Law Firm Intake Software Overview

One of the most important aspects of managing your firm’s growth is understanding what’s driving new clients. There are countless ways to arrive at the marketing grail of “cost-per-client,” but all of them involve having some sort of reliable intake system to track where leads are coming from and which leads are translating into actual clients.

The purpose of this resource is to provide an overview of what you should look for when selecting intake software as well as how to assess what features will have the most value for your firm.

Intake Software vs. Case Management Software

While there is some overlap in software that acts as both an intake solution and a case management system, the two pieces function differently. Intake software should be designed to track each inquiry from their original method of contact and help nurture them from prospect to client. Your intake system should be used as a lead tracking tool to nurture each prospect, maximize cases, and measure which marketing channels are driving inquiries.

After the prospect is signed, case management software helps the attorneys work the actual case. Frequently it’s necessary that the two systems are connected, but in many cases firms might have no intake software at all and simply start inputting prospects into their case management system once they’re being reviewed by attorneys within the firm.

Without a proper intake solution it’s very difficult to ensure each lead is being followed up with in a timely fashion, attributed to the appropriate marketing channel, and providing a return on ad spend that will allow for better allocation of advertising budgets.

Must Have Features for Legal Intake Software

Although legal intake software runs the gamut from comprehensive, do-everything solutions to the more sparse only-the-essentials type, the main features every law firm needs are:

Tracking by Marketing Source

Whatever solution you use has to be able to integrate with your call tracking system, website contact forms, and advertising platforms to assign proper lead attribution. Each new intake should have a marketing source assigned based on how the prospective client opted to contact you.

Basic Reporting Features on New Client Acquisitions

You need the ability to run reports on new inquiries and new clients as well as the ability to sort by marketing source. This allows you to see which channels are driving the most leads as well as which channels are most effective at converting into signed clients. It’s very possible some channels may drive a high volume of low quality leads, and you’re going to need the ability to filter out the noise and see what channels are driving actual revenue for your firm.

Case Management System Integration

Although many intake systems also function as case management systems, for the ones that don’t, you’ll need a way to pass off signed clients to the attorneys and teams that will be handling the case. This means your intake software needs to connect with whatever system you’re using for managing cases.

Optional Features for Legal Intake Software

In addition to the “must haves” there are countless other features available to help manage your intakes and increase the efficiency of your practice. The importance of these will vary based on the size, goals, and complexity of the firm.

Customizable Intake Scripts

Many (but not all) intake solutions offer the ability to create custom scripts for your intake team. These scripts guide your intake team through the appropriate questions to ask for each type of inquiry.

Referral Tracking

For practices that refer large amounts of cases to other lawyers or firms, the ability to track the status of those referrals directly within the intake software could be a huge benefit.

Automated Messaging / Email Drip Campaigns / Text Messages

The option to create automated follow up texts, emails, meeting reminders, or drip campaigns to nurture “soft leads” are all great ways to increase incremental conversions. Not all firms will be able to take advantage of this, but for the ones that do, it will typically pay off over the long run.

Restricted Permissions

In many instances a firm may want to restrict their intake staff from having access to reporting dashboards with advertising budgets, revenue projections, and other metrics relating to the health of the business. If that’s the case, the ability to set each user’s level of access is a key feature.

Ability to Import Data

For firm’s that have previously used intake software and want to preserve historic data, the ability to import old campaign data is essential. For anyone willing to lean on old reports or looking to make a fresh start, it may not be necessary.

Two More Things to Keep in Mind

Aside from the features you’ll be needing in a piece of intake software, you’ll also want to consider two other key items when determining the solution that’s right for your firm.

Demo vs. Reality

It’s nearly impossible to get a good feel for software that will be acting as the backstop for a key aspect of your business from one 60-90 minute demo. No matter how many questions you ask or how polished the presentation is, there’s no substitute for what you’ll find out once you start using the software yourself.

Be sure to talk with firms that are currently using the software prior to signing any sort of long-term contract. Ask them about their pain points, what they wish they’d known when they started, and any features that haven’t panned out as advertised. Obviously any vendor provided references will likely be positive, but with a bit of probing you should be able to start separating what’s in a polished demo vs. what you’re going to get when using the product yourself.

Data Privacy

A huge consideration for midsize and large firms should be, “how trustworthy is this company with the data you’re plugging into their software?” Intake software is designed to track your advertising spend, assess what’s working, and tie that directly to your firm’s revenue growth. This data is extremely valuable for anyone looking to gain insight into your business strategy or replicate what you do.

Everyone’s risk tolerance is different, but making an informed decision about how much you trust the software provider, and the companies behind it, should at least warrant some level of consideration.

The Ideal Intake Software for Your Law Firm

With so many products to choose from, it’s easiest to start by determining which additional features (if any) are most important to the success of your practice. If the intake software is listed here, you can be assured that at a minimum it contains the three “must have” features. Key additional features are highlighted following a short description of each piece of software.

Although this list is by no means comprehensive, it’s a good starting point as you search for an intake solution that meets the needs of your firm.

Captorra

Product Description: Captorra bills itself as the “legal industry’s leading case intake software” and there’s no disputing it’s used by a large number of firms. They primarily service mass tort and plaintiff’s personal injury firms, but do allow customization for all types of legal practices. The product is cloud based and offers a high level of customization.

  • Customizable Intake Scripts
  • Referral Tracking
  • Automated Messaging / Email Drip Campaigns / Text Messages
  • Ability to Import Data

Approximate Cost: Although pricing is on a “per quote” basis, expect to pay at least $200 per user along with a one-time setup fee.

Additional Thoughts / Concerns: Captorra is a beast in the legal intake software industry and is owned by Martindale-Avvo. As such, it’s a well supported product but has the drawback of triggering data privacy concerns from a company that’s known to install their own tracking scripts on customer websites (Ngage, we’re looking at you).

Clio Grow (Lexicata)

Product Description: Clio Grow (now incorporating Lexicata) is more of an organizational tool than a pure intake software. It’s great for managing tasks and appointments, and has all the basic functionality needed to manage and measure intake for small or midsize firms.

  • Customizable Intake Scripts
  • Referral Tracking
  • Automated Messaging / Email Drip Campaigns
  • Ability to Import Data

Approximate Cost: Packages can start at about $49 / user / month and scale up from there.

Additional Thoughts / Concerns: Lexicata was purchased by Clio and users were migrated to Clio Grow, which is the intake side of the Clio Suite. Clio Grow can be purchased as either a standalone solution or in conjunction with Clio Manage, which is the CRM portion of the software suite.

Hubspot

Product Description: A user friendly and simple solution with several tiers of features available for firms of all sizes. In addition to being an intake solution, Hubspot functions more as a marketing platform that allows users to manage content as well as track leads and measure ROI.

  • Customizable Intake Scripts
  • Automated Messaging / Email Drip Campaigns / Text Messages
  • Restricted Permissions
  • Ability to Import Data

Approximate Cost: Pricing is highly variable depending on features, support, and use, and ranges from $50 / mo (Starter) to $3,200 / mo (Enterprise).

Additional Thoughts / Concerns: Because Hubspot is more of a product suite than a pure intake system, there are significant pros and cons depending on what tools are already being used by the firm. For firms already relying on other systems for publishing content and managing their advertising, it might make more sense to steer toward a more pure intake product.

Keap

Product Description: Formerly known as Infusionsoft, Keap is an intake solution based largely around automating follow up and outreach to your prospects. It’s a good solution for high-volume firms with a long sales cycle.

  • Automated Messaging / Email Drip Campaigns / Text Messages
  • Restricted Permissions
  • Ability to Import Data

Approximate Cost: Keap uses a tiered pricing system ranging from $79 / user / month up to $199 / user / month. All three tiers require a one-time payment for “Expert Coaching” that ranges from $99 to $999.

Additional Thoughts / Concerns: Infusionsoft has been one of the gold standards in email marketing for a long time, and businesses looking for high levels of automation can get a lot out of this tool. The biggest drawback is that it’s not particularly user friendly for novices and can require a lot of work to get everything configured correctly.

Lawmatics

Product Description: A complete CRM solution with an intake system built largely around customized questionnaires and automated processes. Offered at a fairly affordable price point for small and midsize firms, the intake portion of Lawmatics is designed to help qualify and then guide prospects through each stage of the pipeline.

  • Customizable Intake Scripts
  • Automated Messaging / Email Drip Campaigns
  • Ability to Import Data

Approximate Cost: Price ranges from $99 – $129 / month depending on the features you want to use. Additional user licenses can be purchased at either $49 or $59 / month and there is a one-time setup fee of $199.

Additional Thoughts / Concerns: Overall, this is a middle ground solution for law firms that demand customization but don’t want to spend insane amounts of money to get it. It can also be purchased as a standalone intake system and integrated with a more robust CRM.

Law Ruler

Product Description: Offered as either a standalone intake solution or a full CRM, Law Ruler offers a lot of customization. The intake system is built specifically to automate as much of the intake process as possible, methodically track the source of each lead, and allow law firms to maximize the number of new cases signed.

  • Customizable Intake Scripts
  • Automated Messaging / Email Drip Campaigns / Text Messages
  • Ability to Import Data

Approximate Cost: About $70 / user / month + setup fees for data migration as well as configuring lead tracking by marketing channel

Additional Thoughts / Concerns: Onboarding can be a bit cumbersome and the demo itself doesn’t do the product justice. However, once it’s up and running, Law Ruler is an efficient intake solution that’s easy to use and requires minimal upkeep.

Lead Docket

Product Description: Created by a West Virginia PI firm, Lead Docket strikes a nice balance of simplicity and practicality. The price point also makes it accessible to small and midsize firms.

  • Customizable Intake Scripts
  • Referral Tracking
  • Automated Messaging / Email Drip Campaigns / Text Messages
  • Ability to Import Data

Approximate Cost: Starts at $250 / month

Additional Considerations: Lead Docket was recently acquired by Filevine, a case management system with a lot of great features. It can be purchased as either a stand-alone intake system or paired with Filevine’s case management system at an additional cost.

Litify

Product Description: Built on Salesforce, Litify is a practice management solution that funnels opportunities from the initial intake all the way through litigation or settlement. It’s customizable, it’s rich in features, and it’s priced accordingly.

  • Customizable Intake Scripts
  • Referral Tracking
  • Automated Messaging / Email Drip Campaigns / Text Messages
  • Restricted Permissions
  • Ability to Import Data

Approximate Cost: This is a six figure solution for enterprise law firms. Large setup fees, multi-month builds, and highly variable ongoing costs based on the number of licensed users. Setup fees include extensive on-site or virtual training prior to deployment.

Additional Thoughts / Concerns: A relatively new offering, Litify was initially created by Morgan & Morgan, out of a desire to bring a “best in class” solution to the legal industry. It’s one of the most impressive products on the market for large firms looking to scale processes and make real-time decisions based on cost-per-client (or revenue-per-client) data from their ad campaigns. The two major downsides are the astronomical expense and the product’s connection to a very aggressive PI firm with plans on continued expansion across the U.S.

Salesforce

Product Description: One of the most used, and well-respected CRMs, Salesforce is a frequent solution for law firms in need of a robust platform that can handle both intakes and case management. The product is well supported and can be customized for a firm’s individual needs. That being said, it is not designed specifically for law firms and requires a heavy investment in initial setup.

  • Customizable Intake Scripts
  • Referral Tracking
  • Automated Messaging / Email Drip Campaigns / Text Messages
  • Restricted Permissions
  • Ability to Import Data

Approximate Cost: Pricing is highly variable depending on what features are needed, but the cheapest plan that would be a viable option starts at $1,250 / month.

Additional Thoughts / Concerns: Salesforce is an amazing product, but it’s also not specifically designed for law firms. However, if you’re reluctant to use Litify but like the bones of Salesforce or would rather customize something entirely for the needs of your practice, Salesforce could be a viable option.

Our team has experience working with firms of all sizes to assess return on ad spend, evaluate the efficacy of marketing campaigns, and improve intake processes. If you’d like to discuss your needs in more detail please give us a call.

The Quickest Way to Piss of Your Customers

Is there a quicker way to piss of a customer than making them feel like you don’t care?

For firms handling intake, one of the biggest challenges is politely rejecting inquiries from people your firm is unable to help. People intuitively know that sometimes there’s nothing that can be done, but the courtesy of an explanation goes a long way toward making the caller feel better when the conversation comes to a close. If the prospect feels blown off, rushed, or like they’re being treated poorly because you “can’t make money off them” you’re far more likely to end up getting a one-star review. These are the types of negative interactions that linger long after the call is over.

If someone needs help, they want to at least be heard.

Now a quick example of what not to do:

We recommend CallRail to all of our customers and have found their service to provide a reliable call tracking solution that does everything we need in order to properly report on cost-per-inquiry by marketing channel. The quality of their product is top-notch, but in the off chance you need to resolve an issue, their customer service is woefully lacking.

As is the case with many companies, issues are addressed with a ticketing system. There’s a phone number you can call if you need immediate assistance, but CallRail seems to be doing whatever they can to hide that number and force people through their ticketing system. This isn’t necessarily a bad practice from the company’s perspective, but it’s not particularly customer friendly.

This morning I went to fill out a ticket and was met with this:

CallRail Won't Let You Submit a Ticket

Assuming user error, I tried submitting a ticket multiple times under different accounts and received the same error every time. Not one to be discourage by a one-off bug, I emailed the ticket directly to their support and immediately received this email:

Hi Jason,

We’ve recently updated our ticket submission process to give you the best support possible, and emails sent directly to support@callrail.com will be met with a no-reply email. We’re still here to help, and you’re still able to reach us!

To receive help:

Please submit a ticket through the Submit a Ticket link in our Help Center.

From there, you’ll be able to monitor your ticket status and reply to the support team member handling your request.

We’ll reach out to you via email once we’ve received your ticket (usually within 24 hours).

If this is urgent, please call us at 1-888-219-2787. Our phone support hours are Monday thru Friday from 9:00am – 6:00pm eastern time.

Thanks!

The CallRail Support Team

Not the response you want when the system they’re funneling you toward is broken. So, I picked up the phone and gave them a call. What should have been a simple ticket was now a 15 minute process.

The phone call lasted long enough that I started writing this post in frustration, and abruptly ended with a message that all their agents were currently busy, and a reminder that “You’re able to submit your issue by going to support.callrail.com and clicking ‘submit a ticket.” Then the call was terminated!

I can at least appreciate the inadvertent comedy in CallRail’s final message.

Much like a prospect that just wants to be heard, I’m now in a position where publicly venting is my sole outlet. Not a place you ever want someone that’s interacted with your business to end up. I don’t even care if CallRail can actually resolve the issue I was initially inquiring about. It wasn’t urgent and what I wanted might not have been possible. The more important issue is that they weren’t available to listen or provide an answer, and as a business, that’s inexcusable.

Regardless of whether you can help someone, making sure staff is well-trained to listen and provide a polite response can go a long way toward preserving your brand. The worst thing you can do is leave someone feeling like you just don’t care.

What Is Your Firm Prioritizing in 2020?

With online marketing constantly evolving and a never ending stream of vendors fighting for your limited ad budget, we want to know what your firm is prioritizing in the coming year.

We’ve designed a short survey to get a sense for what’s actually driving revenue growth and what’s more hype than substance. Fill out this 10 question, end of year survey about your perceptions and priorities heading into 2020. All submissions will be completely anonymous, with the exception of an optional short answer question at the end of the survey.

Why Take 5 Minutes to Complete the Survey?

Two reasons:

1) All submissions will be entered for the chance to win a free pass to BEDLAM – the best damn legal marketing conference of the year!
2) Anyone that provides a short answer about their “biggest frustration with legal marketing” will have the chance to get a link to their firm’s website if/when we publish their response in the survey results.

Click Here to Participate in the 2020 Legal Marketing Survey

We’re anxious to hear about your challenges, what directories you feel are a waste of money, and how many scummy salespeople hit you up on a weekly basis.

Best of luck in 2020!

The Most Frequently Missed Opportunity for Law Firms

One of the most frequent missed opportunities we see is a poorly defined intake process. For all the effort and expense firms put into getting in front of prospects and encouraging potential clients to call, it’s baffling that the first person-to-person interaction with prospects is so often mishandled.

A well-defined intake process sets the tone for the firm’s success by providing a positive experience from the outset and improving the likelihood that a prospect will be confident signing on as a client.

Even in instances where the firm can’t help or doesn’t have an interest in a particular case, the role of intake is to provide information, and ideally an alternative solution, so the caller doesn’t hang up the phone feeling like the firm was rude, uncaring, or disinterested. One unpleasant interaction over the phone or with front desk staff can lead to a scathing one-star review that paints the firm in a negative light to other potential clients.

1-Star Review From Bad Intake Experience
Negative reviews from non-clients can often be avoided through great communication from a well-trained intake staff.

Within the legal industry, intake can be exceedingly complex and there are often numerous variables that can make a huge difference in the likelihood of a firm being able to deliver a favorable result. In addition to asking the right questions and getting prospects to share relevant details of their case, the intake staff also needs to maintain a strong rapport with anyone seeking to hire the firm and be available and responsive to any inquiries into the firm’s services.

This means intake staff needs to be:

  • Able to reliably answer the phone during business hours
  • Capable of responding quickly to online contact forms, text messages, or chat leads
  • Empathetic to any hardships or concerns the caller may have, regardless of whether the firm can help
  • Great at communicating next steps and making sure the prospective client understands what’s going to happen once they hang up the phone

Very few firms have all of these locked down, but the ones that do are in a strong position to convert their marketing “leads” into actual revenue. For firms that don’t have a reliable intake process (and staff) in place, there are holes in the business that can bleed profit and lead to reputation management issues.

Scenarios that are all too common include:

  • Unstaffed phone lines during business hours as employees go to lunch or take breaks
  • Slow turnaround time contacting prospects that fill out web forms or inquire through third-party chat vendors
  • Staff that assumes callers already understand the legal process or nuances of how their firm works
  • Being too quick to dismiss callers once it looks like the inquiry doesn’t align with case types the firm wants or can profit from
  • Inadvertently turning away unusual case types the firm does want, but that don’t align with typical inquiries

All of these things can be potentially damaging, and when multiple errors are occurring regularly it’s hard to justify a large marketing budget to drive inquiries that might be mishandled.

Ensuring intake staff are well trained and representing the firm in a professional fashion is one of the most impactful items for generating incremental revenue. Increasing close rates, improving customer experience, and providing a level of service that helps mitigate 1-star reviews from non-clients will go a long way toward improving the overall health of any firm.

If this portion of your practice hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, contact Mockingbird today for assistance with intake auditing and training.

How to Assess the Success of a Website Redesign

Not all website redesigns are created equal. In many cases, updating a website is the obvious starting point for addressing technical issues, modernizing design and usability, or updating your brand. Done correctly, a new website should offer a boost to your overall business.

Key metrics to look at when assessing whether a new website is successful:

  • Site speed
  • Organic traffic
  • Usability
  • Conversions

Each of these metrics can be tackled by answering the questions below.

How do technical benchmarks compare against your previous site?

By analyzing site speed, on page scripts, image optimization, outdated plugins, and even the platform the site is hosted on, you can get a pretty accurate picture of whether the new website offers an improvement over what you had before.

Unless you’re adding massive new functionality or downsizing your firm, there shouldn’t be any reason to take a step backwards in terms of site speed or hosting. Moving your hosting platform can potentially tank your site, and developers with no understanding of how search engines actually work can build a nice looking site on a terrible foundation.

Ideally, your new website should only show improvements or equivalencies when it comes to technical benchmarks.

Site Speed Before and After
The dramatic improvement in site speed between old (above) and new (below) is one key indicator a recent redesign was a success.

Are more people finding the site organically?

Although it’s not uncommon to see a dip in traffic following the launch of a new website, one of the best indicators that things are going well in the search engines is an increase in organic traffic.

All pages you’re trying to drive traffic to should be indexed in Google (and the search engine also rans) and getting visitors. Post launch increases in organic traffic are a great indicator that smart decisions were made during the website redesign process.

Do potential clients find it easier to navigate?

You want your new site to be as easy to use as possible. Prospects shouldn’t be struggling to find information or get to the appropriate internal pages. Without using tools like Hotjar to monitor user sessions, the best way to gauge the performance of your new website is by comparing bounce rate, average page views, and time spent on site against the previous iteration.

If people are less likely to leave, looking at more of your content, and spending longer on your new website, that’s a great indicator that things are going well.

How do your conversion rates compare with the old site?

Even if traffic is up and people are spending more time interacting with your new site, it’s not a true win if they’re not requesting your services. By comparing the old site’s conversion rates against the new one you’ll get an accurate picture of the incremental improvement between the two.

Regardless of traffic, if a higher percentage of visitors are reaching out to learn more about whether your firm can help them, it’s a strong signal that your redesign improved your ability to generate new business.

Is it helping you achieve your business goals?

The ultimate goal of your redesign is to get more business. This can mean more clients, higher value clients, or even a shift in which portion of your practice you’re trying to prioritize. Although it’s not always directly tied to driving revenue, that’s definitely the most common goal.

Very few firms are effectively tracking marketing on a cost per client level, but even if it’s only being looked at on a cost-per-inquiry basis, reducing the cost you pay for each qualified lead shows the money you spend on a website redesign was an investment rather than an expense.

Summary

Website redesigns can be extremely expensive and failing to take a data driven approach is a great way to burn money and create massive frustration. Projects of this scope should be approached as an investment in your business and any good agency will work with you to measure the results of their work, continue to refine and improve post-launch, and push for decisions during the redesign process that will not just “look nice” but actually help your firm be more successful.

Pitch Mockingbird for Just $250

Want to Sell Us Something?

As our agency continues to grow, we’ve been getting hit up by an increasing number of vendors with “can’t miss demos” and offerings sure to help us “take our clients to the next level.” Normally we’re kind of aloof and take a “we’ll find you” approach to identifying potential partners. However, a savvy move from SharpSpring that consisted of an unsolicited maze (pictured below) and a generous offer to buy lunch for our team may have changed our entire philosophy.

 

maze from SharpSpring to Mockingbird
SharpSpring’s ambition is your (potential) gain. No need to send us a maze, just buy us lunch.

Every Friday our team meets to discuss the latest tactics, solutions, and opportunities for our clients. We share notes (and a few beers) during the weekly “Thinking & Drinking” meeting, and up to this point all it’s been lacking is consistent catering.

That’s where you come in!

We Can Be Bought…

If you buy us lunch, we’ll be your captive audience for 30 minutes while you run through all the reasons we should buy/use/recommend your company’s tools/products/services. We’re not even going to be that picky about what you’re shilling…only what we’re eating.

Give us $250 for lunch and we’ll give you 30 minutes of our time.

As a savvy marketer you’re probably already doing the math on this and realizing it’s too good an opportunity to pass up. But, to sweeten the pot we’ll also give you the following:

  • Hypercritical feedback on your presentation skills
  • A brutally honest assessment of your product or service
  • A blog post from one of our team members about your company’s pitch
  • The unlikely chance at legitimately selling us on something we didn’t know we needed

At worst, you get a bit of free coverage on our blog and the chance to write-off $250 as a “marketing expense.” At best, you’ve gained the once in a lifetime chance to pitch a market leading agency for the cost of several pizzas and a couple cases of beer.

Fill out the contact form or call to schedule your pitch. Slots are going to fill up fast, so don’t delay. We look forward to hearing what you do and why we should care.

How Bad Chat Implementation Can Kill Your Website

It’s already hard enough getting people to your site, so once you’ve succeeded in having a prospect click an advertisement or organic result, you want to do everything you can to convert them into a client. At the least, you want to have a chance to see if they’re a good fit for your services.

Unfortunately, one of the tools that’s supposed to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you can have the exact opposite result you’ve intended. Offering a “chat” option on your site, when done poorly, can absolutely kill your conversions and send your bounce rate through the roof.

We’ve written before about how you should be very cautious with the way chat is implemented on your site. However, one recent incident noted by Premier Law Group, highlighted the importance of carefully monitoring any changes to your chat script.

Premier Law Group has managed to keep their bounce rate somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25%. This means that only approximately 1 in 5 visitors leave the site without viewing more than one page.

The traditional chat interface they’ve used has been the somewhat obtrusive, but fairly commonplace dropdown similar to what’s pictured below:

typical chat dropdown display

It’s pretty annoying, but only takes up the upper portion of the screen.

Following negative feedback from users about the annoyance of having a chat bar cover the top of the screen by default, the firm attempted to mitigate this by immediately displaying the chat popup and allowing users to clear it if they didn’t want to use the feature.

It had the exact opposite result of what they’d hoped.

Analytics for Thursday, Oct. 4th
Analytics for Thursday, Oct. 5th

Can you tell which day they changed the chat interface to a full screen popover?

There’s been plenty written about the SEO dangers of using pop-ups, but this highlights exactly how poor the user experience is when you aggressively push something that’s only useful to a very small percentage of visitors.

Premier Law Group was savvy enough to immediately catch the jump in their bounce rate, concede that the well-intentioned change was a bad idea, and revert to the previous chat display.

The full screen takeover was live for a few days, and immediately following the change back to the old version, the bounce rate settled back into the 20% range.

The eventual compromise was to move the chat display to the bottom of the screen, so at least the top navigation is accessible when it’s being shown on arrival.

Ultimately, whether the additional conversions from chat is worth sacrificing user experience is a question every firm should think about prior to implementation. However, once you decide to add chat on your site, be very careful about how it’s displayed or you might be doing a lot more harm than good.

Stop Googling Yourself

If you grew up with an older sibling, cousin, or mean-spirited family member you might remember the “game” where your own hand was forcibly and repeatedly pushed into your face while the offending party mockingly taunted, “why are you hitting yourself?”

The game, if you can call it that, really only served the purpose of making you feel bad. It was a stupid exercise and entirely unwinnable.

Fast forward to now. You have a business. The days of having someone else bullyingly smush your hand into your face are way behind you. You’re all grown up.

Instead, you sit down at your computer and play a new equally unwinnable game: you Google yourself.

Why are you Googling yourself?

It’s easy to rationalize why checking in on your online presence by pretending to be a prospect would be the right way to stay tuned in to what’s really going on.

But it’s not.

Here are the reasons Googling your business is about as constructive as repeatedly hitting yourself in the face.

  1. It’s incredibly inefficient

How does a handful of one-off (and highly personalized) Google results provide you with any actionable information?

The best-case scenario is a lot of back patting and self-satisfaction. You’re number one in the rankings for the search you ran while logged into your gmail account and sitting in an office at the business you own. Well done. Now what?

Inversely, the worst-case scenario is your result is buried pages deep and now you’re combing through dozens of competitors that are kicking your ass for whatever search you just ran. What do you do with that information?

Either way, the answer is to start digging into more detailed metrics. Why not skip the first part and focus on the items that really matter?

This leads to the next reason…

  1. You have better metrics at your disposal

The most misleading rationale for Googling your business is the idea that you, “want to know how things are going.” That’s deceptive at best.

You already have a strong sense of how things are going.

You have access to your own books, your own analytics, and all your account information. You’re firmly dialed into the daily results and have a strong sense for how business is trending.

At the end of the day, most business owners will prioritize profit. This means clients and revenue are the most important metrics.

Beyond the bottom line of money and clients, qualified leads and inquiries are what drive your sales pipeline and keep business growing. Measuring inquiry volume, close rates, average cost per inquiry, and your average cost for each new client is where you can see the data that actually impacts your success or failure.

If your lead volume has dropped from an average of 100 inquiries per month down to 50, is it going to provide solace that you’re still ranking number one for a few key searches?

Similarly, if you’re not finding yourself on page one, but your website is generating a high number of quality leads from search, there’s a high likelihood you’re only focusing on a couple isolated data points from a much bigger set.

  1. You’re not your customer (and never will be)

Google has estimated that approximately 15% of their search volume is completely unique. That’s about 500 million searches a day that Google hasn’t seen before.

Your prospective customers aren’t always finding you the way you’d expect.

Yes, some high-level search terms are nearly universal, but that’s only one piece. Rather than trying to simulate a few results from the “research phase,” it’s more valuable to look at the complete picture.

What do your clients consistently ask about? What are their biggest concerns? How can you address those questions on your website in such an effective way that they’re immediately convinced they don’t need to look anywhere else?

Take time to read your competitors’ websites. What are they saying or doing that differentiates them from you? What can you do to stand out?

Building unique and creative content that provides a perfect answer for a never before seen Google search is going to convert better than another “me too” white paper, resource, or article on a topic that’s covered on 1,000s of pages across the web.

You should already know your customer’s profile, needs, concerns, and goals. Mimicking a query for the search term you hope they’ll use to find you is a fruitless exercise.

  1. It can have a negative impact

Worst of all, your attempts to monitor your own online presence can actually be detrimental to your online presence. How’s that for a Catch-22?

You probably already know that clicking on your PPC ad is the equivalent of taking money directly from your wallet and handing it to Google. But even when you don’t click on that ad you’re generating an additional impression.

When an ad appears frequently and fails to get clicks it starts being shown less and your cost of bidding for that search term goes up.

The impact on your organic rankings is less dramatic, but clicking on competitor listings and spending time on their site stewing about how your business is better still sends a signal to Google that this was a quality result.

None of this should suggest there’s no value in knowing where you rank relative to your competition. There is.

Yes, the importance of individual rankings is often grossly overstated. But there are still plenty of reasons this information can be useful and should be monitored.

That’s why there are tools available like GetStat, SEMrush, and BrightLocal that allow you to obtain more accurate analysis. That way you can get more reliable data without impacting your site’s performance in the SERPs.

Still not convinced Googling yourself is a bad idea?

Fine. You’re going to do it anyway. Human nature is a funny thing.

At least make sure you’re using a VPN and a private browser whenever you sit down for another session of slowly smacking yourself in the face.

And before you do, please take a few extra seconds to consider “why are you Googling yourself?”

The Single Most Underrated Marketing Tactic

With the overwhelming number of channels and tactics available to market yourself to potential clients, it’s easy to overlook the one item with the greatest ability to drive conversions: authenticity.

While it’s easy to write off “be yourself” as trite advice, it’s equally easy to get swept up chasing new opportunities and lose sight of what makes you or your business unique. There’s a natural inclination to want to be all things to all people, but in many cases the result ends up being a watered-down message devoid of any personality.

Very few businesses have the ability to scale effectively and service an entire category of the marketplace. For everyone else, carving out and owning a niche is the more realistic path to success.

Even Amazon started as a bookseller and slowly added new categories over time. Is there any reason to think your practice is so remarkable it can offer solutions for every possible type of client?

The most successful firms we work with are the ones with a clear vision. They know who they are, they know exactly what their market is, and they’ve built their messaging around communicating and reinforcing the value of the services they provide.

Some of the best legal marketing stems from attorneys willing to embrace who they are and inject personality into their business.

There’s a reason attorney bios are typically among the most viewed pages on a website. People want to know who they’ll be working with.

More importantly, people want to work with the person they think will be best suited to help solve their problem. That means it’s often better to be the ideal solution for a small group than one potential solution for a large pool of “shoppers.”

What does this mean in practice?

Embrace what makes you different.

You may have seen this ridiculous ad for Bryan Wilson, the Texas Law Hawk:

Is this ad going to turn off a lot of people? Probably.

Is the ad memorable? Absolutely.

He’s not going to convert everyone, but for a specific type of client he’s exactly what they’re looking for. The same goes for TV’s fictitious Saul Goodman. Say what you will about his ethics, the man understands good marketing.

Highlighting the things about yourself that make you unique can be the best path to increasing conversions.

Are you a “type A” fighter? Might as well embrace it. People are going to find out anyway, so target searches for “Bulldog Attorney” or “Vicious Divorce Lawyer” and try to solidify your reputation for toughness.

Do you prefer a less confrontational approach? Emphasize your skills in mediation and working towards a thoughtful resolution.

Even if your personality is the equivalent of plain oatmeal, you can build value around your ability to get the job done without being flashy.

The key is to honestly assess what makes you unique and spin it to your advantage.

Once you’ve developed a voice for your brand it’s easier to figure out what clients are likely to hire you and where you should be advertising in order to reach them.

You don’t need to resonate with everyone in order to be successful. What you need to do is resonate with the people you’re already best suited to help and convince them of your value. If you can do that, the rest of your marketing starts to fall into place.