WTF is Dark Social? Watch this webinar replay to learn what Dark Social is, and how to leverage it for your firm.
Webinar recorded on May 11 at 10:00 am PT on Zoom.
WTF is Dark Social? Watch this webinar replay to learn what Dark Social is, and how to leverage it for your firm.
Webinar recorded on May 11 at 10:00 am PT on Zoom.
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.
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.
Video Transcript: How Law Firms Can Attract New Clients Using Video Marketing
Hi, my name is Tim Sherrill; I’m an account manager at Mockingbird Marketing. Today I wanted to talk to you about shooting video and why it’s crucial for your law practice, and how it’s an opportunity for people to get to know you before they’ve had a chance to speak to you in person.
The reason why this video is shot on location at Sahale Glacier, at the North Cascades National Park, it is often useful to share your interests.
As people, we’re attracted to others with similar interests, and you don’t need to be as casual as I am in this video.
You can utilize b-roll footage of working with clients at the office and film yourself in more relaxed attire.
This way, you’re both professional and approachable, providing those watching your videos the opportunity to pierce the veil.
It’s essential to build the relationship early. That’s is another strong reason to have yourself on video, on your website. It establishes that trust at the onset.
We are giving people that opportunity to get to know you. How you speak, your body language. These are all fundamental social ques that we all deal with daily as human beings, as social beings.
You are taking this a step further by putting yourself out there on video sets this relationship in motion.
It’s important to consider the lifetime value of these relationships in what they bring in return. These positive experiences create stories about you, that another person might find relatable seeing you through your client’s perspective.
Now it’s more than just your story told through your eyes.
Again, remember that lifetime value your clients’ have for you and your practice. As your relationship progresses with them, and that trust builds.
Once their case is done and finished, we all know that referral is the best marketing form.
All You Need Is:
I’ve created a helpful template for people who are getting into making videos, and it’s easier than you think to get started. Especially with our mobile phones these days.
Right now, I’m shooting on my Samsung at 4K resolution.
I’m using an external lens, a Moment 18mm wide-angle lens, to combat the cropping that occurs when shooting videos.
You don’t have to be as fancy as me, but you want to be using an external microphone because your mobile device’s microphone quality isn’t good enough. Especially in these windy conditions, I’m in; there’s a reason why I have a lavalier mic right here(pointing at the mic attached to my vest).
A small tripod is useful too, and there are different mobile phone mounts you can use for your phone.
To get the approximate elevation you want in your Camera, you want to look your Camera in the eye. It’s best practice not to have an upward look at yourself because people are then looking up underneath your chin.
Another thing to do as well is lighting. I chose this time to shoot my video because we have a decent overcast sky right now. The sun isn’t too harsh on me, with good direct lighting without creating harsh cast shadows.
You don’t want to look like a villain, and if you have harsh shadows going on, that’s how you’re going to come off, unfortunately.
The extra things I’ve done too with this post, I’ve not only put together my thoughts and experiences from video and the tools I use. I’ve found other resources on the web I find useful as well to explore.
There are different ways of creating video, and my way shouldn’t be the only way, even though the Mockingbird way is a pretty sweet way to go!
Ensuring that you’re not close to a wall or large object.
When you’re too close to the wall, for example, the scene gets flattened & you’re now competing with the wall.
A clean space keeps the Focus on you, & be sure to do a quick scene check before you start recording
I want you to know, here at Mockingbird, we like trying new things, and we’re looking forward to taking this adventure with you!
Improved Data. With Google’s recent announcement that videos will appear in searches and webmasters will be provided comprehensive data on the video’s performance, producing tailored content is simple, or at least as simple as any other form of digital marketing. With improved access to data, adapting your campaigns will be a sharp learning curve.
Video Reach Campaigns. While you definitely shouldn’t have third-party embedded videos on your website (it can significantly slow down site speeds by full seconds), you should consider video advertising or posting regular informational blogs on a company Youtube channel.
With Youtube’s updated video, reach campaigns managing multiple campaigns is easy and cost-effective. If you don’t want to manage video ads, a video channel will help build your online presence.
Actionable Language puts your clients at ease, safe in knowing that you’re going to help them successfully navigate the law.
You’re experienced practicing the law, and when it comes to your practice areas, sharing that knowledge helps cement your authority, which doesn’t mean showering yourself in accolades.
You need to take things a step further and share how your authority will help, which sets you apart from other attorneys & this begins with removing “I” from the conversation.
As an attorney, you’re well practiced, handling countless matters similar to what your website user is going through.
It’s important to know that the problems we face in our daily lives reflect
the oldest story ever told, “The Heroes Journey.”
No, we aren’t entering a dungeon to slay a dragon, but if we’re in your clients’ shoes, their problem may as well be a dragon, and as their guide, it’s your job to help provide them the tools to slay it.
Actionable Language is also about getting to the point and not burying the lead by ensuring essential content surfaces on the page.
You are writing for skimmers. Your users are online researching, looking for clear answers, and probably looking at other attorneys too.
Writing dense paragraphs is far from appealing online. You might as well present a wall. Instead, break your page content into sections, allowing users to get a sense of your content quickly.
Below I’ve bulleted out five tips to help you in this endeavor.
Actionable content takes practice, and without practice, there is no progress.
Keeping to a schedule is crucial as well. Otherwise, you stop making time to write, and your goals of writing content evolve from a small task to a hill, and then suddenly, you’re confronted with a mountain.
I get it. Your days are filled with client work, and life doesn’t stop after hours.
You still need to focus on personal matters as well.
There is no sense in making gains in your professional life if your personal life is eroding underneath your feet. That may be a bit extreme, but you get my point.
Find yourself a content writer. Preferably someone familiar with writing for the legal industry, understanding your client’s pain points and practiced in writing for the Web.
It’s crucial to delegate but to the right people. Otherwise, you’ll spend as much time editing as you would have writing the content yourself.
At Mockingbird, we know how to write for the web, and don’t market to just any industry. We are specialists in marketing for attorneys.
We understand our client’s pain points and are more than comfortable writing for the legal industry, and creating actionable content is our staple.
Plus, our extensive practice writing for attorneys almost guarantees your need for edits will be minimal, saving you time.
What are you waiting for!? Reach out, and chat with Emily on our sales team and Conrad, our President and founder.
They’d love to hear from you, and so would I.
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.
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!”
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
We’ve recently updated our ticket submission process to give you the best support possible, and emails sent directly to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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 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:
In layman’s terms, these might be:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.