Digital Marketing’s Role in Potential Client Decision-Making

Using the Internet to Make Decisions

Several years ago in 2012, the internet was unsurprisingly revealed as being the number one influencer in consumer decision-making. At that time, 89% of consumers claimed to use internet search engines to make purchasing decisions. Furthermore, almost one in five consumers used Facebook to find out more about a brand or product, and half of people surveyed followed a brand on social media, primarily to learn more about it.

Since that time, searches from mobile devices have surpassed searches from a traditional computer and made the internet even easier to access and even more pervasive in our day-to-day lives. We’ve also discovered that 88% (or more!) of consumers read online reviews to vet the quality of a business and that the same percentage of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And those insights and statistics from 2012 have probably only become more poignant as access to and use of the internet has increasingly become a basic necessity rather than a luxury. For everything from quickly looking up a phone number to fully researching a product or service, nearly everyone goes to the internet first.

How People Encounter Your Law Firm Online

Because people use the internet to find your firm, to assess whether or not you can offer a solution to their specific needs, and to see what others are saying about you, your online presence needs to be maintained comprehensively and strategically so you can put your best foot forward as prospects learn more about you before they make contact. The simple truth in the digital age is that the vast majority of your clients have used the internet to make up their mind about you before they ever actually communicate with someone at your firm on the phone, via chat, through email, or in person.

Many attorneys in particular seem to be under the illusion that many (or even most) of their new clients come from word-of-mouth referrals. While this may have been true a mere decade ago, it is no longer the case. From 2005 to 2014, the percentage of people using the internet to find an attorney jumped from 7% to 38% while the percentage of people who asked a friend or relative dropped precipitously from 65% in 2005 to a mere 29% in 2014. And even those who do first find out about an attorney from a friend or relative will invariably be using the internet to find out more before they make contact.

Even more telling, for those who used a search engine to find out more about a lawyer or firm, they did a lot more than just retrieve a phone number. Here’s the breakdown of what consumers do when they first find out about a firm (from 2013):

  • 29.5% visited the firm’s site
  • 27.6% read the reviews on Google
  • 18.4% read reviews elsewhere on the internet
  • 10.6% viewed the map to see where a firm was located
  • 4.1% looked at photos and description on Google

How many people made a call to see what a firm was like? A mere 9.8%. That means over 90% of your future clients will check the internet first before they get in touch with you. That number was from over 3 years ago, and we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the percentage of people using the internet to vet a firm before calling has risen substantially since then; after all, it’s where all the data has been trending over the last decade and more.

In fact, when you drill down to evaluate how age affects people’s behavior, you find that when people are looking for an attorney, nearly half of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 go to the internet first. For those between the ages of 35 and 44, 41% go straight to the internet. And aside from those age 65 and older, every age group favored using the internet over asking a friend or family member. There’s no intuitive leap required: the internet is only going to become more important as a means of attracting new clients for your law firm.

Take Control of Your Digital Marketing and Online Presence

The fact that so many attorneys, perhaps including your major competitors, are holding on to the belief that the internet is not the prime mover of potential clients’ opinions means that you can seize a competitive edge over them very quickly. Attorneys, in general, are also among the lowest investors in marketing efforts: the average marketing budget ranges from 2.4 to 2.8 percent of gross revenues while the across-industry average for businesses making less than $250 million in revenue is nearly 7% higher at 9.1 percent.

Of course, digital marketing usually only accounts for a fraction of that total marketing budget, and — in our experience — the digital marketing budgets of many firms are all-too-often misallocated on ineffective strategies with minimal ROI, like trying to compete in the world of attorney-related PPC keyword bids where the cost of one click for a term like “San Antonio car wreck attorney” is $670.44!

Thus, by investing now in a strategic digital marketing approach, you can monopolize on an industry-wide misunderstanding not only of how clients end up on a law firm’s doorstep, but also of the importance of online marketing in today’s world.

LaFleur: Your Law Firm’s Marketing Partner

From attorneys who don’t even have a website to lawyers having misgivings about their current marketing agency, we have helped law firms across the country realign their marketing efforts with the reality of people’s behavior in the internet age. Using best practices and data-driven innovation, we can help you take your marketing efforts to the next level and see tangible results from your digital marketing strategy.

Call LaFleur Legal Marketing today at (888) 222-1512 or fill out our convenient online contact form to learn more! We look forward to hearing from you!

Related Articles:


2012 Digital Influence Index shows internet as leading influence in consumer purchasing choices. (2012, January 31). Fleishman Hillard. Retrieved from

Anderson, M. (2014, July 7). 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Search Engine Land. Retrieved from

Internet is now the most popular way to find and research a lawyer, says FindLaw survey. (2014, April 7). Thompson Reuters. Retrieved from

McDonald, C. (2014, August 20). Get real with law firm marketing — 5 observations. Above the Law. Retrieved from

Sterling, G. (2015, May 5). It’s official: Google says more searches now on mobile than on desktop. Search Engine Land. Retrieved from

Tsakalakis, G. (2013, April 30). How do people find and hire attorneys? Lawyernomics. Retrieved from

Zook, C. (2015, July 30). The one hundred most expensive keywords on Google [infographic]. WebpageFX. Retrieved from

Chip Lafleur

Chip is an entrepreneur, organizational leader, and marketing expert who combines experience in web development, marketing tactics, strategy, and team leadership with a strong ability to harness talent and hone complex concepts into concrete deliverables.