How to Use Your COVID-19 Downtime To Help Your Law Firm Grow

There’s no doubt about it, we’re all having to change our daily routines because of COVID-19. Many law firms are finding themselves with more downtime than they’re used to, and that can be very scary as a small business owner.

We’ve been talking to our clients a lot lately about whether they should be pausing all advertising, switching focus on their current marketing projects, and even helping them learn new tools and technology to help them work remotely.

Since no one knows when things will start going back to normal, here’s a list of things you, as an attorney or an employee at a law firm, can do to help your business for the long-haul:

  1. Write New Content: You know that content you’ve been meaning to write over the past six months, or even six years? Now is a great time to revisit that list and start churning out your new practice types or sub categories. If you have the flexibility to add new practice types that might help your business now (think bankruptcy, divorce, wills & trusts), create content on those and add them to your website.
  2. Audit Your Site: Not sure if you need new content? Take a look at what you have on your website. If you’ve been in business for a while, there’s a good chance you have some outdated or irrelevant content on your site. Figure out what’s most important to your business and what you want your potential clients to be able to find, or not find.
  3. Audit Your Own Intake Process: If you’ve utilized CallRail’s recording capabilities, now is a great time to go back and listen to how your staff handles your inbound calls. If you don’t record calls, go through your front desk’s process or list of questions they use to qualify a new lead. Are there things missing from the list? Things that could be added?
  4. Work on Your Social Media Presence: With so many people at home and on their computers, you should come up with other ways to get in front of people. While social sites may not be the best converting marketing channel, it does help with your local brand exposure. It’s also a great way to build trust with members of your community. We’ve already seen a lot of really great stories come out over the past couple of weeks of local businesses helping their community through these hard times.
  5. Get Involved: If you’re able, use your legal expertise to help those who have legal questions. If you’re an employment attorney, many people are unsure if they qualify for unemployment. Even if you can’t help the person now, they may need your services in the future and will turn to you.
  6. Go Digital: For those of you still using snail mail and handwritten documents, switch over to something like DocuSign. Move all of your files off of your hard drive and on to the cloud. You can also embrace video conferencing and invest in a good webcam and microphone.
  7. Email Campaigns: Use that long list of emails you have from people filling out your website’s contact form and create drip email campaigns to hit people now while they’re doing research on potential lawyers.
  8. Create a Marketing Plan: For some, marketing is one of the last things you think about when it come to your business. Think about where you’d like to be in the next year, 5 years, or 10 years, and start planning what you need to do to get there. There’s also a lot of really great blog content out there that’s designed specifically for lawyers and their marketing…hint, hint.
  9. Watch Webinars: Use this time to learn something that can help your business later on. There are plenty of tools and marketing agencies putting on more webinars than normal.
  10. Attend a Virtual Conference: A lot of conferences have had to move to a virtual platform, including ours, but are still covering the same topics they would have at their physical events. Instead of paying a couple thousand dollars to attend a conference far away, spend a few hundred to get the same great information, but from the comfort of your own home.

Even though things are uncertain at the moment, you can use this time to do all the things you never had time to do before, and set yourself up for success once everything blows over.

If you’re interested in getting an experts opinion on how you should be handling your law firm’s business and marketing, give us a call.

 

 

How to Prevent the Coronavirus from Contaminating Your Conversions

Preparing for Working Remotely

Things are scary right now, from both a health perspective and an economic perspective. We don’t know how long this is going to last, and we might be buckling in for months worth of changes. The CDC is recommending working from home and washing your hands regularly, but there’s less guidance on how to survive financially right now. If your business is your life, we’d understand if you’re panicking. 

Many folks are talking about the Coronavirus in the “macro” sense. It’s seizing financial markets. It’s wiping out 200+ conferences. It’s the “most pressing uncertainty” according to the IMF’s managing director. 

These “macro” effects are not under our control; our hands aren’t on these dials, and they’re not even within reach. But we can make a difference in our own companies. Leaders at larger businesses have been telling staff to stay home. Small and medium businesses are now following suit. If your company has the ability to convert to working entirely remotely, you should get used to it. I just got an email that a gathering of legal tech executives was canceled because the host company is closing their San Francisco office for the week.

What happens when you don’t have the virtual-office infrastructure and work-from-home policies in place that make working remotely no different than business as usual? Massive productivity losses. Canceled appointments. Missed deadlines. And a lot of missed calls. This means you need to get your systems in place. Now. 

Client Calls

If you’ve told your law firm staff to work from home this week, the absolute first step you must take is checking your phone system to ensure it’s routing calls to phones and extensions connected to real, live humans. Your staff won’t be at their desks so their calls shouldn’t be going there. If they aren’t checking their voicemail regularly when they’re in the office, they can’t be expected to check it when they’re at home. Your system can’t rely on voicemail.

 

Call Forwarding

Call forwarding is a good option for direct extensions. Those calls can ring through to staff members’ cell phones. You can even set boundaries so forwarding occurs only during normal business hours. If your staff is uncomfortable with having their direct cell or home lines available to your clients, they can set up a forwarding number that will help separate their professional from their personal lives.

 

Transfers

Transfers are a bit trickier, but chat apps like Slack allowing interoffice, real-time communication can help law firm staff connect with their coworkers to facilitate hand-offs. This will also allow your staff to stay in direct communication with each other. It’s no replacement for in-person conversations, but maintaining strong lines of communication between you and your staff can be the difference between a smooth transition into working from home and a complete breakdown of organization. 

 

Handling Your Main Line

Just as during a regular day at the office, how you answer your main line is vital to converting clients. If you let your main line go to voicemail or place the task of answering it all on one person, you are setting yourself up for failure. You would be sacrificing both that staff member’s productivity and the perceived availability of your firm. No one wants to hire the firm that doesn’t even have the time to answer their phone.

You need an answering service. I wrote it like that because it really is that simple. It doesn’t decrease your legitimacy or reduce your personal connection with your clients. You will need all the help you can get, and a good answering service is able to provide more than basic “call answering.”

While you and your staff are working from home, a remote receptionist service worth its salt will handle your lead screening, consult scheduling, and payment chasing. Getting all that work outsourced means freeing you up to help your new and existing clients. Being honest about what you can and cannot do on your own is vital in times like these.

As is important in any incoming client call, the option to transfer to a person on your staff needs to remain open. When there’s a true need for a transfer to someone in your office, a good answering service can call or text the intended recipient to see if they’re available to accept the call. Some agencies can even ping that Slack channel to see who, among your staff, is ready to claim the call.

Bottom line, don’t let the mature decision to keep staff at home and protect them from illness trigger a poor decision to burden those staff (who are likely trying to also care for kids kept out of school). Your clients should not suffer from your responsibility, and neither should your staff. 

If you’ve already enlisted a receptionist service, make sure they are providing the tools you need. Not all answering services are created equally, and now is the time that they will be tested. Find the one that works for you, even if it means getting rid of the one you have.

 

Keeping Up to Date

If you feel as though you need more information on how to best prepare, Mockingbird is hosting a webinar with the goal of sharing ideas and recommendations for how to proceed. Our webinar, titled “Converting Leads During Corona – How to Maintain Marketing Campaigns During a Crisis with Outsourced Intake” will be held through GoToWebinar from 12:30-1:30 PM PST on Friday, March 20th.

To register, follow this link. All firms are welcome, as we want to get as many minds on this as possible. We are making it our priority to help our clients strategize their next steps and provide support in any way we can. 

 

Smith.ai

If you haven’t yet taken action or are finding your current service lacking, we’re ready to serve you at Smith.ai. We can take one of two paths:

  • We can get your phones answered within a couple hours with our expedited setup. That’s the second option after you sign-up online.
  • Or, if you give us 1-2 days more, we can get more acquainted for handling those spiffy screening & scheduling tasks I talked about above.

You can even use my name and the code MADDY100 for $100 off. That’s worth like 15-20 free calls depending on your plan. And, that’s in addition to our 20-call free trial.

During the trial and after, we’ll:

🙋🏻‍♀️ Answer your phones

📲 Transfer calls to staff at home (pre-screening leads, as needed)

📆 Book (or reschedule) your meetings

And you can use us just for this short-term stint, or ongoing. We won’t be offended; we’re built for exactly these scenarios, as well as the day-to-day.

Now, go get your phones in order, so those leads Conrad and his team are generating for you receive the friendly, helpful, fast, and accurate response they deserve. We’ve got you!

NOTE: Maddy Martin is the Head of Growth & Education at Smith.ai. The services they offer are one possible solution during this current crisis that’s upending “business as usual” for firms across the country. Mockingbird is not paid by Smith.ai and does not profit off any signups resulting from this post. We’re publishing this post because we think Maddy is exceptionally awesome and you should be exploring all sorts of tech options right now.

The Difference Between a Lead and a Conversion (and Why You’re Responsible for the Latter)

A lot of digital marketers talk about the importance of leads and conversions. We’re no exception. We often even use the terms interchangeably. This is incorrect.

Leads and conversions are actually two very different metrics. They are the difference between someone asking a store clerk for help and someone actually purchasing something. By using them interchangeably proper credit for business growth or stagnation cannot be given. 

 

Leads

Leads refer to when a consumer interacts with the website. This can be in the form of a phone call, form fill, message, or usage of a chat feature. Some marketers consider interacting with X number of pages a lead; leads can be surprisingly subjective.

As a marketing firm, we are responsible for increasing leads. We want to get people to your website and to call your firm. We will do this by running ads, improving your website, and making contact forms and chats accessible. 

 

Conversions

Conversions are when a consumer actually turns into a client. This means they got in contact with your firm and scheduled an appointment. It is direct business.

Your firm is responsible for increasing conversions. If we have done our job and increased leads, it’s now up to you to turn the leads into clients. We can’t answer your phones for you and we can’t provide legal advice during your lead’s free consultation. While increased conversions are an indicator of a successful marketing strategy, it’s a team effort. You owe it to your intake department for your growing client base.

 

When This Knowledge Comes in Handy

For the most part, the difference between leads and conversions is pretty semantic. If your account executive says their campaign resulted in increased conversions, chances are the campaign resulted in increased leads which later led to increased conversions. 

Alternatively, if you’re in the market for an agency and a salesperson talks about how much they increased conversions for a firm, ask what they consider a conversion. They might skirt the question. Maybe they’ll surprise you and say that they consider new clients conversions, in which case they would be correct. If they say they consider using a chat feature a conversion, dig a bit deeper. Sure it might be an innocent error, but it’s always good to be sure you can trust your agency. Don’t waste your money on a firm that’s pulling one over on you.

Who’s Answering Your Phone?

We’ve had “the phone conversation” a few times with our clients: they’re getting leads, but they aren’t becoming conversions. What’s going on if the phones are ringing off the hook but there’s no new business? Is there a way that this could be the marketer’s fault?

 

To answer the second question, yes. It could be the marketer’s fault. If the advertising is sending the wrong kind of clients, then those phone calls are useless. But that isn’t usually what’s going on.

 

How to Diagnose What’s Going on

A Problem With Your Answering Service

We’ve strongly pushed the services of CallRail before on this very blog, and this is the reason why. CallRail records incoming client calls, which you can listen to and better understand where things might be going wrong. Go through the checklist:

  • Did the person answering the phone give relevant information regarding your firm?
  • Was the client’s problem clear and relevant to your practice area?
  • Were the next steps for the client made clear?
  • Was the person answering the phone politely?

If the answer to any of these was “no,” you need to fix something with your answering service.  Whether it’s the office receptionist or a professional team of phone answerers, you need to make sure no clients are being lost through misunderstandings or excessive curtness.

 

A Problem With Your Hours

Sometimes phone calls go unnoticed. If they are coming in during your business hours, they really shouldn’t. We’ve reviewed client call logs and it can be surprising how many calls went unanswered during business hours, often around lunch. We get it, your people are working hard and need to take a break. The problem is, a lot of people are on that same schedule and are only free to call during their lunch break. By being unavailable during these times, you are forfeiting clients.

 

A Problem With Your Intake Capacity

Some small firms just don’t have the infrastructure in place to take in a large number of clients at once, and have a relatively low cap on the number of calls they can handle in one day. In these situations, we recommend investing in intake services. These businesses are ready with trained operators on standby, prepared to answer calls and sign up clients for you. This relieves pressure from your front desk and helps you get the best clients available.

 

A Problem With the Marketing

We’ll admit this happens. It’s not often, but sometimes something goes wrong and the wrong types of clients start calling. The best solution for this is to communicate with the person in charge of your marketing and doing some course correction. 

 

3 Ways to Update Your Intake System

The first and highest recommended way is with CallRail. We’ve already touched on this, so we won’t dwell on it.

The second way is regular mystery shopping. Call your own firm and check in on the intake process. See if your intake crew is professional and productive. If they aren’t, get a new team or invest in some training.

The third way to improve your intake system is through an answering service. This will improve the bandwidth of your intake system and allow you to increase your client numbers drastically.

 

Final Thoughts

Calls are some of the best ways to land a client. You know they are interested in your services to the point that they picked up a phone. Don’t throw that away. Make sure you’re giving them the service they deserve.

Responsive Ads Might Be Your Best Option

Google Ads offers a variety of ad options, but none might be better for small businesses than Responsive Ads, both search and display. We might be shooting ourselves in the foot here, but the reason I’m recommending these ads is because of their lack of a need for a marketing agency. Business owners can run them without needing in-depth knowledge of marketing, advertising, graphic design, or copywriting. 

 

How They Work

Responsive Ads work by taking pre-written headlines, body texts, and the URL of the page. For display ads, you will need a few high-quality photos as well. It then mixes and matches them to find which work best across their wide network. This means it only needs as much skill as it takes to come up with ten pieces of short text. 

 

Where Display Ads are Displayed

Google Display Ads are displayed on the Google Display Network (GDN). The GDN is made up of sites that run Google Ads in a variety of forms, and you can control targeting based on audience and website. The ads can show up as banners that show up in the lower third of videos, banners at the tops of pages, and any other way Google sees fit. 

 

Where Search Ads are Shown

Responsive Search Ads appear alongside all other search ads at the top and bottom of search results. Similar to display ads, you can target based on audience interests, location, and certain demographics (age, gender). 

 

How the Bidding Works

Google Ads’ bidding system works by giving the spot to the highest bidder, but for only $0.01 more than the second-highest bidder’s bid. This generally awards risk-takers, or those willing to invest high amounts in ad spend. This also tends to work in favor of larger competitors in the area who have more to spend, so it can sometimes be difficult to get your first choice keywords. In a market as competitive as legal, experience with the Google Ads bidding experience is definitely an asset. This is why marketing agencies are still relevant, even if you can make your own ads.

 

Other Things to Consider When Managing Your Ads

If you really do want to run your own ad campaigns there are a number of things you will have to think about and decide on. These include ad extensions, call tracking numbers, time restrictions, and further targeting. While marketing agencies such as Mockingbird have experience with this, you too will gain experience. If you truly believe you are ready to take your advertising in your own hands, all the power to you. Go, be free.

When Should You Pay for Listings?

What are Legal Directories?

Legal directories have always had a place in the industry; clients need to know the person they’re hiring is actually accredited by at least one State Bar. Before the internet, they came in the form of large volumes of leather-bound books that adorned offices, which they still do, but the online directories are much more accessible.

 

So why do you need to pay to be listed in a directory? You passed the bar, you have a law firm, why should you have to pay? Well, you don’t.

 

Free Listings

Most of the main legal directories won’t require you to pay to be listed. This includes Avvo, LawDeeDa, Lawyers.com, and various others, many of which you can find here. This also includes Yelp and Google My Business. Claiming your listing is free, but doing anything more might cost you with varying returns.

 

These directories’ business models run off advertising revenue, meaning they have to provide advertising somewhere, and where better than on competitor’s listings? This gives the directories the chance to profit in two areas: advertising, and getting people to pay not to be advertised on. 

 

Paid Listings

When you pay for a listing, you sign up to not have your competitors advertise on your page (read the fine print if you decide to sign up, details change from site to site). You can also sign up to advertise on your competitor’s pages. If you are in a competitive market, this might be a good way to get a leg-up. That being said, if you are in a competitive market, chances are your competitors have the same idea.

 

There are benefits to directories whether you pay or not. For one they give you the opportunity to get your brand out there. If you don’t show up when people search, do you even exist?

 

Link Building

Another benefit of directories is their link building potential. By getting your website onto your profile you are creating a strong backlink. This can have a tremendous impact. Basic link building is a great way to begin growing your business.

 

So when should you invest in a paid listing? This depends on your financial and geographical situation. Just like all marketing decisions, there are pros and cons. I can’t tell you in a blog post what to do, except to at least claim your firm. Getting your details out there is important, and a free listing and link will certainly help.

Should You be Advertising on DuckDuckGo?

Neglecting all search engines that aren’t Google might not be your downfall, but it definitely won’t help you. It’s also possible to run whole advertising campaigns just on Google and Bing’s main sites. Here’s the thing: you shouldn’t.

 

The Underdog Engines

Google owns a majority of the global search engine market. This makes it a highly competitive market for advertisers, since that’s where a lot of the consumers are. This is why Microsoft Ads (or Bing Ads, depending on who you’re talking to) are a good alternative. The competition is lower, the prices are cheaper, and return on investment is often comparable if not higher than with Google Ads. 

 

Where DuckDuckGo Fits In

Going further down the funnel from Bing is DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo doesn’t own half a percent of the global search engine market, but it is growing. 

 

The business model of the platform rests on ensuring user privacy. Unlike Google and Bing, DuckDuckGo advertises based solely on keywords, not user history. This makes it particularly appealing to users who are concerned about their personal safety and privacy.

 

Who Could Benefit from Advertising on DuckDuckGo

Due to the secure nature of the search engine, DuckDuckGo should be particularly appealing to businesses dealing with sensitive matters. As a law firm, it’s likely that you are dealing with sensitive matters.

 

A quick glance at a few of our clients has shown some pretty significant numbers of pageviews over the past six weeks from DuckDuckGo users. As in, over 100 users for some firms. This may not be a lot percentage-wise (less than 1% of total traffic),  but some of them have been leading to conversions. For a platform that isn’t getting much focus, it has a lot of potential.

How to Advertise on DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is an affiliate with Microsoft, meaning advertising is distributed through the Bing Ads interface and network. This means that you can set up your Bing Ads to be distributed on DuckDuckGo searches. 

 

You can make sure DuckDuckGo is included in your Bings Ads by going to Settings → Ad Distribution → Network → select All Search Networks.

If you would like help managing your law firm’s digital advertising, contact Mockingbird today.

How Google’s Ever-Changing Search Experience will Impact the Legal Industry

Google is constantly updating, improving features, removing bugs, and changing user experiences. This is quite noticeable for those of us in marketing, who make it our job to keep our finger on the pulse of changes in the search engine world. 

 

How Ads are Changing for Services

Google provides opportunities to advertise just about anything under a variety of categories from restaurants to stores to legal services. You have probably noticed this on Google Maps and might have noticed this when you search for flights. Different categories are being provided with different user experiences. 

 

For legal services, the ads have remained relatively unchanged upfront. Plug-in options have increased, targeting options have changed, and contact options have improved, but these might not be as immediately visible to consumers. This is how legal ads currently look:

 

 

 

This isn’t anything we haven’t seen before; nothing to write home about. However, a recent Search Engine Land article showed how different services’  advertisements differ:

 

 

One of the potential reasons for Google’s delay on local service ad upgrades could be the category’s susceptibility to spam. It’s not unheard of for multiple fake businesses to appear in searches, oftentimes almost indistinguishable from legitimate businesses. 

 

The future of local ads could see more protections going up to fight spam, more carouselling ads, and more individual add-ons based on the business type. It’s hard to know what’s coming for legal advertising, but we know we’ll be ready.

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!