Should Attorneys Buy Leads?
Buying leads from one of the numerous lead-gen companies targeting law firms may seem like an easy answer, but buyer beware. Lead-generation companies often wow with unbelievable promises during the sales process, leaving you thinking… that many leads for only pennies?!?!? Why, I’d be a fool not to jump in! But be sure you know what you are jumping in to. Do your due diligence, ask the right questions, apply your common sense and what seemed unbelievable may actually be fictitious.
Having worked with law firms across the country, for many years, to evaluate a variety of lead-gen services, the primary concern is the quality of the inquiries. We have in-house information and experience from other law firms that we would be happy to share with you. If you would like help evaluating a lead-buying service, you are welcome to talk through the process with us.
Ask This Question: “Where Do You Get the Leads?”
Low-quality leads are cheap and easy to find. By understanding where the lead-buying company is getting their leads, you can better determine whether they are going to be of high quality. Most lead generation companies skim the bottom of the barrel to find ‘leads’. Understanding their tactics – email marketing? PPC advertising on the cheap? – will help you gauge the potential value of the leads provided.
Sometimes a lead generation company has an inside connection that helps provide inquiries – these inside relationships can be very useful and generate quality leads. Keeping reading to learn more about these rare opportunities….
Leads From An Inside Connection
A few-lead buying services get their leads by having an inside connection with a large network. One example would be a workers’ union. Because they have an agreement with the union, they can market their services to help find attorneys before those workers try to find an attorney on their own. These opportunities frequently out-perform TV, radio, SEO, PPC, or any other form of marketing because the competition is cut out of the equation.
The downside to these opportunities is that they are rare. Most of these offer their clients exclusivity and rarely have openings for new clients. The attorneys that get in on these had an inside connection before the opportunity came about and were one of the first to jump on board. These types of lead-buying companies are unlikely to utilize cold-calling or other types of outreach to find clients. They don’t need to.
If you are approached with such an opportunity, you should try it out. Your firm will know relatively quickly whether the leads are high quality and appear to be coming from the source that was advertised. If the lead-buying company says they have a connection with a mining union but the leads aren’t coming from miners, then you know something is wrong.
Leads From Everything Else (PPC, Email Marketing, Social Media…)
If they say they do their own marketing, then it likely isn’t going to be a very good deal. Leads are easy to get, and low-quality leads are cheap. Quality leads are not. Lead-buying agencies make more money when they acquire leads at a lower cost, which typically results in lower quality. Let’s take PPC for example.
If someone has been injured but it was their own fault and they suffered no real damages, then they don’t have a case. These people will do a Google search, call the first firm at the top, and get rejected. Then they call the second firm listed and get rejected. Then the third and so on. Running a PPC campaign to show at the top of page 1 is expensive, but that is the only way to get your name in front of the people who have a legitimate case. These high-quality leads aren’t going to make it to the bottom of the results before a law firm signs them.
Google charges less to show ads at the bottom of page 1 or even on page 2. Lead-buying companies are incentivized to sell you leads regardless of their quality. They will get a higher profit by running the cheap ads that don’t generate high quality cases. There is always some attorney desperate enough to buy them. Don’t let it be you.
What Are The Exceptions?
If you aren’t proficient in marketing, we don’t recommend trying to find an exception to this rule. The marketing industry and geographic markets are constantly changing. What works today may not work tomorrow. We can’t tell you some secret marketing solution that will allow you to find a hidden gem your competitors haven’t found yet. With that said, we will occasionally speak with a law firm that is happy with their lead-buying service. Here are a few scenarios:
- Early Adopter – Some firms got in with a lead-buying service when they were first starting out. These firms may have grandfather pricing or some other special treatment that allows them to take advantage of the leads. These firms took a risk that paid off, but most of these risks don’t.
- Underserved Market – Some rural geographies are underserved by law firms. In these situations, lead-buying companies may be able to exploit these areas to produce leads at a low cost. If you know of an underserved area, your firm would be better off running the firm’s own ads there; but some lead-buying companies may have better oversight and be able to find these opportunities easier.
- Luck – Sometimes it takes only a single case to make an entire year’s worth of lead buying worth it.
The bottom line is that if the lead-buying company is generating the leads by utilizing a marketing strategy that the firm could run on its own, the firm is better off running that strategy on its own.
A Final Warning
Some lead buying companies may sell the same lead to multiple law firms. This obviously cuts down on your opportunity to close that lead. Some companies may be upfront with that policy, and others may hide it. Either way, it isn’t a good thing for you.
I hear what this blog post is saying, but I want to pay a little and get a little. Lead buying seems like an opportunity to do that.
This is the rationale that lawyers most often use when they decide to buy leads. These firms spend an amount per month that they are comfortable with, one that won’t break the firm. In most instances, these firms would be better off saving that money until they have enough saved up to pursue a more aggressive and proven marketing strategy.
We Need More Cases. What Next?
If your law firm is looking to increase case load you need a strategic plan. Randomly shooting in the dark or throwing money at lead generation schemes isn’t the way to success.
Clearly evaluate your situation and have realistic expectations for what marketing can do for you. If you feel stuck and you aren’t sure what to do, give us a call. We may or may not have a service that is right for you, but I guarantee we can give you some good free advice.
Low-Cost Lead Generation
Looking for some additional lead-generation ideas to supplement your PPC advertising and/or SEO marketing? Here are a few ideas you can implement for free or at a low cost:
- Take referral sources out to lunch.
- Join some community networking events.
- Be a guest speaker.
- Join some local Facebook groups and be active.
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