As an attorney, you are constantly focused on winning new cases. Too much attention on that goal, however, can detract from giving existing and past clients the attention they deserve, and cause your law firm to spend way more on attorney marketing than necessary.
It is six to seven times less expensive for law firms to retain existing clients than to attract new ones, according to ThinkJar. It can be just as cost-effective to prompt happy clients into referring new business than to gain the attention of a stranger and convert them into a client.
Decrease your attorney marketing budget and attract a steady stream of new business with the following five strategies.
- Overdeliver on service
If clients do not leave your office happy, they are not going to refer you to their friends, family, and colleagues. In fact, they may actually sabotage your ability to gather referrals; according to an infographic created by Vision Critical, clients are three times more likely to tell their friends about a negative experience.
Combine that with BrightLocal’s findings that 90% of online users read online reviews, yet 88% of those people read no more than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a law firm, and it is clear that even a small number of negative client experiences can seriously damage your law firm’s referral strength.
When seeking to turn clients into referral sources, always focus on wowing clients first. You will build a strong group of brand evangelists while minimizing any negative PR.
- Never fall out of touch
Constant communication ensures that you never come to clients saying, “We haven’t spoken in a while but can you do us a favor and refer a few connections?”
Stay in touch with clients from the get-go and don’t stop communicating with them once their cases are over. You never know when a past client will require additional legal assistance or know a friend in need. A few ways to keep in touch with past clients include:
- Sending bi-weekly email newsletters (these types of email campaigns can be easily automated using a legal client relationship management system, or CRM)
- Sharing your latest blog articles and interacting in the comments section
- Connecting on social media and promoting follower engagement
- Sending out a client experience survey to gather constructive criticism
- Mailing holiday or special occasion cards
- Checking in via phone or email
- Providing additional value through content, such as a post-bankruptcy webinar to help clients learn strategies to save money
Employing some of the attorney marketing strategies above can help your law firm promote your brand while providing additional value to existing clients.
- Get to know clients
Similarly, getting to know clients can help you uncover details that lead to more business. For instance, bankruptcy attorney Susan works with a great client named Jim. While helping Jim declare bankruptcy, Susan discovers that he is an active member of the local Rotary club.
Realizing that Jim probably knows people like him in his network, Susan knows exactly where to look for referrals: the Rotary club.
She could even offer to speak at one of Jim’s Rotary meetings to address common questions, concerns, and misconceptions about bankruptcy and home foreclosure—the perfect attorney marketing opportunity that involves both engaging with the community and handing out business cards to potential clients.
- Gather online reviews
BrightLocal determined that a huge number of people trust online reviews as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend or family member (assuming that the reviews are authentic and numerous enough to build trust).
Therefore, asking for online reviews is a great way to promote referrals above and beyond word-of-mouth recommendations. However, you do not have to spend hours every week chasing down clients and begging for reviews.
Instead, use the innovative review-generation software included in the James Legal CRM to automate review-gathering and pre-screen all testimonials before they hit the internet.
- Show your appreciation
Once clients do refer new business to your law firm, be sure to thank them. This ensures that they feel appreciated for their efforts and increases the likelihood that they will continue to send business your way.
Consider sending a handwritten or hand-signed thank you card rather than an email or e-card; you will avoid the email clutter and demonstrate your law firm’s sincerity at the same time. If you are feeling particularly generous and have the attorney marketing budget to do so, your legal practice could also establish a referral reward program to thank loyal clients.
For instance, a family law attorney could send thank you/donation cards to all former clients who refer a friend:
“Thank you for your referral. As a sign of our appreciation, we would like to donate $50 to a charity of your choice. Please contact us at or to tell us which organization is nearest to your heart. If you are too busy to reach out within 30 days, we would be honored to make a donation to the Austin Happy Foster Families Association on your behalf.”
Rewarding clients with a gift that they can enjoy—the knowledge that they helped support a charity with their actions—establishes an emotional bond with your law firm that can result in happier clients, a stronger brand, and more referrals in the future.