Lawyers face the same problem as any business. To get new business, they must promote their services, which means advertising. And lawyers, like any company, face the same marketing and advertising challenges – how to beat the competition. In addition, lawyers must assume that any marketing or advertising they do on or off the Internet can produce little or no results for their time and money – no matter what external marketing or advertising consultants may say.
Before the Internet, Yellow Pages advertising was the primary nonInternet marketing or advertising option for any lawyer. Even today, newspapers still carry colorful Yellow Pages, one of which contains advertisements for services offered by lawyers, and for which lawyers pay a lot of money. Anyone can guess how effective these advertisements are – it’s hard for your color advertisements to stand out on one page when you have 20 more lawyers publishing the same advertisement! However, Yellow Pages companies continue to preach their “more is better” and “all you sell is an opportunity” marketing and advertising philosophy, so they often introduce lawyers to nonInternet marketing and advertising solutions that are expensive but often have little effect.
This line of thinking, and the widespread use of printed Yellow Pages, have followed the dinosaur’s path at a very fast pace. Printed Yellow Pages have flourished for decades, but people now use the Internet to get the information they’re looking for, so most print directories are gathering dust. Lawyers advertising in the Yellow Pages may get calls, but they are likely to come from vendors who use the Yellow Pages as a source of cheap contacts.
The largest paid search providers (pay-per-click search engines) generally offer lawyers’ solutions in the areas of online marketing and advertising, just as they use the “Yellow Pages” in their print directories”. The more the merrier”. So instead of realistically discussing with a lawyer a pay-per-click Internet marketing and advertising campaign that makes financial sense and produces a decent return on investment, the pay-per-click vendor will tell the lawyer to go with as many (more expensive) keyword lists as their budget allows and at the price they can afford. The lawyer may ruin the process, but at least they will be exposed! Many lawyers pay per click to get quick contacts, but spend a lot of money on network marketing and advertising, bring only the cost, and are out of the game quickly within a month.
While pay-per-click network marketing and advertising is a favorite practice of network marketing advertisers worldwide, pay-per-click is usually an extremely expensive offer for lawyers to get what they’re getting. The question of how much a lawyer is willing to pay for leads takes on a whole new meaning with pay-per-click. Many lawyers related to keywords such as “trauma lawyers” and “criminal lawyers” cost between $5 and $70 per click, depending on the market. When you consider that the typical conversion rate (the number of clicks required to generate a lead) for lawyers is 1 to 2 percent, lawyers may end up paying up to $500 to $7,000 for each lead that is not a client.
Part of the problem lawyers face when using pay-per-click (which translates directly into low conversion rates) is that (1) they spend little time creating pay-per-click ads and (2) the ads drive traffic to the lawyer’s website. Any Internet marketer who knows anything about pay-per-click knows that you never send pay-per-click traffic to a website. Instead, they create special pages, or “landing pages”, to send traffic on a pay-per-click basis. The function of the landing page is to convince the traffic to do what the lawyer asks, usually by email or phone.
Internet legal directories and portals offer a potential online marketing and advertising option for lawyers due to their increasing visibility and recognition on the Internet. The effectiveness of a lawyer’s Internet marketing, advertising and coverage in an online legal directory or portal will depend on the specific characteristics of the online legal directory or portal. All other things being equal, a legal directory or Internet portal that charges a fee to place in it makes more sense than a similar site that offers free Internet placement as a marketing and advertising option. However, lawyers should be especially cautious when considering advertising in legal directories and Internet portals, because these sites “appear” to offer a lot – and have to pay for it – but for whatever reason, it does not provide enough clues as to how much the lawyer should spend on Internet marketing and advertising.
There are many online legal directories and portals that have a strong Internet presence and are excellent resource centers for lawyers, but that doesn’t automatically make them a good place to advertise. With Internet portals, it is certainly not the number of lawyers that attract lawyers, but the number of people who are attracted to the lawyer’s Internet portal looking for legal services. The fact that people pay thousands of dollars to advertise on Internet portals does not improve Internet marketing and advertising. A very good idea for any lawyer considering advertising on a law firm’s Internet portal is very accurate demographic information about the kind of traffic that is actually attracted to a law firm’s Internet portal.
What should a lawyer do? Regardless of where a lawyer is looking, and whether the marketing and advertising material is online or not, there is a great financial risk involved, and ensuring a good, solid result for the amount of money a lawyer spends is often difficult to make.
Ultimately, the best way for a lawyer to get involved in Internet marketing and advertising – in a way that will ultimately give you the best long-term results for the money you spend – is to make sure that your website has a prominent place in the organic search results. At the end of the day, Internet users looking for products and services are mostly looking for websites to find answers. They can search legitimate directories and portals online, and if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they can use pay-per-click as a last resort (only 30-40% of users worry about pay-per-click), but ultimately, online researchers are looking for sites that give them answers.
If a lawyer is looking for an online marketing and advertising solution that doesn’t require pay-per-click, he or she may want to consider a pay-per-click plan. A pay-per-call is similar to a pay-per-click, but if the call is not received, the lawyer will not pay for the call. And in many cases, the cost of a phone call is usually much less than the lawyer’s cost per click. Smart lawyers may even consider calling several vendors who will only pay for one call, thinking that among vendors, the lawyer will collect enough leads to make participation in these programs worthwhile.
Many of the online marketing and advertising programs that lawyers choose should be tested individually. Absolutely no assumptions should be made. Pay-per-click advertising that works very well with one search provider may not work with another.
And the last thing a lawyer should know about internet and web presence is that appearance really matters. Many people have been on the Internet for 10 years and have seen all kinds and styles of websites. People are used to seeing professionally designed websites. A lawyer’s website should look like that too.