Who’s Answering Your Phone?

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

 

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

 

How to Diagnose What’s Going on

A Problem With Your Answering Service

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

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

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

 

A Problem With Your Hours

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

 

A Problem With Your Intake Capacity

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

 

A Problem With the Marketing

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

 

3 Ways to Update Your Intake System

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

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

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

 

Final Thoughts

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

Tools We Love: CallRail

Call tracking has become a standard for anyone who’s focused on measuring the success of their website. There are plenty of tools out there that offer call tracking, but we’ve fallen in love with CallRail, and have stayed in love for many years now.

Over time, CallRail has added features and improved how effectively it tracks an individual’s call history.

What does it do?

Instead of showing your real business phone number, you can use a tracking number in places that a potential customer or client will see. If you choose to add tracking numbers to your website, CallRail will dynamically swap your real number with your chosen tracking number(s).

How does it work?

Within CallRail, you can either port (move) numbers you already own or create new numbers to use as your tracking numbers. These numbers can be displayed on your website, within ad copy, on billboards, or anywhere else you might want your number displayed.

When someone calls one of these tracking numbers, the information from that call is stored in your CallRail dashboard. The caller won’t notice that they’ve called a tracking number, and neither will the person answering your main line.

Implementation

For number swapping on your site, you’ll want to install CallRail’s script directly onto your website (we suggest using Google Tag Manager to do this).

You’ll also want to connect Google Analytics and Google Ads to CallRail in order to link your data together.

CallRail Integrations

Setting up Tracking Numbers

If you’re running Google Ads, you should have at least two tracking numbers, one for mobile, the other for desktop. You’ll use both of these as extensions for your ads.

A good rule of thumb is to place a tracking number on any marketing or advertising you’re paying for. If you have a TV commercial, make a tracking number specific to that. If you still advertise in a phonebook, have a tracking number for that as well.

This is the best way to figure out which campaigns are driving leads, and from those, clients.

Keyword Pools are the best way to track calls that happen on your website. A keyword pool is essentially a bunch of numbers that are available to show on your website at any given time. If you have 5 people viewing your site at the same time, each will see a different number and their visit will be tracked individually. It doesn’t matter where the user came from (Organic, Direct, etc.); each person will be tracked accordingly in your CallRail dashboard. This eliminates the need for individual tracking numbers by channel source.

CallRail Tracking

Form Captures

CallRail can also track the form submissions on your site. This is great for calculating ROI on forms, all in one easy place. You can easily search for a signed clients name, see their form submission, and see how they got to the site in that visit.

Call Recording

CallRail has an opt in feature to record calls on the tracking number level. If you wanted to only record calls from one of your numbers, you can do that. You can also customize the message that plays to the caller that alerts them they are being recorded.

If you suspect there’s an issue with your intake process, call recording is the best way to pinpoint the problem. It’s also a great way to track the quality of your leads. You might find that one of your advertising channels is only bringing in callers who can’t afford your services, who are outside of your service area, or the wrong kind of practice type.

Call Log

In the call log, you’ll be able to see all of the calls that have happened on all of your tracking numbers. You can switch to specific time periods, look at only specific tracking number, sources, and a number of other things.

You can also mark-up calls with notes about the call, or whether it was a good lead or a bad lead.

Callrail Call Log

Call Attribution

The call attribution tab has the best breakdown of how many calls you had by channel for a given time period, as well as how many were first-time calls. It’s important to know how many first-time calls you’ve had in comparison to your total call volume. At Mockingbird, we only report on first-time calls because we’re trying to track new business, not current clients or people who have contacted you previously.

CallRail Call Attribution

 

CallRail has a ton of amazing features that haven’t been covered here, and they’re constantly improving the tools they offer. As an official CallRail partner, feel free to contact Mockingbird if you have any questions. We’d love to help get you started with CallRail and improve your current tracking setup.

Google Ads Conversion Rate Benchmarking

Mockingbird manages millions of dollars in lawyer advertising across hundreds of law firms and while overall performance varies, firm to firm, I thought it might be useful to share our conversion rate data so my readers could benchmark their own performance. First – understand that conversion rate here does NOT mean converting into clients, but instead the percentage of people who contact the firm by phone, form fill, chat or even text message after clicking on the advertisement. One of the patterns we are aware of is that conversion rates vary greatly by Practice Area, so I’ve broken different practice areas out below. I’m hoping the numbers below are helpful in evaluating the performance of your own advertising…and if you agency obfuscates or doesn’t report on these numbers, I’d ask myself what they are hiding (read below the bullets for more…)

Also note that our campaigns’ strategy and tactics are driven primarily by business metrics instead of traditional PPC marketing metrics (such as impressions or click through rates), these benchmark numbers are likely to be very different from PPC campaigns that focus on optimizing more typical metrics like impressions, CTR, or position.

    • Personal Injury:  10.2%
    • Criminal Defense:  10.8%
    • Social Security Disability:  18.9%
    • Bankruptcy:  8.8%
    • Family:  20.2%
    • Immigration:  32.3%
    • Business:  1.6%
    • Estate Planning:  12.4%
    • Tax:  4.2%
    • Employment:  17.1%
    • Medical Malpractice:  31.0%

Tricks Agencies Use to Lie About Conversion Performance

Trick 1: Conflating Branded Results

Note that in our analysis above, we only did the analysis on non-branded search queries – i.e. “car accident lawyer” and not branded queries – i.e. “Smith and Jones Law Firm.” The reason for this is simple, branded queries already have high intent, and the marketing cost of those queries clearly doesn’t rest with the AdWords spend, but instead, TV, radio, billboards, and overall great customer service which drives referrals. In addition, clicks for branded queries are extremely uncompetitive relative to non branded queries and therefore cheaper, typically costing between 1% and 4% of typical PPC bids. One way online marketing agencies fool their clients is by including conversions from branded queries in their reporting – and taking credit for these very low costs clicks that drive business from marketing dollars spent on other marketing channels.

Trick 2: Hiding YOUR Data.

Agencies often literally hide conversion data from their clients by refusing access to either Google Ads or Google Analytics. If you can’t find your conversion data, perhaps it’s time to find a new agency that understands that it’s your data, not theirs.

Trick 3: Over-Counting Phone Calls

There are only 4 real “conversions” for legal marketing: phone calls, form fills, chat and text. One way agencies artificially inflate their “conversion” data is by counting every phone call (instead of first time callers only) to obfuscate the data behind poorly performing campaigns. Ensure your conversion reporting is set to only count first time callers, any moderately sophisticated dynamic call tracking service (like CallRail) has a simple setting to adjust for this.

It’s important to not only monitor the rate at which your advertising is converting into inquiries from potential clients, but also understand how this relates to industry standards. Benchmarking your conversion rate against competitors within your practice areas should allow you to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as shore up any deficiencies in bidding strategy, ad copy or landing pages that might be preventing you from maximizing your overall conversions.

Call Tracking or No Call Tracking – Choose Wisely

you're not wrong just not helpful imageWhen a law firm starts an engagement with our marketing agency, we always setup our reporting and infrastructure. This includes call tracking. We communicate the value of this during the “sales” process. I like to think it’s what makes our law firm marketing services more attractive than the competition’s.

Once this setup has been completed, the conversation often goes like this:

Attorney [A]: Hey – why is my number changing on my website?! You guys are sending my business to the wrong attorney!!

Mockingbird [MB]: That’s call tracking working as it should! It allows us to measure which marketing channels are working and which ones are not. We’ve confirmed the numbers are forwarding to your firm. Give it a try!

A: Oh. Well I don’t want it.

MB: You should! Without it, we won’t have useful data to make accurate business decisions with your marketing investment.

A: I’ve had the same phone numbers for years. People have it memorized. Scrap call tracking.

MB: We aren’t willing to fly this plane blind. You’re investing thousands of dollars in PPC and we need to know if it’s working. It’s also vital to lowering your cost per lead and client metrics over time. You should continue to use your direct number on your business cards and give it to new clients during your on-boarding process!

A: What if a client saves a call tracking number?

MB: The number will still work! We encourage you to give your direct number to every new client when they sign with your firm. We only report on first time callers, because we wouldn’t want to miscount existing clients that call back using a tracking number as a new lead.

A: If I decide to leave MB, what happens?

MB: We don’t hold you hostage. We would hate to see you go, however, we setup your tools so that you own them. If you want to stop leveraging CallRail, they can port any phone number out from their system and into your preferred call software.

A: I’ll just ask my clients how they found me.

MB: They will tell you “the internet”. Which isn’t wrong, it’s just not helpful.

A: You’re not going to budge on this are you?

MB: Nope.

Call Tracking – Making Your Law Firm Successful

Our 10 Commandments are displayed proudly on the wall every employee (and visitor) sees them as they enter our office.

#3 is “Don’t Make Clients Happy, Make Them Successful.” Call tracking will help our marketing agency make your law firm successful.

If you don’t like it, there are at least a dozen other law firm marketing agencies that will light your money on fire for you. We’re just not one of them.

SEO Traffic Generates 1 call per 30 visitors

This is a review of a Benchmarking study I conducted for the American Bar Association quantifies the question:

How much business does SEO generate?

This has been an oft disputed theory – although frankly I’ve never understood the dispute – but there are certainly factions within the legal online marketspace who argue vociferously that SEO traffic should not be a law firm’s objective. And we’ve certainly seen many examples of low quality traffic; however, my personal thoughts echo SEO audit superstar, Alan Bleiwiess who commented on this issue:

Wait. Who says traffic from search doesn’t lead to sales? I need to meet such people. If for no other reason, than to laugh. Uncontrollably. In their faces.

So instead of letting theories clash (and to see if Alan is right)… I thought I’d actually look into the data.  Turns out, SEO traffic generates inbound phone calls at a pretty consistent and strong rate.  Utilizing call tracking software and and only counting first time callers we found:

SEO generates 3.35 calls  for every 100 visitors.

SEO and Phone Calls
Personal Injury firms highlighted in red. All others in blue.

Granted its a small sample size – and these are mostly long standing clients of mine – so they are well taken care of from an online marketing perspective (yes, I’m biased). For the most part, we’ve pruned out garbage content; focused traffic on local traffic instead of global traffic and heavily invested in high converting terms from a content perspective.  You will note, from the graph above, there still is a wide array of success here – from about 1 call/100 session to 6 calls/100 sessions. (And yes – we are digging deep into each of these firms to understand what those differences are – but that’s a study I’m keeping just for my own clients.)  We also found, those firms in the study who were PI firms – that average rose to 4.5.  And if you really want to nerd out and go back to your graduate stats course – the correlation coefficient between the two was .70.

Now of course, not all of these inbound inquiries are prospective clients – it may very well be someone’s spouse looking up his wife’s number to coordinate picking up the kids from soccer – or more frequently a PPC salesperson prospecting for clients.  BUT…. overall there is a clear and solid line between search traffic and prospects.

You can read more on the study in the ABA Journal or see the stats behind the study here.

 

 

Are Your Partners Sending Fake Traffic?

At the risk of stating the mind-numbingly obvious: accurate reporting infrastructure is of primary importance in evaluating the efficacy of marketing channels.  We’ve recently uncovered two vendors deep in the conversion cycle, whose reporting infrastructure is double and even triple counting website traffic. (This artificially made our own reporting to the client  look much better than it actually was.)

The Issue

The issue at hand is the way conversions are reporting back to Google Analytics data. A good reporting infrastructure is built not only on traffic – but also the frequency of that traffic doing what we want – in the law firm sense, this means (for the most part) filling out an online form or calling the firm.  We’ve looked at two different cases in which both online and offline conversions are being counted as a second or even third session, which means over reporting traffic.

Apex Chat (Online Conversions)

In the case of Apex Chat, we found that when sending chat completion data (as a conversion event) back into Google Analytics, Apex actually sends a new session to GA when chat is engaged and another new session if the chat moderator marks the chat as a prospect.  These are marked as events in Google Analytics as:

  • ApexChat Chat
  • ApexChat Lead

This means, a session generating a lead is erroneously reported as three different website visits. If you dig deeper into those sessions – you see (in the graphic below) them applied to Direct traffic and that they see zero pages and zero time on site.   You’ll also notice – in this case they inflate direct traffic volume by 6%.  Not huge numbers, but not insignificant if you are watching things as closely you should.

Apex

This is simply a very sloppy integration with Google’s API – Apex told us they are aware of the issue and have a resolution; although they didn’t roll it out to us when we requested.

CallRail (Offline Conversions)

The CallRail issue is more difficult, because frankly tracking an offline conversion back into an online reporting system is tactically much more difficult.  Essentially, the phone number identifies the channel that generated the session; however, tying the call back to the specific session is much more difficult. (The work around is to utilize CallRail’s per session based phone tracking, a significantly more expensive alternative.)  But you can see, given the sheer volume of calls generated by a website, that there’s a large inflation of sessions – in this case, they are accurately allocated to the appropriate marketing channel – so traffic for all channels gets artificially inflated.  In our example, this was a sitewide artificial increase of 9%.  In the graphic below, look at the dramatic difference in patterns between the inaccurate (first column of graphs) and accurate (with the duplicated traffic removed) second column of graphs.

CallRail

For now, I’ll reject my internal cynic and reject the hypothesis that some especially crappy agencies are deliberately implementing tools to artificially boost their numbers….. or, hmmmm, maybe I’ve just enabled them with the information to do so.

Call Tracking for Law Firms – Jenny, I Got Your Number: 867-5309

Here at Mockingbird, we love data. We love data because data allows us to make decisions based on what works, rather than what we think might work. We love data because it allows us to explain to our clients why they should be spending less time, money and effort on X while spending more on Y. Have I mentioned that we love data? Ok great.

This love for data is why all of our clients have their phone number displayed clearly at the very top of their website – and not just any number, a call tracking number.

Call Tracking We Love Data

What a Phone Number Can Tell Us

Phone numbers in marketing can do much more than connect your clients to your business (connecting your clients to your business is priority number one). Here’s a short list of all the information a phone number can give you:

  • How many calls your business receives,
  • Which marketing channel generated those calls (organic traffic, PPC, referrals from Avvo, etc),
  • How long each call lasted,
  • The location each call was placed from,
  • How much you spent to acquire that call,
  • Whether you converted that caller into a client, and
  • Your ROI on said client.

Don’t go calling your phone company just yet… This is all done by using call tracking software, which masks your firm’s main telephone number with a unique (sometimes toll free) tracking number. This number changes based on how that person found your website, allowing the software to track how many calls came from AdWords vs. Bing Ads, and so on.

Panicking at the thought of losing your catchy number? Take a couple deep breaths; it may not be as important as you think.

Let Go Of Your Catchy Phone Number

**Insert some Disney song reference here**

I have a confession: I have no idea what my girlfriend’s phone number is. I think it starts with a two.

I have another confession: I call my neighborhood Teriyaki restaurant once a week. I don’t know their phone number, either.

If a number is really important to me, like my girlfriends’, I save it in my phone as a contact. If it’s not so important, like the teriyaki restaurant, I do a quick Google search for their name, and then click-to-call their number.

On the rare day I’m without my cell phone, I search for phone numbers on Google, and then immediately dial – retaining the numbers just long enough to press each button. I like to think I’m using this brain space for more important things (maybe I’m not).

My behavior is representative of many people in 2015, and brings up a noteworthy point: information is so accessible these days that the actual phone number is becoming less and less important. Gone are the days of keeping a Rolodex. Now, we can easily save a new phone number into our phone or quickly look it up through search.

And unlike humans, computers don’t care if that number ends in 1-2-3-4 or rhymes with “DUI”.

Area Codes and Local Phone Numbers

Area codes can factor into your local search efforts, so you should have a local, direct phone number that rings to your law firm. Use this number in all of your website directories (especially Google My Business). However, don’t let acquiring a local tracking number keep you from using call tracking software. Since they aren’t hard coded into your site, tracking numbers don’t affect local search efforts. Additionally, they’re highly dependent on what the phone companies release to the public/tracking companies, so you could be waiting a while.

Whatever you do, don’t hard code a bunch of different numbers in a bunch of different places. Make it as easy for Google to connect the dots. Call tracking software doesn’t actually change the phone number on your site, it just masks it; your NAP (name-address-phone number) consistency is safe.

Call Tracking Software We Like

We use Avvo Ignite whenever a firm lacks an intake process. Avvo understands lawyers. They also understand SEO. They’ve put both of these things together and made a product that can help a firm not only track the number of leads, but the leads within the purchasing funnel. Warning: you have to use it to get the most out of it.

When intake software isn’t necessary, or when a client doesn’t utilize a majority of the features within Ignite, we also recommend Call Rail. This product seems to have a nice selection of local and toll free numbers, and integrates very easily into WordPress via a plugin and API key. As an added bonus, it plays well with multi-location firms with more than one number displayed throughout your website.

There are many, many more companies that offer solutions similar to the two above. What call tracking software is your firm using and which channel is driving the most leads? If you’re not sure, we’re happy to help you figure that out.

Don’t listen to Tommy Tutone, Jenny. Change your number so you know how your potential clients are finding you. It will help make you more successful.