We caught up via Skype with Avvo.com’s General Counsel and VP of Business Development, Josh King, to discuss the company’s growth and how they’ve built a successful media business.
Avvo.com is a media company that provides an online Q&A platform and directory for lawyers and doctors in the United States. The company was founded by former Expedia legal counsel Mark Britton and launched in 2007.
Before launching, the company raised two rounds of financing: a $3 million A round, and a $10 million B round led by Benchmark Capital. In 2010, the company raised a C round of $10 million.
It was no surprise that, within the first week of launching in 2007, Avvo.com faced its first lawsuit. The press from the lawsuit helped jump-start traffic to the company’s website, giving them a lot of free brand recognition.
In their first year, Avvo.com averaged 30-50 thousand unique visitors per month. Today they average more than 3 million unique visitors per month.
Ratings Directory Plus Q&A Platform
In order to launch the site, Avvo.com aggregated publicly available data on lawyers and applied a proprietary ranking algorithm to generate a score on a ten-point scale. It wasn’t until they launched the Q&A platform that the site really started to take off.
With the help of the Q&A platform, Avvo.com and the solid base of information and lawyers that they had engaged from their early years, the company quickly hit 1-1.5 million unique visitors per month. Since entering into the doctors vertical, Avvo.com has seen traffic grow in excess of 3 million unique visitors per month.
Generating New Content
Today, Avvo.com is able to rely on contributions from visitors seeking help with legal or medical problems and expert contributors in law and medicine. In return for additional visibility, experts voluntarily answer visitors’ questions.
Avvo.com has incorporated game mechanics as a way to help encourage experts to answer questions. Every expert is able to get points for answering questions and commenting on or voting on the best answers. In a number of sections on the site, the company provides leader boards for visitors to see, providing additional visibility for the experts who regularly contribute.
In our interview, King shared that social media has been a really effective way for them to get feedback and initiate conversations with the legal community.
By monitoring the conversations about Avvo.com on Twitter and popular legal LISTSERV’s, the company has been able to address concerns and effectively engage the legal community in a conversation on Avvo.com.
Avvo.com makes money by selling advertising packages to legal experts looking to increase their visibility and grow their practice.
The company provides advertisers with a dynamic dashboard to ensure that they can see the benefits of advertising in real time. Josh King shared that the dashboard, in providing advertisers with a dynamic view of the data, has helped them to maintain a very low churn rate.
What’s Next for Avvo.com
Having already succeeded in becoming a market leader in the legal field, Avvo.com now has its sights set on recreating its success in the much larger and more competitive health space.
The company is also looking at developing new marketing and advertising products for legal experts that could include online marketing tools. When discussing this possibility, King was quick to note that Avvo.com isn’t interested in building ‘me too’ products — that they are focused on game-changing and innovative ideas in the media space.