How a Little Math Can Make a Big Difference in Your Results
Are marketers artists, or are they just nerds?
Certainly, as marketers, we create. Digital marketing for lawyers, for example, is primarily an exercise in content creation and promotion.
But there’s a very techy side to digital marketing that feels less like Banksy than it does Pythagoras.
An effective marketer spends a lot of time with his or her face two inches from a computer screen, pouring over charts, spreadsheets, and assorted data. We call this process analytics, which is basically the science of making sure our marketing efforts are actually working.
How do we measure that? With a little thing call metrics. A metric is simply a statistics-based standard for evaluating success.
There are many, many, many metrics available to legal marketers. Keeping up with them all would require an oft-updated encyclopedia. …Even then, everyone in the industry seems to have a “hot take” on which metrics matter, which ones don’t, and how you ought to use all this information.
Well, here’s our hot take — every metric is meaningful, but some mean more than others. For simplicity’s sake, we’re counting down seven of the most significant legal marketing metrics (and explaining how to use them along the way).
1. Organic Traffic, Bounce Rate, and Time on Page
Let’s begin with the basics: “how many people are visiting my website?”
That’s an important question, but it’s not the most important question.
More valuable is knowing why people come to your site and what they do once they get there.
Still, you will need a fundamental understanding of just how many hits your site is getting. To that end, let’s look at three foundational law firm marketing metrics:
- Organic Traffic: This is the raw number of unique I.P. addresses visiting your site, counting only those that access the site “organically” (that is, through search engine results rather than a PPC campaign). You’ll want to know the organic traffic totals for each key webpage and for the site overall.
- Bounce Rate: When someone visits your website and then leaves after seeing only a single webpage, that’s considered a “bounce.” While people might leave a site for many reasons, marketers typically interpret a bounce as an indication of disinterest. The lower your bounce rate, the better.
- Time on Page: This tells you how much time users are spending on a given webpage or blog article (and on your site overall). Generally speaking, the longer people spend on your site, the more effective your content is.
Keep in mind, though, that even if you have millions of people visiting your site and spending an hour on each and every page, that accomplishment doesn’t mean much if none of them hire you! That’s why we say these basic traffic metrics aren’t as important as some marketers will lead you to believe.
Different legal marketing agencies adopt different approaches. At Black Fin, for instance, we focus relentlessly on our clients’ bottom line: getting new cases and clients. There’s a process for getting there, and the next six metrics each speak to that ultimate goal.
2. Lead Generation
In marketingspeak, a lead is someone who shows an interest in your brand, product, or services. They may indicate this interest directly (by contacting you) or indirectly (through their online activity).
In lawyerspeak, a lead is simply the online version of a prospective client.
Not all organic visitors are leads. For example, those who “bounce” are not leads. But those who go on to learn more about your firm (on an About Us page, for example, or using an online chat box) are very promising leads indeed.
Lead generation simply refers to the total number of leads your website is creating.
Think of your website’s traffic as a funnel. A large number of visitors enter. Some of these people become leads. Some of the leads then make contact. And some of those contacts then become clients. In other words:
Traffic > Leads > Contacts > Clients
The lead generation metric tells you how well you’re doing at the second stage of this funnel. You want the percentage of visitors becoming leads to be as high as possible.
(Some marketing agencies advertise much more complex versions of the funnel, but they’re all just a twist on the same underlying concept. We happen to think that keeping it simple makes it easier to focus on your goals.)
There are a few things you want to do with your leads:
- Count them
- Keep track of them (for example, their I.P. address, so you know if you they come back)
- “Retarget” them (if they leave your website without making contact, use retargeting tools to ensure that they see ads for your brand on other websites in the days and weeks ahead)
- Analyze them (gather demographic data whenever possible)
- Get them to make contact (see below)
You’ll also need to know the raw number of leads in order to calculate some of the other metrics that follow.
3. Contact and Client Conversion
Your conversion rate is simply the percentage of leads who take a given action.
For example, your contact conversion rate is the percentage of leads who make contact with your firm, represented in this formula:
Total Number of Contacts / Total Number of Leads = Contact Conversion Rate (%)
Even more important is your client conversation rate, expressed as follows:
Total Number of Leads Who Become Clients / Total Number of Leads = Client Conversion Rate (%)
Your conversion rate tells you how effectively your web marketing efforts are inducing leads to take action. (You might also calculate a conversion rate to test a particular initiative. For example, if you want visitors to download a free ebook, you could calculate the ebook’s conversion rate by dividing the number of signups by the number of leads.)
A low conversion rate might mean one of two things:
- Your website isn’t persuasive enough.
- You’re generating the wrong kinds of leads. (For example, law firms sometimes run into the problem of attracting leads from a different jurisdiction, meaning they almost certainly can’t become clients.)
4. Average Client Acquisition Cost
Client Acquisition Cost (CAC) is simply a measure of how much money you have to spend on marketing in order to obtain one new client.
Here’s the formula:
Total $ spent on all marketing efforts geared toward getting new clients during a given time period / Total number of new clients acquired during the same time period
This is a very popular metric, and it’s useful as a general barometer of how wise your spending has been. But there are several fallacies inherent in the CAC formula, so it’s important not to get too hung up on the number.
Consider, for example, a PPC campaign. PPC ads rely on a bidding system, wherein higher bids generally earn better placement and a bigger audience (“views” or “impressions”). So an ad with a bigger budget might perform exponentially better. For example: a $10 campaign might result in one new client, but a $20 campaign might result in three new clients. You doubled your investment but tripled your results. The CAC formula doesn’t account for that.
Remember, too, that leads don’t always convert into clients overnight. For example, a lead you capture in August might not take action until October. But your CAC calculations for August won’t take that lead’s conversion into account. CAC can be misleading in this way.
To get the most insight out of CAC, calculate it each month over a long period of time (say, a year), and then average those results.
5. Marketing-Originated Client Percentage
Not every client comes from a marketing campaign. Some might already know who you are, perhaps from years of brand awareness in the local community. Some may come through word of mouth or a friend’s referral. Others might merely walk by your office at just the right time.
You wouldn’t want to give your marketing campaigns credit for those conversions. That’s where Marketing-Originated Client Percentage comes in. Use it to test particular marketing campaign.
For example, to test a PPC campaign’s conversion effectiveness, you might calculate:
New clients acquired through the PPC campaign / Total new clients across all sources during the same time period
Of course, to run this formula, you’ll need to know which clients came from where. At Black Fin, we keep track of that digitally to the fullest extent possible, but it’s always helpful for your law firm to perform an intake survey with each new client.
6. Total Marketing Spend
This one’s simple: how much are you spending on marketing overall? It’s helpful for two reasons:
- Your budget is your budget. Certainly, it is true that “it takes money to make money,” and spending money on advertising (if done strategically) will always yield a worthwhile return in the long run. But you still want to keep an eye on that total dollar amount in the short term.
- Knowing your total marketing spend will allow you to calculate your ROI (see below).
Success in legal marketing is a long-term prospect and a big-picture game. Knowing your Total Marketing Spend helps you keep costs predictable and under control.
7. Law Firm Marketing ROI
No metric matters more than the return on your investment, or ROI. Simply put, it’s how much you’re getting out of what you put in — the bang for your buck.
A wise investment yields a high ROI. If the ROI isn’t worthwhile, then it’s time to make a change. That might mean targeting different keywords, blogging about different content, increasing the word count on each new webpage, or adjusting your PPC campaign constraints.
Low-ROI marketing is a waste of time and money. You should expect your marketing agency to be able to demonstrate ROI over the long term.
Of course, patience is a virtue. There is no such thing as overnight success in SEO (though PPC ads can produce short-term results), so don’t expect instant ROI. But as a long-term proposition, ROI is the ultimate benchmark for whether you keep going or change direction.
Let Black Fin Be Your Law Firm Marketing Agency
Black Fin is a team of legal marketing experts who do only one thing: grow law firms using the web.
Through content marketing, PPC advertising, SEO, and more, we put law firms at the top of Google and get them bigger cases from better clients.
We use metrics just like those described above to make sure our services are getting the right kinds of results. If they aren’t, we take action and get our clients’ campaigns on track. It’s the reason so many law firm managers have entrusted Black Fin with their firms’ accounts.
Just as importantly, we don’t require contracts. We know our process works, so we don’t need to lock you in. (Want to see some proof? Just ask to look at our past and ongoing results.)
Come find out why Inc.com recently recognized Black Fin as one of the fastest-growing privately owned companies in America. Learn more or contact our team using the Hire Us page. Let’s get together and finally make a difference in the results you’ve been seeing.