Determining where your clients are coming from

Whether you keep a simple list attributing clients to advertising sources or have a complex system of call tracking and intense data collection, nailing down an exact number of where your clients are coming from can be difficult.  Marketing your practice doesn’t happen in perfect straight rows like a spreadsheet, and that makes tracking difficult.  If someone sees a TV ad and that leads them to the website, what source do you attribute that client to?  What if someone is referred to your firm even though they don’t really want to hire a lawyer, but then after learning something about their legal situation on your website, they decide to call you; is that a personal referral or website business?

Don’t worry.  We don’t have to actually answer these questions right now.  The thing that’s important for the purpose of this article is traffic.  I believe that because real tracking is so difficult, it forces FindLaw and other lawyer SEO companies to rely on traffic to tell a story about your website.  Grant it, there is some good data to be had in Google analytics or a similar tracking system, but do not fall into the trap of equating “Traffic” with “Results”.

But traffic is good, right?

It’s true; generally speaking, more traffic is better than less.  However, don’t be fooled into thinking that your website is doing well based on a total traffic number.  Learn to view and understand your traffic reports to ensure you’re not over-paying for a website that is not bringing you new clients.

While Google Analytics has been giving less and less information over time, it is still a very valuable resource in determining who is coming to your website and how they’re getting there.

First you need to make a determination as to what percentage of your total traffic is legitimately a part of your viable target market. For example, some of your traffic will come from other countries.  In most cases these are sales people or other offshore companies accessing your site for reasons other than potentially becoming clients.

Google Analytics Map
This is the map you’ll see when you go to “Audience – Geo – Location”.

Of course, this logic wouldn’t apply to an immigration lawyer or someone who deals in international business law.  And while it’s true that there may be very good reasons that people from other countries are accessing your site, unless you’re seeing an overwhelming amount of international clients, you can typically filter this traffic out.

To see the reports pictured on this page, log into your Google Analytics and click on “Audience – Geo – Location”.  The first report you will see will be of your worldwide traffic.  To filter down to just U.S. traffic, click on the US in the map image or on “United States” in the list of countries underneath the map.

Once you filtered out other countries you can drill down another level and do some additional filtering with states.  A lot of the times when you have traffic from other states it can be a result of having great content.  For example, you maybe are targeting “Changes in Child Custody Law in Minnesota” with a page.  However, it’s showing up for “Changes in Child Custody” in general, leading people from all over the country to your site.

map-us
This is the state level map. You’ll see this after you click on “United States”.

Now again, you may be actively marketing to potential clients in other states, so take this the appropriate size grain of salt for your situation.  However, even if you have a viable target out of state, that does NOT necessarily mean that your SEO campaign is targeting it.  So again, we probably can filter most of this traffic out, at least for the purposes of the conversion around what your SEO company is or is not achieving for you.

Once you filtered out traffic that is likely from too far away to convert into a client the next step is to determine what traffic you would likely receive regardless of your SEO.

I usually consider any traffic that includes your name or the name of your firm as traffic that you would receive no matter what. You also want to look for any keywords that appear frequently and determine if they are really part of your target market. For example I once had a site that had a “email now” icon and for whatever reason a Google image search happen to bring up that image very prominently when people search for “email”.  As a result we would see a spike in traffic but of obviously none of this traffic was from our target market so it wasn’t advancing the goal of the website in anyway.

name-filter
Look for “Acquisitions Keywords Organic” to see this report.

Don’t fall for the trick of being impressed by any total traffic number.  We want to learn what we can about our traffic, but at the same time, conversion, or the results you’re seeing from your site is the only metric that really matters.  If the goal is to try to make an evaluation of what is being delivered by your current provider, then you need to start by filtering out traffic you would expect to receive regardless of how your site is optimized.

If you have questions about a law firm website, are looking to cancel your FindLaw website, or build a brand new site, don’t hesitate to contact me either by calling or texting me at 651.271.8845 or you can click here to email me.

What should $600 a month get you? How much should your website cost?

I see so many template websites from FindLaw and I always wonder how law firms justify paying so much for them.  Last week I was on the phone with a lawyer here in the Twin Cities yesterday and mentioned “how expensive they were”.  Her response was,

“Well, they actually are pretty well inline.  You’re going to build me a website for a couple thousand dollars, and then charge me for SEO a couple hundred a month, so is it that bad to just pay $600 a month, know I’ll get a decent product and will never have to deal with that big amount up front”

(or something to that effect).  Now she was making a pretty good point (and to be crystal clear, I do offer websites with zero on-going fees).  The problem is, while it does solve her most immediate problem (I need to get a website up and running with as little of my time, money and effort involved as reasonably possible) it creates a much, much bigger problem down the road.

For the moment, let’s focus on what’s potentially positive about buying an on-going package from a company like FindLaw.  If she selects a template, makes all of her project manager’s scheduled calls, has zero feedback on the content drafts, no mistakes or hold ups are involved, she could possibly have her website up within about 30 days of signing the contract.  She gets her first bill for $600 and has a nice website to show for it….Awesome!  By the way, in my experience, this NEVER happened.  The first bill always showed up before the initial call, and it started the downward spiral of horrible client experience….But let’s just say that DOES happen, the whole process goes ideally beyond what you could imagine.  Now next month you get another bill for $600, so on and so on.

The math is easy, but the decision is difficult, and oddly familiar.  Assuming you don’t fall into the trap of having your FindLaw rep call on you and upgrade, after 24 $600 payments on a two year contract you’ve invested just under $15,000 into a template website that you do not own.  And here you are back at square one, trying to determine if it’s worth the effort to take over ownership of the website now or just pay the $600 and get back to the pile of work on your desk.

But what if it’s “Worth it”?  How much should my website cost?

So this is really the tricky part.  At $600 a month, even one or two good cases every few months can feel like a pretty good return.  However, business that you “get from the website” is not necessarily business that you should attribute to FindLaw’s SEO or traffic from a directory.  Meaning, the business that you get through your FindLaw website may very well be business you would be getting through ANY website.

Today I was talking to an injury lawyer in Orlando and he told me he was getting “a few cases a year” from his FindLaw website.  Now obviously, because he’s doing injury work, ANY case that comes in could range from a tiny little couple thousand dollar soft tissue case all the way up to some major spine injury causing limited future employment and requiring on-going care multi-million dollar settlement.  So, a lot of injury lawyers tend to “keep the faith” with their marketing if they’re seeing any return at all.  But here’s the thing; his map listing shows up for “injury lawyer” because he’s got a really nice Google+ page with seventeen 5 star reviews…. I about dropped the phone.  Now understand, most of the people I talk to with FindLaw websites are just being under-serviced.  They have a mediocre design, content that’s just blah and inconsistent Google results.  In addition to all of that, this guy had a really ugly site.  Like the first draft “maybe he’ll approve it” design that some project manager had the gall to throw at him.

So there’s a good chance that his website is actually just a liability; something that in spite of it looking terrible people hire him either because they don’t see it, or they trust the Google reviews more than the lackluster design.  Either way, FindLaw isn’t earning the money they’re charging him.

If it’s with FindLaw, there’s a good chance it’s not worth it.

Look, I’m not saying they’re bad people, I’m just saying that you’re very likely paying too much.  Let’s be honest, if you didn’t already know that, you wouldn’t have done the Google search that lead you here.  But if you need me to confirm your suspicions, I’m happy to do it.  Call me at 651.271.8845 or send me an email and we can build a plan.

FindLaw Replacement – Hobson & Hobson in Marietta, Georgia

Marietta, GA Criminal Defense & Family Law

FindLaw Replacement in Marietta, GA

I have had the pleasure of working with a handful of law firms in Marietta, Georgia.  About six months ago, Chris Hobson of Hobson & Hobson came to me and wanted to get out of his FindLaw contract as they were paying a lot for their site but weren’t seeing very good results.  I explained to them how we could re-build their site and get rid of the on-going monthly expense that they were incurring with FindLaw.  More recently, we worked on a plan to re-invest that money back into their marketing plan in the way of Google Adwords (Pay Per Click, or “PPC”) and have a long term plan to put some videos together.

Overall, they have been very happy with the new site and have seen better results since the switch.  More recently, we began working on re-vamping a few areas of content and working to drive our better conversion by making clear and obvious paths for potential clients to follow to the information they need.

The Administrative Fee

How much should the PPC Administrative Fee Be?

In addition to building websites for attorneys, there are a few law firms that I work for as their “Director of Marketing”.  More or less, it’s my job to field calls from sales people and try to make a determination as to whether or not it’s worth following up.  Because one of the firms I do this for advertises on TV, sometimes I get a lot of these calls.  I really enjoy them.  It gives me a chance to listen to what my clients are hearing when they choose to actually take a call…or I’d imagine more likely, accidentally find themselves on a call with a sales person.

Phone Sales 101

Forgive me for being a guy who used to listen to sales tapes and actually bought a mirror to look in because I knew people could “hear my smile”.  Forgive me for being a person that thinks that if you choose to bother people on the phone for a living that you should be professional and as polite as possible about it.  I did it for a while, it sucks, I know no one really loves doing it, but this woman was awful.

Maybe it’s partially my fault; I don’t say “Hello?” when I answer my phone.  I think it’s ridiculous and while it does lead to the exchange most people expect, it’s stupid.  I didn’t just walk into a dark room, I’m not yelling into a canyon to see if someone else is there.  I know you’re there.  You just called a number that the only reason to call it is to talk to me.  So we are not doing the “Hello?”  ….  “Hi is this James?” ….. “Yes, speaking”.     That seems insane to me.  To pick up your phone and then confirm that you are indeed the ONLY person who ever answers that phone….

That wasn’t awkward…I’ll show you awkward.

Anyhow, I answer my phone “This is James” and sometimes that can put sales people off rhythm or something.  So she immediately says.  “Hi!  How are you?” which you are NOT supposed to say because the prospect can just say “shitty” and then the tone of your call is sort of a mess.  I just say “fine” and then it’s dead air….about 5 seconds…and then she says “Jeez, we had sort of an awkward moment there”.  So, I make it more awkward by not saying anything.  Now, she does what she should have done right after I said “This is James” and starts with her deal.  “I’m ____ from _____ and we help drive results through the web.  Do you do any SEM or Pay Per Click marketing?”.

Now as soon as I realize that someone is trying to sell SEM or Pay Per Click marketings (or Google Adwords, the little ads at the top of the page) I only have one question; how much does it cost?  It’s honestly the only rational question.  When you purchase Adwords from anyone other than Google, that’s a re-seller.  Anytime you buy from a re-seller, especially when a direct line to the primary company that sells it is available, you’d want to know what type of mark up you’re paying…makes sense, right?  In the defense of PPC companies, they indeed DO deserve to charge you over and above, because you’re buying their expertise.  A good PPC person / company can and should make the money you spend more efficient.  The problem is in the incentive of the company you’re paying.  I am going to have to deal with that in another post, but let’s just suffice it to say that it’s really important to understand how much they’re charging you.

She didn’t know….Anything.

(ME) So, how much do you charge?

(HER) Well, that depends, our consultants work with each account to determine the optimal budget….

(interrupts) No, how much do YOU charge, I understand that I’d be paying for the
Ad budget as well, but how much do YOU charge?

Well, um….it depends, it’s a percentage.

Great, and that percentage is…

Well, it’s different depending on how much you spend, because of course we’re not going to charge someone
who is paying say, $400 a month the same as we would charge someone who is paying $4,000 a month because…..

(interrupts again) So how much is it on $400 and how much is it on $4,000, what are the percentages?

Um…hold on (muffles phone) “yeah, he wants to know how much the percentages are…”
(comes back) I’m going to actually put you in touch with my sales manager, Jason because if you actually want to talk
about the percentages he’d be better to…

(interrupts again) Look, I don’t have time to talk to Jason.  My email is ____@swell-sites.com
and you can email me those percentages I will look at them.   Thanks, click.

Sorry, I’m not Sorry.

Maybe that was rude.  Maybe I am a terrible person.  Maybe I should just politely decline and let her get on with her day.  But at the same time, if she said, our administrative fee is only 5% for the first month so that you can get a feel for what we do for you.  We also will let you have direct access to the Adwords and Analytics that we are using so that you can see exactly what we are bidding on and where your money is going.  We can show you how we set up and measure metrics so you can easily differentiate between your paid and organic visitors, and most important of all we can show you that you are converting the traffic that we buy into new business.  But she didn’t say any of that.  She just told me that her company is good at PPC, and when I asked the most basic question, she didn’t know the answer.  I honest to god don’t understand how any of these companies sell anything to anyone….ever.

What Should a Good PPC Administrative Fee Be?

It sort of depends on what you’re getting for it.  Generally, If you’re paying a percentage, it should be very low, like less than 10%.  I typically just charge a rate based on how many hours it will take to manage.  However, if there is a monthly fee plus a nominal fee that is not totally unreasonable.  The big problem is with companies (seemingly like this lady who called me) that don’t tell you.  Comcast (at one point) charged 35% as their standard admin fee.  That means you get $650 worth of advertising for $1,000.  You also need to consider if there is any real strategy happening.  If you are just outspending everyone for the most expensive terms, that might be effective but takes very little expertise.

Do you have questions about your PPC administration fees?  Have you ever wondered where your budget is going?  I can help you understand how Adwords works, and show you the stats directly from your account. I typically charge an on-going fee for managing Adwords, but I can also set it up on an hourly basis and you can run it.  Questions?  Call me at 651.271.8845 or click here to email me.