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Guest article: breaking down the barriers to web marketing

by Caspar Craven, co-founder & director of Trovus, providers of specialist intelligence services based on profiling B2B website visitors via IP addresses.

Why is it that the deployment of state-of-the-art web intelligence within legal firms is not always as straightforward as maybe it ought to be? What barriers exist and how can they be broken down?

Here we look at typical inhibitors to what prevents Business Development (BD) teams taking maximum advantage from intelligence which originates from your web presence. Factors such as data ownership and management, knowing how to interpret and act upon this intelligence, developing new internal processes, evaluating the ROI and more. To chart the way forward, we provide a checklist for effective deployment of web technology for the legal Business Development team, identifying the potential pitfalls while exploiting the opportunities.

Web intelligence – desirable
But first, what is it about embracing web intelligence that makes it so desirable a goal for law firms? The difference with the new generation of technologies is they allow BD and Marketing teams to access a wealth of information that until now has just not been easily accessible in one package. Information which provides rich profiles on the organisations engaging with you showing you “the who, the how and the why”.

This means that the law firms marketing teams can use technology, consulting and managed services to identify cross selling opportunities within your client base, to find new ‘warm’ leads worth targeting, and tailor messages according to how different organisations accessed the website and what they were interested in, based on the pages they viewed.

This makes for highly personalised and effective marketing. Marketers can also measure the effectiveness of their direct marketing activities by monitoring which of their targets responded by going to the website to find out more. 

The difference with Law
Our own experience with law firms embracing web intelligence is extensive. Time and time again, we have found that certain characteristics exist with law firms that don’t exist in other business. What we hear repeatedly from our legal clients are common complaints such as “We aren't driving enough cross-selling opportunities,” and “We aren’t converting enough of our prospects into clients.”

These are typical complaints among law firms, and added to them are the more generic ones: “Management don’t understand the value and impact of marketing,” “We’d like more new opportunities,” and, as always, “We do lots of campaigns but we don’t know which ones are truly effective.”

One thing is apparent: harnessing web intelligence addresses these complaints and has critical implications for optimising business development opportunities across the entire firm.

Of key strategic importance to law firms, web intelligence throws a spotlight on activity over the entire organisation, unveiling behaviours and opportunities that otherwise would have been over-looked and unnoticed by partners solely focused on their own tasks-at-hand.

This intelligence can be integrated into an overall marketing strategy for the entire legal firm, and combined with other marketing tools, such as software to track responses to email marketing campaigns. Interpreted professionally, web intelligence deployed within the firm makes it possible to consider ‘cross-selling’ and ‘up-selling’ – breaking down the silos within the company. This gives significantly more and deeper insight to marketing departments  – in a more holistic way – than was previously possible.
In short, the new generation of web intelligence technologies, combined with the capabilities to analyse gathered intelligence, will enable you to:
•    Create new cross selling opportunities you weren't previously aware of.
•    Visibly demonstrate the value and impact of marketing activities.
•    Save time – only focus on the hot, not the cold prospects.
•    Increase conversion rates – follow up with precision at the time right time.
•    Build relationships with new target clients.

Common challenges
But in deploying new generation web intelligence you need to be aware of the common pitfalls and challenges upfront and address them as you embark on your project. For example, make sure that as a team you determine:
•    Who owns the data internally and how it is managed across the Sales and Marketing team?
•    Who will use this data internally and who decides what is relevant?
•    How will this be introduced and communicated across the entire business development team?
•    What data is relevant for each of the stakeholders?
•    Who controls the tagging? Who looks at this and how often?

There will be other key strategic questions to identify and address in advance, not least how you will use your new found intelligence to make the most of it, and how you will follow up on this intelligence in a professional and effective way.

One thing is for sure, you will need a clear view on how to evaluate and demonstrate ROI on your web intelligence investment. For those who have invested in a web presence, but want to drive more value from it, using a “who and why” intelligence technology to let you know who is using it can provide significant ROI.

One of our clients – a major legal firm – found that the effectiveness of its web intelligence solution was quite clear within just a few days, and that day-by-day new names were being listed, many of which represented genuine prospects.

The very fact that they had to introduce a new process to address these opportunities was one sure way of demonstrating ROI.

Added to that, our client saw a significant and demonstrable rise in the number of enquiries received which could be linked to website visits recorded. They can now show that the business intelligence investment is paying for itself through the amount of new business generated and as a result of the initial visit being fully managed by the marketing team. Informed decision making has benefited the whole marketing operation through:
•    An increased level of business and profitability.
•    More effective pay-per-click marketing.
•    Refining the CRM process and engaging with existing and new customers.

Start with a simple checklist
But the pitfalls are many, so before you embark on your web intelligence project consider this simple checklist
1.    Identify key champions and sponsors, discuss the common challenges and agree a way forward.

2.    Decide how to demonstrate your ROI early in the process. Be prepared to adapt your teams and functions as you gather new intelligence.

3.    Once you implement your web intelligence solutions, undertake a soft launch prior to wider communication internally and make sure you generate traffic to your site, through any one of a range of activities, such as web marketing, social media, events, networking, referral partners, email marketing, direct mail, PR and so on. Bear in mind that the more targeted the marketing activity – and the better you understand your perfect buyer and ideal target market – the better will be your ability to create appropriate follow ups to leverage the intelligence generated from that activity. 

4.    Prepare to use your web intelligence initiative as a key catalyst towards closer integration of the Business Development and Marketing functions. The more closely these two areas work together the more powerful will be the use of web intelligence technologies in measuring the organisational response to each of your marketing and BD activities. 

5.    Drive to differentiate your firm. This is a requirement in what is likely to be a saturated market. You must work smarter to create results that exceed the market, rather than simply do the same as has always been done.

6.    Recognise what drives value. It is not technology but the appropriate internal processes to leverage the insights from technology, coupled with the expertise to maximise our web intelligence investment. No marketing initiative – be it search marketing, social media or PR – is about just having the technology or tools. It is about having the right vision, the right plan and the right implementation to drive results from the marketing initiatives and tools.

7.    Enforce clear internal ownership with any new marketing initiative, rather than having “collective dis-responsibility”. You will need a core owner to drive activities and encourage the right behaviours internally. Often, there are  multiple stakeholders who may have an interest in web intelligence – such as campaigns teams, BD teams, marketing teams, IT, CRM, online marketing, strategy teams, CEO and account managers.

In most instances, Marketing will own the web intelligence, but the BD and strategy teams will derive the most value. It is essential to identify the part of the organisation which will have the most engagement, capacity and drive. As part of this process, ensure you have regular dialogue around interpretation of the intelligence with campaign managers, as well as regular presentations of reports to BD teams on client activity.

8.    Recognise the need for expertise, support and evolution. In our experience, the organisations who get the most successful results and are able to exploit the opportunities available are those who recognise that it takes time to evolve and develop. They often value external expertise to guide the process. The DIY approach can yield results but the risk of non-adoption and not delivering clear value is much higher without expert support.  This is why we provide a menu of technology, ongoing consultancy and / or managed services for the entire web intelligence programme.  This addresses:
•    What challenges you’re solving and the scoping of this
•    Different options for solving it
•    The agreed plan
•    Ongoing integration, behaviours and use of the approach
•    Measurement
•    Expanding the scope to other areas

Follow these guidelines and the barriers to web intelligence that so often stand in the way of legal companies can be broken down. In our experience there is a “realisation of value” process for our legal clients – a process that that moves from ‘passive’ adoption through to ‘active’ and then ‘embedded’, where as part of the organisation’s processes, web intelligence is driven by end users with its value both highly recognised and highly demonstrable.