When measuring the success of search engine marketing, many law firms look at the leads emailed to them from their website. While lawyers notice an increase in cases, they often come via a very limited number of emailed leads.
The trend of leads using contact forms is decreasing while the ROI of online marketing for law firms is sharply increasing. How is this possible? Many people are opting to call rather than fill out a contact form.
We reviewed the calling data from a sample of our clients who use call tracking. The calls that we reviewed came in through phone numbers that were exclusively used with their online marketing efforts, not from any other advertising outlet. Those with enhanced call tracking (where the number displayed on the website changes based on the visitor referrer – i.e., if searching Google organic with a keyword, they see a tracking phone number, but if searching for the law firm's name or a lawyer with the firm, the visitor sees the regular non-tracked phone number) gave us detailed insight.
With cooperation from these clients, we filtered out the solicitation calls and internal calls (existing clients calling to get case updates), and identified the number of legitimate leads. Then, we looked at their leads coming from their website's contact form and discovered that, in some cases, the call to contact form ratio was as high as 15-to-1 (some practices areas had higher and lower ratios).
On average, we discovered that many law firms received 8 legitimate phone leads for every 1 legitimate website lead. When reviewing historical data, we see this trend starting about three years ago. What happened?
Lawyer Referral Services
As many people encounter lawyer referral services and attorney-lead generating websites, they have started to distrust web forms. Most people want to speak to an attorney, not a referral service. By calling in, they can be sure that they are communicating with a real law firm.
However, referral services and lawyer leads are not allowed, or are very tightly regulated in many states, so this alone can not be responsible for what is obviously a nationwide trend.
All Signs Point to Mobile
While many of our clients often see an increase in contact form lead quantity, the percentage of contact forms to the growing number of visitors is declining, while the combined conversion rate (phone + web leads) is increasing. We see this trend mirroring the percentage of mobile users accessing the website.
Many of the law firms that we reviewed in this study are getting 25-to-30 percent of their annual visitors from a mobile browser. When someone is browsing on a mobile device, they are not likely to want to fill out a form, but will rather conveniently tap on a phone number and instigate a call.
Does it Matter?
Contact forms (unlike trackable phone numbers) provide us with a lot of great data relating to user behavior. We can pinpoint with precision how the user is landing on the page, what they read on a website, how long they stayed on the page, and what landing pages were more likely to follow with a filling out of the contact form.
Aside from generating helpful data, it doesn't really matter if more people call in, rather than using a contact form. What matters most is that new clients are driven to your firm.