Intaker integrates with multiple newsletter programs to assist you in the process.

Another idea is to incentivize the process through a law firm referral program. For example, if an existing client refers someone to your law firm, consider discounting $100 off their monthly bill. Always send a thank you card or email after receiving a referral to show appreciation. Lastly, reciprocate referring clients when possible.

Converting referrals into clients

Studies show that referrals for lawyers close at a rate of 2.8%. This is not high at all, meaning that your firm has to be innovative in improving the conversion rate.

Following the steps outlined above is a great starting point. By having your processes automated, it will take a lot of busy work off your plate. You’ll have more time to focus on building general brand awareness. For example, launching social media marketing campaigns or running PPC ads.

Another way to set yourself apart from other law firms is to reply quickly when a lead contacts you. In a 2019 Clio trend report, it was shown that 60% of law firms never reply to emails from potential clients. You can set yourself apart simply by closely monitoring inboxes and being sure to respond promptly.

In the legal industry, on average, 80% of a firm’s business comes directly through references. This might seem contradictory to the previous statistic regarding the low closing rate, but this shows you’ll need a lot of good referrals to secure enough business to grow your law firm.

The good news is that positive reviews have a snowball effect over time. For each reference you get, do your best to convert them into a satisfied client. Eventually, the client becomes the referrer, and the cycle continues. This is why established law firms will often have to turn down cases because they don’t have enough time to handle all of the leads they are capturing.

Optimize your online presence

Lastly, you need to have a presentable website and social media pages to be credible. Internet marketing is essential in today's digital environment. Even if you can drive traffic to your site, if the website doesn't appear professional, it will be hard to convert leads into clients.

Intaker can help with our interactive chatbot that goes on your website pages to establish empathy and pre-quality leads.

Other ways to improve your online presence include having a modern website loaded with engaging pictures, videos, and testimonials. You should also partake in content marketing by posting on social media to show that you are active and engaged in the online space.

Real-life example: Katherine Lizardo

Katherine Lizardo is a car accident lawyer, legal analyst, and public speaker. Five months ago, she started posting to YouTube, answering commonly asked questions. Katherine has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to streamline processes to make the most of her time.

She realized that instead of repeating the same information to each new client, she could record YouTube videos and send them the links. Not only was this brilliant in terms of saving her time, but it also allowed clients to rewatch the content, and served as a form of marketing for her firm. One video went viral, reaching over 24 million views worldwide on Law & Crime Network.

While there was a slight learning curve to getting started, once she got into a routine, she found posting once a week very sustainable.

Katherine encourages attorneys to listen to their clients' most asked questions. Then, create a script that makes the content digestible for the average viewer. Cut out the legal jargon and empathize with the people watching.

Many of her clients have said that seeing her consistent and relatable public presence on both her YouTube channel and the Intaker video on her website build further credibility for both potential and current clients.

Katherine has acquired over 750 YouTube subscribers in only five months. As a result, more people have gotten to know her law firm, and she’s been able to take on more cases because of her efficient processes.

Key takeaways

To conclude, referrals are an essential part of any successful law practice. Make sure you have systems in place to acquire and convert them. Although it might take extra time to start with, in the long run, there is nothing better than automating your workflow.