Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Managing Partner’s Nightmare: Leaving Money on the Table

In our over 20 years of marketing law firms, one of the most often expressed concerns by managing partners is a fear that they are leaving money on the table. By this, they are usually referring to the fact that clients are associating the firm and/or individual attorneys with specific areas of focus, rather than as a resource for resolving any of a number of legal matters. This is typically seen in the client who contracts with a law practice for one legal matter and then walks down the street to contract with another regarding a different legal concern.  
Part of this may stem from compensation arrangements that do not reward internal cross-promotion and part may simply be a function of internal politics and territoriality. 
So how does the growth-inclined law practice avoid the dreaded “’shoulda’s’ ‘woulda’s’ and coulda’s?’” 
The answer lies first in creating a culture in which the firm moves from a practice area orientation to a problem-solving one. Such an orientation often requires re-educating personnel that the firm’s major focus really is on just helping people. Administrative and human resource matters should be approached with that mindset and compensation should, in large part, be based on each attorney’s capacity to do just that. That means rewarding individuals not just for the work they bring in or the work that they do, but also for the work, internal or external, that they can bring to another member of the firm’s staff. Further, in some cases, an interdisciplinary team approach to client problem-solving should be considered. And processes should be put into place that allow firm attorneys to regularly be made aware of the legal matters in which their brethren are involved. 
Second, law firms must do a better job of educating both prospects and clients as to the full range of their legal services. This means developing the kinds of materials – both online and off, which easily convey the many ways in which the firm can be of service. Specific areas of the firm’s legal expertise that are buried deep inside a firm brochure or web site do little in communicating how the firm can help an individual or business in more ways than they might have otherwise thought. Instead, law practices – particularly those with disparate areas of focus, should consider development of collateral materials that highlight its portfolio of services upfront. Ditto for the firm web site. Often, it is not enough for such content to be placed under some “Practice Area” button. That’s because the individual looking for assistance on a family law matter may never even bother to see whether the firm can also help him on his pending bankruptcy. The same holds true for the corporation seeking help with transactional matters, but not knowing (or bothering to find out) that the firm can also handle matters of litigation as well. 
One way in which we have seen law firms address such issues is through the development and dissemination of e-newsletters. Here, what matters most is not the actual content (though it should still be well thought-out and well-written), but rather the subject line on the address and the title of the main article. Recipients may never actually even read the content, but even in rejecting it, will nonetheless still be exposed to other services the firm provides. The goal here is not to drum up business immediately (though its been known to happen), but to plant the seeds among the firm’s database for that day when the need for a particular service does arise. 
Finally, in an age where everyone is (or should be) self-publishing, it is easy to communicate the individual skill sets of specific attorneys. What is mandated however, is ensuring that the ways in which such messages are disseminated, show a consistent regard for the firm at large. This means incorporating the firm’s logo, tag line, contact information (and possibly even practice areas) into individual online communications. Ultimately, it is the sum of all communications that serves as the face (and even the essence) of the organization.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Making that New Year’s Marketing Resolution

New year’s resolutions are a funny thing. No matter whether they are for an individual or for a law firm, adhering to them is difficult. For many, the beginning of January means the annual commitment to aggressively promote their services. Unfortunately, just as with promising to lose weight, to exercise or to remember that elusive wedding anniversary, actually doing so is less than certain. Sometimes, life just gets in the way.

So, for all those law firms that promise to “do something” each year and then find every excuse “not to,” this post is for you – 5 tips for jump starting your business development initiative:

Recognize the Commitment
Just as the experts recommend a disciplined approach to building a financial portfolio, so too must you take a structured, long-term approach to marketing. In order to be successful, marketing should be considered an investment – not an expense. There are no silver bullets, and while obtaining a tangible return on investment is always the goal, most integrated marketing efforts should be measured on their ability to build the practice – versus their efficacy in generating quick, but perhaps, less than ideal leads.

If You’re Going to Be In – Be in Strong
With a few exceptions, most marketing initiatives take some time to realize tangible results. There are reasons for this, but the main one is that it usually takes several exposures to a message before it resonates with its intended target.

To illustrate this, consider the ad you might see for a particular service. Given that the ad is a piece of communication for which money has been exchanged, you are rightfully skeptical as to the veracity of the exuberant claims in the copy. Visiting that organization’s web site makes you a bit more comfortable. Then, your cousin Joe recommends that service as well. So now, you’ve been exposed o the organization in several different ways – all of them positive. Your perceptions of the risks in purchasing this service are mitigated and you are more likely to pursue a relationship.

Similarly, think of another situation in which you see the same message repeatedly even within the same medium. The first time you may not even notice it. The second time, it might generate some interest. By the third, fourth or fifth time, that message has been drilled into you. Hopefully, you are ready to “buy.” But even if you are not, you will be aware of that organization and its services when that time does come.

My point in mentioning all this is to help you understand why marketing takes both time and financial resources. In most cases, being in just a little, will not take you all that far. This is as true for the dollars required for a television campaign as they are for the amount of content needed for search optimization as it is for the time that is necessary to effectively engage in face-to-face networking. It’s a little like marriage. Yes, you can get out of it if necessary. But, in order to maximize your chances for success, you have to fully commit.

Name Your Quarterback
Regardless of how you will be promoting your practice, someone is going to have to take the day-to-day responsibility for making sure the best of intentions become reality. That can be a dedicated marketing person, a chair of a marketing committee, a senior partner, etc. It can even be an consultant or marketing firm – provided that someone in-house is designated as the go-to person for that outside resource. When it comes to marketing, there can be many, many opinions (“Do you like the color green?”), but ultimately a process has to be in place for making decisions. Otherwise, plans will lay unimplemented years and special opportunities of an immediate nature will be missed.

Vet Your Marketing “Partners”
Every marketing consultant or firm will tell you that they will be your “partner.” This is great – providing what they tell you is true. Try to get a feel for what they really do. Are they an IT vendor that understands the bells of whistles of web site development, but knows little about how to attract prospects? Are they wed to a single type of marketing vehicle and thus see every solution from a very limited perspective? Ask to see their work. Ask to speak to their clients. And don’t be shy about looking at several competing firms. Personally, I have found that those firms that do the best vetting also tend to be the best clients. You’re about to engage in what will hopefully be a long-lasting relationship. Make sure you are dancing with the right partner.

Get Top-To-Bottom Buy-In At any organization, it’s important that every stakeholder be on the same page. There’s nothing more discouraging than when one or more individuals want to aggressively go after new business, while another individual or group are reticent to put the time or money into the effort. As in any team sport, unity is critical for achieving positive results.

Of course, there’s one other thing that goes almost without saying --- though Nike did a pretty good job of saying it: “Just Do It.” Yes, promoting your practice can be hard, requires time and financial resources, and can be downright scary. But isn’t that what most new year’s resolutions are all about?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Best of My Legal Marketing Blog As Awarded By…. Me

At this time of year, it is not uncommon to pay tribute to what was "best about the current year. The news media does it. Entertainment companies do it. ESPN does it. And about a hundred different blogs to it as well.

Not wanting to buck the trend, I took the time to review the assorted blog articles we posted in 2016 and came up with what I perceive to be the “best “ legal marketing tips of the year. Needless to say, I am very proud that our posts are the acknowledged “winner” of all of these prestigious designations – even if we are the only participants or players in the game. 
Hence, with that in mind, here goes… We launched 2016 still in the goodwill frame of mind that comes (or should come) with the holidays. We reminded everyone that affiliating their firm with a worthy cause or special event can:
  • Generate a high level of visibility
  • Facilitate interface between firm attorneys and prospective clients
  • Provide a means for building a contact database
  • Underscore the branding of the firm
  • Elevate the firm’s overall credibility in the eyes of the community and amongst its prospect groups.
Then we got back on the online marketing bandwagon, reiterating that sources for web, blog and social media content are plentiful and can be found within the firm, happenings in the business and legal communities, the specific areas of expertise of the firm’s attorneys, their published articles as well as special firm announcements and offerings.
By the time the summer came along, we were really rolling and pleading with our readers not to focus on search engine rankings. Specifically, we said:
"The point is not that search engine placement is irrelevant, or that being first is not often the preferred position. Rather, such a position is a means to an end, as is the monthly budget applied and the dollar amount of the click bid itself. If the goal of your firm’s PPC or SEO initiative is to generate more revenue for the firm, then the leads (or actual clients) generated per dollar is a much more significant metric. As important, it is also a better metric for directing you as to how your on-line dollars should be allocated."
Of course, all of our readers were following our words of wisdom and generating a vast array of new clients. So we told them it was important to appreciate these new sources of income and posted, “The value of a client is determined not just by the revenue that client brings in, but also by the revenue that client generates through word-of-mouth and referrals". Unfortunately, most law firms fail to track that information and thus fail to get a full understanding of what each client represents to the firm.” 
We said:
“The law firm that places too great a distinction between marketing and information technologies runs the very real risk of inefficiency, but even more important, is almost certain to miss out on opportunity. A much wiser approach is to promote the full integration of the IT folks into the marketing decision making process."
As the leaves started turning brown, we turned to one of the most measurable of all marketing tools by highlighting how to measure the results of your Pay-Per-Click campaigns:
We said: “Ultimately, your best indication of results, will come not from reports on the metrics of your PPC campaign alone, but from aggregating your quality leads. All of the other metrics come into play only in the service of enhancing your efforts.”
And because so much of PPC success stems from the quality of the web site to which the ads are directed, in November, we asked “When is it Time to Re-design Your Web Site?” and determined that there were five valid reasons:
  1. There’s a Major Change at the Firm
  2. The Site No Longer Does What You Need it to Do
  3. Your Site Looks Outdated
  4. Technical Problems
  5. You’re Not Getting the Results You Want
And finally, just last week we asked another question: “What Was the Return On Investment for the Couch in Your Office?” That’s right. We were trying to make an important point, namely that, “While it is certainly okay, in fact, highly recommended, to measure marketing allocations by their potential to yield a positive ROI, it is definitely not okay to consider those allocations as expenses rather as investments simply because the yield did not come as quickly as one might like.” Because if you did, you’d never even consider purchasing that new couch for your office.
So there you have it – the very best of 2016, at least according to me. 
On a larger scale, I think everyone would agree that, if nothing else, it’s been an “interesting” year.
Here’s hoping no matter how 2016 turned out for you, that 2017 is even better. Much better!!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

What Was the Return on Investment for the Couch in Your Office?

You just opened a new law firm office. Or remodeled an existing one. You spent $500 on a couch to go in the waiting area and another $500 for a second one in your private office. The sign that boldly shouts the firm name cost you around $750and the two new paintings you purchased set you back another $1,200. Add in the guest chairs, the plants and the reception desk, and you probably put in close to $4,000 on the furniture for this move alone.

Now, tell me…  What was the ROI?
What? You don’t know? You can’t measure it?
I don’t understand. Shouldn’t everything you do be accounted for by the return it produces? Note that I’m not talking about desks or conference tables here. These are items you will need to actually do your job. But couches, plants and paintings are hardly requisite items. Their purpose is merely to generate a “feel,” or mood and yes, an “image.” Yet, somehow you feel that they are critical. You may have pondered their expense, but you probably did not try to measure what revenue that expense will bring in.

Why not?
Don’t worry. You are not alone.
Creating the proper professional image is deemed as a prerequisite for any law firm. And the expenses involved to achieve that image are viewed as merely a cost-of-entry. You “need” certain elements in your office to make your clients feel good about you and your firm.
So why then do so many lawyers and law practices balk when it comes to investing in marketing programs that will make prospects feel good about them as well? Why is an office couch seen as an investment; but a web site, a magazine campaign, or a PR initiative seen as an expense?
There is no one who has preached the importance of generating a return on one’s marketing investment more than we have. In fact, our tagline actually states, “Marketing is an Investment. Reap a Return.” And I do believe that ultimately, everything you do must be geared towards achieving a positive, tangible result. 
Yet, there is a point where law firms can take this point to the extreme – in fact, so much so, that they miss out on the vast array of opportunities right in front of them. They are so busy chasing the next, great lead that they are neglecting the larger and more important task of actually building their practice.
We recently had a situation in which a client developed a new web site and implemented a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Now, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, while PPC efforts can generate quick response, they nonetheless are most effective when they are monitored and constantly tweaked. It is important to ascertain which ads are working, which keywords are generating interest, how the landing pages are being rated, and whether other marketing activities (e.g., fresh web site content) are in the works as well. It takes time to discover the exact ingredients for what will be the “secret sauce.” Our client was impatient however and grew anxious before even the first month of activity had transpired. He was adamant in highlighting how the firm had not as yet, recovered all of its marketing expenses. We explained to him that while it was way too early to “panic” over the PPC initiative, the results of the effort would only be hastened if the firm was more diligent about adding content to its site, getting its social media posts out, working on PR, etc. – activities of which none would require any significant financial outlays. 
Unfortunately, the client could not see the forest for the trees, or in this case, the fact that marketing works in an integrated fashion– activity in one area invariably enhances the results in another. The social media posts, the web site content, and the PR were seen as “expenses,” rather than as investments of time that might make all the other elements of the marketing program (including the PPC campaign) work that much harder. Unfortunately, because this client viewed marketing as an expense (versus an investment), they never realized the ROI for which they were hoping. 
By the way, did I mention that this client had had no problem paying for an incredibly, large gold-plated sign that hung across the waiting room wall? 
Now consider another client of ours, but with a very different story, This one involved a multi-practice firm with an office in the center of Philadelphia that was looking to increase the visibility of its satellite office in the New Jersey suburbs. After exploring various options, the marketing approach ultimately selected was hardly traditional. Rather, the firm chose to generate awareness through implementation of a student art show in which third through eighth graders throughout the area were invited to submit original artwork that addressed the question, “What’s great about South Jersey?” The winning entry for each grade received a savings bond for themselves as well as a cash prize for his or her school. Over 300 entries were submitted and the competition, which culminated in an art show at the satellite offices attended by the students, their families and prominent members of the community, received substantial pre and post event publicity. 
Why do I tell you this?
Because as I mentioned, the firm’s goal was to increase its visibility in the area. It did not ask what the expected short term ROI of the effort would be. It understood that this initiative was an investment in the relationship between the firm and the community. It wasn’t necessarily chasing the next client or the one after that. It was investing in a program that would pay dividends over time. 
And with all that being said, you know what happened? Although it had not been their objective, the firm actually garnered four new clients from contacts made at the show. Needless to say, the success of the program prompted the firm to continue the contest in subsequent years.
There are two morals to take from these two case histories. First, while it is certainly okay, in fact, highly recommended, to measure marketing allocations by their potential to yield a positive ROI, it is definitely not okay to consider those allocations as expenses rather as investments simply because the yield did not come as quickly as one might like. 

The second morale? Value your marketing efforts as much as you do your new couch.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

When Is It Time to Re-Design Your Web Site?

Whenever we are contacted by a new law firm prospect, we are inevitably asked, “So, what do you think about our web site?
We try to answer this question as best we can, being honest as to our opinion – regardless of what that might mean in terms of our pursuing this client further. If it’s a great site, we say so and look to discuss ways in which we might leverage this fact. Other times, we may suggest that the firm make some changes to the site, be it of a design, textual and/or of a technical nature. And of course, if the site has some major issues, we are forthright about the need to start over – regardless of whether that site was originally developed by the prospect’s wife, kid or mother-in-law. 
It’s the latter of these situations that I would like to address today – How do you know when its time to scrap your current site and begin again from scratch? 
I think, there are, for the most part, five situations when building a new site makes sense. I’ll try to identify these and categorize them as best I can. But please, feel free to let me know if I’ve missed the boat on some or missed some obvious reasons altogether.
Situation #1: There’s a Major Change at the Firm
This one’s a no-brainer. If the Smith Law Firm, which provides elder law services to folks in Worcester, Massachusetts decides to merge with Reynolds, Reynolds & Reynolds, a multi-practice firm serving all of New England --- well, that’s a great reason to get rid of the old and bring in the new (or at least to get integrated into the larger firm’s site). Similarly, if the law firm that offers family law services now decides to expand into PI, immigration law and estate planning – that is likewise an obvious reason to create a new site that reflects the firm’s new direction. Taking on a new partner may or may not suggest a new site as may expanding into new locations. Similarly, your major competitor’s launch of a splashy new site (one that’s getting a lot of attention) may also provide a reason to pause.
Situation #2: The Site No Longer Does What You Need it to Do
There was a time, not so long ago, when the typical law firm site consisted of not much more than a “Home” page, an “About Us” page, a “Practice Areas” page, an “Our Attorneys” page and a “Contact Us” page. Today however, two things have changed. First, content development has taken on a much bigger role in determining firm ranking on the online search engines. And with that, comes an inherent need to put that content somewhere. Second, technical advances have made interacting with potential clients so much easier and certainly much more compelling. Whether its connecting with them on their mobile devices, downloading white papers, registering for a firm webinar or seminar, filling out an inquiry form, or being directed to a firm blog, today’s web sites are multi-faceted. If yours is not mobile friendly and providing opportunities for your prospects to interact with the firm, you are a) immediately seen as out of step and b) missing a multitude of opportunities to generate leads and improve your conversion rate. If this is, in fact, your situation –it’s time to create a new site.
Situation #3: Your Site Looks Outdated
This reason is a little less obvious. After all, when your site was first developed, it looked great! So how do you know when its time to say good-bye to the old and say hello to that brand new you? Two tell-tale signs. First, if you are already asking yourself this question, then chances are it’s time to move on. Second, if you show your current site to your teenage kids and they tell you it’s “old,” listen to them. It’s kind of like the forsaken spouse – the one who had created the site in the first place is often the last to know. 
Situation #4: Technical Problems
Less common, but important nonetheless, are those situations in which the site’s technical glitches have become more trouble than they’re worth. For example, we once inherited a law firm’s web site that had all kinds of issues, the worst of which was that it been hacked and infected with cryptic coding that linked it to, shall we say, “adult” web sites? Unless, your firm specifically wants to be connected with pornographic URL’s, it might be best to have such mistakes corrected. And if they can’t be easily addressed, well, in the words of that famous football coach (don’t know who), “It may be time to punt.” There are, of course, a whole host of technical issues that can arise. Some can be “fixed,” but at a certain point, it usually becomes clear that a major change is in order. 
Situation #5: You’re Not Getting the Results You Want
This is probably the biggest reason of all. When the law practice starts seeing some of its site metrics decline, it may be time to take a closer look at the site. Are you getting less traffic? Are visitors staying on your site for shorter and shorter lengths of time? Is your site’s load time putting a drag on how high Google lists you on its directory? Are the quality scores of your landing pages not what they once were? These are all potential indicators of a problem that may or may not have to do with the site itself. You will need to dig a little deeper, test a lot, and do some inductive reasoning. But if you determine that the site itself may be the cause of your problems, well…
In most cases that we come across, the decision to make the change to a new web site is due to a combination of factors. For example, a site that is technically obsolete may also be outdated from a design perspective as well. 
Regardless of the reason however, while there will obviously be some expense in making such a change, the purist in me suggests that one look at this as an opportunity to reinvent the firm on more favorable terms – one that may actually promote both revenue as well as profit growth

Thursday, September 29, 2016

To "Seminar" or "Webinar?" That is the Question.

When law firms of any size discuss their marketing and business development tactics, the question invariably comes up: Do we want to run a seminar?
Most often, it is followed immediately by another: “Or how about a webinar?”
The two have become intrinsically linked and for good reason. Both allow law firms and attorneys to highlight their expertise on a particular topic and both offer the potential to interact with event attendees.
But they are not exactly the same in the potential benefits and drawbacks they bring to the challenge of business generation. 
As long as there has been something to “teach,” people have given seminars and workshops. With the exception of an individual face-to-face interaction, seminars are probably the best means for allowing potentials client to get to know you. It gives them an opportunity to see how you look, think, speak and how you feel about particular issues. For better or for worse, attendees will leave a seminar with a sense as to the kind of person and the kind of attorney you are. This is important because it minimizes the perceived risk the prospect may have in retaining you. 
There are other benefits as well. Seminar promotion provides further exposure for the firm and its knowledge of a particular topic – even amongst those individuals who elect not to attend. They also give firms an opportunity to disseminate tangible material in the form of print handouts. Such material can be invaluable in making sure the attendee keeps the firm top-of-mind well as a “pass along” piece for generating referrals. Finally, seminars invariably lift the status of the speaker. For that one hour, he or she is “the” expert in the room. 
But seminars are not without their drawbacks. First, when one adds up the cost of facility rental, catering and promotion, the expense can be significantly larger than one might initially think. Second, they are not readily scalable. It is difficult to replicate even the best of seminars to a broad geographic area. And finally, logistics may dictate that prospects who might have an interest in your topic are nonetheless unable to attend your event.
Enter the webinar-- the information age’s contribution to making presentations to large groups of people. Webinars offer many of the benefits that seminars do not. First, they are not confined to a particular geography. You can use a webinar to speak with prospects in as small or as large an area as you deem important. Individuals can attend these online events from the comfort of their own desk… or bed. And they can be wearing a fancy suit or be lying in their pajamas. It doesn’t matter. No one can see them. Further, webinars are easily recorded and archived, meaning that even those who could not attend the event have an opportunity to make up for their egregious loss another time. Today, webinars also offer a variety of options for interaction between presenters and attendees in the forms of Q & A, polls, etc. Finally, unlike with seminars, if attendance for your webinar is poor, no one but you will know. You will never have a large room filled with empty chairs. In fact, I’ve witnessed webinars that were presented to an audience of … one!
But, (and there is always a “but” isn’t there?) …. Webinars can be boring. It can get tedious for attendees to stare at their monitor over an extended period of time. More important, webinars lack the personal touch that allows the prospect to get to know the presenter. And for the presenter himself, making presentations to an audience you cannot see presents an interesting challenge. Without visual feedback, it is difficult to know whether you are getting through to your audience. You won’t even know if your best one-liner is being met with a smile or a rolling of the eyes.
So how does a law practice determine which approach is best to pursue?
As one might guess, that answer lies on the kind of practice you are promoting, the inherent nature of the topic to be discussed, the makeup of your target prospects, and of course, one’s budget. 
Allow me to take each of these up in kind.
Certain practice areas lend themselves to one form of presentation over another. For example, a law firm that focuses exclusively on family law probably draws its clients from a rather small geographical area. In contrast, a firm that is dedicated to business law probably targets an area that is much larger. Reaching this audience via a single seminar may be difficult. In general, the more locally your practice is focused, the more likely it will be that seminars represent a better option. 
But not always… 
What happens if our family law firm wishes to present a workshop on domestic violence or a bankruptcy firm wants to outline the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 11. This is because individuals may have serious reservations about exposing their vulnerabilities in front of others (e.g., “Oh, so you have been hit by your spouse too?”). Webinars offer anonymity and thus might make more sense for sensitive matters.
The make-up of your target market is the third variable to consider. If your firm is business-to-business focused and wishes to reach as many CEO’s as possible, webinars provide a means for doing so. If your goal is to get a smaller group of CEOs to get to know you personally, then seminars probably present a better option. 
Finally, there’s the matter of cost. As mentioned, webinars offer a lower-costing alternative to seminars. Yet, while at first blush, this may appear to make your decision a no-brainer, this cost savings must be weighed against the acquisition costs of gaining new clients. It is quite possible that that expensive seminar may actually do better on a cost per new client basis. 
In conclusion, as with all elements of marketing, there is “no one size fits all.” The key to success in utilizing either method lies in having a real appreciation of the merits and drawbacks of each and an appreciation for how prospects “consume” such media.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

How to Evaluate The Results of Your Legal Marketing Pay-Per-Click Campaign

In evaluating the effectiveness of your firm’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign, there is really only one metric that matters: What is the quantity of the qualified calls and inquiries your firm is receiving?
That’s it. No other metrics matter and for law firms, the data that you do get is really only diagnostic in nature. Fortunately, proper assessment of what I would call interim metrics offers some clues as to a) why your campaign is performing at the level that it is and b) what you can do to improve your results.
In order to mine this data for the “nuggets of truth” that they hold, let’s look at some of these metrics more closely.
Obviously, the most important of these is clicks. If one believes in the funnel approach to marketing and sales, then the more clicks one has, the more likely one is to generate leads and ultimately more conversions. Hence, when we see the level of clicks decreasing, we try to assess whether this trend is a function of the campaign itself or of other considerations. For example, we recently implemented an effort on behalf of a family law firm that focused primarily on post-divorce and enforcement matters. While the level of clicks was considerable, the client did not initially obtain the results (i.e., leads) they were seeking. When the strategy changed to focus on broader terms (e.g., alimony, domestic violence, etc.), the level of clicks declined – but the level of inquiries actually increased. More important, the level of “qualified” inquiries jumped dramatically. The reasons behind this had less to do with the logistics of the campaign itself, than the manner in which individuals seek out family law services. Hence, in this case, the low level of inquiries indicated a problem with the keywords that had been utilized.
But other factors may be playing a role in an upward or downward trend as well. Has a new competitor entered the fray and upped the cost-per-click, thus in effect, “shrinking” your budget? Is that competitor paying a premium price to be ranked top three no matter what the cost? Such trends may also be a function of seasonality (in which case you should compare results vs. the same period of the previous year) or a decline in importance or volume of a particular topic (e.g., favorable economic conditions may lessen the level of “bankruptcy” searches.) The latter can be explored in further detail by researching whether the overall volume of impressions (the number of times the search engines serve up each of your ads) or the number of searches for those keywords themselves have also gone up or down. If changes in your click volume and site traffic are reflective of trends in these metrics, then you are running with the herd. If they’re better, then “congratulations” – you’re doing something right. And if they are worse… well then, it may be time to make some changes.
The click-through rate offers yet another glimpse into what is going right or wrong with your PPC program. If your click-through rate is relatively high or trending upward, this suggests that your ads are doing their job in terms of attracting visitors to your site. If not? You guessed it…. Change them. Add a call to action.
Click volume is also a function of the quality of your web site’s landing pages (i.e., the pages to which visitors are directed from these ads.) Are they of sufficient relevance? Look at how Google is assessing your landing pages as based upon the quality score (from 1 – 10) they give for each of your keywords. That score is part of Google’s algorithm and is one factor in determining how high your sponsored listing is ranked as well as the cost of the clicks. If you are receiving low scores, consider either utilizing different keywords, or more likely, enhancing the relevance of your landing pages.
As I have discussed in a previous postaverage position may or may not be another indication as to why click volume is trending one way or the other. Depending on the situation, higher rankings may be a goal unto itself, but in some cases, you may actually get more clicks on the dollar by accepting a lower position.
Finally, if you want to get really fancy, you can analyze the cost per client acquisition by dividing your PPC expenditures over the number of clients obtained (and then measuring that versus the revenue obtained). But even in doing this, be careful. You’re not selling Ty-D-Bol. Unlike for high volume retailers or manufacturers, one especially large or especially small client can skew results dramatically.
Ultimately, your best indication of results, will come not from reports on the metrics of your PPC campaign alone, but from aggregating your quality leads. All of the other metrics come into play only in the service of enhancing your efforts.