5 Data-Driven Lawyer Marketing Strategies

July 19, 2018

Every lawyer is familiar with the trials (had to) and tribulations associated with marketing their practice. Keywords are inordinately expensive. Qualifying traffic can seem impossible. And outside of the destination URL virtually every ad on the SERP looks the exact same.

Here on the WordStream blog, Wistia’s Margot da Cunha stitched together a comprehensive, lawyer-specific guide to increasing lead flow with PPC. For those of you who haven’t checked it out, Margot’s must-use law firm marketing tips are as follows:

  • Conduct competitive research
  • Make sure geo-targeting is set up correctly
  • Ensure ads speak to the searcher's intent (readiness to hire a lawyer)
  • Prioritize calls over all else
  • Use videos on PPC landing pages
  • Have an online chat system in place
  • Build a memorable brand
  • Track every action

To see exactly how impactful some of these strategies can be, we decided to take a deep dive into the AdWords account of one of WordStream’s Managed Services clients: Texas-based disability denial attorney Marc Whitehead & Associates.

When he took over day-to-day operations, Strategist Griffin Nauss noticed that the account had an abundance of pain points which, to a seasoned vet like Griffin, meant ample opportunity for improvement. After leveraging most of the techniques outlined above, account performance turned around and continues to improve.

lawyer marketing account data 2016

The biggest changes are reflected in:

  • The precipitous increase in lead volume (pre-Griffin, the account had only recorded over 100 conversions 4 times: since July 2016, the Marc Whitehead & Associates account has seen 200+ conversions per month)
  • Drastically improved conversion rates (from the mid-teens and, in some months, less than 5%, to well over 25%)
  • A lower account-wide CPA ((below $52 for five months, a feat that hasn’t occurred at any other point in the account’s history)

While such tremendous improvement in arguably the most important KPIs might make it look as though something insanely complex has happened within the account, Griffin would be the first person to tell you that the changes he made were all relatively easy to execute. No impenetrable scripts. No secret betas. Just common sense account management.

In what follows, we’ll run through 5 of Margot’s tips for law firm marketing, using real data from Marc Whitehead & Associates to illustrate just how effective each one can be.

Lawyer Marketing Tip #1: Conduct Competitor Research

As is the case in every vertical, competitor research is a major key to success. It allows you to find out what your biggest competitors are bidding on and, more importantly, what they’re saying. 

lawyer marketing competitor research meme

Margot cites three actionable ways to implement competitor research into a lawyer’s PPC account:

  • Craft an actionable & relevant CTA
  • Implement all ad extensions
  • Highlight what makes you better

Now, let’s take a look at how these tips translate to account performance.

The Data…

In leveraging competitor analysis for the Marc Whitehead & Associates AdWords account, Griffin noted a drastic improvement in both CTR and conversion rate.

Prior to the sweeping account changes, ads blended in with the rest of the SERP. The ad copy wasn’t cohesive; it was simply a smattering of disjointed value propositions, like so:

old adwords search ad for lawyer account

“Now,” says Griffin, “in every ad we try to stress the fact that we offer a free policy, or denial analysis, or the fact that if we don't win the case there are no fees. But not all of them at once. Giving searchers one thing to focus on really seems to be working well, especially on mobile.”

lawyer marketing dynamic search ad adwords

Through a combination of dynamic search ads (like the one above) and call-only ads (more on those later), the Marc Whitehead & Associates account now does a much better job of standing out on the SERP by addressing the specific need of the searcher without sounding spammy or overwhelming.

This is truly a case of less being more.

The Verdict…

Taking a look at the SERP in the areas where you’re trying to garner leads is never a bad idea. That being said, no amount of spying on the competition is going to write new ad copy for you.

Speaking of new ad copy: since you’re going to need to roll out Expanded Text Ads in your account before January 31st, 2017, now is the perfect time to do an analysis of your ad copy and offerings (for more questions to consider in the new year, check out this post on the things advertisers should ask themselves every quarter).

Expanded text ad versus standard text ad

Ensuring alignment won’t take too long, but figuring out how to effectively utilize all that extra space (an additional headline and higher character count in the description line) can be a challenge, even for pros.

Search for your priority keywords to see what the competition is saying, and consider the ways in which you can frame your offering as more compelling than theirs. Whatever you do, don’t copy what they’re saying. Zag.

Lawyer Marketing Tip #2: Make Sure Your Geo-targeting is Set Up Correctly

“The average client is not going to travel further than they need to.” Fact, not opinion.

Since keywords are so pricey in the legal industry, entering into bids outside of the geographic regions in which your clients reside is often a wasteful endeavor. While geo-targeting is a PPC staple and is by no means specific to the legal field, there are verticals in which it isn’t 100% required in order to find success. This just isn’t one of them. 

Cost of lawyer marketing adwords keywords vs other industries

Geo-targeting doesn’t just ensure improved relevance and less waste: it can also function as an initial means by which qualify traffic.

The Data…

Mark Whitehead & Associates have offices in two different states: Texas and Oklahoma. Before Griffin took over the account, the location tab for every active campaign looked like this:

location targeting for lawyer marketing

So what did Griffin do? He created parallel sets of campaigns for both of the states in which his client is seeking prospects… 

adwords account structure for lawyers

“We have 2 main regions and I broke out campaigns by state for Texas and Oklahoma,” like so:

geo targeting for lawyers in adwords

But Griffin wasn’t done there. Since Marc Whitehead & Associates want to grow and maintain a presence outside of the two states in which they currently work, “we’re pushing for nationwide brand-recognition, but in a way that makes sense financially.”

The secret to a nationwide branding campaign that doesn’t break the bank? Income-based targeting.

Income targeting in adwords for lawyer marketing

By creating audiences based on household income, Griffin can set bid adjustments based on average household income. This allows him to pay a premium for searchers Google has marked as having a higher household income, and bid down or negate households with lower average incomes. While this method isn’t foolproof, it does allow for some measure of control over how spend is utilized in a nationally-targeted campaign.

There’s also the added benefit of higher Quality Scores (and thus, lower CPCs) for branded keywords. Since June 1st, the branded campaign has recorded 66 conversions (a combination of both phone calls and form fills) at a CPA of just $8.82.

The Verdict…

Simply put, outside of an optimized bidding strategy, geo-targeting is the easiest (and most effective) way for marketers to ensure budget isn’t being squandered.

Don’t be afraid to really focus in on states, cities, even specific neighborhoods (depending on just how locally-focused your business is). While this will significantly reduce the number of potential impressions, those instances in which your ads are served will be more relevant and qualified than if you were targeting the entire planet.

Lawyer Marketing Tip #3: Speak to the Searcher’s Readiness to Hire a Lawyer

Relevancy matters in every vertical, but in the legal field it can make or break your campaigns. If you pay for the click at the wrong part of the customer’s journey, you will lose money. Fast. 

sample serp for lawyer adwords keywords

Hiring a lawyer can be a research-heavy process for some, but for others it can happen instantly. For example, let’s take a case where a prospect is suing someone.

They’re probably not going to hop on Google, make a call, and hire the first firm that pops up. They’re more likely to conduct research, compare prices, compare lawyer backgrounds, etc. There is no use in suing someone if it costs more to hire a lawyer than to get the return. In other cases, like a marriage you’re itching to get out of, lawyers might be hired a lot faster.

This second example holds for Marc Whitehead & Associates. Most of the time, leads coming in are in search of a free evaluation to see if they have a case to rebut a wrongful denial of disability income. They are top of the funnel prospects who want to know their chances.

The Data...

According to Griffin, “We stress in our ads that there is only a 180-day window to appeal. This simultaneously creates a sense of urgency and disqualifies leads that fall beyond that 6-month window.”

To concretize the chances of garnering a conversion, Griffin makes use of ad extensions to position his client as trustworthy: a true authority capable of handling any case.

Outside of the obvious (call extensions, which afford desktop users the opportunity to convert via phone, too), the account makes use of callout extensions:

lawyer marketing adwords callout extensions

And sitelink extensions:

lawyer adwords sitelink extensions

The Verdict…

While the geo-targeting and call-only ads employed in the Marc Whitehead & Associates AdWords account are already performing quite well, the next big step towards really honing in on searcher intent will be to develop remarketing lists. This will allow Griffin to leverage RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search) adjustments to optimize bids based on the quality of traffic.

Lawyer Marketing Tip #4: CREAM (Calls Rule Everything Around Me)

Simply put, call-only ads are the Crème de la crème of lawyer marketing on AdWords. 

call only ad mobile serp cutout

All of the lawyer-aimed marketing tips Margot suggests are spot on and can improve account performance in terms of both volume and efficiency. But in an increasingly mobile world, none can hold a candle to these suckers.

The Data...

When I asked Griffin, owner of an accent so thick he should be an extra in all Boston-based movies, about call-only ads in the Marc Whitehead & Associates account, his response was one phrase, followed by a mic drop: “they’re the piece de resistance.” This loses some effect on the page, but re-read it as though you were one of the lesser-known Wahlbergs and that should give you some semblance of how entertaining it was in real life. 

adwords account manager for lawyer campaign boston

Prior to Griffin’s involvement, the account relied on call extensions as the sole means by which to garner a conversion via phone. By deploying call only ads…

call only ad for lawyer

and adding call tracking code to the client’s website, Griffin created two additional (and, more importantly, trackable) avenues through which a prospect can call into the offices.

Why are calls so valuable?

In short: they allow the client to skip right over the middle man (filling out a form). The form can feel time-consuming and annoying to someone who hits the landing page. Inevitably, with a CTR of 4%, there will be traffic that hits the landing page, sees the form, and runs for the hills. In a vertical with high CPCs, that kind of wasted spend can capsize account performance.

average cpc for lawyer adwords account

Now, take a look at the average CPC column above. These clicks all correspond to phone calls: if you were a law firm seeking prospective clients, would you rather pay $12-$15 for a click to your website, or $19 for a phone call?

Thought so.

The Verdict…

In haiku form:

If you’re a lawyer

Please, please use call-only ads:

You’ll make more money.

Lawyer Marketing Tip #5: Track Every Action

Clearly law is a challenging industry when it comes to paid search marketing. This is why tracking everything and subsequently optimizing your offerings is integral to finding out what’s working and what isn’t.

Of course, when the crux of your account is call-only ads, it can be difficult to justify significant landing page optimization. After all, traffic to your LPs is traffic that isn’t going to your cost-effective, lead producing mobile ads.

The Data...

Advice heeded!

search statistics by device for lawyer adwords account

As you can see above, despite the fact that the Marc Whitehead & Associates account has a clear focus on mobile, there is still a large swath of desktop traffic (this illustrates impressions and clicks in the last three months) that cannot be served call-only ads.

As a result, Griffin is also tracking:

Calls from the landing page

lawyer ppc landing page click to call

These utilize a phone number selected from a specific pool, allowing Griffin to track calls that come from searchers who clicked an ad on a computer but then picked up the phone.

e-Book Downloads

lawyer ppc landing page ebook download

Less utilized, but perfect for those top-of-funnel prospects doing their due diligence.

Video Completions

ppc landing page video for lawyer

According to Griffin, the video on the landing page functions as an excellent way for prospects to learn more about the client. “People seem far more willing to watch the video than read the actual landing page. In an ideal world, people will check out the video and then use one of the dynamically generated phone numbers at the top of the page.”

The Verdict…

The inclusion of a video on the landing page and a longer form fill has certainly helped to both inform and qualify prospects. While this may lower conversion rates for the desktop traffic that hits the page, those conversions that do pull through are lower in the funnel and more likely to become actual clients.

Leveraging the techniques outlined in Margot’s guide to legal marketing for PPC, Marc Whitehead & Associates’ account manager Griffin Nauss has incited a consistently lower CPA while simultaneous improving both lead volume and conversion rate.

Click here to learn more about WordStream’s Managed Services offering or schedule a free consultation today!

Allen Finn

Allen Finn writes many things at WordStream, where he reigned as fantasy football champion for some time. He likes marveling at funky beer labels, every beat on Liquid Swords, most cuts of beef, and New Hampshire.