Proving articles bring in new business for lawyers and accountants

How do you prove article writing is really generating value for your firm?

How do you really know your lawfirm or accountancy firm’s articles are generating value?

A perennial question, given the time that goes into writing articles for many lawyers and accountants, is how to identify the value created.

You will sometimes hear that article writing is primarily ‘ a way of training junior staff’ or even ‘a way of avoiding business development’ (and skeptics in your firm may not even be aware of how many articles the whole firm writes a year, even in the small firms 50+ articles a year or literally hundreds of hours of potentially billable time).

It’s all very well to say that article writing is a way of demonstrating professional expertise rather than merely claiming to have it, but is it possible to quantify the benefits better than that?

Here are five ways you can quantify the response to your articles:

  1. Ask your clients.
    At Mondaq we simply asked readers whether articles written by firms influenced their hiring decisions – 60% said articles did influence their choice of professional adviser.
  2. Use a syndication service to see registered readers and how they match your desired demographics.
    For example via Mondaq you can see reader’s jobs and industries on the Demographics menu in the Reporting, or take a look at the actual people and companies in the Excel downloads.
  3. Identify the article proportion of your web presence.
    Google loves content and single-handedly accounts for 60-70% of the traffic to professional service firm websites in our benchmarking. For most firms your web presence consists of articles, professional biographies and practice group descriptions. Articles, once up stay up (unlike professionals who move firms) and where you are adding say 100 articles a year, you will certainly not be adding 100 biographies. Articles therefore account for the majority of your pages. Check what proportion of your website consists of articles by using Google’s “site:” and “inurl:” operators. For example, “ inurl:publications” will tell you how many pages are indexed by Google under the domain, which sit in the publications subdirectory.
  4. Measure what proportion of potential clients first experience your firm’s website via articles.
    For example, you can use Google Analytics to look for people who are:
    New Visitors (i.e. not current clients who have already interacted with you)
    AND who come to your website via search (i.e. they’ve got an issue)
    BUT who don’t first land on your home page or a staff bio page (based on search keyphrase analysis we ran across multiple lawfirm GA accounts these are almost always people who already know you as they are searching your firm name or a staff member by name). You’ll find that potential clients who don’t already know you and are searching will hit articles first 70-80% of the time.
  5. Measure business development events from articles.
    Not everything that people do on your website has the same value to you. For example it’s possible to look across the whole visit that someone makes to your site after reading an article and see whether they subsequently visit a fee earner’s profile. We configure Google Analytics with custom tracking code and have built this into a custom reporting platform for professional services firms so that you can even see when readers follow up articles with emails or phone calls to partners.

Photo by stevendepolo