Years ago (say 2008), most of my conversations with lawyers about the web went something like this:
Lawyer: People will never use the internet to hire a lawyer.
Me: They already are.
Lawyer: Bah, you're full of it.
Now, the conversations are slightly different. Most lawyers "get" the fact that people use the internet, search engines and social networking platforms to get information about their legal issues, find lawyers and learn more about specific lawyers. The new conversations usually go something like this:
Lawyer: I need SEO.
Me: One pound or two?
Lawyer: Give me three.
Seriously though, the conversation has shifted from a flat-out denial that the web has any use for client development to give me that good internet marketing magic.
I preferred the 2008 conversations...
Here's the deal, if you're going to use the internet to create, nurture and solidify professional relationships, you should have some objectives, goals, key-results, whatever. In other words:
Please don't answer question #1 with: I want more clients.
Of course you do.
But do you really know what you're asking?
More than what? From where? At what cost?
Trying to answer the question of whether your client development activities are "working" requires defining what you mean by working. Law practices come in all shapes and sizes. They have different people, processes and purposes. Likewise, they have different business needs and success metrics.
Hopefully it's obvious to you that if you consistently spend more money acquiring new clients than you receive in fees from those clients, you won't be in business very long. But this is about as elementary of an analysis of whether it's "working" as one can perform. Yet, many lawyers have never even thought about their target cost to acquire a new client, or the lifetime value of a client.
And maybe you don't even need to. However, if don't think about these things, it's going to be nearly impossible for you say with any kind of confidence whether your marketing and advertising are working.
But there are a host of other things that might be an indication of whether or not something is working.
Maybe "working" means getting more people to subscribe to your blog.
Maybe "working" means meeting and connecting with people online who nominate you for a leadership position.
Maybe "working" means becoming the local go-to source for information about a very specific legal niche.
Maybe "working" means growing the number of people that refer business to you or the frequency with which your existing network refers it.
And for some of you, maybe working means growing organic search traffic, motivating those visitors to contact you and eventually converting them into new paying clients. In which case, maybe you do, "need some SEO."
But if you do, set some goals.
How much organic search traffic are you getting from visitors in your location(s) now? That's your baseline. Now come up with a number that you're trying to achieve in six to eight months.
How many visitors from organic search are contacting you to inquire about your services today? Are you even tracking that (hint: asking people how they found you doesn't count).
If you're going to spend money on web marketing and advertising, you have to understand what the numbers have to be for you to meet your business objectives.
What is your target return on ad spend?
How much can you spend to get a new client in a way that makes sense for your practice?
If you spend a million dollars on AdWords to get clients that are never going to generate more than a few thousand in fees, you're going to have some problems.
Once you've figured out what your targets have to be, start to experiment.
Build a forecast. Spend a little money to test a campaign. Analyze the results monthly, quarterly and annually. Here's a simple example:
How much does this ad cost to run?
How many impressions do you expect it will get?
How many clicks do you expect it will get?
Are you paying on an impression, click or some other basis?
How will you track how many times the ad was seen and clicked?
How will you track whether the ad converted into any potential client inquiries?
How will you track how many of those inquiries turned into paying clients?
How will you track how much in legal fees was generated by a particular ad or campaign?
Answer these questions and you'll be able to tell whether or not it's working.
Do more of what's working, less of what doesn't.
Don't assume that just because something does or does not work for others, it will or will not work for you.
Don't trust what your competitors are telling you about their results.