Yodle Challenge, Part 6: Yodle’s Mike DeLuca Weighs In

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yodle search advertising SEOGuest post by Yodle VP Mike DeLuca. (Mike wanted an opportunity to weigh in on the ongoing Yodle Challenge, including our last video update.)

So, if you are taking the time to read this, you’ve probably been keeping tabs on the Yodle Challenge. Here’s a quick refresher to bring you up to date; a couple months back, Lawyerist published a not so glamorous post detailing the efforts of one of Yodle’s sales people’s attempts to pitch our offering to the man behind Lawyerist, Sam Glover.

That’s a whole other story but I did immediately call Sam and after a couple more conversations, I offered to one of Sam’s colleagues a 3 month free trial of Yodle’s services. The reason I made the offer is because; I believe in what we do, I wanted to show Sam and his readers what we are all about and I thought it was a great avenue to engage and help educate a community that we have been serving pretty successfully.

I made a few things clear to Sam before we got started:

  • Whether the Yodle campaign was a huge success or a bust, 3 months is probably not a long enough period to make a conclusive call on its overall effectiveness
  • The Yodle campaign would be run exactly how our other campaigns are run
  • Sam was free to write whatever he wanted about Yodle (as if he needed my permission)
  • We can only bring in quality calls and emails and have to rely on the participant to convert them into clients

That brings us up to date. The Yodle campaign has been running now for about 6 weeks. It originally targeted Chapter 7 bankruptcy’s but since then we have added 13’s as well. I am happy to say Buettner Law Group snared it’s first client this week which is good news and I expect there will be more to follow. That being said, by this point I am surprised Brea has not generated more clients. We can recite all the stats in the world but at the end of the day we will be judged on how many new clients come walking through the door for our Attorney’s.

Based on listening to Sam and Brea’s latest webcast, I thought I’d touch on a few points that I think are worth some discussion:

Quality calls and e-mails

Brea has received 44 calls/emails in the past 6 weeks. She has weeded out “bad” leads and has arrived at a number of 24 quality leads where the prospect is targeted properly, knows what he/she is looking for and actually picks up the phone and dials (or emails). 24 quality leads is pretty darn good for 6 weeks and it works out to be about a $62 cost per lead. When we started this challenge, I expressed to both Sam and Brea that they should expect a CPL of anywhere between $70-$90 which is where we see the market.

“The calls are coming in . . . and they are the right people” – Brea Buettner

So if that’s the case, why don’t we have more new clients to date? Attorney-client privilege prevents me from listening to how the calls play out but I have some theories:

  • Brea is a one person shop. She can’t always get to the phone. Filing for Bankruptcy is an emotional event and when someone picks up the phone to make that call, they want to speak to someone. If they get an answering service, they aren’t going to want to wait for a return call. They’ll simply hit the “back” button and click on the next search result. Not sure if it is feasible but would it be possible for the calls to roll over to another Attorney on the floor if Brea is not available?
  • We are all sales people (whether you like it or notJ). Again, I don’t know how the calls are being handled but when you get that potential client on the phone, you need to emphasize the need and desire to help that person and urge them to come in asap to address the matter head on so they can move on with their life, etc. Create a sense of urgency with that person and give them a comfort level that you are going to effectively navigate them through this difficult time. In short, get them through that door!
  • We are considering adding to Brea’s site a pre-qualification form and possibly a “Top 10 Bankruptcy Myths” document to help weed out those who may be only fishing for information. Of course this will impact CPL but if it results in better quality calls then we’re all for it.
  • We have taken off of the site Brea’s date of graduation. Although I certainly do not doubt for a second her competency, I am concerned that prospects may be uncomfortable with her experience level.

Statistics to date

  • 178 Clicks
  • 44 Calls or Web Form Submissions
  • Landing Page Conversion- 22%! (Sam’s conversion by comparison is 3%)
  • 1.71% CTR on Chapter 7’s and 5.8% CTR on 13’s
  • Average Duration on site is just north of 5 minutes
  • Spend to date approximately $1500

Final thoughts

Once again, the proof will ultimately be in the pudding but I have to say I feel pretty comfortable with what I am seeing from the Yodle campaign. I know we live in a world of instant gratification but patience is important. I am certain that some of the bad traffic is a result of the exposure this “challenge” has gotten across the internet but outside of that, we are driving a healthy amount of good quality leads, the campaigns are set up properly and the algorithm continues to learn and optimize. I am confident we’ll continue to deliver the calls and I expect there will be many new clients for Brea when all is said and done!

Mike DeLuca is responsible for sales and marketing strategy as well as channel development and management for Yodle.

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  • Steve M

    Respectfully, cost per lead is a meaningless metric. Sales is a very well documented profession and the true metric that sales organizations use is cost per sale. Cost per sale is what people use a foundation for their Return On Investment.

    And I would guess, that in this type of sale, 3 months is plenty of time to measure a campaign. A campaign should be long enough to measure its effectiveness within a service’s sale cycle. Bankruptcy strikes me as a service that is very urgent and people file it quickly. People don’t have 3 months to debate whether or not to file bankruptcy. Often their possessions have been repossessed or their home is about to be foreclosed on.

  • Chelsea Forsythe

    One thing that is clear is that Yodle is having zero impact on their business. Regardless of her ROI from the campaign, Brea hasn’t gotten a single client in 3 months from Yodle. Even if they grab one in the next 3 months, a couple of clients of year is negligible and not worth the trouble (let alone the high cost).

  • It seems to me the cost per lead is relatively high for the area of bankruptcy, where an individual filing typically won’t yield a large fee. On the other hand, it might be cheap in an area like personal injury where the right case can have substantial value.

    That said, I have found this video series very interesting so far. It strikes me as a good and fair exploration of the pros and cons of Yodle, a product with which I had little familiarity before watching this video series. I found the number of quality leads surprisingly high (again, though, relatively expensive for this area of law and the likely conversion rate ). It will be interesting to see if the conversion rate picks up at all in the second half of the experiment. i think eliminating the “x factor” of experience level was a good idea. I wondered what role, if any, that would play when I checked out Brea’s profile at the start of this series. On the other hand, I am doubtful Brea’s “selling” ability is much of a factor at the very preliminary level at which most of them are falling off. I think it would be a different case if the prospective clients were all coming in for a full consultation and then going with someone else.

  • Kristi

    We previously worked with a company that didn’t result in any new leads, and created a cookie cutter website for a large amount of money. When we were about to throw in the towel and give up on online marketing, we spoke with Graham from Yodle and our decision to give up was changed.
    We have only been with Yodle for a couple of months but the customer service we have received and the results were great, especially considering we started off with a very small budget.
    We have now doubled our budget with Yodle and are having them re-create our website. We have a great deal of confidence with them, and have suggested Yodle to other lawyers and colleauges.

  • Brea Buettner

    Quick Update:

    I now have four clients that have paid their fee and signed retainers. I also have two more clients coming in next week to sign retainers. Additionally, I have four more initial consultations scheduled between this week and next.

    Over the last few weeks I have encountered more callers who have already researched the bankrutpcy process and are determined to file bankruptcy. I am getting far less calls for free advice.

    Brea

  • Jake Puhl

    Great thoughts here. To Steve M regarding cost per sale: I would politely disagree that cost per sale is more important than cost per lead in this situation. From Yodle’s perspective, all they can do is drive a low cost per lead. Once the leads are driven to the advertiser, Yodle has no control over how many leads that advertiser turns into paying customers. The # of leads turned to paying customers is what separates good businesses from bad business. Yodle can only be concerned with driving quality leads and cost per lead.

    Regarding cost per lead, that $ is very reasonable in my humble opinion. I don’t know any other forms of online advertising that can drive a quality attorney lead for less than that. If you do, please share – I’d love to get a part of that game :)

    The underlying assumption here is that the leads are qualified leads, which this article states they are. Kudos to Yodle for proving value.

  • Allen Gillman

    My experience with Yodel marketing is that they are represented by a semi -literate high pressure sales force, one of whom called and identify himself as a representatives of Google. But these ‘representatives’ who could be easily mistaken for former Yugo used car salesmen or displaced ‘boiler room” operators are not the real problem. The real problem is the Yodel business model.

    In my area Yodle provides pay per click services for bankruptcy attorneys by renting websites to them for which it charges a monthly fee. The amount of the fee expended for clicks is determined by Yodel using a formula which a Yodel representative refused to disclose to me. These websites are which are located within approximately a ten mile radius in my area are in direct competition with one another and are in effect bidding against one another for keywords and more generally ranking – thereby raising the cost per click for all Yodel renters. This is OK with Yodel because – so far as I can determine – the more it costs the more Yodle makes.

    In effect, Yodel is using what is generally understood to be the proprietary information of each of attorney to whom it rents a website to the detriment of all attorneys who use the services it provides. Yodel’s business model is not sustainable, but that is not what Yodel is about. What Yodel is about is what all those who over promise are about. Getting your money and getting out.

  • Allen’s comment notes that he is paying per click which is in direct contradiction to the Yodle challenge. According to what I know of their charges (and I am in discussions with them now) it is a set fee per month for a package that is verticle, including listings with local advertisers. Interestingly, Google Mathew Loop where he states that the use of local advertising is not effective and is a wate of time. He has a video on his blog that compares Yodle to Automated Social Networking 3.0. He claims that for the same price Automated offers video on YouTube, Facebook advertising, and press releases, none of which are offered by Yodle. I am suspicious of his affiliation however.