As someone who only works with attorneys for online marketing, I come across countless situations where I’m asked to identify if something is legitimate or a scam. Clients email me all the time asking if something should be ignored, is worth paying attention to, or actually worth investing marketing dollars in. I’m careful here to call Thervo’s marketing tactic to attorneys a “sham”, and not a scam but you can be the judge.
UPDATE: Jan 24, 2019 – I’ve updated my opinion on Thervo’s badge system from “sham” to “scam” based on the feedback from numerous comments and phone calls. Prospective and past customers of Thervo report to me constant email spamming despite requests to stop, deceptive marketing practices, deceptive emails and other complaints. Full disclosure, I have never used their service so I’m not claiming I have personal experience as a customer. Based on my experience as stated below, and the feedback from others it seems like their whole operation could be a scam. Read this article and the comments below, draw your own conclusions and feel free to correct me if you’ve had a different experience. It’s been 6 months since I’ve published this and no one from Thervo has contacted me to correct any misinformation.
One of my clients got an Email today from Thervo notifying them that they have been identified as a “Top 10 Business” and that they should show this off by displaying their “achievement badge” on their website. This type of social confirmation marketing helps communicate to your potential clients that you’re a credible business that has been recognized by some sort of 3rd party authority (Thervo in this instance). When installed on the website, a badge/logo appears that displays some sort of certification or credential, and often links back to the attorney profile on that website. Many legal marketing companies like Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell and SuperLawyers use this tactic because it’s beneficial to link back to your profile (although opinions are mixed). So what’s wrong with Thervo’s approach?
Here’s what Thervo is doing, which I believe to be underhanded and unethical
Backlinks from websites are still a major ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. When a bunch of attorneys link to a website, Google sees that as a signal that the destination website must be highly relevant for something – which in turn increases the ranking of that website. In the case of Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell and SuperLawyers the link from the badge takes the User to your profile on their website (it’s mutually beneficial marketing). Look closely at the code embedded in the Thervo badge from the Email screenshot. If you install this badge on your website, your potential client may click on it and you’ll be sending them to https://thervo.com/lawyers so you can help them find a competitor – not your firm profile on their website.
Once your potential client lands on the Thervo page, they go through a question and answer decision tree. After entering all the information about their legal matter, I assume, that “lead” then gets sold to subscribing attorneys (Pay-Per-Lead) – and you helped the process happen and simultaneously helped increase Thervo’s ranking on Google… which may eventually become your competitor in Google’s organic results. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with Pay-Per-Lead OR an “achievement badge” as a marketing tactic. The difference here is that Thervo is manipulating you into believing that you’ll be getting the benefit of a recognition badge, when in reality you’re helping send your potential clients to a competitor all while assisting Thervo in their SEO efforts.
Adding insult to injury
Once the User submits all of their information through Thervo’s website, they’re sent an email notifying them that their info has been sent to attorneys who serve the area for their legal matter. What’s the problem? You, nor any attorney is listed on the email. The User’s case is now up for sale to local subscribing attorneys (I assume).
In their Email, Thervo states that the “…selections are listed alphabetically on the website” which might suggest that there’s a list somewhere that’s publicly available – which I have yet to find.
UPDATE: April 15, 2019 – It now appears that Thervo has a list of lawyers to choose from on their website, which are populated based on your IP address. When you try to change your zip code, you are then forced into their Q&A decision tree so they can sell your lead to subscribers.
UPDATE: August 28, 2019 – It appears that the same company that produced Thervo, has also produced Fash.com, Lessons.com (and probably others) with a very similar interface, and a pay-per-lead model. After reading their reviews from their respective facebook pages it seems like reviews are mixed. Some people have had success, while others have had issues with their business model.
No response from Thervo yet…
I’ve forwarded the Email to Thervo’s customer service asking them why they’re using this tactic and if they think it’s unethical. I have not received a reply at the time of publishing, but will publish it if I get one. I’d be happy to update this article if they can explain to me in any way how this is beneficial to an attorney or any other business owner.
*Note: You may be asking why I linked to Thervo’s website if it helps their SEO effort. The link is coded as a “no-follow” link and provides them no SEO value.