When COVID-19 first started, most law firms experienced a sharp decline in business levels, but after a few weeks, many were surprised to see that new cases were signed, and in some cases, there was an increase in business levels.
Ngage’s live chat widget is implemented in over 8,000 law firm websites and renowned legal sites like Nolo and Avvo, which positions them as one of the most reliable sources of information regarding traffic analytics for the legal industry.
This episode will give you a unique perspective to the extent to which Covid-19 has impacted law firm website traffic and why the problem you may be experiencing is not a Covid-19 related problem, but potentially a marketing or intake problem.
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Liel: [00:00:00] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, I never guess it’s a capital mistake to theorize before one has data insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media and this is In Camera podcast, where we do no guesswork, only data analysis.
Liel: [00:00:49] Welcome to In Camera podcast, private legal marketing conversations, Grace, how are you today?
Grace: [00:00:54] Good, how are you, Liel? I’m good, Grace.
Liel: [00:00:56] Another week, an interesting week, right? Yesterday, we had the four CEOs of the top tech companies in front of Congress.
Liel: [00:01:06] Grace, I’m going to tell you something. I don’t think a lot’s going to come out of that. Right. I listened a little bit to what went on there. But here’s my thing. I definitely think that there is going to be a change to come. I don’t know if it’s going to be within the next few months or if it’s going to take years. But the reality is that something is going to happen, right, with this massive, huge tech companies. And, you know, marketing is going to get the marketing done through those platforms is also going to get impacted by it. Right. And I’m just bringing it up because one of the recurring topics that we always talk about here in the podcast is that we need to stay agile and we cannot build entire strategies just on one single platform. Right. And so diversification is a major component here. I mean, obviously, Facebook ads and the whole Facebook platform is big time under fire. Will it get regulated or not over time Grace, it’s something that we all need to keep in mind. And that is why it’s so important that you are not just building your entire strategy, relying on these platforms that may at some point get some sort of regulation that can interfere in the way your business runs. Right. And so I just, you know, whenever news about these happen, I definitely pay a lot of attention and try to anticipate what could potentially be happening in the next coming months. So just putting it out there because it just happened yesterday. Grace, but how are you?
Grace: [00:02:39] Well, I know before we even started the podcast, we were kind of discussing that because we’re both in some crazy hot spots, you know, you in Texas me in Florida. So, you know, everything seems to still be going crazy around you and around me. But I mean, what are we going to do? We just keep moving forward because you can have your hands tied for so long. So that’s why I’m glad that this is a this is going to be a very interesting conversation and I’ll let you go on with it.
Liel: [00:03:06] Yeah, absolutely. Great. It’s going to be a very, very interesting conversation. Right. And one that actually is going to help us to better see reality and things in how up to a certain extent, while we are still in the midst of a horrible pandemic, a lot of other things have seemed to normalize. And I think we’ll discover a lot of that through this conversation. So without further ado, I’ll let you go ahead and introduce our special guest.
Grace: [00:03:31] All right. Let’s get right to it. All right, everybody. So I have a special treat for you today. Again, related to COVID and everything that’s going on. This is probably perfect timing regarding trends and being agile and pivoting. Right. So for today’s conversation, it’s going to be on the impact of COVID-19 on law firms website traffic. We are happy to welcome Tom Pacey from Engage Live Chat. Tom is the director of Engage Live Chat. It’s a platform that helps law firms convert website visitors into a client through personalization and branded chat conversations that also help users get what they need quickly and efficiently. Thank you for visiting us and being a part of our podcast today, Tom.
Tom: [00:04:13] I’m very excited to be here. Thank you for having me on.
Liel: [00:04:16] Thank you very much for being here, Tom. And as fellow Austinite, how are you how have you been surviving the pandemic?
Tom: [00:04:24] I have. It’s been it’s been interesting. So I’m surviving a lot of people working from home right now. And I’m no different working from home. I have a nine-month-old. So that’s proposed some challenges, definitely finding some quiet space. This pandemic has really affected a lot of things. But, you know, just like with anything in life to try and find a silver lining. And I just look at the fact that I’ve been able to spend more time with my daughter and watch her grow these first nine months. So that’s been awesome. But, yeah, this has been a change. But we’re learning, growing and adapting. And I’m excited to, one, this pandemic to be over and just get back to normal. I’m sure everybody else feels the same way.
Liel: [00:05:15] Absolutely. But the reality is that nothing is far from over here. We’re still in the midst of it.
Liel: [00:05:21] But let’s be real and let’s really, really rather than dramatize things and just get ourselves negative about how everything is and how badly this has impacted all, let’s now really look at some real data as to how the pandemic had impacted law firms website activity. Right. And the correlation between website visitors to the overall business of Law, well, pretty much relies on the fact that if people are searching and visiting from websites, the assumption is that they are in need or interested to hiring an attorney. Right. The funnel can have all kinds of people in between, people who are super ready to hire someone and people who are just kind of like out of the awareness stage. But the bottom line is that as long as there is traffic, it means that there is a need for it. And I know because we’ve had before colleague of yours from Engage, Brett, come and join us for a conversation about live chat and how it has helped law firms to better connect with their website visitors.
Liel: [00:06:31] We know that your chat widget, its live in over, sorry, eight thousand websites that are law from websites. Am I correct there?
Tom: [00:06:44] That is correct. So we have our service on over eight thousand legal Web sites. At this point. It’s grown exponentially and I don’t know if this is surprising, but it’s a firm signing up to add live chat to their websites has actually increased during the pandemic.
Liel: [00:07:05] Wait a second. So you’ve guys have added the option of signing up to live chat.
Tom: [00:07:10] So we have well, that may be a question to come back to, but we have had more firms join, adding live chat to their to their Web properties during COVID, than during a normal time.
Liel: [00:07:26] Yeah. And it makes sense. It absolutely makes sense. And we’re going to see why in just one moment. Right. So, let’s just start with a very high level overview. How does the traffic for twenty-twenty year to date compare to where we were year to date a year ago?
Tom: [00:07:47] It’s very interesting. I mean, I’m sure we all would expect that there were some sort of hit to traffic, to legal websites. Probably the reasons for those are not many people driving so less motor vehicle accidents along with less driving, there’s going to be fewer DUIs, bars are closed. So overall, all traffic to personal injury websites and DUI and criminal defense had been down. And what we have seen overall is when the first, when the pandemic really started, one was back in March, April, traffic was down around 30 percent on legal websites, which was shocking. That’s a huge drop. Things have slowly started to gain speed again. But that was a major decrease.
Liel: [00:08:50] Yeah, absolutely. And I think, as you very well said, understandable. Right. I think people were still struggling with the idea of how COVID was going to impact them and such. So obviously websites for law firms may not have been really the priority at that time in people minds. But it seems here that, you know, that real massive drop did not last for very long. We see here because you’re sitting here with us a chart that kind of like illustrates the number of live chat sessions that have been initiated throughout all of these 8000 websites, plus additional platforms like Nolo over the last well, pretty much since the beginning of the year. And so while we do see that right on mid-March there is a massive drop, as you’ve said, that it’s a 30 percent sharp decline, pretty much almost instantaneously from April, it’s been a steady climb with a few, with a very few deep’s that potentially can be attributed to the bank holidays that we have in between. Right. Whether or not the Fourth of July or Memorial Day weekend.
Liel: [00:10:03] But other than that, it’s been an increase to the point, Tom, from what I’m seeing here, like right now in July, we are very close to same traffic and live chat sessions to where we where in two thousand nineteen. Or am I reading this wrong?
Tom: [00:10:24] No, you’re reading that absolutely correct. So, yeah, when this started, we saw a fairly immediate decrease, 30 percent, like you mentioned. And then we have seen a slowly as States have kind of eased up and the lockdown and quarantine in May, that number was up closer to twenty-five, decrease in traffic and leads and then June. Even only down 15 percent, and by July, we’re pretty close to where we were in twenty nineteen. Still down around five to 10 percent, but definitely getting back to where we were. And we’re just finishing up July. And typically July is a slower month due to the holidays. Like you mentioned, the week of the Fourth of July is we always see a major decrease in traffic and new leads.
Liel: [00:11:20] Yeah. And so, you know what I did? I took your chart and I went to Google keyword planner just to pull out historical record of how the search volume has been just very high level across the whole United States for keywords Lawyer, attorney. And I wanted it to kind of do side by side comparison here. And it’s so here are the things that really, really strike me. One thing and a lot of people fail to acknowledge this is, but one of them is that 2020 had one of the strongest first couple of months in the year that we have seen in a very, very long time for law firms in general. So traffic levels and search queries related to legal matters, attorneys, lawyers in the month of January were the highest that they have been in a very long time. Right. So that in a way or another had an impact in making, look, the effect that COVID have had even more dramatic than it would have been if the pandemic would have started, say, on the last quarter of last year.
Tom: [00:12:25] Right.
Liel: [00:12:26] Now. The other thing is that when I look at the most recent months, based on the data that Google is showing us, the search volume has pretty much gone back to be what it was prior to the beginning of COVID and higher than we were a year ago.
Liel: [00:12:48] And it’s very similar to what you’re seeing while in your case, it’s not necessarily showing higher levels than two thousand nineteen. The search queries that have been completed in Google is definitely at the same level that they wear at the beginning of COVID and higher than it was, for instance, in July of last year. And so that pretty much tells us where we are right now in terms of people having moved past the challenge of COVID in the sense that that being a roadblock to seeking legal help or representation and in some cases, which you’re probably going to be able to share with us some data, maybe the actual calls, why people are searching for legal representation. So before we move into that, you’ve mentioned something at the beginning, which was that some law firms actually decided to hire you guys after the pandemic really initiated. Why was that in how is it that you were able to support law firms during those crazy first weeks of COVID-19?
Tom: [00:13:57] That was interesting. I had a lot of conversations with clients and or people that were calling into Engage, to get some more information. And what they were really looking for is a way to let the public know my office is still open and you can reach out to me. I can still help out. And they were looking for every opportunity possible to potentially get that lead. And the more avenues that you provide people to contact the firm, the better off you’re going to be. So if there are fewer searches, fewer people with legal issues, you’re going to have to put more effort into it to capture that lead. And so engage was just another avenue to provide to capture those leads. And another thing we were doing, I know it’s commonplace now that almost every business has a disclaimer on the website saying through COVID-19, we are open for business. We’re doing video calls, things like that. But really, since day one of the pandemic, we changed our graphics to rather than just click here for live chat, we were proactive and added through this covid-19 we are still open. Please use the live chat and we can set up a video conference or video consultation with the firm. So just letting the business know that just because it is going on doesn’t mean they should put their legal matters on hold.
Liel: [00:15:37] I can only imagine how much of a help it was for law firms who had to transition to working from home and some of them that may not have had their entire telephone system or case management software implemented in the cloud potentially had some issues right. And they were potentially having to deal with a lot of things simultaneously. So having a live chat support was potentially a great way to ease that pressure and still be able to give a solution to prospects or even existing clients that were trying to connect to the law firm. Would you say that you saw an increase of inquiries of either existing clients or clients who were just signed that were looking to connect with law firms, but they just could not get a hold of them through other traditional ways? Phone, email.
Tom: [00:16:33] No doubt, especially when this first when this first hit, because, you know, it was so sudden and a lot of firms, like you mentioned, were not set up with phone systems that were necessarily great for having a remote office. So maybe you called into the main line. Someone may or may not answer and there may be issues transferring you to the attorney or transferring you to whichever department you needed to get to. So that was a big issue. And so we did see a lot of existing clients using the chat and just saying, can you please have so-and-so reach out to me just for my contact information along? Or I have as an example, we saw a lot of current clients trying to reach their attorneys because the phone systems may not have been working at all because they were going to the office rather than someone cell phone at home. So they would reach out and say. I have a child custody issue. We’re all on lockdown right now. I can’t leave my house. How is that going to impact my child custody situation? And so the Live Chat just added another avenue where they knew that they were going to get a live person corresponding with them if the phone was not available to get whoever they needed to speak to on the line. Does that answer the question?
Liel: [00:18:00] Yes, it does. Thank you so much.
Grace: [00:18:02] It sure does answer the question. And the kind of you know, since we’re talking about kind of trends and seeing what’s happening as a whole, I want to drill down just a little bit and kind of specifically ask, what have you seen with certain practice areas? So what practice areas have suffered the most that you’ve seen? And on the reverse of that, what practice areas have you seen an increase or even potentially stable traffic flows or have there been stable ones?
Tom: [00:18:31] So firms that specialize in motor vehicle accidents or personal injury matters were definitely impacted the most by far. People aren’t driving, like I mentioned, people not going to stores not going out and about as much. So there’s definitely going to be fewer slip and fall and incidents, things like that. But then there were several practice areas that saw an increase and, you know, it’s things like divorce firms, family law, family law primarily. So increase in divorce increase. Unfortunately, there’s an increase in maybe child abuse cases. So people needed attorneys for that, as well as people asking, reaching out to bankruptcy firms. It’s sad, but that’s the reality of what is going on in many parts of the country. So having questions about whether they should file for bankruptcy, as well as a lot of questions about government checks when they when they can receive government aid and things of that matter. So family law saw an increase in bankruptcy law as well as estate planning.
Grace: [00:19:52] Well, I mean, it makes sense. And I think we’ve talked about it Liel on other podcasts before, specifically that, you know, we’ve seen kind of the same trends on the numbers, right, where increase in traffic, you know, unfortunately, divorce and so on and so on, just like you mentioned. So it makes sense. But so.
Liel: [00:20:11] Yeah, no, sorry. I was just going to comment there that it’s kind of like interesting because again, your data shows the number of conversations initiated through live chat. Right. And I think, you know, when you look at actual traffic altogether, in general, without necessarily looking at the means that he actually used to communicate with the law firm or to initiate to convert. I think the reason why potentially family law for engage will show high number of live chat sessions is because the nature of the problems that this was being dealt with. Right. Imagine on a lockdown, talk about matters, child abuse, like how terrible is that and how to do that with other family members around you? Obviously, live chat is the best way to move forward, the most safe way to do so as well. And potentially other things that pertain to that. I can see that being the case when I go back. Grace, when you and I were doing our search volume checkups, it was a little bit hard to actually see that trend being reflected. We were not able to really point out the increase in family law, search queries, and such. But this can also be right because a lot of these queries may have already been initiated through direct traffic. So people who have already had an attorney that help them to divorce and now they need to revisit child custody through COVID. Right. So they potentially did a direct visit and then started a chat conversation. Tom, is that potentially what it could be in this particular practice areas? Right. Maybe with the exemption of bankruptcy that obviously, you know, you don’t look for a bankruptcy attorney until you actually filing for bankruptcy. But estate planning, you potentially already have an attorney that you’re working with before COVID, right. If you drafted a will a few years ago, but now want to make some changes for whatever, because you’re scared for COVID, then you’re probably going to contact somebody you’ve already worked with. Same with family law. Could that be the case?
Tom: [00:22:30] That is definitely the case. I think a lot of people do have, especially the state line, and they may already have someone in mind that they’re either working with or it’s someone that was referred to them from a friend or family. So they’re not necessarily doing a Google search. Yeah, another industry that was, I hadn’t mentioned this yet was real estate. That we saw a large increase with that as well.
Grace: [00:23:00] Yeah, I’m surprised, I can imagine. You know, I people in my own neighborhood actually started moving in. I live in a development where there’s houses and I did notice that. And I kind of thought to myself, it’s kind of surprising that real estate would, you know, increase. But I did see a lot of people moving in, you know. You know, on the flip side from your side of it, I think that kind of helps me kind of ask this next question, too, because I just kind of want to know, with all of the things going on, I imagine there must be some kind of trend in terms of the questions being asked. And so since COVID-19, have you seen some, I guess, a trend or a commonality in new questions that have been asked? Or can you share some of those new questions that you might have seen?
Tom: [00:23:51] Yes, so like I mentioned, with bankruptcy or any type of firm that handles financial situations, there were tons of questions about when am I getting my check? How can I find out when I’m getting support for my business, things like that. Another major one that took place was with family law, just like I have my kids and the custody. How does that impact, how is quarantine and lockdown going to impact that? Do I have to drive my kids to my ex significant other’s place? So those questions popped up and still are coming up frequently. We see a lot of inquiries where it’s maybe a normal situation, but they’re wondering if that firm is willing to do a Zoom meeting or something like that rather than having to come into the office.
Grace: [00:24:54] Methods of communication. Right. And it’s, you got to be there when they need you and chat has seemed to be a huge thing for law firms as a whole.
Tom: [00:25:05] Definitely. And we’ve seen an increase in just the number of law firms that we work out or work with or reach out to. They’re definitely starting to realize that. You need to offer more technology. It’s kind of interesting where. At one point a few years ago, a live chat was something that you might add to your website just ahead. It was something new. It was something kind of cool, or maybe your competitor had it. And so you figured out, well, I better have it too. Now, attorneys are saying, well, this is actually something I need to have. My prospects are preferring to text message. And so if I’m not offering them a text message option, I’m missing out on a large number of leads. So, that’s been a big thing, as well as the Zoom meetings and using computers and cloud-based technology, things like that, where before they may not have been comfortable using that. But those software have become so easy to use that even the firms that were slow to adopt live chat or answering service or anything tech-based, they’re hopping on it. And it’s working out really well for them.
Liel: [00:26:32] Obviously, there is a lot of upsides to diversifying the ways in which your potential clients can connect with you. So that is without a doubt, one of the reasons why live chat is a great component to have on your side site. But my thing about the live show is that, you know, you collect so much information as well through there right. You get many questions from users that are coming to the website and are seeking for help. Do you see actually see Law Firms using those transcripts rather than just to verify whether the leads are of the quality that they want or not to find ways that they can actually improve the user’s experience on their own websites by creating content that actually answers those inquiries that they have or potentially even use that information to add it and create content for their social media channels to address recurring questions?
Tom: [00:27:35] Yes, absolutely. And I’ll give you one example without giving the law firms name away. But they were there was a situation in Ohio where for whatever reason, there was an increase in people wondering if their driver’s license was suspended by the state. And I don’t know the full story behind why there was a sudden increase and this took place in I believe it was the end of May. And one law firm had a blog post that just somewhere mentioned license suspension. And so they were getting all kinds of inquiries where people were reaching out and they were thinking the law firm was the better word. They were actually reaching out to the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if they needed to come in and take care of their license, which is really bizarre. I mean, they were getting at least ten of these contacts a day. So what they did, they used that information to reach out to their web company and make edits to that blog so that they would no longer show up first on Google for someone searching. Is my license suspended in Ohio? So we have seen a lot of that where they’ll take if they’re seeing a lot of practice, or a lot of questions that are maybe outside of their practice area or what they’re going after, we can usually track or we can always track which page those chats are taking place on and they can adjust their website accordingly. So if they’re getting a lot of inquiries about something that they are not still going after, we just remove that page from the website or at least remove the chat from those websites that are getting fewer and fewer inquiries about that irrelevant matter to their firm.
Liel: [00:29:32] I would remove the chat. I would never remove the web, the website page. I think, you know, at the end of the day, brand awareness, and you definitely want to make sure that you are a source of reference for your own information for your community that’s searching for that stuff. But it does make a lot of sense for you. Right. Of course, you need to optimize your chat performance. You want to make sure that you’re visible in the pages that people are converting at a higher rate. So why don’t you give out a few of which pages tend to have higher conversion rates or the ones that actually tend to bring the best quality chat sessions?
Tom: [00:30:08] Definitely. Home page is number one by far. And firms sometimes opt to not have a chat on their home page for whatever reason, and they’ll sometimes see a decrease of up to 60 percent in leads. Home page is always the best page to have live chat on. From there, I would say it is the bio page of the attorneys, there’s obviously a large subset of people that are looking for an attorney and they’re going to read the bio before they’re going to reach out to that particular firm. So the home page, the bio page and then the practice areas would be third.
Liel: [00:30:52] Now, I have another question following up on that. So obviously, homepage your highest intent client, the one who has no patients at all. Right, just landed on the page, wants to convert fast chat, their method of choice, they could have chosen telephone call, web form submission. They just want to get with someone as soon as possible. Right.
Liel: [00:31:09] But what’s the usual journey? How many pages do users visit before they actually convert into a live chat session? Is it usually one? Is it usually two? What would you say is the average?
Tom: [00:31:23] So it’s interesting because we do track that with Google Analytics and our monthly reports show which page the visitor started there, which page they came to the website, as well as which page the chat started on. And oftentimes it’s they land on the home page from a Google search and then they go to the practice area. So a lot of firms may be going after Zantac right now or something specific like that. And they’ll go to the homepage and then directly, immediately to that Zantac page. And that’s where they’re going to chat. So I would say it’s usually two pages. It’s the second page that they’re on that they’re going to use the chat. If a firm’s doing a very high volume, like a Pay Per Click campaign or something like that, where they’re just creating a landing page. Obviously, it’s going to, the chat is going to take place right on that, the homepage of the landing page itself.
Grace: [00:32:25] So with all these kind of slight changes and different things going on with the website traffic, how do you, what have you seen and how have law firms responded to this change, and can you, you know, potentially share some examples on the positive and negative changes to the in the current circumstances that we have with positive?
Tom: [00:32:47] I think it’s been, I think firms have done a great job adapting to the current situation. The majority of law firms now are offering some sort of video conferencing or just getting better at offering phone consultations, which maybe they didn’t offer as frequently before. So I think that’s been great, some of the downside has been with the offices working remotely. Not every firm is that way. Some of them, you know, they may get a call to the main office line and they may not follow up with that lead for twenty four hours. Thirty-six hours. And that’s most likely going to be an opportunity lost. So it’s interesting where you have firms that really adapted, they have the live chat, they figured out a phone system where someone calls. It’s going to maybe they have a phone, a system where it goes to multiple attorneys as well as the office manager. Everybody’s getting that call. Someone’s taking it every single time. And they’re doing a great job there. Their practices are thriving. They haven’t seen too much of a dip in cases and leads while other ones that did not change anything, just kind of waiting this whole thing out. They’re seeing the decline. And it’s really a big difference, so some firms are handling it great, some not so great.
Grace: [00:34:18] So we’re looking at law firms, right. But all of our own businesses have had to change to write. It’s either adapt or don’t, and you’re done. So with that in mind, how has COVID-19 changed your business, Engage? And what adjustments have you had to make to your product or even your operational processes? Because I know a lot of us with the remote work had to change even the way we do business, period.
Tom: [00:34:45] So our office here, Travis County, Austin, Texas, we are still working remotely. The good thing is there’s so much technology out there to still do group meetings, video meetings. You can still pick up the phone. Email still works. So our business, day to day business has not been impacted too much. But as far as the chat, how the chats are handled, things like that, we have made a lot of adjustments. We’ve seen an increase in chats coming through mobile devices. So we’ve last month we did a split test of a new mobile chat, graphic design, and that’s seemed to improve conversion rate. Not too long ago, we redesigned our desktop version of the chat, which has also increased its conversion rate. It’s a little less in your face and just more, whenever, people are getting more and more used to the live chat being available on a Web site. And so it’s a matter of making it as easy as possible for the visitor that’s going to want to use live chat for them to find it. And there’s a fine line between it being in your face. And if you look back six years ago, a live chat was usually popping up right in the middle of the screen and taking over the screen until you click yes or no. Now, visitors are used to seeing a little circle or something in the bottom corner, and that’s all they need. The other, some of the other changes we’ve seen is we’ve had to, rather than just get phone numbers and email addresses and wrap up the conversation we have began to offer, let the visitor know this firm does Zoom meeting. Is that something you’re interested in or are you comfortable with the law firm getting back to via a text message and all this stuff has really increased since COVID started. So text messaging, a lot of visitors are liking to go back and forth with the law firm through text message rather than picking up the phone call at this point.
Grace: [00:37:05] It makes sense. I mean, to the point you were saying before, and even Liel’s point about, you know, divorce and custody and certain things like that, not being able to actually talk to somebody, text, and chat are great. So that makes sense that they would increase in terms of something that that you’ve pivoted and now have as an offering. And I’ve also noticed for us at Gacovino and Lake, it’s been very similar in terms of that, where you have to be there and be available. You know, we use text messaging, emails, calls, zoom meetings, pretty much any way that we can possibly be there for the client. So I think what you’re saying makes perfect sense to me.
Tom: [00:37:47] Yeah, definitely. Attorneys need to be available, everybody has their own way that they want to reach out to a law firm. You have your people that are comfortable reaching out to a lawyer. You have people that have never dealt with a legal system before. And they’re nervous to pick up the phone and actually talk to an attorney. And those are primarily the people that are going to use live chat. So another thing that we’ve kind of developed over the past couple of years is really getting live chat on as many Web properties of that law firm as possible. So adding it to obviously their homepage of their website or their main firm website, then aside from that, their legal profile pages. So if they have a directory listing on Avvo or lawyers dot com adding the live chat option there, because while you could always pick up the phone and call or fill out a contact form to those pages, now you have that third option of live chat for the person that may not have been comfortable picking up the phone or they want some immediate gratification, knowing that their situation was heard out by an actual person and is immediately being put into the hands of the attorney, which ultimately makes them less likely to continue their search to a competitor’s website.
Tom: [00:39:09] Another avenue, two other avenues that we’ve been doing is a Facebook messenger. People, obviously, I would assume, are spending more and more time on social media. So Facebook Messenger, we’ve seen an increase in chats there as well as Facebook ads. You can now add Engage directly on your Facebook ad. So while before you may have just seen the ad and had to call the firm, now you can just click message us and start your live chat straight from there. The other option is as a message big and text messaging. So live chat is obviously typing back and forth, but many firms are having us create a phone number for them that is, and maybe making up a word but textable so they can use that number anywhere they want. So if they’re doing a radio advertisement, a billboard advertisement, maybe an advertisement in a local magazine, I know there’s a law firm here in Austin, Texas, that they take out a half-page ad and every in the monthly Austin newspaper here, they can add that phone number there and say text us. And if by some chance someone calls that number rather than texting it, it will reroute to the firm’s mainline. But that’s been taking off big too.
Liel: [00:40:40] Yeah, text messaging is a preferred method of communication for many. So that’s all great. And it’s really, really interesting to see what projects you’ve been working. Tell us a little bit more about these new mobile chat version that you’ve guys been working on, and what’s going to be different, and when are you guys are going to implement that?Tom: [00:41:00] So it was in a bit of a split test. We always are split testing things to make sure that whatever we do, it’s going to increase conversion on the website that’s Engage’s main goal. We want the firm to get as many opportunities as possible. So this new graphic is. I feel it’s a little even less in your face in our previous one. It’s more sleek looking, more modern, and as a result, I think people just are clicking on it more. It doesn’t cover up any of the firm’s phone numbers or data or contact forms. It just floats along the bottom and it’s just sleeker. So we…
Liel: [00:41:43] Is it a bar or is it just like a circle on the right hand side corner?
Tom: [00:41:47] So the main one is a bar and that one has is the one that we use a standard, but we do always offer firms a couple of options that they can use. So another option is the mobile, if you look at a mobile website at the bottom, that bar split in half where the bottom right of it says live chat. Visitor clicks on that. It will open up a chat conversation with an Engage operator and the bottom left half of that bar says, text us. And so, yeah, well, essentially it’s doing the same thing. The text us button is opening up into the phone’s native application, which is great because, you know, you’re getting the visitor’s phone number at that point. So you’re guaranteed to at least capture one way to get back in touch with that visitor.
Liel: [00:42:41] Yeah, and users also know they can leave now the site without having to wait in place for continuing the conversation. Yeah. That it’s actually really, really good. So thank you so much for sharing all of these updates and well, also so much data about what you guys have seen over the past few months now, Tom, because you guys have access to many law firms, based on everything you know and everything that you have seen. What would you say are some best practices that law firms should be implementing now while we still in pandemic mode? What are some changes or adjustments that law firms could still be doing that it’s not too late and would still help them give a better opportunity to their clients connecting with them on their website?
Tom: [00:43:34] I would say so. I have three different things that I would recommend. The first one would be offer the visitor as many ways as possible to contact the firm and make those options as clear as possible. Don’t make your visitors work to find a means to contact you. So that means your phone number should be right at the top of your website in big clear font. If you have a vanity number, spell that number out as well. So have your vanity number there. That’s great. But a lot of visitors don’t want to figure out what letter corresponds to the number.
Grace: [00:43:34] I hate that.
Tom: [00:44:20] It’s more work for the visitor.
Grace: [00:44:22] I want to thank you for saying that. By the way. I didn’t mean to interrupt your flow, but yes, agreed. A thousand percent in the vetting numbers. Spell them out. People write the numbers.
Tom: [00:44:32] Put the vanity, any number there, but maybe next to it just help the visitor out a little bit and easy to find context for them. It’s amazing how many websites they’ll go to. And the content form is either only on the contact us page or it’s buried somewhere at the very bottom of the site. And not all your visitors are going to scroll all the way to the bottom of your site. They may just want to see the very top. They see something they like at the top of your page, but no way to contact you. So they may leave. So don’t bury your contact form at the bottom. I would say during these times, especially with millennials and the younger generation, texting is becoming more and more important, offer your visitors text messaging. I mentioned how Engage does that, but I’m sure there are other ways to do that as well. If you have a phone number you could always use, it’s called zip whip where they can make any phone number textable. So that’s an option as well as of course, I’m going to say you should offer a twenty-four seven response of live chat, which means twenty four seven. There is someone there, replying to it live. Not an automatic response of thank you for reaching out to us. An operator will reach out to you tomorrow. That’s not a live chat. That’s a bad user experience. So that would be I guess that was a big first thing I would recommend is just offer as many ways to contact the firm as possible and be clear about that.
Tom: [00:46:10] Second would be not having a cluttered website, especially a mobile Web site. People want to see they want to learn about the firm. Everybody has different things that they want to learn. And I’ll get into that a little bit. But these videos that are auto play with sound, a bunch of flashy images. In my experience, those sites don’t perform as well as sites that are fairly basic, just straight to the point. A lot of times, especially if you’re in an office environment or maybe at home and you may have a kid sleeping in or just someone you don’t want to bother, if your speakers accidentally on full blast, all of a sudden you’ve got that playing and it’s just irritating. And I know personally when that happens, I just close out the page immediately because it’s so loud. And then you need to appeal to everyone, not every visitor is the same that’s coming to your website, and it’s important that law firms understand that your website is not for you, your personality. What you may use to hire an attorney is not what every visitor is going to use. And I could really break that down into four different types of visitors that are going to come to your website. And I think it’s important that you appeal to all four of these types. So the first one would be a) someone that’s looking for, they’re competitive. So they’re logical in their decision-making as well as are going to make a very quick decision on which law firm they’re going to use. So things that appeal to them are going to be the numbers. Hey, we settle multi-million dollar cases, pound your chest a little bit. We do this. We’re the best things like that. Just big numbers everywhere that’s competitive and then methodical. Those people are going to be logical, but their decision making process maybe a little bit slower. So they’re going to research everything on the firm. They’re probably going to compare multiple firms.
Tom: [00:48:24] They’re going to read reviews. They may call multiple firms. They want to see badges on your website showing that you belong to multiple associations, things like that. They are going to dig and dig and dig and find everything out about your firm and what you’ve accomplished. Then you have your spontaneous buyers, which are going to be very high emotion decision makers and quick with decisions. So in those cases, I would say ease of contact is paramount there. So you need to be available 24/7. Your name is recognizable. Those are probably going to be the law firms that we have a lot here in Austin. I’m not going to say the name, actually, but it’s a number that, you know, off the top of your head when you think of a law firm number, it’s at the top of your head. And then lastly, the humanistic visitor. So they’re very emotional, slow decision maker. And this is I would say this is where most law firms miss out. They don’t have stories about themselves. They’re not as personable.
Tom: [00:49:35] People like to see, hey, I have kids, they’re involved in football or some sport. Maybe they play an instrument or maybe the attorney plays in a band every week at a local bar or something like that, something that they can connect on, on a personal level. So really being conscientious that not every visitor is the same or looking for the same thing. So if your website’s only showing that you’re, have the biggest verdict in Texas history, that’s not going to appeal to everybody.
Liel: [00:50:07] Yeah, that’s actually one thing that we’ve talked about in the past is really knowing. Right. Which kind of client can you best serve and build a website and create content that’s actually going to gravitate towards them. Because the reality is you cannot capture them all as much as you want. Right. As you very well said. Now, as part of describing these different personas, one contradicts the other in some ways for another. So you should also look very well what suits your personality and try to find the right match? Right. Because if you are one of those persons that are overly competitive, you want to have all of your badges and all of your accomplishments right there and dare in front of people and go for a buyer persona that’s going to actually want and appreciate that. Right. Don’t try to make yourself relevant for older kind of client that you’re never going to be a good fit for just because of the way that you are personally and run your business. And I think that’s one mistake that a lot of law firms make. They try to capture it all in. As we all know, that’s a hard reality that a lot of law firms are not understanding yet.
Liel: [00:51:15] The market is huge, huge. And so you better focus on making good personal connections with a segment of that market and be the to go choice for them. Than just be person targeting to everyone and not necessarily impressing anyone. Tom, that’s really great insights that you’re sharing.
Liel: [00:51:37] I wish we had more time to talk about different users and…
Grace: [00:51:41] Buyer personas.
Liel: [00:51:44] That’s a really, really interesting topic. I think everyone enjoyed that part a lot. Thank you so much for your great takeaways. Thank you for taking the time to come in and share with those so many insights about Engage, and in general of your experience dealing with law firms. And please come back soon and stay safe.
Tom: [00:51:59] Any time. You to stay safe. Thank you so much for having me on today, I really enjoyed it. This has been great. Thank you so much.
Grace: [00:52:07] Thanks again.
Liel: [00:52:08] Thank you.
Liel: [00:52:15] Grace. What a great conversation with Tom. It’s always fun to have the engage crew here, right? Really, what’s mind-blowing with them is the amount of data that they have. Right. And one thing that I really like about them is how they’re constantly testing things out. And that’s exactly the right place to make tests because they have volume, right? They have thousands of visitors per day on each website. They have their widget installed in thousands of websites. So you can really get valuable statistical data. I sometimes struggle explaining people that have, you know, one hundred visitors a month to their website. How A/B testing on their website may not necessarily be the most efficient way to actually optimize because it’s not enough visitors to really be able to come down to the conclusion that it’s an actual design element that is influencing user behavior and other factors. So, Grace, let’s now go through our takeaways, right. Although we’ve already been giving some really amazing takeaways. Let’s go through hours. What would you say, your first takeaway is?
Grace: [00:53:23] So I’d say my first takeaway has to do with be you. Right. And you and I talked about it so many times. Right. Be authentic, be you. What I mean by bu you is you cannot hit every single person and every website visitor or attract every website visitor to your law firm. Why? Because that’s impossible. You need to be, you be authentic, be who you are and that includes your content and your messaging and on the website because you cannot get everybody to be your client. So focus on those that speak to who you are be.
Liel: [00:53:57] Yeah, absolutely great. I mean, as big as you are, as big as your marketing budget is, doesn’t necessarily mean that the messaging is going to resonate with everyone.
Liel: [00:54:05] Right. You may be seeing you may be known by anyone doesn’t mean that you’re going to be everyone’s favorite. So you might as well choose to attract the kind of plan that you are more likely to match with and be a good fit for. So I think that’s a great takeaway. Grace, what about our take number two?
Grace: [00:54:24] Takeaway number two in my mind has to do with connecting with your client. You need to provide as many options as possible to connect with your client in the way they want to connect with you. Text message, email, chat bots. All of it needs to be included. Why? Especially right now, but always should have been included, but particularly now when everybody is disjointed in different places, working remotely or just not nearby, something that’s quick and easy in that method that you want it. It needs to be in the method they want it.
Liel: [00:54:55] I agree with you, Grace. I also think that you need to be mindful, right. As Tom was talking through the conversation is maybe you need to also continue the conversation after it’s been transferred to the next agent to the intake agent who’s going to actually be taking care of converting the client into a signed client. Maybe if they started to chat, maybe they want to continue the conversation through chat, right. Maybe they don’t want to jump into a phone call right away. So it’s not just about the conversion option on the website, but it’s actually meeting the client and communicating with them where they are most comfortable and where it works the best for them. So that’s a really great point. Grace. You know what? I’m going to go ahead for a number three, because I just saw your reaction on it that I would say, like, this has to be our take away as well, which is spell out your vanity numbers, Grace. I totally get it. Like you see the number eight hundred and then you see a bunch of letters and you’re like, can I just can I just get the numbers, please?
Liel: [00:55:59] Like, can I just make it easy for me to dial? Yeah, I think that’s just kind of like a super basic website user experience thing. And thank you again.
Grace: [00:56:11] You can’t click the goal if you have the vanity up there.
Liel: [00:56:14] There are there ways there are ways you can actually make it clickable, but not always right.
Grace: [00:56:18] But not always going and for because of that. Yeah.
Liel: [00:56:21] So but here’s the thing. Like you may be you’re maybe on desktop seeing the number now you want to dial in your phone. Right. So there is many different reasons why you want to do so. Grace. Anyhow, I hear you. Thank you so much for another great conversation. And we’ll be back next week, right? That’s right.
Grace: [00:56:37] Thanks, Liel.
Liel: [00:56:37] Thank you. Stay safe. Bye.
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Liel: [00:56:57] If you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your co-workers. Leave us a review and send us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see you next week.