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The Number 1 Defining Component Of a Personal Injury Marketing Campaign is Cost!

It is an absolute travesty that some law firms can care so little for their clients and still be outrageously successful because they outspend their competitors. In many markets, that is a fact of life.

We don’t have any clients like that, largely because our agency was created for the opposite reason. To help the best attorneys get the best cases. Regardless of our desire to make a positive impact on the legal profession, we must face the reality that to be competitive requires certain baseline investments. Not meeting these baselines is simply throwing money away.

In easy to understand language, I am going to share with you the basic economic fundamentals that I learned when getting my Master of Business Administration degree. These concepts show why the costs are what they are. This helps you set realistic expectations for marketing and will thus allow you to make better strategic decisions for your firm.

Once those fundamentals are established, I will get into more specifics about the various types of marketing campaigns. (Awareness vs. Positional Strategies, SEO vs. PPC)

So why is all this important? Because your marketing strategy doesn’t leave much room for error. A well-executed online marketing campaign will bring in personal injury clients consistently.

Bankruptcy Law Firm Marketing

The Economics of Law Firm Marketing

Supply & Demand

Most people understand the concept that when an item is scarce, the price will increase. What becomes a little more difficult is how to apply that same concept to other situations. Most important to this article is the cost of marketing.

When the cost per case that can be generated through marketing is lower, more firms are going to be willing to advertise. As more firms begin to advertise, the cost per case increases. As the cost per case rises, eventually some firms are going to drop out of the advertising race and the cost per case will then decrease.

In the long-term, the cost-per-case is always trying to get back to equilibrium. Based on our experience, that equilibrium is around a 5X return. Which means if your average case is worth $10,000 in attorney fees, each case would cost $2,000 in marketing.

Factors That Move The Cost Away From Volatility

  • New firms entering the market.
  • Third-party influence.
    • Google changing the algorithm.
  • Firms beating the system.
    • Better Marketing
    • Better Intake Department
  • Firms making poor choices.
    • Sometimes law firms don’t know what they are doing and pay more than they should.
  • Luck
    • Sometimes the first case you get from marketing is a truck accident case. This throws the average way off.
    • Sometimes marketing just doesn’t generate great inquiries even though everything is setup correctly. This corrects itself if given time. (See the volatility section below.)

Understanding Volatility

Fortunately, luck can be measured. In statistics it is called binomial distribution. Take this for example:

  • Situation 1: If someone got in a small wreck and has a minimum liability case, what are they going to type into the search engines? Probably ‘Car Accident Lawyer.’

  • Situation 2: If someone is involved in a multi-victim catastrophic wreck, what are they going to type into the search engine? Probably ‘Car Accident Lawyer.’

  • Every time someone searches for ‘Car Accident Lawyer’ it is a flip of a coin as to the quality of that inquiry.

    Flipping a coin has a probability equation.

    In laymen’s terms, it means that spending just enough to get one case is more volatile than spending enough to get 1,000 cases. In the long-term, everything averages out. In most instances that is going to be close to a 5X return.

If Cost Is Such A Big Deal, What Is The Appropriate Budget?

This can be a complex conversation with several factors to consider. For the purpose of this article, we are going to simplify the discussion down to what it takes to get a single case.

Many law firms have a difficult time calculating what their average case is worth. Our recommendation is to divide the total attorney fees your firm collected last year by the number of cases that were settled. This will give you a big picture figure to work with. Most law firms can expect to get somewhere between a 3X and 10X return. First, divide the average case value by 10. This will give you the minimum you should expect each case to cost. Then divide your average case value by 3, this will give you the maximum each case should cost. Our recommendation is to be conservative and plan on getting a 3X return.

Most law firms that we speak with pay $1,500 to $3,000 per case.

If you only spend enough money per month to get one case, you should expect a large amount of volatility. Some months you will sign a case, some you wont. Most cases will be a lower quality while you may occasionally get a great case.

Personal Injury Law Firm Marketing

Only Half of Marketing Works, Figuring Out Which Half Is the Problem

If you want to avoid this conundrum, then you need to understand how the various types of marketing work. For attorneys, this can broadly be broken up into two different categories.

  • ONE: Awareness
  • TWO: Positional

Awareness Campaigns

There are a variety of mediums to use for an awareness campaign and two primary outcomes: Brand and Educational.

Awareness Mediums:

  • Television
  • Billboards
  • Radio
  • Social Media
  • Anything that is mass advertising.

When pursuing a brand awareness campaign, the goal is to get many people to remember who you are and what you do. This is a proactive approach to marketing in that you want them to remember you when they need you.

  • Reach – The number of people that see your advertisement.
    • Is your campaign going to reach enough people to be worth it?
  • Frequency – The number of times each person sees your advertisement.
    • Is your campaign going to show each person the ad enough times for them to remember the ad?
  • Messaging – The advertisement itself.
    • Are people going to remember what you want from the ad? Sometimes people remember ads but don’t remember who the ad was for or what they were selling.

The key to success with a brand awareness campaign is brand recall. Just because someone sees your ad does not mean they will remember it.

An educational awareness campaign works the same with one major exception. As opposed to getting people to remember who you are and what you do, you want to teach them something. This is commonly seen with product liability cases in which people don’t realize they may have a case. You must spread awareness of the case to people that may have been injured.

The Pros & Cons of SEO & PPC

Most law firms with established marketing campaigns will do both. Each will bring the firm cases that the other would not have. The biggest decision a firm makes is which one to start with. Here are the basic arguments.

SEO

  • Can take 1-2 years to become consistent.
  • Higher long-term ROI.
  • Requires long-term strategy.
  • Changes to targeting takes time.
  • Difficult to target a large geographic area.
  • Results can continue if work stops.
  • Highly complicated to implement.
  • Frequent industry changes.
  • Good ROI tracking capability.
  • Most people trust SEO results.
  • People use SEO results when they want to conduct research. This often happens with high quality cases.
  • SEO results are shown lower on the page.
  • Most markets only have room for a handful of competitors. This can lead to an even higher entry cost.

PPC

  • Works almost immediately.
  • Lower long-term ROI.
  • Long-term strategy may be beneficial.
  • Can change targeting with a setting.
  • Can easily target any geographic area.
  • When you stop paying, you stop playing.
  • Low to moderate complexity to implement.
  • Fewer industry changes.
  • Excellent ROI tracking capability.
  • Up to 70% of people distrust advertisements.
  • People click on advertisements when they want a quick answer.
  • PPC Ads are shown at the top of the page.
  • The amount required to begin a PPC campaign is far less than SEO.

Big picture, SEO has a better long-term return, produces more cases, and usually produces the highest quality of cases. PPC works instantly and is most often considered supplementary to SEO.

We conducted a research project last year to determine how long it would take the return from an SEO campaign to outperform a PPC campaign. This occurs because a PPC campaign will begin to produce results immediately, whereas an SEO campaign could take over a year. On average, it takes an SEO campaign three years to outperform an PPC campaign that was started at the same time with the same budget.

Designing Websites for Personal Injury Attorneys

Regardless of what forms of marketing you decide to pursue, your firm needs a website.

One of the biggest mistakes law firms make is investing in a poorly designed website. Marketing for Personal Injury is by far the most competitive arena in law. You simply cannot afford to have a sub-par website, especially if you plan on leveraging that website to get cases. Investing in SEO or PPC with an inferior website is like putting gas in a car with a hole in the tank. It is a waste of money. If people don’t have a positive feel about your site within the first few seconds, they will leave and find someone else.

There is ZERO loyalty when it comes to marketing generated leads. They don’t have any reason to trust your firm. This is different from a referral, who has heard about you from someone else they trust. People are looking for reasons NOT to contact you.

Most people make immediate judgements about a business, which means design goes a long way. It is important to get your design right in order to maximize conversions.

Your online persona needs to match what a new client will see during their first face-to-face meeting with you. You can’t be ‘The Hammer’ online but a cuddle-bear in person. You want the transition from marketing to in-person to be as seamless as possible.

There are a few components that every attorney website should have immediately visible, this is what we call ‘above the fold’ content. This content is visible before a user starts to scroll.

  • Tell them what you do. (You help people with…injuries and accidents.)
  • Convince them why they should choose you. (Testimonials, past successes, etc.)
  • Reveal who you are. (People want to know who they are going to be working with.)
  • Provide a way to contact you. (Phone, Chat, or Form)

If you simply don’t have the budget, do what you must do to have an online presence. If you can’t afford a website that is on-par with competitors, get something you can afford up and running, then save your dollars until you can upgrade. Here is another tid-bit about PPC, most law firms lose money with it. One of the big reasons is their conversion are far below what they should be. This is directly tied into the design of the website.

Search Engine Optimization for Personal Injury Law Firms

A large percentage of people do not trust ads.

It is estimated that up to 70% of people skip right over them and proceed to what we call the organic listings. These are the listings in the maps section and the non-paid listings usually just below the maps. You achieve these rankings by:

  • Having a great looking website.
  • Writing content that people want to read and offers solutions.
  • Utilizing appropriate on-site optimization techniques.
  • Promoting your website so that Google views it as an authoritative source of information.
  • Getting great online reviews.

Website Design & User Experience

See the above section on website design for more details but know that design does impact your rankings. If people don’t like it, they will leave quickly. We call this the bounce rate and having a high bounce rate is something that Google monitors. You want people to stay on your website because this is an indication that the user found what they were looking for.

Content That Ranks

There are two categories of content: Practice Areas and Supportive.

Practice area content are the pages that you want to rank for your ‘transactional phrases’ that are most likely to convert. Injury Lawyer is an example. Other examples are Workers Compensation Lawyer or Medical Malpractice Lawyer.

Start big and then get more focused. For example, write a single page on vehicle accidents. In the future, you may want to have pages dedicated to accidents from cars, motorcycles, trucks, busses, government vehicles, trains, planes, bicycles, pedestrians, hit-and-run, taxis, and maybe even scooters.

The key aspect of these pages is that you want them to be more comprehensive and helpful than your competitors. Conduct searches to see what pages are ranking for the phrases you want this page to rank for and ensure your page is better.

  • What subtopics are other attorneys writing about?
  • Is the order of the subtopics appropriate?
  • What sources are the competitors using?
  • Is there information your competitors aren’t providing? (You want to differentiate your page somehow.)

Those concepts can also be applied to the supportive pages. These pages play two important roles. First, some people may be searching for questions before they decide to look for an attorney. So, this is an opportunity to help them get familiar with your firm. An example topic may be, “Do I need an attorney after a car wreck?”

The second purpose supportive content plays is making your firm appear to be an authority on the topic of personal injury. If your website ranks for a variety of legal topics about personal injuries, then your site is more likely to rank across the board. The key aspect here is that you need your supportive pages to rank for the phrases they are targeting. Adding large amounts of content can be hazardous because Google only wants to see high quality content on a site. You can’t just add more pages or posts about car accidents and expect the car accident page to get a boost. Those new pages or posts need to serve a purpose and they need to rank for informational phrases.

On-Site Optimization

Checkout our main page for SEO for a full walkthrough on how to optimize your website. Here are a few key parameters that you want to make sure are correct:

  • Page Title – This is the title that is shown in bold when your website ranks. You want your main keyword to be in this title. If your firm has a strong enough brand presence that many searchers will recognize, you can put your brand at the end of the page title. If you don’t have household recognition, you will be better off using a call to action.
  • Meta Description – This is the description that is shown on the search results page along with the title. Use this space wisely to entice people to click on the page.
  • H1 Title – Your main keyword should be in this title as well. This is an easy title to get confused with the page title because this is what is shown at the top of the page of your content. This does not show up in the search results. Keep it simple.
  • H2/3/4 Titles – These are the titles for the subtopics. You want these to be descriptive of the content people are going to read below. If you can also make these titles variations of what people are likely to search for, then mix those keywords in. But you don’t want these sub-titles to get spammy. An example would be to use the word attorney instead of lawyer if you used lawyer in the H1.
  • Alt Tags– These aren’t just important but are also legally required. They tell the visually impaired what a picture is about.
  • Calls To Action – I know you don’t want to be salesy but that is what your site is supposed to do. You need to include subtle calls to action to tell people what their next step should be.

There are other components to on-site optimization that are important but beyond the skillset of a do-it-yourself firm. We recommend you consult with an agency or designer to ensure the following is adhered to.

  • Have a fast site. Use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to check the speed of your website and the individual pages on your site. This test is on a page by page level.
    • You will quickly see a bunch of gibberish that Google recommends you fix. This is why a professional is needed. Google wants to rank websites that are fast because people do not have much patience and will leave quickly if your site doesn’t load as fast as they want.
  • Use HTTPS on your website. Google wants to rank websites that are secure and safe for its users.
  • Use appropriate anchor text and have a solid inner-linking plan. Big picture, link to pages where it will help the user.

Off-Site Promotion (Link-Building)

There are hundreds of factors that go into the Google algorithm. One of the most important are back-links. When a third-party website links to your website, they are telling Google they trust your website. It is kind of like a big popularity contest. The more websites that link to yours, the more popular Google believes your website is. The more popular those websites are, the more ‘street-cred’ that link will get you. Another big component is topical relevance. If the third-party website is closely related to personal injury, then that link will be more impactful.

Online Reviews

It should come as no surprise that online reviews are important. This is an area that is extremely difficult to fake, thus Google puts a tremendous amount of trust in these reviews. These can make or break your ability to rank, especially if your firm is in a major metro market. A good goal to strive for is to get 10% of your clients to leave a review. Get reviews on these websites, in this order: Google, Facebook, and AVVO. Don’t stop pointing people to Google until you have more reviews there than any of your competitors. Google is that important.

The best game plan for bad reviews is to be offensive. Try to get good reviews so the bad ones don’t hurt as severely. Most of the time I see a client get a bad review, it wasn’t deserved. So, don’t think that merely doing a good job is going to prevent bad reviews. I have seen:

  • Competitors leave bad reviews.
  • People leave a bad review on the wrong firm.
  • People on the defense side leaving a bad review.

Does SEO or PPC work better?

SEO will produce the best leads vs. PPC. However, just as some people are more inclined to skip the ads, some people are more inclined to click on them. Here are a few reasons for that:

  • They are in a hurry.
  • They want immediate answers and don’t want to read.
    • These first two might sound bad, like those inquiries are going to be low-quality. Oftentimes they are. But sometimes people that are in a hurry are like that because they are emotionally upset. They aren’t in the right frame of mind to do research.
  • They want to talk to an attorney immediately.
  • They don’t distrust ads and usually find information through ads.
  • Ads are what are first shown on the search results page and the ad might just catch their eye.

Another huge benefit that PPC has over SEO is that it works instantly. SEO can take over a year to become consistently effective. With PPC, as soon as you start paying, you start playing.

At the end of the day, the most successful personal injury firms will invest in both SEO and PPC. They both produce leads consistently and will ultimately produce more business together than they would alone.

PPC for Personal Injury Lawyers

Running a successful PPC campaign comes down to a few key metrics:

  • 1. Quality Score
  • 2. On-site Conversions
  • 3. Keyword Management

Quality Score is a metric that Google Ads provides and lets us know what Google thinks of the page that keyword is sending people to. If you have a low score, Google will charge you more for that keyword. This score is on an individual keyword basis. To improve this score requires adjusting the landing page being used. The alternative is to create an entirely different landing page that is unique to that keyword and related keywords. Quality Score can be the difference between losing and making money with PPC.

Just because you get people to your website does not mean they will contact you. We see conversion rates as low as 2% on poorly run campaigns and as high as 70%. Each keyword will be a little unique, which we will get more into with the next paragraph. What is important to focus on is the design, content, and calls to action on the landing page. Does your landing page look better than your competitors? If not, then you should expect your on-site conversion rate to be lower.

Finally, keyword management is another main component. The firm needs to be adding negative keywords to the targeting parameters to ensure the firm is not spending money on low converting keywords. You don’t want to pay money to get calls from people that can afford you. The main problem injury attorneys run into is being overly broad with their targeting. For instance, most firms will not want to run advertising for the word ‘lawyer’ on its own. This would bring in too many unqualified leads such as divorce, defense, or corporate inquiries. A better keyword to target would be ‘injury lawyer.’

Social Media for Personal Injury Lawyers

There are a few ways to leverage social media, most are moderately effective at best. The one exception is for firms that are actively pursuing a brand awareness campaign and social media is going to be an active extension of that. In almost all other instances, it is better to spend your budget on other forms of marketing. If you are looking for a DIY option, then some of these methods may be worth pursuing.

  • Organic Reach – This involves posting information to your law firm’s page. The problem with this is that the social media companies don’t make any money. So, their algorithms intentionally inhibit your ability to reach your audience. They want you to use the paid options. The other big problem is that most people don’t care about legal topics until they have a problem. In which case they will use Google to find an answer. Finally, people don’t want others to know they are associated or interested in a law firm. So, interactions with attorneys on social media are rare.
  • Paid Reach – This is an awareness campaign. It is more similar to TV, radio, or billboards than it is to SEO or PPC. It is mass advertising. You are trying to get your ad to show up in the person’s feed. This can be effective but given the amount of change social media platforms are going through, mostly because of privacy concerns, this is a very difficult form of advertising to get right.
  • Groups – This is perhaps the most effective. You join local groups, about any topic, and become an active member. Overtime you can let people know what type of business you have and offer advice when the need arises. This means you, the attorney, need to be social. Most firms don’t want to put out the effort to do this. Hiring an agency to do this is difficult because it would be too costly to do it well. There is also a fine line between representing your law firm and impersonating it.
Web Marketing Agency for Personal Injury Lawyers

Personal Injury Law Firm Marketing – The Gladiator Way

There are many online marketing tools at your firm’s disposal. We determine which tools serve you best, then we implement a customized strategy based on your budget, market and goals. When you work with Gladiator Law Marketing, you don’t need to be an expert in search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, keyword research or content marketing. We assess your needs and implement a strategy. All you need to worry about is doing what you do best.

You already offer your clients exceptional service. You have everything in place to succeed. We give you the platform to showcase your services and make sure your firm is seen by potential clients. Let us set you apart from the competition.

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