Larger law firms usually have CMOs, business analysts and a team of accountants who are the numbers people. Unfortunately, solo practitioners and small firms usually don’t have this luxury, and in addition to practicing law, attorneys in these boutique practices must also double as business development experts.
Every day, we meet attorneys who are just hanging out their shingles and struggle to know exactly which questions they should be asking and what data they should regularly analyze to assess the health of their practices and business development goals. Below, we’ve compiled a list of questions that all business owners, including attorneys, should be able to answer with ease.
Overall Business Development Questions
How many leads do you get each month?
These may come in the form of calls, website submissions or emails from referral sources. You need a system for tracking all of these so don’t delay in implementing one.
What is the breakdown of the source of these leads (website, referral sources, print ads, directory listing, etc)?
In order to understand where you should allocate your limited marketing resources, it’s imperative that you know where you’re getting your leads.
Who is your number one referral source?
Attorneys often have a number of individuals or companies that are quick to recommend their services but have a hard time keeping this information organized. You should also have a tracking system for your referral sources so you can easy identify your top three (and take them out for some pretty great lunches).
Which month is generally your best month in terms of business development? Which is your worst?
Some business is inevitably cyclical. By identifying which months are the best, and the worst, for business development, you can plan your marketing efforts accordingly.
Important Questions Regarding Your Website
What keywords is your site optimized for (or do you think it is optimized for)?
The fundamental question behind all website development projects is “who exactly do you want to reach with this website.” Once you have answered to this question, it’s important that you know what keywords your ideal clients are using. An experienced SEM or SEO consultant can help with this research, or you can try your hand at it using Google’s keyword planner.
How does your firm rank in local searches?
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. It’s important that you regularly assess your site’s current ranking so you can easily identify any drops and move to correct issues that may be harming your site.
How long does the average visitor remain on your site?
If your site isn’t good at delivering value or connecting with the right individuals, the average length of a visit will be short. In knowing the answer to this question, you can help to gauge your site’s effectiveness.
What page has the most traffic?
First impressions are everything. It’s important that you create pages that make a powerful, and lasting, first impression.
What are your top three exit pages?
We expect some pages to have a great number of exits. For example, your contact form may provide visitors with your phone number or allow them to submit a contact request, after which most hop off your site and wait to be contacted. However, on some pages, high exit rates can be a big indication that something just isn’t right. By monitoring these rates, you can identify poor content quality or errors.
What is the average cost per click (CPC) for the keywords that you’re looking to optimize for?
Even if you’re not currently running a pay per click campaign, you should take a few minutes to identify the average CPC for your main keywords. This gives you great insight into just how competitive your market is, and a PPC campaign may be cheaper than you think.
What does your link profile look like?
In the past few years, Google has taken great steps to crack down on sites with unnatural links, suspecting that these sites are partaking in link building schemes which are prohibited by Google’s quality guidelines. Unfortunately, attorneys often hire outside SEO consultants who still engage in black hat techniques and it’s the firm’s web presence that takes the hit. Since your link profile is so important to your site’s success, it’s important that you understand what your link profile consists of, and regularly monitor it for changes (especially, if you hire outside help). There are a number of free link research tools that can help, including Bing’s Webmaster Tools and Google’s Webmaster Tools.
What is the ratio of new visitors vs. returning visitors?
Do you continue to provide value that keeps visitors coming back? If you regularly update your site with blog posts, articles or events, you want to make sure that it continues to attract return visitors.
In addition to inquiries regarding your services from visitors, how many engage in other ways (e.g. subscribe to your e-newsletter, request a special report or register for an upcoming event)?
In building your website, you want to make certain that you have ways to engage individuals before they are ready to sign that retainer agreement. It’s important that you understand how effective these engagement strategies are in converting visitors to leads.
What is the ROI for your website?
Some firms pay thousands of dollars each month for their online marketing campaigns. With a big investment, you want to make sure it’s generating a big return. It’s important that at least quarterly, you sit down to calculate the ROI for your website. To calculate ROI, simply divide the benefit (return) by the cost of the investment. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t expect immediate results as new websites can take some time to gain traction with the search engines.
An experienced marketing consultant can help you to answer all of these questions. If you prefer to go at it on your own, the right tools (Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools), a professional website and regular assessments of your performance are necessary for success.