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March 5, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

Applying basic Web Analytics principles to Law Firm Websites


Last month I came across a great blog post on Web Analytics by Avinash Kaushik (most of his posts are great) about The Biggest Mistake Web Analysts Make…And How to Avoid It!  If you do not keep up with Avinash and you are in the field of online marketing I would suggest you start now.  His blog can be found at http://www.kaushik.net and you can follow him on Twitter as well.

He opens his post with this simple idea, “The single biggest mistake web analysts make is working without purpose.”

Brilliant!  I suggest you read the rest of his post as well.  What I would like to focus on is how the six questions that Avinash lays out relate directly to Law Firm Websites.  Here are the six questions of which I altered a bit in parentheses:

  1. Why does the (web)site exist?
  2. What parts of the website should you focus on first?
  3. How smart is their (your) digital marketing strategy?
  4. How well are they (you) doing in context of their (your) competition?
  5. What is the fastest possible way I (legal marketer) can have an impact on the business (law firm)?
  6. Any technical notes I (legal marketer) can make for the future, analytics or coding?

I would like to attempt to provide very broad answers to these questions as they relate to Law Firm Websites in hopes that readers of this post can expand on my thoughts and apply them directly to your work of improving your firm’s website on a consistent basis.

Why does the website exist?

I really like what Avinash has done here saying that rather than focusing on the obvious answer to this question we should identify macro and micro conversions for the website.  While the conversions will certainly differ from site to site here are a few thoughts.

Macro Conversion

  • Generate X number of visits to the Attorney Biographies (bios) every month.
    • People work with law firms because of their attorneys and therefore the more traffic to your firm’s biography pages, the more potential business you can generate from your website.

Micro Conversions

  • Newsletter, Client Alert registration.
    • Firms want to deliver value to clients and perspective clients that does not result in a fee with the ultimate hope of generating new business.  Tracking newsletters and clients alerts can help you understand if you are generating the type of content your prospects and clients need.
  • Generating X number of visits to bios from individual Office, Industry or Practice Area pages.
    • I believe that these three segments of Law Firm Websites are right behind bios in terms of importance.  Why, because they should lead to more traffic on the bios of course!  By knowing what Industries, Practice Areas and/or Offices generate the most traffic to the bios you can gain insight into what locations and areas are generating the most business for the firm through the website.
  • Social Media Activity
    • There could be a whole separate post dedicated to this topic.  If your law firms engages in social media (which I believe you should) make sure to measure it the best you can.  Visits to bios driven by LinkedIn and Facebook along with visits and (hopefully) subscriptions to your blogs are both good places to start.

What parts of the website should you focus on first?

The first question is always the hardest to answer as it forces you to take a good hard look at your website and prioritize what is really important.  The great part is the answering the first questions will make answering most of the remaining ones pretty easy.

If we look at the Macro and Micro conversions above I think the answer is pretty clear.  The Attorney Biographies should be your first focus.  They should be up to date, informative and contain clear calls to action.  It is not such a bad thing if you are updating the biographies on a daily basis with new articles written by the attorney, information from news outlets with quotes from the attorney, etc.

From there you can branch out to focus on the Practice Area, Industry and Office pages.  Avinash asks “What cross sells and up-sells do you see being pimped across the site?” I think that Industry pages are the best opportunity for cross and up-sells that law firm websites have going for them.  Perhaps they deserve the most attention after bios on your site.

How smart is your digital marketing strategy?

Does your firm and do your lawyers show up in places other than your website?  It is not enough anymore (and has not been for some time) to just have a website.  Do you have a presence on sites like Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and Chambers and Partners?  Do I find your firm’s content (LinkedIn profile, YouTube Videos, blogs, etc.) when I search for legal services surrounding your practice areas?  Can I stumble across a quote from one of your attorneys when I read the Wall Street Journal online?  Will someone from your firm reply to me on Twitter if I ask a question you can answer?

The point of all these questions is that you need to take a good hard look at where you are visible online.  Be where your prospects can find you.  This will be different from firm to firm but the first step to making any improvement is to know where you stand now.

How well are you doing in context of your competition?

With this question I do not want to mess around with the answer that Avinash provides.  He gives us some great free resources of where you can get get great information on your competition.  Tools like Compete and Google Trends for Websites allow you to view comparisons of your firm and your competition providing you with context for the data you began measuring in the first three questions.  There are also some for fee options in terms of law firm competitive analysis such as Hubbard One’s Monitor Suite.

Avinash also gives us a few other resources that can provide information of visitor demographics and competitive organic search data.

This context is great to have when your firm’s managing partner or the marketing committee ask you “so what?” after you inform them that you have had 30,000 visits to your bios, 247 new subscribers to your newsletter, 35 new Twitter followers.  With knowledge of your competition you get to answer, “this means we are beating the pants off of competing firm Y when it comes to the performance of our website!”

What is the fastest way you can have an impact on the law firm?

What can you fix today?  This is where you can log in to your Web Governance Software (disclaimer, I work for Siteimprove) and get to work!

Eliminate broken links and misspellings, make sure you have titled all pages and that your key pages are not slow to load.  A lot of little mistakes add up to a poor website so make sure you sweat the details.  Here are a few other things to check in on:

  • Do you have current contact information on appropriate pages for all your attorneys on the website?
  • Have you used words like “expertise”, “specialty” or other potentially prohibited words?
  • Are necessary links to your “Privacy Policy” and “Attorney Advertising Statement” on every page of your website?

Keeping your website free of errors and in line with industry standards is a great way to make a quick impact on its success.

Any technical notes you can make for the future?

Whether you can answer this question or not will depend somewhat on your technical abilities.  This is more icing on the cake if you can provide some feedback to your web developers or your vendor.

Check for simple things like do you have your analytics script (if that applies to you) on every page of your web presence (website, blogs, micro sites, etc.) and does your internal site search function properly.

I hope I have provided some valuable insight into Avinash’s very informative ideas surrounding web analytics that you can use to improve your law firm’s website.  If this post has helped you in any way I would love to hear from you.  If you think there is something missing, let me know!

All comments are welcome and as always thanks for reading.

4 Comments

  1. reilly3000 / Mar 7 2012 11:03 AM

    This is excellent. We make the mistake of thinking the contact form is the only valid conversion point… and call tracking is so cumbersome for professional services. The concept of bio visits and practice area visits as conversions is exceptional.

    • Steve Hennigs / Mar 7 2012 1:47 PM

      Thank you for the comment Chris. Based on conversations I have had with professional services marketers I believe that many of them are really starting to exhibit this type of intuitive measurement.

      I may be wrong but I think we are at the point where professional services firms are starting to move away from their websites simply being static to where the websites are becoming living, breathing business development tools. Better application of web analytics data is certainly a part of this shift.

  2. Terri / Mar 11 2012 4:24 PM

    Good points. I follow Avinash as well and have implemented his concepts using Google Analytics.

    • Steve Hennigs / Mar 12 2012 8:28 AM

      He really is a great resource for web analytics tips that is for sure. I see you will be attending the 2012 Legal Marketing Association Conference this week. I look forward to meeting you there and wish you safe travels!

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