Applied well, technology can make any task more efficient and cost-effective — and that includes your marketing activities. Whether it’s tracking those marketing dollars to find out where they are best spent, managing the minutiae of client relationships or riding herd on multiple social media accounts, there’s an app (or two) that can make it better.
In Friday Five+ Tech Tips, we invite experts to share their latest tricks for tackling the everyday quandaries that keep your law practice stuck in neutral. This month, we asked the gurus for their favorite marketing automation tips. So, what’s worth trying?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Three Words — Close the Loop!
Closing the loop means tying every single client back to the activities, advertising, marketing campaigns, dollars and sources that brought them to you. Most of us are familiar with this quote, commonly attributed to John Wanamaker:
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Part of closing the loop involves resolving this age-old conundrum. Here’s what you need:
- CRM (I like Nutshell) to organize and track things from potential clients to fees.
- Call-tracking software (I like CallRail) to track potential client inquiries.
- Marketing automation software (I like Active Campaign) to track and automate marketing activities.
- Analytics (I like Google Analytics) to track website visitors from their sources to specific goals.
Here’s a quick example: You spend money for clicks on Google AdWords. A potential client performs a search and clicks on a call extension in your ad. The caller becomes a client. The client’s information is entered into your CRM. At the conclusion of your representation, you enter your fee. You are able to measure your costs associated with acquiring your clients by source. You can calculate things like return on ad spend (ROAS) and cost per client acquisition.
Gyi Tsakalakis (@gyitsakalakis) is co-founder of AttorneySync, a digital marketing agency for law firms.
Mike Ramsey: A Powerful Suite of Tools
A few tools come to mind for me:
- For email-specific campaigns and automation, I love MailChimp. It is so easy to work with and build beautiful emails for your subscriber list.
- For high-level local directories, there are great benefits to using Moz Local. You can update information once and feed it to many directories.
- For social planning and updating, I really like Buffer. You can schedule out posts, content of all types, and responses.
- For about every other form of automation, I love IFTTT. You basically create tasks to be done based on the idea of “If ‘x’ happens, then do ‘xxx’.” You can use it for so many different situations, it’s best to go ahead and look at some ways it can help you.
Mike Ramsey (@mikeramsey) is President of Nifty Marketing, a local search marketing company, and author of “Winning at Local Search: The Nifty Guide to Online Marketing for Lawyers.”
Nora Regis: All-in-One Tracker
One of my favorite tools for managing marketing is the social media manager Hootsuite. You can schedule posts in advance and post them to multiple social media accounts simultaneously. It’s compatible with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google My Business, even WordPress. You also can see multiple social media feeds in one place instead of going to each individual website. Pro accounts allow multiple team members to manage the same account. Best of all, there is free analytics for each account you link to Hootsuite, so you can see how the same post fares on each social media platform and determine which platform is underperforming. You can link three accounts for free, but the Pro version is $9.99 a month.
Nora Regis (@NoraRegisCBA) is Trainer & Coordinator, Law Practice Management and Technology, for the Chicago Bar Association.
Heidi Alexander: Managing Relationships
In the sales world, a CRM system is key to tracking and managing leads (potential clients) and automating marketing efforts, but CRM is still not a well-known term among lawyers. A CRM tool can track potential clients and ensure timely follow-up, as well as manage an ongoing network of referral sources and existing clients by storing important data and reminding you to keep in touch. A couple of legal-focused CRMs are LexisNexis InterAction for midsize to large firms and Avvo Ignite for smaller firms (a product I’ve reviewed here). Other popular non-legal options include HubSpot’s new free CRM, Insightly, Sugar CRM, Highrise, Salesforce and Solve360.
You can also use technology, including some of the above products, to track your marketing channels to determine where your time and money is best spent. CRM systems aside, a free tool such as Google Analytics can provide important data from your website and blog such as: How many visitors? Where are they coming from? What pages are they visiting? What blog posts are they reading? Which links have they clicked on?
Most social networking platforms also have insight tools that provide similar analytics, such as Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and LinkedIn Analytics.
Heidi S. Alexander (@HeidiAlexander) is a law practice management advisor at the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (MassLOMAP).
Jim Calloway: Another Look at Facebook
Now that Google AdWords have become so expensive in many of the lawyer marketing categories, I suggest taking a new look at social media.
If you don’t have a Facebook business page, set one up and start experimenting with Facebook advertising. First, though, beware that reviews, either positive or negative, can become legal ethics problems for lawyers. You really don’t want to try to explain to disciplinary authorities that Facebook won’t let you remove that improper glowing review from your own Facebook page. So I suggest editing your business page by changing your “category.” Go to your Facebook page’s About menu, choose the drop-down menu for Categories, and then select “Websites & Blogs.” This will turn off reviews without disabling as many other features of Facebook. (I appreciate that reviews are not valuable if you can delete ones you don’t like, but they are problematic for lawyers.)
Now, do an informative Facebook post about some aspect of your law firm and try a Facebook (“promoted”) advertising campaign. Your firm can do a very targeted campaign and limit the maximum cost by day, week or campaign. You will likely be surprised at how much Facebook knows about its users as you select your targets — or you can just target one local ZIP code and see what happens. If you do an interesting post that several users like, you may get more from your campaign than you anticipate.
Twitter works the same way but requires more skill in constructing tweets. As an experiment, I spent less than $45 on a fairly unfocused Twitter campaign that brought me 8,000 impressions and a handful of new followers.
Jim Calloway (@JimCalloway) is Director of the Management Assistance Program for the Oklahoma Bar Association. He blogs at Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips and co-produces the podcast The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology.
Tom Lambotte: Treat Calls Like Gold
So many businesses spend thousands of dollars on marketing, all for one primary goal — to make the phone ring. And yet, amazingly enough, they have no real system for handling those calls. My non-technical tip is to have a process to ensure calls are properly handled and prospects are treated like gold, because nothing turns away business like a negative first experience.
We use CallRail to track the source of all calls. For $30 a month, you get 10 phone numbers to use in your marketing, and all calls are recorded so you can hear exactly what is happening. This can be painful at first, but it gives you the ability to fix broken pieces. We give our primary phone number to existing clients, but use different phone numbers in all of our marketing so we can track what is producing the incoming call. So, for example, we can see we received four calls from our newsletters, three from a letter campaign, seven from the website and so on. Invaluable.
We also use an answering service — CallRuby — and all of the phone numbers used in our marketing connect directly to them. This ensures a quick response from someone professionally trained, as well as extended hours coverage. If the service can’t connect to me immediately, they gather the contact information and send me a message.
This two-punch combo can help you track where calls are coming from and ensure callers are treated like gold — and that will help you convert callers to actual consultations.
Tom Lambotte (@LegalMacIT) is a Mac IT solutions expert and CEO of GlobalMac IT, providing complete, end-to-end IT solutions for Mac-based law firms. Tom frequently speaks at the MILOfest conferences.