Before law firms or other professional service firms engage us, they have one question, which tends to be paramount to all else. That question is: What will our return on investment (ROI) be for marketing and public relations (PR)?
This is a legitimate inquiry considering that marketing and public relations is an investment, so you should get a return. The challenge is that there’s not always a clear one-to-one causation (e.g., publishing this article makes the phone ring). This then begs the question: How can a professional services firm accurately measure its marketing ROI? The short answer is through tracking leads in addition to new business.
Why do I need to track leads, not just clients?
Tracking sources of business alone is certainly worthwhile, but you’re losing valuable information if you don’t track leads as well. That’s because, when it comes to marketing legal, financial or real estate services, the primary goal is to generate qualified leads, which are supposed to do exactly that – lead to sales.
Remember, you are making an investment in generating leads, so you want to know the degree of return. If you are making an investment in a specific marketing area, such as advertising on a particular website, and it’s bringing you poor quality leads, do you want to continue devoting money to that? If another investment is bringing you leads that more often than not convert to clients, don’t you want to put more money there? How are you going to know if you don’t track your lead source?
Many firms do track leads generated through their website, comparing, for example, organic to pay per click, which is worthwhile, but it doesn’t paint the full picture. That is often because you’re only tracking where business comes from, but not tracking which leads are not converting. It’s possible you’re generating leads with great potential from an investment, but your lawyers aren’t converting them. That points to the need for help in the business development arena, e.g., sales.
Ok, so how do I set up a lead tracking system?
Too often, firms think tracking requires a complicated, expensive integration system that involves all your email, website and other programs working together. While many terrific software programs are available, selecting and implementing one can seem overwhelming. Don’t let lack of a complex program keep you from tracking, and avoid using it as an excuse. The truth is you don’t need anything more sophisticated than an Excel spreadsheet to get started.
Examples of how we’ve seen law firms capture leads include: using their conflict check process (e.g., some firms do a conflict check before even talking with a prospect). Others use a separate form, which the professionals fill out. Ideally, you want to capture the information on the spot, as otherwise people won’t necessarily take the time to go back and fill in information. Other firms have designated a team member in the office who is responsible for sending out an email twice a week to get details on incoming calls or other leads.
Assign the responsibility for capturing, entering and tracking the data to one person. In a perfect world, every lawyer in your firm would remember to contribute the information as it happens. Don’t let imperfection stop you. Capture as much as you can.
What do I need to track?
You want to be careful how much you slice and dice incoming information because if you make it too complex, e.g. fifteen different categories and five subcategories in each one, people get confused. Start by identifying the categories where your law firm gets business from. For instance, if one category is leads from other attorneys, which practice areas do they come from? You don’t have to list every kind of category; subcategories can be the top three that you think you get them from.
Include categories, such as your website, current and former clients, social media, email marketing, and others pertinent to your marketing, such as seminars or webinars.
What can tracking leads tell me?
Tracking doesn’t require an outside marketing agency, but it can add a lot of value to the process because the agency is going to create accountability. We work closely with our clients’ administrators or paralegals to stay on top of obtaining data and ensuring that it is complete. Then we analyze the information to answer the key question, “Are we making the right marketing investments?”
Seeing the leads as stats in black and white helps firms to understand which investments are working. Upon engaging in tracking leads, it is not uncommon for us to hear from our clients things like, “I didn’t realize we were getting so much from our investment in ABC organization,” or “Look how many referrals we’re receiving from XYZ firm compared to last year.”
By illuminating where your leads are coming from through tracking, you can continue to woo your referral sources and know exactly where to put your emphasis. Conversely, you’ll also see if there are marketing activities you thought were working but the stats tell a different story. For example, you may find that paying fees to be a member of a professional organization isn’t really bringing you leads. However, if you enjoy the membership, or brainstorming with like-minded professionals, you may decide to stay the course. The point is, you will remove any ambiguity about what’s generating a healthy ROI.
What’s the best way to share tracked data?
Make sure you’re sharing the data with the right people in the firm. Determine an effective format to review and discuss your data. If you have a dedicated marketing meeting, that’s ideal, or maybe it’s your partner meeting. You should be reviewing data quarterly or at least every six months.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
It’s easy to see why lead tracking can go by the wayside. Professionals are focused on countless other tasks, to say nothing of keeping clients happy. But before you say “we’re too busy” or “it’s too complicated,” take a step back and assess what mechanism may already be in place to capture what you need. The answer may be closer than you think.