Monday, February 23, 2009

Social Media Tools: Can They Bring In New Clients?

In 2008, social media tools hit the mainstream and really replaced online video and youtube as THE story about what was happening online. I'm not going to write a primer on what social media is (a good job is done here). But, I will share my brief thoughts on how I've tried to use this technologies and

Social Networking Sites

Facebook and Linkedin are cool products and definitely have different strengths. From an internet technology standpoint, I have to applaud their adoption rates, how quickly they built their user bases and how well their sites have seemed to operate. However, on a personal level, I've never found them to be very useful. And that's not for a lack of trying.
  • On Linkedin, my profile is 95% complete, I've got almost 300 connections, I've endorsed a bunch of people, I've been endoresed. I've even answered questions in the Q&A function and joined groups. I've seen *positive signs* - like a somewhat relevant cold-call/email from a few people in the space and a couple of "thank yous" from people's who's question I answered. But, I still haven't found any employees, partners or customers through linkedin. I'm hopeful, though I'm concerned there are some thorny limitations to the service, which I'll have to come back to.
  • On Facebook, I've uploaded the profile and responded to friend requests, posted some photos, etc. The facebook platform being opened up the 3rd parties is pretty interesting to watch - especially as you see some marketers exploit it rather uniquely. I've found some old classmates that I lost touch with, but that's about it.
It's pretty well understood that these sites are for connecting/re-connecting with people that you already know or have met and that the applicability to getting introduced to people you don't know is limited.


I'm still trying to figure out twitter. Lots has been written about it, and the legal community seems to be love with it. Seems as though many twitter converts have all approached the technology with skepticism and then become converted. Here's an interesting Twitter overview for lawyers.
  • The most interesting thing that I've heard about Twitter is that it helps you get introduced to people you don't know (making it more useful compared to linkedin and facebook which are for the people you already know).

Lawyers Ability to Market with Social Media Tools

A huge part of the how useful these tools are going to be for you as a lawyer are going to start with the basics of your marketing plan. If you practice corporate law (or at a minimum, if your clients are companies), then I believe these tools will be of more use to you. At a minimum, they facilitate keeping track of your network and what everyone is up to. With a little work, you can easily push out information to people in your network and perhaps help build awareness among your broader network.

However, if you practice law that serves consumers (i.e. personal injury, divorce, etc), I'm not sure that these tools are going to help you find new clients. A couple of reasons come to mind: 1) if the problem is personal in nature (and legal), then I'm not sure i want to use my business network to find a professional - so linkedin is not the best answer. 2) Even if I was ok with posting my personal problem to my facebook friends and looking for advice, I don't think a few responses would suffice in my search for a qualified professional.

In the end, most of us are going to turn to a search engine to start our search for a local professional. .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More on Online Video for Lawyer Marketing

In a very recent post, I wondered if online video advertising was really effective to client acquisition. My point had nothing to do with the "cool factor" or the quality of the video or even the stated preference of a focus group subject. To me, most of those assertions are meaningless.

The releveant question is how people behave and how will they behave in the future. The data tells us that consumers still primarily use the internet while at work. I think that has very real short term implications on the ROI of any online video efforts.

However, in this blog post, the author suggests that a younger generation will have a different usage pattern and will prefer online video. I completely agree with this . . . but as an attorney turning to the web to attract clients, you should be mindful of the time horizon you have for realizing a return on your marketing investments. If you want an immediate ROI on video, it's not going to happen. Neither is any of the social media tools, like twitter, facebook, etc.

Take a longer term horizon and put yourself at the bleeding edge . . . then yes, there is a better way to network and market yourself. And experimenting with video makes sense in that regard.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Online Video Effective for Client Acquisition?

A couple of days ago, I was speaking to a lawyer that was "making the leap" into online advertising. He had spoken to at least half a dozen different outfits that specialize in helping lawyers market their services online and was quite taken with the notion of producing a short video.

2008 brought substantial buzz and investment into online video advertising for local advertisers. Companies such as TurnHere, Mixpo and a handful of other VC-backed players have attacked the market and are offering some really reasonably priced video production services.

Not much argument from me that a cool online video ad can help you feel proud about your practice. But, is it just good for vanity? Or, does it actually get you customers?

I think the jury is still out and here's why.

  • Most consumers search for an attorney while they are at work. It amazes me, but when I look at case lead volume by day of the week and time of the day, it indexes directly to work hours. Not sure if the boss knows that their employees are on facebook, amazon and google during work hours, but they are.
  • Employees know that they shouldn't be taking care of their personal issues while on the clock, but they do. They may quickly search . . . scan . . . come back to or send an email. But, it is unlikely that they are taking 30-45 uninterrupted minutes to evaluate anything.
  • Very few employees that are doing this enjoy the privacy that online video requires. Either they sit in cubes where their screen is visible or they avoid video because their colleagues will instantly know that they aren't working the moment they hear the video rolling.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Preview Pay Per Lead Programs: Buyer Beware

I was speaking with an attorney recently about a pay per lead program that he was experimenting with. The program was designed to overcome any reasonable objections and carried very little risk.
  • The lawyer only had to pay $20 for every personal injury lead that they wanted to buy
  • The lawyer was able to see the lead detail before they decided to purchase it. If they did want to purchase it, then the consumer's contact information was forwarded to them.

While I can't speak to this particular program and whether or not it works, it does bring to mind a relevant point: when something seems too good to be true (which it often does online), it usually is.


  • It costs between $20-25 to buy a click on Google when a consumer searches for "personal injury lawyer" or "car accident attorney" or any other obvious search term.
  • The average value of a personal injury case worth taking is what, $15,000, $20,000, more??

Because of its massive scale and integrity, we know Google is as close to an efficient market as we will see in advertising. Most people that pay $20-25 per click in Google end up paying $300-400 per lead (lead meaning a completed contact form). That's probably pretty close to the market price for a qualified personal injury lead.

If something was worth $300, why would you sell it for $20? Furthermore, it costs money to generate a lead. You either to advertise your service to attract the consumer or you have to publish helpful information or . . . In other words, there is no free lead source so the provider of this service has to earn more than an average of $20 per "good" case.

So, before you jump at the low cost, risk free service stop and think . . . "does this make sense?" If it doesn't, then you probably aren't seeing the entire story.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Effective SEM Requires Landing Page Optimization

SEM is all about generating qualified leads. However, for all of the time and attention that most of us spend on picking keywords and setting bid prices, your biggest lever in driving down your cost per lead is the optimization of the landing page.

To quantify the impact, let's assume you are buying a keyword, like "divorce lawyer" for $5.00 per click.
  • If 2% of your clicks end up completing a lead form, your effective cost per lead is $250.00
  • However, if 10% of your clicks complete the form, your effective cost per lead drops down to $50.00

The math is pretty simple, but the impact is huge.

Before you start any SEM campaign, you should be sure that you are set up to track conversions. Google makes it pretty easy to calculate your cost/lead by providing you with a "conversion pixel." A conversion pixel is a snippet of code that you put on a web page that is shown when the lead form is submitted (usually a "thank you" or "confirmation" page).

All of that is straight forward enough. However, where most marketers fall down is that they don't anticipate the fact that they are going to need to constantly test different landing pages to find the highest converting one. So, as you build your website and start buying traffic, make sure that your technology platform makes it easy to generate new landing pages.

The best landing pages in paid search convert at upwards of 50%. Most of the lawyers that I've seen buy paid search convert between 4-6%. Even if you don't get it to 50%, landing page optimization is the key to success.

See also:

SEM: Why Google Works for Lawyers

SEM Trickiness: Buy Broad Match and Get The Wrong Client