Introduction to Lead Management Series
This post will be the first of a three-part series on new case intake and lead management. Look for Part Two: Lead Nurturing and Conversion Rates and Part Three: Referral Source Tracking and Measuring Your Return on Investment to be published in the coming days. The mantra of all three posts is that if your law firm is going to spend time and/or money on marketing, you cannot underestimate the value of a strong intake process.
Acquiring quality leads is one of the most challenging aspects of any law firm marketing effort. But, while law firms often focus on lead generation, they tend to overlook the process of how those leads become clients. By managing your leads in a systematic and structured way, you can and will increase how many of those leads you convert into new clients for your law firm.
“Systematic use of the right tools will keep your leads organized and your intake process efficient.”
In order to make your intake process effective and efficient, you should first evaluate the firm’s existing lead management software along with potential new options. From simple spreadsheets to sophisticated software, there are hundreds of options to choose from.
Try to utilize what the firm already pays for: if you have case management software like MyCase, for example, use the system for both lead entry and working up signed clients’ files. This allows your employees to search in only one location for leads, clients, attorneys, and any other contacts relevant to your business.
Many small business owners still use spreadsheets to organize and track their leads. If you know how to use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, you can use either of these tools for lead entry and tracking. However, spreadsheets require much more manual data entry than a database and they are easy files to corrupt and/or delete entirely; therefore, this method should be used with caution.
After selecting from your existing software and/or obtaining any additional software needed, you need to set up a streamlined process for inputting leads. Leads are input into lead tracking systems in a variety of ways, from being entered by intake staff members to being imported from other programs. The more streamlined and regulated you can make this process, regardless of where the leads come from, the better your data will be and the better reports you can run to track your progress.
Where Are My Leads Coming From?
What are your law firm’s lead sources? And no, that doesn’t mean asking the caller how they found your law firm, having them respond by saying, “online,” and you writing that down. Lead tracking and organization is the process of specifically identifying your lead sources and categorizing them to make it easy for your team to prioritize and manage inbound customer communications.
One of the most important things you can do as part of your lead tracking efforts is to monitor where your leads are coming from, formally and systematically tracking this data from the first contact your law firm has with each lead. Knowing how each lead is generated is important, because the information will inform your marketing strategy and let you know which referral attorneys to thank. You can do this by establishing a marketing source code system where codes are assigned to different types of leads so that it’s easy to tell where they came from. If your law firm uses case management software, utilize existing referral source fields or create custom fields using a picklist to input this information. Do not allow an option for “unknown,” “miscellaneous,” or “TBD,” because you will wind up with a very polluted system with unhealthy data.
Common Lead Referral Sources
- Organic web traffic
- Paid search traffic, also referred to as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or Google AdWords
- Television advertising
- Email marketing
- Print advertising
- Video marketing
- Social media marketing
- Social media advertising
- Press releases / earned media
- Referral attorneys (existing)
- Referral attorneys (new)
- Word-of-mouth, such a referral from an existing or former client or acquaintance
Methods of Lead Transmission
Newsflash! Not all leads arrive at your law firm the same way. Your leads can arrive by landline phone call, live chat, click-to-call mobile calling, email, text, online form submission, and more. Since there is a seemingly endless list of methods for lead transmission, you need to ensure your intake system is set up to accommodate all of them and to add more as new sources arise. Tracking not only where your leads come from but also how they arrive can inform your scheduling of personnel and overall bandwidth for intake.
Phone calls remain a vitally important method of inbound lead transmission for lawyers. Some lawyers have inbound calls ring directly to their offices, while others utilize an outsourced call center or answering service. If your law firm uses a call center or answering service to perform any part of the intake process (including after-hours answering), be sure to set your account up with the following best practices in mind:
- Know your payment structure. Be sure you know what plan you are on. If the plan pricing revolves around airtime, routinely monitor whether you are going over on your minutes or staying under so you can adjust your plan accordingly.
- Program your account with the appropriate prescreening questions. Don’t have your answering service ask for just a name and number. Give them a solid list of fields they can complete so you have as much data captured as possible.
- Use tracking numbers. Call tracking may or may not be available with your answering service. Most can set it up. I prefer to use the software Call Rail, which provides call tracking numbers I can then point to dedicated lines within the call center. This allows me to both track and record the calls in Call Rail and to view the source of each lead in real time.
- Get it sent over email. Ensure your service sends you corresponding emails for all leads in real time to the full distribution list of employees within your firm who need to see them.
- Customize your output. Some services will customize and provide your desired type of output so you can import all of your call data directly into your lead management system. This method has pros and cons, the biggest con being that you’ll hopefully have already entered and screened most leads before the end of the day, which is when output spreadsheets would be sent.
- Set up live patching. If the answering service takes a call and can qualify the case, you may want them to live patch the call in real time to the backline at your work desk and/or to your mobile phone. Setting up the protocol and determining whether it varies by campaign will make everything go smoothly.
About the Author
Stacey Burke is an attorney who provides consulting services to law firms across the country. She has worked with over 150 law firms in a wide range of practice areas in many different states on projects ranging from social media marketing to brochure design. If you have a question about law firm marketing, Stacey knows the answer. In addition to her legal industry accolades, her company won the American Marketing Association Crystal Award for Online Marketing in Google Analytics for 2018. She lives in Houston with her husband, two daughters, and two French bulldogs and eats a lot of popcorn.