Mike Blumenthal used Google Consumer Surveys on behalf of a law firm client to determine how people find lawyers in specialized practice areas (e.g., divorce, estates and trusts). The survey results are consistent with previous findings (word of mouth and search are tops). They also illustrate that in suburban and rural areas the print yellow pages are still strong.
The sample size was roughly 1,500. Here are the top-level summary findings:
Word of mouth is the top answer, followed by search and attorney referrals (word of mouth again). Then print yellow pages outscores other categories, including social networks (another version of word of mouth).
It’s interesting to note in the chart above how little used social networks are for this type of attorney referral. What’s also interesting is that when results are segmented into urban, suburban and rural categories (inferred) you see some differences in usage behavior.
In urban areas, print yellow pages usage is lower than in suburban and rural areas. This first graphic shows the “urban segmentation”:
Next comes the suburban view. Print yellow pages usage is double what it is in the chart above. Search usage also declines:
Finally the rural responses: in this chart search is lowest among the segments but print yellow pages is also somewhat lower. Most people appear to be relying on human referrals (“the old fashioned way”). In general the internet doesn’t appear to be widely used. This may speak to the quality of the data available online in these geographic areas.
In terms of age segmentation, those in the 25-34 age group were most inclined to search and the oldest consumers were most inclined to use print yellow pages. However there’s print YP usage among the youngest cohort as well.
Two additional survey questions asked about the types of online information most important to consumers and what happens after a Google search for lawyers:
Reviews on Google are more significant for this population than reviews on Yelp. Interestingly websites are the least important (have least credibility) in helping consumers make decisions about hiring attorneys.
Perhaps what’s most interesting in the graph above is the fact that “endorsements from friends on Facebook” carries relatively significant weight but relatively few people affirmatively ask for lawyer referrals on Facebook (social networks) according to the earlier chart. That seems like a bit of a contradiction or paradox.
Given how relatively little weight is given to attorney websites it’s striking that this is the first place these respondents said they go after a Google search. Reviews and location both play a significant role in making a decision — as one would expect.
What do you think of these data? Does anything surprise you? Do agree with them?