For law firms, where the billable hour reigns supreme, creating efficiencies to maximize time and effort is a must — and that extends to marketing and business development efforts.
The best way to make the most of your initiatives? Track them, and adjust according to the data.
That’s easier said than done given the overabundance of information our platforms generate, such as new visits, social media statistics, open rates, click-throughs and email signups. For data lovers like me, you get giddy at the thought of all that information waiting to be filtered, sorted and put to work.
But for lawyers and legal marketers with a seemingly endless to-do list and limited resources, collecting and analyzing data can be a challenge. The life cycle of a client deciding who to retain and the many touches they encounter adds to the difficulties in tracking ROI. The trick is to focus on the most important pieces first, the ones that can provide you with the insight you need to make informed decisions and generate higher revenue and profitability.
For firms that are ready to grow, here’s how to turn your practice into a successful data-driven marketing enterprise.
Step 1: Figure Out What You Need
The first question to ask is: What information do you need to make informed decisions?
Data shouldn’t be collected just for the sake of collecting it. It needs to be part of a bigger plan. Work with stakeholders in your firm to determine what your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are.
Richelle J. Delavan, Director of Practice Development at Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP, recommends two key KPIs firms should be tracking: client growth rate and cross-selling ratios. “No matter whether you have an internal marketing department or you’re a solo or small firm, these KPIs can help you take the reins on your marketing and business development. With a time and billing system and Excel, anyone can track these numbers to see client growth and practice area opportunities.”
Other helpful metrics firms can track include:
- Customer Data: Is it leading to new clients? Traffic-to-lead ratio; lead-to-customer ratio; and cost per lead.
- Site Traffic: How effective is our website? Landing page conversion rates; unique visits to your website; and inbound marketing ROI.
- Search Data: How are potential clients finding you? Leads from organic search; leads from branded keywords.
- Social media reach and engagement.
Step 2: Get the Tools You Need to Collect Data Efficiently
Before you can use your data in meaningful ways, you need to collect it. Choosing the right tools will make this part manageable and while each firm has different budgets and needs, there are some great, low-cost options out there.
No tool is a one-size-fits-all, but here are some that can help cover the most important KPIs:
Tools for website data:
- Google Analytics
- HubSpot’s Website Grader
- Usability Hub
Tools for social media data:
- Subscription platforms such as Hubspot, AgoraPulse, Buffer, and Social Report
- Native tools such as Facebook and Instagram Insights or Twitter or LinkedIn Analytics
Tools for email marketing data:
- MailChimp/Constant Contact
- Clearbit Connect
Tools for search and SEO data:
Don’t just look at external data, though. Internal data can provide extremely valuable insight as well. Billing and budgets, client life cycle, and even general operational strategy can inform your approach when you use it to identify useful patterns for establishing goals.
Step 3: Incorporate a CRM and Automate
Another underused source of data is customer relationship management (CRM) technology. Delavan emphasizes how useful CRMs can be in evaluating relationships, including who you know, what you’re doing for them, how well you’re doing for them and the overall loyalty.
A common challenge to actually making use of CRMs is inputting contact information. Save valuable time by automating the process. Many practice management programs offer integrations to automatically feed matter data to CRMs or even have built-in systems. These types of integrations can also be applied with other marketing systems, showing where your lead or client interacted with your brand across social, email and your website to highlight where leads drop off.
Even with clear goals, the right tools, and efficiently automated CRMs, data has a way of getting unruly. Stay on top of your data to avoid getting to a place where it’s unusable by updating it in real-time and getting the entire firm onboard with the process.
Data’s About More Than Just Numbers
Data doesn’t just mean numbers and stats. Looking at general information and incorporating research into your data-driven approach can give you a solid competitive edge. To create stronger messaging that resonates with your ideal client, focus on competitor research and industry trends.
When you look at your work in comparison to your competitors, it can help you better understand who your firm is and what you have to offer that’s different. In turn, this helps you hone your messaging to create more compelling ads, calls to action and content. When it comes to industry research, knowing where the industry is through the use of tools like Google Trends and staying in front of changes can keep you one step ahead of the competition.
Tracking marketing ROI is always a challenge, but it should be a priority at every budget point. With bigger budgets in particular, tracking should be a priority, but it often isn’t and, as a result, a significant portion of the budget can wind up being spent on the wrong initiatives.
Amanda Sexton is the founder of FocusWorks Marketing in Denville, an agency that uses the power of digital marketing to grow brands and businesses. A self-professed “numbers nerd,” she uses data and research combined with creativity to drive campaigns to their maximum potential. Amanda is also the current Marketing Chair of New Jersey Legal Industry Providers.
The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of their clients or other attorneys in their firm.
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