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Winning the Game of Pay Per Click

For most lawyers, pay per click (PPC) is about making a quick buck. You give the marketing company your credit card and carte blanche to charge and anxiously wait for your PPC ads to bring new clients.  But over the first 6 months of the new PPC campaign, your phone doesn’t ring and you scratch your head wondering what happened.

This, my friends, is a failed strategy for PPC.  You should look at PPC as a long-term investment, not a short-term cost.  A successful PPC campaign requires a long-term mindset that tests and refines ad campaigns that are uniquely targeted to your ideal client.

Why Every Lawyer Should Have a Pay Per Click Campaign

There are 6 reasons why every lawyer should have a PCC campaign.

  • Instant Results
  • Low Cost of Entry
  • Ideal Client Targeting
  • Referral Targeting
  • Retargeting
  • Controlling the Return on Investment

Reason #1: Instant Results: The first listings are paid ads—called PPC. 41% of clicks go to the top 3 paid ads on the search results page. If you’re not using PPC, you’re missing out on 41% of potential internet leads.

Unlike organic SEO (which can take months or years), PPC offers nearly immediate results and puts your ad on the top of the first page.

Reason #2: Low Cost of Entry:  For as little as $1/day, you can run a PPC campaign on Facebook or Google AdWords.  The cost per click is much lower on Facebook than Google Adwords. You set the budget, duration, geographic location of the Facebook ads and you determine whether the ads appear in the newsfeed, right column of Facebook or mobile.

Check out these numbers from Lightswitch Advisors for a car wreck campaign:

Reach: 19,593

Clicks: 493

Total Spend: $146

Cost Per Click: $0.30

For only 30 cents per click, you’re reaching prospective clients about a potential car wreck case.

Reason #3: Ideal Client Targeting: Your ads can target people based upon geographic region, gender, age, etc.  You are targeting the people most likely to click through to the ad.

Send your PPC ads only to those persons who have expressed an interest, e.g., persons on your email mailing list.  Upload your email list to create a “Custom Audience” on Facebook. You can leverage the “likes” that you’ve already received on your firm’s Facebook page. The top of your Facebook ad will show the “friends” who like your law firm, e.g., “13 friends like Ruane Attorneys”.  

Expand the reach with Look-a-Like ads on Facebook.  With a Look-a-Like ad, you take the information on the Custom Audience and Facebook finds people who are very similar to your email list, e.g., the same criteria in their profile.  Then you run Facebook ads to the Look-a-Like audience.

Reason #4: Referral Targeting:  Are lawyers your best clients for referrals?  Now, target them! PPC ads are a very cost effective way to grow the list of your lawyer referral partners.  Get an email list of the lawyers in your county, region or state (NextData.com can generate a list for you) and create a Custom Audience on Facebook for a lawyer-to-lawyer ad campaign.

Become the resource for other lawyers with free books, seminars and webinars and print and email newsletters. Here are the metrics of a Facebook ad campaign seeking lawyer referrals (courtesy of Lightswitch Advisors):

Reach:  1,192

Clicks: 89

Spend: $93

Cost Per Click: $1.05

For only $1.05 per click, there were 89 clicks by targeted lawyers in your geographic region. With the right follow-up

Reason #5: Retargeting:  Retargeting gets the best bang for the buck.  You can send your ads to those people who visited your website in the last 180 days.  Put code (Facebook pixel) on your website that tracks people who have been on your website and your ads will be sent to those people.

Reason #6: Controlling the Return on Investment:  The return on investment (ROI) from PPC ads is far easier to control than organic search (SEO). Every ad is set up with a conversion tracking and phone call tracking, such as CallRail.com and you can gauge the success, or failure, of every ad.

Let’s say you’re running 25 different PPC ads.  With conversion tracking and phone call tracking, you’ll know which ads are getting clicks and generating phone calls. With these  metrics, you can track the click through rate and the cost per click.

The Secret to Lead Generation

The goal of the landing page is to convert visitors into leads. This means you want the visitor to call your special toll-free phone number RIGHT NOW.  A phone call is 100x better than a click.

Lead generation ads should focus on the benefits that you offer—not the history of your law firm or the services you provide. Prospective clients will make decisions based upon one thing: how you can help fix their problem.

The lead magnet should be customized to the PPC ad.  The lead magnet for a PPC campaign for a car wreck should be customized to the specific ad, such as an e-book, e.g., “Everything You Need to Know to Win Your Car Wreck Case”.

The Biggest Mistake Made by Lawyers

Far too often, PPC ads send prospective clients to the home page of the lawyer’s website. Huge mistake! The home page is cluttered with information that is confusing and easy for the consumer to get lost.  

Make things simple for the consumer by creating a landing page that is specially designed for the PPC ad. A landing page is a page where the user lands after clicking the ad.

The PPC landing page should be separate from your main website and have a single goal: covert visitors into leads.  The landing page should have:

  • A strong headline that demonstrates the benefits you offer (not just a “Free Consultation”)
  • 3-5 bullet points,
  • 1 video,
  • A Call to Action, e.g., “Download your FREE e-book now, Everything You Should Know about Your Injury Lawsuit
  • Your phone number should be easy to find
  • Include social proof, e.g., 2-3 testimonials from former clients

Getting Granular with the Keywords for Your Ad

Use highly specific keywords that are unique to your practice area. Rather than “best injury lawyers”, use “best injury lawyers in Kingston, New York”.  

For a medical malpractice lawyer, you should use highly specific keywords, such as “spastic quadriplegia” or “athetoid cerebral palsy”, rather than the more generic, “cerebral palsy”. These specialized keywords will reduce the cost of the ad and increase the click through rate.

The Power of Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are words that you want to filter out of your PPC campaign.  Your ads will filter out the results of searches that have those negative keywords. For a personal injury law firm, you should filter out searches that include “divorce” and “real estate”.

You do not want your ad running to someone who is researching injury law in an academic setting—they are browsing and have no need for your services.  Filter out those searching for research papers, classes, educational opportunities, etc., with these negative keywords (provided courtesy of Lightswitch Advisors):

“about, definition, example, sample, free, inexpensive, compliance, discount, cheap, bargain, course, tutorials, guide, what are, what is”  

This alone should dramatically increase the effectiveness of your PPC ad.

Testing and Refining Your Ads

Experiment with text and image ads (some placements only accept text ads).  Create ads that are visual; text ads have a much lower click-through rate than image ads.  Have your PPC campaigns target specific cities, so your ads can be written for each one individually.

Constantly brainstorm ideas for improving your PPC campaigns. Figure out what consumers click on and test variations of your PPC ad. Once you know what ads are getting clicks, allocate more $ to them and reduce your spend on ads with fewer clicks and less engagement.  Test ads with images and video for Facebook ads.

Micro-Targeting to the Seriously Disabled

With managed placement ads, you select the specific website you want your ads to appear on. A placement can be on an entire website, a sub-set of a website or an individual ad within a specific page.  Display ads are the visual banner ads you see on advertising supported websites.

“Hyper-targeting is so incredibly precise.”

Phillip Stutts, “Fire Them Now

If you know of a website where your prospective clients spend time, you can place ads on the website.  First, identify 5-10 websites that are relevant to your practice area. Check out the websites and see it they run Google ads at the top and right column of the site; this is a quick way to determine whether the website participates in the Google Display Network (managed placements are supported for the Google Display Network only).

The Questions to Ask Your Digital Marketer

When the digital marketer asks for a budget of  $4k/month, ask them to prove their worth with smaller budgets.  Do not spend big $ until you know which PPC ad campaigns will work.  You don’t need to out-spend your competitors—you just need to be smarter.

Do not sign a long-term contract (e.g., 12-18 month contracts)—go month-to-month with the option to instantly terminate the contact if you do not get results, or at least a 30-day out clause.  Pay a flat fee per month, as opposed to an hourly rate, and force the digital marketer to prove their worth during a 90-day probationary period.

Don’t hire a digital marketer until you answer these 3 questions:

#1: The exact return on investment (ROI) you’re aiming for, e.g., 2 to 1

#2: How you are going to measure your ROI, e.g., settlement values of new leads

#3: Whether you are on target to reach your goals at every stage

Once you establish specific criteria to measure your success, you’re ready to begin testing for your PPC campaigns.

Holding Your Digital Marketer Accountable

Make your digital marketer prove that they can get quality leads before you spend big $. Don’t give the marketer their paycheck until they’ve proven themselves.

Give the digital marketer a concept to test in a limited amount of time, e.g., managed placement ads on the website of a construction union.  Ask the digital marketer:

  • Who will you target?
  • What are your testing strategies?
  • What metrics will determine the success of each ad?

Every month have your digital marketer provide an itemized list showing the expenses. The expenses of a PCC campaign consist of the cost of placing the ad (a/k/a the “ad spend) and the management fee charged by your digital marketer. The management is usually 20% of the total ad spend; if you spend $1,000, the management fee will be $200.

The Only Way to Measure Your Success

The only standard you should use with a PPC campaign is whether it increases the number of your cases that you accept for litigation. A valuable lead is one that will make $.  

It is not only the number of leads, but the quality of leads.  Are you getting a flood of crappy leads? If you get 90 leads a month, but only 1 converts into a worthwhile client, your ROI might be lousy even though you’re getting a ton of click-throughs.

“There is no quick fix, no magic pill.  We’re going to test and target, and spend lean until we know what works, and then carefully deploy a strategy of trust based specifically on what your customers have shown us what they want.”

Phillip Stutts, “Fire Them Now

Tell the digital marketer from the outset: “If I don’t have at least one new lead every month that I accept for litigation, we’re done.” You just set the standard to measure the success of your PPC campaign.

Plan for a Marathon

Success isn’t going to happen overnight. There’s no magic pill that will give you instant success.  Most lawyers see next to no return on PPC campaigns and give up after 6 months. Hopefully, that’s not you.   You’re building a marketing empire and Rome wasn’t built in a day…and neither are great marketing campaigns.

Photo by Lex Photography from Pexels

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.