Guy Alvarez of Good2bSocial, a leading digital marketing agency for law firms, has a nice piece on the analytics used to measure web marketing.

One statement by Guy sticks in my craw though, that being “…the main goal of online marketing is to get people back to your law firm’s web site.”

The obvious goal is revenue, and I’m sure Guy agrees with this.

If the law firm puts money into online marketing, how much will it increase revenue. Anything spent should be measured the same way the law firm’s accountant or CFO measures success. An increase in revenue for the firm, a practice group or an individual lawyer.

The path to increased revenues for many lawyers and firms is not through an increase in traffic to their websites though.

The vast majority of lawyers I talk with get their work through relationships and a strong word of mouth reputation. A website, for them, is a nice way for people who found them otherwise to look at their background and that of their firm, but traffic to the website is not a revenue generator for them.

In the case of larger law firms, it’s probably seven or eight percent of the firm’s lawyers originating the vast magority of the firm’s revenue. Again for them, the website is important, but it’s not how they maintain and grow revenue. It’s relationships and word of mouth reputations.

Law firms should not change things up when it comes to online marketing. Word of mouth reputation and relationships remain the key.

So when doing online marketing, the goal should be building, nurturing and accelerating relationships and reputations. Assuming you’ve been successful in doing so, then look to increased revenues as the measure of success.

  • Good point. Back in May, I wrote an article decrying the obsession many business law firms seem to have with tracking website visits (at http://tinyurl.com/pmyu6sb). While it’s true that Google and Bing analytics are a somewhat useful benchmark, for firms and their lawyers they provide massive amounts of precisely the wrong kind of truly useful information. Although more difficult to measure, a much better gauge is how a website and blog is positioning the firm, and its lawyers, as thought leaders. This is vital because today it is thought leadership that clients are desperate to buy.

    If all a law firm wants is more visitors, it can get them by tweeting pictures of cute puppies and kittens with a link back to the website. But they won’t increase fees or profitability.

    On the other hand, tracking visitors can be extremely important for consumer lawyers and firms, those dealing with personal injury, divorce, etc. It’s how most B2C firms generate new clients.

    • Guy Alvarez

      James, most law firms track websites visits without taking the time to analyze what the data is telling them. The value of analytics is not on collecting the data, but rather on gleaning actionable insights from the data. Otherwise, why collect it in the first place.

      In order to develop meaningful relationships with both clients and prospects, law firms need to provide content that is useful and valuable to their target audience. The more you can learn and segment your audience, the more valuable your content is. The more valuable your content is, the more trust you can develop with your target audience.

      For example, if you are able to determine that the associate general counsel at Bank of America has been reading the content you are publishing on block chain, and if Bank of America is a client or even a target, wouldn’t you want to devote more resources and create more content around that topic? Perhaps write an ebook or produce a webinar. But if you treat all web visitors in the same way and offer them content that they don’t care about or content that shows no understanding of their business or the issues they are facing, then you are not providing any value and will most likely lose permission from that individual to continue to send him or her content.

      Analytics are important to EVERY business. B2C and B2B law firms included. We are living in an era of permission marketing (as Seth Godin famously wrote about in his book). Buyers have the power today and we need their permission to interrupt their days with content that they deem to be important to their business. The more you can do this, the more you will be thought of as a thought leader.

      • Totally agree with Guy Totally agree with Guy that there is a lot to be gleaned from the analytics. The numbers alone may not be the key, though they feel good, what people are reading and who they are can guide a lawyer or firm in publishing items of value to their target audience. Though content alone and traffic will not suffice, it’s going out and meeting that associate general counsel at B of A – that’s going to come from picking up the phone and going cold or breaking the ice through publishing and social media.

        • Guy Alvarez

          Kevin, you know it takes time and effort to develop a relationship. Relationships are built through trust. Providing valuable content, as well as access to your network, helps build trust online. Think of it as dating. You can’t just ask someone to marry you after the first date. It takes several months of dating, before you move on to the next step. Building relationships online take time and permission is given one step at a time. If you publish good relevant content on your website, blog or social media, I may give you permission to email me your newsletter. As long as the content remains relevant, and you don’t abuse that permission, eventually, I may give you permission to call me or I may call you to talk to you about representing me or my company or asking for legal advice.

  • Guy Alvarez

    Thanks Kevin for sharing my post. While I agree with you that the ultimate goal in digital marketing for lawyers is to build and foster strategic relationships, I need to make a distinction between individual lawyers and law firms as a whole. I am sure you are familiar with the saying that “people hire lawyers not law firms.” In this context, I completely agree that lawyers should use social media to build their networks and strategically develop relationships. However, law firms as an entity are not able to develop relationships in this manner. Laws firms, especially global firms that have hundreds or thousands of lawyers, need to use digital marketing as a way to raise awareness of the overall firm, its services and the lawyers within the firm. The place to do this is on their website, not on Facebook, or Twitter of even LinkedIn. The reason why is simple. You don’t build where you rent. Law firms do not control LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Those networks are all for profit businesses and they control what happens or doesn’t happen on their networks. They can decide, on a whim, if they want to kill a feature or change the way their system operates. They also SEVERELY limit an organizations ability to measure and track how visitors engage and use their content. In today’s data driven word, it is critical that organizations are able to measure the impact of the content they are creating in order to determine what works and what needs to change. The public social networks DO NOT allow you to do this. i.e. if you take the time to build a successful group on LinkedIn, and you decide you want to move that group to Facebook or a private network, LinkedIn does NOT allow you to export the subscriber list. Therefore, it is short sighted and risky to depend on a third party to build your network. You want to be able to do that on your own, not rely on someone else.

    • I get you on the lawyer versus the firm, but I do believe it’s the lawyers the firm has and the reputations of those lawyers that bring in the good work. That’s why there are so many lateral hires and firms bragging about those hires. To me (and it’s just me) I see the firm existing to support and empower the lawyers who are rainmakers for the firm. It’s a small group of lawyers, but they originate most of the billings.

      As to social media – blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc, yes individual lawyers need to use these things to build reputations and relationships. It can all be done without people coming back to the website, though the website says an awful lot about the individual lawyer and where they are employed.

      I get where these social media – other than publications/blogs – are tougher to use by a firm though. I just do not see traffic to the firm website as the main goal of a law firm’s online marketing.