Got this email today from a law firm who has asked us for help because they think their marketing investment might not be worth the spend:
Thank you for taking time to speak with me yesterday. I requested Google Analytics access from our marketing company and received this response. Any thoughts?
“The analytic platforms we use are through our private accounts and house all our marketing/seo clients on it. Thus, we are unable to provide individual access for clients to view.”
AHHHHHHHHH! This makes me so mad.
Yesterday in reviewing her site we looked into the code and yes, GA was installed (albeit poorly – it was missing on some pages). The only possible conclusions are:
The agency in question is stupid – has inherited the site, doesn’t know GA was already installed, never considered installing it and has genuinely chosen a proprietary reporting system that lumps access across multiple sites into a single log in.
The agency in question is smart – is doing 4/5 of nothing to work on the site and is deliberately hiding data so they can keep cashing their checks. Oh – and they’d be lying about not being able to grant access to Google Analytics.
Unfortunately, lawyers asking for access (especially admin access) to Google Analytics is often the first step tipping off an incumbent agency that they may be on the chopping block. Sadly, some immediately turtle up – withdrawing as much as possible and trying to control their own clients information, passwords and access. That’s what we have here.
Remember attorneys, this is your site, it is your data, it is your performance, it is your prerogative to hold your agency’s feet to the fire. Google Analytics data (and access to it) is yours to control. Biggest red flag for any agency is the refusal to share data, let alone putting clients in control of it.
This is the first marketing post I’ve written – granted it is in the guise of an analytical review – but let’s be honest, I’m showing off results here.
Every four weeks I report traffic growth numbers to my clients and I use those numbers to extrapolate an annualized growth rate. (I use a straight line forecasting – in simple math terms, if you averaged 5% growth during a quarter, your annualized growth rate is 4×5% = 20%.) Depending on the client, Atticus’ job is to exceed a 25-33% growth over pre-engagement traffic.
Through the end of September, Atticus clients are on track to more than double their traffic with a 103% annualized growth rate. Individual site performance ranged from -7% to 241%.
There are a few factors that contribute to this. First and foremost, I carefully select clients that I’m confident I can make a solid impact for. Ideal clients have either ignored their website or have worked with large legal focused SEO vendors who have been hammered by Google SPAM penalties. I flat out refuse to work with clients who have previously worked with one of the few good SEO vendors in the legal industry – as frankly, my improvements on a site that is already well maintained will be small. Secondly, I work first on those tactics that will deliver the biggest bang for the investment – ideally, this is a technical tweak that has an immediate, large and persistent impact on traffic. (See an technical fix example here.)
If you are still reading my marketing puff piece, thank you – as David Lobdell said:
“He who tooteth not his own horn, same shall remain in a state of untootethness.”
(But it doesn’t really matter for lawyers . . . yet)
In an attempt to provide increased analytical information about an Adwords spend, today Google launched AdWords Conversion Import – which tracks offline conversion (like phone calls) back to the original PPC spend. (Thus presumably increasing the perceived ROI on Google Adwords and therefore encouraging advertisers to continue to adjust their budgets towards PPC spend. . . but I digress.)
As you can see from the cute Google graphic above, the process is pretty simple but it is really designed much more for an online retail experience than a law firm. Note that this requires a)the user to fill out a form to store the original click information (known as the GCLID) and b)the advertiser to have a customer tracking database that they record the GCLID in and then reupload that GCLID back to Google once the user converts. Booo.
Why This Doesn’t Work For Lawyers
Online intake form completion for legal websites anecdotally represents roughly 2-3% of inbound leads. What lawyers really want is the phone to ring (and Google is clear that this doesn’t work for those inbound phone calls.)
This also requires a back end tracking database. While there are a few solutions (including, ahem, Avvo’s Ignite Suite) that do provide sophisticated CRM for lawyers, very few law firms have actually adopted them.
But Wait . . .
One of my favorite pastimes is reading the Google tealeaves and prognosticating changes in direction and new product features. Between tracking phone numbers in Adwords and the huge push into the small business realm (think restaurants, plumbers, auto repair, lawyers etc.) things are changing. Better conversion tracking for small businesses that rely on phone calls for the vast majority of their conversions is coming soon.
I’ve recently been on a series of rants about the importance of controlling exclusive access to key high level log in credentials to control you web presence. This post started as a step by step email instructions to a law firm whose agency either couldn’t figure out the new Google Analytics Interface or was too lazy to bother. I decided to post it as a blog instead so anyone could read it.
Working with the new Analytics interface to add users or change their permissions is different, but mindnumbingly simple if you know where to look. (In fact there are now 4 tiers of permissions instead of 3.) Below I’ll show you a)how to check to see if you have “add user” level access – which as a site owner you MUST have and b)add/modify user permissions once you’ve cleared the previous hurdle.
NOTE: If you don’t have “add user” level access to your own Google Analytics account – immediately go and scream at your agency/consultant/self-professed search expert until they make that change. Then remove that level of access to everyone except yourself. (And hide that password away very securely and carefully.)
Step 1: Log in to Google Analytics.
Step 2: Click “Admin” in the top left hand corner.
Step 3: If “User Management” is grayed out and you can’t click on it you don’t have the high level access to your own Analytics account that you should. Talk to your agency.
Step 4: Once you can click on “User Management”, you’ll find a very easy interface to add accounts (or change permissions to existing accounts).
I continue to run into attorneys who don’t really have control over their website – due to vendors who have set up certain systems, but retained high-level log in credentials (and failed to supply their clients with similar credentials.) In common English please – Lawyers should have exclusive control and access at the highest administrative level to log ins for their Domain, their Host and this Analytics account. In priority (and technical complexity) order:
As I’ve written before, if you don’t own your domain, you are essentially leasing someone else’s website. As a most insidious practice, some legally focused online marketers are getting their clients to pay for search consulting services and eventually upping the price or reselling the domain to the competitor across the street. This is the real estate equivalent of a landlord forcing a tenant to paying for upgrades to an apartment and then turning around and charging extra for the upgraded space. Not sure if you “own” your domain? Find out at Who Is.
You need high level access to your websites hosting provider in order to do a variety of back end things – like changing an email provider, moving hosting solutions and exporting your site’s content database. While you may want technical assistance in performing these tasks, you must have access in order to do so. Calling up your old SEO begging for passwords can be a drawn out, frustrating process.
Analytics Log In
For the most part, when I say “Analytics” I mean Google Analytics. Your Google password can then be used across the entire Google ecosystem –Analtyics, Adwords, Email, Webmaster Tools etc. Having admin level access here enables you to invite others to view (or work on) any of these accounts. Thoughtlessly gifting this level of access to a vendor enables them to read your mail or create new accounts to access your performance after you fire them (recent occurrence with a client and vendor both of whom will remain unnamed). You should have exclusive high level access. Note that Google Analytics has recently changed their interface (confusing every non-regular user). Carefully select access for your vendors among the following options (and never include “add users”):
Entrust your vendors with the performance of your website, but never abdicate control of it to them.
UPDATE: Check out Steve’s comment below for an approach your agency should be using.
I frequently speak with attorneys who are only too eager to hand over their log-in credentials for the Google Analytics account.
Stop doing it.
You are not just opening the kimono – you are taking it off and throwing it away. Here’s why:
Once you’ve finished sharing this data with me, you’ll have to change your password; otherwise I’ll have ongoing access. This is easy to do, but few ever consider it.
Most law firms don’t run their email through google and because you must use a Google Account to access Google Analytics, many of the log-ins are personal google email accounts. (While you can associate a non Google email address with your Google Account, very few do.) Sending me over your personal account to log in to your company’s Google Analytics account means I can now read your personal gmail . . .
If this is the primary business account (either a solo lawyer or the marketing department), the log-in also opens up access to Google Webmaster Tools, Google Adwords etc.
By default your account probably has administrator access – which means you can add and delete users as you see fit. Now that you’ve sent me your credentials, so can I.
Note that if you rely on your agency to set up Google Analytics for you THEY will have your administrator level access. This is something you should check and change immediately if it is the case. (I’ll show you below how you can tell if this is the case.) Demand your agency make you the sole administrator and then grant them “user” level access.
What does this look like in the real world? Recently, I transitioned a client (who will remain nameless) from their existing agency (who will also remain nameless) to Atticus. When reviewing the client’s Google Analtyics account, we discovered that a new, innocuous sounding administrator-level account (email@example.com) was created just prior to the switch. My client swears that she not only didn’t create it but wouldn’t know how to.
Setting Up User Level Access in Google Analytics
You can avoid all of these problems by simply granting user-level access to Google Analytics. Here’s a step by step:
Log in to Google Analytics and Select the Appropriate Website
Select the Users Tab
Click the “+New User” Button
Add a User with “User” Permissions.
Note that you can get more complex with what people can and can’t see – if you want to explore, here’s the Google Documentation.