Search engines now seem to answer all our questions. They tell us where the nearest coffee shop is located for our morning caffeine fix. They produce statistics on school rankings so we can decide our child’s education. They can even resolve late night debates over obscure historical facts by proving which impassioned friend best remembered 5th grade social science. There may have even been significant googling performed while writing this article. We are now a society that is more willing to type in a few key words rather than call our parents when life throws an “unknown” our way. As so-called “digital natives,” millennials with purchasing power are re-shaping litigation marketing with their tendency to Google first and ask questions later.
There are many search engines that offer opportunities for paid advertising. Deciding where to place your ad is a critical decision in order to maximize its potential audience and effectiveness. However, this may be the easiest decision during this process as Google is the significant leader in the world of search engines. In 2017, Google processed over 40,000 searches per second and retained the vast majority of the search engine market share at 74.06%, followed by Baidu, Bind and then Yahoo. Although, other search engines are slowly increasing in usage, Google still remains dominant in the market and its position is further solidified by its compatibility with cell phone and tablet usage.
Google’s method for paid advertising, Google AdWords, is a straight forward concept. A business or provider will pay for an advertisement for certain search terms. When a potential client enters the search terms, the ad will appear above or beside the organically produced results. There are many benefits for this type of paid advertising, but here are the top three:
1. General for the purchasers, yet specific for the consumers
The greatest feature of Google Adwords is that it can be effectively used for almost any type of legal practice, but can also target a pool of potential clients with a high degree of specificity. Search engine ads can be used for attorneys such as estate and business practices, whose seek clients whose value continues through the course of many years as the attorney provides ongoing services. This form of advertisement can also serve attorneys who function with a high turnover of clients, such as the personal injury attorney who needs to constantly generate new cases that will result in a high profit margin.
In addition to its widespread use, Google AdWords’ customizability allows advertisers to target people that have the highest potential to become clients. The first method of tailoring your Google AdWords is selecting the search terms that will generate ads. This will allow you to match what services you offer to the type of client that you are seeking. These search terms can be as broad as “law firm” or as specific as “maritime attorney specializing in offshore injuries.”
Once you have identified your applicable search terms, you can customize your target audience even further. Google AdWords allows preference such as geographic location, languages and mobile device users preferences to be incorporated into the search that will generate the ad.
2. Cost effective and works for any budget
Google AdWords adapts to fit almost any advertising budget. That means that in the world of search engine advertising, a first-year attorney fresh from the bar exam can (at least briefly) have an advertisement next to Baker Botts LLP. This is thanks to their unique payment system which operates on pay per click system (PPC), meaning that regardless of how many searches generate the link, you only pay for your ad if someone views your site. Advertisers can also set a daily limit based on their budget constraints and advertising goals. This allows you to maintain the bottom line and also prioritize simultaneous advertising campaigns by allocating higher amounts to ads with greater importance.
One strategy for increasing number of views while decreasing advertising costs is careful selection of search terms to be used in your advertisement. The PPC for each search term varies based on popularity, so by selecting more specific search terms, you will not only increase your chances of being viewed by viable, potential clients, but will also decrease your advertising costs. For example, in 2017 the cost of advertising for “lawyer” was $42.51 and “attorney” was $47.07. However, the average PPC on the search network is between $1 and $2 and on the display network the average is under $1. So getting creative and using the data to track results can result in decreasing costs while increasing the visibility and effectiveness of your advertisement.
3. Measurable Data
Still not sold on creating a search engine ad? Then try a trial period and look at the results. Most forms of advertising can only provide a guesswork of return on investment (ROI) which is why we so often see the question “how did you learn about us” on surveys for new services. Google AdWords allows you to measure the value of your ad by tracking the number of clicks, number of impressions, click through rate, number of conversions cost per click, etc. Gathering and analyzing this data will allow an operational team to continue to fine tune and transform the ad for maximize impact. These changes and effects can happen within the day and no longer require the removal of billboard sign or reprint in the local yellow pages.
The flexibility and scalability of Google AdWords offers litigation attorneys a way to turn on and off advertising as needed and to fine tune the consumer pipeline. Attorneys who fail to adapt will struggle to remain competitive as millennials increasingly have more purchasing power.
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Attorneypreneur, writer, technologist. Nerdy for legaltech, politics, crypto, cybersecurity, innovation. Presently in-house at Williams & Brown. Former adviser at Baylor Law, and founder of two technology and legal consulting companies. @JoshuaWeaverEsq