What if we told you that our client, a criminal defense attorney, received five new cases yesterday?
Without context, that number doesn’t mean much. Depending on the firm’s size, how established they are and where they’re located, that number could be good, average, or poor.
If we presented you with a KPI report on your legal website or SEO campaign, you’d probably feel the same way.
If your firm has a legal website or engages in digital marketing like SEO, paid search, or social media marketing, you should be consistently reporting on it. A KPI is a key performance indicator; a metric that is meant to indicate how successful your marketing efforts are at achieving the goals you’ve set. Think of it as a scorecard for your website and digital marketing.
When it comes to website and digital marketing performance, there are hundreds of KPIs you could track. A good KPI report should include the most important metrics based on your goals, and the person delivering the report should be able to give context and help you understand what’s going well and what may need improvement. Without that insight, a KPI report is simply a list of numbers that you may not know how to feel about.
We won’t go as far as to say you shouldn’t look at these KPIs at all. However, the following KPIs have many caveats and can sometimes be misleading at a glance, yet they’re often included in digital marketing reports. It’s important to understand their complexity and additional considerations you need to keep in mind when you view these metrics.
Time on site refers to the amount of time a user spends on your website. You can find this metric in just about any website analytics platform. It’s one of our least favorite metrics, as it doesn’t really provide much insight into how well your law firm’s content is performing.
Every website user is unique. Your legal website should help visitors quickly find the information they’re looking for. If someone is spending a long time on your website, it could mean two things. Either they are struggling to find the information they need, or they are simply engaging with your content and spending time reading it. When you view a time on site metric, you don’t know which scenario is true.
Similarly, a user spending very little time on your site could be a good or a bad thing. They may have just been looking for a way to contact you, so they visit your homepage and quickly click to call your firm. On the other hand, a short time on site may indicate a user didn’t like what they saw, and quickly exited your website.
This metric becomes a bit more insightful if you look at average time spent on specific pages and what someone’s journey through your website looks like. Where are they navigating after they read your homepage? How long are they spending on different pages like your attorney biographies or contact pages? These are questions that your legal website strategists should be digging into regularly to find opportunities to improve your web experience.
Rather than look at time on site, it’s important to dig deeper to understand user behavior and if each page on your website is serving its unique purpose.
We look at keyword rankings for our clients every day. It’s our job. However, keyword ranking reports can be a bit problematic to focus on as a primary indicator of success for several reasons.
First, keyword rankings fluctuate daily. Your law firm’s SEO agency should be on top of understanding any major fluctuations, but overanalyzing a handful of keywords that have moved up or down by a position or two isn’t usually a great use of your time. Keyword ranking reports often give you a view of a snapshot in time, rather than meaningful trends in your SEO rankings.
More importantly, keyword rankings mean very little on their own. Keyword rankings don’t tell you anything about click-through-rates and how users engage with your website content once they get there. Your law firm can rank #1 for every keyword you care about, but if your website doesn’t provide the right experience, those rankings alone will not drive your business.
Most attorneys we talk to want to rank highly in search engines. Achieving high rankings is important. However, achieving rankings is a means to an end. Why do you want more visibility in search results? The reason is that you ultimately want to drive more traffic to your website and generate more business for your law firm. If you’re looking at keyword rankings, it’s important to understand if and how those rankings are affecting your end goal of increasing your business.
Your conversion rate is a factor of two things: your website visitors and the total number of conversions. For a law firm, a conversion may mean someone fills out a contact form or calls your firm directly from your website. It’s good to know your conversion rate, but you shouldn’t view your conversion rate alone without understanding trends in both traffic and total conversions.
As your website traffic grows, your conversion rate may decrease. However, if the total number of conversions is increasing, it may not be too problematic to have a slight decrease in your conversion rate.
It’s also important to understand what happens after that contact form is submitted or someone calls your firm’s direct line. Are the leads quality? Is your intake process efficient? Keep in mind that conversions are your website should be mapped to how many new cases they generate. If you look at a conversion metric alone, it will tell you how many times someone called your firm. If most of those calls were telemarketers, your conversion rate metric doesn’t necessarily reflect how successful your digital marketing efforts are.
Talk to any law firm SEO agency and they will tout their ability to grow your website traffic substantially. Sure, that’s probably a good thing. A thorough and effective SEO program will lead to improved site traffic.
The problem with this KPI arises when it’s used as a primary indicator of success. Website traffic alone doesn’t increase your law firm’s business. While it’s important to view your traffic, it should never be your sole success metric.
The quality of traffic is often more important than the quantity. You could double your website traffic, but if you double it by achieving SEO rankings that aren’t relevant to your target clients, that traffic won’t likely generate much new business.
Sometimes, anomalies happen with website traffic. Your website begins ranking in search engines for keywords outside of your geographic area, so you may see a large increase in traffic. Is that spike in traffic beneficial to your business? While it increases your law firm’s visibility, it’s not likely generating high quality traffic that is going to turn into new cases.
Depending on what analytics platform you use, bounce rate can mean something a little different. Generally, it refers to the percentage of users who exit your website without taking an action. So, if someone visits your homepage and quickly exits your site, that is a bounce. If they leave your homepage but navigate to another page on your website, they’ve taken an action and are considered an engaged session.
Looking at your bounce rate can help you detect issues with your website. If the bounce rate is abnormally high on a particular page, it may mean that the page doesn’t serve the right content. It could also signal a technical error, such as a page not loading correctly on a certain browser and device.
But bounce rate as a metric has some faults. First, you shouldn’t be analyzing your bounce rate without understanding exactly how it’s defined by the analytics platform you use. If you use Google Analytics, a bounce rate is simply the rate of total visits that had a single-page session.
Most people operate under the assumption that a high bounce rate is a bad thing. There are, however, cases where it may not be. Let’s say someone visits your law firm website’s homepage from their desktop computer. Your phone number is prominently displayed, so they dial it with their phone and exit the website. That session is technically a bounce, but that bounced session may have just generated a new case for your firm.
KPIs are only helpful if they’re viewed in comparison to a different period in time. Your website may have gotten 1,000 visits this month, but that number means very little unless you have a frame of reference. Oftentimes, KPI reports will include information from the prior year and the prior month. It may look something like this:
Traffic: Dec 2018 – 600
Traffic: Nov 2019 – 1,200
Traffic: Dec 2019 – 1,000
% YoY: +67%
% MoM: -17%
It’s a good idea to understand how your law firm’s website KPIs are trending month-over-month, but it’s important to understand seasonality. If you have a -17% drop in traffic from the previous month, it may not be cause for worry if you’ve experienced a similar trend in years prior. A sudden drop in traffic that happens seemingly overnight, on the other hand, may indicate an SEO issue that you want to address immediately.
For every digital marketing effort or tactic your law firm engages in, you should have established reporting that will help you understand its effectiveness and identify opportunities. Your definition of success may look different from other law firms, so it’s important to focus on the right key performance indicators.
An effective legal marketing KPI report should help you answer the following questions:
Answering these questions can’t be done with metrics alone. You need insights and analysis. Some of our favorite key performance indicators to include in law firm reporting are:
With so many different metrics available, it can be tempting to want to look at them all. However, a metric alone doesn’t often tell the whole story. Overanalyzing a fluctuation in keyword rankings or a small variation in bounce rate may not be necessary.
As an attorney or managing partner of a law firm, you should have an understanding of how your website is performing. It’s important to take time to review your KPIs. The key to success is ensuring you have consistent reporting that focuses on the metrics that truly matter for your law firm’s business. Establish your digital marketing KPIs and how you will define success.
If you’d like to discuss your law firm’s KPI reporting and how to improve it, reach out to Postali.