97 percent of all attorneys in the U.S. rely on Avvo reviews and listings.
They’re a major player in the legal industry when it comes to online reviews; more than 8 million visitors turn to Avvo each month seeking advice, connections to a competent attorney and more.
Some attorneys aren’t pleased.
As you’ll soon see, Avvo comes with its own unique blend of challenges. While this is a deal-breaker for many, it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for you. By layering Avvo’s products and services with other business development tools, you can 4.5x the number of leads and clients you’re to attract.
Today we’ll cover:
Why Avvo is important to your law firm or practice
Some of this makes sense.
What isn’t all that clear is the “quality of service” distinction. When we use the phrase “quality of service,” what does that mean? According to the survey, we can distill “quality of service” into five distinct subcategories.
- How well options are explained (to the client)
- Win/loss record
- Attorney/firm professionalism
- Attorney listening skills
- How quickly cases are settled
Are these details really all that important to clients?
“A whopping 70% of respondents in our sample said they would consider going to an attorney in an inconvenient part of town if he or she had better online reviews than one closer to home. This certainly speaks to the importance of positive reviews in attracting new clients.”
This isn’t absolute.
The select portion of clients in all income brackets rely on online reviews.
Affluent clients tend to rely on direct connections, personal recommendations or existing relationships. Still, they’re willing to rely on reviews in the absence of established networks. This brings us to another important question.
Who visits Avvo?
Avvo has 14.4 million searchable legal questions and answers. They receive more than 8 million visitors per mo. (100 million+ visitors annually). According to their website, “every 5 seconds, someone receives free legal guidance on Avvo.”
It’s no surprise then that more than 300,000 attorneys rely on Avvo’s services.
What about their users?
According to a Quantcast survey, Avvo’s users are typically US residents in the 18 – 49 age bracket. Over 60 percent of these users make at least $60K per year.
Their users are broken down into two key segments:
|1. Emergency legal action required||2. Legal help needed in the near future|
|Client needs an attorney immediately||A client has a legal matter that will require an attorney|
|Likely has never been in trouble before (1st offense)||Has time to select a lawyer, up to a few weeks|
|Unwilling/embarrassed to ask friends for a referral||Doesn't have first-hand experience with legal issue(s)|
|Doesn't have a lot of experience with attorneys||Prefers to rely on an attorney for guidance|
|Want an attorney who inspires trust/confidence||Wants an attorney who has successfully handled similar cases|
|Wants an attorney who will take control||Wants an attorney who will take control|
It’s panic or preparation.
These are the scenarios your prospective clients, Avvo users, will arrive with. It makes sense then that your approach, via your profile, needs to be tailored around these two mindsets. It’s also important to note that one practice area may be slanted towards a particular mindset more than another.
How Avvo compares to other review platforms
When it comes to reviews, the big three are still dominant. Google, Yelp and Facebook generate a significant amount of volume.
Why focus on Avvo then?
With these kinds of numbers, it seems reasonable to conclude that Avvo would be a small fry. After all, it’s really about volume, isn’t it?
Not at all.
It’s actually about quality and quantity. You need both. But why?
High-volume platforms like Yelp, Facebook and Google provide you with quantity. These high-traffic platforms enable you to build a strong review portfolio that helps to dominate search results. These platforms are highly visible across a wide variety of search queries and keywords in Google.
Avvo is different.
With Avvo, you’re able to attract a more discerning client. These clients have more income and are highly educated and aware of the need they have. This isn’t simply a “make the problem go away” approach. They may have an emergency, but they’re more attentive and focused on solving the problem in its entirety.
So the big three are bad then?
Not at all. Attorneys need both, the volume that comes with high-volume platforms like Yelp, Facebook and Google, as well as the specialized, hyper-focused, user base from specific platforms like Avvo.
What does this mean then?
As an attorney, which KPIs matter most on Avvo?
What your goals should be on Avvo
Here’s a shortlist of the business goals attorneys and law firms can achieve on Avvo’s platform.
These goals are the basics, right?
Yes, but they’re more difficult to achieve due to the constraints placed on attorneys. I’m talking about the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically Rules 7.1 through 7.5.
What about reviews?
These common sense rules seem incredibly obvious. What’s not obvious is how you set yourself up on Avvo.
Claiming or creating your profile on Avvo
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that 97% of all attorneys in the U.S. are on Avvo. This means there’s a very good chance that you’re already listed on Avvo. Avvo, unlike other review platforms, requires a bit of upfront preparation.
First things first, begin with reviews.
You’ll want to reach out to 5 to 10 clients who are willing to leave a review on your behalf. You’ll need a minimum of five reviews before your aggregate reviews show up in Google search results. If you’re using review management platforms like Grade.us, you can send clients a review request automatically. Next, let’s take a look at how you claim your profile.
1. Visit Avvo.com/for-lawyers
2. Enter your first and last name, city, state and ZIP Code then click “find your profile.“
3. Click “claim profile” to select the profile that best matches the information you’ve submitted.
5. Choose a verification method, Avvo offers three or four methods including verification via phone, LinkedIn or Facebook.
6. Once you have selected a method, follow the prompts to verify your identity.
7. Once you complete the process, you’ll be asked to Sign-In.
You can also fill out this form to be added to Avvo’s online directory and search results. Once you’ve signed in, you want to make sure that you take the time to complete your profile. Avvo will provide you with a prompt, providing you with the details you need to complete your profile.
With other review platforms, it’s easy to blow this off, to finish things at a later date. Whatever you do, don’t do that here. Why you ask?
It’s all about your rating.
Avvo has a rating system that used to evaluate attorneys on an individual basis. It’s a 1 through 10 rating system.
1.0 – 1.9 = Extreme caution
2.0 – 2.9 = Strong caution
3.0 – 3.9 = Caution
4.0 – 4.9 = Concern
5.0 – 5.9 = Average
6.0 – 6.9 = Good
7.0 – 7.9 = Very good
8.0 – 8.9 = Excellent
9.0 – 10.0 = superb
This rating system is based on the data provided in an attorney’s profile. The more data you provide in your profile, the better your rankings will be. At first glance, this seems like a cause for alarm. What if your Avvo profile is unclaimed or filled with incorrect information?
Wouldn’t that affect your profile negatively?
Here’s how Avvo answers this objection directly:
“Any information that affects the Avvo Rating is visible in an attorney’s profile. Avvo does not provide a numerical rating for profiles that have not been claimed by that attorney.
Attorneys always have the opportunity to add information to their profiles, and those attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.
Keep in mind that these ratings speak to a lawyer’s background, but do not evaluate their knowledge of the law, past performance on individual cases, personality, or communication skills. These are elements that the Avvo Rating cannot evaluate, but can be better described in the client reviews and peer endorsements found on an attorney’s profile.”
What does this mean?
You’ll want to get your profile completeness to 95 percent. This means you’ll need to…
|Provide Avvo with the following information|
|About me||Associations||Avvo rating badge|
|Contact information||Education||Fees and payments|
|Speaking engagements||Work experience||Peer endorsements|
The more detailed your profile, the better your ratings will be. The unspoken theme here is that you’ll want to provide Avvo with legitimate information. It’s unwise to add another language to your profile if you only speak one language. If you haven’t won any awards, don’t make anything up.
Again, all common sense.
Still not convinced about the importance of the completed Avvo profile? Here’s another important reason.
When prospective clients search for an attorney in your area, Avvo asks them if they’d like to filter their search results. As you can see from the image above, clients can filter attorneys by:
The more criteria you meet in your profile, the easier it is for prospective clients to find you. This means a completed profile improves your perceived reputation, producing more traffic, leads and clients for your law firm.
Is there a way to get more?
Optimizing your Avvo profile
There are quite a few attorneys who feel Avvo is not a worthwhile endeavor. Other attorneys believe Avvo is the best business development investment they’ve made for their law firm. Why are the results hit or miss for so many attorneys, and more importantly, how can you maximize value from your Avvo profile?
It’s simple, create layers.
Your Avvo profile works best when it’s part of a cohesive strategy.
What does that mean?
Review platforms can be used in one of three ways.
1. Attraction. A superb profile attracts a disproportionate amount of traffic, leads and clients from Avvo. The more attractive your profile the better your return on investment. If you’re looking to attract more leads, it makes sense to optimize your profile, pay for advertising on Avvo, and promote your reviews aggressively.
2. Conversion. Reviews act as persuaders. They convince prospective clients, who are on the fence, to buy into your service. It’s a form of social proof that boosts your credibility and authority in the marketplace. Attorneys who are focused on using their Avvo profile as a conversion tool are better off optimizing their profile and aggressively pursuing client reviews.
3. Consumption. Reviews, when used appropriately, motivate existing clients to spend more with your firm. The keyword is appropriately. Attorneys focused on increased consumption should optimize their profile, initially pursue a moderate amount of client reviews, then promote those reviews to existing clients using remarketing ad campaigns on Facebook, Google and third-party display networks.
How you use your profile on Avvo determines the kind of returns you’ll achieve. You can use your profile to achieve any one of these goals. You can pursue all three, but it needs to be a conscious decision that’s made on your part.
This is where most attorneys struggle.
They approach their Avvo profile in a haphazard fashion, ensuring that any results they achieve are accidental. This usually means they’re going to lose money.
So how do you do it?
How do you optimize your review portfolio on Avvo?
1. Complete your Avvo profile. We’ve already covered this in detail, so I won’t rehash that here.
2. Build a strong review portfolio. Using review management software, work consistently to build a strong review portfolio across a variety of sites, including Avvo. Make it a habit to ask clients to write reviews for your law firm once you’ve completed the engagement.
3. Answer three to five Q&A questions daily. Have your assistant monitor Q&A questions in your practice areas. Record a detailed answer, using your smartphone or a voice recorder, to the questions provided. Then transcribe them using your assistant or a third-party tool like Dragon Naturally Speaking.
4. Write legal guides for Avvo. Legal guides are a collection of attorney authored articles. These articles demonstrate proficiency in your practice areas, boosting client trust, law firm credibility and credibility. These legal guides provide you with contributor points, more exposure on Avvo, and a stronger search presence in Google and Bing.
5. Create guest content. This includes guest posting (+100 contributor points) or guest hosting a webinar (+1,000 contributor points) for Avvo. While your contributor points don’t affect your Avvo rating, they do have a dramatic impact on your rank on the leaderboard. The better your rank, the easier it is for clients to find you on Avvo. Here’s why this is so helpful. You can syndicate this content, with permission, across a variety of other sites (i.e., Above the Law, Lawyerist, LinkedIn, etc.). This raises your profile, authority and credibility
6. Syndicate your answers to these questions across other Q&A sites (e.g., Quora, Reddit, Law Stack Exchange, and other forum or Q&A sites). While you’re on these other forum and Q&A sites, answer any new questions you come across.
7. Create a strong signature that you leave behind, along with your name, at the end of each of your answers. If it’s allowed (via rules or etiquette – it’s not allowed on Avvo), you can leave a link as well. This link should go to a specific lead magnet or helpful download that’s relevant to the forum or topic in question (i.e., a homebuyer’s checklist for real estate practice areas).
8. Create a strong lead magnet. This lead magnet should be available on your website, on its own landing page. A helpful lead magnet could be a helpful quiz, checklist, short guide or article. You provide clients with a helpful lead magnet in exchange for their name, email address, and/or phone number.
9. Purchase ads on Avvo. Avvo advertisers receive 70x more contacts than non-advertisers. Avvo provides two advertising products. Sponsored listings and display ads. If you’re going to do this, you want to make sure that you’re serious about it as you’ll probably be contacted by an inside sales rep.
10. Purchase remarketing ads on a third-party platform, e.g., Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn or other second and third-tier advertising providers to follow up with prospects who have visited your website. Share outstanding four and five-star reviews from happy and satisfied clients, as ads, to lure these prospects back.
See what I mean?
This is a layered strategy attorneys can use to attract a disproportionate amount of the traffic, leads and clients available on Avvo.
Requesting, tracking and responding to Avvo reviews
If you’re not using a review management platform like Grade.us or GatherUp, you can still request a review on Avvo directly. Here’s an official video showing you how to do it.
Avvo has checks and balances in place to manage online reviews. Unlike other review platforms, where anyone can leave a review, Avvo has requirements. Here’s how they explain it.
“Avvo provides an open forum for people to leave feedback for attorneys they have hired, consulted, or contacted. But we have checks in place to maintain the quality and validity of reviews. We require users to register before submitting a review, we read every review before it is posted, and we rely on the Avvo community to let us know if a review seems suspicious or incorrect. If you are concerned that a particular review may be incorrect, please contact Customer Care.”
The good news about reviews?
Your review portfolio does not affect your overall review rating on Avvo. Here’s their official response.
“Reviews do not affect the Avvo Rating. While endorsements from peers are a form of industry recognition – like to being asked to speak at a professional seminar or publishing an article – input from clients is very different. It may reflect positively or negatively on a professional, and may include comments that are more reflective of approach than ability. As people often find other feedback to be valuable, we have chosen to include reviews in a stand-alone section in each lawyer’s profile, but not have those reviews impact the Avvo Rating.”
Another fantastic aspect of Avvo is review arbitration. When you receive the inevitable review, Avvo provides you with some form of recourse to address the issues in question. There are two ways you can approach a negative review on Avvo.
1. “Post a response to the review. There is a link at the bottom of each review for you to post a response. Your comment will be displayed immediately below the disputed review, and the most effective responses to negative feedback online can be a simple comment. This also sends a powerful message to potential clients about your professionalism and interest in feedback. Rather than arguing the substance of what the reviewer wrote, try something along the lines of: “We’re sorry you had a bad experience with our firm. This matter does not sound familiar, and we strive for the utmost client satisfaction in every case. Please contact me directly to discuss your specific concerns.””
2. “Request that the review be put through our dispute process. If you believe the review has not come from an actual or potential client of yours, we will contact the reviewer and ask them to confirm that they were in fact a real or potential client, and give them the option to edit or delete the review. During the dispute, the review will not appear on your profile. If the reviewer responds and confirms the review, it will be reposted to your profile with any changes specified by the reviewer.”
This response is more than attorneys get from other review platforms, which is saying something. Avvo notifies you of incoming reviews, enables you to respond to reviews if they’re negative or contact customer care to dispute them if they’re unfair or illegitimate.
It’s fantastic, until you realize you’re not sure how to contact Avvo.
Start Generating Avvo Reviews Today!
Your Avvo point-of-contact
Avvo is quite helpful in this area. You won’t receive a dedicated rep but that doesn’t mean they’re difficult to get a hold of someone when you need assistance. Here’s a list of contact details you can use to get in touch with Avvo when you need to.
1. Via their request form
2. Sending an email to [email protected]
4. Via live chat Support.Avvo.com
5. Or via phone (206)734-4111
All in all, Avvo offers attorneys a variety of methods to get in touch should they need help.
Goal tracking via Avvo
Avvo offers conversion tracking as part of their premium product. This enables attorneys to see who contacts you via phone, email or your website. It’s strongly recommended that you use this in tandem with a third-party tool like Google analytics.
Here’s the problem.
Avvo uses SSL certificates. This is great because the website is more secure, but it’s rough, because it’s difficult to get important tracking information.
You can use Google’s URL builder to add a tracking parameter to each of the URLs in your Avvo profile. Here’s how you do it. Simply add “?utm_source=avvo&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=avvo_click” to the end of your URLs. Doing this will ensure Avvo referrals to your website appear in Google analytics.
You can also use Google’s URL builder to set this up yourself.
Advertising on Avvo
With Avvo, advertising is straightforward. They offer several advertising and marketing products for attorneys.
Avvo premium provides attorneys with additional benefits for a monthly fee. Attorneys profiles receive:
Avvo advertising is offered via sponsored listings and display ads. Avvo advertisers attract 70x more contacts than non-advertisers.
1 = Sponsored listings
2 = Display ad
With Avvo, attorneys can target advertising based on practice area and location. Avvo provides detailed reporting showing you how your ads and listings are performing. There are no long-term contracts and no setup fees involved.
Avvo provides attorneys with a website that includes templates, hosting, SSL certificates, support and more. This requires a 12 mo. commitment, but it is a helpful first start for attorneys who are looking for an inexpensive way to get started. However, it’s probably a better idea to point your Avvo profile to a website that’s separate from Avvo.
What about their policies?
Here’s some information on their community guidelines, which are found here.
Inappropriate content: While Avvo maintains a relatively open forum, this is a professional site devoted to professional services. So please, while a certain amount of passion, colorful language and even hyperbole is permissible, do not engage in name-calling, threats, general rudeness or putting down of others, harassment, lewdness, or displays of bigotry.
Questions: Please ask questions directly related to your legal concern. The best questions are brief and to the point. Do not post spam or irrelevant content.
Answers: Answering questions is a great way to help people get oriented toward solving their legal problems, and to display your legal acumen. But remember: quality is better than quantity, and those asking questions aren’t looking for a sales pitch.
Reviews: All reviews are moderated by Avvo prior to being posted. Reviews are most useful to others when they include specific details of your experience.
To the public: Safety first
When posting questions, reviews or comments, don’t give out personal information such as home or email addresses, telephone numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers, passwords, etc. You may contact professionals directly from email links or phone numbers displayed on their profiles and then exchange personal contact information.
To professionals: Self promotion
We encourage you to share information about your business or practice with the Avvo community; however, we ask that you do this in your profile or through our Advertising Solutions. Please do not directly solicit clients as part of an answer, disclaimer, guide, or peer endorsement. Examples of direct solicitations are language such as “call me, contact me, go to my website for further information, etc.” While you are free to refer the asker to another reputable attorney, we ask that you do not solicit yourself or other attorneys in your office/firm. Similarly, do not add contact information or links to your website in answers or answer disclaimers. Such information will be removed. A link to your profile is displayed next to each of your postings, so contact information is already available to readers who wish to contact you.
Think before you post and stay on topic. Answers that don’t specifically address their questions will be removed, so think twice about copying and pasting the same answer to multiple questions. Additionally, guides with a substantial amount of content that you did not author will be taken down.
We appreciate your compliance with these guidelines. While we are devoted to free speech, we reserve the right to remove any content that does not respect these guidelines or that detracts significantly from our users’ experience. Failure to comply with any of these guidelines may also result in the temporary or permanent loss of posting privileges.
Avvo reviews are a must-have for attorneys
Their platform comes with its own unique blend of challenges, but this doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for you. By layering Avvo’s products and services with the other business development tools in your toolkit, you can 4.5x the number of leads and clients you’re to attract.
97 percent of attorneys use Avvo.
Only a small minority of attorneys are achieving the kind of abundant returns they deserve. You can achieve that and more. With consistent effort and a clear plan of action, you have everything you need to squeeze maximum value from your Avvo profile.