Episode 12: Marketing Automation That Works With Gyi Tsakalakis

Gyi Tsakalakis founded AttorneySync because lawyers deserve better from their marketing people. As a non-practicing lawyer, Gyi is familiar with the unique considerations of ethically and effectively marketing a law practice online. He regularly writes and speaks about online legal marketing.

In this episode of Lawyer Mastermind Podcast, Gyi talks with Casey about the most effective ways to go about marketing automation as a law firm.

Prefer to read? Read The Transcript Below

Interview Transcript

Casey Meraz:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Lawyer Mastermind podcast. Today I’m joined by attorney marketing expert, Gyi Tsakalakis, and today we’re going to be talking about marketing automation that works. Thanks for joining me today, Gyi.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Casey, thanks for having me. Always great to chat with you.

Casey Meraz:

Absolutely. I feel the same way. And today’s topic is pretty interesting, automation, because I know firms that don’t really even understand what that means when it comes to what they can use it for. So maybe you could start off by giving us a little bit of background of what marketing automation is and what you mean by this topic.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Yeah. I think about it very broadly. It’s anything that we can do to automate a process in our marketing. So some of that might be a software solution. Some of it though is more behavioral. I think we can get in more of the nuance there, but needless to say, time is limited. And so the more that we can implement software and systems to automate things and still give a great experience to our audience, why not?

Casey Meraz:

No, that’s a good point. And I think you bring up a really excellent point around that as well. I mean, we know time is money. We know paying our staff costs money and humans forget things, or they don’t follow through. So right there, it seems like there’s a big process improvement you can get just by implementing some sort of automation. Have you seen that?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Yeah. And the other thing I always talk about it, I know you and I both work and talk to a lot of lawyers and work with lawyers and time is particularly valuable, especially for those that bill time. But I also like to keep it simple, right? So I think people get overwhelmed by thinking about things like HubSpot or Keap and all this software stuff. And just to give people who are listening a sense of this, this can be as easy as an email auto responder or an email nurture campaign that just fires off automated emails at some regular frequency. So I don’t want people to think like, “Oh my gosh, I got to do this entire automations map to make this stuff work.”

Casey Meraz:

I’m glad you clarified that because even for me, I’ve been in technology for 20, 20 something years now, and I’ve used Infusion Soft by Keap, whatever they’re calling it now, and it kind of scares me. So I like where your head’s at with that, where you don’t have to go complicated. So what are some easy to implement things that you think any law firm could implement now?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Yeah. So the one that comes up all the time and I think for a variety of reasons, it really resonates with a lot of people, but it’s the automated date based email. So you’ve got lawyers have these lists of contacts. They include former clients, they include professional colleagues and referral sources, friends and family. And especially with respect to the former clients, they don’t touch these contexts. They’re people, hopefully if you’ve got the client service part down and you provide great representation, they’re people that think of you as a professional and you never email them.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

And the other issue is that a lot of lawyers are like, “Well, yeah, I’ve got this contact list, but it’s not segmented. It’s not clean. I can’t break it down by different, for lack of repeating myself, segments.” And so I say, “Well, let’s just load everybody onto a friends of the firm list and fire off a, “Happy 4th of July, Happy New Year, Happy Labor Day,” email. And again, we’re not talking these boring law firm newsletters. In fact, it can be as easy as just a waving hand emoji, “Happy 4th of July,” type of thing. And it’s automated. And we see the open rates and response rates on those are higher usually than most of the other kinds of email campaigns that we help lawyers with.

Casey Meraz:

So it doesn’t have to be brain damage to figure it out and it sounds like there’s a big benefit to doing that. Are you seeing those turn into cases or is that just creating top of mind awareness? What is the benefit of that?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Yeah, no. It’s funny too, having done this for so long and you see it happen time and again, but a lot of those emails, the response is something like, “Oh, thanks for reaching out. I’ve been meaning to call you, I have a referral for you.” Or if it’s personal injury, “A friend was recently in an accident and I totally forgot I should send them your contact information.” And so cases, top of mind awareness, you can use it to position your expertise because another one that always comes up is that these automated ones you can set it up so you record yourself talking about some phase of the representation and so when someone actually fills out a form on your site, they get an automated email that introduces you, talks about the major phases of the representation. And so, yeah, it’s anywhere from educating a current client, to staying in touch with a former client, to nurturing referrals. It’s just a way to do a lot of heavy lifting with staying in touch with contacts that can turn into new business.

Casey Meraz:

Got it. And I know a lot of law firms don’t take advantage of that. So it’s clear that maybe they’re leaving money on the table just by not even doing something that simple. Right?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

It’s one of the first things I always try to bring up is, what are you doing to nurture your existing network? I mean, most professionals and you see these people talking about this more and more, but the network is the power. Your professional network, that’s what has value for you, especially if you’ve been practicing and you’ve developed this network over a long period of time and yet it’s just lying dormant. And so very small investments of time and money to tap into that network can pay out huge returns and it doesn’t take much, it literally takes a weekend of pick your CRM or your marketing automation tool, load your contacts up, and set some date based emails.

Casey Meraz:

Yeah. No, that’s a good point. What do you say to the people that are afraid of automation, thinks they’re going to turn people off? Have you ever gotten that pushback and what are your thoughts?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Totally. And we should be, I think we should… It’s a fair critique of automation. We always talk about making sure that your automations are authentic and seamless. So if people… Number one, you should never try to mislead someone. So, it’s funny, a lot of people will try to make a parody out of it and say, “Hey, this is an automated email. You’re getting this because you signed up for such and such.” And I think transparency and authenticity are important there, but I think the other thing too is a lot of people come to the table with a preconceived notion about some automation because of something they read or someone implemented something. Or they’ve been on the wrong end of the bad automation. So, I can think about, forget about the internet, but you know what I can’t stand is when I call my bank and they’re like, “Press one for this and press two for that.” That’s a form of automation that we all hate.

Casey Meraz:

No, definitely. For me, I’m always thinking about what’s the customer experience? And I think if you approach it from that maybe natural background that can help guide you to make the right decisions there, but…

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Right.

Casey Meraz:

So, we’re also talking about automation. We mainly have been focusing on email. What about other forms of automation? Is text too invasive or anything like that?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

So it’s funny, text is I think going to be the next… I mean, I think it’s kind of already arriving here, but I think it’s going to continue to proliferate and a lot of people you hear, I think Gary V said this at Clio Con, but we screen phone calls from people we love, so what makes we think that we’re going to have phone calls in professional context? And so for people, it goes back to what you said, give them a great experience. My thing is let them have options of how they want to communicate with you. And if they want to text, be available to do text, and there’s a lot of technology around automating text and also using specific tools so you don’t have to give everybody your cell phone number to do texts.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

That’s a place where, I know we use a Smith AI for our virtual receptionist and they have a text to chat feature. I know a lot of the live chat companies have text to chat, but I think it goes back to what you said, give them the option, listen to how they prefer to communicate, and then make that available for them.

Casey Meraz:

Definitely. Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense and I think that’s really something to consider. Because we know, being in the industry, that if law firms aren’t responding to leads quickly, then they can lose them or maybe they’re contacting other law firms. So if you can figure out and give them that option, which one that they should communicate through and then respond promptly, I mean, that sounds like there’s a lot of value there.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Oh yeah. I mean, we talk about this a lot, but the Clio legal trends report, they spend a lot of time talking about the crisis of a lawyer response. And even as something as simple as an email auto responder after someone fills out a form or downloads something from your site, that really can help to stop their search, from trying to vet five different lawyers. And so that’s what we always talk about is, how do you stop their search and keep them engaged in the process? And like you said, at the end of the day, it’s all about their experience. So the great thing too is with a lot of these tools, the tool will report to you what kind of experience they’re having, because either they don’t open the email or they’re not engaged with the email, they’re not clicking on the links, they’re reporting you as spam or unsubscribing. That’s all the feedback that you can use to say, “Hey, these automations aren’t working because people don’t like them.”

Casey Meraz:

Yeah, no, that’s a good point. And that reminded me of something that I was talking too about with our sales person. So this is just anecdotally, I have an opinion on this, but if somebody contacts you, is it too aggressive to immediately call them or email them or whatever? What’s your opinion on that?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

No, I think it depends on the context of their inquiry, but generally, if I had to paint a very generalized brush, respond quickly. It’s really about the expectation you set from your intake process. So, if the call to action is, “Schedule a free consultation,” and they fill out a form and you automatically fire an email off saying, “Here’s the link to schedule the consultation.” I think that’s appropriate. But again, it comes back to, does it match? Does what your expectation you’re setting on the front end match the back end? If you’re like, “Download this guide.” And then you call them and you’re like, “Hey, would you like a free consultation?” That’s not going to feel right.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

But I think that you’re better off engaging quickly, reducing the amount of time. How you do it, whether it’s a phone call or an email, I think it depends on the call to action, but you’ve got someone’s attention. Attention is hard to keep anyway, why would you wait when someone’s hot to trot on talking to you and then you’re going to be like, “Oh yeah…” You think about it in the context of dating, it’s like, are you really doing yourself any favors by waiting a few days to respond to the text message? Are you trying to build some excitement around it? I don’t think that applies so much in the business context.

Casey Meraz:

Yeah. No. And that’s my opinion too, because it came up in a conversation because we were talking about inbound marketing versus outbound. And my theory is, if they’re contacting you, they’re looking for you and they’re filling out that form, they want that answer. So, yeah, I do believe speed is of the essence as well. And as far as touching back on the types of automation that a law firm can do, how do you see a perfect setup? I know we have chat bots and things too, which we haven’t covered on yet, but just in your mind, what’s kind of the all in as far as automation goes?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Yeah, that’s a good question. And at the risk of the dreaded, “It depends,” answer. I think anything that is maximizing the potential client or client experience and it really nurturing those relationships and you’re getting the feedback from the automation that it’s working, and that feedback is going to be increasing open rates, increasing click through rates, increasing conversion rates. As those numbers are trending up, you’re headed in the right direction. As those numbers are trending down, there’s something wrong and maybe it’s a frequency problem. Maybe it’s a messaging problem. But as we’ve talked about, and there’s so many different things that you can automate. I always think about it too in terms of media management, but there’s all sorts of scripts you can use to automate how your campaigns are managed and how you bid, if you’re on Google Ads or how you get somebody that…

Gyi Tsakalakis:

One of the things I love too, and this I think is an interesting one from the speed and creepiness factor, but a lot of the tools will have scripts that you can use on your site so that when someone visits your site, it can trigger an automation. And so that’s an area where it’s like, you know what? Maybe you do set a delay in there so that you’re not like, “Hey, I noticed that you’re on my site again,” but that kind of stuff, I mean it’s kind of a rambling way to answer your question, there is so much that you can automate, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to listening to what your audience is telling you about how they’re perceiving the automations.

Casey Meraz:

Yeah. No, and that’s a good point. I think… And that’s the thing is, a lot of people are, attorneys are like, “Hey, this is what we need to do for our clients, because this is what I think,” but maybe they’re not putting themselves in their client’s shoes and thinking, what do they actually need? So I could see taking that and doing it the wrong way easily, but talking about doing it the right way, some of the things that we’ve had some success with is really giving away, not self-serving information, but let’s say that they do sign up on a form and they get that initial email and then maybe they’re not responding, but we provide them with something of value that’s going to help them in that particular case. So at least for us, it also depends on creating more assets that are going to be beneficial from that particular type of automation.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

100%. I mean, I think you really nailed it there with, you’ve got to be adding, giving something valuable away. And I think that’s another point just overall that lawyers, they either lose sight of it or their marketing people don’t focus on it enough, but at the end of the day, most people still hire lawyers based on people that they know, like, and trust. So lawyers know that, they know that there’s got to be some trust built in. They know that there’s got to be some nurturing of those relationships. And the great thing is that automation can help you do all that stuff if you’re implementing it in a way that fosters that, that provides value, that gives them a sense of who you are, what it’s like to work with you.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

And it’s destroyed if you’re doing the opposite. So, I think too many lawyers think like, “Oh, automation means fire off eight emails that say, “Schedule a free consultation.”” Well, yeah, nobody wants to get that. If you send an email that’s like, “Schedule a free consultation,” and you’re responding to, “I wanted to download some information about what to do if I’m considering divorce,” it just doesn’t match. And so I think that’s the key thing there, is to remember, always add something valuable back that’s going to help build more trust and educate. And that’s the stuff people want to get anyway.

Casey Meraz:

No, you’re absolutely right. And let’s talk a little bit, just spend a little bit of time here on chat bots, because we didn’t really get a chance to touch on that yet, but a lot of attorneys might be paying Engage or Apex or whoever a per chat basis for a live human to answer that. What are chat bots and how do they compare to a live operator?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Yeah. And I think there are some, again, not to keep plugging Smith, but we use Smith for their chat service as well. And the ones that I’ve found work the best are the hybrids. So there’s some things that can be automated. So, if someone comes to your site and the chat bot pops up and someone initiates a chat and they’re like, “I’m just looking for X, Y, or Z.” And maybe the chat bot can respond with a link to a specific piece of content or something like that, great. But I think it’s really important that as the conversation to the chat evolves, if the chat bot isn’t seamless, if it isn’t authentic, it’s better to have a human receptionist to be able to step in where appropriate.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

And I don’t think that that line is clear across the board and the chat bots are getting better. And the chat bots that have artificial intelligence built in, they can learn and you can set these little playbooks up so that they can get better and better at responses, but I’m still of the mindset that people like engaging with people. And it’s the same thing on the phone, right? It goes back to that thing I was saying about the bank. Essentially if someone’s like, “Press one to do this and press two to do that,” if your chat bot feels like that, people are going to fall off the chat bot, they’re not going to want to engage it. If the chat bot feels more like a person or is actually helping you find answers, then people love it.

Casey Meraz:

Got it. No, that’s great advice and really cool. It seems like it boils back down to that customer experience. You need to give them what they’re looking for to be successful.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Totally.

Casey Meraz:

So now, we talked about chat bots, we’ve talked about intake, you were touching a little bit about paid as far as automations go. Are there any other areas where you think that automation can really help a law firm grow?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

I think the scheduling one is one that always comes up that we talked about it a little bit, but if you’re not using something like Acuity or Calendly, and again, I think it’s still the experience is important and giving people the option, if you just fire off a Calendly link and someone’s never used Calendly or you’re not giving them directions, you’re not proposing some appointment times, that can be just as bad as going back and forth on email. But that seems to me to be a place that’s constantly, there’s just such inefficiency in the, “When are you available?” “Well, when are you available?” “Well, here’s some availabilities.” “Well, here’s my availability.”

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Versus, “Hey Calendly populate, here’s some available times. You can use this link. If you can’t find something there, you can do this.” That seems to be a natural thing and you couple that with… So for us, if you go to our website and you’re like, “I want to schedule a consultation,” you’re going to get an email, you can set up the scheduling right there, you can see whoever’s calendar it is that you’re trying to get ahold of. And then because we use Calendly, it interfaces right with Zoom. And so all the meeting information and the calendar invites and all that stuff, the call in details, it’s all provided there and I don’t have to touch it.

Casey Meraz:

Got it. Wow. Yeah. I mean, that’s crazy. And the calendar thing, I’m bad at that, as you know scheduling this, but giving people that opportunity to be able to schedule when works for them. I mean, that does remove a lot of friction.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Yeah. And like I said, we always do this. The email will say, “Here’s the scheduling link, if you’re not able to find an available time, feel free to respond to this email.” So we still give people the option so that people that don’t want to use the scheduling link. But again, it comes back to that point that you made, which is, just make their experience better and listen to what they’re saying. They’re telling you, right? So that’s another thing that’s so frustrating is if you get a Calendly link from somebody else and then you respond to the email like, “Hey, I couldn’t find an available time.” And they’re just like, “Use the link.” It’s like, “Well, now Calendly is actually a liability, not an asset.”

Casey Meraz:

Yeah right. No, that’s a good point. So yeah. I mean, perfect automation, is that something… There’s probably no such thing, but I guess regardless of what you implement, I’m assuming you recommend some level of testing and seeing if it works and making tweaks and changes?

Gyi Tsakalakis:

That’s the thing. I think just us being internet marketing and SEO people, the data’s all there and the data tells and the automation stuff, the data will tell you, right? If you’re not getting opens, if you’re not getting responses, if you’re not converting, whatever your metric you’re trying to convert, whether it’s an appointment or actually to a client or just a download, just try to get your benchmark in place and then try to beat it and test it and see, if you make this tweak, did I improve conversion or did it hurt conversion? Just like we would do with any kind of testing for ad copy or landing pages or whatever it is.

Casey Meraz:

Got it. So there’s no just one hard and fast, “This rule fits everything?”

Gyi Tsakalakis:

The hard and fast rule is, “Optimize.”

Casey Meraz:

I love it. Well, Gyi, thank you so much for joining us today to talk about marketing automation. I know this is an area that you’re passionate about and for those of you that don’t know, because I probably forgot to say at the beginning, Gyi is the founder of AttorneySync, a law firm digital marketing company. Gyi, what’s the best way people would be able to get ahold of you if they have questions or…

Gyi Tsakalakis:

They can email me at gyi, G-Y-I, @attorneysync.com. I waste a lot of time on Twitter, so they can go to @G-Y-I-T-S-A-K-A-L-A-K-I-S at Twitter, or just search for AttorneySync and hopefully my automations work and you get added to my calendar.

Casey Meraz:

Awesome. Well, thank you so much again for joining us today. Look forward to catching up in the future.

Gyi Tsakalakis:

Casey, thanks so much for having me. Always great to chat with you and thanks all for tuning in and listening.

Casey Meraz:

Take care. Bye.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top