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 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Challenge Of Big Company Innovation


I had an investor who was interested in one of my previous companies once ask me “what is your sustainable competitive advantage?” My answer was simple: everything we do is driven by one overriding objective – continuously provide higher levels of customer value than our competition. Seems simple enough right? Richard Branson talks frequently about “how complexity is your enemy” yet why do larger companies than become their own worst enemies?

There are many differences between large and small companies but the chasms between the two are commonly defined best through the lenses of innovation and agility. Since the Fortune 500 was established in 1955, only 13% of the original designees remain. Why? Many reasons really but I think Steve Jobs and Steve Denning hit the nail on the head…

One of my favorite articles on this subject was published in Forbes in 2011 and did a masterful job of explaining what makes big companies fail to remain big and dominant market leaders. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the article:

“The [Big] company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important” – Steve Jobs

“It’s [The decline of big companies] also the accountants and the money people who search the firm high and low to find new and ingenious ways to cut costs. The activities of these people further dispirit the creators, the product engineers and designers, and also crimp the firm’s ability to add value to its customers. But because the accountants appear to be adding to the firm’s short-term profitability, they are also celebrated and well-rewarded, even as their activities systematically kill the firm’s future.” – Steve Denning

“If the firm is in a quasi-monopoly position, this mode of [monetarily] running the company can sometimes keep on making money for extended periods of time. But basically, the firm is dying, as it continues to dispirit those doing the work and to frustrate its customers.  – Steve Denning

“Half a century ago, the life expectancy of a Fortune 500 firm was around 75 years. Now it’s less than 15 years and declining even further…Why do managers keep on this path that is systematically killing their firm? For one reason, it’s more difficult to add value than to cut costs.”  -Steve Denning

Why is this article so impactful? Because so many people today running large companies continue to fall into this mouse trap. Rarely do we witness people like Steve Jobs who won’t “be trapped by dogma” and question the very existence of a business. A recent innovator, Elon Musk, added to this logic by claiming that The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You're encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren't that smart, who aren't that creative.”

So therein lies the quintessential paradox of large companies: most continue to drive the short-term profitability for their shareholders at the expense of their log-term viability and growth. This problem is fundamentally no different than politicians who promise unsustainable future government pensions and benefits to their supporters for their own personal short-term gains while kicking the liability can down the road for somebody else to deal with. This is easier for politicians since governments rarely fail as opposed to companies that frequently do. In both cases, the pathology of these problems, often decades moved from the sources, become largely unaccountable and in the end, anachronistic. 

So are most large companies destined to fail? The numbers aren’t encouraging to say the least but it can be done.  First, companies must understand that nothing will change until they admit there is a problem and large companies are inherently problematic. Second, leadership at all levels must reflect a constant culture of change and innovation. Third, in order for a company to grow, they must remain on the offensive - complacency is sauce for the slothful. Forth, companies must never lose focus of the most important market indicator of all: perceived customer value. When earnings trump customer value, a point of inflection is commonly reached and companies typically stop growing and start dying.  
So ask yourself: what is the most important measurement of success for your company and you will get a good read on exactly where your company may be standing in the pages of business history.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Google New “Ad” Button Advertising Changes



Have you noticed something different about Google’s search results screens lately? Those little yellow “Ad” buttons are not a mistake – despite the fact that those who have observed Google’s continued domination over the years of their own search results screens are mostly surprised by such an omission.

Yes – Google has called-out their ads on their search results screens. Why you may ask? Just look at the history of Google’s continued blending and pushing off of organic search results and you may see what anybody with a pulse has seen and now governments are pursuing – namely, their continued problems with anti-trust regulations and the EU.

Along with the new “Ad” buttons comes the removal of the contrasting backgrounds for their ads. These backgrounds have been so diminished over the years that it is doubtful anybody will even notice they are now gone.

So what will be the impacts on Google and your PPC advertising with them? Time will tell. As people become more sophisticated in search, they have become more immune to advertising – hence the continued pushing down of true organic results. The “blending effect” between organic and PPC results has been a problem for years – especially on mobile search results. Simply put, most mobile search results have been overly limited to begin with and have little/no contrast. The fact that these new yellow button also display on mobile search results could result in even larger potential impacts. In the end, this is Google we are talking about so the only constant is change with them. Could these buttons eventually go away tomorrow? Who knows? If they negatively impact Google’s own ad revenues, don’t be surprised if they do…

#lawyermarketing  #google  #PPC  #payperclick

Thursday, November 14, 2013

HOW LAWYERS USE LINKEDIN - 7 THINGS EVERY ATTORNEY SHOULD KNOW ABOUT #LINKEDIN



Successful attorneys spend a great deal of time networking to generate new clients, cases, and referrals. There is no better networking tool online today to support these efforts than LinkedIn. Some attorneys today are literally building their entire practices through the heavy use of LinkedIn while many others continue to struggle in fully understanding the potential value provided by LinkedIn in helping to support their legal practice. The following are seven of the most important aspects of LinkedIn that every attorney should know…

LinkedIn is Now Your Online Resume and CV
LinkedIn is now looked at as one of the most trusted sources for professional and company information online.  Gone are the days when a CV request is sent. Nobody now wants to make this request and wait for the response when all they typically need is now online and real-time with LinkedIn.  Your LinkedIn profile is now your resume and CV and it is now online – so make it work for you!

HELPFUL TIPS AND HINTS:

  • Make sure you create and fully update your LinkedIn profile. Add ALL of the pertinent information you would normally include in a CV – the more detail the better. Also make sure to regularly update your information and include important links to other online properties such as websites, blogs, etc.



Most attorneys are on LinkedIn
According to recent studies, upwards of 95% of ABA members currently have LinkedIn accounts. Moreover, roughly 770,000 members of the legal community are also on LinkedIn. The bottom line is that LinkedIn is the most widely-adopted social media / online networking site for the legal industry, period. Marketing 101: Fish were the fish are. If you are not on LinkedIn now, you are simply not keeping up with the legal industry.  


LinkedIn Is the Most Effect ATTORNEY Business Card Rolodex
Some of the most effective networking attorneys have historically maintained a voluminous rolodex of business cards. With LinkedIn, those days are gone – and the trees are now celebrating. The problems that plagued business cards in the past have now been largely solved by LinkedIn – namely; how do you best manage and utilize your contact data AFTER you receive the business card? Moreover, with all of the other means of collecting contact information (Outlook, Gmail, etc.), how can you manage them all together? Again, LinkedIn is now the answer…

HELPFUL TIPS AND HINTS:

  • You can import any of all of your contacts from Outlook and Gmail into LinkedIn and make connections to them from LinkedIn.  Save the time and manage them from one location moving forward – it gives you far more options and capabilities.
  • You can now easily find and create connections to your law school and/or graduating class alumni in LinkedIn. You can also build your connections by connecting with past clients. Why let past relationships fade away when you can utilize them to your advantage moving forward. Need to build up your referral bases? Why not start with people you already have various types of connections to already?  Through the “advanced” search feature, you can select contacts from graduating schools and classes that you may have lost touch with over the years. Connect and see what happens to your referral network…
  • When making LinkedIn connection requests make sure to personalize your messages and try not to use the default wording instead. The more personal, connecting and compelling the message, the better the chance you will have in getting your connection request accepted.
  • Include a link to your LinkedIn profile in your email signature, business cards and online profiles. Use phone number test: anywhere that you feel compelling to promote a phone number should also include your LinkedIn profile link.
  • Download “cardmunch” to your smart phone and use it to scan every business card you receive. Cardmuch fully integrates to your LinkedIn account and allows you to scan and connect with other people within a matter of seconds. Cardmunch is the most effective app for attorney networking on the market today.  The next time somebody hands you a card, take out your smart phone, take a picture of it using cardmunch and hand it right back to them…see what kind of initial reaction you receive.  Then tell them that they will receive a connection request from you shortly in LinkedIn and ask them to accept it. This is the future of networking and you will be potentially introducing them to it firsthand. What will that say about you? Think they will now remember you better?
  • Build connections with “people with leverage.” Do you know other attorneys who seem to know everybody? How about people who are well known and respected in circles of people you want as clients? These are called people with leverage and chances are if they know everybody, they are connected with many of them now on LinkedIn. Take the time and effort to connect with them on LinkedIn and all of the sudden you will have access to all of their connections and moreover, they can see you are a part of that leverage person’s network – which potentially gives you added credibility.



LinkedIn Supports Frequency Marketing
Ever wonder what Coca Cola runs highly expensive ads during the Super Bowl? Every heard of Coca Cola before? Of course you have – we all have, many times.  There is an old saying in marketing that you should touch your prospects (in one form or another) at least 7-12 times a year for them to actively member you when they will need you. That is the basis for frequency marketing. This also applies to legal marketing as well.

Most attorneys rely on the majority of their business from referrals from other clients and attorneys. Since many of these referrals tend to happen infrequently with intervals ranging from weeks, months to even years, how are these people expected to actively member you when they will potentially need to send business your way? That is where LinkedIn can help…

HELPFUL TIPS AND HINTS:

  • Provide news and/or links to your blog entries in your LinkedIn profile. Why? Because this will provide you with a means of actively staying in front of all of the people on LinkedIn you are connected with so when they see your posts on LinkedIn, they will more actively think of you. In the past, LinkedIn used to provide an App called BlogLink that allowed you to do this automatically. Today, it has become a manual process but should only take a minute to simply copy and paste from your blog into your profile updates stream.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups – Alumni, practice area specific groups, target client profile organizations, etc. are all waiting for you to join them. This will allow you to collaborate, participate and help you build your awareness and network of contacts. Group associations will also help you in making connection requests through increased search options and mutual association.



LinkedIn Allows You to Build a Better Referral Network
Referrals are the lifeblood of most legal practices. A recent 2012 ABA study has shown that around 75% of corporate counsels regularly use LinkedIn to help them select third-party counsel. Why? Because it is the most effective way to find detailed information about other attorneys and connect to them. The same applies for your referral network.

LinkedIn provides robust “advanced” search capabilities that allows you to find and connect with other people and attorneys based on location, demographics, education, position, employer, past employers, keywords, title, experience, industries, groups they are associated with, etc. There is literally nobody you cannot potentially reach and connect with on LinkedIn and since roughly 95% of attorneys have LinkedIn profiles, you should be able to find most everybody you want when you are building your referral network.  The larger your number of connections, the easier it is to build on them so don’t delay and get start today.

HELPFUL TIPS AND HINTS:

  • Write recommendations for other attorneys – it is easy and VERY effective. If you look at another attorney’s profile, you may or may not see recommendations from others. Ask yourself: what impression do these recommendations make over others who have none? Writing recommendations is also good karma: you should to give in order to receive. Make the effort to write solid and relevant recommendations for other attorneys and clients and watch what happens in return…



LINKEDIN IS THE TOP WEBSITE FOR PROFESSIONAL RECRUITERS
Gone are the days when job boards like Monster.com and others were the way for professionals to find and be found for jobs online. Most recruiters today want easy access to search for and find people based on their complete profile and job history. That is why good professional recruiters today start most of their job candidate searches on LinkedIn.  


LINKEDIN IS THE #1 SOCIAL MEDIA TRAFFIC GENERATOR TO YOUR WEBSITE
Even though a broad-based social media strategy should be utilized by a law firm, not all social media vehicles produce the same results. According to the Q3 2013 Audience Insight Survey, LinkedIn drives fully 64% of website traffic from social media sources (In comparison - Twitter: 14%, Facebook: 17%).

Like it or not, most LinkedIn profiles and pages for attorneys and law firms are commonly in the top search results in Google. This means that referral clients and other attorneys are commonly seeing your LinkedIn information at the top of search results when looking for you and information about you.

HELPFUL TIPS AND HINTS:

  • If you haven’t done so already, create a LinkedIn companypage for your law firm. These are related to but separate from your individual profile so make sure you have both. LinkedIn pages also DO NOT require that users have connected access to review them – unlike profiles. When properly optimized, they also tend to show up high in Google for law firm searches by name.
  • If you have a website, blog and other social media, you should also provide links to them from your LinkedIn profiles and pages. This will both provide an easy access point to your other online properties but will also provide link value authority to them as well.

               
               
LINKEDIN CLE CREDITS / TRAINING
As you can see, LinkedIn provides attorneys with a combination of unprecedented capabilities to help grow their practices through increased awareness, branding, referral networking, and new client and case generation. If you would like to learn more about how lawyers use LinkedIn, you can inquire about our CLE program on Attorney LinkedIn Networking provided by Dustin Ruge.

More information:

#lawyermarketing  #CLE  #LinkedIn  #DustinRuge