• This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Virtual Receptionists and Live Chat with Maddy Martin from Smith.ai

How Live Chat Will Gain Law Firm Leads with Maddy Martin from Smith.ai

Alex Valencia
Published   July 15, 2022


“76% of lawyers are saying that they are overworked” and spend too many hours doing administrative tasks, says Maddy Martin, VP of Marketing at Smith.ai. In today’s episode, your host Alex Valencia and guest speaker Maddy discuss the ways you can convert more clients from your law firm SEO traffic using virtual receptionists and live chats.

One of the critical elements to retaining online leads is mastering responsiveness. Two-thirds of clients’ decision-making comes from the initial response from the law firm. Maddy says there are three components to mastering responsiveness: speed, channel (where your content lives), and the content itself. 

As a law firm’s owner, you do not have enough time in the day to tend to all of this and do your job, making it necessary for you to implement effective systems so your firm can continue to maintain and grow. 

According to Maddy, delegating tasks to virtual assistants and live chats will allow your firm to have ongoing, personal, and compassionate communication with potential clients that will drive up your lead conversion. Studies have shown that live chatting can increase lead conversion by over 20%. In addition, it allows your firm to screen clients faster because almost half of your potential clients prefer the convenience of online chat. 

Whether you’re just opening your doors and want to capture every lead, or you’ve been in practice for years and want to be more effective at screening leads, your business can benefit from virtual receptionists and live chat. 

Tune in to this episode of The We Do Marketing Hour podcast. You won’t miss this great conversation about implementing these lead generation strategies so your firm can grow while serving clients better and faster!

If you like what you hear, please subscribe, leave a review, and tune in wherever you get your podcasts! 

Be sure to check out our glossary of content marketing terms to deepen your marketing strategy knowledge.


Maddy Martin Quote

“Leads are very much fleeting in the same way, easily lost if you’re not paying close attention right in the moment to them. So it’s critical that you pay attention to them at those moments of optimal conversion.” (07:26- 07:41) 

“The biggest drop-off which also happens to be the biggest factor in the decision making process for the client – is right after that marketing hits.” (14:22- 14:35) 

“93% of leads convert after the sixth call attempt.” (28:13-28:18) 

“About 24% of the leads that are coming through are contacting the firm after hours- this is a wide range of practice areas – and 15% of the chat leads are net new – meaning they were not otherwise calling, emailing, filling in the contact form, etc. They actually only engaged when there was chat.” (44:02- 44:25) 

Default Links:

Link with Maddy on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/madelainemartin/

For a FREE 1:1 consultation with Alex, please visit: https://calendly.com/wdwc-alex/15min?month=2021-06 Link with Alex on 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wedowebcontent/

For guest speaker and topic requests, please send all inquiries to We Do Web Content’s Director of Marketing, Dina Davis, at contact@thewedomarketinghour.com.

Maddy Martin Quote 2

To listen to more of The We Do Marketing Hour Podcasts:


Note: Transcription may contain errors.

Alex Valencia:

Good afternoon, everyone. We’re just waiting on some folks to come in. Alex Valencia here with We Do Web content. We’re excited about our new guest. Let’s see. Make sure I’m recording.

Maddy Martin:

Looks like you are. 

Alex Valencia:


Maddy Martin:

That’s the number one thing to remember, right? That’s the thing where you’re like, oh shoot.

Alex Valencia:

Cool. Yeah, we got some folks on already. Thank you guys for showing up on a Thursday afternoon. Man, I’m super stoked that it’s almost Friday. Doesn’t it seem like the weeks just keep flying by?

Maddy Martin:

It really does. I don’t know where Q1 went. Sandy Van nice to see you. Who else is here? Say hi in the chat. Awesome. All right. Cool. Well, let me know when you want to get started out.

Alex Valencia:

Yeah, we’ve got a few people on. Let’s go ahead and get started because we’re full of it. Well, we’ve got a jam packed episode for you, so thank you everybody for joining. Happy Thursday. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to meet with us. There’s a tons of good content, but most importantly, I want to introduce you to my friend and colleague, Maddy Martin, who is head of growth and education for Smith.ai. Maddy Martin is obviously the growth and education with Smith.ai which provides integrated communication services for small businesses, primarily solo and small law firms, but you’re probably expanding that including their virtual receptionist, intake service, live website chat and text answering. Man, that’s a ton of awesome stuff that law firms do need. And she spent the last decade growing tech startups from New York to California and has an expertise in digital marketing, lead conversion, email marketing, social media, SDL affiliates, and event marketing.

You can reach Maddy at maddy@smith.ai, or you can follow her on LinkedIn where we all like to hang out sometimes. Maddy, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much for scheduling this with me. Before we jump in though, because one thing that was missing on here, you guys added the most awesome thing and I know you’ve been working hard on it is the educational aspect through Smith.ai that you’re helping law firms with other colleagues and vendors. Can you touch on that real quick before we jump in? Or was it part of the slides or?

Maddy Martin:

Yeah, no, absolutely I can. I’m going to put the link in the chat right now. So basically what we did is we launched the AI academy and we have had the [inaudible 00:02:45] for a really long time. I’ve been teaching them that bar associations do private sale week groups. And then what we realized is actually a lot of the best conversations are not just those that are structured and accredited by CLE groups and bar associations, but those that are more of the business operations, marketing systems related conversations like, and even the ones that like Alex that you and I had, the ones that I had with John Strohmeyer about five star client service, Alison Williams about intake and do you charge or not for consultation? So there’s so much content that there is to talk about that doesn’t make its way into the CLE curriculum.

So we thought, “How can we really augment the learning environment to provide not only webinars and recordings in a sort of snackable format?” Some of them are as short as like five minutes long and some are full one hour webinars. So please go check that out. It’s totally free. And what we also are adding in the next, hopefully like couple of days is related podcasts and PDFs and downloads and log articles from the archives of Smith.ai, from other sort of masters, Jared [Korea 00:04:05] if you know him, a lot of other folks from even outside of legal who have great advice to share. So it’s not just video and recordings. It’s also mixed media. It’s CLEO infographics on their legal trends report that we’ve built. I think there’s a lot of rich content there that hopefully will help you run a more productive and profitable and professional law firm for firms of all sizes really.

Alex Valencia:

Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, I saw a lot of our colleagues on there. It was interesting. Very cool. I’m excited you did that. That’s definitely a great resource for everyone. Cool. So let’s jump into it. I know you have tons of information and some slides to show, and then we’ll go back and forth with some questions. To the panelists, I mean, to the attendees, if you want to ask a question or jump in at any time, feel free to just raise your hand or just pop it in there and we’ll go ahead and try to answer your question, but we’re also going to leave some time at the end to enter any questions for you.

Maddy Martin:

Cool. I’m going to skip right past the intro and just what we’re going to cover I’m going to focus on web leads, SEO leads, to how receptionists and chat can make a difference, but the systems that you really want in place in order to set the entire system, whether that’s your law firm or outside vendors contributing up for success. So we’ll talk about communication pitfalls. We’ll talk about symptoms of faulty qualification, intake and follow-up systems. And then basically what are the best practices? What are the components of those best practices that are repeatable and scalable? They’ve been proven in lots of different law firms across different practice areas over time. And then how do you streamline and create workflows that pull in these technologies, the tools and the talent that basically drive that entire high functioning system. 

So just to sort of set the stage and if you were at the Law Firm Growth Summit you know maybe a month or so ago I talked about this and forgive me for using the same metaphor, but basically I love to think about, well, ice cream in general. Who doesn’t like ice cream? But think about ice cream and think back to when you were a kid and close your eyes for a moment and really get back in that moment. It’s 80 degrees here today in Buffalo. So I’m thinking about summer already. And think back to you hand your cash to that person at the cash register. They hand you the ice cream and then you get distracted, you’re a kid or someone bumps into you or your dogs snags it from you and you don’t get to eat your ice cream. 

And there’s this very easily perceived sense of sort of dissatisfaction, unfairness. And just how in a moment that treat evaporated that you paid for and [inaudible 00:06:59]. So that relates to this conversation because so often there is a lot of work, you picked up your favorite ice cream place, you got your parents to drive you there. You do this for your kids now, and you’ve carved out that time. And then you miss that treat because you just weren’t aware in that moment to just focus on the ice cream, nothing else matters, just enjoy your treat and everything else can come after. Leads are very much fleeting in the same way, easily lost if you’re not paying close attention right in the moment to them.

So it is critical that you pay attention at those moments of optimal conversion, of enjoying what you paid for and moving that forward in your business. So when they’re slipping through your fingers, you actually can do something about it and have that not happen pretty much ever again. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Yes. We’re going to talk about it from an SEO lens. We can talk about it from an online web leads lens, but just as you think about, man, that burning feeling when there is an unfair situation, dropping that ice cream on the ground, that is not something that you should be doing at your law firm. So I’m going to hopefully teach you how to prevent that. All right. So now sort of with my econ business hat back on, the main thing here is also the funnel, right?

So if you have paid or worked on any marketing strategies or campaigns, you are very well aware that there are qualified and unqualified leads. If you have web traffic, some of them are going to be qualified people. Maybe you got a referral, someone’s checking out your website, your Facebook page, and now they’re visiting your website. You have a really highly targeted landing page on one of your practice areas and why it’s critical for people who have that legal situation to hire your firm. Great. You’re going to be getting some qualified leads. There’s also a core tenant of online marketing that you should know, which is people don’t read. So people just don’t read. They go on law firm websites. They don’t know the difference between a PI firm and an immigration firm and a criminal defense firm and a family law firm. They’re not reading.

They don’t think that they need to, and you’re going to be the one who steers them in the right direction. Well, that’s really time consuming, but it’s important for someone to do it or something so that the people who are scheduling consultations, the people who are moving forward with client agreements, if you have maybe flat fee or subscriptions and they can sign themselves up, it’s critical that the people who are now on your calendar or matters on the book are going to be worth your time and of your interest and of your sort of highest expertise and skills and for your team too. So when we think about the funnel, it’s critical that there’s a screening process, and this might differ a bit based on the stage of growth that you’re in. 

So imagine if we think about what is your cost of acquisition? There may be people who are looking at this screen, who are with us today saying, “I have a hundred thousand visitors on my website,” or, “I have a hundred visitors on my website,” or, “I’m just setting up my website,” or, “I’m somewhere in between,” or, “I’m paying to improve this.” Whatever it is, there is a funnel here that makes sense for you. And it has to do with how much investment that might be direct cost or the opportunity costs of value of your time if you didn’t spend it building your website and content and attracting an audience, and then the sort of value of retained clients if you do move them through the funnel. So we can see here there’s drop-off rates. And we expect a 50% consultation to retain or conversion rate. Your conversion rates may differ.

But the point is that if you spent $5,000 upfront to bring in those thousand visitors, you know your conversion rate approximately is going to turn those thousand into 10 routines clients at a value of $2,000. You have turned $5,000 into $20,000 and your marketing funnel is working pretty well. Right? Then you have more money to reinvest in your business, to pay our staff, to build more on sort of brand awareness and bring more traffic in and keep repeating and scaling that funnel in that cycle. So it’s really important that before we talk about making any changes and fixes that we see the stages because the solutions come at every stage.

It’s obviously important that you have relevant, targeted, maybe localized content on your website. Alex is obviously the guy and runs the team that is very well-focused and very capable of handling that. Then you’ve got these leads that come through that are hopefully attracted to the messaging and it resonates with them because the content is written in language that they can understand, and that builds on the client experience that you deliver in answering, greeting in a friendly way and screening these potential opportunities, moving that into a consultation, and then moving that into a retained agreement, whether that is an hourly rate, flat fee subscription, you name it.

So this deck, which I’m happy to provide, also has a worksheet here. If you want to complete this exercise yourself, and you can take a screenshot, I can send it to you, but make sure that you understand how much money are you spending up front and how much is it worth to you based on your expected conversion rate. And the reason this is so important in how we start getting into optimizing the funnel is that there is a lot of spray and pray. There is a lot of set it up at the top of the funnel and everything else will follow mindset, not just in law firms’ leadership, but across every service business. So at Smith.ai we work with, yes, a lot of solo and small law firms, but we also work with IT firms, marketing agencies, financial planners, plumbers, landscapers, architects, car repair, you name it.

And a lot of people are very, very busy serving clients and working on the business, even in the business, but not necessarily looking at the sort of movement through the funnel before it becomes business. There’s a lot of emphasis on the marketing side, a lot of emphasis on the systems for client management and even email and nurturing, but the biggest drop-off, which also happens to be the biggest factor in the decision-making process for the client, is right after that marketing hits, after that awareness. Someone clicked, someone got a referral, someone read reviews and moved forward with just seeing that law firms’ website, whatever it is, you’ve generated the interest, there’s a target audience. And then what? Then there’s an attempt to call a form completion, maybe a chat if one exists on the website and who’s answering that? And are they always answering? And are they answering effectively? And what does responsiveness mean in that context? Because that is the single biggest factor. 

So I’ll tell you from the Cleo report, and if you haven’t read the Cleo legal trends report, please do. Again, the infographics are our sort of executive summaries in the academy. But on our blog we have these full infographics and we pull out some of the most interesting data from our perspective every year and what we saw a couple of years ago that continues to be repeated every single year, and this is a huge competitive advantage if you fix this at your firm, is that two out of three potential clients say that their decision to hire a law firm is most influenced by an attorney’s or the law firm’s basically initial response to their first call or email. So what does that mean? It means that if you have invested upfront on any pay-per-click SEO, social media manager, new website, anything splashy, fancy, attracting, and then explaining your law firm and you don’t respond to it, you spent all this time on your Google My Business profile and you came to that session we hosted yesterday with another marketing expert on how to optimize that, but then you don’t pick up your phone. 

If you let your website leads just bounce, if your form is not asking the right questions, you’re not capturing any of that information. You’re not engaging and you’re losing those leads. They go back to their search. And the first firm who responds is the one to get the business the vast majority of the time. Now we also know that as consumers, and I’m sure everyone here relates to this, we’re used to things operating that way. You can click and get a ride with Uber. You can click and get a package delivered with Amazon as soon as the next day, some cases the same day if you’re in one of those power cities, Buffalo is not that lucky.

And then you also have this expectation that’s not urgency, but it is a demand for know what I’m asking and help me figure it out myself without saying as much. And what I mean is 64% of legal consumers looking for an attorney expect a free initial consult, right? They’re expecting you to school them and to say, “Yes, this is a good fit. No, it’s not.” They don’t know. They typically haven’t worked with a law firm before. How are you responding not just quickly, but across all the channels where they’re going to reach you? We all know Facebook has a recommendation engine now. If you’re not responsive there and that’s the person finding out about you on Facebook, it doesn’t matter if you answer your phone if you’re not responsive on Facebook Messenger. It’s also responsiveness as a matter of content.

So we’ve got speed. We’ve got channel and we’ve got content. And what content means is, I’m just going to skip forward for a second, basically 61% of potential clients didn’t get enough information and that was the specific reason for not hiring the firm. So they expect your guidance and you’re doing that probably very well if you’re here with us. I know we do web content webinar. You’re doing that very well, probably passively with great, you can call it actively, but we’ll just say passively with great web content, right? You are answering those common questions, you know the language and you speak it that your clients are using to ask these questions. You are proactive in steering and guiding them. And that is information that needs to also be on that first call, that first conversation, that first chat, so that it’s not just a fast response and then a message is taken for whoever can get around to following up with that person.

But it is a fast and helpful and friendly response that relays the client experience that you bring after that signature is on the paper, right? So if you’re very concerned that I just skipped through things that will be important to you, again, I will give this back to you no problem. Talked about the statistics that we already sort of went over. A couple other things though. If you think again about the competitive landscape, why is this so important to fix? It’s because it’s really, really low hanging fruit. So you’ve got clients who are contacting on average more than one firm even upon referral. You have competitors who are neglecting getting back with their leads. And then you’ve got 39% who just let them go to voicemail, which is basically a black hole. And similarly email is a little bit of a digital black hole, or when you’re on a website and you fill out a contact form, also black hole.

When is someone getting back to you? I have no idea. Similarly on chat. We’re not here right now. Well, why even have chat on if you’re just going to say no one’s here to answer you? A lot of this exists where the systems are set up, but the staff and the process is not backing it up. So if you can do that, the leads are waiting for someone to recognize that. While we see most lawyers don’t sense the same level of urgency of it, the clients are saying they have. They also don’t sense the relief that the clients are saying that they have. So the urgency is driven by a sense of need. Is that a need that your law firm fills? Figure it out quickly and if you can move forward with that screening and scheduling, you will convert more clients. They are there waiting to be served faster and better.

So why doesn’t this happen? Well, it doesn’t happen because law school doesn’t prepare you to run a business. We all know that. And hopefully that’s why you’re connecting with experts and resources like Alex and I provide. And there is a huge lack in confidence around your business skills. Now Sandy Van is still here, she’s a powerhouse master. I’m not including everyone obviously in this group. And do you feel that sort of discomfort when you’re on the phone with a potential client and you have to ask them to sign? You have to actually get that new client in as a paying client. There are clients who don’t pay their bills and you have to ask them for money. There are a lot of skills here that don’t necessarily get trained or practiced before you are in the deep end.

And you’re on that phone call and you’re wondering, “Why didn’t I practice this first?” And you don’t necessarily have to take on all this work yourself. 76% of attorneys are saying that they’re overworked. So that means there’s not a whole lot of bandwidth left to give. And frankly, so many hours are spent on admin work and so few on billable hours. However you calculate that or measure that for your firm there is not a lot of time left to give, and actually it’s much more important that you spend your time as a law firm owner, manager, operator with folks like Alex to say, “What is our web strategy? What is our SEO strategy, our expansion? How are we going to dominate this market by dominating search?” That’s a decision for a law firm owner to be a part of, to manage and steward. That is an executive level decision.

Answering calls, screening leads is not an executive level decision or tasks that should be undertaken. And we see this happen all the time. Basically people who start their own firms have a preference to be more in control than going and working for a much larger firm. And as a result, the control dynamic early on is there, and it’s beneficial, but there’s an inflection point where you have to give up some control and say, “Who can I bring in to help me with this?” Whether it’s content, whether it’s bookkeeping, whether it’s admin work or setting up a system like CLEO or MyCase, or Practice Panther, Lawmatics, whatever. Do you have someone helps you with all these things? Great. You also need someone in your funnel because there’s a lot of web traffic that’s coming that’s not converting that could be.

So just sort of get into how do you identify what to do and delegate what to, even have your team do now or later. It’s important that you at least take inventory of all of your communication sort of channels. And do you have Facebook? Do you have Facebook Messenger? Do you have a phone number? Is it text enabled and who’s keeping an eye on those texts? Have you tested your phone number recently to make sure that it’s being transferred to you or your staff or your receptionist appropriately? Is it being answered within one ring? 

Take an inventory and make sure that you test and check them often because there’s nothing that I can say to you to fix it if the call doesn’t come through, if the email doesn’t land in someone’s inbox and they’re going to answer it, if you have a Facebook page and people are messaging you and you have no idea are those getting responded to and how. Those are not people to ignore just because they prefer a platform, you’re getting recommended there, people are chatting in, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not qualified leads and you won’t know unless you start responding to them. That’s the only way to know.

So can you identify your sources also for your marketing campaigns, which are the campaigns that are performing best and where should you focus your time first? There are probably channels that are the highest volume, were most important to you. Identify what that current process is. Someone emails in, a Facebook message, an office phone call, how is it triaged and handled? If an attorney is out, is there another attorney to take that consultation, et cetera. So identify sort of those upfront communication tasks to delegate. And is it going to be a tool? Is it an automation? Is it a chat bot on your website or is it going to be a human being, someone on your staff or you, although ideally it’s not you? So I wanted to take a pause and just for a second talk about a couple things in another presentation.

So I’m going to share this one, sorry. Hope that doesn’t disturb you that I’ve switched. I’ll share both decks with you if you’d like. So when we talk about these communication channels, it’s really important that we realize that it’s not just about the initial response, but also ongoing responsiveness. So yes, it’s critical that someone on the front lines is going to answer, they’re going to screen based on your criteria. And that screening is going to determine two things. So are they, you’ve got this funnel, right? They came in through a marketing channel. There’s a contract method, there’s a response method. Then there’s the qualification stage, right? If they are a well qualified lead, then you’re going to try and win them now or nurture them and win them later. Great. If they’re not a qualified lead, then you’re going to refer them for goodwill depending on your bar rules, maybe monetization, but at least goodwill in future clients and referral relationships. We love that.

Someone who is contacting you, who came from a Google search, even if they’re not well qualified can still benefit your law firm if you give them a good referral, if you listen for a moment. You can even get a solid five star review out of that if you deliver a good service in helping them with their next step even if it’s not with your firm. So then you’ve got these qualified leads. And the questions that you ask are critical to determine are they the best clients for your law firm? And then what happens is the next step. If they are, are they ready to schedule? Is there someone else they have to talk too? Fine. Are they not ready? Are you even asking them upfront if they’re ready? Because what you may find, and this is a common issue of sort of cadence and timing, if you don’t ask the questions upfront, you goof up the nurture and the follow-up.

So basically think about a PI case versus an estate matter. PI is going to be rapid follow up and very strong attempts at converting to a signature early on, maybe on the first call. Then there are estate matters that may involve multiple people agreeing to go with one law firm. There maybe a longer timeframe, decision-making process, things they get hung up that block that from moving forward and the nurturing process could be weeks or months. And then maybe that relationship continues on for years, even generations. Fine. Make sure that you understand, if you are looking at intake processes, if you’re hiring people that help you with this, if you’re implementing this now, that you take a very close look at tailoring the advice that you get on the follow-up to your specific practice area and that you do so with high repetition, no matter what the space is between those repetitions.

So typically we find that, and actually this data is from Lead Docket I should say, 93% of leads convert after the sixth call attempt. And after that it sort of plateaus. So if you don’t follow up by email, text, phone, whatever is most appropriate for your audience, then you’re missing out on the potential of that lead to convert to a client and you’re giving up too early. So it’s not just, are you being fast to respond to that very first call, chat or email, web form lead, but are you also following up very quickly and often up to six times? So keep that in mind and then make sure that certain systems are set up properly. We have a great article on how to get crystal clear phone service VoIP from Corvum.io, which is the Clio integrated avoid phone system, and what it means to have at this day and age when internet speeds are all over the map, with people working from home, latency issues, issues with Google Voice, issues with setup and forwarding. Make sure that your systems are in order so that when all those call attempts go through, someone gives you a call back.

Your email is triaged in a certain way, that no one gets lost in that mix. Because as you set up the systems, you have to consider sort of every channel that people are coming through. The other thing to consider from the receptionist perspective, because people are answering now on your behalf is what’s the difference between a script and a process that has goal alignment? So often, we have new clients who come through and they say, “I have this script from this other answering service or from this person who used to work for me. I want you to follow this script.” And typically what we find is that a, clients don’t want to talk to a robot and b, it involves active listening. And if you are able to actively listen, a couple things happen. One, you’re able to use a brain to assess if the potential client is saying things that don’t necessarily follow the script, but you understand the law firm’s goals and that it is a car wreck not a car accident, car crash, right?

You don’t want to be so specific that someone is… I know it’s comical, but think about the ways that a script can actually block qualified leads by just following it so rigorously. And then when you allow someone to use their brain they also can express compassion, which is critical in making sure that that person feels like they’re in the right place. So with chat for example, one of the things that we find is that the screening process is not very well done when it is a human being who just says a script to follow, get the consultation every single time no matter what. It’s actually much better and more effective to have a process where you in English and Spanish, whatever language makes sense, can carry on that conversation, offer compassion, validate that that person is in the right place. Say, “I’m so sorry for what you’re going through,” or, “That must be hard.” And then ask for that consultation. 

If that’s not built into your conversations, if your teams are not carrying out that emotional intelligence, then there is opportunity that is lost here to connect, especially with web leads who may not be referrals. They may not be personally connected. There is an opportunity to establish a personal connection that is really best sort of honed, it’s genesis, right in that first conversation. Now another thing that I will share, we talk a lot about contact forms on your website. I’m sure everyone has a contact form. If you don’t, you should have one. But basically name-

Alex Valencia:

And make sure that it’s tracking too. Make sure that it’s tracking-

Maddy Martin:

Make sure that they’re tracking CallRail in addition to tracking phone numbers transforms, which I think is sweet. So yes, exactly. And you want to make sure that you ask much more than just the name and email and phone number and a blank message, “Leave us whatever blathering on you want to.” It’s much more important that you actually set boundaries and expectations and deliver expertise upfront by steering actually that new lead to give you information that helps you make a better decision. So an example here Cooper Law in Minnesota, you can go to cooperlawmn.com. Basically there’s a form here that after selecting what the legal issue is, providing the information how did you hear about the law firm critical they capture upfront and then some steering questions that are not just what the legal issue is, but is there a court hearing scheduled in your case. You might even ask, “When is it?” And select a date from a dropdown, so that the sense of urgency, the timeframe is also starting to take shape.

After this then the scheduling opportunity happens. This is something that can be done by the lead themselves or by a receptionist or chat agent if that conversation is already ongoing, but you can see how much more data you can actually capture up front instead of just blank web forms. Now the other thing, and this is really an SEO strategy in and of itself, there are landing pages with static content, and then there are actually landing pages with dynamic content. I’m going to copy this link because I want to show you what this looks like. So this can… This link is going to load. Yes, there we go. So for example, look, there’s this smith.ai chat. Cool. So you’ve got the name, cell phone, email, who gave you the ticket, what is the speed? And then you’re actually getting an estimate of does it make sense to hire an attorney or not?

Okay. So that’s a very simple example. Then the other example, Let me give this preview backup so I can easily click on this, is really that SEO play here. So Chi City Legal is a landlord law firm. And what they did is they took the eviction notice and they turned it into a online hosted form that actually ranks extremely high on the local Chicago searches for evicting tenants, which is actually a pretty quality search term and has generated so much traffic for them with qualified leads that they don’t have any other marketing channel. This is incredible, right? So this is where all of their efforts have been poured into and it paid off. And what happens is your contact form, your capture point that was really only this very basic capture point actually now becomes the very top of funnel marketing, a lead magnet, right?

And this is something honestly you could plug into a lead magnet on Facebook and has many other applications than just a search friendly page. But what it does is it takes the government form and it has turned it into a set of fields that fill out that form and email it to you with instructions, for how to fill it out yourself. Now there might be people here who are thinking, “Well, that’s crazy. I’ve just sort of removed my law firm from the equation.” No, you haven’t. The oldest trick in the book is giving them a really long leash and having them come back to you to say, “Thanks so much for helping me and I could really use a bit more help.” So what ends up happening is they have a workflow here where they’ve captured the lead because obviously the landlord’s name is coming right to the law firm and they can follow up with this person.

So in filling out the form, you get all the information and more that you need to effectively follow up and engage with and convert this landlord who would be the lead in this case. And to say, “This is really powerful. What is the timeframe that they’re working with?” And to craft your follow-up and nurturing around that timeframe? If it’s a five day notice, it’s going to be pretty urgent and you’re going to turn it around pretty quickly. And you’re probably going to call them and say, “How’s that going to that form work for you? Did you get that eviction done? Is there anything we can do to help?” And then the 30 days gives you more time to actually follow up. This is an extremely powerful strategy. 

Now when we talk about how do receptionists and chat agents fit in here, it’s extremely obvious if you understand that it can be both inbound and outbound. And what I mean there is someone is giving you information here, and that requires an outbound call. Someone is filling in your contact form, that requires an outbound call. You want your receptionist service to call that person and say, “Thanks for completing that information. How can we help you move forward with that screening, scheduling and intake?” If it’s inbound and they are on this website for example, you’ve got this phone number here, request a free consultation. I’m going to click on that link and I’m going to get here. Well… All right, checking so-and-so’s calendar. Great. If I call what happens? The receptionist goes through and, forgive me I don’t know how the website’s going to give me all these pop-ups, you’re going to call and you’re going to get a receptionist service who’s going to walk through that entire scheduling process with the consultation, making sure that it’s a landlord or other sort of target audience for this firm.

They’re a qualified lead. They’re interested. They have an eviction notice. The form was not enough. They need help. That is going to then be transferred to the attorney or scheduled for a consultation later. And that person is going to stop their search because at least, even if the consultation is the next day and they have time for that, that’s fine. They said, “Yes, let’s book it.” Their search has stopped because they have a secured future appointment that puts their mind at ease. A message however is not enough to stop someone search. I’ll take a message very similar sending an email. You don’t know when someone’s going to get back to you with the next step. So-

Alex Valencia:

Quick question. Going back to what you just showed on the calendar, what do you think of an attorney having a calendar link on their website? 

Maddy Martin:

Yeah, I think that it’s a good idea as long as you have questions that are set up. So let me give you another example. Colorado Lawyer Team, very, very clear instructions here. Fill out the basic form and then you can calendar a free 30 minute appointment. This is exactly what we would do if we are also answering the phone here. Okay. So she’s promoting, calling for that as well. You can schedule an appointment. This is all over her website, even saying upfront that financing is available so don’t let that stop you from calling, our phones are answered 24 hours a day. Boom. Right? When you have a receptionist service, you can not only say our phones are answered 24 hours a day, but with Smith.ai live chat with us 24 hours a day, call or chat 24 hours a day.

Wow. I have this person now with me at home during COVID who I’m trying to get a divorce from, not me just a scenario, and I don’t want to be on the phone. I want to have a silent chat conversation to talk about how can I get with this law firm. Now [Justin Nicole 00:41:37] and her team are criminal defense and family law. They’re going to have this form filled out. They use type form here. Answer the questions, then calendar. I would advise against actually what Chi City Legal was doing here. Now there are a couple different approaches. One is to have this free consultation and you pick a time and then you have to answer the questions. It depends on what your technique is, right? 

So Joey Vitale, who’s amazing, Indie Law. He actually has a whole sequence of steps really building up the excitement around scheduling the appointment and then the very last stage is 10 questions. So you’ve already gotten that far, you’re going to answer those questions. That’s one strategy. As you just saw with Justin Nicole’s [Colaw 00:42:33] team, they’re asking for the work upfront, same thing with Cooper Law. She was asking for the work upfront, and then you can schedule the appointment. Do what works for you. Start off with what your own calendaring tool currently has enabled. With Calendly for example, you’re going to have a calendar booking, date selection, and then the questions after. So let’s see what happens here. I’m not going to book this. This is really just a note field, right? So there is an opportunity here to add questions and to make sure that the consultation is very well-informed from the get-go.

So make sure that your receptionist and chat team have the calendaring tools and link that they can schedule. They know who and why to schedule and that everyone on your team is incorporated into that scheduling program. One of the common errors is the paralegal or the intake specialist who talks to that first lead after the initial phone call is screened, they’re not on Calendly. It’s only the attorney. Well, make sure that you set your team up for success and then everyone can be scheduled. It helps them plan their day and use your resources more efficiently. Also by email, if you reply and say, “I’m doing back and forth scheduling, are you free at 3:00 today?” That needs to completely go away. There are plugins to send your link, to send direct sort of calendar options here on the right with button clicks to book a time.

There should be no more back and forth by email to find an appointment time that works for everyone in the group. And then sort of lastly, bringing all of this outside of just email and phone, but into chat. So chat is really powerful for a couple of reasons. The one I really wanted to make sure that I mentioned is sort of my favorite hack from an SEO perspective, and I probably told Alex this before so Alex forgive me. But the first thing before I get to the hack is that there was a study by GNGF, actually another sort of marketing agency that was testing out chat for their clients, and they showed that about 24% of the leads that are coming through are contacting the firm after hours. And this is a wide range of practice areas.

And 15% of the chat leads are net new meaning they were not otherwise calling, emailing, filling in the contact forms, et cetera. They actually only engaged when there was chat. Now that’s extremely powerful. You’ve got the after hours, you’ve got 24/7, no matter if someone prefers to call or chat, if you don’t have chat you have no idea if those 15% or more leads are being missed. On average professional services firms and not just law firms see a 20% to 30% increase in lead conversion or quality converting leads. What I would recommend specifically for law firms is that there is a disclaimer and that you’re upfront and have steering and screening questions so that you’re not feeling like the leads who are coming through on chat are of any lower quality, any sort of greater interaction for less value. There is a disclaimer there that says, “This is not legal advice nor establishing an attorney-client relationship.”

If you have a chat bot, you can even say, “It’s a chat bot.” If it’s receptionist staff, you can say, “This is staffed by our frontline or our friendly receptionist team,” so that people have expectations from the get-go. This is an opportunity to see if that person, if that business is a good fit for your law firm, and then proceed with scheduling, then see importantly with Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, are people engaging with your chat actually driving those goals, those events that you’re tracking the same as you would track as Alex was saying on the forums, are they actually moving to signing up, converting any of the goals that you have identified in your sort of web analytics tools? And that will give you a really good sense of the calls that came through, the contact form completions that come through and the chats that come through, what is the conversion rate? What is the volume and how does that also allow you to promote, for example, on your website, answering calls and chats 24/7?

Do you want to steer people to those channels? The only way to know is to determine if they work or not to bring in qualified clients. Another thing to my favorite hack is basically all these conversations that happen more in depth and let’s say this example here, they contain some incredible SEO keywords and phrases and questions that should be built into your FAQ and on your website and the foundation of your landing pages, et cetera. This is how you determine are the vast majority of people in a PI firm saying regionally car wreck or car accident or car crash. This is how you determine what are the most common questions that people are asking here that by the way, their first question in chat is probably the first question that not provided keyword hidden from you on Google was asked on the actual web search.

So you’re getting access to data and a whole series of questions and scenarios back and forth that you could actually build into new content for your website. So imagine that someone is sharing the experience with their immigration issue or with a child custody issue. There are so many scenarios that you could write about, that Alex’s team could write about, to talk about how our firm approaches handling these situations. Whether or not you’ve actually had a testimonial or a case to speak about, hypothetically it’s interesting to talk about in these scenarios how would your firm serve that client’s need or handle it. And that is SEO gold. 

So these conversations are fodder for your SEO strategy. I’m sure that Alex’s team will have more guidance around that, but when you have been seeing for so long those not provided hidden keywords, and now you have these entire transcripts of conversations to pour over or to hand over, for your content contractor to pour over, then you have so much rich opportunity to not just write about the topics that matter, but to also analyze, take all of that data and dump it into sort of the word clouds and the latent semantic intent tools to say, “What are the most commonly requested? What are the chats that actually converted to clients? And let’s just look at those and determine what are those qualified leads asking, forget about all the rest.” That’s a huge opportunity to get more insight into what is bringing the most qualified leads to your website and converting into clients.

Alex Valencia:

That was an awesome hack. That’s excellent. That’s really great information. It was obvious that it’s in there so I love that I was looking forward to that. And yeah, we’ve talked about it before. But it just makes me go back to 2020 when business drops everywhere. And this would have been a great opportunity for everyone to put all that content in a spreadsheet and continue going and moving forward where now you’re capturing all those clients. But like you said earlier, I think everyone this year is kind of like, “Oh man, first quarter’s passed, let’s hurry up. What’s going on? Let’s get sales up and start growing things.” 

I know we’re kind of there ourselves and a lot of our clients are there and we’re starting to see the movement and uptake back up. So I think it’s great to start preparing for that. Just a couple of questions on my end and you kind of touched on it, but it’s just to bring it back to our guests. So what do you think are the most common mistakes that the law firm owners are making with their web leads?

Maddy Martin:

Well, I think the most common mistake is not trying a chat and being super proactive encouraging people to get in touch with you. So there is the mistake that just simply having a phone number on there is enough. Well, you need to really say, “Call 24/7.” You need to say, “I’m going to add chat and I’m going to have it be proactive. And if people close it out, if they don’t engage, then fine, I understand they don’t want it. But just because I personally might not like chat doesn’t mean that it’s not going to help my business.” So I think there’s some personal preferences that end up guiding business decisions. What do you like out of a website versus what actually impacts conversion? There are tools, Hotjar and other tools, that allow you to see what are people clicking? Where are they engaging? What is the navigation like on your website?

Before even those clicks come through, what sort of the heat map and the visual flow when people navigate through your site, it’s really important to test everything as much as you possibly can. Test the copy, test having free consultation next to your phone number, or schedule a consultation. If it’s not paid, if it’s not free, you can work with copy a lot to make sure that you are capturing the attention and moving that lead forward when people are visiting your website. It’s critical to test before you make assumptions.

Alex Valencia:

Great. What do you think receptionists and chat agents do to help capture and convert these web leads? What are they doing differently? And after you’re done I’ll do a small case study on someone using chat.

Maddy Martin:

Okay. So what I find is that there’s a dedicated time for it and it’s 24/7. So typically, no one’s missing every single call and some are prioritized, some when you get to it and you might have some people who have a tolerance for waiting for you to get back to them. It’s really a family friend or a strong referral and you’re the only one, fine, but the vast majority of time, and in order to grow not just maintain a law firm where things are right now is to be extremely fast to respond and to specialize your time and your team’s time. So when we think about the people who are running the most successful law firms, whether they’re small or large, whatever successful means to you, it means having not everything be owner dependent, but be system dependent.

And a system dependency means are you setting up your workflows where you can take a vacation, you can be at trial, you can be on a case, you can do all these things. And it’s a decision that you can make because you have the system to back you up and not a trade off of if I do this, this is not going to be done, period. If I’m in court, I will be missing calls. There’s no reason to sacrifice new business for the existing business that’s demanding your time right now. So how do receptionists and chat agents uniquely help? They are there 24/7. They are completely customized, at least from Smith.ai’s perspective, for your criteria. 

What are your goals? Did you just hang your shingle and you want every single lead that’s possibly contacting you on your calendar, or have you been in practice for a while and you have plenty of leads and you want more screening, you want more strict sort of qualification processes and you charge for consultations? And if they don’t want to pay, then you refer them out to someone who doesn’t charge. That may be the case it’s completely customized for you. And that workflow to the consultation, to that payment being captured, to the follow-up after is handled for you. And all you have to do is do what you do best, which is to win those new clients and then to work them.

Alex Valencia:

Awesome. I love the idea that building a system-based workflow. I mean, that’s so important. We built our agency on the operation side all system and process based and it’s been amazing, because you just add or remove if this happens to this, if this happens to that and it’s allowed us. We’re working on the growth in sales part of that and marketing side of it because that’s what our goal is for 2021. But on that note, on chat I had a client who was very old school, was doing billboards, TV, spending millions of dollars a year everywhere. And then we came to them after we built their site and offered a chat service that somebody was coming around and selling it. And they saw a 30% increase from people that did not pick up the phone call, did not email or fill out a form with chat words to prefer.

So just like any other system our sales cycle, right now we’re going through a sales cycle on how many touch points will a prospect have. And the touch points are simple, but it’s all processed and system driven. First one is an email, phone call, voicemail, LinkedIn message, Facebook message, video, email. Everything has a system and if not, do this. And following that system I think it’s very important. I think this is an amazing product, if you’re not using it, definitely consider it. Reach out to Maddy. This is really an insurance policy against your current investment, right? This is, like Maddy mentioned in the beginning, protecting your investment. It’s that black hole that why am I missing these things? I know I’m paying for the marketing. And it’s one of those things that easily gets lost because you might have that office manager or someone that originally was doing it.

But when you really turn a business into a systematic business that’s working for you, where you can continue to grow, you have to have those additional vendors. You have to have those people that are helpful, that are experts in what they do. Your office manager may have just been working with you since she got out of college or he, and they don’t know anything. They don’t know enough to grow it. I’ve been in positions in my own business where I’ve reached the level of my knowledge, where I have to hire and bring somebody else with more knowledge on that. So the same thing goes for your marketing, right? You’re not going to try to do it all. Some people do and they fail and they’ll hire companies like myself or some of the other ones, but it’s important to protect that investment and-

Maddy Martin:

And to not have the delay too, right? Alex, I think that we all recognize you and I could learn how to do a number of other marketing things that we could do well, but how much time is that going to take? And are you willing to spend the time or to waste the time and delay that sort of launch of a campaign, launch of a new initiative, whatever it is? Are you going to learn a new practice area or are you going to hire an attorney who is great in that practice area already, who brings their book of business with that? Interesting, right? So how do you think about growing your business in a way that doesn’t incur more delays than are required, but also maintains your brand standards? The right partners, the right staff, they will do that for you.

So the last thing that I would share is that if you are not sort of hourly conveying that you’re doing these things to help you also stick rank on Google local search, for example. If you have a 24/7 answering service and you’re not saying that you are open 24/7, and you can take calls 24/7 on your Google Local Pack, that’s a missed opportunity. So think about as a process, as a system change, if you do certain things what also needs to be updated? And this is often overlooked because projects have a beginning and an end and you want to be done with them. It’s already taken too long. You’re like, “I’m moving on to the next thing.” 

If you add an answering service and you’re thinking, “I’m done, I need to go focus on my intake system, my email nurture drips, whatever,” just don’t move on before you identify do I want to make my phone number a larger font size on my website now because I really want to encourage people to call? Do I want to make sure that on every landing page I change the color to orange because that’s going to make it more obvious too? Do I change my Google My Business profile so that I have a trackable phone number with CallRail and also that’s forwarded to Smith.ai, abso-freaking-lutely. So just before you sort of put that green check on that task, yes, you want to get these services. You also want to make sure that you’re maximizing the use of them and the awareness of them because that’s where you really maximize that value.

Alex Valencia:

Exactly. And that brings me to my other point on how to work with vendors, how to cohesively work with all of them and understand that and how to set the expectations. So Maddy and I are going to be hosting another webinar on May 13th, one o’clock Eastern Standard Time. So we’re going to talk about working with vendors and how you can do that and what to expect and set their expectations and set your expectations for working with them. So make sure you look out for that email coming out and sign up and register for that email. Maddy, thank you so much for having us or being on the show. I always love talking to you and I mean, I had questions, but it was like you answered everything as you went. I let you do your thing and it was awesome. I learned so much myself. So thank you so much for an awesome presentation. Thank you all for taking the time and joining. Please let us know if you have any additional questions or anything, feel free to email us or how can they reach out to you Maddy?

Maddy Martin:

So they can reach out to me just maddy@smith.ai I put it in the chat, and [inaudible 01:01:54] at Smith.ai. Also we do have a hundred dollars off for anyone who would like to try Smith.ai. So we have a free chat bot, but if you want our live staff on your calls, on your chat, on your texts, on your Facebook messages, then you’ll get a hundred dollars off with the code, Wedowebcontent, all one word, and you can sign up at Smith.ai and we’ll have a free consultation with you to just make sure that we’re aligned with your business goals.

Alex Valencia:

That’s awesome. And also make sure you check out the academy.smith.ai as well for all those awesome resources. Thank you all. Have a happy Thursday, have a great weekend and enjoy.

Maddy Martin:

Thanks. Take care. Thanks Alex.

Let's get this conversation started!
Tell us a bit about yourself and someone from our team will contact you as soon as possible.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.