Referral services are invaluable to attorneys. But they’re really not needed after all.
Dmitry Shubov, founder and once-CEO of LegalMatch.com, found himself charged with having sex with a 14-year old girl he found through a ‘sugar daddy’ website. He’s disbarred in NY, and is awaiting trial. This is the same CEO who, in 2004, pled guilty to illegally accessing LegalMatch’s competitor’s voicemail.
411-Pain.com, as many know, is being sued by Government Employee Insurance Company (Geico) for allegedly concocting an elaborate ‘revolving door’ scheme that billed millions in procedures never performed. Not that they’re new to being slapped with fines, as the Florida AG hit them with sanctions for placing ads that promised lofty settlement amounts. They agreed to donate $550,000 to charity.
These and other lawyer referral services often charge monthly fees in exchange for legitimate client referrals specific to each lawyer’s area of practice. Referrals that, quite often, aren’t demographically correct or get delivered to your inbox without proper vetting.
Let’s look at underlying issues with lawyer referral services, and how your firm actually improves the quality of lead generation when moving past these often-inaccurate paid platforms.
Geo-accuracy misses the mark. Often.
The greatest issue lawyers we’ve discussed referral services with experience is the geographic accuracy of leads received. With greater than 60% of today’s internet searches happening from mobile devices, this section couldn’t be more important to you.
Today’s savvier shopper is familiar with the powerful features built into their mobile device. One of those features, geolocation, combines a smartphone’s ability to ping nearby towers with Google’s ability to display results based off that ping. No longer does somebody need to physically set their location to get accurate search results unless they’re looking for an attorney in an area where cell service isn’t available.
Let’s say somebody from Miami, Florida is looking for an Uber accident attorney from their mobile device. Which are they most likely to concentrate their efforts on – the first ten results in Google, or an advertisement for a matching service located in New York at the top of their results page?
In other words, why would somebody submit their information to a referral service when there are 10 Miami attorneys showing up below the advertisements for LegalMatch.com? Besides, people frequently get frustrated after being forced to use two search engines to get one result.
Your listing could actually outrank these unnecessary matchmakers, saving your firm money. Even the unsavviest Google researcher isn’t looking for just any attorney – they want an ‘x’ attorney in ‘y’ because submitting their information to some service halfway across America doesn’t make sense when child support needs modified locally. And your firm is local to them.
In short, matching services often give ‘x’ lawyers clients living nowhere near ‘y’.
The solution: Work toward bettering your search position. If you’re not being found through natural keyword searching, improve content marketing strategy and reevaluate social engagement goals.
Your leads aren’t vetted properly
Referral services function similarly to your firm’s website contact form. Or, they could. Difference here is you’re paying some faraway tech company to immediately phone prospective clients to verify they actually need premises liability help in Detroit. Then, clients are waiting 2-24 hours for information to get submitted to one or several firms, and yet another 24-48 hours before they’re called.
Once they’re called, your paralegal finds out the premises liability issue was submitted to them by the negligent party, but you only defend the victims. There went five minutes of wasted time, which adds up to lost hours after every improperly categorized form received by your firm gets trashed.
And that’s if the potential client wasn’t just bullshitting the referral service out of sheer boredom.
Your contact form could actually capture more quantifiable leads than your referral service offers. Because your firm is geo-specific, the likelihood someone fills out your form with irrelevant information is much less than some nationalized lead capture form.
The solution: Build your contact forms to capture information helpful to whichever area of practice someone may request. Keep firm’s contact information uniform across all social platforms, and encourage those who aren’t comfortable with online form filling to phone your office directly.
Stop giving someone else your clients
Before throwing another dime toward these referral services, ask yourself why you’re playing roulette with these services. Because, essentially, you’re rolling the dice with every lead received – when you receive leads, that is. If another trial lawyer across town pays slightly more for monthly membership or lead generation than you, guess who’s getting that high-profile product liability case? Not you. And when it comes to mesothelioma litigation and finding leads, that’s dramatic.
Pay-per-lead and monthly membership models are deeply flawed in legal marketing. To put in simplest terms, referral services spend millions to outrank your firm just to turn around and charge your firm for the leads which were captured from you. Make sense?
Every lead these firms collect through their online forms belongs to you. It’s just a matter of improving the myriad of on-page and off-page marketing components which work in syncopation to move your firm up the search rankings. Once your search marketing plan is fully operational, you’ll never again need to pay New York or California-based referral firms for the Nashville premises liability clients wanting to reach out and call you, but can’t.