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How Much Money Should Lawyers Invest in PPC?

There are about 1.2 million lawyers that practice in the U.S. Such volume is great for consumers and businesses looking for representation, but the high level of competition can make it tough for solo and small firms to compete. Pay per click (PPC) ads can be a useful tactic to address this challenge and reach potential clients in mass numbers. The one caveat is that PPC is not cheap. In fact, keywords and terms associated with lawyers are some of the most expensive on Google Adwords. Firms will have to put a sizable budget toward PPC in order to see positive results.

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The amount a lawyer spends on PPC will depend on their overall marketing budget. Typically, a firm’s annual marketing budget is two to five percent of gross revenues. Startup firms and solo attorneys may balk at the two percent figure, much less anything more. And keep in mind that this percentage takes into account all marketing initiatives – from newspaper ads, email marketing campaigns, flyers, website design, and even the cost of attending networking events.

While the specific dollar amount a firm puts into PPC will vary based on overall budget, let’s consider this common scenario to determine how much you may have to spend in order to see a positive ROI:

After doing some keyword research, the term you want to bid on costs $50 per click. If you decide to test out $1,000 per day, the maximum number of clicks you’ll get daily is 20. Are those 20 clicks worth it for you? It might be. If your site has a good conversion rate (five percent is considered very good), then you can estimate 1 conversion per day. If the single conversion of signing a new client is worth less than $1,000, then it doesn’t make sense to proceed with the campaign and spend $30,000 a month. This equates to $360,000 per year!

However, if the one conversion a day is worth more than $1,000, there is value to your PPC efforts. The higher the revenue you expect from the client, the higher your ROI. If the conversion is worth $50,000 in business, the initial spend of $1,000 to get the client gives you a massive return on your investment.

Your firm cannot do PPC halfway – you must either focus your budget on increasing the firm’s organic presence online or you have to pay to play. In fact, based on your marketing budget, the decision may be straightforward. 

The Importance of Keywords

Keyword research and a competitor’s analysis must be done if you are debating whether or not to try PPC. Your keywords will have to be extremely specific because going after general phrases like “divorce attorneys” and “dog bite lawyer” is too broad and very expensive. Instead, look into phrases like “divorce attorneys for women in Huntington Beach” or “divorce child custody lawyer in downtown Riverside.” Being as niche as possible means that you’ll only attract and pay for clicks from your ideal client demographic. You should also search to see which words and phrases display for your main competitors. While you do not want to go after all of the same phrases, you can definitely use the information to determine how to differentiate your practice.

Once your competitors notice you, they might decide to outbid you, forcing you to up your budget time and time again. This is very common in the industry because competition is fierce. When this starts to happen, you’ll have to decide how much you are willing to increase your budget based on the results you have already seen. If the campaign was slow, use it as an opportunity to reevaluate your keywords and try different phrases that still keep you within budget.

More ways to enhance your keyword efforts:

  • Use keywords in your ad copy. PPC engines score your ad for relevancy and helpfulness. By including keywords within the ad, the relevancy increases, and it makes you more appealing to potential clients. It also helps your budget because the higher the relevancy, the lower the cost per click.
  • Google Adwords Keyword Planner shows the approximate traffic and cost-per-click for specific keywords. It also suggests keywords based on your site’s URL.
  • There are a handful of third-party tools firms can use for competitive insight. They typically offer a list of keywords your competitors are using.
  • The majority of searches have an aspect of local intent. If you practice in a specific area, save money on your keywords by choosing to display ads in that area alone. You’ll prevent clicks (and cost) from clients outside of your geographic location.
  • The lower your budget, the fewer keywords you should utilize. If you only have a small budget, stick to one or two core phrases.
  • Your PPC ads must be compelling enough to entice prospects. Think like your customers – what message will convince them that you are the best firm to solve their legal problems? Offer a phone number, a link to a targeted landing page, and a convincing call to action. Test out different ads by letting them run for a week at a time to find out which ad copy resonates more with your leads.

Common PPC Mistakes

Avoid these common mistakes, as they tend to be the main reasons PPC campaigns fail:

  • Aggressive bid amounts. Bids in certain areas can cost $100 per click. Just one click per day will cost you $36,000 per year. At this cost it may be better to consider a different form of marketing. While your firm won’t see instant results as you might with PPC, your long-term results may outperform PPC efforts.
  • Weak landing pages. While it may seem best to link your PPC ad to your website’s home page – don’t! The landing page you use should be specific in showing the prospect how you can solve their problems, and give them multiple reasons to contact you.
  • Sticking with broad terms. It is worth emphasizing this point again – do not bid on general terms, rather bid on terms that are specific to your practice area and within your geographic location.
  • Lack of monitoring. It is important to check your PPC results regularly – even daily when you first start. You should be tracking the number of clicks, conversions, and analyzing the value of prospects that have been converted to clients to determine if your PPC campaign is resulting in positive ROI.