If you’re a solo attorney interested in advertising online, my recommendation is to start with pay per click (PPC) advertising.
In case you’re not familiar with PPC advertising, I’m talking about advertising outlets like Google Adwords, where you advertise alongside the search results when potential clients are searching for the services you offer. This type of advertising is also known as paid search.
(There’s a whole other side to PPC where you run “display” ads on a cost-per-click basis on other websites, not just in search engines. You can do this through the Google Content Network, as well as on Facebook and many other websites – but that’s a topic for another day).
For now, let’s keep the focus on Google Adwords paid search.
The benefits of PPC advertising include:
Less risk. You only pay when a person clicks on your ad, so PPC is more performance-based than other types of advertising (such as Yellow Pages, etc).
Fast. You can have a campaign up and start getting clicks within 1 day.
Trackable. PPC is also easy to track. You can see which keywords are getting the most clicks, and you can see which clicks are turning into leads.Nowadays, you can even track which keywords are turning into phone calls. And if you have the right database systems setup, you can track which keywords ultimately result into paying clients. Pretty cool, huh?
Of course, there are some drawbacks to PPC advertising, especially in the lawyer market.
Here are the two drawbacks of PPC advertising:
High cost-per-click. Attorney keywords tend to be very expensive – $5, $10, and even $20+ per-click. Some keywords (such as “New York personal injury attorney”) cost $50+. It’s pretty crazy.
“Hamster wheel.” You have to pay for each click, and if you turn off your ad campaign, you lose exposure. In other words, you’re not building a long-term asset. If all you do is PPC advertising, you can end up very dependent on Google Adwords. This is a challenge with any advertising – not just attorney advertising.
OK, so maybe PPC advertising isn’t perfect… But it’s still one of your best options – so let’s talk about how to overcome those 2 drawbacks, so that your PPC advertising is not only profitable, but builds a valuable long-term asset for your practice.
How to Make PPC Advertising Work for Your Solo Practice
1. Track Everything
Make sure that you’re tracking which keywords actually result in leads and new clients for you.
If you’re not sure how to do that, this article includes some tips on How to Track Offline Sales
Tracking is incredibly important because it tells you how much you can really afford to pay per-click for each keyword. And you’re paying $5+ per click in the attorney market, that’s even more critical – because you can spend a ton of money really quickly if you’re not careful.
Once you know what keywords are really working for you, you can allocate more money towards the winners and stop wasting money on the losers. Once you have an ad campaign that’s really working, it’s a great feeling. Instead of gambling with a slot machine, it’s like you’re using a vending machine – and getting new leads on a predictable (and profitable) basis.
2. Test, Test, Test
Test different advertising copy to increase your click-through rate (CTR) on your ads. Getting a high CTR is the #1 secret to achieving a lower cost per click than your competitors.
Imagine having the #1 ad in Google, but paying a fraction of the cost per-click (CPC) that all of your competitors are paying. Impossible? Hardly.
We’ve had lots of success paying lower CPCs in a variety of markets. One of the most reliable ways to achieve higher CTRs and lower CPCs is to offer free information. And that’s tip #3…
3. Offer Free Information to Generate Leads
In my opinion, the very best strategy you can use when advertising as a solo attorney is to run “lead generation” ads.
I’m talking about offering a free report in exchange for a prospective client’s contact information (typically name and email address, but it’s often smart to ask for additional “qualifying” information too, so you don’t waste time talking to unqualified leads).
This approach has 2 very powerful benefits:
#1. By offering a free report in your advertising, your ads will typically achieve a much higher CTR than your competitors’ ads. And that means you’ll enjoy lower CPCs.
#2. You’ll also be building a list of prospects that you can follow up with over time.
Because you’re collecting your prospects’ contact information, you’ll be able to convert a greater percentage prospects into paying clients because you’ll have multiple chances to interact with them. And that means you’ll be earning a higher return on investment (ROI) on your ads by offering free information to generate leads than if you were advertising your practice directly.
Do This Right, You May Not Need to Advertise Forever…
As you’re building your list with lead generation ads, I recommend you keep in regular contact with the people on your email list via an email newsletter.
That way, over time, these people will think of you as the go-to person for the type of law they need assistance with. It’s not uncommon for an email subscriber to finally become a paying client after being on your list for weeks, months, even years. And it won’t have cost you much at all – just the cost of your email software provider, which is often only $30/m.
Plus, since you’ll be top-of-mind with your email subscribers on a regular basis, who do you think they’ll want to refer people to when somebody needs help with a legal issue… Of course – you! By staying in touch, you’ll have a much greater likelihood of receiving more word-of-mouth referrals.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
By advertising your solo practice with this lead generation approach, you ultimately may no longer have to advertise at all… because you’ll have built up a solid base of email subscribers and prospects who already know, like and trust you. This is the path to getting all of the clients you can handle.
Of course, you certainly don’t have to stop advertising if your ads are profitable. After all, it’s not uncommon for a successful advertising campaign to turn $1 into $2… or even $3 or $4… And, let’s be honest, you’re not likely to find that kind of ROI in the stock market or real estate market, or anywhere else, for that matter…
And in case that’s not enough, here’s 1 more reason you should get started advertising your solo practice via Google AdWords…
How PPC Advertising Can Help SEO
Done right, PPC advertising can really help your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Now, to be clear, advertising in Google won’t directly help you rank higher in Google’s organic search engine results. These 2 aspects of Google’s search results are separate. You cannot simply pay your way to the top of Google’s non-advertising results.
But PPC can tell you where to focus your SEO investments. If you’re properly tracking your PPC advertising, you’ll know which keywords are generating the most leads and new paying clients. And those are the keywords that you should be investing your SEO efforts in, so you rank organically in Google — and get those valuable clicks for FREE.
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