A law firm's Web site should be at the center of its business development. With the evolution of Web 2.0 and social media tools, site visitors can customize their experiences, interact with the firm and its lawyers, and stay up-to-the-minute on the latest laws and industry developments via video, podcasts, alerts and Webinars.
But how do people who don't know your firm name find your Web site? Presumably the largest law firms have no trouble being found – although, we might argue that every firm can use more visitors – and more qualified visitors are always better.
There continues to be a lot of buzz among senior marketers, COOs and others about the value of Martindale listings – or at least the cost/benefit of the listings. This is not a post that details the advantages or disadvantages of participation in the industry's oldest ongoing advertising medium. Rather, it is to relay a simple datapoint that is worth considering before you eliminate Martindale from your integrated marketing mix.
In LMA, ALA and other speeches I've given the last several years, I have urged firm marketers to study their Web site analytics data to see from where visitors are coming. In other words, what are the Web sites that consistently refer traffic to yours? Historically, Martindale was appearing in the top ten referrers to the sites we studied, and often the top five.
Curious about how the holidays affected the traffic on the Web sites that we developed and host, today I browsed Google Analytics to check out referring sites. Without naming names or URLs, below is data on just a few sites (150 – 600 lawyers) for the December 3, 2009 – January 4, 2010 timeframe:
Site A: Martindale was the #2 referrer (out of ten listed) with a bounce rate of 7.69%. Google was the #5 referrer with a bounce rate of 83.33%. (Bounce rate defined by Wikipedia: A bounce occurs when a web site visitor only views a single page on a website, that is, the visitor leaves a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs. There is no industry-standard minimum or maximum time by which a visitor must leave in order for a bounce to occur. Rather, this is determined by the session timeout of the analytics tracking software.)
Site B: Martindale was the #4 referrer with a bounce rate of 11.9%. Google was the #7 referrer with a 12.5% bounce rate.
Site C: Martindale was the #1 referrer with a bounce rate of 12.58%. Google was the #6 referrer with a 66.97% bounce rate.
Site D: Martindale was the #4 referrer with a bounce rate of 3.23%. Google was not in the top ten referring sites.
Site E: Martindale was the #3 referrer with a bounce rate of 20%. Google was the #9 referrer with a bounce rate of 68.75%.
In spite of this small sample size, we can conclude that Martindale is sending more qualified visitors to these Web sites than Google. How do we know they are more qualified? 1. Because corporate counsel and law firm lawyers are the primary users of Martindale.com, and 2. Because visitors referred by Martindale are spending more time and visiting more pages on these Web sites than the visitors Google delivered. That's what Martindale's much lower bounce rate tells us.
And that is the goal of every law firm Web site — to be relevant, and to quickly deliver the best content to the most qualified visitors possible.