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5 Mistakes Law Firms Make When Advertising Online

Online Legal Marketing Shirt - Disruptive Advertising
April 22, 2015 By AdWords

Learn Online Marketing Strategies for Law Firms That Actually Work

Advertising legal services on Google is about as competitive as it gets. Depending on your specialty and location you could be spending anywhere from $10 to over $500 per click. Budgets are limited and the pressure for results is high so the key is to focus your marketing dollars in the areas most closely aligned with your expertise and with the highest profits.

In this post we’ll review five major mistakes most law firms are making with Pay Per Click advertising on Google AdWords, and I’ll tell you how to build Google AdWords campaigns that produce more quality leads than your competition for less money.

Let’s get started.

Mistake 1: Unfocused Campaign and Keyword Strategy

What areas of law does your practice cover?

We’ve asked this question to dozens of law firms and the most common answer is something like: “Bankruptcy, family law, divorce, personal injury, litigation, IP, etc…” In other words just about everything.

But if your firm’s marketing budget is limited, trying to do that on Google is a recipe for disaster. Clicks are too expensive and you’ll probably end up spreading your budget too thin to excel in any specific area.

So let’s rephrase the question: What types of cases produce the most revenue for your firm? Or, what area of practice would you like to expand this year?

If you happen to have an unlimited budget then feel free to go crazy in every area, but the key for most law firms is to be more focused. Don’t be like the rest: stick to being effective advertising for one or two areas of practice before expanding too quickly.

Now that we’ve agreed to stay focused, let’s review how to choose the best keywords based on the user’s intent. If you focused on Personal Injury, which keyword would you rather have your ad show for, “Auto Accident” or “Auto Accident Attorney”?

If you chose #2 then pat yourself on the back because that is the right answer. But why?

It’s important to target keywords that show “buying” intent. Someone already searching for an attorney after an accident is exponentially more likely to become a client than someone just searching “auto accident” who might be looking for insurance information or trying to find an auto repair shop.

You can use the free Keyword Planner tool in AdWords itself to see how often specific keywords are searched for in your area and to get a rough cost per click estimate. Remember: the more general the keyword, the less buying intent you can assume.

Mistake 2: Not Writing Effective Ad Copy

Do you know the biggest mistake law firms make when writing ads for PPC?

We’ll give you a hint: it’s not being vague. It’s not being too detailed. It’s not being too long. Or too short. The biggest mistake is so easy to make it’s literally invisible.

It’s not writing to be noticed.

The worst ad is the one nobody even sees. The one they skim right by while clicking on your competitor. To spice things up you need to think of ways to stand out. Here are some ideas for doing it in Google AdWords:

  • Include parentheses , brackets, and squiggly brackets in your headlines
  • Include numbers in your headlines (2015, $5, 20%, etc)
  • Mention specific offers or discounts
  • Add dollar signs or registered trademarks
  • Include part of a testimonial or quotation
  • Focus on a stronger offer/call to action than your competitors (don’t just offer a Free Consultation if everybody else is doing that)

Be sure you’re including your keyword in your ad Headline, as well as the Display URL. For example, the keyword “auto accident attorney” should usually have Auto Accident Attorney in the ad headline. Then your Display URL might say YourFirm.com/Auto-Accident to reinforce the message. Be sure you’re showing the user that you provide exactly what they’re searching for.

Keep your ads local. For most potential clients local law firm is always better than something in an unknown location. Have your campaigns target individual cities so your ads can be written for each one individually.

Finally, use your ads to answer the user’s questions. Don’t focus on how great you are. Tell the potential client how you’ll help them. Assure them you can get them the outcome they need. You don’t have a of space to write a great ad, so get straight to the point. Think in terms of, “We’ll Help You With X and get you Y.”

Mistake 3: Not Having Consistent & Compelling Landing Pages

A compelling ad will help your practice stand out from competitors and entice the user to investigate further. In a sense, it’s what gets your potential client in the door. But what happens after that? The first thing the user sees after clicking an ad—the first real impression they’ll have of your practice—is your landing page. A landing page is just what it sounds like: a page where the user lands after clicking an ad.

Many law firms point their ads to their website homepage. After all, you probably spent a lot of money on a great website, so why wouldn’t you want the user to see it and understand everything your firm has to offer? The short answer is: because the user didn’t search for everything you have to offer. They searched for the specific service they are looking for.

That means if a user searched for “bankruptcy lawyer” you want your ad and landing page to specifically address bankruptcy services. That user doesn’t care about divorce or personal injury services, so don’t waste their time talking about those!

The best way to ensure your ads are pointing to specific landing pages is to use Single Keyword Ad Groups (aka SKAGs). A SKAG is just an ad group with only one keyword, usually in Exact, Phrase, and Broad Match Modified variants. For example, you might have an ad group with the keywords:

[bankruptcy lawyer] (exact match)
“bankruptcy lawyer” (phrase match)
+bankruptcy +lawyer (modified broad match)

Your ad should advertise bankruptcy lawyers, and the landing page should as well. This will ensure a strong message match from top to bottom.

On the landing page itself, here are some techniques for making sure your landing pages are designed to convert visitors into clients:

  • Focus on the benefits you provide clients
  • Have a strong headline that demonstrates your value immediately
  • Differentiate yourself from competitors. Explain clearly why you’re the best option
  • Include social proof: testimonials, reviews, etc. Let happy clients speak for you
  • Make it easy to contact you: Forms should be short and quick to fill out.
  • Phone numbers should be easy to find

Finally, I recommend having pay per click landing pages that are separate from your main web site. Good PPC landing pages are usually free of the navigation and bells and whistles of a full-blown web site because they have one goal: to convert visitors into leads.

Mistake 4: Not Tracking Leads Through to Actual Cases

Exactly how many of your clients came from a Google ad click? How much revenue does your Paid search account for?

It’s surprising how many law firms can’t answer those questions. Finding the answers requires doing additional work beyond what Google provides, but it’s absolutely critical to making optimizations that make a difference.

Here’s a simple 4 step process to track Paid Search traffic from leads to clients and revenue

1. Setup Conversion Tracking

With a simple code snippet generated by AdWords, you can easily track how many people submit their information on your web forms.

2. Use Call Tracking

First, you want to know how many calls come through paid search, which means having phone numbers setup specifically for Google (this is why having a PPC-specific landing page is helpful). Many call tracking platforms let you integrate with Analytics to determine which calls come through Google Ads and other sources, so take advantage of that.

3. Record Where Your Leads Come From

If your firm has a dedicated CRM to record leads, make sure it has the ability to record lead sources so you know exactly which leads come from AdWords. If an assistant answers phone calls, make sure they know what source a call is coming from when the answer.

Some call tracking platforms can setup pre-call “whispers” to announce the call source before connecting the call. (Note: having the person who answers the phone ask the caller where they came from isn’t a good solution, because users don’t always know if they clicked an ad or a regular search result). The important thing is, make sure you have a way to connect specific leads back to AdWords and other sources. When leads become clients, make sure that information is passed along too.

4. Tie Revenue Back to Google AdWords Campaigns:

I assume you’re already tracking revenue per client, so if you’ve been doing the last three steps you should be able to tie a specific revenue amount back to AdWords. If you know your Bankruptcy campaign brought in 50 leads, which became 10 clients, and those clients generated $10,000 in revenue, then you’re in a position to judge exactly how efficient your campaign is beyond the traditional cost per click and cost per conversion metrics

Most law firms optimize their campaigns based on clicks or leads alone, but if you put in the effort to do tracking right you’ll understand how many cases your AdWords campaigns generates, which gives you a huge advantage over the competition!

Mistake 5: Not Testing for Viability and Optimizing for Profitability

The last mistake law firms make in Google AdWords is not testing to make sure what they’re doing viable and then optimizing for profitability. Often, law firms trying PPC advertising want to start by bidding on a wide range of keywords with low bids so they can learn which areas are profitable before committing more budget. Unfortunately, this approach can actually backfire by ensuring that no specific keywords get enough traffic to learn anything useful. Many firms conclude that PPC doesn’t work for them and give up.

But there’s a better way: Testing for viability and then optimizing for profitability.

We often recommend focusing most, if not all, of the AdWords budget on very small core of keywords to begin with and bidding for the top spot on the search results page. By taking a top position it may cost more than you’re willing to pay long term, but this allows you to quickly test whether or not a keyword can actually produce the types of leads you want for your practice.

Once you’ve identified whether the keyword, ad, and landing page combination works at all you can start to pull back your bids as necessary to get costs under control. That means you should be viewing AdWords as an investment, and be willing to allocate the necessary budget to learn what actually works. Just make sure you’re doing it right by following the advice in this post!

In Conclusion

As you’ve read through this post you might have noticed a few areas where your practice can improve its Google Advertising. In an industry as competitive as the legal industry, you need every advantage you can get, and by avoiding these common mistakes you’ll have a huge advantage over your competitors.

To recap, make sure you have a Focused Campaign and Keyword Strategy, that you’re Writing Effective Ad Copy and Creating Consistent and Compelling Landing Pages, then Tracking Leads Through to Actual Cases and Testing for Viability and Optimizing for Profitability.

Are you excited to take your AdWords to the next level but not sure where to begin?

Contact our account strategists today and we’ll give you a free PPC evaluation and help you develop a custom strategy for your law firm!

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Jacob Baadsgaard

Founder and CEO
Jake is the CEO and fearless leader of Disruptive Advertising. His face is as big as his heart, and he loves hugs, improving ROI, and coming up with killer account strategies.

4 Comments

  • Jorge says:

    Hello i read your article, I am a little confused, so you only use one Keyword and select different match type for it? Thanks…..[bankruptcy lawyer] (exact match)
    “bankruptcy lawyer” (phrase match)
    +bankruptcy +lawyer (modified broad match)
    Your ad should advertise bankruptcy lawyers, and the landing page should as well. This will ensure a strong message match from top to bottom.

    • Jacob Baadsgaard says:

      You’ve got it, Jorge. You want to keep your ads tightly focused on a specific search intent and single keyword ad groups that use one keyword with multiple match types are the best way to do it!

  • vehicle wheel says:

    I found this article very interesting and educational. very interesting and educational.

  • Jacob, Great overview of law firm PPC ads. However, your advice about using landing pages may cost attorneys more money (by requiring a larger bid or cost per click). Google AdWords assigns a quality score to the pages that the PPC ads point to, and there is some speculation that Domain Authority and Page Authority play a role in calculating the quality score. No one knows for sure, but many people think this is the case. Purpose-built landing pages will likely have a much lower Page Authority and therefore a lower quality score and therefore clicks will cost more. Thoughts?

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