In a recent study, Northwestern University’s Spiegel Digital and Database Research Center analyzed how online reviews can impact consumers’ purchasing decisions. While legal services were not included in the study, the findings are illuminating, particularly in two aspects:
Finding: As you might expect, the higher the scores a product received, the more likely someone was interested in purchasing that item. However, for all products, once a score exceeded 4.5 stars, people stopped saying they were more likely to buy, and at 5 stars, some consumers were less likely to purchase a product. Why? Their answer was that a perfect score seemed “too good to be true.”
Conclusion: The desire to have the highest possible score is understandable. However, when it comes to online reviews, it’s crucial to consider the thoughts of the potential client who is looking at your reviews. The Northwestern study has confirmed what we’ve seen elsewhere: a perfect score, particularly if based on a smaller number of reviews, would not make an attorney or law firm more attractive to most prospective clients than an attorney with a significant number of reviews and a lower score.
Finding: The research found that reviews become more important to consumers when a product or service is more expensive and the decision to choose one product/service over another involves greater consideration.
Conclusion: Hiring a law firm is often a significant financial commitment for individuals and small businesses. Choosing which lawyer to hire falls exactly into the higher price/higher consideration decision process that leads a consumer to put a greater focus on online reviews.
When we talk to lawyers about reviews, we stress that a perfect score is not necessary for a prospect to hire you, and that people who use Lawyers.com and Martindale.com focus on online reviews as part of their research. Northwestern’s study provides further evidence that online reviews need to be a key component of every law firm’s marketing plan.