When Good Reviews Go Bad

Reviews are a vital sign of mutual trust between brands and consumers. This means that your law firm needs reviews to signal to potential clients that you are trustworthy and will provide superb services. In previous blog posts we mentioned the danger of negative reviews and neglecting your reviews, but today we’ll be looking at review fraud. 

 

Consumer Responses

Where there is an opportunity to build trust, there is an opportunity to lose trust. This is the case with reviews. We’ve all seen the listings for restaurants that only have 15 reviews, 10 of which are five stars and seem to just be repeats of each other. We usually steer clear of those places. 

 

This is because consumers are immediately significantly less likely to purchase a product or use services of a business they suspect of violating their trust. In a survey done by Bazaarvoice, 54% of consumers said they wouldn’t buy a product if they suspected reviews of being fake. 82% said they would buy from a brand again if they lost their trust.

 

And how can a review lose the trust of a consumer? Well, there are a few main red flags. The top warning sign for consumers is multiple reviews with similar wording, which 55% of consumers said was telling. Other red flags include content of the review not matching the product, bad grammar and/or misspellings, and an overwhelming number of positive reviews. I mean, you wouldn’t trust Mockingbird if we had 150 reviews all saying a variation of “Their sandwiches are delicious. Great service!” 

 

So how can you fight review fraud?

A large percentage of review fraud is perpetrated by the business owner, so you are your own best defense. Avoid the temptation to write your own reviews, even if your clients haven’t been following through on their end. 

 

Another good way to fight review fraud is by regularly checking your reviews. Make sure you know who they are coming from, whether it’s from clients, competitors, or the clients of your competitors. If you see a positive review from an unknown source, don’t blindly accept it. Not all good news is actually good news. A positive review from an unknown source could actually be a deterrent for potential clients. 

 

The final way to show your trustworthiness is to respond to the reviews you know to be true. If a client leaves a positive review, respond showing your appreciation. If a competitor leaves a negative review, respond calmly and deliberately, encouraging them to rethink their negativity. 

 

By being active in your online presence you can control your own narrative. If you would like help with reputation management, contact us here at Mockingbird. We have some experience in that.

What Does “Trust” Mean for the Legal Industry

Google can and will provide answers for just about any question you might have, but just because it provides the answer doesn’t mean you need to accept it. From queries regarding laws to questions about health, a lot of user searches impact the legal industry. Because of this, it’s important to understand how and where users trust their search results. 

 

A recent survey by Path Interactive looked into this very question, focusing specifically on medical and political queries, but touching on legal advice. These graphs show some of their findings from a sample size of 1,100 respondents:

Legal decisions: 13% never, 24% rarely, 23% sometimes, 32% often, 7% very frequently
From Moz.com/blog

 

What Can We Read Into Here?

The first thing we can take away is that fewer people make important legal decisions than medical or financial decisions based on information from Google. Only 32% of respondents often make legal decisions based on Google results, compared to the 39% who often make financial decisions and 37% that often make medical decisions.

 

So what does this mean? Well, for one let’s take a few things into account here. We learn to take care of our health and finances from a pretty young age, without professional help. Most of us learn how to handle a common cold, injuries, and basic savings and spending. We don’t all learn how to appeal a criminal charge from our parents. 

 

This means that more people may feel comfortable handling their own financial and medical issues based on advice from Google, but will seek professional advice for legal questions.

 

The fact that fewer people make legal decisions based on Google results is probably actually good business, since that means consumers are less likely to take things into their own hands and will instead hire a professional. User’s distrust of Google might be to your benefit. 

 

Using the Data 

Beyond making major life decisions, the survey looked into whether users find featured snippets and knowledge panels trustworthy. For the most part, they do. Of the respondents between the ages of 26-35, 44% find knowledge panels very trustworthy and 25% find featured snippets very trustworthy. 

Chart showing decreasing of trust in featured snippets as users get older, but most users still trust them
From Moz.com/blog

 

Chart showing inreasing trust in knowledge panels as users increase in age, but still high trust levels across the board
From Moz.com/blog

This provides a good opportunity for visibility. If users are looking for trustworthy information but are less likely to make legal decisions based on search results, they are likely looking for professional help. You are that professional help. If you can grow your image through trustworthy content, you can grow your client base.

 

Why None of This Is New

E-A-T has been a part of Google’s best practices for a long time now, with the “T” in E-A-T standing for trustworthiness. In an ideal world, you would have been producing trustworthy content for years now. Maybe you already have been. Good for you!

 

But if you haven’t been producing trustworthy content, you really should start. You don’t need a lot of it (content for content’s sake isn’t worth it), but proving your firm to be a helpful resource usually pays off in the long run.

 

In Conclusion

Expect your incoming clients to have done some research on their case prior to hiring you. People are becoming more proactive online, and the legal industry is one of the industries where consumers are less likely to try and take problems into their own hands. This is to the benefit of law firms. It means that users are not only searching for reliable information, which you can provide, but are also looking for someone to hire, which you can also provide. 

 

If you want to learn more about how your content can improve your business, you might want to look into our content development plans. Mockingbird has years of experience helping law firms audit their content and develop ongoing plans. Contact us to learn more.

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.

High Funnel vs Low Funnel Marketing: Knowing Your Jargon

The language of marketing has always been designed to isolate clients. Marketers use technical jargon to upsell and confuse prospective clients; an unethical power play. Well, here at Mockingbird we’re trying to tear down those walls. By providing definitions, we’re opening doors to the tough questions. We’ll start by talking about the Marketing Funnel.

 

The labels on the left refer to the stages of the funnel; the labels on the right are the page a consumer might be on at that stage in their journey

 

What is the Marketing Funnel?

The marketing funnel is the funnel being referred to when marketers talk about “high funnel” or “low funnel” tactics. The term was coined long before the internet and covers the broad stages of converting a consumer to a client. The stages are:

  • Awareness
  • Opinion 
  • Consideration
  • Preference
  • Purchase

 

In layman’s terms, these might be:

  • Becoming aware of the brand/problem
  • Doing research about the brand/problem, finding the solution (the product)
  • Doing research on other solutions, or products
  • Deciding which product they prefer
  • Buying (converting)

 

What is High Funnel Marketing?

High funnel marketing is in reference to strategies that target brand awareness over direct conversions. This might mean promoting blog posts, coordinating scholarships, or sponsoring events. It’s about getting your name out there, meeting your clients where they live.

 

What is Mid Funnel Marketing?

Mid funnel marketing is catching consumers who you know are aware of your business but might not have become clients yet. This is often in the form of remarketing, or advertising to people you know have visited your website. This reminds them of your brand and of the problem they’re looking to solve. Mid funnel isn’t as common of a term, but it has its place.

 

What is Low Funnel Marketing?

Low funnel marketing is targeting people you know are about to become clients. It’s the people who might have something in their cart but haven’t proceeded to check-out in the past week. It can also be advertising to people directly searching for the problems you cover. If you’re an LGBTQ+ friendly family lawyer specializing in child custody in the North Platte, Nebraska area and someone types “same-sex child custody lawyer Lincoln, NE,” you should target them specifically. 

 

Is High Funnel or Low Funnel Better?

It depends on your goals. If you are trying to increase traffic to your site and broaden your market then high funnel is probably good for you. If you are just trying to get clients, low funnel is preferable. Of course, the best option is a balance of both. You can’t have a business without brand awareness, but you also can’t have a business if no one is buying anything.

 

How Do I Keep People Moving Down the Funnel?

Remarketing is a good way to keep people moving and in the funnel. Previously mentioned about mid-funnel marketing, remarketing mainly just reminds consumers that if they haven’t found a solution for their problem yet, there’s a brand that has solutions. You’ve seen remarketing in action when you look at a product then see ads for that exact product everywhere for the next three days. It’s considered a highly effective strategy.

 

Where Does this Blog Post Fit in the Funnel?

This blog post would be considered high funnel, as it’s targeted at a more general audience than our specific market. Since it’s informational rather than opinion-based it’s designed to be picked up by search engines and answer people’s general questions on marketing funnels. If you start seeing ads for Mockingbird or decide to look at what services we offer, you’ll have entered the middle of the funnel. If you eventually become a client, congrats on two accounts! First for making it all the way through the funnel, second for getting a great marketing team for your law firm.

Google My Business is a Necessity (Even if it Goes Premium)

Last year Google sent out surveys to local businesses to see how much they could potentially charge for premium Google My Business memberships. This led to a bit of panic, but has yet to be implemented. What I’m here to argue is that your firm needs Google My Business, whether you need to buy a subscription or not.

 

Visibility

Even if they do implement charged services, GMB listings will still be free to claim. These listings are the best way to get your business on the map in a very literal sense. You claim your business and then you appear on the map. When a client searches “Lawyers near me” you need to show up.

 

NAP Consistency

Your name, address, and phone number are about the most important details of your business that you want to express. As far as Maslow’s hierarchy of marketing needs, your business name is pretty much at the bottom of the pyramid. GMB is a good starting place for ensuring your business details stay consistent.

 

Review Consolidation

As far as review collection goes, GMB makes it pretty easy. The service collects reviews from Yelp, Avvo, Lawyers.com, and various other platforms. This makes it easy for clients to find average ratings and for you to keep track of your reputation

 

Driving Conversions

Finally, I want to touch on the main reason to build out your GMB profile: it drives conversions. Really well. You can see this on Google Analytics: Conversions → Multi-Channel Functions → Top Conversion Paths → Primary Dimension: Default Channel Grouping Path. See where GMB ranks in your conversions. Here’s how it’s done for just a few of our clients:

 

In summary, GMB works in favor of local businesses. The main benefits of GMB aren’t the ones Google is thinking of charging for, so take advantage. If you don’t have GMB, you’re really falling behind. Please catch up.

The Social Media Sites You Shouldn’t Ignore

Social media is a medium that can’t be neglected when building an online business profile. It provides an opportunity to interact with your community and control your online persona. According to a study, social media can also help build your page ranking.

 

In the study, which looked at results on branded searches, social media profiles and pages ranked page one in a high percentage of searches. One site that stood out for branded searches was LinkedIn, which was the most commonly appearing website in the study.

 

From searchengineland.com

 

Facebook was the second most common website, showing up for 246 out of 500 companies. 

 

So what does this tell us? 

 

For one thing, it tells us that having a social media presence is vital for online reputation management. You have full control over your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, you have less control over your reviews (but you still have some). When a potential client hears about your firm, the first thing they will do is look you up. By having multiple sites you control on Google page one you are crafting your image.

 

So how can we take advantage of this?

 

Well, you can build out your profiles. If you don’t have a Facebook or a LinkedIn business page you should build them. If you already have them, update them. Post regularly and maintain your presence.

 

Will Mockingbird help me make a Facebook?

While the team here at Mockingbird will help with online reviews and social media advertising, we do not maintain our clients’ profiles. That’s something you’ll have to figure out.

Survey Says: Manage Your Reviews

A recent survey by BrightLocal has shined a light on how important reputation management is for businesses. 

 

The survey, which polled over 1,000 Americans of varying ages, looked at what percentage of consumer left reviews, read reviews, and let reviews influence them. While the results shouldn’t be surprising to anyone in the marketing industry, they certainly help to prove the point that reviews are vital for the success of a business, especially with Google My Business’ new carousel review feature.

 

How Consumers Read Reviews

Time

Over 80% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, with younger generations being more likely to consult online reviews. They spend an average of about 13 minutes reading reviews before making a decision, with 18-34 year-olds taking upwards of 18 minutes and 55+ year-olds taking under 10 minutes.

 

Trust

As expected, good reviews are good. 91% of consumers responded that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business. Similarly, 82% said that negative reviews make them less likely to use a business.

 

 

This is especially telling, considering 76% of total consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends. The level of trust increases with younger audiences, with 41% of 18-34 year olds saying they always trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

 

Review Legitimacy

Of course, consumers don’t always trust every review they see. Some factors they pay attention to beyond the content include:

 

  • Recency
  • Star rating
  • Number of reviews
  • Business responses

 

 

The general consensus is that reviews over three months old are no longer relevant.

 

Consumers are particularly worried about fake reviews, with 82% claiming to have read at least one fake review in the past year. The increased number from 2018 suggests that there are either more fake reviews online than before or consumers are simply becoming savvier to them. Either way, you want to keep them off your platforms.

 

 

Responding to Reviews

Responding as a business owner may seem unnecessary and time-consuming, but is worth it. 71% of consumers responded that they were more likely to use a business if they had seen that the business had responded to reviews. This is an easy way to maintain control of your reviews and your image while still allowing your customer’s voice to be heard.

 

Requesting Reviews

One of the best ways to control your online presence is by asking your clients to leave reviews. Of the 67% of consumers asked to leave a review, 76% left a review. 33% of consumers were never asked to leave a review. That 33% is a huge missed opportunity for businesses, especially with so many options for reaching out to consumers.  

 

Businesses reached out to customers in a number of ways, including:

 

  • During the sale;
  • In a follow-up email;
  • Over the phone;
  • On a receipt;
  • In an SMS message;
  • In exchange for a discount; and
  • On a business card

 

Managing Your Reviews

Reviews are your opportunity to build your community around your clients. By responding to their comments, asking them to write reviews, and making accounts on multiple platforms you are setting yourself up for success. 

If you feel like your law firm could use some help with your reviews, contact Mockingbird. Reputation management is just one of our specialized services.

The 4 Best Ways to Optimize for Local

The importance of local SEO has seemingly been emphasized to death, but I think you’ll find that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the importance of the practice. Consumers consistently choose local businesses over larger businesses, and will often make that decision early in their search journey. 

 

1. Google My Business

By setting up your Google My Business you are giving yourself a local physical presence. You will now show up when someone searches for “law firms near me” and will appear on Google Maps. By having an up to date and consistent Google My Business Profile you are preparing for customers to find you. 

 

2. Local Landing Pages

What are consumers seeing when they first land on your website? Is it relevant to where they are? It should be. Local landing pages are only really for firms that have unique services depending on locality. If your firm has multiple offices or attorneys with different practice areas in different cities, then local landing pages would be ideal for you. You can talk about cases you won in those areas and your best settlement amounts, all of which help to advertise your work.

 

3. Local Reviews

Reviews can be made through Google My Business, Yelp, or simply by the local paper. Reviews by locals are ideal, as it makes your business appear more trustworthy (we know it’s already trustworthy, but we need it to appear that way too). Local newspapers are especially useful as they provide opportunities for link building, PR, and reviews by trusted members of the community.

 

4. Provide Community-Centered Resources

What issues are unique to your community, or are at least prevalent? Is there already local information about it online? Can you be a better resource? Having quality, helpful links that people in your area can click on is incredibly vital for a local law firm and shouldn’t be neglected. Any time you see an opportunity to write about the legal implications of a local issue, you should be planning your next blog post. Being a resource is the best way to raise brand awareness.

Knowing how to build your local presence should go hand in hand with building your brand. Your firm should be a part of the community, just as any other local business would be. If you would like help planning your local strategy and investing in local marketing, contact Mockingbird.

3 Ways a Scholarship Can Help Your Firm (And How to Organize One)

Law firms are a part of the community just like any other local businesses, but that position has to be upheld. One easy and fun way to participate in your local community while showing your firm’s benevolent nature is by organizing a scholarship program for local students.

 

The Benefits of a Scholarship

 

1. Increased Publicity

There’s nothing local news likes better than feel-good stories, and nothing is more feel-good than a young student working hard and being recognized for it. When you set up a scholarship, you are a good force that is recognizing the student’s hard work. 

Getting the publicity requires work beyond setting up the scholarship, which is important to keep in mind. Use your connections at the local papers. Don’t have any connections? It’s time to start making them.

 

2. Improved Public Image

Law firms can sometimes appear intimidating and focused on their business above all else. By giving money to hardworking students or youths out of nothing but the goodness of your heart, you are proving this wrong. 

If a potential client is researching local law firms, they may feel more connected to the law firm that has been proving that it has interests in their community. By displaying the scholarship prominently on your website, your values are front and center. 

 

3. The Publicity is Cyclical

There are multiple news cycles that can be squeezed out of a single scholarship and more for different types of awards. There are separate stories that a reporter can write about the announcement of the scholarship, the announcement of the winner(s), the profile of the winner(s), and the announcement of the next scholarship.

Different types of competitions can have different cycles. A talent/performance-based award can have a story based around the various performances, a writing competition could feature the writings, and a research award can highlight the research and findings done. Think of what best fits with your firm and how you can make it last.

 

How to Organize a Scholarship Contest

Deciding on a competition

To organize a scholarship contest you need to first think of a competition. This can either relate to your practice areas (for example design a street that would keep drivers, pedestrians, and bikers safe while maintaining accessibility for all, if you are a personal injury firm) or simply recognizing talent (youth leader awards, personal essays, talent shows, etc.). Choose a competition that you wouldn’t mind having someone sort through large amounts of submissions.

 

Setting the award

What are these kids even winning? If it’s a scholarship, it should be a set amount of money to go to their education. If it’s an award for a charity, it should be a set amount of money to go to a charity of the winner’s choosing. If it’s a cash prize, just give the kid their check. Whatever the award is, make sure that it’s clearly outlined in the announcement.

 

The contest announcement

When announcing the contest, make the contest rules and guidelines very clear. If there’s an age or GPA limit, make that clear. Also make sure the deadlines for submission are clear, as well as the date the winners will be announced by. You don’t want anyone to feel like they’re wasting your time.

Remember the contacts you made in the local newspapers? Use them to get the announcement out. Students are often thrilled at any chance they might get to add something to their resume, but they won’t know about it unless it’s made public. 

 

The winners’ announcement

So the contest has run its course, you got the submissions, you chose the right one(s) to be the winner(s), and now you’re ready to tell the world. It’s time to call up your reporter friends again. Writing blog posts for your website are great, but they’ll only really reach the people on your website. By having a story in the paper more people will see both the contest winner(s) as well as your law firm. If people want to learn more, they can visit your website. 

 

Starting the next competition

The winner(s) announcement is a great opportunity to also announce your next competition. Keep the cycle going. For this to work, you need to figure out the optimal time period for each competition and start the process all over.