5 Things Lawyers Should Expect from Their Legal Marketing Company
There is no shortage of search engine optimization (SEO) providers. A cursory Google search for the term “SEO services” brings up nearly 53 million results, a number big enough to make one’s head spin. Even a more specific phrase like “attorney SEO services” can easily return over 2 million results.
In all likelihood, your firm has engaged one or more of these providers in the past. Perhaps many more. Ignoring SEO is a decision that typically results in dire consequences for online visibility, but what attorney has time to spend weeks combing through search results in a quest to find the ideal optimization provider?
To make your decision-making process easier, we’ve compiled a list of five important things that lawyers should expect from their legal marketing company.
This is the critical first test that your potential legal marketing company must pass with flying colors before you even think about signing a contract. Everything else on this list becomes meaningless if you’re working with a dishonest company more interested in skirting the rules than playing fair and working within Google’s established guidelines.
While there are many telltale signs of a dishonest SEO provider, you need to be particularly wary of any company or contractor guaranteeing rankings. Google itself notes that no one can guarantee a #1 ranking, and any promises made to that effect are not to be trusted.
Similarly, you should run away from providers who dodge questions about their optimization techniques (or worse, engage in unacceptable “black hat” tactics), can’t explain the work their clients are actually paying for, or refuse to provide references. Any honest and reputable SEO agency should be happy to do all of these things.
Google provides a list of useful questions to ask any search engine optimizer before proceeding with their services. We encourage you to do just that.
One of the questions Google notes is, “What’s your experience in my industry?” You should absolutely inquire if your potential SEO provider has a significant history working within the legal space.
While it’s true that anyone versed in optimization techniques can provide some level of successful SEO, the particular nuances and focal points of the legal industry will be lost on generalist agencies that also service a variety of other professions. How can you trust your SEO provider to generate content for your legal website, for instance, when they have no experience working with law firms and no knowledge of the specialties you are interested in pursuing?
Optimizers familiar with the legal space will be able to provide a more specific, detailed, and understanding level of service that goes far beyond the general SEO population. Look for an agency that comprehends you, your firm, your practice areas, and your target audience.
Being unable to reach a legal marketing company is a universally frustrating experience. Fruitless attempts to speak to an actual human being are met with opposition, phone trees endlessly loop you to vacant voicemail boxes, and emails seem to disappear into a black hole of the Internet, never eliciting a response.
You should expect and demand better. Your SEO provider works for you and should act accordingly, providing you with multiple avenues to contact account managers, support staff, and frontline developers and optimizers. Can you expect a call to review your campaign every month? Is a ticket system provided so work requests don’t get lost? Do you know the names of the people working on your site? Are they reachable?
Exercise caution with any agency that refuses to get on the phone with you or that treats you like a generic number in an endless series of clients. You and your firm are unique and the level of communication provided to you should be top-notch.
SEO campaigns don’t run on autopilot. They need continual tweaks, improvements, and modifications to deal with the shifting online landscape, not to mention the plethora of algorithm changes that search engines are always implementing.
To understand how your campaign is performing and what steps are being taken to ensure its continued success, your optimization agency should provide you with detailed reports of their work and subsequent results. Even more than that, they should spend time reviewing the metrics with you and listening to your questions and concerns.
It’s easy to provide a Google Analytics report, but there are more powerful, concise reporting platforms available. A high level SEO provider will not only show you an overall snapshot of your campaign, but allow you access to tools that display your campaign’s movement on mobile and local platforms, chronological aggregate ranking charts, and even summaries of how your closest competitors are stacking up. Smart agencies can also provide call attribution data to show you which efforts garnered the most direct inquiries to your office.
You should never be in the dark about what your SEO provider is doing. If you aren’t receiving timely, informative reporting, you should look elsewhere.
At the end of the day, your firm is spending money to achieve a particular set of results. Your SEO provider must be able to show you concrete examples of how your campaign is achieving those results, or at least making solid headway in the right direction. Otherwise, what are you paying them for?
Not every month in SEO is going to be a complete success. The very nature of optimization includes the caveat that there will be ups and downs since the web is fluid and everchanging. However, when you take a bird’s eye look at your campaign, you should absolutely see progress being made as time goes by.
If results are not being achieved in a reasonable time period, can your provider change course and try something else? Do they have multiple avenues available in case a preliminary tactic is unsuccessful? Experimentation and adaptability are always key; don’t settle for a one trick pony.
If you are struggling to find a reputable SEO provider that adheres to the principles above, we are standing by to help.
We have an established, results-driven team of online marketing experts who are well versed in the legal space, and we sport a proven track record of success.
If you’d like to hear more about what we can do to help your firm achieve its goals, one of our digital success managers will be happy to give you an honest, in-depth analysis of your website and online marketing efforts, no strings attached.
Marketing Vanity Metrics to Beware Of—And 3 to Focus on Instead
When it comes to marketing data, certain numbers sound great but don’t actually help to evaluate the success of your marketing efforts or guide decisions. These are called vanity metrics, and while they are fun to look at (who doesn’t want to celebrate how many visitors their legal website received this month?), they can actually distract from more important marketing metrics that influence your caseload.
Turn your attention to the attorney marketing figures that matter. Below you will find three vanity metrics to beware of, as well as three important data points to focus on instead.
1. Beware Of: Email Open Rate
Your email open rate is exactly what it sounds like—the percentage of recipients who open your marketing emails (this doesn’t include “bounced” emails that do not reach recipients). Usually, better subject lines mean a greater percentage of emails opened since subject lines tease the valuable content inside.
Email open rates tend to get a lot of attention when analyzing law firm email marketing campaigns because a low open rate can be a symptom or cause of an unsuccessful campaign. However, this data point isn’t the one you should be focusing on.
Instead, Pay Attention To: Click-Through Rate
Click-through rate is the percentage of recipients who open the message and click at least one button, link, or clickable image. Unlike open rate, this metric tells you how people are interacting with your emails. For instance, click-through rate can help to discover:
- Which hyperlinks are most appealing
- Whether buttons, text links, or image links perform best
- Which links are clicked most often on which devices, e.g., desktop versus mobile
Track click-through rate to discover how to engage your email recipients and drive more traffic to your landing pages, blog posts, and the like.
Keep in mind that the average click-through rate for the legal services industry is 6.79%, according to Constant Contact. If you are not experiencing a similar number, consider implementing these 5 best practices within your law firm’s drip email campaigns.
2. Beware Of: Number of Social Media Followers
Tracking the number of connections you have on each of your law firm’s social media profiles, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, might help to determine whether your overall social media strategy is succeeding. For instance, if you are consistently adding followers or connections, that could be a sign that you are trending in the right direction.
This data point can also highlight how well your team is promoting its social media presence through paid advertisements, email, and word of mouth.
However, attorney social media success isn’t wholly determined by the number of followers or connections. A law firm could run successful ad campaigns and gain thousands of Facebook connections on its business page, but if 95% of those Facebook followers do not fit its ideal client profile or are completely disengaged, then they will not do much good.
Instead, Pay Attention To: Engagement Rate
Engagement rate is a snapshot of how much action each post receives compared to your entire follower base. This includes elements such as:
More likes, shares, and comments mean that your posts are connecting with audience members, and that you are active on social media at the right times. Keep an eye on your engagement rate when experimenting with posting at different times and sharing different types of content. If you see spikes or dips, adjust accordingly.
Another perk to tracking engagement: you can discover which of your followers are the true brand evangelists—the prospects, clients, or fans that are most committed to your law firm. These are the people you want to cultivate the closest relationships with, as they are most likely to spread the word about your law firm, promote your brand, and send referrals your way.
3. Beware Of: Number of Leads
Building a lengthy leads list can be a great asset to your law firm. After all, you constantly need to pump fresh leads into the pipeline to develop new cases. However, gathering unfit leads—leads that are not marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or sales qualified leads (SQLs)—in order to build a massive list of prospects is not going to result in great business.
Instead, Pay Attention To: Lead Conversion Rate
More attention should really go toward finding a group of the right leads (even if it’s a smaller, more exclusive group) and then cultivating them toward conversion.
Assess your lead conversion rate. How many leads typically convert into clients in any given week, month, quarter, and year? This figure provides insight into:
- How well you are following up with leads
- Whether you are crafting successful drip email campaigns and other marketing communications
- The strengths and weaknesses of your attorney marketing and sales funnel; for instance, if you see a large number of leads falling off at a certain stage, you know where to improve
- How many leads you must convert every week and month to achieve your revenue goals
If your conversion rate is not as high as you’d like, assess where things are going wrong. For example, many attorneys get overwhelmed trying to track prospect follow-up and respond accordingly to each lead’s needs. Things slip through the cracks.
In these cases, a legal CRM (client relationship management) system can automate the process and push leads down the funnel without the stress of keeping track of everything and everyone. The James Legal CRM enables you to send prospects great content and track all attorney marketing efforts on a single dashboard.
Try the James Legal CRM and experience the difference of automation. Your real cost will probably be $0 after savings!
KPI Tracking For Attorneys Who Have No Clue Where To Start
I’ve yet to meet a lawyer who did not want to convert more leads to clients but when I ask them simple questions pertaining to data they should be tracking, I rarely get an answer. Most just keep throwing more money into lead generation instead of taking the time to create a system for tracking key data points that would help them make better decisions.
Law firms are being forced to run more efficiently and technology is creating opportunities for small to midsize firms to not only track key metrics, but they also can automate large portions of their work allowing them to scale quickly and affordably. The key to a running a successful law firm is understanding what works and what does not. Attorneys need to focus time on efforts that will generate the most revenue in the shortest time frame but how do you know what you should be focused on or if you’re looking at this from a marketing angle, how do you know what marketing efforts are producing clients?
We created a guide you can download for free that will help you identify what you should be tracking and will give you more information on how to track each data point. If you have questions or would like to talk to me about your firm’s metrics, schedule an appointment today and I will be happy to dive into your specific questions and give you honest feedback and advice.
Most lawyers we speak with do not know their recent marketing numbers, let alone how they compare to prior periods.
If you fall into this category, you are making a costly omission. You are likely mis-spending precious marketing dollars and don’t realize it.
Even more important, you are missing a growth opportunity. What is measured tends to improve, and improvements in marketing results generate increased revenue.
Tracking Basic Marketing Numbers
We will assume that you know number of leads received, appointments kept, and number of new clients signed each month.
Hopefully you are recording those three numbers on a tracking spreadsheet so you can compare months, quarters, and years. If not, start now.
Next, you should begin computing and tracking the following two numbers:
- Average client acquisition cost. This is simply your monthly marketing spend divided by your number of clients signed monthly. Because of the time lag between your spend and your signings, this number is best tracked on a rolling quarterly basis.
- Conversion percentages. If no-cost appointments are part of your signup process, two numbers should be tracked: (a) How many leads (forms and calls) set appointments? (b) How many appointments become clients?
For simplicity, we disregard missed appointments, meaning that a no-show is not counted as an appointment made.
Some lawyers tell us they keep these numbers in their head and so don’t need to write them down.
Would you trust the final score reported by a golfer who doesn’t use a scorecard? Neither would we, and we don’t rely on the acquisition cost and conversion percentages quoted us by lawyers who don’t use tracking sheets.
How can you compare time periods if you don’t record your numbers? How do you know if you are improving or backsliding if you don’t compare results received each month, quarter, and year?
If you want our help determining these critically-important marketing numbers, we have a basic tracking template for small law firms. Once the primary data is entered, the spreadsheet automatically makes and compares the calculations described above.
Tracking by Marketing Source
Some lawyers ask their clients how they learned about the lawyer. A few even record this information.
That is a solid start, but call tracking is a far more accurate approach. This technique uses different phone numbers and keyword tracking to trace leads back to their originating search terms.
This technique will tell you how many leads came from smartphones using Google’s 3-pack and click-to-call, and how many leads resulted from a more traditional desktop search leading to your website.
Even more valuable, call tracking will tell you what keywords are generating calls from prospects. Armed with this information, you can pursue rankings from similar keywords to further boost your calls.
How We Use Call Tracking
For our clients, we tie the call tracking that we install for them to an analytics dashboard that tracks all their marketing data on one page in real time.
At a glance, we and our clients can see which lead sources are most productive and work to improve and expand them.
In addition, call tracking shows duration of each call and how many calls went unanswered, and allows you to listen to any call with a single click. It is easy to check up on your frontline team, starting with listening to the calls of short duration to see why no appointment was made.
6 Types of Data That Must Be on Your Attorney Marketing Dashboard
If you don’t track it, you can’t fix it. That is the motto of many a successful marketer and for good reason: marketing data empowers us to make informed decisions about strategy and spending based on what is working and what’s not. With so much information available, there is no excuse for any law firm to fumble around in the dark when it comes to a lawyer marketing dashboard.
The 6 data points below form a portfolio of the most essential attorney marketing information that legal practices should track on a daily, weekly, and/or monthly basis. Stay informed by setting up your own lawyer marketing dashboard, or try the powerful James Legal CRM (Client Relationship Manager) and James Online Reputation Management (ORM) tool.
Designed specifically for legal practices, these systems come with an intuitive lawyer marketing dashboard that presents all of your most informative data in one place… finally, a better way to determine whether your legal marketing efforts are paying off and how to better spend your budget.
- Call Tracking and Monitoring
Incoming calls tend to indicate marketing success. If your phone isn’t ringing, you’re probably not generating much new business. Call tracking ensures that you know where you stand at any given moment in terms of new client development, and where your law firm needs improvement.
On the James Legal CRM, for instance, your call dashboard automatically includes data such as:
- Number of calls made
- Amount of inbound calls
- Average call duration
- Phone calls by area code
- Percentage of calls answered and how quickly
You can also quality check from this lawyer marketing dashboard by listening to any call and reading live chat transcriptions with one click—providing insight into how well your staff is trained.
Bonus: We specialize in creating personalized attorney marketing plans that boost leads. Click here to receive your customized roadmap.
2. Email Engagement
Drip email marketing campaigns, or sequences of messages sent out based on recipients’ behavior or at predetermined intervals, are ideal for cultivating relationships with prospects who are not yet ready to work with your law firm. By creating several touchpoints over the course of weeks or months, you’re able to push leads down the funnel until they are decision-ready.
In fact, the Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric estimate that email achieves a return on investment (ROI) of 122%, much higher than other marketing strategies… but only when constantly optimizing your law firm’s email marketing strategy for maximum ROI.
These email marketing metrics can help to determine where you’re succeeding and whether recipients are engaging with messages:
- Email list statistics:
- How many clean email addresses are on your list
- The number of addresses added within the past month
- Churn rate: the number of opt-outs (within a certain period of time) and stale/disengaged addresses
- The amount of qualified leads, separated into categories: cold, warm, and hot
- Open rates: The percentage of emails read out of the entire number delivered (this doesn’t include messages that bounced or were marked as spam)
- Click-through rates: The proportion of recipients who clicked a link inside your email, such as a contact button or hyperlink to a landing page on your website
- Conversion rates: The number of email recipients who transform into clients
Tip: The James Legal CRM comes pre-loaded with specialty-specific content to send to your leads, whether you specialize in bankruptcy law, personal injury law, or another niche. Simply choose which educational content you’d like to automatically send to prospects.
Although this can fall under the purview of email marketing or call tracking, it is important enough to warrant its own category. Appointments are your law firm’s bread and butter; when you have a prospect on the phone (or in front of you at the office), you have the opportunity to:
- Qualify the lead to determine whether they are a good fit for your legal practice
- Address your lead’s questions and concerns
- Recognize patterns in your audience’s queries, which can assist with developing effective attorney marketing material that tackles common topics
- Determine which marketing strategies work (Do most of your prospects find you via Google or referral from a friend, for instance?)
- Convert the appointment into a case
Therefore, keeping a finger on the pulse of your appointment rates is essential. Your legal practice should be able to review the following data points at any given moment.
- The number of appointments set and where they came from
- Those who have been in touch with your firm (via telephone or email) but haven’t yet set appointments
- Those who set appointments but missed them
- How many new clients your law firm is producing every month compared to the number of prospects (i.e., your conversion rate)
Bonus: What could you do with a free guide of the best marketing tips for small law firms? Receive 19 proven ways to attract, convert, and sign more prospects—download the complimentary guide here!
4. Content Performance and Development
In addition to incoming business, legal content should be front and center on your lawyer marketing dashboard. If you have an attorney content marketing calendar (and you should have one for greater marketing success—if you don’t, learn how to create one here), take a look at it every week to ensure that your marketing efforts are on track to reach your objectives.
This should encompass the performance of existing content, as well as what your in-house attorney marketing team (or experienced attorney marketing partner) plans to develop. For existing content—let’s say an e-book about slip-and-fall injuries that you’re offering as a lead magnet—keep tabs on:
- Recipients: Which demographic or segment of your email list are you targeting, and does this align with who is downloading?
- Number of downloads
- Conversion rate: How many of those recipients (downloads) eventually convert into clients?
- Funnel: How are recipients discovering your e-book—via social media, your website, or your email list?
- Cost of production and distribution
- Overall performance and cost compared to previous attorney marketing pieces
Then, use this data to inform your marketing calendar and budget. If this e-book is performing poorly compared to past guides about personal injury topics, such as negligence or car accidents, then you may want to:
- Produce fewer slip-and-fall pieces
- Experiment with a format other than e-guides
- Assess distribution channels and focus on getting more eyes on your content
- Dedicate funds toward hiring an experienced legal marketing partner like Optimized Attorney
Overall, tracking content performance in real time provides insight that allows you to pivot or iterate before poor-performing pieces waste time and marketing dollars.
Bonus: Download free educational content for four legal specialties: bankruptcy, criminal, family, and personal injury law! It’s complimentary and can set you apart from the competition.
5. Online Reputation
A positive online reputation is worth its weight in gold. 95% of your prospects will search for your law firm’s name online and read reviews from past clients, according to BrightLocal. If they like what they see, they’re much more likely to call you… but if not, they’re sure to bypass your law firm in favor of competitors.
Therefore, cultivating positive online reviews and assessing your overall rating should be on your weekly task list. With Optimized Attorney’s ORM tool, for example, you have real-time access to data such as:
- Number of testimonials generated, from which sites
- Aggregate review score
- Current score compared to previous rating
- Review content
Bonus: With the James ORM tool, you can see review content, “park” negative reviews before they go live, and respond to testimonials all from one lawyer marketing dashboard. Additionally, you never have to hassle your clients for reviews again; they receive automated requests for testimonials, freeing up your time while automatically building a powerful library of positive online reviews.
This system has helped clients like Loren Etengoff, a Washington-based personal injury lawyer, more than double his caseload year-over-year. 90% of his clients say that they contacted him due to his online reviews!
6. Staff Workflows
Make sure that your attorney and support teams stay focused on the right tasks with daily and weekly workflows. These are basically outlines of manual and automated to-dos that drive each team member toward their goals.
One example: a new “lead to retained” client overview, which prompts the user to complete tasks such as creating a new contact in Agile and associating an attorney with the new contact. These manual tasks trigger automated activities—like delivering specialty-specific content to the contact—to streamline processes and cultivate a beneficial relationship, without requiring hands-on attention at every step of the way.
Maintaining these workflows—which Optimized Attorney customizes for each member of your team—on your lawyer marketing dashboard provides a success path and prevents inconsistent, ineffective actions from stalling your team’s productivity.
Additionally, workflows through the James Legal CRM are a great strategy for:
- Integrating your law firm’s mission into day-to-day actions
- Clarifying your legal practice’s goals as well as each team member’s individual objectives
- Collaborating successfully and avoiding duplicate efforts
Tip: The James Legal CRM also sends automatic reminders about important tasks when triggers are hit, ensuring that you never skip an important task.
All in all, including workflows on your lawyer marketing dashboard keeps your team focused on the right things at the right time, enabling your attorney marketing strategy to perform like a well-oiled machine.