Battle of the Sexes: Online Reviews

We all know online reviews are important. Most of us nowadays, before buying something online or booking an appointment, will scan reviews to find the business with the most favor among peers. But what groups of people pay the most attention to these reviews? Does everyone care equally? If the answer to that question is no, this could have implications for businesses targeting specific demographics. To answer one facet of this question, Jamie Pitman of BrightLocal published an article in Search Engine Land addressing the divergence in online review behavior between men and women, and the results are surprising. Jamie and his team conduct their annual “Local Consumer Review Survey“, in which they poll a representative sample of 1,000 people and published the results. Here are some of Brightlocal’s notable findings from 2018:

1. A Much Higher Percentage of Men “Always” Read Reviews

While 37% of the men within the sample reported “always” reading reviews before interacting with a business, only 15% of women reported doing so. Meanwhile, 29% of men polled reported only “occasionally” reading reviews, while 45% of women did so. As Jamie noted, this implies that businesses with a male customer base need to be thinking about their review profile online.

In thinking about what might account for this difference between men and women, my mind goes to a few possibilities:

  • Too small a sample: it could be the case that the women being polled just happened to place less importance on reviews, or visa versa for the men, and this doesn’t reflect reality. I’m looking forward to next year’s survey to see if these results are replicated.
  • Women rely on other avenues of research: To really bury myself in stereotyping here, beauty products come to mind as an example. It could be the case that with something like makeup, women trust friends or social media influencers more than they do reviews.
  • The men polled inflated their answers due to some societal/psychological stuff I won’t pretend to understand: Perhaps men feel more pressure to play the role of a responsible shopper than do women and this was reflected in how they answered survey questions.

Regardless, let’s explore the implications assuming this sample accurately reflects consumer’s review behavior.

2. Fewer Women Have Been Asked to Leave A Review

Another finding of note within BrightLocal’s study is that more men reported having been asked to leave a than women. When asked “Have you ever been asked to leave a review for a business?”, 54% of men selected, “Yes, and I did leave a review”, while 37% of women responded the same. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 25% of men selected, “No, I’ve never been asked”, while 44% of women responded the same. Meanwhile, 21% of men and 20% of women responded with, “Yes, but I didn’t leave a review”, respectively.

So what can we take away from this? Assuming this sample of the 1,000 people surveyed is an accurate representation of people more generally, this tells us a few things:

  • Ask women for reviews: The biggest takeaway for me from this finding is that ONLY 37% OF WOMEN HAVE EVER BEEN ASKED TO WRITE A REVIEW. From an online marketing perspective, this is astonishing. I urge each of my clients to make a policy out of asking for Google reviews from every one of their clients (assuming the relationship is good). To hear that 44% of women have never been asked to write a review is astounding. Additionally, assuming your customer base is an even spread between men and women, it’s a good idea to have a representation of your female clientele online for potential customers that are also female. My intuition tells me that women relate better to the testimonials of other women when shopping around, and vice versa for men. Given that a smaller percentage of the women that were asked to leave a review did so, this is something to take into account when assessing your review profile to make sure women are represented. It should be noted that as with most things SEO, there’s debate around just how valuable online reviews are, and if you’re getting them, which platforms glean the most value per review. That being said, not one of these voices is suggesting that reviews have no value or aren’t worth having and asking for.
  • Ask everyone for reviews: Looking at the last bullet, the same applies to men. 44% of women responded as never having been asked to write a review, while 25% of men responded in kind. That’s still a lot of men, and a lot of missed opportunities for reviews.

People Are Reading Businesses’ Responses to Reviews

The most surprising finding from BrightLocal’s survey is how often potential clients read businesses’ responses to reviews. According to the survey, when asked, “When searching for a local business, do you read businesses’ responses to their reviews?” men responded with the following: “Yes, always” (37%), “Yes, regularly” (27%), “Yes, occasionally” (27%), “No, never” (9%). Women responding with the following: “Yes, always” (20%), “Yes, regularly” (24%), “Yes, occasionally” (43%), “No, never” (13%). What this tells me, above all else, is that people are interested in businesses’ responses to reviews. In the likelihood that an irate customer leaves a scathing review with less than the full story, don’t let that be the full narrative potential customers see. If you respond with the full picture (e.g.

So What?

If you remember one thing from today, let it be this: reviews are important, ask ALL your clients to write them. If you can remember two things, also remember to respond to exceptional (in the good or bad way) reviews.

Site Kit by Google: Check-in on Your Site in one Location

Google announced a new site plugin that plans on making many aspects of web admins and business owners jobs more streamlined and efficient.

This new plugin dubbed Site Kit by Google will be a free, open source plugin that will incorporate many different Google tools and products into one easily readable dashboard. A perfect location to check on the health of your site.

In the first release of the plugin, Google has integrated four tools. Here is what Google currently says will be available on the dashboard.

  • Search Console: Learn how users discover your content on Google Search.
  • Analytics: Understand how users navigate your site.
  • AdSense: Set up AdSense and monitor your earnings.
  • PageSpeed Insights: Identify critical performance optimizations for your site.”

The plugin will also include deep links to Google tools and advanced reports.

Site Kit will begin Beta testing in early 2019. Mockingbird will keep our eyes out for the release of the full plugin later this year and will keep you updated as more information is released. Subscribe to our Newsletter to stay informed on this and many other aspects of the legal marketing industry.

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to How Your Phone is Answered

Almost every law firm has a dedicated person answering their main phone line, but not many are regularly auditing their calls. The initial touchpoint for a potential client is a crucial step in whether or not they’ll hire you, so why wouldn’t you put the same time, money, and effort into intake training as you do for the marketing that drives those calls to you in the first place?

As a marketer, it’s my job to drive calls to your office. What happens when they contact you is completely in the hands of your intake team.

I’ve had multiple conversations with clients who believe their intake process is superb, only to call in myself and have a less than favorable experience with their gatekeeper. If I have a bad experience, potential clients are also having a bad experience, which means they’re probably not going to hire you.

There are a few options, depending on how involved you’d like to be, in the auditing/training of your intake team:

  1. You can mystery shop your own office and create a script off of your findings
  2. You can use your marketing agency to mystery shop or listen to your recorded phone calls and give feedback
  3. You can hire an intake specialist to coach you on how to properly answer your phone and capture more leads

Which ever method you choose, continue to be involved with your intake team. Your intake team is the first personal connection made on behalf of your firm, make sure it’s a good one.

How Bad Chat Implementation Can Kill Your Website

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

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

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

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

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

typical chat dropdown display

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why You Need to Update to Php 7.2

PHP is a widely used open source general-purpose scripting language that can be embedded in HTML. Conventionally used as a server-side scripting language to write dynamically generated web pages. The scripts are executed at the server and sent to the browser as plain HTML. It is important to update PHP to the latest generation to help make a site faster and protect against any errors. One of the most important benefits of updating to the latest generation of PHP is the support and added security benefits that it will bring. As PHP 5.6 and 7.0 are reaching their end of life, here is a breakdown of PHP 7.2.

Advantages

PHP is compatible with almost all servers and database standards used worldwide. Offering fast performance backed by a large open source network, PHP can be used for a variety of purposes, such as generating dynamic pages and files. It allows you to store and manage information in a site database while also allowing the collection of information from a web form or emails to users. Through its many security features, PHP allows data to be encrypted and restrict unauthorized access to your website.

PHP 7.2

The latest update to version 7 included important security improvements, performance enhancements, and some exciting new features. The latest version PHP 7.2 follows with marked improvements in security and performance. PHP 7.2 brings updates Libsodium and Argon2, two security functions within the latest generation. These functions are used for encryption, decryption, and password hashing. PHP 7.2 keeps up to date with the most recent methods in cryptography, which is vital for security. The improved algorithm in these updates means that is is much harder and more computationally intensive for attackers to obtain users passwords or access.

benchmarks have proved that a site can receive substantial performance benefits from the latest generation. PHP 7.2 runs 20% faster than 7 and 250% faster than PHP 5.6 which over 40% of WordPress users are currently operating on. PHP 7 can also handle twice as many visitors as PHP 5 can, using the same amount of memory. This performance benefit alone makes PHP 7.2 a worthy upgrade for most of our clients, decreasing load time while increasing the number of visitors a site can handle at one time.

Support

Each PHP branch goes through the same life cycle after it’s initial release and receives support for two years with bugs and security issues actively being fixed during this period. After the initial period, there is an additional year when only critical security updates are provided. These critical updates or changes are only released on an as-needed basis and are dependent upon issues being found and reported. Finally, three years after initial release, the branch will no longer be supported in any way. PHP 5.6 will no longer be supported starting January 1, 2019, reaching the end of the three-year cycle with PHP 7 moving into the critical security phase. More reason to make the switch to PHP 7.2 right away to reap the benefits of continued active developments and support.

Upgrade

The simplest way to upgrade to PHP 7.2 is by asking your hosting company to update it for your account. Depending on your hosting company it may even be a simple process and they may even provide a guide that will help you walk through it yourself. It is important to ensure that your website is compatible with PHP 7.2 before asking your hosting company to update it for your account. WP Engine has a PHP compatibility plugin that will scan all active themes and plugins to spot any potential issues. This will help you ensure that your site is compatible with PHP 7.2 and that your existing themes or plugins will not break your site after upgrading to PHP 7.2. After the update is complete, you may have to update your A record as your IP address may have changed.

Advanced Website Launches the Mockingbird Way

Rob and I sit down and share our process – built on the experience of launching almost 100 law firm websites – for launching, relaunching or migrating a website.  Frequently, great designers miss these technical elements.  Many “SEOs” don’t know a darn thing about the technical pitfalls of rebuilding a site.  If you’ve recently relaunched a site and seen a drop in business generated by the web… this might be the root cause.  We see these problems over and over and over again when taking over accounts.

Upfront apologies that this is nerdier and more technical than most of our talks, but you can’t raise these concerns without understanding the technical components.

 

 

Is Your Firm’s NAP Consistent Across the Web?

NAP is your firm’s name, address, and phone number.

In terms of Search Engine Optimization, it is very important that your business’s presence be consistent across the internet. This means that your firm should be listed with the exact same information (NAP) on all directories, social platforms, etc.

What do you mean exactly the same?

When we say the exact same information, we mean the exact same information… Here is an example of listing inconsistency:

Listing #1 – Correct Listing

Joe and Susan Law Group, PLLC
321 Lawyer Ave, Suite 203
Seattle, WA
(555) 555-5555
www.joeandsusanlaw.com

Listing #2 – Slightly Off

Joe & Susan Law Group
321 Lawyer Ave, #203
Seattle, WA
(555) 555-5555
joeandsusanlaw.com

If your Google My Business listing says “Suite 203”, your directory listings should not say “#203”. If you use PLLC in your business name on Apple Maps, use PLLC on your Facebook page. These small differences in listing details aren’t going to pull your firm’s web presence down into the Google dumps, but correcting these errors will improve your web authority over time.

Listing #3 – Totally Wrong

Joe Carrigan Law Firm, PLLC
321 Lawyer Ave, #250
Seattle, WA
555.555.5555
http://joeandsusanlaw.com

This large inconsistency is something we see often when helping law firms clean up their web presence. Maybe your firm went through a recent name change, maybe you’ve changed office locations, or maybe an individual incorrectly submitted your business information. Whatever the reason, it is a fundamental necessity that your firm corrects major listing inaccuracies.

Why Does NAP Consistency Matter?

Dependable firm information will help search engines understand who you are, what you do, and how users can find and reach your business. This will help establish search engine trust in your business. Varying information across the web will discourage search engines from sending users to your firm.

Correcting listing inconsistency can be an uphill battle, but there are tools that Mockingbird uses to make the cleanup a bit easier. Tools like Yext and Moz. These tools find business listings that don’t match your business information and help to suppress those listings. They also push out your correct NAP to the most authoritative and relevant information sources, such as Foursquare, Bing, Apple Maps, Whitepages, and more.

Moz and Yext help with fighting errors in listings, but often we will have to reach out directly to the listing website to get it removed or corrected. This can be a time consuming (but completely worthwhile) effort.

Is Your Firm’s NAP Consistent?

Use Mockingbird’s NAP Scanning Tool to find out how consistent your business’s listings are across the web, and please feel free to reach out for help addressing any issues that you find.

We F’d Up…

This post is meant to highlight three things:

  1. We are not infallible.
  2. Our job is to candidly advise on the status of marketing, even when problems are self created (see above).
  3. Being extremely selective in choosing exceptional clients fosters a genuine partnership where that honesty is appreciated.

Last week we f’d up. This was for a large, long standing client who has spent well over $200K with us. The long and short of it…while building out a Google Ads campaign for a client’s new office, we inadvertently deleted an existing one – and historical data, drives quality score and quality score drives economic efficiency – therefore the ads aren’t going to perform as well (for a short time). Our error is going to cost the client some money.

Here’s the exchange that happened between my AE and our client late Friday afternoon:

I have some bad news. While I was helping get the XXXXXX campaign edited, I accidentally removed the XXXXX campaign. I called support to try and get it back but they said there’s nothing they can do. I was able to duplicate the campaign, so it’s currently running on the same settings, with the same ads and keywords.

Since the original campaign was removed, we essentially are starting over with a brand new campaign. We still have access to the data from the original, but any authority that it had is now gone. It’s going to take a while for the campaign to start running the way it was.

Again, I’m very sorry. Please let me know if you have any questions or want to discuss this further.

That was at 5:22 pm on Friday. Client wrote back at 8:20 on Saturday morning:

I thought it was super classy for you to let me know about the XXXX campaign. I’ve used so many marketing firms and the reason why I was so attracted to Mockingbird was because Conrad was so upfront and honest with me. And I believe this extends to the entire company. Basically, other marketing companies tend to [be] very squirreley and Mockingbird is so honest, and that’s why I love working with Mockingbird. For example, you consistently say, “XXXX, you should use us for this…” and you also say, “Dan, I’ll be honest, you may be able to get a better value somewhere else.”  I really appreciate that candor.

I think the XXXXX campaign is a perfect example of why I enjoy working with Mockingbird so much. There was virtually no way that I ever would have realized that the XXXXX campaign was deleted. I’m just not smart enough to figure that out. But you saying, “look, XXXX, although you would have never realized this, I mistakenly deleted the XXXXX campaign and the paid searches may not be as good as before” was a super classy move.

So, final thought:

First, thank you for letting me know about what occurred with the XXXX campaign. I greatly appreciate your honesty about that.

Second, do not worry about. Mistakes happen, so not a big deal.

Thanks, XXX

One of our 10 Commandments is “Proactively Deliver Bad News.” This is vital in our role as consultants/advisors/experts. News from the marketing side of things is not always positive and a good agency won’t shy away from delivering bad news…even (or perhaps especially) when its our fault. And clients…you should recognize that us technical agencies almost always have the ability and access to hide any mistakes or concerns from you. That should never be our role, but as our client pointed out…he most likely would never have noticed. Ask yourself: when is the last time your agency told you things aren’t going well?

Bird Droppings: Google is now rolling out the Google Speed Update…and More

Welcome to another edition of “Bird Droppings.” A simple list highlighting recent articles relevant to legal marketing in order to help bring you up to speed with what’s been happening in the industry over the past few weeks! Make sure to check out our upcoming events!

Industry Articles:

Attorneys that build links with press releases listen up! Google ignores those links and they don’t help your site in search.

Google is now rolling out the Google Speed Update, which impacts the mobile search rankings of the slowest sites on the web.

With Google’s pending Speed Update, gradual improvements to how quickly your law firm’s website loads can impact your rankings “a little bit”.

Avvo’s fixed-cost service discontinued by Internet Brands

Smart bidding is really smart, but its not perfect. Be careful when you make the switch.