Introduction- To maximize the value of analytics and reporting solution investments, law firms need a…
Pay-per-click or PPC advertising is all around us. Whether you’re conducting a Google search or scrolling through social media, there are PPC ads. Pay-per-click marketing is a form of digital advertising where businesses display ads on sites like Google (paid search) and Facebook (paid social) and only pay when someone clicks on the said ad. PPC ads are considered to be a low-cost and effective form of advertising, making them such a popular choice for businesses of all sizes.
Pay-per-click is a form of advertising that allows the advertiser to only pay when a click occurs. The cost per click is determined generally by an auction that takes place, which looks at how much others are willing to pay for the click.
One of the most popular forms of PPC is search engine advertising, which allows advertisers to pay for ad placement in a search engine’s sponsored links. This works when someone searches for a keyword related to their business offering. For example, if we bid on the keyword ‘Google Shopping Management’ our ad might show up at the top of the Google results page.
HOW DOES PAY PER CLICK WORK? –
Cost per click varies from ad network to ad network. That means Google cost per click won’t be the same as Microsoft cost per click. As you can imagine, cost is dictated by supply and demand.
That’s why Google Ads cost per click generally costs more than an ad with Bing (on a per-click basis, anyway). Google is a much more popular search engine.
The cost per click will also depend on the keywords you’ve chosen for your ad. Fortunately, both Bing and Google tell you the cost up front.
To see what each click on an ad will cost you, just head over to Google Ads and select “Keyword Planner” under the “Tools” menu at the top. Select “search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” and plug in a keyword related to your brand.
PAY-PER-CLICK MODELS –
Commonly, pay-per-click advertising rates are determined using the flat-rate model or the bid-based model.
In the flat rate pay-per-click model, an advertiser pays a publisher a fixed fee for each click. Publishers generally keep a list of different PPC rates that apply to different areas of their website. Note that publishers are generally open to negotiations regarding the price. A publisher is very likely to lower the fixed price if an advertiser offers a long-term or a high-value contract.
In the bid-based model, each advertiser makes a bid with a maximum amount of money they are willing to pay for an advertising spot. Then, a publisher undertakes an auction using automated tools. An auction is run whenever a visitor triggers the ad spot.
HOW THE PPC MODEL WORKS –
The pay-per-click model is primarily based on keywords. For example, in search engines, online ads (also known as sponsored links) only appear when someone searches a keyword related to the product or service being advertised. Therefore, companies that rely on pay-per-click advertising models research and analyze the keywords most applicable to their products or services. Investing in relevant keywords can result in a higher number of clicks and, eventually, higher profits.
The PPC model is considered to be beneficial for both advertisers and publishers. For advertisers, the model is advantageous because it provides an opportunity to advertise products or services to a specific audience who is actively searching for related content. In addition, a well-designed PPC advertising campaign allows an advertiser to save a substantial amount of money as the value of each visit (click) from a potential customer exceeds the cost of the click paid to a publisher.
HOW MUCH DOES PAY-PER-CLICK COST? –
Average CTR: PPC for law firms is efficient. On average, click-through-rates (CTR) of 2% or higher are considered good. The legal industry averages 4.45% on Google AdWords.
Average CPC: The cost-per-click (CPC) for lawyers ranges typically between $5 and $300 per click. That is a huge difference.
The factors that affect CPC include:
Competition – AdWords is an auction-based system. So, the more people who bid on a given keyword, the higher that CPC will be. Example: The phrase “Car Accident Lawyer” may cost $50 in one city but $150 in another;
Quality Score – As mentioned above, Google cares about the quality of your content. The score they assign your page will affect how much above or below the average you pay for any given click.
Forecast Your Cost-Per-Acquisition – With so much variability, how can a firm estimate how much it’ll cost them to sign one new case. In other words, how can they forecast their cost per acquisition (CPA)? To do so, they’ll need to know a few things: (i) Cost-Per-Click (CPC); (ii) Website Conversion Rate (how many visits convert into one inquiry); (iii) Firm Conversion Rate (how many inquires convert into one client).
The magic formula for Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA):
- CPC / Conversion Rate / Firm Conversation Rate
For the sake of illustration, let’s say a firm pays $125 per click, their site converts at a rate of 4%, and their development staff converts 30% of web inquiries into clients.
Plug those numbers into the formula: $125 / .04 / .30 = $10,416 CPA
WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR TYPES OF PPC?
There are countless ad networks that off this system. However, some are more popular than others.
At the top of the list is Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords). That is perhaps the biggest.
On the other side of Ads is AdSense. That’s the program that webmasters use to run Ads ads on their sites. They get paid when visitors click on the ads.
THE VARIOUS ELEMENTS OF PPC
There are several elements in PPC management. It’s important to understand each one of them if you want to be successful in online advertising.
The Campaign – A campaign consists of a variety of ad groups related to a particular marketing strategy. For example, you might run a holiday-themed campaign in December to reel in consumers shopping for Christmas presents.
The Ad Group – As the name implies, an ad group consists of a group of ads related to a particular campaign. If we stick with the holiday theme, you might run one ad group advertising food baskets as a Christmas present and another one advertising ornaments.
Keywords – You’ll want to associate your ad group with specific keywords so the ad network knows where to run your advertisements. For our example, you might select “Trusts and Wills” as a keyword for one ad group and “Estate Plan” as a keyword for the other ad group.
Ad Text – It’s possible that ad text is the most overlooked component of a campaign. Marketers are under the impression that they can run any kind of “look here” text and people will come flocking to their site. The reality is that it’s best to get a professional copywriter involved when creating ad text. It’s also important to ensure that the ad text is related to the keywords.
Landing Page – When people click on your ad, you want them to “land” somewhere, right? That’s your landing page. It should match your ad text in terms of keyword relevance.
MANAGING PAY PER CLICK ADS
A benefit of pay per click ads is the ability to see results relatively quickly. The number of telephone calls and contact form submissions in response to pay per click ads provides valuable insight into their effectiveness.
Law firms need to keep an eye on these numbers using the analytics provided by the advertisement publishers. If you determine that a particular ad campaign is performing poorly, you can make necessary adjustments, such as:
Changing keyword targets to cheaper options.
Changing keyword targets to higher converting options.
Modifying the targeted number of clicks to increase profits or cut losses.
Modify your ad content.
Improve your website landing page to increase client conversions.
These changes are relatively easy to make and they can be quickly tested for effectiveness. Poorly performing keywords waste money. Take the time to routinely evaluate your pay per click ads and make changes when appropriate.
IMPORTANT ADVANTAGES OF PPC –
You now know that PPC marketing can be wildly expensive, competitive, and difficult to get right. But when you optimize your campaigns, all of the negatives go out the window, and you’re left with only positives.
If you haven’t experimented much with PPC, you may not be aware of the advantages you are missing out on. There are several compelling reasons to make PPC a key part of an integrated digital strategy.
Here are the main benefits of PPC.
Build brand awareness – Brand awareness measures how recognizable your brand is to your target audience. Create ads targeting your brand name as the keyword. Otherwise, your competitors could create ads that appear when someone searches for your law firm and direct that traffic to themselves.
Get your ads in front of the right people at the right time – There’s a lot you can do with ads. For example, someone may have clicked on one of your ads but didn’t go further. They showed interest but ultimately didn’t reach out. You can choose to target these exact people with remarketing campaigns. By switching up your ad copy, you may be able to win these “missed opportunities.”
Control your advertising budget – You’re in complete control of your budget and can spend as much or as little as you want. As long as you’re seeing a positive ROI, you’re a success. If you know your target audience is more willing to convert during certain times of the year, you can increase your ad budget during those periods.
Get immediate results – Perhaps the best argument for PPC advertising is the ability to get instant results. As soon as your ad is sent out into the universe, you’ll start attracting visitors to your website. The alternative is SEO for lawyers, which can take months if not years to show results.
Monitor how your ads are performing and adjust ad spend accordingly – You should regularly monitor your ad spend to get an idea of ROI. PPC platforms like Google and Facebook give you all the tools you need to get valuable insights into your ad performance. From there, you can adjust target audiences, keywords, ad copy, and other variables until your ad is performing optimally.
DO’S OF PPC:
Know what keywords to use- Researching and understanding what keywords to use will help you achieve the results you want from your PPC campaign. Google AdWords is a great tool to help you accomplish this,
Design ads you want to display- Understanding your company’s buyer persona will help you craft the right ad to attract the right audience. The goal is to getting your audience to click on the paid link.
Know your budget- You can customize your budget to be spread out throughout a certain time period. It’s important to set a budget and spend it as effectively as possible.
Know what keywords to use- Researching and understanding what keywords to use will help you achieve the results you want from your PPC campaign. Google AdWords is a great tool to help you accomplish this.
Test your PPC campaign- You should continually test your PPC campaign so that you can update and fix your campaign to help drive up your CTR (click-through rates) and conversions and lower your CPCs (cost per click).
DON’TS OF PPC:
Generic keywords- Don’t use it. You’d think generic keywords are beneficial in getting visitors to click on your paid link, but really it’s a fast way to use up your budget and produce zero conversions.
Send all traffic to homepage- When customers are searching for information the link they are clicking on should lead them to the site with the information they searched for. This will lower your bounce rate by not wasting their time and sending them directly where they want to go.
Forget about your landing page- Only send visitors to your landing page if it is complete. Your landing page is very powerful and an unfinished landing page could be the reason for low conversion rates.
PPC TRENDS: WHAT LAW FIRMS NEED TO KNOW –
Pay-per-click continues to be a great way for law firms to boost their online reach and get customers without any wait. However, PPC for lawyers is constantly evolving, which means you need to keep up with the trends to get the most out of this marketing tactic.
If you want to stay ahead of the competition and make good use of your budget, here are some trends you cannot afford to miss:
Smart Bidding Evolves
The concept of artificial intelligence (AI) is not lost on the pay per click world. The next biggest thing with pay per click ads is the use of “Smart Bidding.”
Stripped to its essence, smart bidding has a computer doing the bidding on pay per click keywords for you, rather than you manually bidding on keywords yourself. The “smart” in smart bidding is because – like the algorithms on YouTube that try to “learn” the content you want to watch – a smart bidding computer will adapt its bidding strategies as it learns more about the pay per click market.
Like with smart bidding, you can automate virtually all of your pay per click marketing activities. You essentially “teach” the computer your target audience and keywords, and then let the pay per click algorithms do their thing. Of course, you will be able to keep your “hand on the wheel of this self-driving car” with management tools to keep track of the pay per click campaign.
Social Media and PPC
It is a good idea to consider social media in your pay per click strategies. That means focusing your pay per click ads on social media platforms. Of course, Google and Facebook are still the big boys in the room, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are platforms you should not ignore.
Amazon’s Paid Advertising
In case you thought that Amazon was not already in all facets of our lives, Amazon is now looking into the world of advertising. In fact, it is becoming the third-largest and fastest-growing advertiser. While law firms may not think Amazon would be a good place to advertise, don’t forget that when people are looking to buy law-related books, a well-placed firm ad might just lead to a client.
When it comes to a choice on whether a user wants to read or watch a video, watching a video wins out nine times out of ten. So, consider looking to have a short, less-than-90-second ad on Google’s video network – YouTube.
Targeting Your Audience
One major trend that is continuing from last year is the notion of audience targeting. Google Ads in particular gives users the ability to more narrowly target audiences, which means that you will get more bang for your buck when using pay per click.
What is visual searching? Well, it is using a picture as a search query, rather than words. So, if you want to buy a tennis racket, just put the image of the one you want in the search query, and you will get links to where you can buy it. Law firm applicability? Unfortunately, it’s not very high, but it is a cool feature that will gain traction moving forward.
Voice searching, on the other hand, where you initiate a search query with your voice rather than text, will be beneficial to law firms. Did you know that it is estimated that 50% of all online searches will be initiated by voice by the end of 2020? While paid voice search advertising has not gone mainstream, it will be here before you know it.
Integrating PPC and SEO
For all pay per click advertisers, including law firms, syncing your SEO with your pay per click advertising will lead to better results. That means that the keywords that help your SEO should be embedded in your pay per click ad copy as well.
ROI is Not the Only Game in Town
It is a new trend that returns on investment are not the only benchmark on the success of an ad campaign. “Brand awareness” might become another way in which to measure the power of a pay per click campaign. So, those low-performing keywords might still have some use to them.
Setting a PPC marketing plan leads to less waste of valuable time and money.
Set terms like PPC and SEO aside and focus on the following:
Marketing goals: List your firm’s current and future goals.
Analyze the competition: Identify a few key competitors and note what they do well.
SWOT statement: Write your firm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in one sentence.
Budget: Decide how much you are willing to spend on a PPC campaign with a starting amount and an amount for maintaining the campaign.
Schedule: Consider how long you want your law firm PPC campaign to run, allowing for flexibility.
Management and roles: You and your team know the firm best. Decide who leads and who supports.