To succeed in the business of law, it can seem like there are a multitude of metrics worth measuring and analyzing. For many, revenue, profit, expenses, fees and billable hours are usually among the first to come to mind.
Unfortunately, many of the most commonly obsessed-over metrics aren’t really good predictors of a firm’s performance at all. Further, others that are commonly overlooked can actually provide an excellent window into a firm’s health. For example, client satisfaction surveys can be very useful in understanding what your clients really think about you.
A lot of money is spent trying to identify which metrics are key to evaluating performance and the likelihood of continued success.
What about the web?
The same is true online. We know that the internet plays a role in how people find and hire attorneys. So we rush to get online. We create websites, blogs, Facebook pages and a bunch of other web marketing “stuff” with the hopes that we catch the eye of someone searching for a lawyer.
We hire SEO consultants who promise number one rankings, hundreds of PR7 backlinks, 50 followers on Twitter, 10 articles per month, etc.
We begin to obsess over these numbers. But what do any of them really mean to your law firm’s success?
Can you pay your landlord with backlinks and rankings?
Often times, this obsession leads to shortcuts that short-circuit your entire online marketing game plan.
So what can be done?
Shifting to the web marketing metrics that matter.
One of the main advantages of the web over other marketing and advertising channels is its transparency. You can measure and track just about everything online. But you have to focus on measuring and tracking the metrics that matter.
Ideally, you have systems in place to track a new client’s journey from the first time they encounter you through the time your fee is paid. Unfortunately, very few attorneys I know have such a system in place.
Hint: top-line visitor traffic probably isn’t telling you much of anything with meaning.
Instead, you should understand your traffic by source. For example, if you’re an injury attorney in Chicago who is working to drive organic search traffic, you should probably pay close attention to how your traffic specifically from “medium -> organic” is trending over time. Or even more specifically, google / organic:
But you can’t pay your landlord with organic search traffic either.
The next link in tracking meaningful metrics are goals or conversions.
Goals are a way to measure activities that you’re trying to motivate your visitors to take. Some of the goals include:
In terms of metrics that matter for direct-response legal marketing, we’re really talking about calls, emails, and live chat inquiries.
Now, if you’ve set it up properly, you should be able to track goal completions from various sources. In other words, you can track how many people call or email your firm that found you in organic search results versus an online advertisement.
Obviously, there are many ways to implement goal tracking. And Google Analytics certainly isn’t the only tool from which to choose. It just happens to be free. But it’s also robust. Which means that it might be overkill for what you’re trying to do.
But you can’t pay your landlord with phone calls and form fills.
The next step is to tie these “goals” or “conversions” to actual paying clients. Which means you need to be able to “close the loop” between the systems you use to track visitors, conversions, and fees.
Some of you might be thinking, “I handle all of this by simply asking potential clients how they found me.”
Ha! Good one.
If you track intakes like this, the best case is you get responses like, “the internet,” “the google” or “online.” Not very helpful. Worst case, they’ll forget–or you’ll forget to ask.
You certainly won’t be able to distinguish between how well that paid FindLaw listing is performing and your SEO ninja-wizard-guru.
This is where a CRM or practice management tool can be really helpful. Again, ideally you use a tool that can tie clients and fees back to inquiries and sources.
And just as the case is with web analytics and goal tracking, there are a lot of options. If you’ve found a solution or a combination of tools that work for you, please feel free to share below.
But just having these tools in place won’t mean anything if you don’t understand how to use them, and of course, actually use them. However, it’s worth your time to learn.
The metrics that have meaning to your firm might be very different from the firm down the street. In fact, web marketing metrics may have little value to your firm at all.
The point is to figure out which metrics have real meaning to you. Then measure them and work to improve them.
That’s your best defense against creating a marketing money pit.