Advertising for LawyersRapid Client Acquisition with Google Ads
Jeremy Peter Green Eche | July 11, 2022
I’m not exaggerating when I say I owe my law firm’s success entirely to Google Ads. Ads allowed me to immediately build the kind of trademark law practice that normally requires decades of experience and networking. When I launched my first Google Ads campaign in April of 2017, I had only made about $3,500 so far that year from my solo practice. This was after $12,000 total revenue for 2016. I finished that year with about $225,000 in revenue, which grew to $710,000 in 2018, then $1.1 million in 2019, then $1.85 million in 2020. I’m now happily at a steady annual revenue of about $1.5 million and my main focus is on phasing out the ad spending over time.
After I started the Ads campaign, it took about a month for me to calibrate it to the point where the ads were paying for themselves. But once I got there, it immediately became clear that I could now make a living from my solo practice. I made plans to transition out of my day job and went full-time with my trademark practice at the end of June, about three months after I launched the ad campaign. I blew through $5,000 on Google Ads in that first awkward month before I found my winning formula. This was my entire savings at the time so I would have been in trouble if it had taken me even a week longer to get things right.
I had never run a Google Ads campaign before, let alone for a law firm, and I made a lot of mistakes in that first month. My goal with this post is to help you avoid these mistakes when running your own Google Ads campaign for your law firm. These are some of my best tips for getting to that magical point where your ads start paying for themselves and your law firm’s growth is now self-sustaining.
Don’t Focus on CPC or CTR: All That Matters Is Cost-Per-Action/Conversion
When I was new to ads, I wasn’t sure what metrics I should be paying attention to. The Google Ads interface puts a lot of emphasis on Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and Click-Through Ratio (CTR), so I paid more attention to them than I should have. In reality, the most important metric is Cost-Per-Conversion, often called Cost-Per-Action and abbreviated as CPA. The other metrics are interesting to look at, but they’re secondary to how much you’re paying per conversion. A conversion is any metric you decide to track that marks a milestone in your client acquisition process. It can be when a client calls you, fills out your inquiry form, or hires you.
If you want your ads to pay for themselves reliably, month after month, you have to let them optimize themselves to maximize conversions based on a target Cost-Per-Action (CPA) price that you choose. This means that you shouldn’t be setting your campaigns to target cost-per-click or anything like that. If you’re targeting, say, $3 per click, your ads will focus on that number instead of trying to focus on the kinds of clicks that will get you new clients. There’s nothing wrong with spending $15-per-click on some competitive keywords if these clicks are leading to 20 times as many new clients as a keyword you only spend $1.50 on. A good Cost-Per-Action to target is around $400-$700 if you’re tracking when clients actually hire you. If you’re just tracking leads, the number should be much lower, maybe around $15-$50.
Design Your Firm’s Website and Business Model Around Conversions
To be able to track conversions, you’re going to need to set your firm’s website up so that you have a measurable milestone in the sales process that you can track using Google Ads and count as a conversion. For example, you can have Google Ads count every submission of your inquiry form as a conversion. Alternatively, you can track every call to your phone number from a mobile visitor. However, these are not the ideal kinds of conversions to track. You will have to figure out what percent of your leads turn into sales, in addition to what the average sale is worth to you. On top of that, your ad campaigns might become incentivized to direct low-quality visitors to your website who call you or fill out your form, but never hire you.
If You Can, Allow Clients to Hire and Pay You Instantly
The best kind of conversion to track is a client paying you. The only reliable way for Google to tell if somebody who clicked your ad paid you is to have your new clients pay you through your website. A good way to facilitate this is by having your inquiry form actually be a hiring form that accepts payment from new clients. Ideally your form takes a credit card, possibly with PayPal as an additional option. Then you can put a Google tracking script on the confirmation page where your website brings clients after they successfully fill out the form. This method works great if your law firm charges flat fees and your clients normally pay up-front already. It’s not as good if you bill by the hour.
However, if you charge an initial retainer to your clients before you start to work for them, then you can track that retainer as a conversion. You can have clients fill out your inquiry form and then once things are sorted out, you can send them a link to your website’s payment portal that has the tracking script on the confirmation page. As long as the client is on the same device that accessed the Google ad, and they pay within the period of time you choose (the default is 30 days), Google will count it as a conversion.
If it absolutely doesn’t suit you to charge your clients so early in the process, then you can still track submissions of your inquiry form as conversions, but you must figure out how much the average submission of your form is worth to you so you don’t pay too much. You’ll also need to monitor your campaigns much more closely to figure out which keywords are giving you real clients and which ones are giving you time-wasters and spammers.
The Better Your Website Works, the Better Your Ads Will Work
If your ads are failing to convert at a sustainable rate and you don’t think there’s anything wrong with them, then you probably need to improve your website, or at least your landing page. Your website must be designed to get visitors to hire you as easily and as often as possible.
Here are some tips for making your website as conversion-friendly as possible, based on my own experience. They’ll work best for law firms that charge up-front fees through their forms, but they’re useful even if you’re only tracking leads.
- Be as transparent as possible about your pricing. Law firms love to hide their fees from prospective clients, but if you want people to hire you through your website, they need to know what they’re committing to pay, for what specific services, and whether there will be additional fees later on.
- Use your website to build client trust. You can do this by highlighting your legal credentials like your bar membership and law school, having a professional looking website, and avoiding grammatical mistakes and typos in your website copy. You should also get existing clients to leave good reviews on Google Business, Yelp, and/or TrustPilot. You can then include review widgets on your website.
- Don’t overload your clients with information in the beginning. Stick to the basic facts of your service offerings in the main area of your landing page. The more words people see at once, the more likely it is that they won’t read any of them. For clients who want to learn more before hiring you, you can include more detailed paragraphs or an FAQ further down the page.
- Make very few fields on your online form “required.” Sometimes clients filling out your form won’t know how to answer a question about their business entity or their domicile address, preferring to leave that field blank. The only field you absolutely need them to fill out is their email address so you can reach out to them.
Aside from those tips, there are many other changes you might need to make to your landing page that are specific to your situation. You may need to tweak your marketing copy to be clearer or more appealing, or you may need to rearrange the layout. Try to put yourself in the position of the client and imagine what you would like to see. Go to successful competitors’ websites and see what they’re doing. Don’t make your website a clone of theirs, but figure out what techniques they’re using to turn visitors into clients.
Don’t Take Suggestions from Your Google Account Strategist Seriously
I’ve been running Google Ads for several years, spending as much as $40,000 a month at times, and I’ve never had an account strategist from Google who seemed both competent and interested in learning enough about my business to help me. The most recent person from Google to contact me about setting up a meeting said he was my new “account manager” — an upgrade from the usual “strategist” because of my high monthly spending. He repeatedly spelled my firm’s name wrong in his introductory email, despite it being a three-letter name. I didn’t bother to respond.
Every three to six months, I get emails and voicemail messages from a new 20-something located in Michigan — I guess Google Ads has an office there — who badly wants to have a video meeting with me to talk about how to improve my ads. Every time I acquiesce, I regret it. They always want to mess with my campaign and sometimes their meddling has terrible consequences for my business.
The main goal of Google account strategists is to get you to spend more money. They never seem to be particularly qualified or aware of the unique features of your business, no matter how big of a spender you are. If I had a client who was paying several of my employees’ salaries, I would work harder to give them a good experience. But I don’t have a monopoly in my industry.