Beware the FOMO Legal Marketing Agency Ads

Your social feeds are probably crammed with ads from legal internet marketing “experts” that use FOMO to sell.  They are also full of empty promises.  But let me start with the punchline: legal marketing isn’t easy. Success requires hard work, significant investments, a touch of luck and a well oiled intake machine.

The formula for these ads is very simple:

    1. Promises of riches –  frequently uses “7 or 8-figure practice” verbiage.
    2. Missing Out – Your competitors are already winning at this game.
    3. “It’s Simple” Messaging – “follow these 4 steps”, “cut and paste”.
    4. Proprietary – the “it’s simple” often oblique references a Shiny Tech Object (SHITO?)  or a “secret”.

This type of adverting pulls on the base psychological premise: fear of missing out (FOMO).  “You are missing out on easy money your competitors enjoy because you don’t know my simple secrets.” And if you see these messages enough, subconsciously the messaging enters your brain and becomes part of your internal dialogue. Think this doesn’t work?  Just go back to the last election season to see the ease of manipulating reality through highly targeted, and scientifically optimized messaging.  Or read more on FOMO marketing here.  These ads are scientifically designed to get you to click through, perhaps submit your email address…turning you into another line item in a marketer’s database.

But the truth is, it’s hard. There aren’t simple steps, there’s no easy solution, and the competition is getting worse, not better. Since I got into the internet marketing game back in 2006, I’ve never seen the market so competitive – there are more lawyers chasing SEO, bidding on keywords, faking offices, pushing out engaging video content and building fans on TikTok (hi Kelly!). If you think its simple, boy do I have an email drip campaign for you to sign up for.

FOMO Examples

Want to learn when you are being FOMO’d?  I’ve pulled a few examples to help acquaint you with this genre of advertising so you recognize them when they cross your path on Facebook, Instagram, and even TV….

This one is classic – 1)secrets 2)7-figures, 3)it’s simple 4)others are doing it.

You too, can be like Eddie, quaffing oversized drinks with your girlfriend and traveling the world, if you just knew about New Technology (3D Legal Advertising!!!!) that generates more cases than SEO, PPC and Lead Gen combined! (Except of course, Eddie was never a lawyer, but don’t let those little details creep into your mind….).

And here’s a guy claiming that over 30% of his clients (that he landed with nothing more than powerpoint) have written a perfect, 5 star review.  Really?  Along with the ultimate sad lawyer FOMO imagery… 

In this instance, the “Big Bang” of the legal industry is just three simple steps followed by 164 other attorneys (did I mention you are missing out?)

Some more promises with an unmentioned new client AI technology that strangely didn’t even exist in 2020, but simultaneously was perfected over the past year.  Math anyone?

Here you go lawyers… copy and paste our secret and get on your way to an 8 figure law firm….

 

UPDATE: Just got this new one…. you too could be lounging on a boat with this simple, two step strategy!

Why We Didn’t Send Holiday Gifts

Like most Americans, I’m enjoying putting 2020 firmly in our rearview mirror.  Having said that, last year was particularly kind to Mockingbird – we developed capabilities significantly, (most) of our clients outperformed expectations, and Mockingbird staff upgraded significantly. We ended the year on very solid financial footing. The dissonance of economic calamity for millions of small business owners and their employees coinciding with a soaring stock market has hit me particularly hard this year.  Mockingbird has been among the fortunate.

So in December, instead of sending out a typical Seattle themed gift basket or schwag festooned with the (awesome) Mockingbird logo, we’ve made a donation to a food pantry near each of our largest clients. We did well enough last year that this isn’t just a token gesture and I’m deeply grateful that through our clients, we’re able to make a difference in the lives of many Americans who really need the help right now. Our contribution from snowflakes from Seattle to bubble up economics instead of the trickle down economics; which clearly hasn’t served those in greatest need.

-Conrad

Prediction: Google Screened as Ranking Factor for Google Local.

Google has traditionally and aggressively separated paid from organic.  The firewall between their departments ensures there’s not anti-competitive issues – i.e. spend more money on Google Ads and see your organic rankings skyrocket.  I’ve run into this over and over again with our awesome reps from the Google Premier Partnership program, who advise us and our clients on Google Ads.  These awesome peeps wouldn’t know the difference between an H1 and an Immigration Visa and think NAP is something their kids do after a particularly arduous virtual school day.

My prognostication:  Google’s separation between Search and Advertising may crumble in the near(ish) future.

Look what Erik Beatty spotted this morning in the support drop-down for LSAs: an  “Upgraded GMB Profile” option.

This is very valid useful data that, I would argue, should be used for showing up in the Local Results.  In fact, the prospect of improving what shows up in Local in the legal industry is what I thought the original intention of Google Screened …. removing the spammy crap that litters Local results – non law firms masquerading as law firms, out of state or out of market lawyers faking offices etc.

This would be a major adjustment for Google; breaching a very fine line between organic and paid.  While they’ve been reluctant to cross this rubicon in the past, lawyers should welcome this development as it will kick the bogus garbage out the Local, which filters real prospects through lead selling agencies, extracting a ton of value out of the legal profession with zero added value.

RBG and the Lawyer Mom Owner Conference

It’s 2:00am Saturday morning and I can’t sleep. The massive implications of RBG’s death on my mind. I have a daughter; time to watch On the Basis of Sex with her.

What to do?

This morning is the perfect time to make sure everyone I know is aware of Carolyn Elefant and  Jeena Belil’s Mom Owner Lawyer Summit, a conference dedicated to enterprising female lawyers.  I’ve first met Carolyn back in 2007 and have always referred to her as the Godmother of solo practitioners.  She’s inspirational, entrepreneurial, upfront and delightfully innately nerdy.  She started her law firm in 1993 and has made sharing her experiences to other enterprising lawyers a side gig primarily through her blog MyShingle.

When:  September 30-October 1
Where:  Online!

To me, Carolyn has always seen law firm ownership as the answer to both personal professional fulfillment.  If you have an inkling that there might be more to your profession and your life than the current status quo…. spend two days at this conference.  

This Summit has an entirely female speaker lineup and features some of the amazing women I’ve met during my sojourn in the legal marketing world.

I’ve bought tickets for all of my agency’s female clients and have a few left so if you’d like to attend the Lawyer Owner Mom Virtual Summit as my guest…. just add a comment (your email won’t be public) and I’ll delete it once I’ve sent you a ticket.  And please spread the word… there’s a target of 1,000 attendees and Jeena and Carolyn are not that far off their goal.

Oh, and to bring things back full circle to RBG… please vote. Early.

-Conrad

Spotting The Hallmarks of SEO Balderdash

If you can bring yourself to sit through the entire video here, it’s going to come across as pretty haughty and dismissive. But that was my honest assessment of the crap I was listening to. The micropoint to this post is, “taking selfies in front of local landmarks won’t expand your Local Search results,” but the main point of my post is larger.  Watch (if you can) the entire thing as Jason Brown and I defrock tactics used to make someone look more experienced than they are:

  • Sliver bullet to SEO success
  • Modicum of plausibility
  • Lack of specific examples and data
  • Trappings of authority

And if you start to smell some of that from an “SEO expert”, try doing a little research. Searching for “selfie” on Search Engine Land turns up…well…not much, and nothing in the way of Local Search magic bullets; although there is this interesting 2014 post about a Goolebot selfie at the beach:

Source: SearchEngineLand: https://searchengineland.com/search-pics-google-cardboard-googlebot-beach-matt-cutts-selfie-195404

And if you are a law firm staffer who was sent around the city to take pics of yourself at various local landmarks, overtip your local restaurant and head back to the office. You are wasting your time. Sorry.

Spoiler Alert: this video is just as cringey as public selfies.

 

Is Avvo (coming) Back?

Back in early May, I wrote a post: Avvo in SEO Traffic Free Fall. One of the many questions fielded about this was, may the come back?  The answer was “probably” – from everything I could tell (including Avvo’s pointed “no comment” to the question around what was going on with their traffic), this looked like a one-off SEO penalty, with a sudden and otherwise inexplicable drop in traffic.  Note from that previous article that this was for a select set of high value, head terms; the fall-off in volume was also anecdotally corroborated by numerous attorneys.

I’ve been able to get my mitts on an Avvo email that suggests not only was I correct in the original assessment, but that (possibly) they are at the beginning of a rebound. This is (somewhat) corroborated by a variety of third party reporting systems that sync with the timing from this Avvo data – which shows a hitting the bottom mark sometime in the middle of June.

So here are the data points:

From Avvo

This is the graph circulating Avvo that shows a pretty impressive traffic growth – again, if this is accurate it would support my supposition that this was an SEO penalty (or a major major stupid technical whoopsie, which I doubt would go unsolved for this long).  Note that this graph does not show at all these rankings are for – for all we know its “fuzzy bunny slipper lawyer” or just focused on Lincoln, Nebraska.  Also note that the overall number of terms for which they rank top 3 is still minuscule.  Finally, this graph starts at the beginning of May, which is exactly when I first published my study, which means it conveniently leaves out the cratering that occurred during February and March (read: its built to paint them in a very positive light.).

SEMRush & ahrefs

SEMRush and ahrefs (both spectacularly inaccurate albeit directionally helpful third-party tools) show a traffic turnaround coinciding with the data above from Avvo. Of note, these tools give us a chance to look much further back for historical context and suggest the directory is still a ways off from its former zenith.

But… Ranking Reports

I hate ranking reports, but it was Gyi Tsakalakis’ ranking report of 250 head terms that first tipped me off on the Avvo decline.  So I circled back and the results still aren’t pretty.  While this is a very very very slim sampling of head terms, there seems to have been no movement within this set:

My advice?  Watch closely and as always, monitor success through your own reporting metrics, not your vendors’.

 

Law firm websites serving up foreign porn….

So as expected from the flagrantly clickbaity title, there’s little redeemable content in what follows.  You should probably stop reading now, but you won’t because you are wondering where this post is going and whether or the Mockingbird blog was hacked (it wasn’t). The moral of the story, is that Google results are sometimes entirely inexplicable. If that’s what you’re up for, then by all means, read on….

I often flippantly tell lawyers about the importance of upgrading their site, if for no other reason than to ensure that they don’t unintentionally starting hosting foreign porn.  It’s a glib comment, but born from experience… about every six months, I’ll sit down with a prospective lawyer client and review their site on a screenshare only to uncover porn. The experience lies in the weird Venn diagram of awkward, sophomoric and mortifying.

I ran into unintentional porn in front of a prospective client again today, while we were perusing the local results for Personal Injury lawyers in New Orleans on a shared Zoom screen.

Among the usual suspects was a firm I didn’t recognize with only two reviews outranking some large firms with impressive marketing machines.  Glicker Law.  In an attempt to show the client the value of a strong backlink profile (b/c why else would this two star firm show up on the Maps, right…?) I clicked through to GlickerLaw.com:

As Obi-Wan Kenobi said so eloquently, “these are not the PI lawyers you are looking for”.  A little digging on Archive.org shows that Glicker Law used to exist on this domain, but the it expired some time in early 2018.

Which begs the question: Why is Google serving a years ago defunct law firm website that now contains a huge compendium of foreign porn in the heavily competitive local results for personal injury lawyer in a major US metro? No clue.  And this isn’t new… back in 2016 I wrote a post almost entirely identical to this one: Seattle DUI Lawyers stripping for $1.99 a minute?

Now don’t get mad at me that this post lacks a good conclusion, that you fell victim to a clickbaity title and that your prurient curiosity was the only reason you’ve made it through this entire post; I told you at the beginning reading this was barely worth your time. No conclusions other than, “hmmmm, that’s odd.”

Welcome to search.

Smith.ai, CallRail and Mockingbird sit down to talk legal conversion….

Yesterday, I got together with two long term Mockingbird partners, Smith.ai and CallRail to discuss the practice of maximizing conversions, the reporting infrastructure required to evaluate marketing mix like an MBA would and the importance of monitoring the quality of your intake approach. Intake conversion epitomizes the need for a perfect mix of agency, technology and humanity required to optimize the delicate balance of the art and science of conversion.  Have a listen…

 

The Chasm Between BLM and Lawyers: Part I

During this 50 minute conversation, I sit down virtually with two lawyers who are intimately involved in social justice in Minneapolis. Travis Kowitz is white man, shot by a pepper bullet while live streaming the first two nights of the protests after George Floyd’s murder. Emily Cooper is a black woman pushing the cause of entrepreneurship to Minneapolis’ black community as the path to financial and personal freedom. Both are gritty, ambitious, lightly profane, and deeply committed to the part lawyers can play in the movement for social justice. We spend time talking through the history of systemic racism, specifically in Minneapolis.

From a lawyer marketing perspective, get inspired with some of the tactical approaches these two have taken in getting deeply involved in the community. My hope is that by listening to this, you may be inspired to go beyond carefully worded statements and donations and get more involved.

“words are just words, but when I take notice its about what actions people take behind the words; because words are just pandering.  Is anyone actually doing anything?” – Emily Cooper

The focus of this series is exposing the huge gap between the Black Lives Matter movement and lawyers, many of whom went into the profession specifically to advance the cause of social justice. We talk with hands-on, driven lawyers who are actively involved, on the streets in their communities, far beyond making bail fund donations or publishing carefully worded statements of support. We challenge the trepidations felt by many lawyers, starting with “I don’t want to say the wrong thing.” This is a raw, uncomfortable, and oftentimes painful dialogue that needs to happen. You won’t agree with everything you hear; you’ll probably feel offended. All the more reason to listen.