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Should Law Firms Pay for Legal Leads?

If your law firm is debating whether to buy leads or put the effort into building them instead, it’s important to understand how the buying process works, and some pros and cons. The pay-per-lead (PPL) generation business consists of paying a fee to an outside vendor for each lead they send your way. As with any industry, there are reputable vendors and low-quality vendors. It is your job to ask as many questions as possible to understand their workflow and the quality of leads.

man on a computer with a lead gen funnel

Lead companies get their leads the same way your firm would – through online efforts. Using SEO and Google pay-per-click, they drive leads to a landing page where people can sign up for more information from an experienced attorney for their particular legal problem. The company then sells the lead to clients for a price that is based on practice area. As a guideline, bankruptcy leads may be anywhere from $10-$60 each, personal injury leads from $20 to more than $100 for serious injuries, DUI/DWI leads from $50-$100, medical malpractice leads range between $20-$60, and mesothelioma leads starting around $100.

While some companies call leads before passing them along to clients, others will just forward the contact information to the law firm and consider the job done. In fact, once a lead leaves their information on the landing page, an agency may not only pass it to you, but to other clients as well. You are then competing with one (or multiple) law firms over the same lead. If you would prefer to be the sole recipient of a lead, work with an agency that can offer exclusive leads within your territory.


Legal Leads: Should Law Firms Pay for Legal Leads?  

The pros of paying for leads include:

  • You only pay for the leads you get. Instead of paying a flat monthly or yearly fee, you can manage your budget based on individual leads. This cuts down the risk of blowing a large percentage of your budget if you are not getting the results you hoped for.
  • You have more control over the quality of leads that come your way. For example, if you contract with a company for family law leads and they send you a client that doesn’t exactly fit the criteria, there’s a better chance of successfully disputing the billing.
  • The hands-off approach lets you focus on cases. You don’t have to think about where leads are coming from, or how to implement in-house resources to win leads. This not only frees up your time to focus on cases, but it also allows you to focus on other means of growing your business – attending professional events, improving referrals, making website updates, etc.
  • Helps business when you desperately need it. Startup and growing law firms must spend thousands of dollars up front to get the business going. With numerous bills to pay every month, paying for leads is a promising way to make direct contact with people who need your service and are willing to pay for it.

The cons of paying for leads include:

  • PPL marketing may have an overall higher cost than other methods. Some services charge upwards of $100 for each lead, and while that is not as expensive as some other pay-per-click advertising efforts, it may take you up to 10 leads (or more) to convert someone into a paying customer.
  • You may see a lower volume of leads. Lead flow is unpredictable – even for the agencies that focus on this particular type of marketing. If it happens to be a slow season, these lead gen companies may themselves have to pay for traffic to generate leads. The risk of low volume and low quality leads is a real possibility.
  • PPL efforts may actually increase your internal expenses. It’s great to have lead information sent directly to your inbox, but are you or your associates going to execute on follow-up? You may need to factor in costs such as an intake specialist, automatic email systems to send out messages to leads on a regular basis, etc.


How to Improve Lead Conversion

Now that you are aware of the good and bad that can come along with paying for leads, here are some tips on how to improve the leads you get:

  • Consider leads an urgent matter. Research shows that conversion rates can drop by a large percent if you do not follow up with a lead within five minutes from when the lead comes in. You must be faster than your competitors when it comes to making contact.
  • Hire an intake specialist to convert your leads. If you are not willing to hire and train a dedicated specialist, the chance of turning these leads into customers may not be worth the effort.
  • On average, your intake specialist will need to call a lead 7-10 times before giving up. Make three calls the first day (within 5 minutes of receiving the lead, within an hour, and then by the end of the day), two calls each on the following two days, and then one call each for the next 2-3 days.
  • In addition to phone calls, there should be 3-5 emails that go out within the week. The content should be more educational than sales-oriented, but with a strong call to action.
  • Work with a company that guarantees geographic exclusivity. If you have to compete with every firm in your area over the same leads, you’ll have to put in three or four times the normal effort to win the business.
  • To continuously improve the return on your investment, you must track each and every lead. Areas to look at include how many leads booked in-person appointments, how many of those appointments showed up, how many of those appointments did not show up, and how many leads your firm was able to convert into customers.
  • Lead conversion software may be a smart investment to prompt automatic emails, call reminders, and track strengths/weaknesses.