Ah yes, the old ROI chestnut. After all, what is in the return on investment in… ABC? Because if it's 10x we'll do it, but if it's 1.2x then we won't.
This question comes up because, somewhere along the way, law firm owners started not to really appreciate their marketing people just saying “hey there – we're doing stuff and it's great”. Instead, they actually wanted to see some kind of measurable achievement to ascertain the success or otherwise of a given strategy.
And this makes sense.
No business owner wants to pile money into things that don't have some kind of identifiably positive outcome.
Unfortunately it's also a question that's very difficult to answer – because the nature of human decision making is significantly weighted against giving you useful data. And while we have more data then ever before, it's not always going to give us precise answers to complex questions.
You run the risk of killing your marketing success if you don't very carefully assess what the data is actually showing you.
We Live in a World of Data
As a marketing agency for law firms, we now have the opportunity to collect more data about what's going on with people's behaviour than we can poke a stick at.
So I might not know your name and address, but in digital terms there's a good chance that savvy marketers can figure out:
- where you are located;
- what device you're using;
- what brought you to a website (search, ad, social media, email campaign, direct message);
- what path you followed through a website before you “bought” something;
- things you're interested in generally
- much more that you probably don't want to know.
Here, for example, is a snapshot of the podcasts that Australian lawyers listen to:
And we can take that data and do useful things with it.
But when it comes to actually deciding which elements of your marketing strategy are “working” – it can all get a bit tricky.
“How Did you Find Out About Us?”
Many (perhaps most) firms don't really even enquire where their business came from. If that's you, you can probably also stop asking your marketer about ROI.
That said, and sass aside, even getting that answer isn't necessarily giving you all the information. Buying decisions for expensive legal services just isn't that simple. Let's face it – even buying decisions for basic items isn't that simple.
Let's say your intake team (maybe your receptionist, or your lawyer who takes the call) does a good job and enquires how a new client came to you.
The client says “I found you on Google”.
Great! We have our answer – quick, maximise the Google Ad budget, and stop bothering with everything else, right?
Because that's not what really happened. What really happened was this:
- Your client googled, and your firm came up;
- They clicked your Google ad and saw your landing page, but then closed it;
- Then your firm's Facebook ads appeared a few times in their feed, reminding them about you;
- Then they visited your website and poked around a bit, read some blog posts and your lawyer's profiles;
- Then they asked their accountant, who mentioned they had heard of you and you had a good reputation;
- Then they read your Google My Business reviews;
- Then they called and were efficiently answered and called back by your lawyer;
- Then your lawyer sounded competent and kind, gave them a helpful introdutory chat and effectively signed them up.
So – where does the credit go for this “return” on your investment? Can you really identify which pieces of the decision making process could be safely removed? Would they still have come to you without the reviews? Without the blog? Which thing or things tipped them above the line?
The truth is we don't have much visibility on lots of these pieces of the sales puzzle. Trying to arrive at which element of the process was critical, or not, is very difficult if not impossible. Sure, you could integrate your client, but most of us don't want to do that and most clients don't want to either.
So using a brutal ROI assessment as the decision making catalyst to cull or amplify certain parts of your marketing needs to be done very cautiously.
So… Just Operate Blind?
Is the solution just to toss our data in the bin because it's fundamentally useless? Or perhaps we need to invest more than most marketing budgets allow into detailed research to get to the bottom of the riddle?
Let's keep this relatively straightforward – you can make logical, sane decisions based on some data without necessarily throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
If your Google ad tracks a click through to a phone call or enquiry form, and you have the data to connect that to a new client – then that's great. A good result and one that you should use in your data.
My point is not to be blind to what else might be going on in terms of your overall marketing strategy.
An effective and well crafted marketing strategy for a law firm is going to touch on both measurable and difficult to measure elements. Neglecting some because you can't get strict data to support them isn't necessarily going to be a wise plan, especially if it turns out that they were mission critical and you just couldn't tell.
So while I'm not a big fan of wasting money, I'm not a big fan of ruining your marketing efforts either.
Think on this next time your firm's marketing person is squirming under the “ROI Question”.