I’ve talked and written recently about Dark Social for Law Firms. I keep getting asked for examples of firms that are doing it right. In this talk, Dean Blachford talks about how he establishing a targeted referral source in his brand new law firm in a city where he “knew nobody”. The key – leveraging the power of social media to drive success for an in-person event and making it better year over year. It’s an inspirational talk and Dean shares some of the tactics he’s picked up to make the event amazingly successful.
It’s not often that Google announces an upcoming algorithm change, and when they do, it typically means a major changes in overall SERP results. My prognostication is that the Helpful Content update, announced late last week and scheduled for a two week roll-out starting this week, is no different. While the legal industry is not specifically called out as being problematic, I do anticipate large fluctuations due to many overly aggressive tactics deployed by legal, especially as it pertains to content. Google directly described the upcoming change as “meaningful”.
The Helpful Content Update (seriously – why can’t we just call this HICUP?) update in Google’s own words:
These launches are part of a broader, ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in Search.
What does this mean concretely for law firms?
Last week, I presciently posted this ad for a content development tool that uses AI to pump out pages and pages of content: “Let Jasper Write Your Marketing Copy for Free Artificial intelligence makes it fast and easy to create content for your blog, social media, website, and more!” From what I can tell from Google’s announcement, it’s tools like Jasper that are firmly within the targets of the “Helpful Content” algo update.
This update is extremely similar to the Panda update from February, 2011. For those of you who weren’t in the SEO game at that point – what happened in the past may be instructive of what to expect over the upcoming months. Panda was designed to root out content farms that were daily vomiting out thousands of pages of well ranking pages and monetizing that traffic through advertising. While the key targets were Demand Media (eHow) and Answers.com; many many other sites were caught up in the resulting algo update which focused on content. The key issue here is that the Panda algo update had site-wide ramifications, which meant that a predominance of low quality content on a domain would negatively impact the traffic to high quality pages as well. Following Panda, Google noted that it impacted 12% of searches – meaningful indeed.
I spent the weekend reading through posts and prognostications of some of my favorite SEO nerds and Google directly. Based on my experience with Panda and parsing Google’s announcement, here’s my expectations of what’s going to happen:
- Some legal sites are going to get utterly destroyed. Especially those that have deployed AI written content. I’ve long been a critique of the blog blog blog mantra and believe this is going to come back to roost. There are a slew of legal marketing agencies who utilize AI generated content and then mark it up to human rates to their clients… meaning the law firms (may) have no idea they’ve been deploying a steady diet of vapid computer generated content that will be targeted. If your relationship with your SEO vendor includes something along the lines of…. “post 11 pieces of content every month”, I’d be particularly concerned. This goes for the small consultants as well as some of the big box providers.
- Given that there’s so much long tail content out there, and much of that has been AI driven, I’d expect to see large variability in ranking results for long tail terms. This is, by definition, statistically difficult to ascertain, especially for lower traffic sites.
- In general, I’ve avoided Word Count guidelines (ie. Google like to see X number of words on pages). However, over the past 24 months, we’ve seen a trend towards longer format content ranking – 1,000-1,500 words. It’s very possible that this trend reverses – Google specifically calls out word count as NOT being a ranking factor. Google even calls out Word County focus as a particular concern: “Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count?” From a precedent perspective, Panda specifically hit pages with inflated word count that thematically recycled concepts in order to bolster keyword density. From a user perspective, overly verbose, redundant and repetitive prose (see what I did there) doesn’t always serve to easily elucidate consumers as to their legal issue and options.
- I think there’s a mild warning for those sites that heavily utilize Practice Area + Geo Pages to rank in nearby cities. “Rockville Criminal Defense Lawyer” “North Rockville Criminal Defense Lawyer” etc. Those pages have always fallen in the (very) gray hate area wrt to search guidelines; however, they do perform very well. They are also painstaking to recreate with unique content. It’s possible poor executions of this tactic may be impacted as well.
- I don’t believe those pages sites that are plagued with thin useless pages that are either unintentionally generated through technology (think WordPress /tag pages) or those blog posts that are particularly useless (2 sentences in the “Mary Jones Won Superlawyers in 2014” blog post) are going to be hit any harder than they already are (which would be a departure of how Panda impacted sites). But again, this is just my conjecture from parsing Google’s wording – “search engine-first content is less likely to perform” and I believe that Google has long abandoned the notion that posting frequently is the key to SEO (despite the fact that many agencies and content consultants still preach this garbage).
- While Google specifically doesn’t call this a penalty, this is purely semantics b/c it’s going to look a lot like a penalty (allbeit not manual). This also means recovery is going to be dependent on Google’s algo deciding when things are better (not a human).
- This is English only (for now)… so those of you with already garbage Spanish pages and technical implementations have nothing to fear other than competitors doing it the right way.
- Very loose construct, if you have over 1K indexed pages with extensive content, I’d be worried. Check out my article on calculating the Useless Content Ratio to see how poorly Google considers your content already.
What to Expecting (When You Are Expecting an SEO Nightmare)
- This algo update is going to take two weeks to roll out. Starting roughly today(ish). The next two weeks may showcase banana-boat-crazy fluctuations in your site’s ranking and traffic performance. Ride it out.
- If you do get hit negatively, possibly expect a long recovery – even assuming you can identify and solve problems expediently, Panda recovery took many months b/c Google didn’t rerun updates for a long period. Helpful Content is different from Panda in that is constantly running; but I believe fixing this problem is a human, non-scaleable solution.
- Instead of going a comprehensive Content Strategy Audit and review (which is painful, takes time and gets exponentially harder the larger your site) consider just no-indexing a bunch of pages as a short-term bandaid. John Mueller gives this approach a qualified endorsement: “noindex is fine. Consider if all we see are good signals for your site, that’s a good sign.”
- This won’t be ambiguous… In an interview with Glenn Gabe, Danny Sullivan noted “if a site is impacted by the Helpful Content Update, then that impact should be visible”.
- The worse your overall content is the bigger the impact. From Sullivan: “sites with a lot of unhelpful content on the site, like content created for search engines over humans, then you could see a stronger effect…”
Human Content Alternatives
Get ready to yell at your agency about your content strategy. And if you are already panicking now, it’s time to a)start looking into managing your low end legacy content and b)start writing
good great stuff! A great starting point for solid, legal specific content is John Reed at Rain BDM and Allen Watson at Blue Seven Content. Yeah – they expensive but if your site tanks, will look like a bargain.
The Useless Content Ratio
This post is long long overdue… I’ve been using and talking about he Useless Content Ratio for years. Google’s upcoming “helpful content” algo update is forcing my hand, because it looks much like the Panda update from the past, during which we made extensive use of the Useless Content Ratio.
The UCR is very simple: the ratio of pages on a website that have generated traffic during a specific time period. It’s application is twofold. First, to determine in aggregate, how Google views the overall content quality of a site, simply put, if lots of pages aren’t generating traffic, it indicates that the site either lacks the authority to support the volume of pages it has and/or that the content is overwhelmingly garbage. In the case of Panda (and the upcoming Helpful Content update) which both have sitewide implications, a preponderance of pages that don’t generate traffic indicates that these algo changes will negatively impact the good content that exists on the otherwise bloated site. The second application of the UCR is to guide firms into how much they should be investing in additional content. Put simply, if 90% of pages have generated traffic during the past 6 months, then fire up the keyboard, because those new posts are likely to generate traffic. Conversely, if only 10% of a site’s pages have generated traffic during the past 6 months, why on earth would anyone continue to barf out vapid blog posts that no one is going to see? This is typically done in search of the elusive long tail searches. What many don’t grok is that without the authority to support a huge pagecount, these long tail pages will never surface in search results.
UCR is a Blunt Instrument
Now – its very important to note that UCR does NOT provide a page level analysis – we are looking at the site overall. So a high UCR doesn’t mean you shouldn’t publish that key piece of content for which you want to be hired. Instead, it’s an overall indication of how Google views the quality of content on your site vis-a-vis the site’s overall backlink authority. It not only provides us with guidance as to the aggressiveness of ongoing content development efforts, but also reveals those sites who may be solid candidates for content pruning – the process of going through content page by page and determining if that content should be kept, killed or consolidated. The subsequent reduction in pagecount actually results in greater traffic and more conversions (leads) which turn into consultations because ideally you are keeping the business-relevant content and jettisoning the irrelevant useless content. I’ve written Case Studies extensively on this for Search Engine Land back in 2017: More Content Less Traffic Part 1 and More Content Less Traffic Part 2. Here are two graphs from those articles that showcase how a reduction in pagecount correlates with an increase in traffic:
Calculating the UCR
Calculating the UCR is very simple. First, the denominator is the number of pages on your site. You can use a simple “site:example.com” to find an index count; however, I find that number to be very inconsistent. Instead, you are better off utilizing page count data out of Google Search Console. I wouldn’t recommend using your sitemap for this, b/c in many cases sitemaps contain errors, or more frequently omissions either deliberate or unintentional. Next you need to calculate the numerator of the fraction… this is done (relatively) simply straight out of Google Analytics through the Landing Pages report.
- Select a reasonablly long timeframe. The lower your overall traffic volume, the longer this timeframe should be. At a minimum look at 3 months of traffic if your site generates >2.5K users/monthly. Below that volume, I’d probably look at 6 or even 9 months.
- Segment by Organic Traffic only
- Open the Landing Pages report under Behavior (don’t get misled by the other “Behavior” report which can be found under the Audience reports. Why Google has two different reports called Behavior is beyond me.)
- This will generate a list of landing pages (i.e. the first page someone saw on your site) from organic and local search queries over the specified timeframe.
- Scroll to the bottom right hand corner to get a total number of these landing pages.
Now you now the percentage of your pages that drive traffic (or don’t). Use this to mathematically evaluate the priority of continued content posting or if you should consider a content reduction as part of your Content Strategy (which is more likely the case for firms who have been aggressively chasing the SEO golden goose for years.)
We did a killer, in-depth webinar with Harlan Schillinger and Cameron Killmer – two people who know Lead Docket better than any others and Mockingbird’s own Robert Williams, who has spent far too much of his professional life tying technologies together to generate business centric, actionable metrics. We takes shots at the digital marketing industry, uncover highly actionable KPIs, and talk through why evaluating your marketing by counting “leads” is so misleading. Highly actionable, advanced tactics, even if we went on a little too long…
Learn more about Lead Docket and Filevine.
Conrad: [00:00:00] Welcome to talking to lawyers. I am your host, Conrad Saam. And today we have two amazing guests and a familiar face. So we are joined by Cameron Kilmer and Harlan Schillinger, both of Lead Docket, as well as Mockingbird’s very own Robert Williams. We’re going to be talking a lot about intake, awesomeness, not just good, but absolutely fantastic.
And the systems and the data and the processes behind what it takes. To get there There’s a lot of, highly tactical elements to this, which I’m excited about. I like
Presenting tactical things. And the other thing that, all of you will get out of this is Rob’s experience working with lots of different
CRM Systems, as well as what the lead docket at Filevine ecosystem brings together.
So Rob has got this kind of really wide experience, and you’re gonna see what Mockingbird has built for our clients who are not. On a lead docket [00:01:00] file vine and then juxtapose with exactly what lead docket file vine has done in order to, provide what I really consider business like these really foundational business metrics, instead of getting caught in the, miasma of it’s not wasted digital marketing stuff, but it can be distracting at best.
And so I really want us to start focusing on the things that are driving your law firm business, as opposed to anything else. So without further ado is, as I promise, we’re starting precisely on time is one. O’clock my time. A couple things, as Harlan Schillinger, Harlan, and I have known each other for probably on a decade.
We run into each other in conferences over and over again. And Harlan you weren’t, you weren’t here. When we went through this, makes this intro makes it look like, Cameron is married to his sister, which I didn’t realize when I grabbed this off the internet. And that Rob and I are a couple going to a Christmas party also.
So it’s a little bit deceiving.
Harlan: Where did you get the pic? This picture of [00:02:00] me? This is, that’s an old, a little older picture, but that’s a stunning picture. Gee whiz.
Conrad: It is , that’s a great pick. Yeah. And you look like nothing has changed.
Harlan: I just can, I just wanna say one thing before we start, if you don’t mind, the most important thing and you said it, you hit it on the head.
I know we’re gonna talk about lead docket and all, but the truth of the matter is no matter what, Sy, no matter it’s important to use some kind of a system, it’s, the metrics are so vitally important. You gotta make decisions, but whether you use lead docket or something else, this all
Unknoown: applies flies.
Conrad: There’s so much to doing this. And I feel like the marketing industry has been so far behind for so long. And it’s now time that we’ve caught up and I use these examples. These are, these are the things that are important. This is really simplistic. But do you know how many and not leads but consultations cuz you guys do not want to talk about leads.
You guys, and in your vernacular, in the file on lead docket vernacular, this is an [00:03:00] opportunity, right? You want to be talking about the consultations. Why are you talking to marketing agencies that are still talking about the leads that they generate for you? And then you can take this further.
Why don’t you know, where your clients are coming from, and that is the entire solution that you should be talking about on the regular. There’s so many things that become really important when you’re looking at consultations, leads, clients, et cetera. These things operate fundamentally very differently.
And, we know, and Rob, and I know this very well. Your pay per click campaign is gonna operate very differently from your LSA campaign, from a conversion perspective, which is gonna operate very differently from your, local campaigns versus your SEO campaigns. Like it’s all very fundamentally different.
You don’t, if you only stop at the leads portion, you start missing out on some of this vital data. And so what we’re gonna, these are just kind of high level context, but what we’re gonna get into in depth is how Mockingbird and how file vine lead docket think about getting to this type of insight, which is so [00:04:00] unbelievably important in setting this up and running your business like a business
Harlan: and, Conrad, I do believe.
And again, the, it’s not a question of maybe a right or wrong, but I do believe in looking at leads because as an advertising agency, an advertising person, I wanna see everything that’s coming in and you know what you don’t know, you don’t know. And if it’s, if I’m getting an abundance of poor leads, I gotta know that too.
Conrad: Yeah, absolutely extremely important. Especially when you’re spending money on per lead things, right? Like local service ads.
Robert: I was gonna note too, to piggyback on Harlan’s point. I. Knowing your leads, your opportunities or your consultations and the number of clients you’re getting. That’s foundational things, right? And I know this webinar is on advanced tactics, but I think in 2022, nearing 20, 23, operating a business, those are fundamental [00:05:00] metrics that you have to have an understanding of.
And Harlan’s right. Like you, whether you use lead docket or another system, you need to use something in order to understand that data. And I think it’s important
Cameron: that firms start
Conrad: thinking that way. My gut is this, the audience here is gonna be bifurcated into people who are lead docket five, nine clients who are like, yeah, no, No crap guys, who are already looking at this data.
And some of the people that we talk to who are like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. So let’s just understand it. You’re to some extent we may be preaching at the choir. To other extent, we may be a bit of the, evangelist here, but this is important. We’re gonna get into how we get here. Rob. And I have spent a lot of time talking about the SAAS world and sales and how sales are measured, in the SAAS world, as we got into CRM systems.
And in SAAS, there’s basically these concepts of MQL SQL and clients, which is a marketing qualified lead, which we would call a lead, a sales qualified lead, which means sales has talked to someone and they’re like, yes, this is someone that we want. And then clients, which is someone that we [00:06:00] won, we have taken this and applied it to the legal industry.
And MQL is basically a lead we’ve generated a phone call for you, a form fill for you, a chat. We’ve taken that inbound phone call and we’ve decided that, yes, we want to have that consultation.
And that’s where Cameron and you guys really talk about this as being an opportunity, right? Because otherwise it could be all sorts of things coming in.
Cameron: Opportunities are just simply anyone that is, you know, reaching out to you. They’re, they got your website, they’re calling you they’re, they filling out a form, chatting in whatever they are reaching out to you.
And hopefully they are someone that has a case. And hopefully they’re someone that you can help and, opportunity is just a prescreen or not yet screen lead, I should say. In lead dock of terminology, it’s not really a lead until someone responds. That’s when it’s actually being worked and hopefully screened, converted consultation, whatever needs to happen, then goes from opportunity to
Conrad: a lead.
Okay. And we, so there’s a little bit of a mix on the vernacular here, but the key point here is not all of the things that come in are good, which, as [00:07:00] lawyers, because you’ve been screaming at me my entire career about Hey, all your leads are garbage. We then take a step that we call a Q L, which is we call this attorney qualified lead, which means you’ve talked to them and you’ve decided that you wanted to hire them now, depending on the type of law that you practice, or even, the way you practice law, you may have an intake staff.
Who’s qualified to say, yes, this is a client that we want. And so that, that doesn’t have to be an AQL or attorney qualified, but you may be screening them to be, this is someone that we want. And typically, we look at this by Hey, we’ve sent you a contract. We wanna work with you. That’s the same, that’s the same in lead docket, correct?
There’s a step towards that, right? Yep. AB absolutely. And then out of that comes climbs, right? Which becomes, yay. We’ve signed. And so that, that signature rate becomes really important. So we’re gonna get deeper into all of these different metrics in what you can get out of this.
But this becomes really interesting. Now Harlan made the point of it’s important to know which leads our not good. And so this is [00:08:00] our own data. I’m a marketing agency, and I’m telling you that for us, because we track this, I know 84% of what we do is garbage 84% of what we count as leads or opportunities in the different vernacular is not someone trying to hire the law firm.
And it’s different by different marketing channels and it’s different for different firms, but on average, we’re generat. Less than a, just over a 15% hit rate on what we would typically talk about as leads. And this is where I think the marketing industry does a terrible job because we’re so excited about making ourselves look good, that we throw the, as many numbers into this as we possibly can.
And they’re just not new people looking to hire you. It’s just, it’s opposing counsel, it’s your, spouse bringing a pizza. It’s, it’s all sorts of things. And we try and overcount these things to make ourselves look good,
Robert: Mockingbird selling you services. The other thing to the other thing to note is that’s a blend over different [00:09:00] channels, right?
That’s right. So different channels have different quality of leads, and we know
Cameron: that to be true as well.
Conrad: Yeah, a hundred percent. So it is.
Harlan: But the fact of the fact of the matter is, Conrad is you’re spending money to get, and it costs you to generate a bad lead. If hypothetically or about $125, a call, and I wanna know every call that comes in good, bad and ugly.
Yeah. For many different reasons, which I’m sure we’ll get into, most lawyers, let me say, let rephrase that every lawyer I’ve ever met on earth walks into their office and says, how many cases did we sign? They never say, how many calls did we get today?
Conrad: And this manifests itself.
Foundationally. When you think about your intake person, right? If you’re not using an automated system like this, the intake person who takes the phone call from the pay per click salesperson, that looks like a lead in the reporting, but actually knows it isn’t is not going to waste his time, putting down the [00:10:00] data that this was a bad lead, right?
But that’s so bad because if that pitch came from a pay per click, or a local service at click, or 90% of your Google, my business phone calls are generated by people pitching you on stuff. You need to know this. And this is why these systems that are comprehensive and look at everything are so important because otherwise it’s massively misleading.
It’s massively misleading.
Cameron: Yeah. It’s fun. It’s, it’s very interesting Conrad, when I talk to these firms that. Looking to find that answer, right? What is my conversion rate? How many cases did we sign out of total leads we got, they’re tracking these leads on Excel spreadsheets and Google docs.
And someone has to physically type in this person was not a good lead because of this. When it could literally be a click of a button and then you have it right. For
Conrad: reporting. And they don’t wanna do it. And they think they’re doing you a favor. They’re like, oh, I’m running intake.
The phone’s running ring off the hook. I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna jot that down. But the bad information, it’s almost more important to know the bad information than to know the good [00:11:00] information. Because otherwise you can, blow your kids’ college fund chasing, pay per click, collect people.
So we look at this is, this is out of our reporting. This is Mockingbird reporting. But this is what this funnel looks like. So leads, consultations AQL and new clients. This is real data coming from us. And as I built this out 21 on 7 0 9 is about 15%. So sorry, 1, 1 11 on seven or nine is about 15%.
And so what you’re seeing here is if you just count leads, and again, this is real, data here. If you just count leads, you’re missing so much and you’re over counting dramatically. So
Harlan: well, you’re also not doing your agency justice because the agency can, if they know what’s coming in good, bad, and ugly, they can modify and direct your beam, your advertising efforts, and constantly in a more productive.
Conrad: A hundred percent, right? And this is why Rob spent the last two or three years of his life getting deep into systems, light lead docket file V [00:12:00] learning how they work, because it makes us better. It makes us better.
Robert: And conversely, this is also why a lot of agencies that do what we do stop at leads, right?
Because that number looks really good. That’s a lot of leads. That’s a lot of calls.
Conrad: That’s not the
Harlan: whole story. It’s like the world of impressions. I got 250,000 impressions, but I’m not interested in impressions. I’m interested in, in, something, much deeper than that.
There’s another thing that you, that you brought up, which really got to me 10, 15 years ago, and a client said, give me more leads. What’d you do with the last ones? They weren’t any good. What do you mean? They weren’t any good,
Conrad: right? Yeah. The funny thing is Harlan.
This goes back for me listening in on phone calls to our, like we would, I re I still remember this. I got reamed out in front of the whole [00:13:00] law. There’s a big law firm, top of the building and their big conference room, blah, blah, blah. The dude walks in and he says, very first thing for a four hour session was con why shouldn’t we fire you.
Everything’s garbage. And I was like, the hell everything’s garbage. We’re regenerating all these leads. And so we had this argument about the leads. We convinced him to let us record all of the calls for three months and then go back and talk about how good or bad those leads actually were.
So I hired a summer intern to do this. This was like the worst job ever. You’re gonna listen to three months of inbound law firm prospects and evaluate them. She came back to me in an hour and she’s con, you’ve gotta hear this. I was like, no, come back to me in, after month after you’ve crunched all the day and she’s no, you’ve gotta listen to this.
This was in July, this law firm’s voicemail in July still said, I’m sorry, we’re currently closed for the Christmas holiday. We’ll get back to you. And they’re like, oh, the leads are garbage. And you literally heard this lady on the phone who was trying to get. Hire the firm. She’s what the fuck?
And she hangs up. And so I [00:14:00] sent that back to,
Harlan: It’s look, it’s the biggest, it’s the biggest hole in somebody, in, in a law firm’s bucket makes sense. And in my opinion, and that’s why we went ahead and, built lead docket. But, again, I believe that whatever system you use, use it and what you don’t know, you don’t know.
I, I own the trademark on, but there’s a lot of meaning to that. What you don’t know, you can find, you gotta find out, what’s not going on in the practice is more important than, yeah. This is what’s going on. And that’s how you grow the firm. And especially in this segment of the
So one of the things that I find that people don’t know all the time, but they talk about all the time is ROI, right? And so I go to. Way too many marketing conferences. And everyone’s talking about maximizing your ROI. Most agencies and most lawyers do not know the calculation for calculating ROI, they just don’t know what, how to do it. And so why are we talking about this? But in order to get the R for ROI, you’ve gotta take this all the way to [00:15:00] revenue. And there has to be a revenue component to this. Cameron, how much are people using lead docket to tie revenue all the way back to marketing channels?
Start looking at ROI.
Cameron: Yeah. Lead docket is it’s doing the hard part of actually tracking the lead sources, right? So we’re working with, Mockingbird, for example, that integrate call tracking numbers and forms and things like that. So the source is accurate. All you gotta do is plug in your financials.
Plug in your marketing, spend on your campaigns and then also enter how much you’re making. The beauty of, lead docket and file line specifically is that it’s automated, but no matter what system you’re using, you can plug that data into lead docket directly and have this ROI calculator in front of you per source, per case type per attorney.
Cause as far as you wanted to
Harlan: I think even per client, to know exactly what your ROI was on this specific client.
Conrad: Absolutely. Yeah. And to get that you need to be able to tie the marketing channel to the revenue and frankly, there’s lots of systems with that information flows through.
But you [00:16:00] also have to have the discipline to actually do it on a regular basis and actually have that assessment.
Harlan: That falls into what we call the process. You either yeah. Buy into the process and you stick to the process or you don’t
Conrad: Yeah. A hundred percent. This is a real, this is one of my favorite graphs that we build.
This is just data out of CallRail. And this is your, this is the easiest way to fumble the ball in the one yard line is to not answer the phone when people call you, right? And most of you don’t have a feel for what you’re, I, if you ask yourself right now, as you’re watching this, do you know what our firm’s phone call answer rate was last quarter?
Most of you don’t have that at your fingertips. And I will tell you that one of the easiest things to do to make your firm better is to answer the phone. And you can do that just by knowing what that number is just by knowing what that number is. You’re go. It is going to annoy you and you’re going to improve it.
I can tell you that our phone call answer rate for our clients fluctuates between on [00:17:00] average, across a hundred plus clients fluctuates between 91 and 94.
Harlan: And you are even in more of a difficult situation because you’re dealing with a lot of digital leads and people don’t get back on digital leads or, look, the whole intake and conversion thing is just a horror show.
Yep. But what’s interesting is that I also have, you’re not gonna run into a lawyer that says, my, my intake is terrible. Of course people answer the phone. What are you kidding me? Of course they answer the phone. Unless you have these metrics in place and you brilliant, in li in answering phone calls, because that’ll tell you exactly what’s going on
Conrad: in your firm.
And you’re har, and I, I. I very much agree with this. I’ve never, actually, this is not true. I rarely talk to someone who thinks that they are doing worse than they actually are. Everyone thinks they are like Wobegon and above average. It’s very rare that we talk to someone who thinks they’re worse.
It’s usually the people who have a finger on the actual numbers who are worried about it. The people who don’t know what the numbers aren’t [00:18:00] worried about it. And so you have this flip where if you don’t know what the number is, you’re worse than you think you are. If you know what the number is, you’re probably doing outperforming what everyone else is doing because you care about it and know what it is.
Absolutely. Get this outta call go, Rob. Yeah.
Robert: About the funnel data you showed the actual data, right? That the conversion between AQL and clients was a hundred percent. And that client, when we talked to them before implementing a system, they said, oh, we get every client that we want. We sign every client that we.
And they weren’t there when we set up the system, they are now, and we know that to be true, so same idea.
Harlan: That’s interesting, that’s an interesting comment, because I’ve heard that, all my life, we get 94% of everybody that we want now, how, come on you serious.
I, I had a client, really did dear, a friend of mine and this guy’s pretty buttoned up. But number of years ago, he wasn’t as buttoned up. We’re looking for 20 cases and we’re standing outside a conference in Jackson hall. And, we were looking at a graph in his [00:19:00] marketing director is throwing us all this.
And we said, we are looking for 20 cases. We’re looking to convert 2020 cases on the pool of calls that we got for the month. And Michael said, I didn’t want that case. And we said, what about this one right here? This nohow, right? Oh, I didn’t want that. What about this nohow?
I didn’t want that. And I finally, after 3, 4, 5, 6 of ’em, I said, why the hell did you make the appointment? I guess we wanted it, but I guess we didn’t want it now. Do you want it? Or you don’t want it? And the most important word I think that we can talk about is conversion, converting that wanted case to a, wanted prospect to a client, but it’s amazing the arrogance that exists because lawyers, in my opinion count what they have.
They don’t look at what they’re missing. And that’s the crux of it.
Conrad: Yeah. Yeah. And [00:20:00] you’re probably overestimating how good you are. Like, it just happens over and over again. And seeing what you’re missing is super, super important. I’m gonna show you just while we’re talking really quickly about phone call answering the phone, one of the ways that leads gets inflated, and this is not a lead docket file vine thing, but this is a call rail thing.
This is directly out of CallRail. One of the ways that agencies lie about leads, phone call leads specifically is by not changing this setting in CallRail. And this is a setting that changes, and it only reports on first time callers. So when your spouse calls you seven times, it, a lot of agencies will count that as seven leads.
So you should have access to your call rail and you should make sure that this is just checked off. So you’re only looking at those first time
Harlan: coming. Could you touch for a half a minute or so on what call rail is? If anybody doesn’t know what
Conrad: Rob, you wanna talk, call or Cameron.
Cameron: Yeah, I’m happy to talk about CallRail.
I, I get it. I love when I ask firms, what [00:21:00] they’re using to track marketing and CallRail is one of them. And I know they, firms, I work with Mockingbird definitely use CallRail. When it comes down to it, it’s just simply allocating different phone numbers to different sources.
So this unique number lives on your paper, click campaign, this unique number lives on your Facebook ads, right? So when someone calls that specific number, where they came from, cuz that number only exists on that campaign. So right. For example, lead doc would integrate with CallRail. So when someone’s calling and your intake staff is entering in the information about that, this new lead, we’re gonna know that lead source automatically based on that phone call, using CallRail, which is the beauty
Conrad: of it.
It’s awesome. It’s a great system. Go ahead,
Robert: Rob. A little unknown fact about CallRail is they actually track. If you sign up for it, they will track the source attribution. Meaning where did this come from? For your forms as well. And so that’s also, that’s usually a whole in a law firm’s reporting call, call tracking’s been around.
I think a lot of law firms can wrap their head around that, but attributing your [00:22:00] form fill right to the actual person. I’m not talking about Google analytics. I’m talking about that, that actual person. How did they find you? And that too can flow through automatically to lead docket. So you don’t have to ask that person to tell you if they came from Google or paid, or local
And not only do they not have to ask that person, but you don’t actually have, so that’s the worst way to do it. Or the worst way is not to ask. The second worst way is to ask the third worst way to have bill who mans the front desk and is manually entering data into lead docket, manually decide whether or not he’s going to take the time to go into Colorado to then add it in automate this process.
And now you’re capturing everything and that’s super key. We have a question. From anonymous attendee. How do you prevent lawyers from looking at lead docket ROI and deciding that it proves there’s no need for doing any other kind of advertising besides digital, no need for branding or TV or billboards because they don’t show up in lead dockets.
Cameron: Yeah. That’s I love that [00:23:00] question. Yeah. And it’s really, it’s tricky because then I’d love to hear your context and what your thoughts are, Conrad as well, but things like TV and billboards, they’re about brand awareness. If I am watching TV here locally, I’m gonna know exactly which lawyer I’m gonna call if I ever get into an accident.
Cuz it’s they’re just so they’re everywhere. Is it hard to track that? Of course. Because they’re probably not gonna call a number on a billboard and they’re probably not going to call a call around number on a TV commercial. They’re gonna Google your firm name and find your number there.
You’re gonna be ultimately a web source. But there’s of course always ways to gather the data. So for example, there’s a pretty cool, address field on lead docket that is attached to Google. And guess what? We have a report that shows you a map of where those leads live on Google maps, right?
So that’s a really nice way to see, okay. Not only where you could place billboards for future advertising, but you can also make assumptions about, billboards, you, you have placed in certain areas that there’s a lot of leads in that general vicinity. Also you can simply ask, Hey, do you see our TV commercials?
Do you see our billboards? And there’s marketing source details fields where you can gather information and then [00:24:00] run reports along signups and, even directly with fees and settlements as well.
Harlan: I think the worst question you could ask. In my opinion is how did you hear of us? I saw you on a flag pole or, I, I saw you here.
I saw you there and it may be multiple places they saw you. My favorite question to ask on the heels of this is have you had an opportunity to see our website? Oh yeah, I’m on it now. And then at some point in the conversation with some point in the relationship, I think you can track down a better answer.
But initially was so anxious to know what’s working, that we get garbage information and we put it in and we go with it.
Conrad: Yeah. Yeah. And garbage information is so much worse than no information, right? Because it does become very misleading. Another question I like this, with regards to call rail, our firm has a custom 800 number that is universal.
Can we still use call. [00:25:00] Rob, how would you handle this?
Robert: Yeah, so that’s a little tricky, but we’ve done it in the past. You can actually, port that number into CallRail and use it as a, source number. So if you’re using that on billboards, things like that, you can actually port that number into CallRail and then attribute that campaign to that number.
But it depends on the circumstance and what we’re using it for. But, that’s generally what we end up doing for folks that are, have vanity number as we call it. But there is a bit of give and take, right? If you’re using that vanity number as your primary firm number, you’re gonna want to mask that, to track, to understand your marketing sources.
Cause obviously you can’t use that number everywhere. And right for specific campaigns, what we recommend is Hey, on billboards on TV, let’s use that number for brand awareness. Support that in as a source in a CallRail, everything else we’re gonna need to mask. So they’re not gonna actually see that vanity, number, they’ll see a tracking number that forwards to that,
Unknoown: primary firm’s,
Robert: They call it the forwarding forward two number, but that’s [00:26:00] generally what we end up doing for
Conrad: firms that have those.
And this is a follow up question to this. Couldn’t you also create a billboard or TV number through CallRail and track that through lead docket. I think . This is important to, to make sure that I am a marketing dude. I’m a data dude, but you need to make sure that you’re not letting the marketing tail wag your law firm dog.
If you have a branded number 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, or what, or one 800 I’m amazing or whatever it might be, get Matt, or, you know what, whatever it may be. I would much rather that brand to work really well for you than for us to have really solid data that, that your branding doesn’t work very well.
Because the more you try and track things, the less you can turn that number into a brand. A lot of you, you are using that number as a brand. The flip side is if you are doing, Some of these mass toward cases that are heavily, TV driven that are, direct response, right? So like you’re gonna put out the TV ad and it’s not a branding campaign.
You expect people one in a million people to see that and call you as a direct [00:27:00] response immediately that I would want a hundred percent absolutely run, tracking numbers on because it’s a direct response. It’s not a brand campaign and you’re gonna spend so much money looking for that one in a million that you better be tracking that stuff because otherwise it’s, otherwise you’re just burning your not, it’s not your kids’ college fund.
It’s it’s a lot more than it’s it’s the future. So you need a better analogy there. But, tho those are my takes on the tracking numbers.
Harlan: I don’t know. It’s a pretty good analogy. You get what you ask for in advertising and, people are under the impression I really should.
Again, this is another opinion of mine. I’ve only been doing this for, I don’t know, 46, 48 years. And, I’m not always right. But I’m not into branding a number I’m into branding, the law firm. I want an easily dialed number. You wanna make it as easy for people to do business with you as possible, but you’re absolutely right on the tracking.
You wanna get as definitive as possible. People come to me and they say, what about putting a brand? Excuse me, a tracking number on all my different television [00:28:00] commercials. Good luck on that because people aren’t gonna write it down and this it’s just not gonna work. It’s garbage in garbage out, like you said, you gotta be, there’s a time and a place for using tracking numbers.
You just gotta be really smart about
Conrad: it. Yeah. And my of thinking’s really evolved on this. I used to be very linear, everything needs a tracking number. Otherwise, why are you bothering? But it’s evolved. All right. Speaking of making things easy, those of you using a overflow call center, like a Smith or ception.
One of the things that I really like doing. And Cameron and I talked about this as we were prepping for this call, this is something I would strongly recommend if you’re using that third party overflow service. If they’re just taking a, what’s essentially a voicemail and we’ll get back to you tomorrow kind of thing, you may as well just have that old, tape recorder on your desk, picking up and taking that message.
That person is probably still going back to Google to find someone who will talk to them. You [00:29:00] can bring that person, that prospect, that lead and turn them into a consultation by actually having that overflow call center book, your consultation. We push our clients to do this camera that’s doable through lead docket, correct?
Cameron: Absolutely. Yeah. Employment reminders, things like that would be essential for that client experience could all happen through there and they could easily push that data directly to
Conrad: lead docket. So I would really stop thinking about these as answering services. They are appointment setting service.
That sounds really cutey. It’s like I should work for Smith or something, but, it’s an appointment setting service. It’s a stop. The shop service, right? It is getting someone deeper down your funnel.
Robert: Stop the hashtag leaky funnel, hashtag stop the shop.
Harlan: I fall back. I fall back on the, the opportunity to make it as easy for people to do business and accommodating as possible.
That’s who’s gonna to get the business. You start, most law firms are very law firm centric. [00:30:00] This is our, the way we do it. Then why are you begging people to call you? Yeah, you’ve gotta be flexible, but you put yourself in the client’s shoes always, and that’ll solve half of your problems.
Conrad: All right. That’s quickie, but like really important. And I think this is one of the things that we see done poorly, regularly, right? They’re just, it’s voicemail service. It’s not, and you have to work with these third parties to make this work. It’s not like they will, they’ll set up like this, but we throw our weight around, just try and make this happen, cuz it’s so valuable.
All right. Okay. We were talking about this earlier. This is automatically taking Carl. Rob, can you walk through how this works technically, but this is taking call rail data and putting it into lead docket.
Robert: Yeah. So these are actually screenshots from lead docket, an opportunity and intake information from lead docket directly.
And this is powered by CallRail. If you want to think of it that way. And what we do is we essentially hook into call rail and push that information directly [00:31:00] into lead docket. We use, Zapier, a third party and a middleware service to make that magic happen. But. The important thing is to know where to tell the system to put that information so that you can leverage the bluntly fantastic reporting that the docket has within it to start understanding these metrics.
And you get a lot of really interesting information, even beyond the source attribution of how did that person, how did that person find you? What was their last interaction to actually fill out the form or pick up the phone? You can start understanding how do our phones convert? What about chat?
What about form fills? Things like that. That’s how this all
Unknoown: kind of works together.
Conrad: Cameron, anything on that you wanna add?
Cameron: Yeah. Lead doc directly connects into call and the data that Callero is sending, we accept it. When it comes to the backend fields that shows you keyword search and click IDs and all that, fun stuff to get really granular.
But we can also take it a step further and pull in like call recordings. So if [00:32:00] you’re, if you have call recording enabled in Colorado, you can actually go back and listen to the quality of the phone call, to make sure that your voicemail isn’t playing that says you’re on close for Christmas.
And right. Like Conrad mentioned earlier, so right. Have that quality assurance going there
Conrad: as well. The call recordings automatically thumped dinner. Awesome. Because it gives so to think through a normal workflow, you have a front desk or a third party who sets you up with a consultation. Mary’s gonna meet with you tomorrow morning, but 10 minutes before your call with Mary tomorrow morning, who, you know nothing about Mary, you can listen to the call that she had with your intake people and get a really solid feel for how you can help her, super, super valuable, right?
There are these things that you, yeah, go ahead.
Harlan: I. Recording your telephone calls, demonstrative evidence. You’re dealing with a, an extremely arrogant group of people, whether it’s doctors or lawyers, professionals are stubborn, I get to 94% of everybody. I want, when you start recording telephone calls and you wanna get somebody’s attention, send ’em what you hear, because I guarantee [00:33:00] you that in advertising, we guarantee very little, but I guarantee this, they will be shocked.
You will be shocked. And when back to this doing business and making it easy for people to do business, you can train your staff. You understand exactly what’s going on. There’s no bullshit involved, right?
Conrad: The management it’s so hard. I think a lot of law firms look at intake as being easy,
Harlan: which, you know what the biggest pushback on recording your calls is I don’t have the time.
How can I listen to these calls?
Conrad: It’s which again, you’re fumbling on the one yard line, right? You’re not listening at like the, how many platitudes do we need to talk about first impressions or stuff like this is your first impression of the firm. If you’re running a third party answering service, are they doing a good job or do they sound like they don’t give a damn right?
You need to, man, this is part of running a firm you need to proactively manage and listen on these calls. I thought what you were gonna say, Harlan. And I think this is a legit argument against call [00:34:00] recording criminal defense firms, hate call recording. And I think there is something to that. I think you need to think about your audience.
Are you going to lose that prospect because you have that thing that says calls being recorded. Maybe,
Harlan: It’s, again, there’s a time and a place for everything. I am not in favor. It’s well, first of all, you got bar rules. You have to deal with, taking a PI call is one thing, taking a criminal call, could be somebody from jail or somebody in a bad situation.
Family, family law is very difficult to also, people don’t wanna re record what you’re saying. They, maybe somebody is listening. There’s all kinds of factors. My world’s primarily is in, is in the, PI arena with the exception of two clients that I have mark Amara, mark Geragos, who are in the criminal arena and they don’t record calls.
It’s too sensitive. So you just gotta cut the line on what is sensible. This, the mind, most mind blowing thing so far that you’ve said, is it, let me put it in [00:35:00] perspective and Cameron, you can back me up and Conrad. Positive. This has happened to you. If you start doing just what you’ve said right now to the
Harlan: you will, the audience will see they’ll put between 20 and 35% more money neck in their pocket.
Yeah. From just doing this now, how can a man say that, I’m already making this, or how does he know that I know it because we’ve got seven and hundred and some odd people using, lead docket. When we, when I sold it to, file V we had about 180 law firms and not one client that’s using it, whether it, and again, whether it’s lead docket or this, whatever it is, Salesforce, whatever it is, this that’s what the results, fall into.
It’s just, this is that’s how mind blowing this conversation is.
Unknoown: Yeah. It’s
Conrad: I, we always, this is not self-serving. [00:36:00] We tell people to stop spending money with us and just get your, just answer the phone, think about this. If you answer the phone, 85% of the time, and you just get to average for us, that has the equivalent impact of improving your marketing by 5%, increasing your marketing budget by 5%, just by answering the damn phone, just getting to average. So do these things, right? Because you don’t have to spend so much money with me and Rob,
Cameron: that’s funny, Conrad, I’m just, you and I, we work with law firms all day, every day. And sometimes you literally call into a law firm’s office to get ahold of someone you’re working with
Do you know how many times I’ve called a law firm office and it rings for two minutes and then literally no one answered the phone. I’m like, what if I was a million dollar case? the next law firm is getting that case. I
Conrad: just it’s confusing. So we record those and then send them right off to the law firm.
Love that. It. It doesn’t make me friends all the time, but for the right. It’s good. Question that just came in from Kevin really quickly. Rob, you can answer this. I arrived a little late, so forgive me, the already mentioned or asked is Carrell carrier [00:37:00] dependent or will it work with your, any carrier
Robert: that sits in front of, so it’s it. So know this though. CallRail is a VO service as well, but we leverage it for the call attribution side of things. It actually sits in front of whatever you are using, as your phone system or whoever that carriers through, which I also very much encourage you to think about, right?
Because the more you can integrate these tools, your tech stack, the better off you’re gonna be at scaling that firm in your business. Yeah, that, that answers your question. It sits in front of the tracking, happens at forwards to,
Harlan: your phone system. CHRA was an agency tool when it first came out.
It still primarily is, but they’ve made it so easy to use that any law firm can use it.
Conrad: We should get a CallRail sponsoring this webinar. I dunno. Yeah.
Harlan: All right. Its not gonna take the place of a lead docket though. It’s a tool and it only is a small, [00:38:00] it’s only a small part of the, the process, it’s kinda like the carburetor, in a, they don’t even have carburetors anymore, thinking of motorcycles, but you understand what I’m saying?
It’s only a portion of the whole
Conrad: process, but of vital portion. This is examples of automated capture out of lead docket. And so what you’re seeing here is, you know exactly where this stuff is coming from. So Cameron, you wanna talk about how this actually happens? How to make this work?
Cameron: Yeah, it’s pretty straightforward. What you’re already using has tools on the back end to integrate with other systems, as we just mention. Having this nice ecosystem of tech stack that plays nicely with each other, like CallRail that can work with any phone system, right? The doc works with any website, any web chat, any answering service.
So we simply just connect via an API web hook, which by the way, we do this for you, connect to your website form and work with Mockingbird, for example, to make sure that all the data from your website forms submiss mission is populating directly into lead docket. Not only the actual information like the intake questionnaire, if you will, and contact [00:39:00] fields, but also the form source.
So what type of form was it? Was it like your footer form? Was it your contact us form? And then beyond that, what is the actual campaign? What is, we can track UTM codes and all these, fun, backend tracking tools, to figure out exactly how someone got your website. So just flows right into lead docket, and then you already have it tracked.
You can hit the ground running with intake. You’re not waiting, you’re not letting the lead contact the next law firm on Google. You’re responding immediately. Cuz we can have automations around that.
Conrad: And extra bonus points for anyone who can properly identify the Phoenix foundation. In our example, here, just to prove that Robert Williams is as middle aged man, as you can possibly get.
One of the things that Cameron mentioned earlier, and we’ve got a screenshot of this is a great piece of data, great data visualization is something I really enjoy, but this is amazing. We were talking about location of those prospects, location of consults, and knowing where your consults are coming from, we do a lot of this, at the front side, understanding where your web reach is, what does that look like?
But [00:40:00] actually understanding where those consults come from that is just super key. Cameron, how have you seen people use this? Like I just can’t there’s so much you could
Cameron: do with this. There’s actually a lot of different options. I mentioned earlier billboards. Like you can help you place billboards and make assumptions about AR billboards you have placed, but also things like just geofencing, targeting certain areas with, web advertising and also going to events.
Just go out in public, maybe giving away t-shirt at the local fair or something. Helps you target for events as well. So there’s many different uses. I’m sure you can even think of more, beyond that, but anything that’s
Conrad: geographical. I love this is so good.
Especially I think if you’re a multi-location firm, if you’re opening a new office, we have a bunch of firms that are constantly adding new offices. If you’re running that this is just so valuable to look at over
Cameron: time. Oh yeah. We have firms that are, they have a dozen different offices, quite large across the country and you can filter this report by office so you can actually see, how many pins in this date range and, things like that.
Conrad: key. Okay. We’ve talked about [00:41:00] this philosophically, but I want to get into the details on this. This is really important. I call these contact lead types scores, contact types, phone call form, fill text are chat. They operate fundamentally differently, and you need to understand that this is data.
This is just one of our reports, and I’ve got some more data on this, but they really function differently in terms of lead to consult, and understanding where your consultations are coming from. We typically see, this is a very general statement, but we typically see about a 50% form to call. Form.
Forms are 50% worse than phone calls at turning into consultations. And chat is 50% worse than forms right now. There’s a lot that goes behind that and how people are and how firms are handling those different inbounds in different ways. Very influential on that. But don’t think that all this goes back to me talking about leads.
Why I hate talking about leads, leads. They’re not [00:42:00] all equal, right? They’re not all equal. And yet when agencies talk about leads, they’re equating chat with, call and by the way, Cameron and I talked about this chat is not a marketing channel. The chat vendors want you to think it’s a marketing channel.
They’ll have you pay, $20 per chat or some garbage like that. It’s not a marketing channel. It’s a conversion channel. Your email address is not a marketing channel. Your phone calls is not a marketing channel, your chat. Vendor’s not a marketing channel either. It’s a conversion channel. So that’s, I don’t have a slide on that, but that just pisses me off.
When I get talk about that, this. I’m going to use this really quickly. And there’s a lot of data on here, but what I want you to see here is this is a personal injury, campaign. One of the lines here. Is brand right? And that is we’re bidding on Smith law firm or whatever it might be.
The rest of them are, car accident, lawyer, whatever that might be. You have to take the brand data out of your pay per click analysis. Otherwise it will look like it’s performing much better than it actually does because [00:43:00] the conversions or leads. Unfortunately, Google analytics looks at leads as conversions in this example, more than half of the conversions are coming from their brand campaign.
And if you don’t have access to your data and your number, then you don’t segment that brand stuff out, you will get really poor data. So for example, in this case, they were, if you include that data as being a new lead, it’s $200 per lead. If you take it out, it’s $385 per lead, right? And so you need to realize that.
Especially, if you’re running, pay per click campaigns with brand, you have to take that out. Super,
Harlan: super it’s on any, anything, back to you said earlier receiving calls from, vendors and so on. You gotta filter it out. You gotta deal with true data. Yeah. Otherwise you’re making bad decisions on bad information.
Conrad: If your agency won’t let you see this stuff, one might ask
Harlan: why never deal with an agency that isn’t transparent
Conrad: ever. [00:44:00] And that so many do. Never crazy. Okay. We talked really quickly about human and bot chatting. This works. Like I don’t love it, but the chat functionality works.
I think you need to be judicious in his application. You need to have, you need to be capturing. So we showed this before you need to be capturing lead source. And understanding how chat turns into consultation. So you’re not pushing. So some of the chat vendors will actually hide your phone number on a mobile device.
So you can’t actually call, you have to chat that’s garbage. But it does work
Harlan: seriously. Oh yeah. I never heard that. That’s crazy. Oh, come up. Get somebody on the phone immediately.
Conrad: Yeah. So bad.
Harlan: So bad. I, can I can. May, can I tell you a little story,
Conrad: tell us a story go.
Harlan: I went to, work for a friend of mine and he said, don’t do anything for three months.
Just tell me what you got anyway. So I went into Chicago and realized that they were taking 180 cases in a month. [00:45:00] And, we got them to use another, S CRM and went up 300 cases. He cut the media by a hundred grand a month. True story. The way I was able to get to 500 cases a month, putting some back money back in is I separated the intake process from digital to, the tele television and just like at the car industry.
And, when you talk about getting back to people and having that conversation, that interactive, I found that people that were answering the telephone were. Chatting with people now, you can’t do two things at once to do it well, but it’s a different tempo. It’s a different conversation. It’s a different, and you gotta be immediate.
Yeah. On the chat and the, the, form fills and such, and by completely separating, have a separately trained person that handled that. That was a game changer. It
Conrad: really was interesting. Yeah. It makes sense, right? You, the multitasking is difficult and [00:46:00] the expectation of immediacy through chat, like there’s nothing worse than you’re sitting on chat and you’re waiting for someone to spool up.
And this is being answered somewhere in who’s Stan, and they’re not really following what’s going on
Harlan: now. It’s a lead and you have to be on top of it. And again, you make it easy for people to do business. Making it easy is means service means you answering them. And you’re satisfying that questions immediately.
And that’s who gets the deal.
Conrad: We spoke really quickly about CRM, replacing data entry. One of the things that you get out of that is comprehensiveness. You track everything, but you also get accuracy. You don’t get typos, you don’t get, just the mistakes that happen when you do things manually. Cameron, can you talk through, creation, like how this happens?
Yes. Within lead docket, this is because it’s not super straightforward, right? It’s not technically flip a switch. But it is so important.
Cameron: Yeah. It’s really important that you’re not redundant with data entry. If you’re gathering, [00:47:00] typing in someone’s first and last name, you should do that once or ideally zero times if it’s coming from a website form.
And then instead of time we do it five times. So like for example, best scenario, someone goes to your website, fills out a form, everything they submit their first name, last name, phone number, email address. Case summary, it’s all in the intake form and lead docket or whatever CRMM using, automatically.
And then from there we can automate different things like contract generation, so fee agreements and HIPAA us, and things like that to populate client’s names, using merge codes and stuff like that in templates. Right? Same thing with automatic texts and emails we can have. Hello, Chris, thanks for contacting Smith law firm.
We’ll give you call as soon as we can, right? Things like that. And even all the way through to case management, we’re talking about lead docket, which is just, intake with the whole purpose of getting a lead signed up, ideally, and then pushing it to case management, like for example, file mine where guess what all the data you gather and lead docket is there in file line, including documents and things like that.
It’s really important to have, this is [00:48:00] takes up so much time and a while from just entering data, into different systems. And these people are, paying them a salary. Make sure that everyone’s really efficient and helps you just overall
Conrad: be better. It’s also an awful job, right?
Yes, that know this, every time you fill out forms for your kids, like I’m always surprised or you go into a doctor and you’ve got a, I just wrote my first name down on the other form. Why am I doing it again? This it’s an awful pain in the neck. You mentioned documents, Cameron.
Can you talk really quickly about auto-populating fields within documents to make things easier?
Cameron: Yeah. A lot of firms will use vine sign, which is, our e-signature tool that we own. There’s also, things like DocuSign, where they are smart enough, where you can upload your documents as templates and vine sign, for example, add merge codes that indicate to spot for the client’s first name or the client’s address or the case type, or the incident date, things like that. Data that’s unique to the client. That’s gonna be populated onto a fee agreement or HIPAA off or something like that. Where we can just, the data’s already in lead docket it’s those fields are communicating with vine sign, for example. So you can literally [00:49:00] be on an intake call with someone.
Gather the intake qualify that lead, text them a fee agreement that’s already pre-filled because you just completed the intake form. You don’t need to type those fields again and have them fill it out while they’re on the phone with you. So don’t let that client go right. Sign it right there on the phone.
And if so many firms that use lead docket and vine sign and tools like that, to make sure that those
Conrad: leads are getting signed, we’re gonna get into velocity, but like velocity, meaning the speed through which people go through that funnel. You need automation to make this happen because what you can’t say is, hold on, Mary, let me just fill out your name and this new form that I have to create for you while I like, no, it doesn’t work.
It’s that it’s got the speed and automation are two very real things that live together. While we’re talking about signing people, We, I talked about this earlier, the rate at which people turn into this is one client for us, but the rate at which people turn into, clients changes dramatically by, it’s not just the consultations, but it’s also obviously the clients that, that, that follow from that.
And [00:50:00] then if you drive it all the way through, you can actually look at marketing revenue. There was a question earlier about, I’ve got all these different places where I’m spending money, right? And this is a lead docket, report here. How do I convince people that, we should continue spending money on the offline you’re in this example, you’re clearly tracking offline, right?
Cameron: Yeah. I would hope so, tracking, obviously there’s things you can track automatically through call, call rail and things like form, et cetera. But, have that conversation like Harla mentioned earlier about, Hey, did you go to our website? Yeah. I saw your billboards and I knew your firm and things like that.
And. Commercials, it’s all being tracked.
Conrad: Yeah. This is a really big, this has to be a really big firm with a pretty wide portfolio of marketing channels that are working.
Harlan: I do think that it’s very difficult to be precise, when you have multiple channels, yes.
This firm has, 15 different, avenues and they show that television is the third biggest, resource, it’s very hard people don’t say, I saw you on television or how did you [00:51:00] hear of this? I just saw you on TV ed, and I think you have to have some grace with that.
The, but the most important thing is that you are tracking your ROI. It’s I just don’t wanna oversell the fact that, when you’re dealing with so many tracks, it is, it gets a little mur.
Conrad: Yeah. Rob,
Robert: can you talk about you wanna mur that pool even further?
Conrad: yeah, go I different
Robert: attribution models, right?
First touch, last touch. W equally weighted, they’re interacting and some, verticals of law. It’s very binary and her, I go to Google, or I know the firm, I call the firm. But a lot of longer buying cycles, if you will. That gets even Murier. So I’m with you Harlan. And I’m a data guy and I put these systems together and I couldn’t agree more.
At the end of the day, understand your ROI, know your cost per client, let that guide you and understand it takes a mix and branding and awareness is extremely important. And so is understanding [00:52:00] how people are finding you on the web and digitally. Like it’s not one of these metrics. It’s all of these
Yeah. Correct. And you can make then intelligent. Decisions, just to go back a slide, you had mentioned, Cameron, excuse me, two slides, I look for a 92% conversion rate, unwanted leads. Yeah. That’s a pretty good conversion rate. And that’s what I really target if you’re in the eighties, you’re doing well.
But if you really, the sweet spot for me is 92% from wanted leads. And that’s why, your point is so vitally important, to separate you wanted and unwanted leads. You know exactly. Which are in which pile.
Harlan: I learned so much from you over the years. Literally. And when you, had the opportunity or I had the opportunity to interview you on stage national trial lawyers, you said some things that was so pertinent, I walked away with it and ran with it.
And again, it’s understanding the different buckets that you put your stuff. The [00:53:00] most important thing that you’ve said to me at that meeting was, make sure you are putting the right data in, in, in the, in the right silos, because, and you have said this three or four times so far in this podcast, garbage in, garbage out, you can’t judge your overall effectiveness.
If you have garbage involved in
Conrad: the good stuff. And I real, I don’t wanna sound like I’m pitching Lee docket here, but the whole. Of these CRM systems, the, you will get to a size as a law firm. Every firm gets to a size where, at which you cannot do this with spreadsheets, you just can’t, right?
Harlan: No, you can’t follow it up. I think you wanna walk into your office, the first day, the, every morning and know exactly who I’m gonna call, who I didn’t call, who I converted. And also you wanna, it’s gonna be on you, run your business from this telephone. Yep. The whole crux of making money is more money is converting.
You’ll make more money converting leads that you’ve already paid for.
Conrad: We [00:54:00] are close on time. I’m happy to continue going Harlan. Or Cameron, are you guys available to keep chatting? Yeah, I’m free. Okay. We’ll talk quicker. How. So this is just more data, more detail on the data. So you’ve got these, graphs, you can dig into these things.
Lead cost per lead, acquisition cost, right revenue that comes out of stuff. Once you have this data grabbed, you can turn ma look at matrices and get into deep things. This is something that is a little, the next slide is it starts to get a little bit personal, but some of your lawyers are bad at turning prospects into clients that, that AQL number, right?
The wanted leads turning into clients, is it below 92%? And that number is very different by attorney, right? It could also be very different by lead, by your intake person, right? You compare, for example, you, I was installing the after hour services, like a Smith, for example, you should know how they compare against your.
Are they better? If they’re better, you’ve got a really big problem internally, right? If they’re [00:55:00] worse, like how much worse? Like how do we make them better, but looking at your lawyers and knowing, all right. If we send a wanted lead to bill, he’s gonna, he’s below 80%. Why are we doing that?
Maybe bill shouldn’t ever be talking to those wanted leads.
Harlan: I hate sending leads to lawyers because they stop more. Oh, pretty bold statement.
Conrad: The reason I insulting the audience, but go ahead.
Harlan: No, I’m trying to show ’em how to make more money. Okay. That’s what this conversation’s about. Yeah. The reason it’s difficult, sending a call to a lawyer is number one, you’re interrupting their whatever’s on their desk.
They, most lawyers. Unfortunately wanna decide whether they want that case or not trying the case, looking at all the attributes and they just spent too much time. If you got the case, don’t figure out how much money it’s worth while you’re talking to somebody sign the case up.
I do believe in lawyers talking to clients, I don’t wanna [00:56:00] be misinterpreted. I’m talking about a sales process here, right? When you have a salesman, a lawyer as a salesman that very often more times than done almost every time wanting to get off the phone to get back to what they’re doing. And that’s not
Conrad: And yet some of them are amazing at this. Absolutely. And there’s no way which ones are, is the key.
Harlan: You’re not gonna know it unless you have a complete accountability. That’s the word that we haven’t used yet
Conrad: today. Yep. Bing. So knowing this data and then following up and looking at this that’s so when you talk about accountability, Rob and I had this conversation, earlier today, these tool, these are tools, right?
It’s not, this is not going to fix everything. It is the use of the tool that is gonna make the difference. It’s not just having the tool.
Cameron: So I went like this when Harlan
Robert: said and use it leaves that like you, can’t just, you can’t just have another piece of shelf where you have to use
Harlan: I, the phone call that I [00:57:00] was on just prior to this is the oldest, most seasoned advertiser in one of the worst markets in America, Las Vegas, and a friend of mine, I’m on the phone with him.
And I did a couple of consultations and did dear friend. And he asked my opinion. I flew in, I, and they have a CRM and they don’t use it because they got pushback because it was inconvenient for the paralegals to use. Yeah, and all these questions and this is a first advertiser, most established, advertised fabulous law firm, in Las Vegas, which everybody knows is a very tough market.
When I went to Chicago, they weren’t using, it happened to be captor. They weren’t using it. We
Harlan: millions of dollars in the owner’s pocket by using it. It’s amazing that people don’t use it in software. The average person, what uses camera? What 25 to 35, maybe 40% of software.[00:58:00]
That’s in front of him.
Conrad: That’s Cameron and Rob, how much time do you guys spend training people? I know the answer for Rob, but Cameron I’m curious how much of not you personally, but how much of your, the. The software’s efforts are worked on getting people using and educating.
Cameron: Yeah. So thankfully when it comes to lead docket specifically, it doesn’t require much training, especially if the firm is structured the right way. And what I mean by that is something you mentioned earlier, Harlan is that, the paralegals don’t wanna use the software. That’s inconvenient.
First of all, why are paralegals doing intake? It’s it, the sales structure in a law firm is ideally, intake staff, answering service or whatever, you’re using someone that’s dedicated to that intake process. So they know what they’re doing when it comes to their day to day gathering, lead information, setting out retainers or getting leads, qualified by attorneys or things like that.
So when they see that process in a system like lead docket, they’re like, this is literally my job, but it’s automating a lot of what I do. . So when it comes to training, it often takes a one, one hour training session. [00:59:00] That’s it, they’re off to the races. And of course there’s endless support and things like that for new hires.
And we’re always there every step of the way, but it’s. When it comes to having a process, that’s really not rocket
Harlan: science. If you remember Cameron, when we built lead docket and you are our very first, employee, such a key individual, you was such a powerhouse in this thing.
And I, I’m not patronizing. I’m just so complimenting you. You’ve gotta spend time using it. I, if I Don. I could be taught something on the computer and if I don’t continually use it, I forget about it. But it’s, the use of software, when we first made this product, if you recall, my insistence was to make it easy to use.
So people use it. Yep. That’s the biggest, that’s the biggest pushback on, on, on software. You have, not to name names, but there’s some very complex software out there that, but who the heck wants to use complex anything.
Conrad: Okay. Back. Never terrible [01:00:00] anything.
Robert: Oh, sorry. Go ahead. Make it as simple as possible and no simpler, right?
Like as easy as automated as simple I spend, it’s probably a third or third, a third setting up a third training depending on the software. I think honestly, docket there’s a lot less training. No doubt. To camera’s point, but supporting them. And this is where, I really harp on our team. We need to support you.
We’re actually very annoying when you aren’t using it because we need this data. I see. And I will say, Hey, what do you need? You need more training. Do you need, we send process docs. Like we, we come in and we help understand those ops side of things too. One of my favorite questions, I know we’re over, I’m going long here, but one of my favorite questions to ask a is ultimately who is in charge of making sure a new lead or opportunity makes its way through your funnel or your process, and often I’m with, right?[01:01:00]
And so it’s important to have someone in the firm that knows that is ultimately their backside. If things are falling through that crack. And if they don’t know that they need to. But I, it’s really hard for me as a third party provider to like. See that and cause I’m not in the, I’m not at the firm right.
Full time. So think about that. See if you can answer that question, if you can’t
Conrad: change that, I’m reminded on these to use thing of the guy and blank at his name, the guy who started Lotus, his quote was simplifying then add lightness. I love that. Anyway, moving forward, Cameron, this is a graph from you.
This is just revenue by attorney, right? And you can also cut things, when we’re looking at individual attorneys, consultations, conversion rates, all of this looking at individuals within the firm, because the bigger your firm is the more that this has an impact.
Cameron: Yeah. It’s literally as simple as just a field, a lead is signed up. It’s tied to a lawyer. That case is that now case is gonna [01:02:00] sign. Close in months or a year or however long it takes depends on your case type, obviously. And then you’re gonna and put the revenue for that and that revenue is tied to that lawyer, right? Yep. So it’s super
Conrad: easy, super, and every time you’ve got a graph, there’s, supporting data behind this, right?
So you can look at how people are performing and what’s working, and how they’re performing individually. We talked earlier a little bit about velocity. Rob, can you talk through, this is, I love this and we’ve got another version of this. This is our own reporting, but we’ll show the lead docket version of this.
Can you talk about velocity and why we care about it and how it’s really changed things?
Robert: Yeah, there’s a lot of different data you can look at, but we’re of the mindset of, if you can’t, if it’s not actionable, why do you care? What can you get out of it and the velocity through your funnel?
And again, what we mean by that is how long does it take for a lead. To become a consultation and a consultation to become an attorney qualified lead, and then current qualified lead to become a client. If you know that, that information, you can [01:03:00] start improving that process, making that easier for your prospects to move through.
One of the things that we identified with this data was a law firm was having a very difficult time, ultimately closing those leads that they wanted. And it was, I think it was a lemon law lawyer. But they were finding, it was really difficult to get some of the paperwork in order to assess whether they actually have a case.
And so we found that employing a person to actually go out and help those prospects get that documentation, whether it’s just like a police reporter or whatever it was, they improved that conversion because it was taking so long for them to close. And so many of them weren’t closing. So it’s the power of this data and to take action upon it is important.
Conrad: But yeah, if
Robert: your weeks too long days more
Cameron: like it,
Conrad: Months or immediate as we were talking about, right? This can be immediate,
Robert: the faster you can [01:04:00] get it through the more money
Conrad: you’re gonna make. And Cameron, these are individual leads here, that we’re looking, I’ve blocked out the they’re opportunities.
Cameron: Yeah. Sorry. Opportunities. So leads coming from a web chat, a website form something that may or may not be a lead. It could literally just be someone like your website that says, Hey, I wanna sell you a new website. But yeah, you can see which ones have been created into leads, which ones were spam, how long it took them to process.
So what does that mean? How long were they sitting there in your opportunities list waiting for someone to respond. Cause they’re again, calling from calling back from way earlier. They’re not yet a lead until someone’s actually working them. So when that top one was sitting there for four days, two hours.
Okay. Whys. Figure that out. Helps. Figure out what’s
Conrad: working. What’s not, and again, you gotta manage this, you gotta look at this stuff and ask why it was, did take four days to, to go anywhere. Harlan you’ll like this one, I picked this as an example just for cuz of the motorcycle side of this, but, I wanna make a use this as an example, but then camera, I’d love for you to talk about how this works with lead docket.
I want much more customization on the automation [01:05:00] when we’re doing follow up. So for example, this is an example where if you contact the law firm on a page, that’s about motorcycle accidents. When you come back to the firm, you’re gonna get imagery around motorcycle accidents. Your follow up is going to get, instead of generic personal injury, garbage, you’re going to get stuff specifically about motorcycle relative content, right?
Relevant content, sorry. Display advertising should all be focused on motorcycle. How does this work? Because this is so amazingly powerful. How does this work with Lee docket?
Cameron: Yeah, so we can automate different workflows and really what a workflow is in lead docket is really tasks telling someone in the firm to do something and then also automatic texts and automatic emails.
So one of the variables on a workflow is like a case type. So if someone fills out a form that’s on your motorcycle accident page, we can have the case type, beat motorcycle accident. So guess what? We can automatically text them automatically email them saying, specifically about their motorcycle inquiry or something like that, to make it tailored to them down to the actual, what are they looking at on your website and things like that.
So we can target them even more [01:06:00] and it’s gonna make it look way more personable, even though it’s coming from a robot, which they don’t even know by the way, cuz or pulling the client’s name and stuff, to help them, with that client experience, get that case.
Conrad: So good. And at scale, these small customizations are the difference between a negative and a positive ROI.
Harlan: selling. It’s selling, as sales to some people are a dirty word, we’re all sales people. Whether it’s your minister or your, my wife trying to get me to take the garbage out. She’s selling me on the garbage, gotta go out. We’re all selling something and the more relevant.
And, but it’s the client experience, that we have to really understand accountability client experience.
Conrad: So this next one is I love on the client experience side of things. This next one is awesome. One on one video emails, right? So I talk regularly about the importance of building an individual relationship with people.
And it’s very easy to take that consultation and do a [01:07:00] quick review via email, record yourself, using your laptop that you’ve already got all the hardware to do this, and then sending that out via video, right? No, one’s doing you guys. Aren’t doing this. You’re not doing this. Most of you aren’t doing this.
And yet it’s so much so powerful to, sit down and say, oh, okay, this is what we talked about. I’m sorry to hear about your dad. The next steps that you should take are X, Y, and Z. You’ll hear from us by Tuesday. Really hope things are going okay for you. And you do that immediately. It takes, three minutes you send it out.
Harlan: is, it depends on how much you want the relationship. You gotta work at the relationship. That’s the third, most important word that we’re bringing up to today, relationships, sales or relationships. Yep. He has the best relationship gets the
Conrad: sale. There’s a great quote by guy named Chris Walker, who says how you sell is why you win.
And it comes down to these relationships. So this is just, one small thing that you can do. All right. We started with, The funnel, right? MQL [01:08:00] SQL journey to clients. This is your kind of high level, the lead docket high level dashboard that looks at all of these pieces. I don’t know.
Do you guys have data Cameron or Harlan on how frequently people are logging into this? This kind of, yeah,
Cameron: we log piece. Yeah, we log all user activity and, it can drill down pretty far, to see who’s looking at reports and stuff like that. Now mind you, only certain people in the firm should have access to these reports outta sure.
Entirety. Yeah, you can easily say
Harlan: Super. I remember early on, Cameron, we had a client that said, you know what, we don’t, lead docket just doesn’t meet my needs. It’s not robust enough. And you went back and you said, you only dialed in five, six times.
Conrad: So how the heck does he know?
Cameron: Yeah. And kinda mirroring that Harley, I’m not gonna mention names or anything, but there was a client of ours. Who’s a pretty large advertising client. They are pretty dominant in their market and they were like, lead reports are not good. [01:09:00] I’m like, what do you mean? So I went into the lead docket system and they weren’t entering any data financially or really doing a really good job of tracking these.
Again, you have to use this right lead docket. Kinda fold your laundry, right? you have to some input that goes into this. And they were like, okay, I’m gonna talk to my marketing team and get this figured out because there, there was all zeros there. I’m like, oh, we’ll get the data has to be there, for this to actually show
Conrad: yourself the reports are terrible. They don’t show me anything because there’s nothing in them.
Robert: One lead dockets reports are fantastic. This dashboard alone, but you guys have so many out of the box reports that I actually end up building in a lot of other CRMs cuz they don’t exist.
So that was shocking to hear. And two, we haven’t figured out a way to take the humans out of this completely. And I don’t think we ever
Harlan: I don’t think that you want to I, we’re still a relationship oriented, soci this, sales are relationships.
I, I don’t think you wanna take it out. Take the human out of it.
Conrad: You’ll be more effective, with the humans in it. It [01:10:00] just will, but please use it. Yeah. But use it. All right. I apologize for going long as I’m off, as I often do. There’s so bunch of people on the call, if anyone has any questions, we will hang for an awkward 60 seconds.
Otherwise feel free to drop, but you’ve got a chance to ask Rob anything about serum and integrations. You’ve got lead docket file by awesomeness here. If you wanna dig any specific questions, it’s super, super happy to answer that. And
Cameron: Conrad, can you reconfirm it that everyone will receive a recording of
Conrad: this as well?
Yeah. So my apologies up front for the scheduling headaches I will make. So I’m gonna take this recording. I’ll do post production on it. I’m going to, I started using amazing technology that will remove all the filler words like ums and OS, which wow. Didn’t do a lot. That’s awesome. I’ve really started enjoying doing post-production on video, so we will try and have this launched if not tonight, but, but certainly by tomorrow.
And I’ll follow up with everyone to make sure that you have an access to the recording. I know we went long, we covered a lot of different things. You may wanna fast forward or move in and around. So we’ll make [01:11:00] that very easy for people.
Harlan: so in our parting words. Yeah. But what’s the Cameron. What do you think is the most important thing you want your viewer to, to know other than to call you with a, to find out, how you can help them, but very seriously, let’s get some takeaways,
Cameron: all that stuff on the spot.
There’s a lot of takeaways from this conversation, but I think number one is just sticking to the, a process. If there’s not a nice flow of process in your firm from lead first, reaching out, even before that, even setting up the campaigns, right? The whole thing should be tracked should be a very organized process.
There should not be, Google documents, spreadsheets, papers on desks, things like that. It needs to be very organized and structured using software, a text stack that all communicates with each other. That’s ideal.
Unknoown: The process.
Robert: I would echo that. And I would say, please use what you have a lot of you have start using it [01:12:00] and you’ll see an improvement and automate what makes sense. And I will say this, I don’t think this came up word of caution with automation, right? It is a relationship business. What makes sense?
Automating everything does not make sense. It’s actually very difficult and you’ll spend too much time doing that and it won’t be affected. So there’s a lot of things that make sense to automate that. I think lead docket, makes very apparent by what you can do and what you can’t. But those are
Conrad: leave you with awesome Harlan, parting words.
Harlan: You know what? You don’t know, you don’t know. And what that means, and many, thousands of people who use it. I, trademarked years ago, what it means is you’ve gotta figure out what you don’t know, what you don’t see, that’s where the details are.
That’s where you improve your business. If we keep walking into our offices and say, how many cases did we sign? That’s great. I wanna know how [01:13:00] many we didn’t sign so I can sign more. And that’s really important. And no matter what piece of software you use, have somebody in your office be appointed as that expert so that they can not only make sure that everybody’s using it right, but you can train people to command and so on.
It’s, software is a, is a great thing only if you use it. And my last thing on advertising is, remember you get what you ask.
Conrad: All right. Get what you asked for. Thank you everyone. I know we went long. I know a lot of you hung on, which means we were doing a good job of being engaging and awesome and delivering gems.
So thank the three of you. Really appreciate you guys joining me and, we’ll see you around the internet. Thank everyone.
Harlan: Thank you very much. Peace out.
Rukayatu Tijani and I sit down and discuss her experience as a black female Trademark Attorney. In a very open, personal interview she kicks me in the racial and gender stereotypes, talks about her own insecurities of feeling like she didn’t belong and discusses how and why she chose to lean into her identity for the positioning of the firm. We talk about how doing so, enabled her to create a truly exceptional firm with amazing clients – even some Tech Bros. This is one of the most personable, honest, candid interviews I’ve ever done. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed recording it.
Based on numbers put out by Internet Brands press releases, my back of the napkin calculations suggest Avvo has lost approximately 60% of their website traffic over the past 4 years.
I’ve long been (incorrectly) prognosticating that Google will start to remove Directories from the SERPS, as directories are rarely more than a conduit to the end businesses anyway and deliver very little (if any) actual value to consumers. While it doesn’t seem the organic listings have fundamentally changed to remove or reduce directory presence; their overall impact has been massive reduced by the reworking of the SERPs – put simply, SEO has been depreciated – now hiding below LSAs, Google Ads, and Google Local.
Looking through Internet Brand’s press releases from when Avvo was acquired 2018, there are two different releases the point to roughly 8 million monthly sessions to Avvo. The first, from January ’18, quotes Avvo as having “more than 100 million annual visits” – which translates to roughly 8 million monthly. The second from October of that year, quotes the combined entities of IB (including Nolo, Lawyers.com, Attorneys.com, TotalAttorneys, AllLaw and a smattering of other publishers) as having 25 million monthly sessions – assuming Avvo has roughly 1/3 of that traffic (I’m pulling that % out of the air, based on my recollection of relative marketshare while I was there) you end up with again, roughly 8 million sessions.
Now fast forward to today… and the LinkedIn profile of the Chief Executive for Martindale-Avvo:
Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo – the largest online legal marketplace in the country… serving 10+ million consumers visiting avvo.com, lawyers.com, and martindale.com every month and tens of thousands of attorneys ready to serve them.
Assuming the makeup of the IB directory mix hasn’t changed – apply 1/3 to that 10 million and you’re talking just over 3M monthly sessions – a 60% decline and traffic back to roughly where it was when I was there over a decade ago. Now it’s very possible we are comparing apples and oranges here or that the expected PR puffery during the acquisition was grossly overstating actual numbers. I simply don’t know. But, this all comes back to my theory that Google will disinter-mediate the directories, which they have done by changing the SERPs towards more of an ad driven model and possibly reducing directory presence within organic itself.
For more on how and why I pieced these numbers together:
In my ongoing campaign to try to get lawyers to abandon the content content content mantra spewed by inexperienced SEOs… this showcases how publishing for too much content has an overall negative impact on SEO rankings. Ben Sessions, is one of the more active SEO driven lawyers, but fell into the trap of just publishing as much as possible, in an attempt to “break into the Top 10.” What he really was doing was creating multiple pages that were all competing with each other – once we handled this content analytically and strategically, in Ben’s own words, “we broke into the top 10 for keywords I’ve been trying on for year, by making one simple change.”
Mark your calendars: on July 1st, 2023 Google will stop registering data with Google Analytics version: Universal Analytics. (Note if you are using Google 360 – you have till October 1, 2023 to make the switch.) While it’s not time to panic (yet), there are very very significant changes coming – primarily around an increasingly lack of specificity with regards to both traffic sources and (more importantly) conversion metrics. Google is making this change ostensibly due to increased privacy concerns by the general public. You may have even heard those radio ads from long-shot Google competitor and vocal privacy advocate Duck Duck Go – whose market share has grown to 2.5% of the US market. The new version of Google Analytics (unimaginatively titled GA4) is heavily focused on privacy and instead of enabling individual linear tracking, it uses machine learning to model consumer behavior across multiple platforms, devices, and platforms for attribution. Put differently, Google is going to provide GA4 users with their best guesses of how consumers behave instead of actually tracking (and exposing) that individual behavior. This isn’t the first time Google has reduced visibility into consumer behavior under the veil of increased privacy concerns… if memory serves correctly in 2013, Google replaced most of the very granular keyword data in Analytics with “not provided” – driving internet marketers who had been obsessing over individual keyword performance crazy.
The obvious elephant in the room concern here is that the vast majority of marketers are now going to be fed a steady stream of what Google believes (or would like you to believe, depending on your level of cynicism) is generating consumer interest and behavior across multiple platforms. For example, you may now learn that Google tells you that watching YouTube videos is responsible for driving a portion of your website traffic that formerly was entirely attributed to SEO. This can be viewed as a genuine attempt to inform marketers about the effectiveness of cross-channel promotion and/or a craven flagrant bid to drive more YouTube advertising revenue. This becomes increasingly complicated when you consider the platforms for which Google does not ostensibly gather data. How does the password-protected community on Facebook play into website traffic for example? (See my post on Dark Social for more on attribution issues that already exist and are only going to get more complicated). The less cynical reader may also accept the marketing positioning coming from Google – that seamless cross channel reporting integration will provide greater insights and therefore better ROI. Which, of course, assumes that your advertising uniquely has access to this tool, but frankly, that same tide will be rising for everyone so…
How Does This Affect Marketing Efforts for Law Firms?
In legal, some marketing channels are extremely linear, direct, and trackable – think PPC for traffic tickets as an example, in which users typically search, click, call, and hire in a single session. Other hiring decisions are much more indirect and take place over time – think divorce where many users research options over time through a variety of offline and online channels and referral sources before connecting with (typically multiple) law firms. Obviously, this linearity (or lack thereof) differs dramatically by practice area as well as marketing channel. The less linear the consumer’s behavior, the more real, actionable data is removed from a law firm’s analytical review.
Additionally, the modeling is limited to Google’s visibility into the world, which is (almost) entirely online. How is Google going to model consumer behavior for law firms that rely heavily on offline promotion – TV, Radio, Billboards, etc.? What of those firms who have a significant portion of their business driven by industry referrals? While the volume of brand searches may provide some layer of online insight into the offline experience, I suspect the accuracy of machine learning in modeling non-machine behavior is limited at best. Finally, I also suspect there will be even further restrictions on retargeting advertisements – making the importance of gaining permission to continue to connect with a prospect during their first trip to your site a huge priority.
What this Means for Mockingbird Clients
To be frank, this switch is going to more dramatically impact Mockingbird clients than most other legal market agencies, simply because we’ve gone further at reporting into the sales funnel, instead of just stopping at leads (i.e. how many consultations and clients are attributed to which marketing channels generating instead of just leads.) My blunt take is that this increases the value of our Full Funnel Reporting because leads-only reporting is going to get murkier and less directionally accurate. Yeah, that’s a back-handed self-promotional statement, but it’s also true. Since Google’s announcement, we’ve added GA4 tracking code to all clients on Standard (formerly Starter) and Full Funnel (formerly Aggressive Growth) reporting infrastructure. We’re currently rolling this out to all clients on the legacy reporting infrastructure and those on our simple hosting/maintenance. This means our clients will have at least a years worth of legacy data populating the new system and we’ll have a solid period of time to explore limitations and find workarounds for the new platform.
Our next step is to see what gaps we have in our reporting that cannot be filled with Google’s machine learning as well as integration problems. The most concerning (for us and many firms) is how this will impact the very personal, private data collected by dynamic phone tracking services such as CallRail, as well as automated source attribution for many of the more sophisticated Intake Management CRMs (HubSpot, Lawmatics, Litify, Clio Grow, LeadDocket, etc.). A known issue is that conversion data (like that from very useful CallRail does not Pass through to GA4. We are actively working with CallRail on how to handle this. We are exploring alternative analytical packages that may either replace or supplement GA4 – Adobe Analytics, Fathom, and Adverity. Finally, some of the CRM systems have analytics built directly into them – including two of our go-to favorites, Hubspot and Lawmatics. Stay tuned, I suspect over the next 10 months dramatic changes from other analytics providers as they seek to swoop in to fill this data vacuum.
UPDATE: Register for the Webinar – WTF is Dark Social – May 11 at 11:00 PST.
Dark Social isn’t a sinister form of social media; put very simply, Dark Social is everything that happens both online and offline that is unattributable through traditional online reporting infrastructure but still drives Leads, Consultations and ultimately Clients. It is widely championed by Chris Walker of Refine Labs in the SAAS world, where teams of social media marketers, advertisers, and thought leaders combine multiple marketing channels to drive inbound interest among prospects. Those prospects (Marketing Qualified Leads in the SAAS vernacular) are vetted, qualified and shepherded through the early prospecting process by hoards of Sales Development Representatives with highly qualified, informed and prepped leads eventually landing as Sales Qualified Leads on the desks of eager Account Executives salespeople. In this world, there are a huge number of potential customers and the lifetime value of each of them is high. Prospects conduct a ton of research, sales cycles are long and touchpoints are numerous. Consider Dark Social for legal SAAS player Clio, whose lifetime value of a client ranges from 4 figures to well into the healthy (for Clio) 6 figure range. Replacing Matter Management Software is a complex, difficult proposition, impacting the very way the law firm conducts business so law firms switch slowly and carefully. Deliberate (and trackable) Clio direct touchpoints to prospective purchasers at law firms are numerous. As are those indirect touchpoints of Dark Social – the YouTube video shared on a firm’s Slack Channel of the enigmatic Jack Newton talking about customer centric law firms, the podcast covering data points from the annual Clio Legal Trends Report (sidenote: read it, every single year), the law school friend’s email vendor who touts their Clio integration on LinkedIn which then shows up in your feed because the LI algo gave it wider distribution because she and two other people you are secondarily connected to commented on it. Last step, an interested lawyer fires up Google, searches for “Clio Matters”, clicks an Google Ad and then calls Clio.
In the (overly) simplistic attribution world of internet marketing, that last step would be carefully tracked, automagically added to “Source” field in a sophisticated CRM or IMS system and the sale would be attributed to Google Ads. For more complex multi-touch sales cycles (like retargeting followed by a lead magnet, and email campaign), we could have debates around first vs. last touch attribution, or sophisticated attribution weighting models like 40/20/40. Yet Google Ads and all of these easily trackable online activities did nothing to drive the initial demand. The amazing magic of the marketing required to generate inbound interest is completely overlooked. The firm’s marketing reporting is limited to what is trackable and Dark Social is untrackable by definition.
I’ve long railed against the “and how did you hear about us?” method of identifying marketing channels that are driving not just leads, but actual consultations. It’s messy, inaccurate, invasive, simplistic and frequently a skipped step by a well-meaning front desk. Yet, with an increasing volume of leads showing up in the ‘unknown’ bucket; my thinking has evolved. Sidnote: expect the “unknown” number to get larger as privacy restrictions continue to make the attribution of leads much more difficult. Tracking Dark Social requires asking that question… aka self-reported attribution.
To be clear, prospect purchase behavior in the legal field doesn’t regularly follow a typical SAAS sales cycle. That’s why unbranded PPC campaigns and (frequently) SEO often have a much more direct and immediate purchase path than these complex SAAS sales cycles. And are therefore much more accurately trackable. For example: Walk in on spouse with pool boy -> Google “divorce attorney” -> Click Ad -> Call Lawyer -> Hire. Further, it’s It’s also important to note that law firms are marketing primarily to individuals who don’t want to use their services at all. Consumers don’t want to face catastrophic injury, get pulled over for drinking too much while driving, etc. Yes, in areas like family law and estate planning, more due diligence is usually required, and the client journey starts much earlier and is more complex. But in both of those cases, Dark Social can have a massive impact on who that end client decides to seek out for their legal needs.
Dark Social plays a part in some (many?) legal purchase decisions. Enter the imperative of recognizing the impact of Dark Social and the importance of the “how did you hear about us question”, which I frankly like to ask differently: “we get lots of referrals from the community and we send them a thank you note for that word of mouth endorsement…. Did anyone recommend us to you?” This positions the firms as a recognized leader, demonstrates a level of gratitude and gives firms an opportunity to send that referral source a thank you gift (a step most firms fail to deliver on, despite the best of intentions.) You’ll get an answer to the “how did you hear about us?” question without coming across as a craven marketer. And that answer can and should be tracked in your CRM system, in addition to another field capturing your automated source attribution (SEO, PPC etc.) Frequently the answer to that question is some amalgam of Dark Social tactics which have reinforced the brand of that law firm repeatedly to the end prospect.
Traditional Social Media Marketing and Dark Social are Different Things
Succeeding in Dark Social for law firms requires a strategic mindset that goes well beyond the facile tactics and metrics deployed by legal marketing social media experts mavens ninjas scorpions consultants. Sharing your “Top 10 Things to Do After a Boise Idaho Car Accident” blog post on Facebook isn’t going to cut it. Neither is posting your “Congratulations to Susan for Being Named Superlawyers 2022 in Lincoln Nebraska” on LinkedIn. Nor your Twitter follower count inflated by thousands of followers from WhoKnowsWhereItIsistan. There’s so much more to doing this in a way that drives business for a law firm…
The key for law firms in succeeding in the Dark Social game is to leverage the network-effect reach of technology through in depth, engaged community outreach and and has very little nothing to do with the practice of law, tips about law, analysis of changes to laws, lawyer directory superlative announcements or law firm settlement amounts. Put simply – connect genuinely and deeply within the community in which you serve. It’s indirect, yet amazingly impactful when done consistently, deliberately and over time. It’s also a long term commitment – not something to test out for a few months. It’s the way Social Media marketing really, deeply and genuinely builds a positive brand.
There are a smattering of examples of law firms executing on Dark Social very well. Ken Levison out of Chicago who has leveraged his love of food to profile (and therefore market) local restaurants. Josh Hodges using TikTok to tell the history of the numerous small towns northeast of Cincinnati. Morris Lillienthall, leveraging multiple channels and his avuncular personality to highlight the movers and shakers in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Each of these brands are built by showcasing others and building a social network by distributing that content widely. These activities (and the focus on others, instead of the law firm) have built genuine positive awareness more cost effectively and genuinely than any TV commercial can. For more on this mindset, I recommend reading Gary V’s seminal book, Jab Jab, Right Hook – perhaps with the lens that Gary’s “right hook” may never even be necessary in Dark Social and the marketing of a law firm, because the jabs generate demand in and of themselves.