This post covers the third installment of a four-part series on setting up a website for your law practice. Parts I and II provided you with tips on how to get your site up and running, now in Part III, you will learn how to measure the success of your site.
Once your site is available to the public, you’ll want to ensure that your website is attracting visitors and generating leads. Using a simple metrics (“web analytics”) tool to track visitors to your website will help you improve the success of your online marketing efforts and make good decisions when investing in marketing for your firm.
Web analytics tools work by setting “cookies”, which are snippets of code placed on a computer when a web browser (i.e. Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox) visits a website. These cookies do not capture any personal information, but track individual browser sessions. The code is stored on that computer’s browser and can enable a web analytics tool to track that visitor to your site – when they visit, how long they visit, what pages they visit, and more. While cookies form the basis of web analytics and can be extremely helpful to track visitor behavior, they are not perfect measurements. Because the cookie is placed in a browser, tracking may not necessarily measure one person. For example, if you visit www.masslomap.org once from your Chrome browser and once from your Firefox browser, web analytics tracks this single person as two unique website visitors. This is worth noting for purposes of interpreting your analytics, in particular the number of unique visitors to your site (which may be a bit inflated because of the way cookies operate).
One popular web analytics tool is Google Analytics. Google offers free and premium versions. The free version of Google Analytics provides most of the site metrics (and more) that you should track. There are a number of other free and paid analytics tools. Commercial products, such as Avvo Ignite (product review forthcoming at our blog) and Findlaw’s Conversion Solutions, provide specialized tracking and client conversion results for law firms. Client conversion – the ability of your website to attract and convince visitors to take an action (i.e. call or email you) with the hopes of converting that visitor into a client – should be your ultimate goal. These commercial products can provide enhanced insight into client conversions and solutions to boost conversions.
While Google Analytics does not provide solutions to boost conversions, it provides a great deal of data that can be used to make informed decisions about your website and marketing platforms. Because Google Analytics is free, easy to set up, and an intuitive reporting tool, every law firm should be using it (unless they choose to use another product). The first step in implementing Google Analytics is by signing up for a free Google account (or signing into your existing Google account). Next, you (or your website developer) will need to link your analytics account to your firm’s website. The linkage occurs through code placed in your website. The code resides on a page on your website, but is hidden from visitors. This provides Google Analytics with the ability to track your website. If you are using WordPress for your website (read more about WordPress in Part II of this series), you can install the Google Analytics code simply by using a “plugin” such as this one.
Once you have Google Analytics integrated into your website, you can visit your Google Analytics dashboard to view data and reports. Google Analytics begins to collect data as of the date your code is embedded into your website, and thus you’ll need to give it about a month or so before taking a hard look at your site’s data and reports. Here is a sampling of the Google Analytics data and reports you may want to review:
- How many visitors come to your site and where do they come from? Google Analytics can show you how many people visit your site, where they enter from (i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, search terms, and other websites or directories), and if they are new or returning visitors. This information can help you gauge how effective your current Internet marketing efforts are and where you might want to invest. For example, if you are seeing loads of traffic coming from LinkedIn, but none from Facebook, that might tell you that you need to focus on improving your Facebook marketing, but also to continue to focus on utilizing and improving your presence on LinkedIn. If you are not getting many hits from search traffic (i.e. search terms that are used to find your site), you may want to look into optimizing your page for search engines (topic of Part IV of this series). Google Analytics will also report on which browsers and devices visitors are using to view your website. If people are often coming from a mobile device, you’ll want to be sure your site is optimized for mobile viewing.
- What are visitors doing once they arrive at your site? Google Analytics will provide reports on where visitors enter your site (typically from the homepage) and where they go from there. If you have a high bounce rate (i.e. visitors view only that page and leave the site) from your home page, you may want to revisit your homepage design – Is it difficult to get to other pages? Is your navigation hidden? Do you need a call to action? You will also want to assess which pages are the most and least visited. For example, if your contact page is not visited often, you may want to make that page easier to find by placing it more prominently in your navigation, making it available via a link from multiple pages, and/or including it on the most frequently accessed pages. You also have the ability to set up “goals” within Google Analytics. A goal might be to get visitors to sign up for your e-newsletter. You can determine how many people did just that by using the “goals” feature.
- When do people visit your site? Google Analytics gives you the ability to analyze data from certain time frames and to compare data over time. For example, if you advertise in a local publication or at an event, you can discover whether you had more website traffic immediately after the advertisement as compared to a previous month.
Tip on Measuring Client Conversion with Google Analytics: In order to determine your client conversion rates, ensure that your client intake form tracks how a potential client came to you. You can then compare the number of potential clients that came from your website with the number of visitors to your site in a certain period to see how well your site calls visitors to take an action. In addition, you should track whether the potential clients that find you online become actual clients. This data will help you to determine whether your website is attracting visitors that will ultimately become clients and, if so, what type of clients are those that hail from your site.
Whether it is Google Analytics or some other type of website metric tool, you should employ this in your practice, and then monitor and analyze the data. The insights gained from these tools will help you to better tailor your marketing efforts and maximize your return on investment. Upon reviewing your site analytics, you may need to expand the reach of your site through search engine optimization, the subject of the fourth and final post of this website series. Stay tuned!