How are small law firms tracking lead conversions and return of investment (ROI)? When designing your marketing strategy, the use of a tracking number may inevitably pop up. While there are numerous benefits in using tracking numbers, such as its ability to provide you with data on how your small law firm is performing, there are still some business owners who are not so convinced with its utility.
A Client's Conversation with ‘SEO Experts’
A client from a small law firm once raised the question of whether or not tracking numbers and other tools hurt a law firm's search engine optimization or SEO. Apparently, a couple of “marketing and SEO expert” approached him about hosting and optimizing his website and toured him on the backstages of business SEO using several data analytics tools. These experts convinced him that with Google’s ever-changing rules, the use of tracking numbers as part of his law firm marketing is killing his site’s SEO.
Furthermore, the experts claimed that having landing pages that tell Google you have more than one website is also hurting your search engine optimization. Instead, they suggested that the marketing service that small to medium-sized firms should focus on are backlinks and extensive keyword key phrases, and naturally, that content is king. By showing this client the results of his small business marketing efforts, the idea that tracking numbers hurt him started to make sense. They said Google rewards you for having a local number. Using their main number instead of a tracking number ensures they are using a local number.
Advice for Small Law Firms from an Expert
Here’s what Richard James, law firm analyst and business management consultant, has to say about using tracking numbers for small businesses:
- Consult an SEO firm. I'm not a Google expert, and I won't claim to be one. If Google is viewing landing pages (that are not created to be “crawled” by Google's spiders) as additional websites and they are considering the tracking phone numbers on landing pages as a black mark for directory listings, it's new news to me. But, it wouldn't surprise me. I highly recommend every business owner have a local SEO firm they trust to help make these decisions. To my knowledge, using tracking numbers online has become straightforward lately with the software available to dynamically change the numbers based on the source, while at the same time keeping Google from counting them as a black mark, but, again, ask experts about which SEO strategies match your business needs.
- Use ‘local’ tracking numbers. As to the concept that using tracking numbers may “hurt us”, does not make sense to me. In fact, I've proven that the information I gain from using tracking numbers in marketing for a small law firm, or any local business for that matter, allows me to outperform the “branding” benefit a career-long tracking number can generate. When possible, I attempt to use “local” tracking numbers, not toll-free numbers to increase the prospect’s trust that we are a “local firm.” Every time a firm has trusted me, harvested the data about the phone traffic, and made educated and strategic decisions regarding their marketing based on the data the tracking numbers provided, this method has worked.
- Try tracking numbers and see the results. There are no absolutes, and I'm confident, if we ran enough tests against direct marketing vs. a branded tracking number, I'd eventually lose a battle or two. But, when asked by small law firms who have not invested tens of millions of dollars in TV and Radio advertising, how they “hot iron branded” their phone numbers into the minds of consumers, if they should stick with one phone number they've had for several years or if they should use tracking numbers, I'll offer the advice to use tracking numbers every time. I’m not advising canceling a long-standing number, rather re-directing that phone number for different purposes.
A tracking number helps manage traffic. There are also PCLC (Perfect Client Life Cycle™) and case management reasons for using tracking numbers, but that’s for a different conversation at a different time. Suffice it to say, having the tools that allow your firm the ability to manage and direct the phone traffic in an office is a very powerful SEO tool.
Success Story with Tracking Numbers
If you’re not convinced about the benefits of having a tracking number, consider this personal story. My grandfather and his grandfather had the same phone number for nearly 100 years. He thought it was the “reason” for his success, and he considered it his brand. And he had me convinced of this when I was younger too. A few years back, I advised my cousin, who now runs my grandfather’s old firm, to use tracking numbers. Because we did, he’s serving nearly 400% new families (in advanced planning) per year than my grandfather did. Having the right data in marketing is vital. Marketing is 50% math, 30% systems, and only 20% new ideas. We’re in the arithmetic business. And without data, my business is dead.