For many lawyers, the simple suggestion that their firm should use online advertising is thorny, and for good reason. Even law firms with strong media budgets shudder at the thought of allocating funds to online ads. So why are law firms reluctant to engage in online advertising? In this particular game of Family Feud, the two main council responses are (unsurprisingly) “budget” and “legal ethics”. Plus, it’s frustrating to see companies in other fields promoting services, educating clients, and generating leads while law firms watch from the sidelines. Despite these bleak prospects, online advertising can be a major asset to your online law firm’s marketing plan if you are creative and mindful of state ethics rules.
Location, location, location…
Planning and executing an online media strategy for your law firm can be deceiving. It doesn’t matter if your online advertising budget ranges from one thousand to one hundred thousand dollars; what your marketing team can do with those funds is dictated by state-specific ethics rules. Standard guidelines in most states include not making unsubstantiated warranties or posing as an unlicensed expert to back it up.
Here in New York, the rules of ethics are liberal, so companies have much more freedom of choice when it comes to creating content than those in other states. In neighboring Pennsylvania, you are prohibited from creating advertisements with celebrity endorsement, whether paid or not. In New Jersey, the word “ADVERT” must be clearly integrated into the aesthetic of each medium. Believe it or not, a LinkedIn Announcement without a disclaimer would violate some state rules. These subtle and sometimes intrusive settings can be off-putting. However, the effort has the potential to be more rewarding. Sometimes those returns are enticing.
The Five Advantages You Experience in Online Advertising Heaven
Given enough time, we could list a long list of the benefits of online advertising. The five benefits listed below can make a noticeable difference in the success of your online advertising and, more importantly, in the budget needed to achieve it. Again, the goal is to promote your law firm’s services, explain to clients why you’re an expert in your field, and generate leads that keep the client machine running.
The average user spends at least two hours online a day, with heavyweights like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are getting a lot of their attention. High traffic platforms provide exposure in a safe and reliable environment for the user. The volume of user attention coupled with this high level of trust can help you reach new customers without trying to drive them away from the sites they like to visit. Rather than relying on obscure platforms to showcase your law firm’s content, place ads with internet behemoths.
Online advertising can be cost effective compared to other media like TV and outdoor. CPM is “cost per thousand”, a common term representing the amount of money needed to generate 1,000 impressions on an ad. On display network ads, the CPM can be as high as $1.20. On Google, the CPM is $0.30. Both numbers are favorable and pale in comparison to the budget it would take to achieve similar success on TV. This is why selecting the right platform is essential to gaining exposure for your ad. This decision can directly affect your costs.
(We have covered this factor in detail in online advertising in a previous blog. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version.) Knowing your audience is key, and creating content that speaks to them is easy if you have the right data to work with. Researching what your typical customer likes or dislikes or accessing first-party data like their browsing history can provide insight into how to create content that feels like it was made just for them. ‘user. Additionally, this knowledge can influence where you choose to display your ad and how much you might end up spending.
Any user who has visited your site, interacted with an ad, liked a social media post, or clicked on one of your law firm’s email blasts in the past may be retargeted with a new ad. In this case, retargeting consists of placing advertisements specifically designed to attract users who have prior knowledge of your law firm through direct contact. In most cases, law firms can realize this benefit through data collected from other marketing efforts. These cataloged interactions are just another way to reassure yourself that the people you’re trying to attract are more likely to be qualified leads.
Co-creation comes last but not least. In short, co-creation results from good exposure, personalization and retargeting, hopefully at a lower cost. Essentially, it’s the other four pros that proverbially fire on all cylinders. When a client has a car accident and is looking for a lawyer, he finds one immediately, and maybe it’s your firm? A big part of co-creation is the feedback you receive from customers when they interact with your ads. This data tells you what they want to see. With co-authoring, the user takes a role in the development of the content, and the guessing game of what might appeal to a user is all but eradicated. When you head to the kitchen to cook a batch of content, users give you the recipe.
Each of these benefits has a value in itself. Understanding how to integrate these principles in tandem can lead to a much smoother and more profitable path to growing your client list.
Online advertising can be a tremendous asset to growing your law firm’s business and raising consumer awareness. While ethics rules in some states may seem like handcuffs, creativity can go a long way to circumvent them, no matter how small your budget. Any advertising campaign aims to promote services, educate customers and generate leads. Adhering to the five main principles of online advertising can pave the way to understanding your ideal customer and bringing in new ones. Expose your content to users on top platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google, where their massive audiences log high volumes of hours online. Use industry metrics like CPM or “cost per thousand” to see which of these platforms offers the most value for your budget. Personalization allows your law firm to create content based on data mined from users similar to your ideal client. Retargeting analyzes user data to see who may have interacted with your content, website or ads in the past and retarget ads to them. Finally, co-authoring is an amalgamation of the first four benefits and an even more user-influenced approach to content creation. Using these concepts as a guide in online advertising can lead to more opportunities in an already booming medium.