In This Episode You'll Learn:
- The overlap between legal and marketing [04:27]
- Google's scaled advertiser program [06:26]
- Google's Home Service Team [09:10]
- Ad product stack for legal [10:14]
- Best practices for law firms and other home service companies after the click or, after the call [12:22]
- Offline conversion tracking [14:14]
- How offline conversion tracking allows lead gen advertising to live in an eCommerce environment [17:34]
- How to utilize smart bidding [19:05]
- Rise in digital video for PPC advertising [22:54]
- Advice for a starting out lead generation advertiser [25:24]
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Dan: These are definitely new and emerging trends. That's the beauty of digital it's what was good yesterday is probably already out of date today, the next hottest thing is coming down the pipe. So it's constantly staying ahead of it. And that's what makes it exciting.
[00:00:16] Max: What's up, everybody. Welcome to the Growth Collective Podcast. I'm your host Max Ade. And today on the show, we have an attorney named Dan Shianker. And if you're wondering why we're talking to a lawyer today, it's because Dan is also a marketer. He spent time at Google and in the startup world, and today he helps other lawyers and B2B businesses drive more leads.
[00:00:43] So for any of you who are lead generation focused, you're not going to want to miss this conversation. Let's get to it.
[00:00:54] Dan welcome to the show.
[00:00:57] Dan: Hey Max, thanks for having me.
[00:01:00] Max: So the first time we spoke about the Growth Collective Network, I was super interested in your background and I knew we had to do a podcast on this. You're a lawyer, but you're also a marketer. So tell me a little bit about how that happened.
[00:01:19] Dan: Absolutely. Yeah. Happy to, happy to go on a bit of my background. So it is true. I am a lawyer. I'm definitely definitely a passionate marketer as well. So I grew up in Massachusetts and I went to undergrad at University of Delaware. Always an entrepreneur at heart. After I graduated undergrad, I started an Asian American snack food business with a partner called Wontons.
[00:01:45] We were selling wonton chips and fusion dips, sort of like an Asian take on chips and salsa. Had the startup bug. We had done some initial market research and saw there was definitely a demand for, for Asian flavors in the snack food industry, and wanted to wanted to fill that gap and, you know, make this consumer product.
[00:02:02] So we got on some initial grocery store shelves. We did a Costco road show. We were in Wegmans and Roche Brothers, some other regional grocery stores. Learned a lot through the endeavor. I was, I was all things sort of digital, digital marketing and outreach. So responsible for, you know, teaching, teaching the consumers about this new sort of, snack that we were making.
[00:02:24]We had, like I said, we had some success, but ultimately had to close the doors after about a year. It's an incredibly competitive industry. We were definitely the small guys on the shelves that had to pay stocking fees at the grocery stores and used co-packers to make our chips. So we were sort of in between the manufacturing and the ultimate sales of the product.
[00:02:42]So like I said, had to close our doors after a year, but learned a lot and knew I always wanted to go to law school. Started at Northeastern Law School shortly thereafter. Enjoyed that tremendously. That got me back to Boston, sort of where I grew up. And there, I wanted to use the skill set for web development, PPC, and, and sort of business growth.
[00:03:02]And continue doing that in this law, legal, vertical and legal industry that I was so, getting involved with the law school. So I opened a small ad agency. While, while I was also a student. Helping small law firms and solo practitioners really grow their client base. So I was a law student sort of nine to five, and then after five o'clock put on my digital marketing hat and got a few clients that way and really enjoyed it.
[00:03:23]As I was going through the three year program, getting closer towards the end, I learned, you know, maybe I like the businesses development of a law firm and, and the, the marketing aspect more so than actual the research and writing and, and traditional legal work. It never really stopped feeling like homework to me.
[00:03:40]So I was thinking, you know, what, what is next? I'm getting close to graduation. I studied for the bar, which was a big undertaking. Took it and thankfully passed in Massachusetts and New York. And I figured, you know, let me apply to Google. I have this background in PPC. Just graduating. Let me see if there's a role for me as a, as a legal secretary, or just get my foot in the door in the law department.
[00:04:01] So I shot a resume over to Google. Had a really great recruiter who saw my resume and said, you know, there's not really a path for you in the law department as a, as a new grad, but we have this interesting sales role in Michigan. If you'd like, I can divert your resume there. And you know, maybe saying if it, if it keeps me in the game and keeps me in the game.
[00:04:19] Absolutely. So that sort of led to my first gig with Google. Where I started in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the scaled sales program.
[00:04:27]Max: It's just incredible to me because you just so rarely see an overlap between legal and marketing. And, so, so I just think that this is, this is just fascinating how you're bridging these two very different industries, that often that often work together, but, but very different, right?
[00:04:46]So you're, you're coming out of law school. You've passed the bar and now you're going to go to Google of all places. How was that transition? Because those again, very different industries, right?
[00:04:59] Dan: Yeah. It was definitely tough. I got, when I was telling a lot of my friends I was graduating with, or, you know, professors at law school sort of the decision I was making, I was taking this non-practicing job.
[00:05:09]Got a lot of strange looks and definitely had a lot of explaining to do. So I, I wavered over for a long time, but, you know, ultimately took the plunge. It is a bit of sort of following my heart and what I, what I knew I really liked doing what I, what, the skill set I wanted to further. And it ended up being an awesome decision.
[00:05:25]Like I said, I started in Michigan, in Ann Arbor and it was some of the best years I spent about three years there. Some of the best years of my life. I've met some incredible friends in the Ann Arbor community in the Google community. So much fun. These are some of my lifelong friends now. And it really gave me an environment where, you know, I continued to develop that legal marketing skillset inside and out.
[00:05:46]You know, often the people you worked with or the people you hung out with. And so you're talking work all the time. That could be good. That could be bad, but it definitely makes you a skilled marketer. So, I really value that time and looking back at it, I'm happy with the decision.
[00:05:59] Max: Yeah, I don't think you could have chosen a better team.
[00:06:02]I was on that team as you know, I met my wife on that team. I met some of my best lifelong friends on that team. So, so I know exactly what you're talking about there. So for people who are listening, who aren't familiar with that team, tell us about like the types of companies you're working with at Google and how that whole thing worked.
[00:06:26] Dan: Absolutely. So as I mentioned, it's it was Google's scaled advertiser program. So I got a book of a few hundred advertisers and it was non verticalized. So these could be locksmiths, they could be restaurants, they could be beauty salons and they also could be law firms. And you were the account rep for this, for this group of businesses.
[00:06:45] So, you know, having individual consultations, really learning what they were looking to achieve when it came to digital and helping and helping in that regard. So it was a great experience for me. I got to see sort of a digital approach for a variety of businesses, but I always, I always kept in, had that sweet spot in my heart for, for those law firm clients that I was able to work with.
[00:07:06]And even, you know, So my friends who had a similar book of business, they had some law firms. I would always sort of have my ear perked up when they were on their legal consultations. Cause I, you know, as much experience and as many law firms as I could work with, I always, I always wanted that to happen.
[00:07:21] Max: I see, I see when I was on that team, I had the opposite feeling where I had such a hard time talking to the lawyers. Right. Cause they're so busy.
[00:07:31] Dan: Yeah. That's that's, that can be common. I know some, some of the, some of my friends on the team, they'd say like the law firms were the consultations, they, you know, didn't like the most.
[00:07:41] And for me, they were the ones that I wanted most. So sort of atypical in that in that regard, but it worked out because, I was able to help em out and, you know, everything's, everything's good.
[00:07:52] Max: That's awesome. So you spent some time on, on this team, the scaled team, working with hundreds of advertisers fixing up their ads accounts, making sure they can drive some ROI.
[00:08:04] What where'd you move next?
[00:08:06]Dan: Yeah. Growing up on the East coast, I always had my eyes to get back to, an East coast office. So I wanted to make the move to New York. And as, as Google account support goes, the teams outside of scaled, often depending on spend on the platform, sort of dictates the level of support you get directly from your account management team.
[00:08:28] So, I look to this large customer sales team, which is, you know, the, the one-to-one relationship, sort of the white glove service that Google offers to their direct and larger advertisers. And I wanted to be, you know, and work with any and all law firms that spent to the threshold of getting that level of support.
[00:08:47]Ultimately that falls there, there aren't you know, so many law firms in the country that, that get all the way up there. So there's not its own entire team for legal. So that legal vertical that does get that high level of support roles under, a home service model. So I ultimately jumped to the home service team and that gave me the ability to work with some of the largest law firms and legal advertisers in the category. Going really deep on their accounts and sort of a one-to-one, working relationship learning what works well and helping them out through the full use of all Google Suite products. So that's, you know, the Google search, the YouTube and the display products.
[00:09:25] Max: So give us a sense. I mean, when you say, say large, large spending customers, I mean, are we talking a hundreds of thousands a month? Are we talking millions a month? What does that look like?
[00:09:36] Dan: Yeah, typically millions a month, there's a moving bright line threshold, but, typically typically millions of month to rise up to that, that team and that level of support.
[00:09:46]Max: Got it. And, and I, you know, I, at least, the way that I view paid is that the business model is usually dictates what's going to work. What mix of products is going to work for that type of company? Tell us about, for legal specifically, what is that sort of ad product stack look like, and, and where does the majority of the results come from?
[00:10:14] Dan: Yeah. So legal is definitely a, and the advertisers, you know, I, I generally work with it's a search heavy and lower funnel, acquisition path. If you think about it, what is a legal advertiser? Well, they're a lead gen lead generation client within a given geography. As you know, there's jurisdictional rules where what state's law firms can work with clients.
[00:10:38] So geography definitely, definitely plays a very important part. And that's why, you know, legal clients can be treated in a similar way to home service clients. If you think about, a business that's looking to generate consultations for lawn care or, home security or things like that. They similarly are looking to schedule appointments within a given geography.
[00:11:00] So it's a similar digital approach to law firms. So to win there, it's really, you know, getting your clients ads, one click or call away from their ideal client profiles who have already shown intent and are already looking for their services. So, often it would be queries like, you know, law firm near me.
[00:11:20] It's like, how can we get our clients law firms, one click away from that type of user. Who's already sort of put their hand up and saying, you know, I am, I'm an ideal client and looking for these types of services.
[00:11:33] Max: Yeah. And one thing that I think a lot of companies overlook and I, I know that you've probably seen this from your time at Google is the experience after the click or after the call.
[00:11:45] Right? I mean, you'll, we've worked with tons of companies who've spent tens of thousands a month on ads to a webpage that would probably cost them $5,000 to redesign that would convert a lot better, but they don't make that investment. And I think that there's similar potential issues with whoever's answering the phone.
[00:12:07] Right. And is that the right person to, to collect the right information and close the deal? Can you speak a little bit about best practices for law firms and other home services companies after the click or, after the call?
[00:12:22] Dan: Absolutely. Yeah, the qualification of the lead and the phone intake system that you have in place is almost as vital, if not equally, as vital as the ad program that sort of generates that lead to begin with.
[00:12:35]So in terms of best practices, you definitely want to be equipped to answer these phones, you know, right away answer the, any lead forms that come in, you know, have your outbound systems in place to get to them while they're warm. You're paying tons for this type of click engagement. You don't want any of it to fall on deaf ears.
[00:12:54]And then once you have the client on the line, you want to have a well-defined qualification criteria already established and qualification scripts. So when legal it's often a certain case type that you're looking for, there could be a statute of limitations within a given timeframe. So you're saying, you know, did this event happen to you within this given timeframe?
[00:13:14] So you can qualify? Do they fit all our criteria to sign up for a case, then you ultimately want to sign them up for a case. That qualification is something specific to your business, for an ad platform like Google or Facebook or anything, that's bringing that signal. It is, they don't know what makes, you know, a more qualified lead for one business versus another.
[00:13:36] They're able to tell the signals of what is going to generate that first phone call. So it's really important when you have that sort of qualification measurement and you're taking it through a CRM or whatever organizational tool you have the most sophisticated marketers are then able to take that qualification signal.
[00:13:53] And get that back into the ad platform in an offline conversion way. So now the ad platform can learn past, okay, not only is this type of traffic generating calls, but for this specific advertiser, this type of traffic is generating the best type of calls. It allows you to optimize your spend moving forward and get more and more efficient.
[00:14:14]Max: So I want to get into this because I think it's just, fascinating. And it was one of the things that really jumped out to me in our first call, which is this offline conversion tracking. And for those of you out there who maybe don't know what that term means, offline conversion tracking is taking business data that doesn't exist in a particular ad network. It doesn't exist in your Google Ads account. It doesn't exist in Facebook. Those platforms are just looking at number of leads, right. And then importing a something deeper. So Dan, it sounds like you have a lot of experience in that, and it's something that I don't think enough people are taking advantage of.
[00:14:59] So can you speak a little bit more about that?
[00:15:01] Dan: Yeah. When I work with Lead Gen advertisers, our ideal goal is to get to this offline conversion tracking sort of sophistication and phase and thereby I can, we can have confidence that every dollar we spend on ads is making our future buys smarter and more effective because we're telling the machine learning and smart bidding systems of an ad platform, what is actually effective.
[00:15:26] So taking a step back and thinking about, you know, how does that work for a Lead Gen advertiser? Well, if you're spending on Google, for example, your, for your spending on potential calls, are you spending on potential leads for phone calls and lead forms? So it's, it's easy to track within the system when any potential click traffic or any engagement with your ad leads to a phone call or a lead form.
[00:15:51] But at that stage, they're not communicating with your business and your intake agent or your intake system is qualifying. Did that phone call convert to the lead that we want? Is this a potential client or was it a miss? So that step of that qualification happens outside of the ad platform system within whether it be your CRM or whatever tool you're using to, to track that qualification.
[00:16:18] What most successful advertisers then do is have a mechanism. This is through an offline conversion import. So it's to get that data you've now qualified it. You've now said this click traffic that led to this call. Yes, it was a good lead. It was a great lead. It wasn't a good lead at all, whatever.
[00:16:34] However, you're scoring it. However you're qualifying it. That then lives in a way that can be ingested back into the ad platform via offline conversion import where the ad platform can see. Okay. Back to this click identifier, it led to a call and I have now been told by the advertiser. That was not a great call.
[00:16:56] Let's not prioritize future spend. To get to go after other clicks that look like that let's let's spend elsewhere or conversely, you could send back the signal. This was, this was our top performing lead. This was a Grade A lead. And then the system knows to optimize towards that. So it allows you to sort of avail your account with the most sophisticated, smart bidding and auto optimizing mechanisms that, that, you know, get the best efficiency via your ad spend, but it allows you to do it, to make sure it's right for your account.
[00:17:27] If you think about it, it's, it's sort of hacking lead gen advertising to be, to live more in an eCommerce environment. With an eCommerce advertiser, it's easy for their ad platform, Facebook or Google to know what the value of that click was because they either bought the product or they didn't, you could track the revenue.
[00:17:47] Cause it's, it's defined. This is giving that sort of extra qualification criteria and to a lead gen world that isn't as specific within the ad environment, but it's enabling it. It's enabling you to run your ads in a way that is similar.
[00:18:00] Max: And you know, I think this is relevant for every B2B advertiser, not even just the local stuff.
[00:18:07] I know, you know, the, the local businesses have this issue where. A lot happens over the phone. But even the folks who are doing most of this online in my opinion, are not doing enough to qualify online or not doing enough to pass back those deeper funnel metrics from their sales team after the lead enters Salesforce.
[00:18:31]So let's talk a little bit about, smart bidding. This is, this is like kind of the, something that when you talk to folks who have been in SCM a long time. A lot of them are still remembered the days when Google or Facebook's bidding algorithms were horrible. And, and they, they actually tell their clients, no, we can beat them.
[00:18:54] Like we have our own bidding technology. But tell us a little bit about, you know, how, how you've utilized smart bidding to help some of these lawyers and other, services, businesses.
[00:19:05] Dan: Yeah. I think smart bidding is to ultimately have the most optimized campaigns perhaps seen in my experience, those are the ones leveraging smart bidding most effectively.
[00:19:18]I don't know the exact number. It changes, you know, weekly, but if you think within the Google ads interface between all the demographic targeting all the geographic things, time of day, et cetera, et cetera, there's several hundred different levers that you could pull from a targeting perspective in real time to effect your bid on a particular click.
[00:19:39] And now there's no way, any human they could be in the account as, as you know, 24 seven. There's no way in real time they could do that as well as a machine with, the actual data as to what yields success. So I don't think it's a question of, can you get more efficiency with smart bidding? It's more for the smart bidding to work really well it needs to understand those success signals as, as best as possible.
[00:20:06] So if you're confident that you are sending back in the conversion data for your particular business as to what works from a lead and what didn't then that now you're giving that smart bidder, a deep rich signal to work with saying, okay, this click identifier has, was really good for this particular advertiser.
[00:20:27] This one was not. And that's where, that's where you get sort of the best execution on any sort of smart bidding.
[00:20:34] Max: So you mentioned how everything today is very, very, it sounds very search heavy for these types of businesses, but where do you see things going in the future as that particular part of, or that particular, campaign type or channel starts to get more and more competitive?
[00:20:53] Dan: Great question. I see digital video starting to become the efficient channel that search has been for these advertisers. I mean, specifically in legal, the, the case values can be so high that Google search is one of the most ex the legal, legal vertical in particular is one of the most expensive industries in all of Google search. You often have 50 plus dollar clicks when it comes to search for a lot of these legal advertisers. Digital video of view on digital video, for the same type of targeting could be 50 cents versus that click on search. Why it hasn't been so embraced is it's not as performant.
[00:21:40] It's much harder to measure the performance. Did this person who viewed a digital ad. Do they ultimately call? How can you tie that back and how can you do that sort of sophisticated measurement and smart bidding? Like we talked about. That hasn't been possible with digital video, up through very recent times. Now I'm seeing more and more, whether it be YouTube or Facebook ads, they're putting out these engagement, new engagement ways for people to interact with video.
[00:22:10] So it's like, I'm seeing. The start of YouTube videos with click to call buttons and the same for Facebook, once that comes out and, and is really well developed and can be measured the same way as search. There's no reason, those that channel can't be equally as effective or potentially more cause we know video can be really engaging, then, a lot of these search channels and.
[00:22:32] All the, all these digital programs are based off auction inventory. So if it's a place where the industry hasn't really adapted and is just sort of emerging, those advertisers that embrace it first and are really good at this lead gen advertisers that are really good at, coming up with a performance based digital video program, I think they're going to be tremendously successful in the coming months.
[00:22:54] Max: You know, I think one of the challenging things about search. Is that you're competing with people in your industry for those terms. And so if it's, it's a high value lead to you, it's a high value lead everybody else. And that drives up the auction pressure. And one of the things that I really like about the potential of video as you mentioned, is that if you're targeting a user you might be targeting, you might be tired of hitting that user on inventory that's less competitive. You might be competing with people who have a totally different business model than you, that monetize users in a different way and make much less money. So I think for the lawyers out there, or anyone who drives really high value leads, I think this is a pretty exciting development.
[00:23:44] Dan: Yeah. And often what I'm fighting too, is a lot of these businesses and advertisers have this video content already ready to go. It could be edited down quickly. So it's not sort of reinventing the wheel. It's just re leveraging and having a new use for content that they already have, readily available.
[00:24:02] Max: And this, I think this is another good example of something where, when I was at Google five years ago, I would have never recommended video to any performance client.
[00:24:14] And, so it's my tendency to resist this strategy even now. Right. And, that was the same way we all felt about the early versions of smart bidding and the machine learning bidding from Google and Facebook. But it just goes to show that things really move fast in these, in this space and you kind of always have to retest.
[00:24:38] Dan: I totally agree. It's like these are definitely new and emerging trends. That's, that's the beauty of digital it's if you know, what is, what was good yesterday is, probably already out of date today and there's the next, the next hottest thing is coming down the pipe. So it's constantly staying ahead of it. And that's what makes it exciting.
[00:24:58] Max: I'm excited to see you, come up with a TikTok strategy for lawyers.
[00:25:03] Well, when those gen Z lawyers start graduating from law school. That's going to be the channel.
[00:25:09] Dan: Is that you're absolutely right.
[00:25:12] Max: Dan, any last advice or tips for, for anyone out there that that is, is looking to grow their legal business or another, a similar lead gen focused business?
[00:25:24] Dan: I think, if, if it's an advertiser that's just starting out. I think the, for lead gen focused advertisers that have a defined client profile, your first dollars should be spent on those most lower funnel tactics. I often hear from, lead gen businesses that are weighing different marketing proposals or different approaches.
[00:25:45] And they're thinking about, you know, how can I, do some, do some sort of awareness building? And how can I do an educational piece to my component? Does it mean blog posts? Does it mean social engagement? Where they haven't yet spent in the, in the area of people who are looking for my services have taken to Google and are looking for my services and our one click to call away from my business.
[00:26:08] It's like, let's, let's make sure you are recouping all of the potential traffic and first potential clients from that realm before even worrying about the awareness and, and other tactics that aren't gonna be as performant can't be measured right away. There's definitely space for that, but I think it's sort of like a crawl walk, run approach.
[00:26:27]And it's important to just be aware of first take care of that lower funnel and make sure you're getting those leads first and foremost, because they're going to be the easiest and have the highest ROI.
[00:26:36] Max: Dan, this is one of my favorite episodes so far. Thanks for joining. I think people are going to have, they get a ton of value out of this, so I appreciate you coming on.
[00:26:46] Dan: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
[00:26:50] Max: Thanks so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. Just a reminder that you can hire Dan right now to help you with your search marketing or your lead generation. He's one of hundreds of incredible freelance marketers in the Growth Collective Network so head on over to GrowthCollective.com and we will hand match you with the marketers that are the best fit for your business.
[00:27:15] Today's episode was edited and produced by my wonderful brother-in-law Dave Reineike
[00:27:27] See you next time.