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How a Law Firm Generated 65% More Leads From the Same Paid Search Budget

Paid search, the ads that show on Google and Bing’s result pages based on your search queries, has been a long-standing channel for law firms across the country. It’s a huge market, with the vast majority of people going to search engines to find whatever they’re looking for. And for most business-related searches, people click the ads rather than the free organic listings.

But especially for lawyers, paid search can be a major drain on resources. Legal-related paid search keywords can be some of the most expensive -- over $250 just for one person to click over to your site once is a huge price to pay for an action that’s unlikely to immediately become a client. With such a financial drain, it’s critical to find the right path that threads the needle so your firm can be present in a major advertising channel.

Setting the Scene

A decades-old law firm in a major metropolis knew that their advertising was integral to helping tens of thousands of their clients over the years. Their multi-million-dollar annual marketing budget was spread over TV, print, Yellow Pages, and digital advertising. While they dominated the share of voice on most of their marketing channels, they were only investing a little in their paid search advertising, showing for just 33% of the local searches they were targeting for their services.

Can we increase share-of-voice on the marketing channel?

Because their paid search campaign was successful - generating over 100 leads a month from website forms and phone calls from the channel - the law firm wanted to see how far they could push their spend to reach as many potential clients as possible. They increased their paid search spend by 192%!

The Marketing Challenge

Making major changes to any single channel’s spend can expose inefficiencies that were well-managed at the original spend. While increasing the paid search spend made the firm’s ads show for 40% more local searches, cracks showed in the ad campaign’s performance.

While lead volume increased with the spend, the cost of each lead generated jumped by 19.65%.

Did we oversaturate the marketing channel?

The law firm had decided that if the cost per lead was going to stay that high, they’d need to re-evaluate the increase of the channel’s spend. After some study, it was easy to see the factors that led to the loss in channel efficiency:

Solving the Puzzle

While a little daunting, the best way to turn the campaign around was to start from scratch. Simply making some tactical shifts wouldn’t turn the account around; the changes in campaign KPIs pointed to issues with organizational structure, ad copy, and conversion path issues -- all three aspects of a paid search campaign.

Match the Campaign Structure to the Customer Journey

The original campaign structure was set up to make bid management easier. Search terms were grouped by “match type,” which allows the campaign manager to quickly focus their time and budget on specific valuable terms while still casting a wide enough net to catch variations.

But instead, we switched the campaign structure to match how potential customers would look for the law firm’s services. We drilled down on the terminology actual customers used for each stage of the legal process, finding that they were much more technical than the law firm had ever guessed. Customers searched on specific forms, legal terminology, and medical requirements that better signified their stage in their journey than simpler and more direct terminology.

This switch in terminology created a new structure that mixed match types, but maintained the ease of management because every search term had a “home.” Everyday campaign management switched from a focus on how the ad platform worked to how customers looked for a law firm.

By restructuring the campaign, we reduced the cost per click of the campaign 20% from the month before the rebuild, and improved the original cost per click by 16%!

Write Ad Copy Highlighting Core Unique Selling Propositions

The new campaign structure immediately provided a framework to rewrite the ad copy for both the search ads and the corresponding landing pages. Instead of providing broadly-applicable ad copy, we could write ads that spoke to the specific search term all the way through the customer experience.

Solving the challenge of matching the customer’s search intent by aligning the copy and campaign structure, we were able to focus on the firm’s core benefits for their clients. Instead of focusing on describing the service in the ad and landing page, we highlighted on the customer benefits stemming from the firm’s experience of tens of thousands of cases. On the landing page, we added new search-term-focused copy and customer testimonials that backed up the assertions made in the .

The copy changes led to a total increase in ad click-through rate of 1.33% from the month before the rebuild -- an increase of more than the average click-through of a paid search ad!

Add Best-Practice Features to Ad Units

Finally, the account had been coasting well for years but hadn’t been updated to the most up-to-date features that search ads had to offer. These features aren’t necessary and aren’t always for every business, but their value is always worth exploring.

We implemented ways for customers to see new bits of extra copy and reach deeper and more relevant pages. But the most valuable feature added to the campaign was adding a way for users to call the law firm without even visiting the firm’s website.

Adding this new feature was the main driving force in a return to form for the account: conversion rates jumped 1.98% from the month before the rebuild.

Applying to Your Firm

This campaign rebuild netted the firm 65% more leads on the same monthly spend — an increase from 281 leads in the month before the rebuild to 464 monthly leads. The law firm continued their paid search campaign after the rebuild, feeling confident that their market wasn’t oversaturated by their ads. Eventually, the law firm received over 1000 monthly leads from the website, driven largely by the paid search campaigns.

Due to the campaign rebuild, the law firm improved the account significantly.

Most importantly for the firm, the campaign dropped the cost per lead from paid search by 28.8%, even lower than the original campaign!

Almost any business would love to see an increase in their return on ad spend like that! For your business, there are two ways to recreate this kind of success in your own campaigns.

Align Your Campaigns With the Customer Journey

First, it’s important to focus on your customers in every stage of your campaign. By aligning your copy and structure with how customers seek out your business, your campaigns speak to the audience that matters most.

Many businesses — especially technical experts like law firms — see their customers as having little knowledge about the service they’re seeking. However, customers know exactly where they are in their own process and are communicating their experience and knowledge to the businesses they’re seeking out for help. Business owners need to listen and give back the information customers want to hear to get advertising success.

Implementation Matters

Knowing the advertising platforms makes sure that a customer-focused strategy leads to success. Campaigns are hamstrung by forgetting ad features that align with how your business operates, and strategies are weakened by a lack of understanding of how ad platforms operate.

Implementing campaigns with an eye to all three plays in the ad campaign — customers, businesses, and ad platforms -- makes sure the strategy runs on all cylinders and reaches the performance goals that ensure profitable and repeatable returns on investment.