We've heard the phrase 'data is currency' over and over, and the past 12 months have only solidified the notion! Metrics are becoming ever more prevalent in our law firms, and in the business world in general. Operations and project managers swear by them, and for good reason. Crunching the numbers has wind ranging benefits from keeping cash flow healthy to maintaining efficiency.
We tend to think about metrics in terms of a firm's overall business strategy, but that can be limiting. In reality, you can measure any aspect of your firm from the highest level, through the departments and right down to the individuals. In conversation with John Nachazel, we discussed a few key areas where metrics can be used to great effect.
Tracking The Big Picture: Goal-Setting And Strategy
Many firms set their long-term goals far ahead of time, and perhaps have some KPIs written in there to track their progress. You might say you want to become Michigan's biggest personal injury law firm within 5 years. Perhaps you're going to track the new leads that result in successful settlements and compare that with your competitors' data. This works pretty well, but if you find yourself way off track within a year, you might be left scratching your head as to what went wrong.
To really get the most out of the data, you're going to want to break down that big goal into shorter sub-goals. If you want to be Michigan's biggest in 2026, then you're going to need to hit several growth goals along the way. Once your goals get granular, so do your KPIs. The benefit? Yes, you're going to invest more time and money into collecting and processing data. However, as soon as you notice you're veering off course, you'll have the opportunity to act.
Get Ready To Get Granular
So, which metrics should your strategy be based on? How long is a piece of string!? You can get as granular as you like. John Nachazel and Michael Morse have retrofitted the EOS methodology, which suggests using 5-15 numbers that give you clarity and highlight how to approach your firm. John explained he now uses 400 unique slides a year, with 12-15 weekly staples, all packaged up into what they call their 'jumbotron'.It's important to note that these metrics shouldn't be static. When a new theory comes up, or you have a small fire to put out, you should have the ability to pivot:
"When somebody throws out a hypothesis, I'll do an ad hoc data analysis on it to determine the truth. So, they may suspect something and then we go figure out what it is. That gives us the ability to properly size the problem and understand the problem. And once you've done that, then it just becomes like shooting fish in a barrel."
Strategy During A Crisis
Over the past year, the pandemic has pulled firms in many directions. Quick decisions have had to be made and there have been numerous strategy pivots to cope with the changing environment. Firms that established strong metrics to track their goals would have been able to identify fires and adapt quicker. In a rapidly changing world, getting acquainted with data is the closest you're going to get to being able to see around corners!
Perhaps it's due to the countless employee engagement surveys we've all filled out over the years, but staff metrics tend to be overlooked. Questionnaires have their place, but the data they collect tends to be highly subjective. If you're finding it hard to ascertain the truth about a particular situation or identify why an employee is not working well within a team... Well, you may be looking at the wrong kind of data!
John Nachazel spoke about a highly specific metric that he uses around employees and culture. This has its place both during the hiring process and in performance reviews, but it starts with assessing your current A-players.
Identify Your Core Values
Who represents the best of your firm? What is so special about these attorneys? Which traits do they have in common? Answering these questions will give you a good idea of what your core firm values are. Remember, this a highly individualized process so you can't go and copy another firm's core values!
It's important to look beyond the table stakes here. Honesty, integrity, and dedication aren't market differentiators, they're the base standard. Interestingly, the most useful core values in terms of metrics have an element of polarization to them, for example, competitiveness.
Feed The People Analyzer
Once you have those core values clear and fixed you can use them as a benchmark for your current and future employees. This is where the magic happens! John uses EOS' People Analyzer tool which encourages you to rank individuals based on their adherence to your core values. You essentially create a threshold for each value as to what you consider acceptable levels.
The applications in the intake process are immediately obvious, but this method has great potential for a performance review as well. If it's not clear exactly why an individual is problematic, you can run through your core values sheet and make that call. You'll be able to identify with crystal clear precision, not hearsay or opinion, what trait is causing a rift. From then on, your fair course of action would be to discuss with the individual and give them time to address the issue and make meaningful change. If they can't, they're not a fit for your firm and they'll have to move on.
Digital Marketing Strategy Metrics
Digital marketing has bought us a wealth of new tools that allow us to track our strategies across multiple platforms. On the face of it, it seems like we have an endless stream of numbers to deal with which can only be a good thing. However, while collecting the data seems easy enough, parsing it and drawing conclusions is can be a nightmare.
Some marketing data insights are easier to track and often readily available within your tracking tools, for example:
- Web traffic sources
- Returning visitors
- Online conversion rates
However, the most valuable data can be difficult to discern. In fact, some digital marketers might describe the above KPIs as nothing more than vanity metrics! It's notoriously difficult to draw clean, direct attribution between your new client intake and your digital marketing strategy in a meaningful way.
- What is your total cost per lead?
- How about your lifetime customer value?
To attempt to answer these questions, some larger firms, such as Weitz & Luxenberg, have created proprietary attribution systems of their own. These use complex programming to compare vast amounts of data from numerous sources. At Rankings, we've undertaken in-depth data analysis of SEO in Personal Injury Law Firms. The process was rewarding, but this level of an undertaking is out of scope for many firms.
The good news is, creative thinking around the data collected can boost your insights. You should be asking not only what the data is showing you, but what it isn't. Using metrics to identify your blind spots is just as important, unlocking a new level of awareness to the limitations of your insights. This might drive better systems, better planning, and process, and can help you establish levels of acceptable variance to account for limitations of the metrics.
Keep On Tracking!
Even if certain metrics seem out of reach, tracking marketing data is a MUST. Remember, if you can't measure it, you can't improve it! Making metrics a core part of your digital marketing strategy is proven to benefit in the long run in terms of cost savings, ROI, agility, and competitiveness.