Your Referral-Based Business Still Needs Digital Marketing

June 20th, 2018 by Gabrielle Woodard

Most referral based businesses are pretty happy watching the dollars come in without having to invest in marketing. The business model usually looks a little something like this: company does good work → client is happy → client tells a friend they are happy with great work by company → friend works with company. Badabing.

But wait, we missed a step! How’s the referral going to find you? Even if your name, number, address, and directions are written down, laminated, framed, and handed to a referral, they will still search online to find any business. According to Google, 97% of consumers use the web to search for local businesses.

  • 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine
  • 56% of students turn to search when research programs/degrees
  • 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases

These stats prove search is the best opportunity to influence your audience buying decision and shape their perception of your company. If your business isn’t investing in digital marketing, which of your competitors will the referral contact once they can’t find you online?

Who’s Representing Your Law Firm Online?

Only 13% of people are referred to an attorney by a family or friend. If you don’t have a strong brand or search presence online when the referral or new lead is searching for you, what does this say about your reputation? Some may think, “How good can this guy be if I can’t even find him on Google!” Even if you have a compelling slogan, your law firm needs to be competitive in local search results.

If your law firm generates cases based on client or attorney referrals, make sure to get that word-of-mouth online! Ask for and publish reviews and testimonials on your site. Don’t forget to spread the word and feature testimonials on,,, and other industry related platforms.

72% of people searching for legal advice only contact one attorney. So let’s make sure they find and contact you first!

Google’s Power in the Universities

According to Fortune, Millennials spend 27 hours a week consuming media. Getting in front of and grabbing the attention of millennials is becoming more competitive for universities. With educational resources and easy access to student loans, students are no longer applying to universities simply based on legacy or location. According to a Google Ipsos Research study in 2017, 20% of students read 3rd party ratings and reviews to compare schools, but you can expect that a higher percentage of searchers are influenced by the overall online reputation of a school.

Building Your Reputation Online

Reviews aren’t promotional advertisements full of promises; they’re hard evidence that your company goes above and beyond for customers. Don’t just sit back and wait for reviews to appear. With 88% of people likely to trust a review from a stranger as they would a referral from a friend or family member, you need to encourage happy clients to leave reviews on your site and on 3rd party sites. Since Google reviews appear alongside search results, those reviews are particularly important for referral-based businesses.

For 3rd party sites like Findlaw, Angie’s List, and Houzz, claim your profile and make sure all of your business information is accurate and updated. But don’t stop at conventional review sites! Video testimonials can be a great way to make online reviews more relatable. YouTube videos are easy to upload, and they can directly impact your search rankings. Before and after photos and videos for home renovations visually engage with an audience in ways content can’t. However you serve customers, look for a variety of ways to confirm that your services really set your company apart.

The Market Is Wide Open

Customers are searching for the products and services you provide, and they are influenced more by trusted and recognizable brands they engage with digitally. Google uses over 200 trust factors to rank websites and is constantly updating its algorithm. If you aren’t actively competing for searched products, services, and your audience’s attention, then you’re giving those undecided potential customers to the competition. So I’ll ask you again, if your business isn’t investing in digital marketing, which of your competitors will your referral contact once they can’t find you online?

Contact the team at Search Influence for a consultation, and learn how to shift your digital marketing strategy into high gear. Find out about our company’s reputation by reading reviews from other industry leaders in SEO and digital marketing. You know your industry, and we can help make your expertise more evident online. Request a marketing analysis, and we’ll find opportunities to amplify the visibility of your referral-based business.


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