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  • December 6, 2019

Lead Generation for Law Firms

Stereotypes are often associated with law firms – That they can be aggressive, sharp, and cutthroat, amongst other characteristics. The competitive nature of successfully practicing law directly parallels the level of competition found online as law firms attempt to build brand awareness and garner qualified leads that have the potential to develop into actual clients and cases.

Law firms have always been heavy users of traditional media (TV, radio, print, outdoor) to build brand awareness and generate leads. Many of us are familiar with those TV commercials with funky jingles telling you to call NOW, as you may be entitled to money. But as is the case with virtually every industry, law professionals have started to turn online to source new clients and cases. Indeed, nearly every successful law firm has a digital presence in the shape of a website. But, just as the days of simply putting up a sign on your door to generate business are over, the days of simply putting up a website and waiting for visitor traffic are over as well. Even tried and true digital marketing strategies such as Paid Search are not as effective as they were years ago. With the average cost per click in the law space approaching $5, it has become incredibly expensive to simply be present, let alone be in an optimal position to attract and obtain qualified leads.

The current online environment begs the question: how can law firms and lawyers use the web effectively to generate leads?

The answer, as you might expect, is rather complex, given the competitive nature of the online legal space. Additionally, the tactics that work for a large corporate firm looking to generate brand awareness and demonstrate thought leadership differ greatly from what works for a personal injury law firm that’s aiming to generate MedMal, or slip and fall leads. That said, there are a number of tactics that all law firms should keep in mind when looking to generate leads:

1. Paid Search Can Still Work

Though traditional paid search has become relatively expensive, the fact of the matter is that it is still an intent-driven medium — That is, users are explicitly looking for a particular type of law firm or service through their search query. That level of intent is extremely valuable. Though it may seem crazy to pay $120 per click for keywords “mesothelioma attorney” or $75 per click for the query “best corporate law firm,” given the level of intent and the potential value of acquiring a client here, it still may be worth it.

Some distinct things to keep in mind when utilizing paid search for your law firm:

Get Specific. Focus on very specific long-tail queries rather than broad ones.

Premium Price = Premium Return. For Personal Injury law firms in particular, while it can be expensive to land the number one position among search results, our experience has shown that in most cases, paying the premium for top positioning is well worth it. While lower search result positions are much less expensive, we’ve found that consumer behavior is such that users click in sequential order of listings — By the time the user gets down to the fourth ad on the page, they’ve likely already been rejected by three other firms for not having a legitimate case!

Establish Authority. Nationally recognized law firms should think about offering more than just an informational page about their services as the landing page. Think about publishing whitepapers, videos, and case studies to your site to show your firm’s thought leadership. Also, consider requiring potential clients to input their email address to gain access to these informational assets.

Consider Bing. While Google may be at the forefront of our minds when we think about search, Bing also offers surprising efficiency and scale, with about 30% market share. In the legal space, CPCs can be 30-40% lower with Bing than they are in Google. So, this is valuable, intent-driven traffic that your competitors aren’t likely to be bidding on.

2. Be Careful with Your CTAs

One of the golden rules of website conversion is that your pages should have an aggressive Call to Action. While this is generally true, we’ve seen that the majority of law firm websites get TOO aggressive with forms that ask a user to provide their name, phone number, and email address to get a call back within the hour for a free consultation. Asking a user for this information upfront is akin to asking a date to marry you after the first time meeting – It goes too far, too quickly. Instead of going for the jugular to get the lead, consider making your lead capture forms more subtle, and allocate more screen real estate for case verdicts and money won (for PI firms), and on awards or press (for national firms). Surfacing this content early builds credibility early. Remember, users are looking to select a firm that (a) has generated results, and (b) is trustworthy. So, build that authority and trust early on.

3. Don’t Forget About the Phone

Having a digital lead capture form that a user can fill out is great, but our experience shows that nearly 75% of the conversions to a law firm website end with a phone call. All too often, phone calls aren’t being tracked, which can make it look like your campaigns (especially paid ones) aren’t working. Some things to keep in mind for tracking phone calls:

• Phone tracking doesn’t need to be complex or expensive, and the major search engines all actually provide free call tracking to advertisers. Definitely take advantage of this, as it takes just a few minutes to set up properly and can give you a much more accurate picture of your ROI. You can even adjust the settings in the call tracking code to only count calls exceeding five minutes (as an example) as a conversion so that you’re not optimizing to calls that are wrong numbers or grossly unqualified.

• For PI firms, in particular, consider using ‘call only’ ad formats in Google and Bing. With this ad format, users aren’t taken to your website but instead are connected to you via telephone from their mobile device. This means that you’re essentially paying for a phone call rather than for a click.

4. Think Local Rather Than National

For large, prestigious law firms, this approach may seem a bit counterintuitive. However, the data shows that users generally pick lawyers and firms that are in close proximity to their own location. Large law firms can retain their national reach while becoming more localized by setting up pages on their website for each location and office, with a description of the office, key personnel, and more. They can also set up Google My Business (GMB) listings for each of the attorneys within a given office so that when a user does a search for a phrase such as “best M&A attorney near me,” the appropriate lawyers are listed in the local section of the search engine results page. For personal injury firms, this is even more crucial, as is limiting geo-targeting on paid media campaigns exclusively to areas that the firm can service.

5. There’s More to Digital Than Search

While search is so appealing for law firms due to the intent-driven nature of the channel, as discussed above, it is expensive. Law firms should begin to think beyond search, and consider mediums such as display advertising and paid social. Corporate law firms can distribute their thought leadership pieces to potential clients on LinkedIn, for example, and PI firms could serve up display ads for a Complex Regional Pain Syndrome case adjacent to content on a support group message board for those who are participating. These tactics drive awareness higher up in the funnel, and as such, are much less expensive than search.

At the end of the day, potential clients are going to choose the law firm that exudes trust and confidence and that has a history of generating results, regardless of how they got to your website. But, by breaking through the clutter, getting creative, and implementing the strategies noted above, lead generation can become much more cost-effective.

Illustration by Abby Lowenstein

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