Chris Dreyer, Founder and CEO of Rankings.io, from $307,000 in 2014 to $2.1m in 2017, a 585% increase, and now they are on track to hit around $3.3m this year.
Rankings.io is a SEO-only digital marketing firm for attorneys.
In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Chris shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:
- Hyper focusing on providing SEO for legal firms only.
- Successfully executing a content marketing lead generation strategy.
- Growing their relationships with referral partners, including marketing agencies who are not their direct competitors.
Malcolm Lui: Welcome to the High Value Sales Show of Eversprint.com. I'm Malcolm Lui, the Managing Member of Eversprint, and today we're speaking with Chris Dreyer the founder and CEO of Rankings.io, a SEO only digital marketing firm for attorneys. Welcome to the call Chris.
Chris Dreyer: Thanks for having me on Malcolm. I'm happy to be here.
Malcolm Lui: Chris, you grew your company's revenue from $307,000 in 2014 to $2.1 million in 2017, a 585% increase, and now you're on track to hit about $3.3 million dollars. Two questions for you. Could you give a quick summary as to what your firm does in your specialty, and then perhaps share with me the three biggest drivers of your sales growth over the past few years?
Chris Dreyer: Yeah. Be happy too. So essentially all we do is we help law firms rank on the first page of Google. All we do is ask you. So we really laser focused into the legal vertical and also one core specialty Search Engine Optimization ee. In regards this three strategies The first is extreme focus. So because we're so focused on just SEO and just legal it really helps highlight and laser target our ideal prospects. So it makes doing marketing easier we can create collateral. It speaks specifically to their pains in a way that's that's much better than our competitors that are trying to target multiple verticals. It also has that effect of brand recognition in the vertical being known at being the best at something so just extreme focus has really helped this out in terms of the generation strategy we've always from the beginning we concentrated on content marketing because content marketing has that form of compounding interest so to speak. So you know when whenever we write a blog or we write a guest post it's out there and can drive residual value over time. So we've done many of those activities. We've also concentrated on growing an email list and just developing our network. So we're very at work very active in regards to developing relationships.
Malcolm Lui: So would you would you put down growing your network growing your relationships as the third driver of your sales growth.
Chris Dreyer: Yeah absolutely. So I would say getting down and focus second would be activities that can count pound and provide an evergreen type of value. And then and then the third would be that
Malcolm Lui: Okay great. Now can you talk a little bit more about your extreme focus now. Can you share you know how focus you are exited the kinds of law firms that you help.
Chris Dreyer: Yes. So basically you know there's two types of agencies that I typically see right now. There's you know there's drew McClellan talks about the bunny brand type of agency that does serve as a b and c.. It's kind of this package deal and then you've got the other types of agencies that we follow. You know we fall in which are essentially be the artisan bread type right. If it's customer iterations. So we work with clients and we do a thorough discovery of what's wrong with their site and what where they're at in regards to competition and what exactly they need to win and to gain market share for their specific situation. So everything we do is custom
Malcolm Lui: Are you targeting particular types of law firms in particular. Are you even that much more niche down or you're open to any type of law firms
Chris Dreyer: Well we're We're definitely open to any law firm. You know if we can provide himself a look at help if we're in the right fit so to speak. So you know most of the time it ends up being the legal practices that are more saturated you know where there's many of them. So personal injury law firms make up about 60 percent of our clients clientele work with a lot of criminal defense law firms a lot of family law firms and also some of the specialty specialty firms like you know trademarks and intellectual property. Some of those very narrow focused firms because they're so focused they don't have a lot of competition and they can get a lot of the SEO results on their own just because there's no competition. Personal injury lawyers you know everyone's trying to rank for car accident lawyer phrases truck accident lawyer so there's extreme demand for what we do
Malcolm Lui: Right. I could see how it's a lot more competitive in those areas as well. So I guess you need to be a bit careful who you bring on board right because you don't do it through some physical distance between your clients right. Otherwise you'll be competing for the same results from the same
Chris Dreyer: Yeah
Malcolm Lui: People
Chris Dreyer: Yeah absolutely. So that ties back into that first statement I made about the two types of agencies you know those the factory package a b and c agencies typically work with everyone they work with as many clients as possible right. So those types of agencies you know you're fine lawyer just yeah support me and they work with many many clients and it's you know it's almost a conflict of interest because they're competing against each other where we only work with one client per market and we do offer geographic exclusivity
Malcolm Lui: How do you figure out how big your geographic exclusivity should be.
Chris Dreyer: It's really challenging but one of the factors that we look at is where their offices is physically located because one of the top ranking signals in regards to ACL is proximity. So if they don't have a physical location in the in an area which they target they want to target. We can't truly give them exclusivity because you know that top ranking signal is proximity so it's typically around their headquarter location.
Malcolm Lui: How do you handle large metropolitan cities that say New York City. How would you divide up New York for your clients
Chris Dreyer: So and within a mile radius. Right but it's hard to give you an exact answer right because every location is a bit different. Even in Long Island you've got the different towns and neighborhoods. So it really depends. So but our core exclusivity radius is twenty five miles around the headquarters. You know there's many ways to do this right. You could give exclusivity against a specific competitor maybe a competitor is doing a lot of heavy TV advertising you could do it you know by practice area. So when I say you know one client per market we also do that practice area. So for example say Lewis we would work on a personal injury law firm but that wouldn't shut us away from a family law firm a bankruptcy that's because they don't really compete against each other and it's not a conflict of interest in that regard.
Malcolm Lui: Right. Moving on a bit to your lead generation strategy now. You said earlier that you generate leads primarily through your own content marketing. Is that your primary lead generation strategy
Chris Dreyer: So that's been an age old practice that we've use from the very beginning. But with that strategy we really leveraged it to create relationships. So I would say the relationship building is probably the best strategy we put into place. I know a lot of individuals talk about referrals don't scale but that hasn't been our experience. And one of the things that I like to say is you know a solid referral partner is almost like an outside sales rep right they already have an audience. So it's just developing relationships with with possibly other agencies. You don't compete against. So for example because we only do so many of our clients could benefit from paper clips from social media from you know case management software. And when those situations occur and where the trusted advisor we can refer to those individuals and set up a very good relationship in that manner
Malcolm Lui: And vice versa as well.
Chris Dreyer: Absolutely
Malcolm Lui: So. So would you say or a referral needs to come from your referral partners. No it's not your is that fall into the third driver that you shared with me growing relationships. So I have my notes and maybe I wrote it down wrong. That your second driver was your lead generation strategy through content marketing that has a compounding effect. And then a third one was growing your emails built growing your relationships. So where does the Reform of referral partner strategy fall into the second driver or the third
Chris Dreyer: It would be the third right relationships
Malcolm Lui: Okay. Okay. And can you share a little bit about your content marketing strategy and how that's helped you generate leads
Chris Dreyer: Yeah. Absolutely. So one of the techniques that we do is we try to provide content in name locations or on the sites in which are ideal clients where they congregate where they hang out where what they read. Right. So we'll write blogs on legal specific marketing sites. We'll write articles you know on digital marketing sites that are specifically focused and speaking to attorneys and basically you know we do practice what we preach in regards to ask yes. So you know we ran very well for a couple of our cooler terms and it's because we're getting these out and these inbound links from topically relevant sites and we're continually compounding on a month a month and getting all of these on which in turn helps our overall authority and helps us planning pages
Malcolm Lui: Right. Can you share maybe from a relative break down how much how many leads say in the months in any given month or say last month how many leads came from your content marketing and how many came from your referral partners
Getting 15 to 20 leads a month now
Chris Dreyer: So I would say about 50 percent 50 50. You know we're getting right now anywhere from 15 to 20 needs a month. So it's not an extreme volume and it's because we have a higher ticket sell. It's a more technical sale. Our sales cycles a bit longer than in other types of products and also our retention you know our attention is typically we have a two and a half year retention of these clients and we sign up. So it's they provide a lot of long term value
Malcolm Lui: Yeah two and a half years that's pretty good.
Chris Dreyer: Yeah absolutely
Malcolm Lui: So for the 15 to 20 leads per month that you mentioned is that total. Or is that coming from one source or the other
Chris Dreyer: That's that's total. Now it fluctuates like right now we're a little bit slower and it also depends upon the drivers right. So we occasionally go to some conferences I'll have some speaking engagements and maybe do some webinars. So we've got these other marketing channels right. We don't just do you know content writing in this relationship the league. But yeah I'd say you know on average 20 inbound leads that are qualified each month.
Malcolm Lui: Okay and still what would you expect coming of the 15 or 20 will ultimately become your client after going through your sales process.
Chris Dreyer: We're signing up I would say on average two to three new clients each month
Malcolm Lui: Not nice.
Chris Dreyer: And we have had some much better months. But you know I don't know that we've ever went below two. So I'd have to check that data but it's it's pretty consistent.
Malcolm Lui: Nice. Now is the content marketing that you do for your clients. Does each client have their own original and unique content. Or are you able to perhaps repurpose some content for clients who are in totally different markets but yet they do similar work
Chris Dreyer: Yeah. So. So everything that we do is unique. Right. So we don't repurpose. We would create new content for a client and specifically for the legal vertical. You could run into a lot of advertising ethics or regulation and to use just compliance if you tried to repurpose content because the laws vary from state to state. And one of the services that we're providing that's a bit different than other agencies side turning written content is we're really focusing on content upgrades. So now there's once we've identified those core phrases that we want to rank for we maximize strength and authority of a page. So if a page is a thousand words you may add 4000 words to it interactive graphics some headers epic cues anything we can do to make that the absolute best piece of content from that perspective. Client
Malcolm Lui: Right now if you have two clients practicing the same kind of law focusing on the same sort of potential client themselves aren't those terms kind of are kind of competing against each other for the same terms then
Chris Dreyer: Well they would. Right. So that's where our exclusivity contracts come into play. That's why we provide that. And that's why we only
Malcolm Lui: You're
Chris Dreyer: Work with once there is no conflict
Malcolm Lui: But not everyone. When you do a search for something put in insert the city name in the search though right. So how do you handle that sort of competition for the same phrase
Chris Dreyer: Right. So that would be an entirely different situation where maybe a firm's going after these nationwide types of terms. And typically that is a massive investment because you know instead of competing it gets one car accident. It's everyone in the nation. So in those situations we can't provide. Know I guess we could provide nationwide exclusivity but it would have to take a very special circumstance for us to be able to provide that or any agency to provide that for that manner.
Malcolm Lui: Right. Well what I mean is I'd say I wanted to find a lawyer to help me right. I want to do anything. A divorce lawyer writes I'm search for a divorce lawyer in Google but I'm not you know do people and I'm not certain if I would search for divorce lawyer Austin where I'm based. I might just have been divorce lawyer so wouldn't I be competing against your other divorce lawyer contents your other divorce law clients who are also kind of ranked for divorce lawyer elsewhere in the nation.
Chris Dreyer: Actually you wouldn't because Google does serve localize results. So even if you didn't put a geography phrase in your search you'd still see localized results and that that has to deal with proximity and and also when we create landing pages that has to do with the targeting of the title tags the content and the copy of the link structure all those components of on a desktop. But Google does serve localized results
Malcolm Lui: Right. OK. So they would Google would tend to serve me results of other often firms that are ranking for the phrase the divorce lawyer as opposed to some other firm might be based somewhere else that whatever magic they've done might ring quite strongly as well. Regardless of geography
Chris Dreyer: Absolutely. And it can vary. The results can vary just zip code the zip code. You could be searching from a nearby location and the results could change just because of those localized factors.
Malcolm Lui: Right. OK I got it. Can you share a little bit on on the way you go about growing your relationships with your rich partners
Chris Dreyer: The biggest thing is it's just providing value right in looking for experts at what they do. Right. So when they can truly serve our client and and and benefit them then those are the types of relationships we're looking for. So you know whether it's video production we know the manner in which media and contents need to do is different. You know that could really benefit our client. So we are trying to develop race relationships we do it a number of ways right. It's for you know events. So we may meet a person in an event we may start a relationship formal relationship on LinkedIn and other social channels. But typically we lead with providing then value as opposed to ask. So we'll provide a lot of value or maybe even offer a referral before they send one and return.
Malcolm Lui: Right. OK. And the relationships you have with the referral partners it's more of a quid pro quo sort of thing informal or is it all written out and documented and revenue share in fees and so on
Chris Dreyer: It just depends they're on a case by case basis. We do pay a referral fee typically but it just depends on the relationship and you know some of our best referral partners. There's there's no commission there's there's none of that at all. It's just you know it's genuinely trying to serve their best interests and and it's kind of a natural referral so to speak but we do
Malcolm Lui: Yeah.
Chris Dreyer: We do offer commissions on of those
Malcolm Lui: Can you share what you typically offer on your commissions for one.
Chris Dreyer: Yet. Typically it's 10 percent is what we offer. So let's say it's a you know a ten thousand dollar a month contract words one hundred twenty thousand dollars a year. That would be a 12 grand for
Malcolm Lui: Okay at 10 percent in the first year it's not a recurring commission.
Chris Dreyer: Yeah we don't we don't do a recurring commission and again I say typically right there are couples special circumstances where we have because you know after a year it's up to us to retain that relationship and that's the way that we think of it.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah totally makes sense. I mean when I think about it as well if someone wants a recurring commission happy to pay for it but they need to contribute as well on a recurring basis right for it to make sense.
Chris Dreyer: Right. Absolutely.
Malcolm Lui: All right now. So or this year you're looking at three point three million roughly around that area for revenue up from two point one last year a nice a month but a 50 percent increase. Nice jump. What's your target for 2019. What are you looking at strive for and accomplish.
Chris Dreyer: So our. So we utilize your less interaction in our one year goal that falls it doesn't fall on the same calendar year. Our one year target is end of October and our tentative Goals 4 million. So when it was established so we're going to blow by that goal but that is the goal we had set. So we're gonna have to iterate on our three year and five year targets because we're growing at a bit faster pace than we originally anticipated
Malcolm Lui: Okay so how long ago did you set your 4 million dollar target for 2019 or October 2019.
Chris Dreyer: So we set that at the beginning of October 2008.
Malcolm Lui: Okay so. Okay. So you might want to be. I'm just guessing 4.5 maybe
Their $5m target in 2019.
Chris Dreyer: Yeah I would say five probably will shoot
Malcolm Lui: 5. Yeah yeah. Three point three million 2018. You another 50 percent increase. You're kind of looking at 5 million round there.
Chris Dreyer: Yeah. And Malcolm what's what's very bizarre and I never really been focused on growth. Most of our team is operations based. And you know that that retention has really helped us. And now we're at the point where we're starting to invest more in sales and marketing. So I think the 5 million dollar mark is going to be much more achievable. Now
Malcolm Lui: Right. Let's what do you think. In regard to your investment in sales and marketing
Chris Dreyer: So currently for us we know many of the same things that you're doing. You know we want to look at other channels particularly podcasts as a way of getting connected and developing relationships so it has kind of it gets out of those three pillars we talked about it. It's two of them right. It hits the permanent value because you're creating content. You know if you get a transcript then and haven't the audio but also it helped. It's an easy foot in the door for relationship building
Malcolm Lui: And how else are you going to be investing in your sales and marketing marketing side. You're looking to do some podcast things that parents value persistency. They get opened doors to relationships. How about on the sales side.
Chris Dreyer: So sell side. That's the last part that I haven't shed entirely. So I have been training director of strategy to sustain sales so we're going to be developing our sales. We're still not investing into the outbound types of strategy although at some point we may need a sales development rep someone to set appointments and help with the qualification process. But right now I would say it's more focused on marketing and less on sales just due to the you know it's for our specific niche. It doesn't take a lot of leads necessarily it just takes the right types of leads because our like I said our ours is a higher ticket type of sale and a more technical sell.
Malcolm Lui: Right. So what do you think about doing marketing it's more outbound both in down. What's your take on that
Chris Dreyer: Well I think everything is is good. Right I think there's there's solid strategies for outbound. It's much more difficult now because you know people are conditioned to ignore outbound so you have to have creative ways you know interviewing people on podcasts possibly hosting an event and being part of the same association. We're providing some type of gift right that embodies psychological response of reciprocity. So it's much more challenging to flip the door. But I still think there's a very strong place for
Malcolm Lui: Right. Have you ever looked into doing paper click advertising for yourself.
Chris Dreyer: We've done paper click a bit and we're actually going to get a get into a quite a bit more more on the retargeting Facebook ads side of things and boosting our content you know extending our content reach less on the you know the opting for the actual queries they did the traditional Google AdWords we do see that as an opportunity that future our in our industry the cost per click is very high. And at this point I would rather spend the investment in a different form of media then
Malcolm Lui: Right. How about e-mail marketing is that something that you've experimented with
Chris Dreyer: So we're very we are very focused on email marketing heavily focused. In fact
Malcolm Lui: And not so much on nurturing but more on a outbound basis.
Chris Dreyer: I would say more on the nurturing side actually Malcolm Sloan any lead that we receive doesn't convert we'll do you know we'll drop them into a long term nurture sequence where we provide value to these individuals. And you know we've got a lot of neat magnets for case studies or you know thinkable assets and things like that where we can provide a lot of value. So we're very focused on capturing e-mails it is stream boats
Malcolm Lui: Sure. How about for email marketing an app on basing basis during the cold. Now marketing to reach out to the attorneys out there and see if they're interested in having your help with improving their SCA.
Chris Dreyer: We if we have done very little of that we've done more on the outbound linked and messaging just because of the selective targeting and capabilities linked in sales navigator
Malcolm Lui: Yeah.
Chris Dreyer: And but we haven't done as much outbound email marketing
Malcolm Lui: Right. How has the LinkedIn outreach working for you with the Sales Navigator
Chris Dreyer: It's working really well. It's
Malcolm Lui: So what will.
Chris Dreyer: You know it. Sorry go ahead. Malcolm
Malcolm Lui: No no you go ahead. You're about to elaborate on the
Chris Dreyer: Was
Malcolm Lui: Lincoln
Chris Dreyer: Just going to say
Malcolm Lui: Rich
How they use LinkedIn
Chris Dreyer: You know there's there's different touch points on LinkedIn. You've got your direct messaging you've got your pulse messages your feeds your group. So we also you know when you send them a message they get a direct e-mail notification. So it's kind of combining two channels into one. And in my opinion that's why we've been more successful.
Malcolm Lui: Right. Yeah. I personally find that Lincoln just because they're on it and you're on it there's something about the people who use Lincoln. There's some commonality right there. Right. If if they're on it there's a good chance that you're on it. It's a good chance that they can be separate sort of reaching to people reaching out to each other. Otherwise they really went beyond Lincoln to begin with. Right. That's what I've been finding. I find that people on Nathan are generally receptive toward being contacted on that platform as well.
Chris Dreyer: Absolutely I found the same.
Malcolm Lui: So what you think's gonna be your biggest challenge overall to grow your business from three point three to five million over next year. The one absolute number one challenge I know you too much trying to figure out the sales side is that your biggest challenge
Chris Dreyer: You know I I don't if I say anything I say that's not that is going to be it's going to sound like my ego getting the things I'll say you know Grant Cardone style the 10 times rule we're going to do whatever it takes to get the goal and we're going to exceed that goal right. So the UN relentless determination in terms of what would be the most ethical I would say probably operations even though you know we have standard operating procedures or big proponents of the checklist manifesto operations is probably the biggest challenge or Southern marketing and sales out. But again I don't think that's going to be a killer stop or at any any degree.
Malcolm Lui: Right. Last question for you Chris. Who are your ideal clients and what's the best way for them to contact your company
Chris Dreyer: Thanks Malcolm. So our ideal clients are any firms that are wanting to achieve first page rankings have struggled to obtain those results in the past year we're the agency come to you to help rank on the first page and increase your visibility and grow your firm in terms of the best way to get in touch with me so you can contact us on our website rankings that I owe or you can actually send me a direct email to Chris CAGR I guess at
Malcolm Lui: Awesome. Thanks so much Chris for sharing how you accelerated your company's high value sales.
Chris Dreyer: Yeah. Thanks so so much for having Malcolm I really appreciate it. And thank you.
Malcolm Lui: Now you're welcome. We've been speaking with Chris Dreyer, the founder and CEO of Rankings.io about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing, high value sales companies or to learn how we can accelerate your firm's high value sales through automation, visit Eversprint.com.
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