In this day and age, most lawyers understand that they need marketing to ensure the long-term stability of their firm. Where lawyers go wrong is when they don’t exercise the same due diligence with their marketing as they do with their clients. Case in point: when attorneys pursue search engine optimization (SEO) when they should have gone with pay-per-click (PPC).
Not all, but most agencies make substantially more revenue by providing SEO services. If an agency offers both SEO and PPC, and they recommend PPC over SEO, there is more than a good chance PPC is in your best interest. Below are a few examples of when PPC may offer more value than SEO.
Your Law Firm Needs More Cases Now (At The Expense Of ROI)
A new SEO campaign will take months, if not years, to produce consistent results. This video from Google suggests 6-12 months. The returns of PPC, on the other hand, are almost immediate.
So why would anyone choose SEO? Because SEO historically produces a higher return on investment (ROI) and allows your firm to build up a competitive advantage, whereas PPC is pay-to-play.
Many law firms get enamored with the opportunity for a higher return without considering how long it will take for the benefits of SEO to outweigh PPC. Our data suggests it takes two or three years before the long-term ROI of SEO produces more than the immediate returns PPC can deliver.
Most law firms that have been running successful marketing campaigns for many years will pursue both an SEO and PPC campaign. Figuring out which one to start with is a crucial decision.
The City You Are Located In Has Less Than 100,000 People
At one point in time, ranking your law firm across a large geographic area was easily accomplished through SEO. While not impossible, recent algorithmic updates have made this strategy substantially more expensive. The cost vs. reward calculation must be carefully considered to determine if SEO is a viable strategy.
In our experience, if your firm is in a city of fewer than 100,000 people, and the immediate surrounding area is rural, then you need to take the time to consider your options. If your city has less than 50,000 people, it is very likely that PPC is going to be a better option. However, the practice areas your firm wants to target can dramatically affect this decision.
It would also be unwise to assume that just because your competitor is running an SEO campaign, that your firm can be successful too. Firms in rural areas that have been running an SEO campaign for many years will have a leg up, in that they don’t have startup costs to consider when deciding whether to continue with SEO.
PPC, on the other hand, can easily target a wide geography by merely changing a setting. It really is that simple. Rural markets are oftentimes underserved and the cost-per-click values are often at a discount.
The Practice Area You Are Targeting Is Less Volatile
How much is a car accident case worth? $5,000? $50,000? $500,000? More than that? This volatility surfaces in marketing campaigns. In some areas, PPC can cost more than $5,000 per case. It becomes a question of how many cases is your firm willing to lose money on to get that $500,000 case? Since SEO traditionally has a better return than PPC, SEO can be a safer choice for these highly volatile practice areas provided the market potential is there.
If your firm is wanting to target practice areas that aren’t as volatile, PPC is a great option. The return from PPC can be extremely predictable and reliable. Once you understand a handful of metrics that are unique to your firm, you can estimate what each case is going to cost with decent accuracy.
Are There Situations When PPC Is A Bad Choice?
Without a doubt, yes. While the cons of PPC are worth an entire article, the main issue has to do with website quality. If you do not invest in a high-quality website, then you run the risk of not converting clicks into inquiries. A few signs that your website is not PPC-worthy are:
• It’s not mobile-friendly.
• It’s overly generic and doesn’t build an emotional connection to your firm.
• The design is dated and lags competitors.
• The content is sparse, does not offer solutions that include you being part of the solution, and provides no real value.
As marketing pioneer John Wanamaker said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
This statement is, unfortunately, true for many law firms. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Put a little elbow grease into understanding how various marketing campaigns work and you can dramatically improve your chances at implementing a successful marketing campaign.