How some lawyers and many businesses are: soliciting online reviews, following up to make the reviews get written and posted, and pulling in new clients from their efforts. With examples.
San Diego attorneys Cameron Gharabiklou and Nicholas Lewis of the Justice Law Group turned to Yelp as a way to continue fanning the flame on all the referral business they were getting from larger law firms in their area. They knew online reviews would help them turn these referrals into even more business.
“Yelp was a natural outlet early in the development of the customer referral business,” Gharabiklou says. “People check that information and beyond that, being able to link to our website off of the Yelp reviews is a double plus. People can see the reviews from third parties and then go to our website and see the success we’ve had and get an understanding of who we are, what our biographies are, and review our case studies.”
Justice Law Group has used Yelp to drive new clients to its business since 2009. Today, 30% of its current business comes directly from Yelp.
So what exactly are they doing to get people to review their services on Yelp?
“Number one—you need to provide a good service so that you actually have clients who are happy,” he says. “If you don’t produce results from day one then all the other things can only get you so far.
“And number two, you need to make sure that you have that ask at the end of the representation when you’re shaking hands and everyone is thanking each other and walking away happy,” he says. “You need to make sure you ask—hey listen, I’m going to shoot you an email with a link to my Yelp page. I’d really appreciate it if you could leave me a review.”
San Francisco estate planning attorney Michael Blacksburg has 88 reviews and is making great use of Yelp beyond its reviews. Blacksburg has a paid Yelp account and gets to take advantage of features like no ads and being able to advertise a specific offer of his services.
The offer that Blacksburg has right now is to “Register for an Upcoming Estate Planning Workshop.” When the consumer clicks the “Reserve Now” button, she is redirected to Blackburg’s website where she can sign up for a workshop.
Blacksburg also uses his Yelp account to the fullest, sharing videos about his firm and photos of himself so the consumer has a more personal connection to him.
How to Get Started
If you want to stand out and take advantage of Yelp, here’s what you should do:
1. Decide If You Want a Free Or Paid Account
There are pros and cons to both, obviously, so choosing between the two really depends on your goals and how detailed you want to get with your Yelp page.
For example, do you mind having ads on your page? Do you want to be able to make an offer consumers can take advantage of?
Gharabiklou recommends starting with a free account and going from there.
“That’s one thing I’ve always stuck to,” he says. “It’s a free account. Yelp reaches out quite a bit [for the paid accounts], especially if you start getting some good reviews. There’s nothing wrong with maximizing the potential reach, but I’ve always stuck to a free account.”
A paid account allows you to have more options and functionality on your page then a free account does. It also removes the Yelp advertising that shows up on free pages.
The free account is a good starting place and you can always upgrade to a paid account later on if you want to.
2. Unlock Your Business Account
Once you’ve signed up for an account, you can claim your business by verifying some information. Claiming your account will allow you to communicate back and forth with consumers, as well as have control of making updates to your page.
3. Update Your Business Information and Add Pictures
You want to make sure your business information is correct.
Next, you’ll want to add photos to your account. Photos allow people to see who you are, what you look like, and what your business is all about.
Consider photos of your office building and location, of happy clients, and of yourself and your team members.
Your next step after this one will depend on if you have a free or paid account. If you’re going for a free account you can skip down to step number 5.
4. Set Up Your Offer
If you’re using a paid account, you can make an offer available to the consumers who visit your page. This is a great way to advertise a service or product your firm offers.
For example, if your firm offers workshops, you could link your offer to signing up for one of the workshops. Or maybe you have a book to present. A free or lower-priced product is a more effective call to action and will drive larger numbers to your website.
5. Maintain Your Page
Now that you have your Yelp page set up, you will want to periodically review it. Update information and photos, as needed, and keep up with the reviews that you’re getting.
If you receive any negative reviews, find a way to reach out to the complainer and see if you can resolve the issue.
6. Ask For Reviews
You will need to ask your clients to leave you reviews on your Yelp page. But you can’t just ask—you have to take it a step further and actually follow up with them, to make sure they actually wrote the review.
“Believe it or not, a lot of people still are not savvy enough to use Yelp,” Gharabiklou says. “Whether they don’t have a Yelp account, whether they don’t want to take the time to establish a Yelp account to comment, or maybe once the matter is done they just don’t want to deal with it. It’s not a large issue in their mind, and so when you ask them to leave a review they say—‘yeah, sure, absolutely. I’ll definitely take care of that’ and then it doesn’t happen.”
By following up with the client you can make sure she’s still happy, and you can nudge her again to leave a review. To make it even easier, send her an email with a link to your Yelp page.