Wednesday, April 2, 2014

One Out Of Every Three Reviews On Yelp Could Potentially Hurt Your Law Firm #lawyermarketing

Today a story was released in the WSJ about a lawsuit filed against sites that host and manage customer reviews of their companies online. One of the most prominent review sites, Yelp, is at the center of the story. According to one carpet cleaning business owner, his business was negatively impacted by as much as 30% following a rash of negative reviews on Yelp.

As we have previously posted, user reviews are critical when it comes to brand management for attorneys. I recently visited with an attorney who had two reviews on Yelp - one of which was highly negative. When I showed her a search of what her potential referral clients see when they Google her name, Yelp was right there are the top - with a 3 star rating. When I asked her if she was aware of this, she said that a number of clients has mentioned it to her over the past few months. Which leads me to the following question; if this many people would mention it to you, how many more would not? Moreover, how many of those have now become lost cases and clients? 

We know from studies by AC Nielsen in 2009 that 70% of people now trust online consumer opinions. When referrals are given out, they are typically given in numbers which means you have competition for that client / case. Now that your referral clients are increasingly reviewing you online before and after your initial meeting with them, you need to know and more importantly, better manage your brand reputation and reviews online.

According to this chart on Yelp reviews, fully 34% (1/3) of all reviews on Yelp are three stars or less. That means negative reviews and lost business for attorneys with negative reviews and increased business for those without them.

Which option best appeals to you?

#lawyermarketing  #brandmanagement #seo #yelp

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Maricopa County Bar CLE: LinkedIn Marketing March 25th

Dustin Ruge will be presenting a 1 hour CLE on LinkedIn Marketing For Attorneys at the Maricopa County Bar Association on Tuesday, March 25th at 12noon.

Topics covered include:

· Creating and Updating LinkedIn Attorney Profiles and Pages
· Building Referral Networks
· LinkedIn and Frequency Marketing
· Using LinkedIn to Better Promote Your Brand

For more information and/or to register: http://mcba.site-ym.com/events/event_details.asp?id=403471 

#CLE  #lawyermarketing #LinkedIn

Thursday, March 13, 2014

New Attorney CLE's March 20th & 21st - Social Media & Attorney Marketing Online #CLE


Dustin Ruge will be presenting two Southern California CLE's next week on Social Media for Attorneys and Attorney Marketing Online. If you are interested in attending either of these events, please see below for details...

ATTORNEY MARKETING ON THE INTERNET

DATE/TIME:  Thursday  March 20th @  12:00 noon
LOCATION:   The Old Spaghetti Factory  (111 N. Twin Oaks Valley Road; San Marcos, CA)
SPONSOR:  North County Bar Association 

INFO:  Vik Chaudhry - (858) 519-7333
MCLE CREDIT HOURS: 1.0 General


SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ATTORNEYS

DATE/TIME:  Friday  March 21th @  12:00 noon
LOCATION:   The Classic Club: 75200 Classic Club Blvd, Palm Desert, CA 92211
SPONSOR:  Desert Bar Association
INFO:  Michael Rover: - (760) 346-4741
MCLE CREDIT HOURS: 1.0 General
MORE DETAILS: http://desertbar.com/events.html#87 


More more information about CLE's provided by Dustin Ruge and/or to request Dustin as a CLE presenter, please click here for more details...

#lawyermarketing  #CLE  #dustinruge

Monday, March 10, 2014

5 Things Attorneys Need To Know About Mobile Advertising



There is nothing new about mobile search unless you are the average attorney. With the fastest consumer technology adoption rates in the history of marketing, mobile is hard to keep up with and more importantly, it is hard for many attorneys to know how this impacts their marketing spending relative to effectiveness. Here are a few things to keep in mind…

1.) Fish where the fish are
Of all of the ways you can market your law firm practice, there is one channel that is growing at a record pace and that is through mobile. It is hard to not see people with smart phones and t
ablets anymore both inside their homes and out. This is the new normal and projections currently have mobile searches to you exceeding PC searches by 2015 (yes – next year!!)

2.) Most of your attorney websites DO NOT currently support mobile search
Most attorneys are not surprised to hear that mobile search to their websites are expected to exceed PC search in 2015 until they realize that most attorney websites DO NOT support this change.  Just open up your website in an iPhone and see what comes up. If it is NOT a professional MOBILE version of your website, you have a problem. Remember: 80% of people will abandon a mobile website if they have a bad user experience and most attorney websites built for PC’s provide exactly that.

3.) Respond to mobile with Responsive Design
Google has endorsed one technology for mobile website development and that is responsive design. In case you haven’t noticed, the old days of building (and guessing) which m.dot design will work best is over. The reality is that there are hundreds of mobile interfaces and growing out there so let responsive design handle them all in one shot.

4.) Focus your paid results around your practice areas
If you are doing PPC (Pay Per Click), are you accounting for mobile searches as well? Ever noticed how there are far fewer PPC results displayed on those tiny results screens? If you handle DUI and auto accident cases, have you ever thought about what devices people are searching from, where and when?

5.) Coordinating your email and mobile together
As we have recently discussed on our facebook page, email marketing in making a comeback. If you currently utilize email marketing, a growing number of people are opening your emails on a smart phone and clicking through to links – which are most likely going your website…on a mobile phone.  Want to help increase the conversion rates on your email marketing? Then provide a fantastic mobile user experience on your website.  Are you running TV, billboard and radio ads? Ask yourself the same question…

#lawyermarketing #mobilesearch  #mobile

Monday, February 17, 2014

Building An Effective Frequency Marketing Plan For Your Law Firm #lawyermarketing



One of the biggest mistakes I commonly see lawyers make is in creating ineffective marketing plans. The actions I frequently see are sporadic mailings, setup and infrequent use (or no use at all) of social media, and one-time media buys. My favorite comments from attorneys are when they will start a social media / media / mailing strategy and then stop it saying that they “didn’t see any results” and/or they “are not getting new cases” in continuing these efforts. The genesis of this problem typically emanates from too much focus on the “what” of marketing while lacking a true understanding for the “why” they are marketing to begin with.   

THE RULE OF 7

There is an old saying in marketing that your prospective clients need to see and/or hear you many times before they will buy from you. This is why you still see Coca Cola and Ford ads during the Super bowl. Did you not know what these brands were? Of course not. What they wanted to reinforce through these ads was the repetition in which you see them. The “Rule of 7” was adopted decades ago to provide a baseline for how many times (7) this needs to typically happen in a given year. The problem is that this was before the advent of the digital marketing age. With the increasing barrage of information we receive today, I typically recommend that attorneys be in front of their prospective clients and referrals at least 7-12 times a year in order to maximize this effect. The problem is that most attorneys are not.

FREQUENCY VERUS REACH

With the advent of social media, attorneys are now hearing the word “reach” which is used as a measure of the effectiveness of their social media advertising. REACH is nothing more than the total number of people who are exposed to your message. Conversely, FREQUENCY is the total number of times you reach them. To illustrate the difference, imagine you had $10,000 to spend on marketing in one year. Your first option is to create great content on your blog once a year that reaches 1000 people once. Your second option is to create good content eight times a year that reached only 125 of the same people. Which would be more effective? According to the Rule of 7, the eight content pieces to the same 125 people eight times would typically be 5X more effective when it comes to potentially converting them to clients. But what do most attorneys do today? They create high levels of reach over frequency.  

BUILDING YOUR BRAND

There are two types of marketing for attorneys: Branded and Non-Branded Marketing. The difference between the two is simple: BRANDING is what you are (Your Attorney & Firm Name) whereas Non-Branded Marketing is what you do (Your Practice Area/s). Most attorneys go to market today with a heavy imbalance between these principles and as a result, fail to improve conversions and their Return-On-Investment (ROI). The reality today is that there is a heavy convergence between these two types of marketing for attorneys and by forsaking one, you lose with the other. Let’s use an example. Say you have a heavy web presence in Dallas for white collar criminal defense lawyer searches. If you have high visibility for these searches online (Non-Branded) but have little/no name recognition or citations (Branded), what are you chances of that prospective client bringing their case to you? If the average person typically receives 2-3 referrals and looks at 4.8 attorney websites before contacting the firm, then how are you going to be able to convert that (Non-Branded) search into a case?

When people buy, they go through three psychological stages in the process: Need, Proof and Risk. Following the example above, the prospective client had a NEED so he/she searched. When they found your web properties, they found part of the PROOF for the search. The problem now is how does this person really know you’re the best option and mitigate their RISK by choosing you over another attorney? Is your BRAND strong enough to convey this proof and mitigate the risk?

An effective branding strategy is necessary for ANY attorney to establish the following criteria in a prospective client’s mind:

Does your BRAND confirm credibility?
Does your BRAND connect clearly with your target clients?
Does your BRAND emotionally motivate your target clients?
Does your BRAND convey value and loyalty?

Your branding strategy must address each of these areas to be fully effective in your attorney marketing. Here are questions / issues / actions I commonly see dealing with each…

Confirm Credibility: If you want the best cases / clients, what are you telling them about you that makes them want you? Most people today do not stop their search after they find you for a Non-branded search. If they find you but don’t know you (Your Brand), their next search is commonly your attorney and/or firm name to see what comes up about you. Just because YOU might say good things about yourself (on your website) doesn’t mean that your prospective clients aren’t looking elsewhere (Yelp, Google Reviews, Super Lawyers, LinkedIn, AVVO, etc.) to confirm the same. They are and the internet is now enabling this!

Connect Clearly: I cannot tell you how many times I have had attorneys who target consumers asking me if they should maintain their AV Rating and promote it. My answer is simple: does your target audience understand what an AV Rating means? Think about WHO your target client profile is and what they do and don’t know first before you assume they know anything about attorneys, the law, your profession and you.

Emotionally Motivate: Most people are not happy when they have to seek out an attorney. Because of this, they are both logically and emotionally driven in their search and evaluation. If I am getting a divorce, being sued by a business partner or arrested for a DUI, how do you think I feel when I need legal help and most likely have never worked with an attorney before? How do you best connect to that emotion and convert them to a client? The good news is that most of your competition fails at this – you do not have to.

Convey Value & Loyalty: The third most active page on an attorney website is typically the case results and testimonials pages. Why? Simple; people need to satisfy the PROOF of what you can provide them and mitigate the RISK they take in choosing you over another attorney. Both of these factors are increasingly confirmed off of your website as well so just telling them on your website alone is no longer good enough. Did you know that 70% of people now indicate that they trust online consumer opinions about you? What should that tell you…

BUILDING AND EFFECTIVE FREQUENCY MARKETING PROGRAM

Effective frequency marketing for lawyers incorporates all of the elements above into one coordinated and cohesive strategy. It gives symmetrical balance to both your BRANDED and Non-Branded marketing elements as well as your marketing REACH and FREQUENCY. Here are some steps to help achieve this for your law firm:


  • DIVERSIFY YOUR REACH: Referrals and prospects all respond differently based on the target audience and individuals so maximize your reach by diversifying your marketing mediums. Find out where their eye-time is by percentage and break down your marketing accordingly. This should be an ONGOING process and never assume that what is working today will work tomorrow. A lot of buggy whip and AOL stock owners learned this the hard way.
  • BUILD FREQUENCY: Identify your target audience and make it a goal to have them see or hear from you 7-12X a year. If you have a limited budget, YOU MUST balance your reach and frequency to support the Rule of 7. Say for example you have two options: 1.) you can only afford one TV commercial (large audience) compared to 2.) being able to blog twice a week, build your social media and send out one mailing a month (smaller audience), which one is a better option? The best options are always balance of Reach and Frequency – DO NOT neglect one for the other.
  • BUILD YOUR BRAND: If you have historically invested heavily in non-branded marketing (most attorney can raise their hands now), it is time to start balancing the scales. Do you have a system to get your happy clients saying good things about you on review sites? Have you created a profile on Super Lawyers to help get nominated? How good if your LinkedIn profile and network? Did you know that nearly 93% of all attorneys are on LinkedIn?
  • FOCUS ON COVERSION ROI: Marketing is no longer linear for attorneys – there are simply too many points of citation to go with only one. It is no longer easy to simply track-back a lead source when they may have found you through a referral and/or online (website, blog, social media, Google Local, etc.) looked at your reviews on Google and Yelp, saw you on Super Lawyers, read your LinkedIn profile, etc. – all of which took place BEFORE they ever contact you. Now how do you calculate your Return-On-Investment (ROI) for just one of these contact points? You can’t anymore. The only true measurement you have now is the cases and clients you generate as a result of ALL of these mediums working as part of a unified approach.
  • UTILIZE LEVERAGE POINTS: 10 years ago, attorney marketing was much easier than it is today. In most instances it was build a website and run yellow page ads and there you go. Fast forward to today and you will see that nearly EVERYTHING your referral and prospective clients do has an online component (PC, smart phones, iPads, etc.) to it and those piles of phone books sitting in the trash make great doorstops. The world is rapidly changing and becoming more complex – especially online. The bottom line: I would no more advise an attorney to handle all of their marketing any more than I would advise a patient to perform brain surgery on himself. The world of law and marketing is becoming increasing competitive and complex leading to specialization. If you want to succeed in growing your business of law, hire a lawyer marketing specialist who can help you achieve it. If you want to simply practice law, do the same. Either way, you can end up with the same result. 
#lawyermarketing #attorneysearch #brandmarketing #seo

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Click Through Rate (CTR) and Rankings For Attorney Search



A recent study by Catalyst Search Marketing has followed-up years of Click-Through-Rate (CTR) data to better reflect the recent changes in Google and how rankings compare to CTR. As you can see from the blue chart to the right from 2011, The average CTR for the #1 position in Google was disproportionately higher (36%) than the #2 position (12.5%), the #3 position (9.5%) and so forth. The basic message back in 2011 was it is great to be #1, ok to be #2, and then everything else.

Long Tail Search Improves Click-Through-Rates and Conversions for Attorneys

Attorney search has become VERY competitive over the past 5 years with a growing number of attorneys coming online meaning greater competition and higher costs per lead. The recent explosion in attorney PPC spending is a perfect illustration of this.

In response to the explosion in PPC costs for common attorney terms, more attorneys have turned to an active content strategy by building up a larger content net to be found through long-tail search. Since we know that client conversion rates are higher for long-tail searches and Google rewards this action through their recent Panda release, this only seemed logical. But now, the data may better support this…

The most recent study on CTR by Catalyst provides a new twist to this data since it now shows a trend of most distributed CTR to long-tail search results (unbranded) over branded search. What is interesting when comparing the red chart (2013) to the blue chart (2011), you will notice how being #1 in Google, although still important, is less important now than in 2011. Moreover, showing up in any of the top 3 spots for long-tail attorney search could strongly beneficial.

So What Does All This Mean?

Long-tail search, as an alternative to branded search may have much better Return On Investment (ROI) implications than it did two years ago. In short, if you still adhere to a strategy for narrow term results, you have a much higher cliff to fall from absent the #1 position than you do with a long-tail search strategy. What about the impacts on mobile search? What is absent from this data is the further analysis provided by mobile search which has a far narrower search results footprint. One could argue that the typical one-organic result typically displayed above the smart phone fold could help reverse this trend? Possibly. But right now, we have no further data to support or deny that.What we do have however is the increasing importance of the long-tail and attorney search results.

Monday, December 9, 2013

What Happened To Martindale-Hubbell / Lawyers.com?



It is commonly said that a jack of all trades is a master of none. 

On August 30th, LexisNexis (which owns the Martindale-Hubbell & Lawyers.com brands) announced a “joint venture” with Internet Brands to operate their internet marketing solutions together. Along with the announcement came Lexis’s elimination of 205 “roles”, including their CEO and head of marketing and business solutions, indicating that these roles will be carried out by Internet Brands. Naturally this creates a lot of questions for their attorney website clients who originally bought something more than directory listings with LexisNexis – especially since many/most/all? of the brand websites listed with Internet Brands are directories and blogs.  
 
So Who Is Internet Brands?

According to their website, Internet Brands was founded in 1998 as CarsDirect.com. In 2005, they decided to diversify (expand) their industry vertical niches and in 2006 changed their name to Internet Brands. The vertical brands listed by category on their website currently includes: Automotive, Careers, Health, Home, Legal, Licensing, Money, Shopping & Travel. Does expanding verticals outside of the legal space work for directories? AVVO tried it once expanding to lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc. – now they are back to just legal. So does Internet Brands want to be a master of directories or a master of a business vertical?

What Does This Mean For Attorneys?

For a number of years now, I have had numerous attorneys ask me if they should continue to pay for and/or promote their AV ratings online. My question back to them was simple: “What is the quantifiable value it is providing you and what is your Return On Investment with it?” This is a simple measurement for all marketing and brand management – not just for them. In most cases, the attorneys couldn’t answer the question thereby answering it for themselves. In essence, this simply illustrates who much brand value may be left with these brands and as has been written by others recently in the legal marketing space, does their value even exist anymore?

I am not going to pretend to know what the future holds for the Martindale-Hubbell & Lawyers.com brands but I cannot deny the trends I have witnessed recently. Attorneys have questioned the value of their AV ratings, I rarely ever see a Lawyers.com TV commercial anymore and LexisNexis has decided to give-up sole management/ownership of these two brands to a company that runs many brands in many verticals. Does this mean nobody wanted to buy them first?

Looking forward, this could be welcome news for attorneys who rely solely on web portals like Lawyers.com to generate leads but it leaves a lot more questions about the other brands and services previously provided.  More importantly, it also draws to question if this new industry-ubiquitous entity provides all of the value needed to successfully market as an attorney. Internet Brands currently lists around 238 total brands (websites) on their website – 6 of which are legal brands (2.52%). Even a jack of all trades can do the math…

#lawyermarketing