4 Ways to Shift Your Mindset about PPC for Improved Returns
The world of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is a heady world indeed, and your mind can start to spin when you see the costs and the fierce competition among attorneys nationwide who are scrambling to out-click each other. Rather than feeling overwhelmed or throwing in the towel, try shifting your mindset about PPC to improve your return on investment and get creative about your PPC efforts.
Remember also that PPC advertising is just one part of a comprehensive law firm marketing plan, which also includes website design, search engine optimization (SEO), content curation and client outreach. By creating a customized marketing plan unique to your law firm that leverages all of these tools, your firm is more likely to see a bigger bang for your buck.
Following are 4 tips to keep in mind as you shift your mindset about PPC and creatively engage in marketing efforts to improve your return on investment.
Tip #1: Avoid the Set It & Forget It Mindset
Most attorneys have come to accept that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) requires adapting to a dynamically changing environment heavily directed by the hundreds of algorithm updates Google makes in real-time. But, not as many lawyers understand that the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising landscape is also a shape-shifting environment that requires ongoing adjustment.
- The Google Ads platform routinely deprecates prior features and utilities that have to be taken into account. For example, Google has recently removed the messaging extensions firms have used in the past, in addition to the Accelerated Ad Delivery setting used by many for daily budget management.
- Google Ads is also making new opportunities available to consider. The addition of responsive search ads, lead form extensions (beta), and local service ads (https://gladiatorlawmarketing.com/blog/google-local-service-ads/) are examples of how Google is always rethinking how best to connect businesses and users.
A Closer Look …
Another example is the more granular detail available with the new(er) data points of Search (Absolute Top) IS and Search (Top) IS replacing the singular, broader metric of Ad Position. This new data empowers firms to better understand the share of actual impressions and how your ad is positioning against the competition. As they say, knowledge is power.
Search absolute top impression rate “Impr. (Abs. Top) %” and Search top impression rate “Impr. (Top) %” if you want to find out the location of your ads on the Search engine result pages (SERPs). These two metrics replaced the Ad Position metric last Fall.
Many firms need to update the lens through which they view PPC. It is not akin to old-school television advertising where you create the ad and run it endlessly for 10 years… anyone remember Captain Kirk?
Not every PPC tool/feature is available, or appropriate, for every law firm or PPC strategy. But, understanding that the Google Ads environment is a dynamically changing, robust platform will allow you to avoid the set it and forget it mindset.
Tip #2: Accept a Realistic Understanding of Cost
Just like your potential client’s #1 question is often: How much is my case worth? Attorneys’ first question is often: How much does PPC cost? Having an understanding of advertising expense is essential to success. It helps ensure your expectations are grounded in the reality of the possible, which in turn makes you more competitive by not overreaching and getting a bigger bang for the ad dollars you do spend.
- So, How Much Does It Cost? 65% of small businesses nationwide invest in PPC. And, generally, small-medium businesses spend $9-$10K/month on PPC advertising. It is very easy for a law firm’s monthly PPC advertising budget to be $50,000- $100,000/month… just consider a regional personal injury practice with 2-3 offices in different cities. Boom! You are at that level without even much mental effort. Now, consider a national personal injury firm who wants to be a top competitor in every major metro area.
- Most Competitive Advertising Market. As a lawyer, you are operating in the most competitive and expensive PPC landscape. More than insurance, financial services, tennis shoes, furniture, healthcare or any other vertical. Legal ads are widely recognized as the most competitive of all. Within this framework keep in mind there are still/always only a limited number of ad slots available on the screen at any given time – further driving up the extreme competitiveness.
- The 5 most expensive paid search keywords anywhere, in any industry, for all categories of ads in the entire Interwebs of all gazillion words you could possibly imagine… are ALL lawyer related! Yes, the most expensive keyword remains mesothelioma, BUT did you know the others are personal injury, car accident and even DWI lawyer related?
With this in mind, consider Joe Biden’s PPC ad budget. Now consider yours. The above should underscore to you that YOU are in an even more heated, competitive ad market than political candidates.
- It’s time to be a member of the Yang Gang and do some math…
The average conversion rate across all industries is 4.4% – but it is generally higher in the legal field. Available data shows, generally, a conversion rate of ~7-10% or higher, for lawyer ads – depending on the practice area, keywords, geographic targeting, et al. For highly targeted campaigns, it is not unusual to see conversion rates of 15-30%, or even higher. But generally, other agencies have used the 10% conversion rate metric, so let’s use that for our purposes.
For our back-of-the-napkin doodles, we’re going to use a 10% conversion rate. IMPORTANT NOTE: “conversion” does NOT mean signed case. In the world of PPC advertising, “conversion” means CONTACT. Google Ad’s “conversion rate” = contact rate.
To get 10 contacts (10% conversion rate) you need 100 clicks. If your average cost-per-click (CPC) is ~$150/click (which is above many keywords but significantly below others),
100 clicks x $150 = $15,000/month which yields 10 Contacts. Keep in mind this would include low quality, medium, and AWESOME quality contacts and everything in-between. Google doesn’t discriminate between low-quality inquiries and top-quality contacts when it comes to conversion rate.
So, you may be wondering, is there no hope? Should I just throw-in-the-towel and accept I don’t have the budget to compete?
Keep reading the next tips….
Tip #3: Don’t Get Hung-Up on Targeting Only the “Most Important” Keywords
Look, the most “important” keywords are those that convert. Don’t have tunnel vision and assume you have to compete for $300 – $750/click keywords (e.g., New York City Personal Injury Lawyer, or Miami DWI Lawyer”). Consider other practice areas that can generate more cost-effective contacts/conversions…
- Can’t afford “Divorce” keywords? Try family lawyer, or target child custody or support.
- Can’t afford “Car Accident Lawyer” keywords? Try slip & fall, or wrongful death targets.
As the overall costs of marketing and advertising continue to climb, alongside increased competition from local and national players, we have seen many attorneys take this opportunity to explore other areas of law entirely. Perhaps there is a type of case that is very niche specific, but that you truly love much more than the typical car accident cases. While those may remain your bread & butter, exploring auxiliary practice specialties can keep life interesting and add to your bottom line. As an added benefit, these niche topics often have substantially lower cost-per-click (CPC) levels and can be a good place to explore.
While we can’t share with you exactly what other attorney-clients have explored in this regard, exercise some outside-the-box thinking. Perhaps past cases have made you an expert in truck driver sleep apnea cases… can’t afford Truck Accident Lawyer keywords (~$500-$750/click CPC), maybe explore sleep apnea cases if that’s your expertise. Perhaps you’ve always had a secret passion for chemical burn cases because of a prior client/experience… there’s another opportunity to consider. Or you might want to branch out entirely into something like expungements or real estate or contract law.
Keep in mind that these are not going to have the same conversion rates as the more popular and frequently used keywords. But, if you can’t afford to play in that playground, there are still other opportunities.
If your PPC advertising budget doesn’t support competing with the “big dogs,” all is not lost. The “most important” keywords are not always what everyone else is using, but what is actually “most important” to you. Be flexible. Be creative.
Tip #4: Employ Systems Thinking and Stop Looking for a Magic Bullet
The only magic bullet in the PPC world is an unlimited budget. Even that didn’t yield the desired result for Michael Bloomberg. Only a few people in the world have a truly unlimited budget and it’s not me — chances are it’s not you, either. Outside of simply being able to throw unlimited amounts of money at PPC advertising, there is no single, simple, straight-forward “magic bullet” to drive top returns from your advertising.
The truth is that PPC advertising is a complex web of interrelated factors that together influence overall success. Here are some examples to consider:
- The content on your website influences the conversion rate of your visitors, including those from your PPC ads.
- Do you think the design of your website impacts the effectiveness of your site and therefore your appeal to PPC visitors? Of course, it does!
- The relevancy of ad text to the search query heavily influences your PPC ad quality score and the appeal of your ad to viewers. This, in turn, influences your click-through-rate (CTR).
With the above in mind, does it make sense to spend budget on PPC ads/clicks and not website design and/or content?
What about your intake processes? If you don’t respond to chats or form submissions within a couple of minutes – forget it. Your competitors are. Or forbid, you allow calls to go to voicemail and then try and follow-up later in the day. If your firm’s intake process isn’t locked in, what will that do to your PPC conversion rate that you’re spending handsomely on to secure a limited volume of clicks?
Successful PPC advertising requires system-wide thinking, not just a single answer or expectation that the “right” ad text, or exact bid, or magic keyword with do the trick.
Here’s the Takeaway
It’s important to remember that one size does not fit all when it comes to PPC advertising for individual law firms. Except for those very few companies that have unlimited budgets (Google maybe?), no law firm can buy every top-performing key word in every metropolitan market. So, get creative about the niche services and practice areas that you highlight in your PPC advertising.
The above 4 tips are intended to nudge you out of the “Set It & Forget It” mindset that people slip into and encourage you to reframe how you view the world of Pay Per Click. Viewing PPC advertising through the right lens will strengthen your decision-making for improved results.
If you are struggling with the challenging PPC world facing attorneys today – increased costs, increased competition, greater complexity – contact the GLM team at 888-683-3212 and let’s discuss your PPC advertising strategy. We would be glad to turbocharge your PPC efforts!
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