Show me the Numbers
Whether political parties, spies, or marketers, data is the new black. It was hard to read anything in 2013 without encountering hype regarding how “big data” is revolutionizing [insert anything here]. The reason for all this hype is because its true. The collection of unprecedented amounts of data combined with widely available analytical tools has created a gold rush of opportunities despite vocal warnings from privacy advocates.
In legal marketing, the numbers matter. Law firms will spend money on marketing if they know it makes the firm money. Traditionally, determining a return-on-investment (ROI) for legal marketing was a rather subjective affair. A series of anecdotes would offer the only response to the question “Was it worth it?” The ubiquity of analytics tools has changed this conversation considerably with analytics now forming a core competency of many agencies and marketing professionals.
Google Analytics is the best known analytics platform. It is feature-rich, trustworthy, easy-to-use, integrates with just about everything, and free for almost everyone. Despite the dominance of Google’s product, there are competing proprietary platforms used by very large companies or dedicated products serving specific markets. Not surprisingly, there are several analytics platforms designed specifically for law firms. Most of them integrate call-tracking or lead generation systems. Similarly, many marketing agencies build proprietary systems on top of the data provided by Google Analytics. At Skunkworks, we find that Google Analytics offers more than enough functionality for our clients. We give our clients data straight from the source, without additional repackaging. For a law firm, there are a few core questions that can be answered by analytics. The remainder of this post summarizes these questions.
How do People Find You?
Every law firm should have an extensive client-intake questionnaire to be completed by new clients. This can be reconciled with data from Google Analytics. If not a traditional referral, many clients will note that they contacted the firm through the website. But how did they find the website? Did they click on your banner ad? Did they find you in search results? Did they read a blog post that you posted to a social media platform? These are important questions.
Google Analytics offers detailed channel reports to see how visitors arrived at your site and how those same visitors subsequently interacted with the site. Did they bounce away? Did they linger and request a consultation? Did they read every page?
Because almost all interest in the firm will pass through the website, the goal is to identify how campaigns perform in these competing channels. Even better is that you can track this performance in real time so that you can adjust your campaign options on the fly.
What Are Your Visitors Looking For?
However clients arrive at the website, they are looking for something. In most cases, you will want to ensure that you are offering content according to demand. Reviewing keyword reports will allow you to see what terms are drawing visitors, whether these are potentially valuable visitors, and what happens to them once they reach the site.
How do Visitors to Your Website Become Clients?
Any number of visitors will be irrelevant if they do not convert into clients. This is why most analytics platforms will emphasize lead generation and conversion tracking. Google Analytics offers flow-charts for how visitors move-through the website and how they reach your conversion points. The most common flow is Home Page >> Lawyer Bio >> Contact Us Page.
Law firms will always have difficulty tracking conversions because clients rarely retain the firm through an on-line form, preferring to phone, email, or visit the firm in-person for a consultation. The best conversion points for a law firm website tend to be on-line consultation request forms. Unfortunately, these forms are not appropriate for many firms due to confidentiality, conflict, or client-screening reasons. Because of this missing link, conversion tracking for law firms will never be on par with e-commerce, where the complete transaction can be tracked and valued through the website.
By tracking calls to the firm and reconciling analytics with client intake forms, most firms will be able to determine how their marketing efforts are working or, more importantly, not working. Besides the value of analytics for marketing efforts, our experience is that all business owners are interested in analytics data. Even without ongoing campaigns, it offers a treasure trove of business intelligence. We have seen firms completely change practice areas in response to latent demand identified through analytics. Most firms are still figuring-out how to use all this data being generated. Part of our job is to help make sense of the numbers.