Avvo, the legal and medical directory and Q&A site, today launched two new services designed to help lawyers more effectively market their practices. The two services are both offered under the umbrella name Avvo Ignite. One, Avvo Ignite Starter, offers “hassle-free search and mobile optimized” websites for attorneys. The other, Avvo Ignite Suite, is a cloud-based marketing dashboard that lets firms manage and track their online marketing.
Yesterday, Sachin Bhatia, Avvo’s vice president of product and the man in charge of Avvo Ignite, gave me a preview of the new tools.
Avvo Ignite Starter, the website service, is intended for lawyers who do not have a site or who want to upgrade to a more professional site. The service is launching with five website templates but will eventually include around two dozen. The different templates will be designed to cover a range of practice types.
All of the websites are built on a WordPress platform and are designed to be optimized for search optimization and for optimal viewing on mobile devices. Although the websites are built from templates, Avvo will customize their graphics and other elements for each customer.
Avvo Ignite Suite is a tool for tracking a law firm’s online marketing activity and effectiveness. Although large firms regularly use tools such as these, I cannot think of anything similar designed for solo and smaller firm lawyers. (Actually, this is designed for firms of any size, but particularly for smaller and medium firms.)
The primary function is to track contacts with a firm by potential clients and provide intelligence on marketing effectiveness. The dashboard follows how a contact comes to the firm (e.g., by website form, Facebook, Google ad, etc.) and what happens with the contact thereafter. It also helps manage the firm’s relationship with the contact, letting the firm, for example, create automated thank you emails to be sent after an initial phone call or set reminders for following-up with a contact.
The services creates a database of all contacts, showing how they came to the firm, the nature of their case, their status as a prospect or client, and the attorney responsible for the contact, if any.
The service has numerous tools for tracking contacts. It will track all the firm’s email communications with the contact. (This is done securely — no content is visible to anyone at Avvo.) It will also track all the contact’s activity on the firm’s website. If a contact returns to the firm’s site six months after the last contact, the firm will be notified.
All of this intelligence is compiled into simple reports that show the firm its rates of client conversion, how it is spending its marketing dollars, and what sort of ROI it is getting for those dollars. An overall report will show how many contacts were made in total to the firm, how many of those became prospects, and how many became clients. You can then break down these numbers by various factors. Break it down by source to see, for example, the number of contacts that come from LinkedIn and how many of those become clients.
The source ROI report lets you evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing expenditures. It uses graphs to chart how much you are spending and what return you are getting for that expense in new clients.
Avvo Ignite Suite is designed to work on mobile devices, so a lawyer can track contacts whenever necessary and receive real-time alerts of client contacts and reminders.
All of the information in Ignite Suite can be exported to be used in Outlook or a customer relationship management system.
To purchase the website service, Avvo Ignite Starter, the cost is $199 a month, plus a $499 one-time set-up fee. The set-up fee is waived for anyone who pays for a full year in advance. The price includes the site set-up and customization (including licensing of stock photos), hosting and updates. Also, Avvo submits the site to local and national directories.
To purchase the dashboard service, Avvo Ignite Suite, the cost varies depending on the number of marketing “channels” to be monitored. (A channel would be Facebook, a blog, YouTube, LinkedIn, or the like.) For up to five channels, the cost is $199 a month. For up to 10 channels, it is $299 a month. For up to 14 channels, it is $399 a month. There is also a $499 set-up fee, which includes set-up of the system, training on the system, installation of tracking codes, and other components.
Subscribers to either service also receive access to Avvo University, a collection of webinars, guides and training videos about online marketing and business development.
The Bottom Line
For any law firm that is serious about online marketing, it should be using some sort of analytics tool to track the success of its efforts. Otherwise, the firm may well be throwing good money after bad. Many lawyers use Google Analytics, a free but highly sophisticated tool for tracking online marketing. The problem with Google Analytics — if you want to call it a problem — is that it provides too much information. Mastering it takes time — and few attorneys have that kind of time.
By contrast, Avvo Ignite Suite makes its analytics more easily digestible. In my interview with Sachin Bhatia, he could not repeat often enough that the emphasis with these services is on “hassle free.” Plus, Avvo says it will provide training and coaching in use and set-up of the system.
As with so many products and services, the final answer as to whether this is right for your firm will depend on a cost-benefit analysis. If your firm is presently spending a fair amount of money on online marketing, then this service could well be a smart investment. For that matter, even if you are just spending a lot of time on online marketing, it could be a good investment, since time is money. Either way, the question you need to answer is whether this service could help you become more focused or effective in your marketing efforts.