Despite the rise of online marketing, most law firms still rely heavily on referrals to acquire new clients. When someone refers you a client, that client will typically be much more likely to hire you than another random attorney they found on the web or saw on a billboard. Why? Because trust is a huge factor when it comes to hiring an attorney, and referrals create trust. If you hope to grow your practice, you cannot ignore the importance of referral marketing. In this post, we’ll cover 4 simple steps to launch a referral campaign at your law firm that will help you land more clients.
Step 1: Provide Exceptional Service to Clients
As a professional in a service industry, you should always strive to provide good service to your clients. It’s part of your ethical duty and one of the most basic steps toward running a successful law firm.
Fortunately, there are some ancillary benefits to providing great service as well, especially when it comes to marketing and getting more referrals.
The more satisfied your clients are, the more likely they will be to refer you to their friends and colleagues. Clients who don’t have the best experience working with you will be unlikely to refer you business.
Improving Customer Service
When you launch your referral campaign, the first thing to do is reiterate the importance of good customer service to your staff.
Good service means attention to detail, constant communication, and perhaps most importantly a win-win, value-based approach to billing. You should also look to use technology to provide a more seamless experience for your clients, offering things like online billing and e-signatures.
When you do everything possible to delight your customers, referrals will flow in naturally. It’s that simple.
Step 2: Build Strategic Relationships with Other Professionals
Client referrals are great, but they can be unpredictable. The problem is, your clients don’t really have much of an incentive to send you referrals. They just do it to help out their friends or family members.
Professionals, on the other hand, have a much stronger incentive to refer you business. By building a referral arrangement with you, they can expect to grow their own businesses in return, either by earning referral fees (in the case of attorneys) or by getting referrals from you.
Therefore, a major component of your referral campaign should be building strategic referral relationships with other professionals.
Other attorneys are a great place to start, and particularly other attorneys who run a successful practice themselves because they’ll have a higher volume of inbound inquiries.
Since most lawyers focus on only one, or a few practice areas, any prospective clients they meet outside those areas are likely to be referred out.
Professionals in related industries are also great referral sources for certain practice areas. For instance, bankers, CPAs, and financial advisors can be excellent referral partners for estate planning or business attorneys.
Think about what other types of professionals are likely to be working with your clients. Then start building relationships with them. Go to local networking events, or consider using LinkedIn to do targeted outreach.
Step 3: Use Social Media and Email Marketing to Keep in Touch
Steps 1 and 2 were all about establishing the kinds of relationships that drive referrals.
By maximizing client satisfaction and creating referral partnerships with other professionals, you can expect to start receiving more incoming referrals to your firm.
Steps 3 and 4 deal with your process for maintaining your referral relationships.
It’s always much easier to maintain something than it is to build it from scratch. So you will want to keep in touch with your referral sources on a regular basis to ensure the relationships stay fresh.
Social media is one of the best channels through which to maintain your referral relationships.
You should update your profiles regularly, sharing news and updates about your firm, client testimonials, as well as articles or blogs relevant to your industry. You might consider automating the process with software to save time.
Be sure to use all of the major social media platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Instagram where appropriate. Having updated social profiles with authentic content will help build people’s trust and indicate that your practice is active and thriving.
Email marketing is another effective outlet through which to communicate with your network. Unlike social media where there is a lot of noise and other distractions, it’s more personalized, private, and direct.
You should build targeted email lists for different groups of people in your network, and send out useful content or updates from your firm at least monthly.
Again, the goal is to maintain visibility across your entire network, keep in touch with people, and ensure that your relationships stay fresh.
Whenever an opportunity arises for someone in your network to make an attorney referral, hopefully you’ll be the first person that comes to mind.
Step 4: Track Referrals in a CRM to Measure Your Results
At this point in your referral campaign, you should have a steady stream of referrals coming in, and you should be using social media and targeted emails to keep in touch.
The last step involves implementing a system to track your referrals and measure the effectiveness of the campaign. After all, if you don’t actually know which referral partners are sending you business and which ones aren’t, it’s tough to know which of your efforts were effective and which ones were not.
Using a CRM to Capture Data
The best way to keep track of your referrals and your relationships is with CRM software (Customer/Client Relationship Management).
A CRM will not only help you store the contact info for all of your clients and referral partners, it will also track your interactions with them.
Even more importantly, if you use a CRM that’s tailored for a law firm such as Lexicata, you can link your referral partners to your clients so that you will get automatic reports each month about how many referrals you received from each person, and how much revenue those referrals generated for your practice.
By capturing data about your referrals in this way, you’ll be armed with the key insights needed to optimize your referral campaign over time.
For instance, you can figure out specifically which types of professionals and clients are yielding the highest value. Then you can adapt your relationship building strategy accordingly to find more people like them.
Referral marketing will always be an important strategy for acquiring clients. In order to launch a referral campaign at your law practice, here are the four steps you should follow:
- Deliver exceptional service to clients
- Establish referral partnerships with attorneys and other professionals
- Leverage social media and email marketing to keep referral sources engaged
- Track your relationships and your referrals with a CRM to gain insights about your campaign and optimize over time