This article was published in the July/August 2018 issue of the Legal Marketing Association’s magazine, Strategies.
Go beyond “counting clicks” to ensure your marketing metrics program is relevant and credible
For law firm marketers today, creating marketing metrics has become relatively simple. But building credible, relevant metrics remains a significant challenge.
With the shift to digital marketing channels, almost anything is measurable. Every marketing activity, every contact, campaign, and interaction leaves its own breadcrumb trail that can be analyzed and reported. CRM, Marketing Automation and Social Media systems now collect a virtual flood of marketing data. Sophisticated analytical and dashboarding tools are available – often free of change — to any marketer who is prepared to invest time in learning them.
Faced with such an array of measurement choices, many marketers adopt a broad activity-based approach to measurement – for example, counting visitors, clicks, likes, email opens. These metrics are generally easy to obtain, and they can generate insights for benchmarking the department’s channels and improving overall efficiency. But they don’t address the central marketing measurement problem – how to demonstrate that Marketing/BD is fulfilling its purpose of contributing to the firm’s revenue growth. In other words, Marketing Return on Investment (ROI).
Demonstrating the ROI of marketing is not an easy task in a law firm, where the attorneys deliver the work, own the client relationship and often take full credit for obtaining new business. To overcome this mindset, you need to be selective and strategic about the data you measure so that it’s credible to the professionals you serve. Here are some ideas to get you started on ROI measurement.
- Start with Strategy
Our first recommendation is to measure data that supports your firm’s growth strategy – which can be written or implied. For example,
- if your firm has a relationship growth strategy – seeking to sell more services to top clients – concentrate your efforts on the marketing data associated with those clients.
- If your firm is industry focused, align your data collection and analysis on the industries where your firm wants to grow market share.
- If your firm emphasizes growth via lateral hires, measure the amount of time it takes your team to complete all orientation tasks for each lateral
Design your metrics to show how your team’s efforts are helping to drive the execution of growth strategy.
- Focus on Conversions, Not Clicks
A contact’s interaction with your marketing material – whether opening an email, clicking on a a link, or attending an event – can be seen as part of a larger “customer journey” from Awareness, to Interest, to Need, to Action on purchase of your firm’s services. Each interaction can be viewed as a “conversion step” on that journey for an individual customer. For example, you might set a rule that a contact who clicks on a particular IP topic in three successive issues of your firm’s newsletter has shown interest in that topic and has converted from the Awareness to the Interest step in the journey. Likely it’s time to move that contact into a focused sales campaign for IPO services. So, rather than measuring email click-through rates, consider designing metrics that show the number or percentage of conversions that your marketing messages deliver.
- Use Cost Metrics
For credibility, we recommend measuring marketing activity in financial terms wherever possible. Specifically, this requires you to understand the total costs associated with each marketing activity, including both budgeted expenditures and the cost of your team members’ time. Law firm CMOs are starting to recognize the benefits of tracking their marketers time against specific projects and types of deliverables. By doing so, you can calculate the total cost to the firm of presenting an event, taking on a sponsorship, or competing for a particular proposal – giving you leverage when determining potential ROI and discussing which activities to support.
- Measure Pitches
In a recent survey of senior law firm marketers, Calibrate Legal and Intapp found that only 15% of respondents currently track ROI on successful pitches and RFPs. This suggests a missed opportunity to demonstrate Marketing/BD’s contribution to revenue growth – because creating winning pitches is an area where many Marketing/BD teams excel. For example, one marketing team we know measures the success rate of proposal supported by Marketing/BD vs those where partners did not seek support. Another tracks the time of both partners and Marketing/BD on each pitch. Over time, this proposal department aims to measure how the involvement of Marketing/BD can reduce the firm’s cost of sales by reducing the time partners spend on RFP responses.
- Take Ownership of Business KPIs
To gain a seat at the leadership table, senior marketers need to look beyond measuring their department’s activities. Today, the most successful marketing leaders are tracking revenue Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the entire firm and are focusing their teams on activities that will help move these dials. Here are a few examples:
- New Client Ratio: Number of new clients obtained in the past year / number of active clients
- Average Fee per Client: The firm’s annual revenue / the number of clients billed.
- Marketing Cost Ratio: Total marketing costs (including personnel costs) / the firm’s total annual revenue
- Key Account Growth: Total fees from key clients (however the firm defines them) compared to the previous period
- Key Account Ratio: Total fees from key clients / the firm’s annual revenue
- Penetration Rate: The average number of practice groups that bill their services to each client
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Used well, marketing metrics can be powerful tools to build Marketing/BD’s credibility and demonstrate business value. When designing your measures program, it’s fine to start with easy measurements like clicks and email opens – but ultimately you need to strive for metrics that connect your team to the firm’s revenue.
Sidebar: Are You Ready to Measure?
Today’s high-performing legal marketers know that measurement is critical to their success. The right marketing metrics will clearly demonstrate the business value of marketing investments. But to create business-relevant metrics, you need to ensure your systems, data, processes and people are properly lined up.
If you’re thinking about a formal marketing measurement program, use Calibrate Legal’s assessment tool to gauge your firm’s readiness.