Measure the Return on Investment of Your Marketing Efforts

I know a lawyer who advertised by writing books and putting up foreign language advertisements in local community papers. I know another lawyer who sporadically advertised by dropping a few thousand dollars at a time into get-client-quick schemes. And I know another one who dabbled in lead gen (where one purchases “leads”—people who have submitted their information into an online form looking for a lawyer) as a source of new clients.

The truth is, we’ll do anything allowed to get new clients, if it works. So why do so few lawyers actually measure whether “it” works—the return on investment (ROI) on their marketing strategy?

Did that new website attract that new client? Or the paid Google ads? Or was it the billboard? Or are you just getting positive word-of-mouth referrals after years of positive results and dedicated service to our clients? Business is booming, but where is it all coming from?

You’ll never know unless you measure. Here are a few ideas on how to do so:

The Old Fashioned Way: “How Did You Hear About Our Firm?”

Whether it is a blank on your intake form or a question posed by your assistant who takes the first phone call, the easiest and old-fashioned way is the direct question: how did you hear about our firm?

Of course, that one question doesn’t measure everything. For example, you might’ve just launched a massive paid ads campaign that funnels potential clients to your website—aren’t you curious what your conversion rate is at your website? How many people are showing up and bouncing back to Google? And how many are contacting you immediately for a consultation? And how many are coming to your website from unpaid sources—online directories, vanilla Google searches, and word of mouth?

Surveys are a great, direct measure for “how did you hear about us?” But they don’t get you all of the data that you need.

The Website Way: Traffic Analytics

This might be a bit too techy for some lawyers, but if you use your website as your main point of contact for new clients (you put it in ads, business cards, and on third-party websites like Yelp), you can actually measure the effectiveness of your website as a conversion tool. Website traffic analytics can tell you:

  •      What website each person was visiting before they came to your site (the “referring domain” that led them to you);
  •      How long they stayed on your site (a quick “bounce” indicates that your site is turning off clients);
  •      The raw traffic to the site (to compare with the number of clients that actually come in for a consultation).

The first point there—the referring domain—is important because it will tell you how effective your online advertising is. For example, if you are paying a legal directory for prominent placement in search results, you’ll probably want to know if anyone is actually coming to your site from that directory.

The second factor is important for evaluating your site itself. A high bounce rate indicates that your site either isn’t helpful, comes across as spammy, or is otherwise faulty. It likely also affects your ranking in Google’s search results. (Bounce rate has long been a rumored piece of the search ranking algorithm, though Google keeps the actual formula secret.)

The last one is also extremely important: your conversion rate. If the first point tells you how good the rest of your strategy is at getting people interested in your website (and by extension, your firm), the last point is important because it evaluates the website itself—and if that is your main “conversion funnel” (the point of contact where potential clients reach out and schedule that consultation), a large amount of traffic with few referrals is obviously a bad sign.

A Human Way: Phone Calls

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I just want to pick up the dang phone and get an answer. I do not want to fill out an online form and wait for someone to maybe get back to me in a week or two.

And I’m the generation that loves tech. Imagine how the baby boomers and their parents feel about phone versus online submission forms or chat boxes.

There are a few ways to do this. One obvious solution is that same old-fashioned way that we mentioned before: to have the folks who are taking calls simply ask each person, “how did you hear about our firm?” But another, one that has been recently integrated into Clio, is to use trackable phone numbers for different forms of advertising — each phone number corresponds to a different advertising channel. And if, for example, only three people call the number that you attached to a few thousand pieces of direct postal mail, then you’ll know that the payoff for that channel is not worth the cost.

Bottom Line: Track ROI

As your firm ages, past clients will spread the word of your great work. You’ll also get friends and family sending you clients. And those free directory listings might also pay off with a curious potential client or two. On top of all of that, will be your paid advertising—the PPC (pay per click) search ads, the postal mailers, the magazine spread, the bus benches, and more.

And if someday your firm has a dip in revenue and needs to cut spending, or conversely, if business is booming and you want to reinvest some of the new proceeds, knowing what your ROI is for various ad channels will empower you to make an educated decision in response.

Want to learn more about law firm marketing? Read our free guide, Law Firm Marketing 101.

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