Yodle Challenge, Part 4: Show Me the Money!

website-design-guide-cover-2

Free: 10 Things the Best Law-Firm Website Designs Have in Common

For seven years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.

In the 12 days since Brea’s brand-new, Yodle-built website launched, she has gotten a few nibbles. Unfortunately, the only bite was someone interested in free advice. Yodle says results will improve with time, but I also wonder if bankruptcy, like landlord-tenant, is an area of law prone to bum leads.

Watch the video, then leave us your thoughts.

Subscribe

Get Lawyerist in Your Inbox, Daily

Current Articles
Current Lab Discussions
  • As a bankruptcy attorney, I can’t tell you how many times we get people price shopping around and just calling for free advice, at least up where I practice. Unfortunately, it’s hard to give general advice in bankruptcy because it’s a whole-picture practice area. It’s never as simple as “you get to keep your house” or “you should keep your car”, it’s always dependent upon something else. Keep up the great blog, Sam!

  • Sam and Brea,

    Man, you guys are tough! Are all the glasses in your house half empty? Ok, here is my response to the points you brought up in your latest video:

    – You have been live for 12 days! You are 13% into the life of this advertising campaign. You are getting emails and phone calls, have a great site and are generating traffic. Relax!
    – Your stats are 3148 Adviews, 66 clicks and 12 contacts which means you are getting an 18% conversion rate on clicks to leads. Even if you take away the couple of telemarketing calls which we can only do so much to prevent, you are doing quite well, statistically speaking
    – Sam stated that he received 23,500 Adviews and 61 clicks when he ran his own Adwords account. This is exactly what I’d suspect because I am sure he was using “head terms” or general terms in order to generate traffic. Head terms are great and should be a part of any campaign, however, the downside with head terms is that because they are general, they are expensive and generate a lot of unqualified traffic which usually results in lots of adviews and clicks but very few clients. Yodle specializes in keywords of the “long tail” variety which simply means, we are bidding on very specific terms and phrases targeted to those consumers who are further down the buying funnel. We don’t want to generate you a ton of clicks, we want to generate only clicks that have a high likelihood of turning into a client for you
    – Regarding performance to date. We’ve spent about $400 thus far on your behalf and generated 12 calls or web submissions. This breaks down to a cost per lead of about $33. We do not listen to your calls so I am unsure which ones were not legitimate BK prospects but for the sake of saying, let’s say we cut the number of qualified leads to 6. That means on average, we are paying about $66 per lead. As we spoke about earlier in this “Challenge”, we expect a CPL of anywhere between $50-$80. Remember, we are 12 days in and the algorithm hasn’t even been fully optimized at this point.
    – Brea, you have to sell too (maybe I’ll have one of my reps train you?)! When you get that prospect on the phone who is on the fence, close him or her! Get that appointment!
    – Is BK prone to people looking for free advice? Not sure, we haven’t gotten that feedback. We have hundreds of BK lawyers currently using Yodle for their online advertising needs. Hopefully some of them will chime in on this point.
    – Adding additional terms. It sounded like Brea was referring to expanding her service categories to focus on other areas of law. We are currently focusing on Chapter 7’s but we can easily expand that. It’s always good to have an engaged customer like Brea. This often helps our Internet Marketing Specialist tailor campaigns to a very specific level.

    As I said in our video chat (technical difficulties prevented it from posting), there are no guarantees in advertising, however, I think you’ll see over the next couple months success. We have the right site, right keywords, enough search volume, the right technology and a terrific Internet Marketing Specialist handling your account. I would respectfully suggest you judge the entire body of work and not a small subset.

    Mike

  • @Mike: Great information and fair points. We are certainly not calling it a bust, just pointing out the results so far.

  • Tara Arschin

    I am a relatively new lawyer working in New York City (graduated law school in 2007), practicing housing law (landlord-tenant). I have to say, I was pretty surprised when I checked out Ms. Buettner’s website (http://buettnerlawgroup.net/about.html). While I was impressed by the content and the professional layout, I did not expect to learn that not only had she graduated law school in 2008–only about 1 year ago–but that she also practices 4 complex areas of law.

    Perhaps prospective clients are concerned about Ms. Buettner’s lack of legal experience. They may be deterred by the fact that Ms. Buettner has practiced law for less than one year. However, I believe an even larger cause for concern is that she does not appear to have any sort of mentor or person with more experience to advise her or to teach her. When given the option of an attorney who has practiced for less than one year or one with more experience (which would be easy to find in this situation), who would you pick?

    Granted, I may have a different perspective than Ms. Buettner’s target clientele, and I do not know what type of experience she had as a law student (classes, clinics, internships, summer jobs, etc.), or if she’s been working in another firm for the last year before starting her own practice. However, as a lawyer with about 2 years of experience, I would not think of starting my own practice, nor would any of my peers. Although I have learned a lot in the last 2 years, and feel comfortable representing clients, I know that I still have much to learn about the ONE area of law in which I practice. I also have a supervisor to whom I can turn when I have questions or need assistance.

    The Yodle challenge is an interesting one, but I would be more curious to see the results of a lawyer with more experience under his or her belt. Though I am impressed by her seeming drive and ambition, I would not be surprised if Ms. Buettner’s lack of experience is a large factor affecting the results of this experiment.

  • Will Geer

    I can only tell you what I have seen in the Georgia area, but many consumer bankruptcy attorneys do not rely on internet advertising for client generation. I know this completely contradicts what many tech savvy lawyers believe in their heart of hearts to be true, but yellow page ads and attorney referrals have been the biggest source of revenue for the consumer bankruptcy attorneys I have met. I personally worked for one of these attorneys who had a constant stream of business. He has absolutely NO online presence whatsoever. Is it ideal? Probably not, but he has more work than he can handle, and his secretary and paralegal screen potential clients.

  • It is hard for me to take Tara’s comment seriously. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of attorneys go solo right out of law school and succeed. Mentoring is important, but so is experience, which comes in more flavors than just years out of law school. It is also just as easy to find mentoring in the solo practice community as in a law firm. Easier, if my experience in both is any indicator.

    Brea works in the same office suite as I do, which means she can draw on my experience (and I can draw on hers, for that matter). She can also draw on the experience of one of the most well-regarded consumer rights lawyers in the country, Pete Barry, and two other experienced consumer rights lawyers who also work in this space, Pete’s partner, Nick Slade, and John Goolsby. Chris Wheaton, another recent graduate, also offices here, and also started his solo practice right out of law school.

    As for the potential client’s perspective, you may be right. But I am also a relatively young lawyer at 31, and I can honestly say it has never come up as an issue with any client. To the contrary, I have had many referrals and some clients eager to find a “young, aggressive lawyer,” which I am happy to be considered, if they like.

  • Yodle and PPC are merely the channel. While I have not seen her ads or her landing pages, what may be missing in her leads v. conversion issue is better marketing substance. For example, are the PPC ads and landing pages being written to filter the “bum leads?” The web and your website pages provide you with the room and attention to write into your copy various filters. While it will reduce the number of calls, it should increase the number of conversions if done well.

  • Bob Jones

    Sam,

    One very important issue that lacks transparency is the margin that Yodle is charging on Brea’s account. The issue of margin in the local search reseller space is estimated to be in the realm of 30% – 50% (http://www.convertoffline.com/how-much-does-yodle-charge/).

    Let’s assume that Yodle’s margin is on the high end (50%) for their typical client. It’s highly suspect that they would tack on that same 50% margin during Brea’s test – after all, they are trying to convey their value here. In fact, I would guess that they’re putting all of Brea’s funds towards purchasing clicks, rather than taking their standard 30% – 50% margin on her monthly budget.

    If this is the case, then you can cut the number of impressions/clicks/calls in half for what their typical client should expect.

    -Bob

  • Great insight from the last post by David. I agree and that is exactly what we worked on yesterday after hearing her feedback about the quality of the leads. We changed the language in the call to action to include the following caveat:

    “* Free consultations are for individuals who are interested in filing bankruptcy. I will analyze your financial situation & indicate whether you qualify for filing bankruptcy. Free legal advice is not available from this office.”

    Aside from explicitly saying “Do not call for free advice”, we thought this was the most effective way to approach the issue.

    As for adding subtle filters into the content of the landing page and ad copy, I believe we set up the account with this in mind. The ad copy specifically says ‘Free Consult’, not ‘free advice’ and the site copy speaks to this as well. This is similar to an on-going issue we face in the home care industry: no matter what we put all over the site and in the ad copies (no job inquiries please, do not call for employment inquiries, etc), people still call for a job, most likely a by-product of the state of the economy. In the same vein, people are going to look for free advice wherever they can get it…especially people who are considering filing and may not have the funds to pay for it.

    Mike

    Ps- As for the other comment on margin, thanks for the concern but this account is being treated like every one of our other accounts.

  • Bob Jones

    Mike,

    Thanks for addressing my concern.

    If Yodle is able to deliver ~ $6 CPCs to their clients (66 clicks on $400 spend thus far) INCLUDING the company margin, then more power to them (especially if these are keywords that lead to clicks, which materialize into solid leads).

    I must say, however, that bankruptcy lawyer-centric keywords generally trade at $6 + CPCs without any sort of service mark-up (“long tail” keywords and those with geo-modifiers included) .

    I do agree with you 100%, though, that it is still too early to pass judgment on whether or not Yodle has ran an effective campaign for Brea.

    -Bob

  • We’re willing (and have done so) to cap bids at a lower price for Brea in an effort to smooth the spend to a more even tempo as well as to ensure the lowest price per lead possible. We’re not as concerned with making her ads #1 for every keyword because we know that ads in the 4th, 5th, and 6th positions convert as well.

    On average the account is seeing reasonable cpc’s. “Bob” seems to know what he’s talking about so I’m sure he realizes that cps’s will fluctuate. My guess is when all is said and done, cpc’s will be slightly below market average. Also keep in mind that we are not just getting Google traffic. We have over 100 outlets that we distribute to and not all of them are cpc based and most of the ones that are offer a significant discount on clicks versus the big three which will bring down average cpc.

    We are also optimizing the account regularly to ensure the highest quality score possible. A higher quality score equates to lower bids needed for higher ad positioning. Thanks

    -Mike

  • Brea Buettner

    Since Yodle changed the language on my website to exclude free advice, I received two calls from individuals who made appointments to come in next week. The two individuals had previously decided that they wished to file bankruptcy and were both shopping around the internet for an affordable attorney.

    It appears that individuals who wish to file bankruptcy are concerned mainly about two things: the cost of filing bankruptcy and how bankruptcy will affect their credit. As a new attorney, my price for filing bankruptcy is slightly lower than the average bankruptcy attorney in Minnesota. If anything, my price for filing bankruptcy will be what ultimately persuades a person to file their bankruptcy with me.

    Individuals who are contemplating bankruptcy are under a great deal of stress. Even though bankruptcy filings are on the rise, many people believe that there is a stigma attached to filing bankruptcy. People with financial difficulties really want to pay their debts and bankruptcy is the very last resort for them. Many individuals are also greatly concerned about Bankruptcy’s affect on their credit and ability to acquire more credit in the future.

    I mentioned in the video blog that I encountered a potential client who was on the fence about filing bankruptcy. His concern was that his income was so low that it would take him months to come up with the attorney fee and filing fee. He did not have anyone he could borrow money from to cover the cost of filing bankruptcy. He was also greatly concerned that he would have difficulty buying a home in the near future if he filed bankruptcy.

    The above concerns are understandable and legitimate. It may not always be possible to “close the deal” when an individual has very limited funds and concerns about bankruptcy’s affect on credit. This may be an issue that Yodel may not have contemplated.

    I will return next week to provide an update about my two appointments.

    -Brea

  • Thanks for doing this challenge Sam, Brea and Mike.

    One thing worth adding…I’m an independent Internet marketing consultant and if my client required the level of support that Brea is getting here it would cost well into the thousands (above the orig. site design cost).

    If Brea were my client: in order to be able to update her web site’s content to optimize the site for conversions she would have had to purchase a web site with a content management system plus training ($6k-$15k) or pay $100/hour for content changes.

    Just my two cents. Thanks for the interesting content.

  • chris

    http://www.buettnerlawgroup.com/index.html

    that website is currently not optmized – the homepage title is Buettner Law Group, LLC | Law Firm Located In Minneapolis, MN 55413

    I would imagine that Yodle would be responsible for SEO along with PPC for the site

    SEO is a better approach to online marketing – people trust the organic search results more than PPC ads – better conversions too

    Minneapolis bankruptcy attorney would be more appropiate for a homepage title – bc no one will search for Buettner Law – and bc it is in her domain name it will be first in google if ever searched for

    If you paid Yodle to generate online traffic and they have not optmized your site – then you just flushed your cash down the toilet –

    As far as the design – it looks as if they hve a template they use for every client – clean but it is a stock website –