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May 28, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

Law firm website ROI

For any organization it is a challenge to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) for the website. I think this is especially true on large informational websites such as law firms’ and other professional services firms’ websites.

Investing website Investopedia defines ROI as the following:

A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or  to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. To calculate  ROI, the benefit (return) of an investment is divided by the  cost of the investment; the result is expressed as a percentage or a  ratio.”

Put simply, do you get out more money than you put in to a given project.

On e-commerce websites this is usually done strictly through quantitative web analytics which can track how much money each product sold online is generating and what campaign is tied to the sale. I strongly believe that web analytics should be a big part of evaluating a law firm website (see my earlier post titled Apply  basic Web Analytics Principles to Law Firm Websites) but I also believe that there are more qualitative measures needed to truly determine if the website contributes to a firm gaining or retaining clients and top talent.

Get feedback from your website visitors when they are on your website

This is something that anyone with a large website should probably be doing. There are a lot of options out there when it comes to technology for requesting feedback on websites. I am biased of course to the option that Siteimprove provides but you could also check out iPerceptions for this type of service.

Either way by asking your website visitors targeted questions while they are on your website you can gather some great information to assist you when determining the ROI.

For example if you know that the majority of your traffic is going to the attorney biographies (and research by the Great Jakes guys says that it does) then that would be a great place to ask a question like “Were you able to find the information you were looking for?” Simple yes/no questions like this are more likely to be answered and you can have an option for people to leave a comment if they would like to share more.

By gathering this type of information over time you can begin to understand the effectiveness of your key pages on the site and build that satisfaction into your ROI calculation.

Ask people who call your firm…

if they used your website to evaluate your firm. This can be new clients or new hires. By finding out what role the website is playing in the evaluation process you can certainly find a way to determine if the site has helped land the new client or hire. Web analytics can only take you so far and at some point you just need to ask the client if they used the site and how. By gathering this information you can determine the overall role the website has taken in landing a client and factor that into your ROI calculation.

I would be interested to hear from some firms either in the comments or by email if you have done this and how it has helped you evaluate the value of your website. That would be a great topic for a follow up post.

Use Client Surveys

I am sure by now that most firms use some form of a client survey when a case has been finished to understand the client’s overall satisfaction with the firm. Here is another great time to ask a question or two about the website. I am not suggesting that there be an entire page dedicated to website questions but a couple questions can go a long way to helping you calculate ROI.

A couple examples could be “Did you use our website when working with us?” If yes, did you find it helpful and if no, why did you not use our website?”

These are pretty basic questions and I am sure individual firms could ask better questions that more specifically answer what you want to know but I hope you get the idea.

As I stated at the outset of the post it is a challenge to calculate the ROI of a website for any organization and law firms in particular. To do so you must combine quantitative and qualitative data over time allowing you to better understand if your website is a success. For more thoughts on this idea I suggest you have a look at Siteimprove’s blog post on the topic after you finish here.

How does your firm determine the ROI of the website? Are you using any of the above methods or something completely different?

As always, thanks for reading.

May 23, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

The ‘Auto Correct’ Generation

There is an interesting article I came across on LinkedIn discussing how spell checking software and auto-correct has led to a decline in the ability to spell. The article is posted on the BBC News website and I was finding the article pretty interesting until I came across this sentence:

[Ian McNeilly, director of the Natioanl (emphasis added) Association for the Teaching of English, said: “I think it’s an easy, knee-jerk reaction – though an entirely understandable one – to blame technology for perceived declines in a whole variety of areas.]

I could not get over the irony of the author misspelling the word ‘Natioanl” in an article about poor spelling.

The inability to spell certainly hurts the credibility of any person or organization but the same can be said about typos. This article lost a ton of credibility for me not because the author cannot spell (I am confident that they know how to spell National) but because they rushed to publish the article without taking advantage of the very software they are discussing, ultimately leading to this typo.

No matter how great or poor you are at spelling there is still the possibility a misspelling can slip through the cracks and hurt your credibility. This is even more so the case when writing for the web. It is so easy to quickly publish content on the web and that can lead to mistakes. Having tools like auto-correct and spell checking software are a necessity to catch misspellings regardless of why they occur (inability to spell or typo).

If an organization does not check and then double-check for mistakes in their web content they are asking for trouble.

How do you avoid spelling errors? As always, thanks for reading.


May 13, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

My Mom would have been a hell of a saleswoman

When most people think of a saleswoman the image is generally that of what has been played out in the movies and on TV. Someone who is slick talking and is willing to screw over her customers just to make a buck. That has given salespeople in general a bad rap (unfortunately there are still some of those folks out there. I urge you to go away).

A great saleswoman cares about her customers, understands how to improve her customer’s life/business and works with (not against) her customers to make that benefit a reality. Beyond being very knowledgable about her customers a great saleswoman is also very likable, trustworthy and accountable.

Based on how my Mom took care of her two customers (my brother and I) as we were growing up she would have made a great saleswoman. She knew exactly what we needed each and every day to be successful and she always delivered. She would drop whatever she was doing to make sure we were on the right track at all times and I appreciate that more and more every day. She didn’t just stop there however. She did what all great saleswomen do and followed up routinely to make sure we continued to be successful. To say that I learned a lot from my Mom is a gross understatement.

She (along with my Dad) also followed through on promises and was a strong negotiator which are other traits of a great saleswoman. Good grades led to rewards, getting a job in highschool meant I would get financial help for bigger purchases, and other deals like this. She instilled in me a strong work ethic that has served me well.

So I  wish my Mom, and all other Moms out there, a Happy Mother’s Day. You are the reason your children grow to be successful and happy and there is no one better suited for the job.

I miss you Mom and love you very much. I am sure you are taking care of some other satisfied customers where you are now.

Spend some time with your Mom today whether that be by phone or in person and make her feel the appreciation she deserves. As always, thanks for reading.

May 7, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

Strategic Law Firm SEO – Book Review

Strategic Law Firm SEO Book

This past week I finished reading “Strategic Law Firm SEO, A Guide to Modern Search Engine Optimization for Law Firms” by Jerry Work  of Virtuoso Legal Marketing “Virtuoso” and I believe that this is a book every Legal Marketer or lawyer in a small/solo law firm should read. I say this for three reasons.

Great writing style

First of all the author, Jerry Work, has a very easy to read writing style and explains some complicated concepts in an easy to understand manner. While search engine optimization (SEO) is certainly important it is still just a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to marketing a law firm. With that being the case it is critical that legal marketers be able to understand the concepts of SEO quickly and easily so they can make a decision on whether to tackle the task themselves or hire an outside firm. This brings me to my next point.

Useful information that can be used for multiple purposes

What I think I liked most about the book is that it provided a very detailed overview of current SEO tactics and touched on different ways law firms can use that information.

The most obvious application would be for the law firm to do SEO on their own without any outside help. Mr. Work states clearly in the book that “SEO is a lot of work” but also states that if you follow the tactics in the book and have the time to do so that your firm will be successful.

The second application of the information is that law firms can now be educated on what to look for when hiring an outside company to do their SEO for them. I think that this is the route that most law firms take and unfortunately a lot of law firms make uninformed decisions when doing so. By reading this book law firms can get a good understanding of what an outside company should and should not be doing to enhance the law firm’s search ranking. I honestly think this is the best reason to read this book.

I did not feel like I was being sold to

The final reason that I would recommend this book is that I really did learn a lot without feeling like I was being sold to. As a salesman myself this was very refreshing to see a company write such an informative book without being salesy. Sure Virtuoso will make some money on the book and they do mention their firm as an option to do your law firm’s SEO but it was not often and done in a tasteful way.

Overall I felt that Strategic Law Firm SEO was an easy and informative read with very useful information. I hope that legal marketers who visit this post will take me up on the recommendation and read the book. If you do please come back to the post and let me know if you felt it was any good. How can you apply the information? Do you do your SEO in-house or do you hire out?

As always, thanks for reading.

April 30, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

Legal services are sold on value, not price. Correct?

There is a discussion going on in the Legal Marketing LinkedIn Group about whether or not law firms should embrace the idea of providing coupons for their services.

Now I do not work in a law firm nor am I a lawyer so take my opinions how you will but this seems crazy to me. What I have come to understand in observing the opinions of respected individuals in the legal community is that people hire a lawyer based on the value that a lawyer brings to their situation and that price is a smaller factor in a decision.

When selling anything that is not a commodity (and even some items that are) it is an old rule of thumb to sell on value and to avoid selling on price. If you start selling on price there will always be someone else who comes along and sells at rate lower than yours effectively taking that work from you.

Marketing guru and author Seth Godin recently wrote the following short blog post:

“It might be that low prices are the final refuge of the marketer who has run out of ideas and is left with nothing but a commodity.

Or it might be that organizing your business around lowering prices through efficiency, mass scale and smart choices is a powerful way to grow.

My guess is that both are true, but you better be really sure about which one you’re choosing. Hint: doing the second one successfully is really quite difficult, so if all you’re doing is writing a lower number on the pricetags, you’re probably playing the first game.”

 If law firms begin offering coupons for their service then they are starting the proverbial race to the bottom  which is the easy way out and an unsustainable model. I would challenge firms to find more creative and valuable solutions like improving client service and/or offering alternative fee arrangements. These actions and others like them may take time and be harder to implement but add a great deal of value and will be much more successful in the long run by not cheapening a valuable service such as quality legal advice.

I urge you to check out the discussion in the LinkedIn Group if you can and it would be great to receive a few comments on this post as well. I am very interested in hearing what those who work day in and day out in the legal profession think in regards to this topic.

As always, thanks for reading!

April 16, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

Why Should I Buy is moving!!

The time has come for “Why Should I Buy” to grow up. I have been posting faithfully nearly every week since July of 2011 on a variety of topics like web analytics, trends in legal marketing, sales techniques and web governance.

I will continue posting every week at my new home with the first post going live in May.Monday April 30, 2012

I am making the move for a variety of reasons that will become apparent over time. I will be working on a new design for the blog, adding new functionality from the vast library of WordPress plugins and eventually adding more pages to the blog.

If you currently follow this blog and have found my posts valuable I hope you will continue to follow me at my new address. I would also like to hear from you on topics you would like me to post about. How can I add value to your workday?

I look forward to interacting with you at my new address and as always thanks for reading!

April 2, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

Hey law firms, your cheese is moving!

This past week I read the bestselling book by Spencer Johnson, M.D. entitled “Who Moved My Cheese?”. It is a story about change and how we deal with it.

The book contains a short story following four characters; two mice named Sniff and Scurry along with two little people named Hem and Haw. The four characters travel through a maze everyday looking for cheese (cheese being a metaphor for whatever makes you happy in life).

One day they find what seems to be an unending supply of cheese and therefore stop looking because they think why keep looking if we have everything we need? Of course one day the cheese runs out which is when we find out how the characters deal with this immense change in their circumstances.

We see the two mice immediately react to go look for new cheese. Hem believes he is entitled to cheese and wonders “Who moved my cheese?!” refusing to believe the supply has run dry. He does nothing. Haw at first listens to Hem but eventually determines that he must venture out and find new cheese because this supply has simply gone dry.

There is a takeaway card in the book that provides us with what Haw learns throughout the story and I would like to share that with you. However I would still suggest that you read the story and take some time to reflect on how it applies to your life. The points are as follows:

  • Change Happens – They keep moving the cheese
  • Anticipate Change – get ready for the cheese to move
  • Monitor Change – Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
  • Adapt to Change Quickly – The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese
  • Change – Move with the cheese
  • Enjoy Change – Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese
  • Be ready to Change quickly and enjoy it again and again – They keep moving the cheese

This book got me thinking about so many different things in my life and my work. One thing I could not get away from was the recent Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference I had attended and how seemingly every session focused on how law firms need to adapt to one change or another.

I had written a post leading up to the conference titled “2012 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference – The times the are a changin’” that hit on a few ways change is affecting the legal industry and in the age of the internet it is becoming more and more important that law firms learn to embrace change if they want to survive.

I would suggest that you read this wonderful book and encourage others in your firm to read it as well. Afterwards you can have a great discussion to determine things like “What is our cheese?” and “How are we making sure that we are ready when our cheese is moved?”.

If you have read the book I would love to hear your thoughts. What is your cheese? Who are you most like in the story; Sniff, Scurry, Hem or Haw? How do you react to change and how can you do it better?

If you have not read the book I hope you will take the time to do so and come back to this post and contribute your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

March 23, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

How Social Media benefits my Business Development efforts

Russ Lawson of Sands Anderson PC

To be on social media or not to be on social media, that is the question.

OK, so maybe that is not how the old Shakespearean line really goes but it is a question that everyone in the world of business must answer and I hope you will find the answer to be a resounding yes.

I am in sales and have been for my entire (4 year) professional career. I cold call, attend sales conferences, rely on email marketing and all other manners of prospecting activities to help me drive business.

About nine months ago I decided that I wanted to become active on a few social media platforms to see what all they hype was. I started this blog, updated my LinkedIn Profile, and opened a Twitter Account (I am also on Google+ but just do not use it that much, any advice is appreciated)

I do not think I spend an enormous amount of time on social media as I write one – two blog posts per week and try to commit and average of 30 minutes a day to the task. I have to say that this small time commitment is really beginning to make a difference. How you may ask? Here is my answer:

  • Visibility – When I attend Legal Marketing seminars and events there is a very good chance that someone who has never spoken to me before will approach me and say “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” which can lead (and has led) to a meeting.
  • Credibility – By taking the time to create content that is valuable to my target audience (that’s you Legal Marketers!) I have developed more and more credibility within the industry. This makes a huge difference in how I am perceived in sales calls.
  • A better network – Devoting resources to social media has allowed me to create new opportunities and nurture existing ones more effectively. This is not to be confused with a bigger network which depending on your goals can be a bad thing.
  • I learn a lot – Social media to me is not just about me putting content out there. It is equally about listening to thought leaders and learning from what they have to say. This has been a huge benefit for me.
  • Actual sales! – I can honestly track a few of my sales directly to social media. I do not count on this to be the norm but it is certainly icing on the cake.

It was a great coincidence that I started writing this post on Tuesday and got to attend a Legal Marketing Association Minnesota Chapter luncheon on Wednesday featuring Russell Lawson speaking on the topic of Social Media. Kudos to Russell for a job well done and here are a few interesting tidbits from his presentation:

  • Start with a plan
    • Do not just get into social media “just because” determine what value you can bring to your law firm and how much time/money you are willing to commit.
  • Look at each channel (Twitter, LinkedIn, et al) to determine where your clients are
    • Once you figure that out make sure you have a presence on the appropriate channels.
  • Provide consistent and valuable content that is written by your attorneys and easy to share
    • At Russell’s firm Sands Anderson PC he has a policy that all social media content must be written by an attorney. He also makes sure that there are share icons (for the channels he is committed to). This means that the information is credible and has the ability to spread quickly.
  • Measure success
    • Benchmark and record your impact, track your progress and compare the data over time to determine whether or not your efforts are paying off
    • Ask your clients where they first heard of your firm. If they say from social media you can directly tie that business to your effort!

If you would like further details you should reach out to Russell. I have briefly met him twice and really enjoyed both conversations. He is on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Overall committing time and effort to social media has been worth it for me. How has your law firm benefited from social media? How do you measure success?

As always, thanks for reading.

March 19, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

2012 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference Recap

Last week I posted the “2012 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference – The times they are a changin’” expressing what I believed would constitute a successful conference. I have to say that I came away from my first LMA Annual Conference very impressed.  There were some excellent networking opportunities, informative sessions and great people.

The only thing that disappointed me was that I was not allowed to attend the Quick Start day (I am a service provider but also a LMA member).  I was looking forward to that and heard that it was quite good.  Other than that it really was a well done event.

If you are a lawyer, legal marketer or service provider I would highly recommend attending the event next year in Las Vegas.  Here are a few of the highlights from my perspective:

Web Management Networking Night

The company I work for, Siteimprove, hosted a networking event for people who arrived on Tuesday. We had a really great turnout and if you happen to have attended I would love some feedback in the comments.  Thanks to everyone who made it!

James Kane Keynote – The Science of Loyalty

This guy was great!! Here is a link to his presentation summary. It was not just what he said but how he said it, he really commanded the room. I really hope that law firms can take to heart his four levels of relationships:

  1. Antagonistic
  2. Transactional
  3. Predisposed
  4. Loyal

I think that it used to be ok for law firm clients to fit into the Transactional or Predisposed stages but not anymore.  It is too easy to simply find another attorney through LinkedIn, a Google Search, Twitter, a live event or countless other possibilities.  By ensuring your clients can trust you, providing them with a sense of belonging and giving them a purpose you can ensure that they will be loyal for years to come.

What a great message by Mr. Kane!

Service Provider Special Interest Group

As a service provider and first time exhibitor at the event this was a very valuable session for me. I had the opportunity to meet and hear from other service providers who have been working with law firms much longer than I have what they thought of the conference. This also allowed me to personally meet Betsi Roach who is the Executive Director of LMA. I have attended a number of conferences over the years and I have not seen anything like this before.

If you are a service provider who did not attend the session I encourage you to do so next year. Also if you did not attend the event at all this year, I would encourage you to attend next year in part because of this excellent opportunity to provide feedback.

The Evolution of the Law Firm Brand. How to Promote Individual Attorneys within the Parameters of the Firm’s Brand

 I was able to attend one session and I did find it very informative. The overriding theme was that it will become necessary to showcase the individual attorneys as their own brand while still promoting the law firm as a whole.

Joe Calve of Morrison & Foerster LLP got things started off by stating that it is getting harder and harder to tell the big law firms apart anymore. His firm is fortunate to have the catchy brand of MoFo (awesome) and that Jay Leno has used that brand in a few of his jokes.

Mr. Calve provided a few other examples of how firm’s have separated themselves for the pack and in the end it was engaging content that was the common theme of success.

We next heard from Aden Dauchess of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP.  He gave everyone a great blueprint on how to blend the firm’s brand with that of the individual attorneys.  If you missed out on the session here was his advice; Talk to your attorneys! Here is what you should find out in those conversations:

1. Indentify their wants
2. Research the lay of the land
3. Do their wants correlate with firm’s core growth area
4. Are their wants in line with the brand
5. Find ways to integrate their individual practice into the mix

After you have the answers to these questions you can blend and integrate the firm’s brand with that of each individual attorney allowing you to separate your firm from all the rest.

Third up was Robert Algeri of Great Jakes Marketing.  I was really looking forward to meeting Robert as I have enjoyed reading his blog for some time.

Robert shared some very interesting statistics with the group. Only 17% of General Counsel can distinguish between firms, 56-75% off all web traffic occurs on attorneys biographies and that 90% of in house counsel say bios are most important.

These numbers have lead Robert to believe that it is important to humanize your firms attorneys through their biography pages. No longer can you simply put up cookie cutter templates for each biography and expect clients to understand how that attorney can truly help them. There are characteristics of each attorney at your firm that set them apart. Make sure you highlight those differences on the biography page to maximize your website’s effectiveness.

Finally we hear from Pete Winzig of Weltman, Weinberg and Reis Co., LPA.  Pete’s firm had just gone through a complete rebranding so he was able to share some great real life experience with the group. I unfortunately had to step out early so I missed his final point but here are the first four steps that Pete shared (Pete if you are out there feel free to add point five!):

1. Go back in your firm’s history to understand the core message. Find out the sacred cow and determine how will you position everyone for success.
2. Make a new logo and make sure it looks good on pens and golf shirts. Be conscious of naming architecture and brand structure to ensure that logo fits everywhere and
then apply your brand to all your “stuff”.
3. Invest in photography. Great photos make a great first impression for your clients.
4. Put it together for the customer.

This was a great presentation from the four guys and I really learned a lot.  Hat tip to Adrian Dayton of Adrian Dayton & Associates for moderating.  Great work Adrian!

LMA Night Out at the Glass Cactus and meeting wonderful people

The final highlight for me (not really but I do not want this post to go on for eternity) was the night out sponsored by Akina Corporation.  After a few days of really hard work it was great to see all the attendees relax and have some fun.

I felt as though this conference really brought a lot to the table. I learned a lot, opened a number of new business opportunities and truly met some great people. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  Did you have fun? What did you learn? What could be better?

As always, thanks for reading!

March 12, 2012 / Steve Hennigs

2012 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference – The times they are a changin’

The 2012 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference will kick off this Wednesday and I cannot wait to go!  I am actually arriving Tuesday with my colleagues from Siteimprove and we are hosting a Networking Event at Esparza’s Restaurant that evening (please join us if you can).

I am very pleased to see that the theme of this year’s conference focuses on “Leadership and Effecting Change”.  I say this because the digital age is forcing every industry to change a bit to how they attract new business and retain existing business.  Law firms will have to adapt to the new demands of clients and it will take strong leadership to enact that change.

Some firms will succeed and reap the benefits while others will go the way of Howrey, being forced to merge with or be bought out by one of the successful firms.

It is very interesting to me that the Keynote for this year’s conference focuses on The Science of Loyalty with expert James Kane .  Law firms (and those who market them) are going to have work harder than ever achieve loyalty from the clients for this simple reason: I can always Google another law firm.

By performing a search on Google for “Minneapolis law firm” (I live in Minneapolis suburb Bloomington) I am greeted with 11 different law firms on the first page of the results.  This easy access to information is going to force law firms to up their game when it comes to serving existing clients and claiming new ones.  Why would I settle for a firm with less than stellar client service, a fee arrangement that fits my needs or one without the expertise I am seeking when I can just find another one with little hassle?  The answer is I would not settle.

The problem that I keep hearing from Legal Marketing and Business Development professionals is that it is difficult to get their firm’s attorneys to buy into change because they are so set in their old ways.  That is where I hope that this conference can have the most impact.  If attendees go away believing they have the knowledge about why a change is necessary and the template for how to get that change going than 2012 LMA will be a huge success.

I will be attending as many sessions and Networking Events as I can throughout my time in Texas and will post next Monday, March 19, with my thoughts.  Here is my proposed schedule:

Tuesday, March 13

5:30 pm:  Networking Event at Esparza’s Restaurant

Wednesday, March 14

7:30 am: Breakfast
8:15 am – 5:00 pm: LMA Quick Start – Legal Marketing Core Competencies
5:00 pm: First Timer’s Reception
5:30 pm – Sleep: Welcome Reception

Thursday, March 15

7:30 am: Breakfast
8:30 am: Opening Remarks
9:00 am – 10:00 am: Keynote
10:00 am – 10:45 am: at Siteimprove’s booth (#112).  Come on by!
11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Featured Speaker
12:00 pm: Lunch
1:45 pm – 3:00 pm: LMA Vendor Special Interest Group
3:30 pm – 4:45 pm: The Evolution of the Law Firm Brand. How to Promote Individual Attorneys within the Parameters of the Firm’s Brand
6:15 pm – Sleep: LMA Night out, thanks in advance Akina Corporation

I will be tweeting from @stevehennigs using the #LMA12 when I can.  I look forward to seeing everyone at the conference and learning how Legal Marketing will evolve in 2012.  Have safe travels everyone and as always, thanks for reading.

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