What’s the Value of Martindale in a Google-centric World?

Clients have been asking a lot recently about what other firms are doing regarding Martindale-Hubbell listings. The cost seems steep to most firms especially when you compare the click-throughs that come from the directory to those coming from other sources around the net. Most firms I’ve talked to are considering or have already cut back on the listings.

Gina Passarella of the Legal Intelligencer has an article that examines this topic in depth, Martindale-Hubbell Faces Challenges, and that cites an informal survey of Philadelphia law firms finding

“more firms than not said they were either eliminating or scaling back their use of Martindale-Hubbell’s listing services… [but that] pulling away from such a time-honored tradition wasn’t always an easy decision.”

At the same time, recently at the LMA New England Annual Conference in Boston, firm representatives chimed out support for Martindale in one session on web sites, saying that they could point to their web server stats showing Martindale as a top referral source. I have not had similar evidence for firm sites that I manage.

Server stats may be a useful bit of data to add to your decision making. I’m interested to hear what your firm’s experience is regarding Martindale referrals, and whether you are considering cutting back.

Please leave a comment.

Oh, and have a Merry Christmas!

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Posted in Law Firm Marketing, New Media / Internet
6 comments on “What’s the Value of Martindale in a Google-centric World?
  1. JKash says:

    Timely post; Kevin O’Keefe at Lexblog had a good take on the Martindale decline.

    You might agree that server stats are a poor metric for success. I was asked recently if we could look at hits on our firm’s site in response to a proposal. Even if we could isolate the IP address, how could we determine it was the recipient? Web stats make no distinction between the mail room and the board room. Web analytics, particularly Google, are fantastic tools, but there are limitations.

  2. Amy Campbell says:

    Well, while I agree that you can’t learn everything about your visitors from your web stats, certainly you can make a judgment based on 10 click-throughs a year from Martindale versus hundreds… It still won’t tell you how many times your profiles on Martindale were viewed, but it does give you an indication of traffic. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Kevin OKeefe says:

    Looking at firms that say MH is largest referrer to firm’s website, the reason was that the firm’s websites was not to be optimized by type/location of law firm, by practice area pages, and by lawyer bio pages. If the title tags on these pages were optimized to be found, Google would likely become much larger referrrer than MH.

  4. Amy Campbell says:

    Kevin,
    I was wondering that myself given the clickthroughs on sites I manage and optimize — I couldn’t imagine Martindale ever being a top referrer…

  5. Hi Amy,

    As you know, I manage law firm sites here in Boston as well. I hate to bash anyone (I have friends who work at Martindale) but Kevin is right on the money here. Site traffic reports don’t lie. Every week I have a client asking if their MH listing is driving traffic to their web site. Many believe it is until they seen the actual numbers. An optimized site and attorney bios cuts them out as the middleman.

  6. David Knott says:

    Very thoughtful analysis set for here. I have to agree with Kevin that Google should be the largest referrer. I also agree people should be tracking and if you only see 10 click thrus a year, it isn’t worth it. I posted on this debate a ways back, http://www.marketinglawyers.org/so-the-list-serve-says-martindale-hubbell-is-no-longer-relevant/. The analysis should consider the entire legal network and your tracking should be looking for these other avenues MH drives traffic. We are still the only legal network from which Google Local request information. One other criteria to add the the analysis is clients. If your inclusion in the legal network results in 1 or 2 clients a year it is very profitable. Traffic doesn’t pay the bills, clients do. If your tracking can’t attribute cost of acquisition and gross revenues to each client and marketing effort, I would suggest launching a thoughtful analysis like this one to determine the facts. Armed with that information your decisions of marketing changes will yield better results.