Avvo leveraged a number of clever online marketing tactics to dominate search engine rankings and grow a massive user base of both lawyers and clients. Some of these strategies could even be deemed to exploit customers for Avvo’s benefit in a way. But nonetheless, Avvo has become a force in the world of online legal services, and most lawyers have come to terms with it. The good news is, Avvo’s marketing methods actually have some powerful lessons that law firms can use in establishing their own marketing strategy. Read on to find out how.
Fear Tactics Convert
Avvo used a highly controversial yet highly effective growth strategy, and that was to put up a profile for every lawyer across the US and assign an arbitrary “rating” to each one. Clearly there was no possible way for this rating to accurately assess the aptitude of every attorney. And lawyers were outraged.
However, when the initial outcry died down (and after the lawsuits were filed of course), lawyers gradually caught on. It turns out, the best way to increase your Avvo rating is to…big surprise…start using Avvo!
By tapping into lawyers’ fear of appearing untrustworthy or incompetent due to a below average rating, Avvo has been able to sign up over 160,000 lawyers around the US. It may seem unfair, but the results are undeniable.
Today, Avvo is a powerful marketing channel for law firms, and it’s definitely worth signing up even if only for the free version.
- Fear is a powerful motivator
- Lawyers clearly would not benefit from posting arbitrary reviews of their clients online, but they can certainly tap into fear based tactics in the legal sales process.
- The majority of legal services are based on risk avoidance. Lawyers can use fear of those risks to motivate their clients to make a purchasing decision in consultations and in the content they publish.
- Always listen to the broader market
- While lawyers were furious, consumers were looking for a solution exactly like what Avvo offers. Clients are demanding greater transparency around lawyers and legal services, and they are reading reviews online before making just about every single purchasing decision, from which toothpaste is best all the way up to drafting a $5 million real estate deal. Avvo satisfies both of these consumer needs through its ratings and reviews.
- Lawyers can benefit from this same line of thinking by paying closer attention to the way the legal market is changing. People are demanding lower prices, alternative fee structures, better customer service, etc.
- Lawyers who adjust the way they work in order to meet the changing needs of the market are in a better position for law firm growth than those who simply maintain the status quo.
The second way Avvo capitalized on lawyers for its own benefit is through the Avvo rating badge that they encourage you to install on your website. Most lawyers are unaware, but that badge is not simply an embeddable image of your current Avvo rating that makes your website look good.
It’s actually a cleverly designed backlink to Avvo from your highly relevant website. And if you’ve read our law firm SEO guide, you know that building backlinks on relevant sites is one of the most important ways to increase your website search engine rankings.
In other words, Avvo users who embed that badge on their website have helped build up thousands of backlinks to Avvo.com, all of which contribute significantly to Avvo’s already powerful presence on Google and other search engines, without Avvo having to do much of anything.
- Backlinks are the key to SEO
- Building backlinks is the best way to build up your ranking in search engines. You should attempt to do so however possible, but keep your focus only on relevant websites with lots of traffic (in other words, don’t just spam the comments on unrelated blogs and link to your site because Google will penalize you).
- Find blogs and informational websites related to your practice area and offer to publish a post for them. In that post, be sure to link back to your own blog or website.
- Any online marketing strategy should involve proper SEO techniques. Even if you’re not coming up on the first page of Google for a major keyword like “DUI lawyer,” you can still capitalize on long tail keywords through the content you produce.
- Find ways to get others to promote you
- Much like Avvo got lawyers to unknowingly promote it through the website badge, an effective marketing strategy should involve coming up with ways of getting promotion through third party media outlets, such as positive reviews on Yelp and yes, even Avvo.
- Establish relationships with other businesses and service professionals in related industries who may be willing to give you a mention or shoutout. For example, if you love using Lexicata, we would be thrilled to have you publish a guest post about your experience with our product and link back to your website (contact us if you’re interested).
The Beauty of User Generated Content
Finally, Avvo has leveraged lawyers’ knowledge in it’s Q&A forums and article publishing tools, generating thousands of pages of user generated content on the site.
All this content is the biggest reason why Avvo is so powerful. Their wealth of legal content is their most powerful asset. And it’s all created by users of Avvo as opposed to Avvo itself.
The content on Avvo drives tons of traffic, dominates in search engines, and provides enormous value to people in search of legal help. Those visitors are what keep Avvo’s real customers (the lawyers) satisfied.
Much like the Avvo website badge, very little work is required on Avvo’s part to build up all of this content. It makes Avvo a highly scalable operation, as each piece of additional content improves Avvo’s search engine ranking, attracts more website visitors, and grows their overall brand without any work on Avvo’s part.
- Content is king of online marketing
- Avvo is a content powerhouse, and that’s one of the major reasons why it’s such a powerful presence online and an effective marketing channel for lawyers.
- Avvo benefits because it’s wealth of content is generated entirely by users, a highly scalable strategy for growth.
- Content is the key to effective online marketing. It’s how you build up your search rank, it’s what you get people to share on social media, and it’s how you spread your brand message.
- Create your own content as part of your workflow
- Make content development a part of your regular work routine. Keep a list of frequently asked questions from your clients, and rather than just emailing them an answer or explaining it to them over the phone, write a post with your answer and send them the link.
- Law firms can benefit by making content production a core part of their marketing strategy. Start a law firm blog and publish and share articles regularly to start growing your firm’s presence online.
- Don’t just write content on other, larger websites (e.g. Avvo). Produce your own blogs, articles, FAQs, etc. and publish them on your website to grow awareness for your law firm.
Avvo has utilized some brilliant marketing strategies, capitalizing on lawyers to grow it’s presence online. The three ways Avvo leverages users for its own benefit are:
- Fear tactics: motivating users to sign up for fear of having a poor rating
- Backlinks: encouraging lawyers to embed the Avvo badge (aka “backlink”) on their website
- User generated content: leveraging lawyers’ knowledge into content on its QA forums and articles
Lawyers can take away some key lessons from these creative, and highly effective marketing strategies:
- Utilize risk avoidance as a strategy for motivating clients to purchase legal services
- Always stay on your toes and adapt to the needs of the broader market
- Build up backlinks to your website in order to improve your search ranking
- Find ways to create awareness through third party channels and media outlets
- Utilize your legal work and knowledge to build up your own content, and share it with the world