For many lawyers, the mere suggestion that their firm should utilize online advertising is spine-tingling, and for a good reason. Even law firms with robust media budgets shudder at the thought of allocating funds to online ads. So, why are law firms reluctant to dip their toes into online advertising? In this particular game of Family Feud, the board’s top two answers are (to no surprise) “budget” and “legal ethics.” Additionally, it’s frustrating to see businesses in other fields promote services, educate clients, and generate leads while law firms watch from the sidelines. Despite this bleak outlook, online advertising can be a massive asset to your online law firm marketing plan if you’re creative and mindful of the state’s ethics rules.
Location, Location, Location…
Planning and executing an online media strategy for your law firm has the potential to be treacherous. It doesn’t matter if your online advertising budget ranges from a thousand to a hundred thousand dollars; what your marketing team can do with those funds is dictated by the unique ethics rules in each state. Standard guidelines in most states include not making unsubstantiated guarantees or presenting yourself as an expert without a license to back it up.
Here in New York, the ethics rules are liberal, so firms have much more freedom of choice with content creation than those in other states. In neighboring Pennsylvania, you’re forbidden to create ads with a celebrity endorsement, paid or otherwise. In New Jersey, the word “ADVERTISEMENT” must be embedded clearly into the aesthetic of every piece of media. Believe it or not, a LinkedIn ad without a disclaimer would violate the rules in some states. These subtle and sometimes obtrusive parameters can be off-putting. However, the effort has the potential to be more rewarding. Sometimes, those returns are mouth-watering.
The Five Benefits You Meet in Online Ad Heaven
With enough time, we could make a long list of advantages of online advertising. The five benefits listed below can make a noticeable difference in the success of your online advertising and, more importantly, how much of a budget it takes to get there. Again, the goal is to promote your law firm’s services, educate clients on why you’re adept in your field, and generate leads that keep the client machine running.
The average user spends at least two hours online daily, with heavy hitters like Facebook, YouTube & Twitter drawing a good chunk of their attention. Highly trafficked platforms provide exposure in a safe, dependable environment for the user. The volume of user attention coupled with this high level of trust can help you reach new clients without trying to lure them away from the sites they love to visit. Rather than lean on obscure platforms to showcase your law firm’s content, place ads with the internet juggernauts.
Online advertising can be cost-effective compared to other mediums like television and outdoor. The CPM is the “cost per mille,” a common term representing how much money it takes to generate 1,000 impressions on an ad. On display network ads, the CPM can reach $1.20. On Google, the CPM is $0.30. Both numbers are favorable and pale in comparison to the budget it might take to achieve similar success on television. This is why selecting the right platform to gain exposure to your ad is critical. This decision can directly affect your costs.
(We’ve thoroughly covered this factor in online advertising in a previous blog. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version.) Knowing your audience is essential and creating content that speaks to them is easy if you have the correct data to mine. Researching what your typical client likes or dislikes or accessing first-party data like their browsing history can give insight into how to craft content that feels like it was made just for the user. Additionally, this knowledge can influence where you choose to expose your ad and how much you would risk spending.
Any user that’s visited your site, interacted with an ad, liked a post on social media, or clicked on one of your law firm’s email blasts in the past can be re-targeted with a new ad. In this instance, re-targeting is placing ads specifically designed to lure back users who have prior knowledge of your law firm through direct contact. In most cases, law firms can realize this benefit via the data collected from other marketing efforts. These cataloged interactions are just another way of reassuring you that the people you’re attempting to attract are more likely to be qualified leads.
Coming in last but not least is co-creation. To summarize, co-creation results from good exposure, personalization, and re-targeting, hopefully at a low cost. Essentially, it’s the other four benefits proverbially firing on all cylinders. When a client gets into a car accident and looks for a lawyer, they find one immediately, and maybe it’s your firm? A big part of co-creation is the feedback you get from clients as they interact with your ads. This data tells you what they want to see. With co-creation, the user plays a part in developing content, and the guessing game of what might please a user is nearly eradicated. When you head into the kitchen to cook up a batch of content, the users give you the recipe.
Any one of these benefits has value on its own. Figuring out how to incorporate these principles in tandem can lead to a much smoother and cost-effective road to boosting your client roster.
Online advertising can be a huge asset for your law firm’s business growth and consumer awareness. While the ethics rules in some states may feel like a handcuff, creativity can go a long way to circumvent them regardless of the size of your budget. Any advertising campaign aims to promote services, educate clients, and generate leads. Adhering to the five principal tenets of online advertising may pave a path to understanding your ideal client and keep new ones flowing through the door. Expose your content to users on top platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google, where their massive audiences log large volumes of hours online. Use industry parameters like CPM or “cost per mille” to see which of these platforms offers the most value to your budget. Personalization allows your law firm to craft content based on data mined from users similar to your ideal client. Re-Targeting analyzes user data to see who may have interacted with your content, website, or ads in the past and target ads to them again. Lastly, co-creation is an amalgam of the first four benefits and an even more user-influenced approach to content creation. Using these concepts as a guide in online advertising may lead to more opportunities in an already booming medium.