Fuck Google

So let me start with… this isn’t my post. It was sent to me in response to some of the recent posts I’ve made about how Google has evolved both their PPC and more recently, their LSA tactics to deliberately squeeze more money out of advertisers without adding any more value and obfuscated those moves by limiting visibility into reporting.  It’s a rage post that someone banged out and then (wisely?) decided not to post fearing retribution.  I know the guy who wrote it, very well. We’ve spent countless hours over the years talking digital marketing and he and I both share a common path from Google Advocate to Apologist to… well, wherever we are now.  He’s working in legal for the better part of a decade and currently is in-house at a multi-state PI firm overseeing a large, sophisticated online and offline marketing campaign.

And if you aren’t currently furious at Google… have a read because you aren’t really paying attention…

As a marketer, advertiser, and longtime Google apologist, it pains me to say this but fuck Google. 

Over the past year, it’s become clear that Google doesn’t care about individual businesses advertising on their platform, and it’s increasingly looking like they barely care about providing decent results for people researching businesses in their city.

When Google quietly jettisoned “Don’t be Evil” back in 2018 that seemed like a bad sign. “Don’t be evil” feels like the kind of mantra that, once stated, can’t be removed without raising some eyebrows. It’s like having a sign next to your pet saying, “this dog doesn’t bite.” Once people notice the sign is gone it’s not unreasonable to wonder what prompted the removal. But whatever, Google still encouraged employees to, “do the right thing,” and barreled forward on their path to total internet domination. 

With Google’s 80% market share necessitating a strong presence for any business looking to reach potential clients online, the relationship between local businesses and Google has always been somewhat contentious. It’s not surprising that many business owners have been frustrated with everything from shakeups in rankings, shady (but effective) tactics in local search, and a fallacious (but eerily persistent) impression that spending more in PPC increases prominence in organic search results. 

I’ve frequently discounted most of these concerns with the following defenses of Google:

  1. Google is doing the best they can. – Policing and monitoring the internet is a herculean and losing task. Even if you’re making a legitimate effort it’s an unwinnable game of whack-a-mole. However, it’s in Google’s best interest to decipher what users are searching for and deliver a strong selection set for each query.
  2. Google relies on searchers finding the best result possible. – My premise has been that by ensuring high-quality results for users, Google can maintain their market position as long as possible. If results stop being useful, seeking out competing alternatives becomes more likely. As a result, it benefits Google to develop and continuously refine some criteria of what constitutes a good business and place those companies more prominently in front of potential customers.
  3. Google can’t be expected to care about any individual business and devotes focus to entire industries. – Evaluating each individual business is impossible, but having industry specific criteria is slightly more manageable. Google can’t reasonably assess every business in a category, but they can define what’s important to potential customers. If your business isn’t showing up for a specific intent-based search, my Google sided explanation would be that it’s because you’re not what Google thinks that searcher is looking for. It’s not nefarious, it’s just Google looking at a much bigger picture than just your business.

Enter Local Service Ads and a whole new corrupt ecosystem. 

 Unlike the PPC days where ads were ads and a reasonable percentage of searchers understood the distinction, Local Service Ads have increasingly (and I’d argue deliberately) muddied the waters. 

Having already optimized PPC ads to mitigate ad blindness, Google has been finding new and creative ways to effectively monetize searches with high intent. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, especially when it provides businesses with a way to compete for the attention of a potential customer in the market for their services. 

Local Service Ads were launched in 2015, but didn’t really take off until 2018-2019 as industry categories continued to expand. These ads, unlike traditional PPC, imparted a soft-endorsement from Google by listing the advertised business as “Google Screened” and bestowing them with a snazzy checkmark. 

The original intent seemed to be sound. The idea of “Google Screened” was presented as a way to ensure searchers looking to hire a local business, specifically in industries where a contractor would be visiting their home (think plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, etc.), could know with certainty that anyone from that business performing house calls had undergone a background check and was “Google Screened.”

Over time, categories expanded and the product morphed into a pay-per-call version of Google Ads, where high intent searches frequently delivered Local Service Ads at the top of the results and approximately 1 in 3 searchers engaged with LSAs instead of the local map pack or traditional organic results. With LSAs becoming one of the most effective ways for local businesses to get in front of potential customers, competition quickly increased. 

Fast forward to 2024 and businesses are more reliant than ever on utilizing some form of Google advertising to reach potential clients. Shockingly, as more businesses rely on their platform, Google’s customer support has dropped to an “all-time low.”

Google has officially turned into Comcast from a decade ago. Congratulations!


All of this would be annoying for local advertisers if it wasn’t for Google’s most recent, and most insidious, update to their Local Service Ads platform: the addition of “Branded Local Service Ads.” 

A few months ago, Google added a “Direct Business Search” feature within each LSA account. This setting defaulted to “on”, and was pitched as a way to, “Let Local Services Ads highlight your business in results when someone searches for your brand or business directly.” 

As someone that has defended the value of bidding on your own brand in the PPC space, this felt like an obnoxious extension of that same idea. But the devil is in the details, and the total lack of transparency surrounding what is and is not a branded search has been frustrating at best and deliberately misleading at worst. 

Given Google’s dominance in the search space, the only way to steer clear of the auction-based, client-to-the-highest-bidder model has been to aggressively brand your business using other forms of advertising. If people are searching for your business by name, Google has historically showed your result prominently. As it should. 

Now, with the implementation of LSAs for branded searches, Google is attempting to squeeze more revenue from local businesses while providing no benefit to the consumer. It’s hard to defend a duplicate listing placed directly above a business’ organic listing as having any real value to the searcher. 

Making things worse, there is zero transparency provided when someone does call from your “direct search” LSA ad. Despite a “job type” tag built into the dashboard, Google does nothing to denote what calls are from branded searches vs. category specific searches. This makes it impossible to separate acquisition costs like you would with a traditional PPC campaign and artificially lowers your acquisition cost in the aggregate. After all, most companies are better at converting people who already know they want to work with them than the ones who are shopping for the best fit. 

Additionally, because there’s no insight into the cost for any given call, you have absolutely no idea what Google is charging you to place your own ad atop your own business that you’ve already spent money branding to the general public. Obviously, you can turn the ads off and refuse to participate in Google’s shameless cash grab. But, there’s no guarantee Google won’t show ads from competing businesses within your own branded searches. Barry Schwartz posted about Google showing competitor ads within individual GBP listings back in March. Weeks earlier, Joy Hawkins of Sterling Sky had posted about the same issue occurring for the branded search “A1 Garage Door Service.” A Google Ads Liaison Officer responded to the post, saying, “This is a bug (and it was thought to be a non-brand query) – a fix is underway.” Yes, accidents happen. But preventable accidents occurring solely because of a greedy and unnecessary product rollout are significantly less forgivable than a well-intentioned mistake. Even if this bug has indeed been fixed for certain branded terms, it’s going to remain fuzzy for brand specific searches in industries where the business name often contains the service category.

In a vacuum, the rollout of this ad type would be annoying. Coupled with Google’s push toward trusting their algorithm, letting them adjust your bidding strategy to “maximize conversions”, removing any clarity around what you’re paying for individual lead types, and eliminating any meaningful level of customer service for businesses spending well into six-figures per month, it’s hard not to think this is at least evil adjacent. 

Sure, Google could “do the right thing” and sacrifice some potential revenue by not plowing ahead with a redundant ad type that confuses searchers while bilking businesses in a way that deliberately obfuscates the price being paid. However, it’s increasingly feeling like Google’s idea of doing the right thing means holding onto their massive profit margins regardless of how that money is acquired. 

With over 80% of the global search market, Google knows you need them a lot more than they need you. It’s not going to get better, and even though I’d already resigned myself a while ago that we were all racing to a break even for digital leads while Google laughingly lined their pockets; paying a premium for people who already want to call to do so via a duplicative “Google Screened” button was a surprisingly obnoxious twist. 

Each greedy new feature Google rolls out adds to the prisoner’s dilemma facing online advertisers. We all know it’s an unwinnable game, and there are way too many business owners for collaborative defiance. But, the fact that there’s no other game we can play should scare all of us.

So, quietly and with no byline, I’ll say again, fuck Google! Fuck them so much I’m turning off this one feature and begrudgingly continuing all other Google Ads. They’re going to feel this one when their next earnings report comes out! 


How to Choose an SEO Agency for Your Law Firm: A Comprehensive Guide to Making the Right Decision

In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for the success of any business, including law firms. With millions of searches being conducted on search engines like Google every day, ensuring your law firm’s website ranks well is essential for attracting potential clients. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play. However, navigating the complex world of SEO can be daunting, especially for busy law firm owners and managers. That’s where hiring an SEO agency can make all the difference. But with so many options available, how do you choose the right one for your law firm? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key factors to consider when selecting an SEO agency to help your law firm thrive online.

Understanding the Importance of SEO for Law Firms

Before diving into the process of choosing an SEO agency, it’s important to understand why SEO is crucial for the success of your law firm’s online presence. SEO is the practice of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords and phrases. When done effectively, SEO can increase your website’s visibility, drive more organic traffic, and ultimately lead to more clients for your law firm.

For law firms, ranking well on search engines is particularly important due to the highly competitive nature of the legal industry. Potential clients often turn to search engines when seeking legal services, and if your firm’s website doesn’t appear on the first page of search results, you risk losing out on valuable business to your competitors.

Benefits of Hiring an SEO Agency

While some law firms may attempt to handle their SEO efforts in-house, partnering with a reputable SEO agency can offer numerous benefits:

  • Expertise: SEO agencies specialize in optimizing websites for search engines and staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices. By hiring an agency, you gain access to their expertise and knowledge, ensuring your law firm’s website receives the best possible optimization.
  • Time Savings: Managing SEO requires ongoing effort and time commitment. By outsourcing this task to an SEO agency, you free up valuable time to focus on running your law firm and serving your clients.
  • Better Results: With their experience and resources, SEO agencies are better equipped to achieve tangible results and improve your website’s search engine rankings compared to attempting SEO on your own.
  • Comprehensive Services: Many SEO agencies offer a range of services beyond basic SEO, including content marketing, link building, and website design and development. By choosing a full-service agency, you can address all aspects of your online presence under one roof.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing an SEO Agency

Now that we’ve established the importance of SEO and the benefits of hiring an agency, let’s explore the key factors to consider when selecting the right SEO partner for your law firm:

Experience and Track Record

When evaluating SEO agencies, experience matters. Look for agencies that have a proven track record of success in helping law firms improve their search engine rankings and attract more clients. Ask for case studies or client testimonials that demonstrate their past achievements. Additionally, inquire about the specific experience of the agency’s team members and their familiarity with the legal industry.

Services Offered

Not all SEO agencies are created equal, and the services they offer can vary widely. Before making a decision, clarify what services each agency provides and ensure they align with your law firm’s goals and needs. Some common SEO services to look for include:

  • On-page optimization: Optimizing website content, meta tags, and internal linking structure.
  • Off-page optimization: Building high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites.
  • Content marketing: Creating and promoting engaging, informative content to attract and engage your target audience.
  • Local SEO: Optimizing your website for local search queries to attract clients in your geographic area.
  • Technical SEO: Addressing technical issues that may affect your website’s performance and search engine visibility.
  • Transparency and Communication

Effective communication is essential for a successful partnership with an SEO agency. Look for agencies that prioritize transparency and keep you informed about their strategies, progress, and results. Ask about their reporting processes and frequency, and make sure they provide regular updates on key metrics such as keyword rankings, organic traffic, and conversion rates. Additionally, ensure the agency is accessible and responsive to your questions and concerns.

Customization and Flexibility

Every law firm is unique, and a one-size-fits-all approach to SEO may not be effective. Choose an agency that takes the time to understand your law firm’s specific goals, target audience, and competitive landscape. Look for agencies that offer customized strategies tailored to your needs and are willing to adapt their approach as your firm’s goals evolve over time.

White-Hat Practices

Avoid agencies that promise quick fixes or guarantee overnight results, as these often involve black-hat SEO tactics that can harm your website’s reputation and lead to penalties from search engines. Instead, choose an agency that follows ethical, white-hat SEO practices that prioritize long-term growth and sustainability. Ask about their approach to link building, content creation, and other SEO techniques to ensure they align with best practices and search engine guidelines.

Pricing and ROI

While cost is certainly a factor to consider, it shouldn’t be the sole determining factor when choosing an SEO agency. Instead of simply opting for the cheapest option, focus on the agency’s ability to deliver a positive return on investment (ROI) for your law firm. Consider factors such as the agency’s pricing structure, payment terms, and the value they provide in terms of improved search rankings, website traffic, and client acquisition.

Reviews and Reputation

Before making a decision, research each SEO agency’s reputation and look for reviews and testimonials from past clients. Pay attention to both positive and negative feedback, and consider reaching out to current or former clients directly to ask about their experiences. Additionally, check third-party review websites and industry forums to get a sense of the agency’s reputation within the SEO community.

Choosing the right SEO agency for your law firm is a critical decision that can have a significant impact on your online visibility and business success. By considering factors such as experience, services offered, transparency, customization, ethical practices, pricing, and reputation, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your firm’s goals and values. Remember that SEO is a long-term investment, and selecting the right agency is the first step toward achieving sustainable growth and attracting more clients to your law firm.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can confidently navigate the process of choosing an SEO agency and position your law firm for success in the competitive online landscape.

How We Tripled Leads for a PI Firm in 12 Months

Let me not bury the lead: We cut 77% of the content on a law firm’s website and improved lead conversion rate by almost 3x.

I still hear law firm SEO agencies talking about content content content as the key to the SEO game.  And the reason we hear this, isn’t because it works at driving business… it’s because content is a very tangible deliverable agencies produce. And clients like tangible products, even when they don’t do anything.  What law firms like more, is increased business.

SEO Details

The law firm website’s pagecount ballooned to over 2K pages over a period of about 2 years. Now, this was a solid site, well built technical platform and a robust, localized backlink profile.  But while this content was legally and even locally relevant, it was of extremely low quality and the backlinks to those pages were clearly of extremely low value (read: SPAM). Further an in-depth audit showed little if any traffic to these pages. So following the data – Google thought the content was useless. Using that data, we removed about 1,600 pages of content from the site, leaving just over 450 remaining and cutting their absolute backlink count by about 25%.

The Result

The results provide a counterpoint to simplistic SEO expectations about content. Despite killing more than 3 out of every 4 pages, overall traffic to the site stayed within a +/- 10% of the benchmark starting quarter.  But the real insightful takeaway here is in their overall organic conversion rate – which tripled over a period of twelve months, from 2.4% to just under 7%.

The change in their conversion rate wasn’t driven by changes in UI (like adding form fills for example) and therefore the only explanation is a fundamental shift in the quality of traffic (i.e. the site is now attracting traffic that is dramatically more likely to contact the firm. Note this adjustment took almost 9 months to fully take effect and settle into a predictable pattern.

For more reading and examples on this, check out: When SEO Wins Create Fewer Clients.

Tony Colleluori Taught me to Love Lawyers

The first time I ever met Tony, he interrupted and upbraided me in front of about 400 lawyers at a New York Bar Association event.

I just learned from Jeena Belil’s Facebook post that Tony died and I write this hoping that one day his sons might come across this post. I don’t write blog posts that often anymore, but some stories just belong written down.  I’m going to share two Tony stories – they day we met and the last day I ever saw him.

So back to that NY Bar Association event back in 2008… I was the only marketing dude for a little known (at the time) start up called Avvo.  Our CEO, Mark Britton and I were on a charm offensive, introducing the concept of Internet-As-Marketing-Channel to lawyers through appearances at Bar Associations around the country. I had a talk about this new thing called SEO and in one of the slides I talked about the importance of Name Search.  The example I sited was a lawyer named Ashley Dupree Russell whose Avvo profile exploded after the New York Times identified Ashley Dupre – the woman involved in the Eliot Spitzer scandal. My talk went something like this:

“…so, now you have traffic to this lawyer’s profile exploding, because her name is getting misidentified by Google as the hooker”

It was at this point that Tony stood up and castigated me in front of the audience:

“Stop!  Stop right now!  Don’t you ever call a woman a hooker.  That lady is someone’s daughter, someone’s wife, someone’s sister.  Don’t you ever dare disrespect a woman like that.”

I sheepishly stumbled through the rest of the talk; afterwards Tony approached me and Mark.  We ended up going out for lunch, along with Jeena and Andrea Cannavina, to a deli nearby and talked for hours about the web and lawyers. I remember asking him if there was anything we could do for him and he gave me a very sad answer: “You can’t do anything for me.  The only thing I really want is something no one can do.  Unless you have a cure for scleroderma.” It’s a horrible disease which his wife, Mary Rose was suffering from (and eventually succumbed to.) At the end of a long lunch, Tony offered to drive Mark and me to La Guardia in some oversized black American car. That day, in one instant, Tony taught me more about lawyers and the meaning of (many, but not all) lawyers and ultimately lead me to crafting the first of our Mockingbird’s 10 Commandments.

1. We Love Lawyers – Attorneys who represent individuals are the primary counterbalance to corporate malfeasance, the greedy insurance industry and the widespread abuse of police and political power. We are honored to play a small role in this system.

My second story is much more personal and fun.  Mockingbird’s VP of Ops, Robert Williams and I were headed to New York. Rob had never been east of the Mississippi and I wanted to give him the ultimate New York experience so I told Tony I’d be in town and I wanted to go out for an Italian meal.  We met Tony (and Andrea again) at some ridiculously Italian restaurant – our waiter was a heavily accented dude named Michaelangelo. Tony showed up late and took another 20 minutes to get to the back of the restaurant where we were seated b/c he had to stop and talk with half of the people in there. We quaffed overpriced wine and devoured plate after plate of impossibly good Italian food. After dinner, as we were leaving, the proprietor insisted on getting picture of us – we were joined by some lady who I believe was the owner’s wife and I have hopes that there’s a pic of Rob, Conrad, Andrea, Tony and this lady sitting on the wall in some amazing Italian restaurant. Many diners recognize Tony, but have no idea who the two Seattleites are. Tony regaled Rob and me with stories over lawyering and those times he took off his JD in pursuit of Justice. We talked about parenting and his boys who he adored and of course his wife, who I never got to meet. It’s around 11:30 and Tony insisted on taking Rob and me for a tour of Manhattan – b/c back in the day, he used to drive a cab and cabbies used to get paid to take tourists around on an unofficial tour.  So we piled into his oversized black Lincoln or Caddy and Tony narrated a tour of the city for Rob. We’re uptown when it hits Tony that the only way to finish the night is to have a pastrami sandwich and this downtown, famous 24 hour Jewish deli.  Now, I’ve just finished about half my weight in linguine vongole as we hurtle through Manhattan on a suspension that clearly needs to be replaced and I’m trying to imagine downing a pastrami sandwich, but Tony insists. We finally arrive and thank Yahweh it was some Jewish holiday and they were closed.

The picture accompanying this post is from that day in 2008 and thanks to Jeena for sharing it. Tony was New York the way you wanted New York to be… Italian, gruff, connected, bombastic yet entirely welcoming.  NYC is a little less NYC than it was last week.

When SEO Wins Create Fewer Clients

We recently reviewed two law firm’s reports showcasing Traffic and Leads that showcased two diametrically opposed Traffic/Lead patterns – one of which showcases a counter to the predictable (and excusable) assumption that more traffic = more business.

Law Firm A

This is a long standing client – showing long standing SEO growth and a corresponding growth in leads over time.  This is a volume, personal injury shop in an aggressive growth mode; our SEO strategy has successfully supported their office expansion over the past 3 years, both in Organic and Local SEO. This is very much what you would typically expect to see.. growing traffic, growing leads, growing firm.  Note the conversion rate (Leads:Traffic) stays roughly constantly at slightly above 1%.

But it doesn’t always work out that way….

Law Firm B

This firm is the exact opposite… organic traffic growth is actually leading to a decline overall in inbound Leads.  This firm is much less typical – they operate within a very very specific niche and their traffic:lead ratio is off-the-charts low (and trending lower). Put simply – due to their niche, their SEO strategy operates very very high up in the funnel – from a business perspective it takes tons of traffic to generate a small number of highly valuable leads.  This site has historically converted traffic into leads at a rate of 0.25% – much lower than Law Firm A’s more typical 1%.

So what’s going on here? This is a firm that wins at the highest level of the sales funnel – primarily informational site for research based searches that sometimes, eventually, perhaps, maybe a convert a small portion turn into actual customers. And we’ve been successfully optimizing the site for these high funnel research queries for years now. And then things changed…

The reversal in the total number of leads… that happened in conjunction with a Google Core Algo Update of March ’23.  While we’ve continued to improve the site’s overall traffic, absolute volume of leads has declined meaning their already low conversion rate has dropped by an additional 22% down to 0.20%.  We’ve now got three consecutive months of increased traffic corresponding to decreased Leads. If we were measuring our success on traffic, we’d be golden, but traffic doesn’t pay the bills. Time to readjust the site’s overall strategy – specifically it’s content strategy to realign with conversions.

Search Generative Experience for Lawyers – What We Know

From a marketing perspective, the real magic of AI generated content is not the efficient propogation of more and more legal content – but instead,  AI’s  potential to change the way people interact with search.  ChatGPT was a existential threat to Google, because of its potential to flip the consumers behavior from going to a search engine to find a pre-existing piece of content, to interacting with a computer to generate in real-time a 100% customized result for that individual.  The infinite long-tail.

Google’s Search Generative Experience, announced at Google.IO on May 10th is exactly that.  From my perspective this is the most radical change to search in more than a decade.  If it sticks (and I have no reason to think it won’t), SGE is a fifth marketing channel crowding the SERPS, with it’s own algorithms, nuances and competitive realities to compete in.  LSAs, the current darling sitting atop the SERPS will be, at best, pushed down, or disappear entire – note that in the beta we’ve played with LSAs have disappeared in the interface with SGE is present.  Organic listings will be further deprecated and zero click queries will explode, robbing traffic (although less so on conversions) from every single website.

Conclusions from the SGE Beta:

  • Google Business Profiles – From what we’ve seen, GBP is heavily integrated into SGE and do feature heavily in queries – the Local 3 pack in the traditional SERP is replaced by 5 results.  The interesting question (unanswered for now), is are these results driven from the Local algo, or is this an entirely new computation that just happens to use GBP profiles, albeit differently.
  • Google Ads will be incorporated directly into the SGE and you won’t (for now) be able to segment ads or even reporting for SGE vs non SGE campaigns.  This keeps more and more advertisers in the bidding ecosystem, which ultimately drives overall revenue higher for Google.
  • YMYL – exhortations from Google that SGE won’t show up for Your Money Your Life categories does clearly NOT apply to legal based on what we’ve seen.
  • Directories – the Large Language Models that drive AI generated content seem to rely heavily on Directories when assessing the quality of lawyers. Obvious example – Avvo Rating scores lawyers from 1-10, this is very easy for a LLM to “interpret” that the lawyer is quality. Thus, SGE may  actually be the savior of the legal marketing dinosaur that is legal directories.
  • Authorship – Google is going big on transparency in results; the 10 year old concept of authorship (i.e. using the digitally assessed reputation of the actual author as a ranking factor) may have never actually disappeared even when Google Plus died due to spam (see my article on rel=author spam here: FindLaw Selling Pre-SEO’d Websites). SGE results suggest their drivers use author reputation as a ranking factor.
  • Perspectives and About This – Google simultaneously launched two additional products that provide more transparency as to the actual results AND are focused on showcasing an array of opinions about issues. From their own words: “we’re going to be expanding the range of helpful information” I believe this is Google’s attempt to counteract criticisms of the echo chamber effect of search, in which current results are influenced by previous behavior, leading to self-reinforcing bubble of results.

Google’s Helpful Content Update (Lawyer Edition)

It’s not often that Google announces an upcoming algorithm change, and when they do, it typically means a major changes in overall SERP results. My prognostication is that the Helpful Content update, announced late last week and scheduled for a two week roll-out starting this week, is no different.  While the legal industry is not specifically called out as being problematic, I do anticipate large fluctuations due to many overly aggressive tactics deployed by legal, especially as it pertains to content. Google directly described the upcoming change as “meaningful”.

The Helpful Content Update (seriously – why can’t we just call this HICUP?) update in Google’s own words:

These launches are part of a broader, ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in Search.

What does this mean concretely for law firms?

Last week, I presciently posted this ad for a content development tool that uses AI to pump out pages and pages of content: “Let Jasper Write Your Marketing Copy for Free Artificial intelligence makes it fast and easy to create content for your blog, social media, website, and more!” From what I can tell from Google’s announcement, it’s tools like Jasper that are firmly within the targets of the “Helpful Content” algo update.  

This update is extremely similar to the Panda update from February, 2011.  For those of you who weren’t in the SEO game at that point – what happened in the past may be instructive of what to expect over the upcoming months. Panda was designed to root out content farms that were daily vomiting out thousands of pages of well ranking pages and monetizing that traffic through advertising. While the key targets were Demand Media (eHow) and Answers.com; many many other sites were caught up in the resulting algo update which focused on content.  The key issue here is that the Panda algo update had site-wide ramifications, which meant that a predominance of low quality content on a domain would negatively impact the traffic to high quality pages as well. Following Panda, Google noted that it impacted 12% of searches – meaningful indeed.


I spent the weekend reading through posts and prognostications of some of my favorite SEO nerds and Google directly.  Based on my experience with Panda and parsing Google’s announcement, here’s my expectations of what’s going to happen:

  1. Some legal sites are going to get utterly destroyed. Especially those that have deployed AI written content.  I’ve long been a critique of the blog blog blog mantra and believe this is going to come back to roost. There are a slew of legal marketing agencies who utilize AI generated content and then mark it up to human rates to their clients… meaning the law firms (may) have no idea they’ve been deploying a steady diet of vapid computer generated content that will be targeted. If your relationship with your SEO vendor includes something along the lines of…. “post 11 pieces of content every month”, I’d be particularly concerned. This goes for the small consultants as well as some of the big box providers.
  2. Given that there’s so much long tail content out there, and much of that has been AI driven, I’d expect to see large variability in ranking results for long tail terms.  This is, by definition, statistically difficult to ascertain, especially for lower traffic sites.
  3. In general, I’ve avoided Word Count guidelines (ie. Google like to see X number of words on pages).  However, over the past 24 months, we’ve seen a trend towards longer format content ranking – 1,000-1,500 words. It’s very possible that this trend reverses – Google specifically calls out word count as NOT being a ranking factor.  Google even calls out Word County focus as a particular concern: “Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count?” From a precedent perspective, Panda specifically hit pages with inflated word count that thematically recycled concepts in order to bolster keyword density.  From a user perspective, overly verbose, redundant and repetitive prose (see what I did there) doesn’t always serve to easily elucidate consumers as to their legal issue and options.
  4. I think there’s a mild warning for those sites that heavily utilize Practice Area + Geo Pages to rank in nearby cities.  “Rockville Criminal Defense Lawyer” “North Rockville Criminal Defense Lawyer” etc.  Those pages have always fallen in the (very) gray hate area wrt to search guidelines; however, they do perform very well.  They are also painstaking to recreate with unique content. It’s possible poor executions of this tactic may be impacted as well.
  5. I don’t believe those pages sites that are plagued with thin useless pages that are either unintentionally generated through technology (think WordPress /tag pages) or those blog posts that are particularly useless (2 sentences in the “Mary Jones Won Superlawyers in 2014” blog post) are going to be hit any harder than they already are (which would be a departure of how Panda impacted sites). But again, this is just my conjecture from parsing Google’s wording – “search engine-first content is less likely to perform” and I believe that Google has long abandoned the notion that posting frequently is the key to SEO (despite the fact that many agencies and content consultants still preach this garbage).
  6. While Google specifically doesn’t call this a penalty, this is purely semantics b/c it’s going to look a lot like a penalty (allbeit not manual). This also means recovery is going to be dependent on Google’s algo deciding when things are better (not a human).
  7. This is English only (for now)… so those of you with already garbage Spanish pages and technical implementations have nothing to fear other than competitors doing it the right way.
  8. Very loose construct, if you have over 1K indexed pages with extensive content, I’d be worried.  Check out my article on calculating the Useless Content Ratio to see how poorly Google considers your content already.

What to Expecting (When You Are Expecting an SEO Nightmare)

  1. This algo update is going to take two weeks to roll out.  Starting roughly today(ish).  The next two weeks may showcase banana-boat-crazy fluctuations in your site’s ranking and traffic performance.  Ride it out.
  2. If you do get hit negatively, possibly expect a long recovery – even assuming you can identify and solve problems expediently, Panda recovery took many months b/c Google didn’t rerun updates for a long period. Helpful Content is different from Panda in that is constantly running; but I believe fixing this problem is a human, non-scaleable solution.
  3. Instead of going a comprehensive Content Strategy Audit and review (which is painful, takes time and gets exponentially harder the larger your site) consider just no-indexing a bunch of pages as a short-term bandaid. John Mueller gives this approach a qualified endorsement: “noindex is fine. Consider if all we see are good signals for your site, that’s a good sign.”
  4. This won’t be ambiguous… In an interview with Glenn Gabe, Danny Sullivan noted “if a site is impacted by the Helpful Content Update, then that impact should be visible”.
  5. The worse your overall content is the bigger the impact.  From Sullivan: “sites with a lot of unhelpful content on the site, like content created for search engines over humans, then you could see a stronger effect…”

Human Content Alternatives

Get ready to yell at your agency about your content strategy. And if you are already panicking now, it’s time to a)start looking into managing your low end legacy content and b)start writing good great stuff!  A great starting point for solid, legal specific content is John Reed at Rain BDM and Allen Watson at Blue Seven Content. Yeah – they expensive but if your site tanks, will look like a bargain.

Calculating the Useless Content Ratio (UCR)

The Useless Content Ratio

This post is long long overdue… I’ve been using and talking about he Useless Content Ratio for years.  Google’s upcoming “helpful content” algo update is forcing my hand, because it looks much like the Panda update from the past, during which we made extensive use of the Useless Content Ratio.

The UCR is very simple: the ratio of pages on a website that have generated traffic during a specific time period.  It’s application is twofold. First, to determine in aggregate, how Google views the overall content quality of a site, simply put, if lots of pages aren’t generating traffic, it indicates that the site either lacks the authority to support the volume of pages it has and/or that the content is overwhelmingly garbage.  In the case of Panda (and the upcoming Helpful Content update) which both have sitewide implications, a preponderance of pages that don’t generate traffic indicates that these algo changes will negatively impact the good content that exists on the otherwise bloated site.   The second application of the UCR is to guide firms into how much they should be investing in additional content.  Put simply, if 90% of pages have generated traffic during the past 6 months, then fire up the keyboard, because those new posts are likely to generate traffic.  Conversely, if only 10% of a site’s pages have generated traffic during the past 6 months, why on earth would anyone continue to barf out vapid blog posts that no one is going to see? This is typically done in search of the elusive long tail searches.  What many don’t grok is that without the authority to support a huge pagecount, these long tail pages will never surface in search results.

UCR is a Blunt Instrument

Now – its very important to note that UCR does NOT provide a page level analysis – we are looking at the site overall. So a high UCR doesn’t mean you shouldn’t publish that key piece of content for which you want to be hired.  Instead, it’s an overall indication of how Google views the quality of content on your site vis-a-vis the site’s overall backlink authority.  It not only provides us with guidance as to the aggressiveness of ongoing content development efforts, but also reveals those sites who may be solid candidates for content pruning – the process of going through content page by page and determining if that content should be kept, killed or consolidated. The subsequent reduction in pagecount actually results in greater traffic and more conversions (leads) which turn into consultations because ideally you are keeping the business-relevant content and jettisoning the irrelevant useless content. I’ve written Case Studies extensively on this for Search Engine Land back in 2017: More Content Less Traffic Part 1 and More Content Less Traffic Part 2. Here are two graphs from those articles that showcase how a reduction in pagecount correlates with an increase in traffic:

Calculating the UCR

Calculating the UCR is very simple.  First, the denominator is the number of pages on your site.  You can use a simple “site:example.com” to find an index count; however, I find that number to be very inconsistent. Instead, you are better off utilizing page count data out of Google Search Console. I wouldn’t recommend using your sitemap for this, b/c in many cases sitemaps contain errors, or more frequently omissions either deliberate or unintentional. Next you need to calculate the numerator of the fraction… this is done (relatively) simply straight out of Google Analytics through the Landing Pages report.

  1. Select a reasonablly long timeframe.  The lower your overall traffic volume, the longer this timeframe should be.  At a minimum look at 3 months of traffic if your site generates >2.5K users/monthly.  Below that volume, I’d probably look at 6 or even 9 months.
  2. Segment by Organic Traffic only
  3. Open the Landing Pages report under Behavior (don’t get misled by the other “Behavior” report which can be found under the Audience reports. Why Google has two different reports called Behavior is beyond me.)
  4. This will generate a list of landing pages (i.e. the first page someone saw on your site) from organic and local search queries over the specified timeframe.
  5. Scroll to the bottom right hand corner to get a total number of these landing pages.

Now you now the percentage of your pages that drive traffic (or don’t). Use this to mathematically evaluate the priority of continued content posting or if you should consider a content reduction as part of your Content Strategy (which is more likely the case for firms who have been aggressively chasing the SEO golden goose for years.)

Advanced Technical Tactics with Lead Docket, Filevine and Mockingbird

We did a killer, in-depth webinar with Harlan Schillinger and Cameron Killmer – two people who know Lead Docket better than any others and Mockingbird’s own Robert Williams, who has spent far too much of his professional life tying technologies together to generate business centric, actionable metrics. We takes shots at the digital marketing industry, uncover highly actionable KPIs, and talk through why evaluating your marketing by counting “leads” is so misleading.  Highly actionable, advanced tactics, even if we went on a little too long…

Learn more about Lead Docket and Filevine.

Webinar Transcript

Conrad: [00:00:00] Welcome to talking to lawyers. I am your host, Conrad Saam. And today we have two amazing guests and a familiar face. So we are joined by Cameron Kilmer and Harlan Schillinger, both of Lead Docket, as well as Mockingbird’s very own Robert Williams. We’re going to be talking a lot about intake, awesomeness, not just good, but absolutely fantastic.

And the systems and the data and the processes behind what it takes. To get there There’s a lot of, highly tactical elements to this, which I’m excited about. I like

Presenting tactical things. And the other thing that, all of you will get out of this is Rob’s experience working with lots of different

CRM Systems, as well as what the lead docket at Filevine ecosystem brings together.

So Rob has got this kind of really wide experience, and you’re gonna see what Mockingbird has built for our clients who are not. On a lead docket [00:01:00] file vine and then juxtapose with exactly what lead docket file vine has done in order to, provide what I really consider business like these really foundational business metrics, instead of getting caught in the, miasma of it’s not wasted digital marketing stuff, but it can be distracting at best.

And so I really want us to start focusing on the things that are driving your law firm business, as opposed to anything else. So without further ado is, as I promise, we’re starting precisely on time is one. O’clock my time. A couple things, as Harlan Schillinger, Harlan, and I have known each other for probably on a decade.

We run into each other in conferences over and over again. And Harlan you weren’t, you weren’t here. When we went through this, makes this intro makes it look like, Cameron is married to his sister, which I didn’t realize when I grabbed this off the internet. And that Rob and I are a couple going to a Christmas party also.

So it’s a little bit deceiving.

Harlan: Where did you get the pic? This picture of [00:02:00] me? This is, that’s an old, a little older picture, but that’s a stunning picture. Gee whiz.

Conrad: It is , that’s a great pick. Yeah. And you look like nothing has changed.

Harlan: I just can, I just wanna say one thing before we start, if you don’t mind, the most important thing and you said it, you hit it on the head.

I know we’re gonna talk about lead docket and all, but the truth of the matter is no matter what, Sy, no matter it’s important to use some kind of a system, it’s, the metrics are so vitally important. You gotta make decisions, but whether you use lead docket or something else, this all

Unknoown: applies flies.

Conrad: There’s so much to doing this. And I feel like the marketing industry has been so far behind for so long. And it’s now time that we’ve caught up and I use these examples. These are, these are the things that are important. This is really simplistic. But do you know how many and not leads but consultations cuz you guys do not want to talk about leads.

You guys, and in your vernacular, in the file on lead docket vernacular, this is an [00:03:00] opportunity, right? You want to be talking about the consultations. Why are you talking to marketing agencies that are still talking about the leads that they generate for you? And then you can take this further.

Why don’t you know, where your clients are coming from, and that is the entire solution that you should be talking about on the regular. There’s so many things that become really important when you’re looking at consultations, leads, clients, et cetera. These things operate fundamentally very differently.

And, we know, and Rob, and I know this very well. Your pay per click campaign is gonna operate very differently from your LSA campaign, from a conversion perspective, which is gonna operate very differently from your, local campaigns versus your SEO campaigns. Like it’s all very fundamentally different.

You don’t, if you only stop at the leads portion, you start missing out on some of this vital data. And so what we’re gonna, these are just kind of high level context, but what we’re gonna get into in depth is how Mockingbird and how file vine lead docket think about getting to this type of insight, which is so [00:04:00] unbelievably important in setting this up and running your business like a business

Harlan: and, Conrad, I do believe.

And again, the, it’s not a question of maybe a right or wrong, but I do believe in looking at leads because as an advertising agency, an advertising person, I wanna see everything that’s coming in and you know what you don’t know, you don’t know. And if it’s, if I’m getting an abundance of poor leads, I gotta know that too.

Conrad: Yeah, absolutely extremely important. Especially when you’re spending money on per lead things, right? Like local service ads.

Robert: I was gonna note too, to piggyback on Harlan’s point. I. Knowing your leads, your opportunities or your consultations and the number of clients you’re getting. That’s foundational things, right? And I know this webinar is on advanced tactics, but I think in 2022, nearing 20, 23, operating a business, those are fundamental [00:05:00] metrics that you have to have an understanding of.

And Harlan’s right. Like you, whether you use lead docket or another system, you need to use something in order to understand that data. And I think it’s important

Cameron: that firms start

Conrad: thinking that way. My gut is this, the audience here is gonna be bifurcated into people who are lead docket five, nine clients who are like, yeah, no, No crap guys, who are already looking at this data.

And some of the people that we talk to who are like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. So let’s just understand it. You’re to some extent we may be preaching at the choir. To other extent, we may be a bit of the, evangelist here, but this is important. We’re gonna get into how we get here. Rob. And I have spent a lot of time talking about the SAAS world and sales and how sales are measured, in the SAAS world, as we got into CRM systems.

And in SAAS, there’s basically these concepts of MQL SQL and clients, which is a marketing qualified lead, which we would call a lead, a sales qualified lead, which means sales has talked to someone and they’re like, yes, this is someone that we want. And then clients, which is someone that we [00:06:00] won, we have taken this and applied it to the legal industry.

And MQL is basically a lead we’ve generated a phone call for you, a form fill for you, a chat. We’ve taken that inbound phone call and we’ve decided that, yes, we want to have that consultation.

And that’s where Cameron and you guys really talk about this as being an opportunity, right? Because otherwise it could be all sorts of things coming in.

Cameron: Opportunities are just simply anyone that is, you know, reaching out to you. They’re, they got your website, they’re calling you they’re, they filling out a form, chatting in whatever they are reaching out to you.

And hopefully they are someone that has a case. And hopefully they’re someone that you can help and, opportunity is just a prescreen or not yet screen lead, I should say. In lead dock of terminology, it’s not really a lead until someone responds. That’s when it’s actually being worked and hopefully screened, converted consultation, whatever needs to happen, then goes from opportunity to

Conrad: a lead.

Okay. And we, so there’s a little bit of a mix on the vernacular here, but the key point here is not all of the things that come in are good, which, as [00:07:00] lawyers, because you’ve been screaming at me my entire career about Hey, all your leads are garbage. We then take a step that we call a Q L, which is we call this attorney qualified lead, which means you’ve talked to them and you’ve decided that you wanted to hire them now, depending on the type of law that you practice, or even, the way you practice law, you may have an intake staff.

Who’s qualified to say, yes, this is a client that we want. And so that, that doesn’t have to be an AQL or attorney qualified, but you may be screening them to be, this is someone that we want. And typically, we look at this by Hey, we’ve sent you a contract. We wanna work with you. That’s the same, that’s the same in lead docket, correct?

There’s a step towards that, right? Yep. AB absolutely. And then out of that comes climbs, right? Which becomes, yay. We’ve signed. And so that, that signature rate becomes really important. So we’re gonna get deeper into all of these different metrics in what you can get out of this.

But this becomes really interesting. Now Harlan made the point of it’s important to know which leads our not good. And so this is [00:08:00] our own data. I’m a marketing agency, and I’m telling you that for us, because we track this, I know 84% of what we do is garbage 84% of what we count as leads or opportunities in the different vernacular is not someone trying to hire the law firm.

And it’s different by different marketing channels and it’s different for different firms, but on average, we’re generat. Less than a, just over a 15% hit rate on what we would typically talk about as leads. And this is where I think the marketing industry does a terrible job because we’re so excited about making ourselves look good, that we throw the, as many numbers into this as we possibly can.

And they’re just not new people looking to hire you. It’s just, it’s opposing counsel, it’s your, spouse bringing a pizza. It’s, it’s all sorts of things. And we try and overcount these things to make ourselves look good,

Robert: Mockingbird selling you services. The other thing to the other thing to note is that’s a blend over different [00:09:00] channels, right?

That’s right. So different channels have different quality of leads, and we know

Cameron: that to be true as well.

Conrad: Yeah, a hundred percent. So it is.

Harlan: But the fact of the fact of the matter is, Conrad is you’re spending money to get, and it costs you to generate a bad lead. If hypothetically or about $125, a call, and I wanna know every call that comes in good, bad and ugly.

Yeah. For many different reasons, which I’m sure we’ll get into, most lawyers, let me say, let rephrase that every lawyer I’ve ever met on earth walks into their office and says, how many cases did we sign? They never say, how many calls did we get today?

Conrad: And this manifests itself.

Foundationally. When you think about your intake person, right? If you’re not using an automated system like this, the intake person who takes the phone call from the pay per click salesperson, that looks like a lead in the reporting, but actually knows it isn’t is not going to waste his time, putting down the [00:10:00] data that this was a bad lead, right?

But that’s so bad because if that pitch came from a pay per click, or a local service at click, or 90% of your Google, my business phone calls are generated by people pitching you on stuff. You need to know this. And this is why these systems that are comprehensive and look at everything are so important because otherwise it’s massively misleading.

It’s massively misleading.

Cameron: Yeah. It’s fun. It’s, it’s very interesting Conrad, when I talk to these firms that. Looking to find that answer, right? What is my conversion rate? How many cases did we sign out of total leads we got, they’re tracking these leads on Excel spreadsheets and Google docs.

And someone has to physically type in this person was not a good lead because of this. When it could literally be a click of a button and then you have it right. For

Conrad: reporting. And they don’t wanna do it. And they think they’re doing you a favor. They’re like, oh, I’m running intake.

The phone’s running ring off the hook. I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna jot that down. But the bad information, it’s almost more important to know the bad information than to know the good [00:11:00] information. Because otherwise you can, blow your kids’ college fund chasing, pay per click, collect people.

So we look at this is, this is out of our reporting. This is Mockingbird reporting. But this is what this funnel looks like. So leads, consultations AQL and new clients. This is real data coming from us. And as I built this out 21 on 7 0 9 is about 15%. So sorry, 1, 1 11 on seven or nine is about 15%.

And so what you’re seeing here is if you just count leads, and again, this is real, data here. If you just count leads, you’re missing so much and you’re over counting dramatically. So

Harlan: well, you’re also not doing your agency justice because the agency can, if they know what’s coming in good, bad, and ugly, they can modify and direct your beam, your advertising efforts, and constantly in a more productive.

Conrad: A hundred percent, right? And this is why Rob spent the last two or three years of his life getting deep into systems, light lead docket file V [00:12:00] learning how they work, because it makes us better. It makes us better.

Robert: And conversely, this is also why a lot of agencies that do what we do stop at leads, right?

Because that number looks really good. That’s a lot of leads. That’s a lot of calls.

Conrad: That’s not the

Harlan: whole story. It’s like the world of impressions. I got 250,000 impressions, but I’m not interested in impressions. I’m interested in, in, something, much deeper than that.

There’s another thing that you, that you brought up, which really got to me 10, 15 years ago, and a client said, give me more leads. What’d you do with the last ones? They weren’t any good. What do you mean? They weren’t any good,

Conrad: right? Yeah. The funny thing is Harlan.

This goes back for me listening in on phone calls to our, like we would, I re I still remember this. I got reamed out in front of the whole [00:13:00] law. There’s a big law firm, top of the building and their big conference room, blah, blah, blah. The dude walks in and he says, very first thing for a four hour session was con why shouldn’t we fire you.

Everything’s garbage. And I was like, the hell everything’s garbage. We’re regenerating all these leads. And so we had this argument about the leads. We convinced him to let us record all of the calls for three months and then go back and talk about how good or bad those leads actually were.

So I hired a summer intern to do this. This was like the worst job ever. You’re gonna listen to three months of inbound law firm prospects and evaluate them. She came back to me in an hour and she’s con, you’ve gotta hear this. I was like, no, come back to me in, after month after you’ve crunched all the day and she’s no, you’ve gotta listen to this.

This was in July, this law firm’s voicemail in July still said, I’m sorry, we’re currently closed for the Christmas holiday. We’ll get back to you. And they’re like, oh, the leads are garbage. And you literally heard this lady on the phone who was trying to get. Hire the firm. She’s what the fuck?

And she hangs up. And so I [00:14:00] sent that back to,

Harlan: It’s look, it’s the biggest, it’s the biggest hole in somebody, in, in a law firm’s bucket makes sense. And in my opinion, and that’s why we went ahead and, built lead docket. But, again, I believe that whatever system you use, use it and what you don’t know, you don’t know.

I, I own the trademark on, but there’s a lot of meaning to that. What you don’t know, you can find, you gotta find out, what’s not going on in the practice is more important than, yeah. This is what’s going on. And that’s how you grow the firm. And especially in this segment of the

Conrad: business.

So one of the things that I find that people don’t know all the time, but they talk about all the time is ROI, right? And so I go to. Way too many marketing conferences. And everyone’s talking about maximizing your ROI. Most agencies and most lawyers do not know the calculation for calculating ROI, they just don’t know what, how to do it. And so why are we talking about this? But in order to get the R for ROI, you’ve gotta take this all the way to [00:15:00] revenue. And there has to be a revenue component to this. Cameron, how much are people using lead docket to tie revenue all the way back to marketing channels?

Start looking at ROI.

Cameron: Yeah. Lead docket is it’s doing the hard part of actually tracking the lead sources, right? So we’re working with, Mockingbird, for example, that integrate call tracking numbers and forms and things like that. So the source is accurate. All you gotta do is plug in your financials.

Plug in your marketing, spend on your campaigns and then also enter how much you’re making. The beauty of, lead docket and file line specifically is that it’s automated, but no matter what system you’re using, you can plug that data into lead docket directly and have this ROI calculator in front of you per source, per case type per attorney.

Cause as far as you wanted to

Conrad: go,

Harlan: I think even per client, to know exactly what your ROI was on this specific client.

Conrad: Absolutely. Yeah. And to get that you need to be able to tie the marketing channel to the revenue and frankly, there’s lots of systems with that information flows through.

But you [00:16:00] also have to have the discipline to actually do it on a regular basis and actually have that assessment.

Harlan: That falls into what we call the process. You either yeah. Buy into the process and you stick to the process or you don’t

Conrad: Yeah. A hundred percent. This is a real, this is one of my favorite graphs that we build.

This is just data out of CallRail. And this is your, this is the easiest way to fumble the ball in the one yard line is to not answer the phone when people call you, right? And most of you don’t have a feel for what you’re, I, if you ask yourself right now, as you’re watching this, do you know what our firm’s phone call answer rate was last quarter?

Most of you don’t have that at your fingertips. And I will tell you that one of the easiest things to do to make your firm better is to answer the phone. And you can do that just by knowing what that number is just by knowing what that number is. You’re go. It is going to annoy you and you’re going to improve it.

I can tell you that our phone call answer rate for our clients fluctuates between on [00:17:00] average, across a hundred plus clients fluctuates between 91 and 94.

Harlan: And you are even in more of a difficult situation because you’re dealing with a lot of digital leads and people don’t get back on digital leads or, look, the whole intake and conversion thing is just a horror show.

Yep. But what’s interesting is that I also have, you’re not gonna run into a lawyer that says, my, my intake is terrible. Of course people answer the phone. What are you kidding me? Of course they answer the phone. Unless you have these metrics in place and you brilliant, in li in answering phone calls, because that’ll tell you exactly what’s going on

Conrad: in your firm.

And you’re har, and I, I. I very much agree with this. I’ve never, actually, this is not true. I rarely talk to someone who thinks that they are doing worse than they actually are. Everyone thinks they are like Wobegon and above average. It’s very rare that we talk to someone who thinks they’re worse.

It’s usually the people who have a finger on the actual numbers who are worried about it. The people who don’t know what the numbers aren’t [00:18:00] worried about it. And so you have this flip where if you don’t know what the number is, you’re worse than you think you are. If you know what the number is, you’re probably doing outperforming what everyone else is doing because you care about it and know what it is.

Absolutely. Get this outta call go, Rob. Yeah.

Robert: About the funnel data you showed the actual data, right? That the conversion between AQL and clients was a hundred percent. And that client, when we talked to them before implementing a system, they said, oh, we get every client that we want. We sign every client that we.

And they weren’t there when we set up the system, they are now, and we know that to be true, so same idea.

Harlan: That’s interesting, that’s an interesting comment, because I’ve heard that, all my life, we get 94% of everybody that we want now, how, come on you serious.

I, I had a client, really did dear, a friend of mine and this guy’s pretty buttoned up. But number of years ago, he wasn’t as buttoned up. We’re looking for 20 cases and we’re standing outside a conference in Jackson hall. And, we were looking at a graph in his [00:19:00] marketing director is throwing us all this.

And we said, we are looking for 20 cases. We’re looking to convert 2020 cases on the pool of calls that we got for the month. And Michael said, I didn’t want that case. And we said, what about this one right here? This nohow, right? Oh, I didn’t want that. What about this nohow?

I didn’t want that. And I finally, after 3, 4, 5, 6 of ’em, I said, why the hell did you make the appointment? I guess we wanted it, but I guess we didn’t want it now. Do you want it? Or you don’t want it? And the most important word I think that we can talk about is conversion, converting that wanted case to a, wanted prospect to a client, but it’s amazing the arrogance that exists because lawyers, in my opinion count what they have.

They don’t look at what they’re missing. And that’s the crux of it.

Conrad: Yeah. Yeah. And [00:20:00] you’re probably overestimating how good you are. Like, it just happens over and over again. And seeing what you’re missing is super, super important. I’m gonna show you just while we’re talking really quickly about phone call answering the phone, one of the ways that leads gets inflated, and this is not a lead docket file vine thing, but this is a call rail thing.

This is directly out of CallRail. One of the ways that agencies lie about leads, phone call leads specifically is by not changing this setting in CallRail. And this is a setting that changes, and it only reports on first time callers. So when your spouse calls you seven times, it, a lot of agencies will count that as seven leads.

So you should have access to your call rail and you should make sure that this is just checked off. So you’re only looking at those first time

Harlan: coming. Could you touch for a half a minute or so on what call rail is? If anybody doesn’t know what

Conrad: Rob, you wanna talk, call or Cameron.

Cameron: Yeah, I’m happy to talk about CallRail.

I, I get it. I love when I ask firms, what [00:21:00] they’re using to track marketing and CallRail is one of them. And I know they, firms, I work with Mockingbird definitely use CallRail. When it comes down to it, it’s just simply allocating different phone numbers to different sources.

So this unique number lives on your paper, click campaign, this unique number lives on your Facebook ads, right? So when someone calls that specific number, where they came from, cuz that number only exists on that campaign. So right. For example, lead doc would integrate with CallRail. So when someone’s calling and your intake staff is entering in the information about that, this new lead, we’re gonna know that lead source automatically based on that phone call, using CallRail, which is the beauty

Conrad: of it.

It’s awesome. It’s a great system. Go ahead,

Robert: Rob. A little unknown fact about CallRail is they actually track. If you sign up for it, they will track the source attribution. Meaning where did this come from? For your forms as well. And so that’s also, that’s usually a whole in a law firm’s reporting call, call tracking’s been around.

I think a lot of law firms can wrap their head around that, but attributing your [00:22:00] form fill right to the actual person. I’m not talking about Google analytics. I’m talking about that, that actual person. How did they find you? And that too can flow through automatically to lead docket. So you don’t have to ask that person to tell you if they came from Google or paid, or local

Conrad: organic.

And not only do they not have to ask that person, but you don’t actually have, so that’s the worst way to do it. Or the worst way is not to ask. The second worst way is to ask the third worst way to have bill who mans the front desk and is manually entering data into lead docket, manually decide whether or not he’s going to take the time to go into Colorado to then add it in automate this process.

And now you’re capturing everything and that’s super key. We have a question. From anonymous attendee. How do you prevent lawyers from looking at lead docket ROI and deciding that it proves there’s no need for doing any other kind of advertising besides digital, no need for branding or TV or billboards because they don’t show up in lead dockets.

ROI, Cameron.

Cameron: Yeah. That’s I love that [00:23:00] question. Yeah. And it’s really, it’s tricky because then I’d love to hear your context and what your thoughts are, Conrad as well, but things like TV and billboards, they’re about brand awareness. If I am watching TV here locally, I’m gonna know exactly which lawyer I’m gonna call if I ever get into an accident.

Cuz it’s they’re just so they’re everywhere. Is it hard to track that? Of course. Because they’re probably not gonna call a number on a billboard and they’re probably not going to call a call around number on a TV commercial. They’re gonna Google your firm name and find your number there.

You’re gonna be ultimately a web source. But there’s of course always ways to gather the data. So for example, there’s a pretty cool, address field on lead docket that is attached to Google. And guess what? We have a report that shows you a map of where those leads live on Google maps, right?

So that’s a really nice way to see, okay. Not only where you could place billboards for future advertising, but you can also make assumptions about, billboards, you, you have placed in certain areas that there’s a lot of leads in that general vicinity. Also you can simply ask, Hey, do you see our TV commercials?

Do you see our billboards? And there’s marketing source details fields where you can gather information and then [00:24:00] run reports along signups and, even directly with fees and settlements as well.

Harlan: I think the worst question you could ask. In my opinion is how did you hear of us? I saw you on a flag pole or, I, I saw you here.

I saw you there and it may be multiple places they saw you. My favorite question to ask on the heels of this is have you had an opportunity to see our website? Oh yeah, I’m on it now. And then at some point in the conversation with some point in the relationship, I think you can track down a better answer.

But initially was so anxious to know what’s working, that we get garbage information and we put it in and we go with it.

Conrad: Yeah. Yeah. And garbage information is so much worse than no information, right? Because it does become very misleading. Another question I like this, with regards to call rail, our firm has a custom 800 number that is universal.

Can we still use call. [00:25:00] Rob, how would you handle this?

Robert: Yeah, so that’s a little tricky, but we’ve done it in the past. You can actually, port that number into CallRail and use it as a, source number. So if you’re using that on billboards, things like that, you can actually port that number into CallRail and then attribute that campaign to that number.

But it depends on the circumstance and what we’re using it for. But, that’s generally what we end up doing for folks that are, have vanity number as we call it. But there is a bit of give and take, right? If you’re using that vanity number as your primary firm number, you’re gonna want to mask that, to track, to understand your marketing sources.

Cause obviously you can’t use that number everywhere. And right for specific campaigns, what we recommend is Hey, on billboards on TV, let’s use that number for brand awareness. Support that in as a source in a CallRail, everything else we’re gonna need to mask. So they’re not gonna actually see that vanity, number, they’ll see a tracking number that forwards to that,

Unknoown: primary firm’s,

Robert: They call it the forwarding forward two number, but that’s [00:26:00] generally what we end up doing for

Conrad: firms that have those.

And this is a follow up question to this. Couldn’t you also create a billboard or TV number through CallRail and track that through lead docket. I think . This is important to, to make sure that I am a marketing dude. I’m a data dude, but you need to make sure that you’re not letting the marketing tail wag your law firm dog.

If you have a branded number 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, or what, or one 800 I’m amazing or whatever it might be, get Matt, or, you know what, whatever it may be. I would much rather that brand to work really well for you than for us to have really solid data that, that your branding doesn’t work very well.

Because the more you try and track things, the less you can turn that number into a brand. A lot of you, you are using that number as a brand. The flip side is if you are doing, Some of these mass toward cases that are heavily, TV driven that are, direct response, right? So like you’re gonna put out the TV ad and it’s not a branding campaign.

You expect people one in a million people to see that and call you as a direct [00:27:00] response immediately that I would want a hundred percent absolutely run, tracking numbers on because it’s a direct response. It’s not a brand campaign and you’re gonna spend so much money looking for that one in a million that you better be tracking that stuff because otherwise it’s, otherwise you’re just burning your not, it’s not your kids’ college fund.

It’s it’s a lot more than it’s it’s the future. So you need a better analogy there. But, tho those are my takes on the tracking numbers.

Harlan: I don’t know. It’s a pretty good analogy. You get what you ask for in advertising and, people are under the impression I really should.

Again, this is another opinion of mine. I’ve only been doing this for, I don’t know, 46, 48 years. And, I’m not always right. But I’m not into branding a number I’m into branding, the law firm. I want an easily dialed number. You wanna make it as easy for people to do business with you as possible, but you’re absolutely right on the tracking.

You wanna get as definitive as possible. People come to me and they say, what about putting a brand? Excuse me, a tracking number on all my different television [00:28:00] commercials. Good luck on that because people aren’t gonna write it down and this it’s just not gonna work. It’s garbage in garbage out, like you said, you gotta be, there’s a time and a place for using tracking numbers.

You just gotta be really smart about

Conrad: it. Yeah. And my of thinking’s really evolved on this. I used to be very linear, everything needs a tracking number. Otherwise, why are you bothering? But it’s evolved. All right. Speaking of making things easy, those of you using a overflow call center, like a Smith or ception.

One of the things that I really like doing. And Cameron and I talked about this as we were prepping for this call, this is something I would strongly recommend if you’re using that third party overflow service. If they’re just taking a, what’s essentially a voicemail and we’ll get back to you tomorrow kind of thing, you may as well just have that old, tape recorder on your desk, picking up and taking that message.

That person is probably still going back to Google to find someone who will talk to them. You [00:29:00] can bring that person, that prospect, that lead and turn them into a consultation by actually having that overflow call center book, your consultation. We push our clients to do this camera that’s doable through lead docket, correct?

Cameron: Absolutely. Yeah. Employment reminders, things like that would be essential for that client experience could all happen through there and they could easily push that data directly to

Conrad: lead docket. So I would really stop thinking about these as answering services. They are appointment setting service.

That sounds really cutey. It’s like I should work for Smith or something, but, it’s an appointment setting service. It’s a stop. The shop service, right? It is getting someone deeper down your funnel.

Robert: Stop the hashtag leaky funnel, hashtag stop the shop.

Harlan: I fall back. I fall back on the, the opportunity to make it as easy for people to do business and accommodating as possible.

That’s who’s gonna to get the business. You start, most law firms are very law firm centric. [00:30:00] This is our, the way we do it. Then why are you begging people to call you? Yeah, you’ve gotta be flexible, but you put yourself in the client’s shoes always, and that’ll solve half of your problems.

Conrad: All right. That’s quickie, but like really important. And I think this is one of the things that we see done poorly, regularly, right? They’re just, it’s voicemail service. It’s not, and you have to work with these third parties to make this work. It’s not like they will, they’ll set up like this, but we throw our weight around, just try and make this happen, cuz it’s so valuable.

All right. Okay. We were talking about this earlier. This is automatically taking Carl. Rob, can you walk through how this works technically, but this is taking call rail data and putting it into lead docket.

Robert: Yeah. So these are actually screenshots from lead docket, an opportunity and intake information from lead docket directly.

And this is powered by CallRail. If you want to think of it that way. And what we do is we essentially hook into call rail and push that information directly [00:31:00] into lead docket. We use, Zapier, a third party and a middleware service to make that magic happen. But. The important thing is to know where to tell the system to put that information so that you can leverage the bluntly fantastic reporting that the docket has within it to start understanding these metrics.

And you get a lot of really interesting information, even beyond the source attribution of how did that person, how did that person find you? What was their last interaction to actually fill out the form or pick up the phone? You can start understanding how do our phones convert? What about chat?

What about form fills? Things like that. That’s how this all

Unknoown: kind of works together.

Conrad: Cameron, anything on that you wanna add?

Cameron: Yeah. Lead doc directly connects into call and the data that Callero is sending, we accept it. When it comes to the backend fields that shows you keyword search and click IDs and all that, fun stuff to get really granular.

But we can also take it a step further and pull in like call recordings. So if [00:32:00] you’re, if you have call recording enabled in Colorado, you can actually go back and listen to the quality of the phone call, to make sure that your voicemail isn’t playing that says you’re on close for Christmas.

And right. Like Conrad mentioned earlier, so right. Have that quality assurance going there

Conrad: as well. The call recordings automatically thumped dinner. Awesome. Because it gives so to think through a normal workflow, you have a front desk or a third party who sets you up with a consultation. Mary’s gonna meet with you tomorrow morning, but 10 minutes before your call with Mary tomorrow morning, who, you know nothing about Mary, you can listen to the call that she had with your intake people and get a really solid feel for how you can help her, super, super valuable, right?

There are these things that you, yeah, go ahead.

Harlan: I. Recording your telephone calls, demonstrative evidence. You’re dealing with a, an extremely arrogant group of people, whether it’s doctors or lawyers, professionals are stubborn, I get to 94% of everybody. I want, when you start recording telephone calls and you wanna get somebody’s attention, send ’em what you hear, because I guarantee [00:33:00] you that in advertising, we guarantee very little, but I guarantee this, they will be shocked.

You will be shocked. And when back to this doing business and making it easy for people to do business, you can train your staff. You understand exactly what’s going on. There’s no bullshit involved, right?

Conrad: The management it’s so hard. I think a lot of law firms look at intake as being easy,

Harlan: which, you know what the biggest pushback on recording your calls is I don’t have the time.

How can I listen to these calls?

Conrad: It’s which again, you’re fumbling on the one yard line, right? You’re not listening at like the, how many platitudes do we need to talk about first impressions or stuff like this is your first impression of the firm. If you’re running a third party answering service, are they doing a good job or do they sound like they don’t give a damn right?

You need to, man, this is part of running a firm you need to proactively manage and listen on these calls. I thought what you were gonna say, Harlan. And I think this is a legit argument against call [00:34:00] recording criminal defense firms, hate call recording. And I think there is something to that. I think you need to think about your audience.

Are you going to lose that prospect because you have that thing that says calls being recorded. Maybe,

Harlan: It’s, again, there’s a time and a place for everything. I am not in favor. It’s well, first of all, you got bar rules. You have to deal with, taking a PI call is one thing, taking a criminal call, could be somebody from jail or somebody in a bad situation.

Family, family law is very difficult to also, people don’t wanna re record what you’re saying. They, maybe somebody is listening. There’s all kinds of factors. My world’s primarily is in, is in the, PI arena with the exception of two clients that I have mark Amara, mark Geragos, who are in the criminal arena and they don’t record calls.

It’s too sensitive. So you just gotta cut the line on what is sensible. This, the mind, most mind blowing thing so far that you’ve said, is it, let me put it in [00:35:00] perspective and Cameron, you can back me up and Conrad. Positive. This has happened to you. If you start doing just what you’ve said right now to the

Unknoown: audience,

Harlan: you will, the audience will see they’ll put between 20 and 35% more money neck in their pocket.

Yeah. From just doing this now, how can a man say that, I’m already making this, or how does he know that I know it because we’ve got seven and hundred and some odd people using, lead docket. When we, when I sold it to, file V we had about 180 law firms and not one client that’s using it, whether it, and again, whether it’s lead docket or this, whatever it is, Salesforce, whatever it is, this that’s what the results, fall into.

It’s just, this is that’s how mind blowing this conversation is.

Unknoown: Yeah. It’s


Conrad: I, we always, this is not self-serving. [00:36:00] We tell people to stop spending money with us and just get your, just answer the phone, think about this. If you answer the phone, 85% of the time, and you just get to average for us, that has the equivalent impact of improving your marketing by 5%, increasing your marketing budget by 5%, just by answering the damn phone, just getting to average. So do these things, right? Because you don’t have to spend so much money with me and Rob,

Cameron: that’s funny, Conrad, I’m just, you and I, we work with law firms all day, every day. And sometimes you literally call into a law firm’s office to get ahold of someone you’re working with

Do you know how many times I’ve called a law firm office and it rings for two minutes and then literally no one answered the phone. I’m like, what if I was a million dollar case? the next law firm is getting that case. I

Conrad: just it’s confusing. So we record those and then send them right off to the law firm.

Love that. It. It doesn’t make me friends all the time, but for the right. It’s good. Question that just came in from Kevin really quickly. Rob, you can answer this. I arrived a little late, so forgive me, the already mentioned or asked is Carrell carrier [00:37:00] dependent or will it work with your, any carrier

Robert: that sits in front of, so it’s it. So know this though. CallRail is a VO service as well, but we leverage it for the call attribution side of things. It actually sits in front of whatever you are using, as your phone system or whoever that carriers through, which I also very much encourage you to think about, right?

Because the more you can integrate these tools, your tech stack, the better off you’re gonna be at scaling that firm in your business. Yeah, that, that answers your question. It sits in front of the tracking, happens at forwards to,

Harlan: your phone system. CHRA was an agency tool when it first came out.

It still primarily is, but they’ve made it so easy to use that any law firm can use it.

Conrad: We should get a CallRail sponsoring this webinar. I dunno. Yeah.

Harlan: All right. Its not gonna take the place of a lead docket though. It’s a tool and it only is a small, [00:38:00] it’s only a small part of the, the process, it’s kinda like the carburetor, in a, they don’t even have carburetors anymore, thinking of motorcycles, but you understand what I’m saying?

It’s only a portion of the whole

Conrad: process, but of vital portion. This is examples of automated capture out of lead docket. And so what you’re seeing here is, you know exactly where this stuff is coming from. So Cameron, you wanna talk about how this actually happens? How to make this work?

Cameron: Yeah, it’s pretty straightforward. What you’re already using has tools on the back end to integrate with other systems, as we just mention. Having this nice ecosystem of tech stack that plays nicely with each other, like CallRail that can work with any phone system, right? The doc works with any website, any web chat, any answering service.

So we simply just connect via an API web hook, which by the way, we do this for you, connect to your website form and work with Mockingbird, for example, to make sure that all the data from your website forms submiss mission is populating directly into lead docket. Not only the actual information like the intake questionnaire, if you will, and contact [00:39:00] fields, but also the form source.

So what type of form was it? Was it like your footer form? Was it your contact us form? And then beyond that, what is the actual campaign? What is, we can track UTM codes and all these, fun, backend tracking tools, to figure out exactly how someone got your website. So just flows right into lead docket, and then you already have it tracked.

You can hit the ground running with intake. You’re not waiting, you’re not letting the lead contact the next law firm on Google. You’re responding immediately. Cuz we can have automations around that.

Conrad: And extra bonus points for anyone who can properly identify the Phoenix foundation. In our example, here, just to prove that Robert Williams is as middle aged man, as you can possibly get.

One of the things that Cameron mentioned earlier, and we’ve got a screenshot of this is a great piece of data, great data visualization is something I really enjoy, but this is amazing. We were talking about location of those prospects, location of consults, and knowing where your consults are coming from, we do a lot of this, at the front side, understanding where your web reach is, what does that look like?

But [00:40:00] actually understanding where those consults come from that is just super key. Cameron, how have you seen people use this? Like I just can’t there’s so much you could

Cameron: do with this. There’s actually a lot of different options. I mentioned earlier billboards. Like you can help you place billboards and make assumptions about AR billboards you have placed, but also things like just geofencing, targeting certain areas with, web advertising and also going to events.

Just go out in public, maybe giving away t-shirt at the local fair or something. Helps you target for events as well. So there’s many different uses. I’m sure you can even think of more, beyond that, but anything that’s

Conrad: geographical. I love this is so good.

Especially I think if you’re a multi-location firm, if you’re opening a new office, we have a bunch of firms that are constantly adding new offices. If you’re running that this is just so valuable to look at over

Cameron: time. Oh yeah. We have firms that are, they have a dozen different offices, quite large across the country and you can filter this report by office so you can actually see, how many pins in this date range and, things like that.


Conrad: key. Okay. We’ve talked about [00:41:00] this philosophically, but I want to get into the details on this. This is really important. I call these contact lead types scores, contact types, phone call form, fill text are chat. They operate fundamentally differently, and you need to understand that this is data.

This is just one of our reports, and I’ve got some more data on this, but they really function differently in terms of lead to consult, and understanding where your consultations are coming from. We typically see, this is a very general statement, but we typically see about a 50% form to call. Form.

Forms are 50% worse than phone calls at turning into consultations. And chat is 50% worse than forms right now. There’s a lot that goes behind that and how people are and how firms are handling those different inbounds in different ways. Very influential on that. But don’t think that all this goes back to me talking about leads.

Why I hate talking about leads, leads. They’re not [00:42:00] all equal, right? They’re not all equal. And yet when agencies talk about leads, they’re equating chat with, call and by the way, Cameron and I talked about this chat is not a marketing channel. The chat vendors want you to think it’s a marketing channel.

They’ll have you pay, $20 per chat or some garbage like that. It’s not a marketing channel. It’s a conversion channel. Your email address is not a marketing channel. Your phone calls is not a marketing channel, your chat. Vendor’s not a marketing channel either. It’s a conversion channel. So that’s, I don’t have a slide on that, but that just pisses me off.

When I get talk about that, this. I’m going to use this really quickly. And there’s a lot of data on here, but what I want you to see here is this is a personal injury, campaign. One of the lines here. Is brand right? And that is we’re bidding on Smith law firm or whatever it might be.

The rest of them are, car accident, lawyer, whatever that might be. You have to take the brand data out of your pay per click analysis. Otherwise it will look like it’s performing much better than it actually does because [00:43:00] the conversions or leads. Unfortunately, Google analytics looks at leads as conversions in this example, more than half of the conversions are coming from their brand campaign.

And if you don’t have access to your data and your number, then you don’t segment that brand stuff out, you will get really poor data. So for example, in this case, they were, if you include that data as being a new lead, it’s $200 per lead. If you take it out, it’s $385 per lead, right? And so you need to realize that.

Especially, if you’re running, pay per click campaigns with brand, you have to take that out. Super,

Harlan: super it’s on any, anything, back to you said earlier receiving calls from, vendors and so on. You gotta filter it out. You gotta deal with true data. Yeah. Otherwise you’re making bad decisions on bad information.

Conrad: If your agency won’t let you see this stuff, one might ask

Harlan: why never deal with an agency that isn’t transparent

Conrad: ever. [00:44:00] And that so many do. Never crazy. Okay. We talked really quickly about human and bot chatting. This works. Like I don’t love it, but the chat functionality works.

I think you need to be judicious in his application. You need to have, you need to be capturing. So we showed this before you need to be capturing lead source. And understanding how chat turns into consultation. So you’re not pushing. So some of the chat vendors will actually hide your phone number on a mobile device.

So you can’t actually call, you have to chat that’s garbage. But it does work

Harlan: seriously. Oh yeah. I never heard that. That’s crazy. Oh, come up. Get somebody on the phone immediately.

Conrad: Yeah. So bad.

Harlan: So bad. I, can I can. May, can I tell you a little story,

Conrad: tell us a story go.

Harlan: I went to, work for a friend of mine and he said, don’t do anything for three months.

Just tell me what you got anyway. So I went into Chicago and realized that they were taking 180 cases in a month. [00:45:00] And, we got them to use another, S CRM and went up 300 cases. He cut the media by a hundred grand a month. True story. The way I was able to get to 500 cases a month, putting some back money back in is I separated the intake process from digital to, the tele television and just like at the car industry.

And, when you talk about getting back to people and having that conversation, that interactive, I found that people that were answering the telephone were. Chatting with people now, you can’t do two things at once to do it well, but it’s a different tempo. It’s a different conversation. It’s a different, and you gotta be immediate.

Yeah. On the chat and the, the, form fills and such, and by completely separating, have a separately trained person that handled that. That was a game changer. It

Conrad: really was interesting. Yeah. It makes sense, right? You, the multitasking is difficult and [00:46:00] the expectation of immediacy through chat, like there’s nothing worse than you’re sitting on chat and you’re waiting for someone to spool up.

And this is being answered somewhere in who’s Stan, and they’re not really following what’s going on

Harlan: now. It’s a lead and you have to be on top of it. And again, you make it easy for people to do business. Making it easy is means service means you answering them. And you’re satisfying that questions immediately.

And that’s who gets the deal.

Conrad: We spoke really quickly about CRM, replacing data entry. One of the things that you get out of that is comprehensiveness. You track everything, but you also get accuracy. You don’t get typos, you don’t get, just the mistakes that happen when you do things manually. Cameron, can you talk through, creation, like how this happens?

Yes. Within lead docket, this is because it’s not super straightforward, right? It’s not technically flip a switch. But it is so important.

Cameron: Yeah. It’s really important that you’re not redundant with data entry. If you’re gathering, [00:47:00] typing in someone’s first and last name, you should do that once or ideally zero times if it’s coming from a website form.

And then instead of time we do it five times. So like for example, best scenario, someone goes to your website, fills out a form, everything they submit their first name, last name, phone number, email address. Case summary, it’s all in the intake form and lead docket or whatever CRMM using, automatically.

And then from there we can automate different things like contract generation, so fee agreements and HIPAA us, and things like that to populate client’s names, using merge codes and stuff like that in templates. Right? Same thing with automatic texts and emails we can have. Hello, Chris, thanks for contacting Smith law firm.

We’ll give you call as soon as we can, right? Things like that. And even all the way through to case management, we’re talking about lead docket, which is just, intake with the whole purpose of getting a lead signed up, ideally, and then pushing it to case management, like for example, file mine where guess what all the data you gather and lead docket is there in file line, including documents and things like that.

It’s really important to have, this is [00:48:00] takes up so much time and a while from just entering data, into different systems. And these people are, paying them a salary. Make sure that everyone’s really efficient and helps you just overall

Conrad: be better. It’s also an awful job, right?

Yes, that know this, every time you fill out forms for your kids, like I’m always surprised or you go into a doctor and you’ve got a, I just wrote my first name down on the other form. Why am I doing it again? This it’s an awful pain in the neck. You mentioned documents, Cameron.

Can you talk really quickly about auto-populating fields within documents to make things easier?

Cameron: Yeah. A lot of firms will use vine sign, which is, our e-signature tool that we own. There’s also, things like DocuSign, where they are smart enough, where you can upload your documents as templates and vine sign, for example, add merge codes that indicate to spot for the client’s first name or the client’s address or the case type, or the incident date, things like that. Data that’s unique to the client. That’s gonna be populated onto a fee agreement or HIPAA off or something like that. Where we can just, the data’s already in lead docket it’s those fields are communicating with vine sign, for example. So you can literally [00:49:00] be on an intake call with someone.

Gather the intake qualify that lead, text them a fee agreement that’s already pre-filled because you just completed the intake form. You don’t need to type those fields again and have them fill it out while they’re on the phone with you. So don’t let that client go right. Sign it right there on the phone.

And if so many firms that use lead docket and vine sign and tools like that, to make sure that those

Conrad: leads are getting signed, we’re gonna get into velocity, but like velocity, meaning the speed through which people go through that funnel. You need automation to make this happen because what you can’t say is, hold on, Mary, let me just fill out your name and this new form that I have to create for you while I like, no, it doesn’t work.

It’s that it’s got the speed and automation are two very real things that live together. While we’re talking about signing people, We, I talked about this earlier, the rate at which people turn into this is one client for us, but the rate at which people turn into, clients changes dramatically by, it’s not just the consultations, but it’s also obviously the clients that, that, that follow from that.

And [00:50:00] then if you drive it all the way through, you can actually look at marketing revenue. There was a question earlier about, I’ve got all these different places where I’m spending money, right? And this is a lead docket, report here. How do I convince people that, we should continue spending money on the offline you’re in this example, you’re clearly tracking offline, right?

Cameron: Yeah. I would hope so, tracking, obviously there’s things you can track automatically through call, call rail and things like form, et cetera. But, have that conversation like Harla mentioned earlier about, Hey, did you go to our website? Yeah. I saw your billboards and I knew your firm and things like that.

And. Commercials, it’s all being tracked.

Conrad: Yeah. This is a really big, this has to be a really big firm with a pretty wide portfolio of marketing channels that are working.

Harlan: I do think that it’s very difficult to be precise, when you have multiple channels, yes.

This firm has, 15 different, avenues and they show that television is the third biggest, resource, it’s very hard people don’t say, I saw you on television or how did you [00:51:00] hear of this? I just saw you on TV ed, and I think you have to have some grace with that.

The, but the most important thing is that you are tracking your ROI. It’s I just don’t wanna oversell the fact that, when you’re dealing with so many tracks, it is, it gets a little mur.

Conrad: Yeah. Rob,

Robert: can you talk about you wanna mur that pool even further?

Conrad: yeah, go I different

Robert: attribution models, right?

First touch, last touch. W equally weighted, they’re interacting and some, verticals of law. It’s very binary and her, I go to Google, or I know the firm, I call the firm. But a lot of longer buying cycles, if you will. That gets even Murier. So I’m with you Harlan. And I’m a data guy and I put these systems together and I couldn’t agree more.

At the end of the day, understand your ROI, know your cost per client, let that guide you and understand it takes a mix and branding and awareness is extremely important. And so is understanding [00:52:00] how people are finding you on the web and digitally. Like it’s not one of these metrics. It’s all of these

Harlan: metrics.

Yeah. Correct. And you can make then intelligent. Decisions, just to go back a slide, you had mentioned, Cameron, excuse me, two slides, I look for a 92% conversion rate, unwanted leads. Yeah. That’s a pretty good conversion rate. And that’s what I really target if you’re in the eighties, you’re doing well.

But if you really, the sweet spot for me is 92% from wanted leads. And that’s why, your point is so vitally important, to separate you wanted and unwanted leads. You know exactly. Which are in which pile.

Conrad: Yeah.

Harlan: I learned so much from you over the years. Literally. And when you, had the opportunity or I had the opportunity to interview you on stage national trial lawyers, you said some things that was so pertinent, I walked away with it and ran with it.

And again, it’s understanding the different buckets that you put your stuff. The [00:53:00] most important thing that you’ve said to me at that meeting was, make sure you are putting the right data in, in, in the, in the right silos, because, and you have said this three or four times so far in this podcast, garbage in, garbage out, you can’t judge your overall effectiveness.

If you have garbage involved in

Conrad: the good stuff. And I real, I don’t wanna sound like I’m pitching Lee docket here, but the whole. Of these CRM systems, the, you will get to a size as a law firm. Every firm gets to a size where, at which you cannot do this with spreadsheets, you just can’t, right?

Harlan: No, you can’t follow it up. I think you wanna walk into your office, the first day, the, every morning and know exactly who I’m gonna call, who I didn’t call, who I converted. And also you wanna, it’s gonna be on you, run your business from this telephone. Yep. The whole crux of making money is more money is converting.

You’ll make more money converting leads that you’ve already paid for.

Conrad: We [00:54:00] are close on time. I’m happy to continue going Harlan. Or Cameron, are you guys available to keep chatting? Yeah, I’m free. Okay. We’ll talk quicker. How. So this is just more data, more detail on the data. So you’ve got these, graphs, you can dig into these things.

Lead cost per lead, acquisition cost, right revenue that comes out of stuff. Once you have this data grabbed, you can turn ma look at matrices and get into deep things. This is something that is a little, the next slide is it starts to get a little bit personal, but some of your lawyers are bad at turning prospects into clients that, that AQL number, right?

The wanted leads turning into clients, is it below 92%? And that number is very different by attorney, right? It could also be very different by lead, by your intake person, right? You compare, for example, you, I was installing the after hour services, like a Smith, for example, you should know how they compare against your.

Are they better? If they’re better, you’ve got a really big problem internally, right? If they’re [00:55:00] worse, like how much worse? Like how do we make them better, but looking at your lawyers and knowing, all right. If we send a wanted lead to bill, he’s gonna, he’s below 80%. Why are we doing that?

Maybe bill shouldn’t ever be talking to those wanted leads.

Harlan: I hate sending leads to lawyers because they stop more. Oh, pretty bold statement.

Conrad: The reason I insulting the audience, but go ahead.

Harlan: No, I’m trying to show ’em how to make more money. Okay. That’s what this conversation’s about. Yeah. The reason it’s difficult, sending a call to a lawyer is number one, you’re interrupting their whatever’s on their desk.

They, most lawyers. Unfortunately wanna decide whether they want that case or not trying the case, looking at all the attributes and they just spent too much time. If you got the case, don’t figure out how much money it’s worth while you’re talking to somebody sign the case up.

I do believe in lawyers talking to clients, I don’t wanna [00:56:00] be misinterpreted. I’m talking about a sales process here, right? When you have a salesman, a lawyer as a salesman that very often more times than done almost every time wanting to get off the phone to get back to what they’re doing. And that’s not

Unknoown: selling.

Conrad: And yet some of them are amazing at this. Absolutely. And there’s no way which ones are, is the key.

Harlan: You’re not gonna know it unless you have a complete accountability. That’s the word that we haven’t used yet

Conrad: today. Yep. Bing. So knowing this data and then following up and looking at this that’s so when you talk about accountability, Rob and I had this conversation, earlier today, these tool, these are tools, right?

It’s not, this is not going to fix everything. It is the use of the tool that is gonna make the difference. It’s not just having the tool.

Cameron: So I went like this when Harlan

Robert: said and use it leaves that like you, can’t just, you can’t just have another piece of shelf where you have to use

Unknoown: it.

Harlan: I, the phone call that I [00:57:00] was on just prior to this is the oldest, most seasoned advertiser in one of the worst markets in America, Las Vegas, and a friend of mine, I’m on the phone with him.

And I did a couple of consultations and did dear friend. And he asked my opinion. I flew in, I, and they have a CRM and they don’t use it because they got pushback because it was inconvenient for the paralegals to use. Yeah, and all these questions and this is a first advertiser, most established, advertised fabulous law firm, in Las Vegas, which everybody knows is a very tough market.

When I went to Chicago, they weren’t using, it happened to be captor. They weren’t using it. We

Unknoown: put

Harlan: millions of dollars in the owner’s pocket by using it. It’s amazing that people don’t use it in software. The average person, what uses camera? What 25 to 35, maybe 40% of software.[00:58:00]

That’s in front of him.

Cameron: Absolutely.

Conrad: That’s Cameron and Rob, how much time do you guys spend training people? I know the answer for Rob, but Cameron I’m curious how much of not you personally, but how much of your, the. The software’s efforts are worked on getting people using and educating.

Cameron: Yeah. So thankfully when it comes to lead docket specifically, it doesn’t require much training, especially if the firm is structured the right way. And what I mean by that is something you mentioned earlier, Harlan is that, the paralegals don’t wanna use the software. That’s inconvenient.

First of all, why are paralegals doing intake? It’s it, the sales structure in a law firm is ideally, intake staff, answering service or whatever, you’re using someone that’s dedicated to that intake process. So they know what they’re doing when it comes to their day to day gathering, lead information, setting out retainers or getting leads, qualified by attorneys or things like that.

So when they see that process in a system like lead docket, they’re like, this is literally my job, but it’s automating a lot of what I do. . So when it comes to training, it often takes a one, one hour training session. [00:59:00] That’s it, they’re off to the races. And of course there’s endless support and things like that for new hires.

And we’re always there every step of the way, but it’s. When it comes to having a process, that’s really not rocket

Harlan: science. If you remember Cameron, when we built lead docket and you are our very first, employee, such a key individual, you was such a powerhouse in this thing.

And I, I’m not patronizing. I’m just so complimenting you. You’ve gotta spend time using it. I, if I Don. I could be taught something on the computer and if I don’t continually use it, I forget about it. But it’s, the use of software, when we first made this product, if you recall, my insistence was to make it easy to use.

So people use it. Yep. That’s the biggest, that’s the biggest pushback on, on, on software. You have, not to name names, but there’s some very complex software out there that, but who the heck wants to use complex anything.

Conrad: Okay. Back. Never terrible [01:00:00] anything.

Robert: Oh, sorry. Go ahead. Make it as simple as possible and no simpler, right?

Like as easy as automated as simple I spend, it’s probably a third or third, a third setting up a third training depending on the software. I think honestly, docket there’s a lot less training. No doubt. To camera’s point, but supporting them. And this is where, I really harp on our team. We need to support you.

We’re actually very annoying when you aren’t using it because we need this data. I see. And I will say, Hey, what do you need? You need more training. Do you need, we send process docs. Like we, we come in and we help understand those ops side of things too. One of my favorite questions, I know we’re over, I’m going long here, but one of my favorite questions to ask a is ultimately who is in charge of making sure a new lead or opportunity makes its way through your funnel or your process, and often I’m with, right?[01:01:00]

And so it’s important to have someone in the firm that knows that is ultimately their backside. If things are falling through that crack. And if they don’t know that they need to. But I, it’s really hard for me as a third party provider to like. See that and cause I’m not in the, I’m not at the firm right.

Full time. So think about that. See if you can answer that question, if you can’t

Conrad: change that, I’m reminded on these to use thing of the guy and blank at his name, the guy who started Lotus, his quote was simplifying then add lightness. I love that. Anyway, moving forward, Cameron, this is a graph from you.

This is just revenue by attorney, right? And you can also cut things, when we’re looking at individual attorneys, consultations, conversion rates, all of this looking at individuals within the firm, because the bigger your firm is the more that this has an impact.

Cameron: Yeah. It’s literally as simple as just a field, a lead is signed up. It’s tied to a lawyer. That case is that now case is gonna [01:02:00] sign. Close in months or a year or however long it takes depends on your case type, obviously. And then you’re gonna and put the revenue for that and that revenue is tied to that lawyer, right? Yep. So it’s super

Conrad: easy, super, and every time you’ve got a graph, there’s, supporting data behind this, right?

So you can look at how people are performing and what’s working, and how they’re performing individually. We talked earlier a little bit about velocity. Rob, can you talk through, this is, I love this and we’ve got another version of this. This is our own reporting, but we’ll show the lead docket version of this.

Can you talk about velocity and why we care about it and how it’s really changed things?

Robert: Yeah, there’s a lot of different data you can look at, but we’re of the mindset of, if you can’t, if it’s not actionable, why do you care? What can you get out of it and the velocity through your funnel?

And again, what we mean by that is how long does it take for a lead. To become a consultation and a consultation to become an attorney qualified lead, and then current qualified lead to become a client. If you know that, that information, you can [01:03:00] start improving that process, making that easier for your prospects to move through.

One of the things that we identified with this data was a law firm was having a very difficult time, ultimately closing those leads that they wanted. And it was, I think it was a lemon law lawyer. But they were finding, it was really difficult to get some of the paperwork in order to assess whether they actually have a case.

And so we found that employing a person to actually go out and help those prospects get that documentation, whether it’s just like a police reporter or whatever it was, they improved that conversion because it was taking so long for them to close. And so many of them weren’t closing. So it’s the power of this data and to take action upon it is important.

Conrad: But yeah, if

Robert: your weeks too long days more

Cameron: like it,

Conrad: Months or immediate as we were talking about, right? This can be immediate,

Robert: the faster you can [01:04:00] get it through the more money

Conrad: you’re gonna make. And Cameron, these are individual leads here, that we’re looking, I’ve blocked out the they’re opportunities.

Cameron: Yeah. Sorry. Opportunities. So leads coming from a web chat, a website form something that may or may not be a lead. It could literally just be someone like your website that says, Hey, I wanna sell you a new website. But yeah, you can see which ones have been created into leads, which ones were spam, how long it took them to process.

So what does that mean? How long were they sitting there in your opportunities list waiting for someone to respond. Cause they’re again, calling from calling back from way earlier. They’re not yet a lead until someone’s actually working them. So when that top one was sitting there for four days, two hours.

Okay. Whys. Figure that out. Helps. Figure out what’s

Conrad: working. What’s not, and again, you gotta manage this, you gotta look at this stuff and ask why it was, did take four days to, to go anywhere. Harlan you’ll like this one, I picked this as an example just for cuz of the motorcycle side of this, but, I wanna make a use this as an example, but then camera, I’d love for you to talk about how this works with lead docket.

I want much more customization on the automation [01:05:00] when we’re doing follow up. So for example, this is an example where if you contact the law firm on a page, that’s about motorcycle accidents. When you come back to the firm, you’re gonna get imagery around motorcycle accidents. Your follow up is going to get, instead of generic personal injury, garbage, you’re going to get stuff specifically about motorcycle relative content, right?

Relevant content, sorry. Display advertising should all be focused on motorcycle. How does this work? Because this is so amazingly powerful. How does this work with Lee docket?

Cameron: Yeah, so we can automate different workflows and really what a workflow is in lead docket is really tasks telling someone in the firm to do something and then also automatic texts and automatic emails.

So one of the variables on a workflow is like a case type. So if someone fills out a form that’s on your motorcycle accident page, we can have the case type, beat motorcycle accident. So guess what? We can automatically text them automatically email them saying, specifically about their motorcycle inquiry or something like that, to make it tailored to them down to the actual, what are they looking at on your website and things like that.

So we can target them even more [01:06:00] and it’s gonna make it look way more personable, even though it’s coming from a robot, which they don’t even know by the way, cuz or pulling the client’s name and stuff, to help them, with that client experience, get that case.

Conrad: So good. And at scale, these small customizations are the difference between a negative and a positive ROI.


Harlan: selling. It’s selling, as sales to some people are a dirty word, we’re all sales people. Whether it’s your minister or your, my wife trying to get me to take the garbage out. She’s selling me on the garbage, gotta go out. We’re all selling something and the more relevant.

And, but it’s the client experience, that we have to really understand accountability client experience.

Conrad: So this next one is I love on the client experience side of things. This next one is awesome. One on one video emails, right? So I talk regularly about the importance of building an individual relationship with people.

And it’s very easy to take that consultation and do a [01:07:00] quick review via email, record yourself, using your laptop that you’ve already got all the hardware to do this, and then sending that out via video, right? No, one’s doing you guys. Aren’t doing this. You’re not doing this. Most of you aren’t doing this.

And yet it’s so much so powerful to, sit down and say, oh, okay, this is what we talked about. I’m sorry to hear about your dad. The next steps that you should take are X, Y, and Z. You’ll hear from us by Tuesday. Really hope things are going okay for you. And you do that immediately. It takes, three minutes you send it out.

So this

Harlan: is, it depends on how much you want the relationship. You gotta work at the relationship. That’s the third, most important word that we’re bringing up to today, relationships, sales or relationships. Yep. He has the best relationship gets the

Conrad: sale. There’s a great quote by guy named Chris Walker, who says how you sell is why you win.

And it comes down to these relationships. So this is just, one small thing that you can do. All right. We started with, The funnel, right? MQL [01:08:00] SQL journey to clients. This is your kind of high level, the lead docket high level dashboard that looks at all of these pieces. I don’t know.

Do you guys have data Cameron or Harlan on how frequently people are logging into this? This kind of, yeah,

Cameron: we log piece. Yeah, we log all user activity and, it can drill down pretty far, to see who’s looking at reports and stuff like that. Now mind you, only certain people in the firm should have access to these reports outta sure.

Entirety. Yeah, you can easily say

Conrad: that.

Harlan: Super. I remember early on, Cameron, we had a client that said, you know what, we don’t, lead docket just doesn’t meet my needs. It’s not robust enough. And you went back and you said, you only dialed in five, six times.

Conrad: So how the heck does he know?

Unknoown: Yeah.

Cameron: Yeah. And kinda mirroring that Harley, I’m not gonna mention names or anything, but there was a client of ours. Who’s a pretty large advertising client. They are pretty dominant in their market and they were like, lead reports are not good. [01:09:00] I’m like, what do you mean? So I went into the lead docket system and they weren’t entering any data financially or really doing a really good job of tracking these.

Again, you have to use this right lead docket. Kinda fold your laundry, right? you have to some input that goes into this. And they were like, okay, I’m gonna talk to my marketing team and get this figured out because there, there was all zeros there. I’m like, oh, we’ll get the data has to be there, for this to actually show

Conrad: yourself the reports are terrible. They don’t show me anything because there’s nothing in them.

Robert: One lead dockets reports are fantastic. This dashboard alone, but you guys have so many out of the box reports that I actually end up building in a lot of other CRMs cuz they don’t exist.

So that was shocking to hear. And two, we haven’t figured out a way to take the humans out of this completely. And I don’t think we ever

Conrad: will.

Harlan: I don’t think that you want to I, we’re still a relationship oriented, soci this, sales are relationships.

I, I don’t think you wanna take it out. Take the human out of it.

Conrad: You’ll be more effective, with the humans in it. It [01:10:00] just will, but please use it. Yeah. But use it. All right. I apologize for going long as I’m off, as I often do. There’s so bunch of people on the call, if anyone has any questions, we will hang for an awkward 60 seconds.

Otherwise feel free to drop, but you’ve got a chance to ask Rob anything about serum and integrations. You’ve got lead docket file by awesomeness here. If you wanna dig any specific questions, it’s super, super happy to answer that. And

Cameron: Conrad, can you reconfirm it that everyone will receive a recording of

Conrad: this as well?

Yeah. So my apologies up front for the scheduling headaches I will make. So I’m gonna take this recording. I’ll do post production on it. I’m going to, I started using amazing technology that will remove all the filler words like ums and OS, which wow. Didn’t do a lot. That’s awesome. I’ve really started enjoying doing post-production on video, so we will try and have this launched if not tonight, but, but certainly by tomorrow.

And I’ll follow up with everyone to make sure that you have an access to the recording. I know we went long, we covered a lot of different things. You may wanna fast forward or move in and around. So we’ll make [01:11:00] that very easy for people.

Harlan: so in our parting words. Yeah. But what’s the Cameron. What do you think is the most important thing you want your viewer to, to know other than to call you with a, to find out, how you can help them, but very seriously, let’s get some takeaways,

Cameron: all that stuff on the spot.

There’s a lot of takeaways from this conversation, but I think number one is just sticking to the, a process. If there’s not a nice flow of process in your firm from lead first, reaching out, even before that, even setting up the campaigns, right? The whole thing should be tracked should be a very organized process.

There should not be, Google documents, spreadsheets, papers on desks, things like that. It needs to be very organized and structured using software, a text stack that all communicates with each other. That’s ideal.

Unknoown: The process.

Robert: I would echo that. And I would say, please use what you have a lot of you have start using it [01:12:00] and you’ll see an improvement and automate what makes sense. And I will say this, I don’t think this came up word of caution with automation, right? It is a relationship business. What makes sense?

Automating everything does not make sense. It’s actually very difficult and you’ll spend too much time doing that and it won’t be affected. So there’s a lot of things that make sense to automate that. I think lead docket, makes very apparent by what you can do and what you can’t. But those are

Unknoown: takeaways.

I would

Conrad: leave you with awesome Harlan, parting words.

Harlan: You know what? You don’t know, you don’t know. And what that means, and many, thousands of people who use it. I, trademarked years ago, what it means is you’ve gotta figure out what you don’t know, what you don’t see, that’s where the details are.

That’s where you improve your business. If we keep walking into our offices and say, how many cases did we sign? That’s great. I wanna know how [01:13:00] many we didn’t sign so I can sign more. And that’s really important. And no matter what piece of software you use, have somebody in your office be appointed as that expert so that they can not only make sure that everybody’s using it right, but you can train people to command and so on.

It’s, software is a, is a great thing only if you use it. And my last thing on advertising is, remember you get what you ask.

Conrad: All right. Get what you asked for. Thank you everyone. I know we went long. I know a lot of you hung on, which means we were doing a good job of being engaging and awesome and delivering gems.

So thank the three of you. Really appreciate you guys joining me and, we’ll see you around the internet. Thank everyone.

Harlan: Thank you very much. Peace out.