The 3 Components of a Successful Law Firm PPC Campaign

Pay per click advertising for law firms is not for the faint of heart.

The legal vertical – particularly PI –  is one of the most competitive of all PPC advertising categories with clicks often costing hundreds of dollars. This competitiveness is widely known. We’ve been in Facebook chats with other PPC agencies before and as soon we mention our click costs someone says “you must work with lawyers.”

With the costs and stakes as high as they are, a number of digital agencies aren’t particularly interested in focusing on PPC. Admittedly, it is a difficult proposition, but there are strategies that can help your firm maximize its opportunity for positive results.

At Digital Rain, we’ve developed a three-point model and built our service offerings around it. This model represents 3 touch points toward the bottom of the funnel that a prospective new client (PNC) takes prior to becoming a signed case. Each of these touch points serves to move the PNC closer to hiring your firm to represent them. They are: the PPC ad campaign that got the click, the landing page that the PNC visited after the click, and the initial communication – intake – that they have with your firm.

PPC – Primarily Google Ads

The first step is getting in front of your prospect. Pay-per-click advertising is one of the most direct ways to accomplish this.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads bring in 50 percent more lead conversions than organic web traffic. What’s one of the biggest challenge when it comes to creating an effective PPC ad campaign? Is it optimizing the ROI on those expensive legal keywords? Is it beating out the competition? What about reaching qualified searchers and weeding out the irrelevant clicks or calls?

What if we told you that there’s one key component that will help you overcome those challenges? It’s true. While optimizing your PPC campaign involves numerous moving parts, there’s one piece of the puzzle that is absolutely critical. It’s your ad copy.

“Nobody reads advertising. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad,” said advertising legend Howard Luck Gossage.

Ineffective copy can sink the most well-thought-out PPC strategy. You may have invested time in your ad targeting to reach the right searchers, carefully crafted your calls-to-action and identified the keywords with the highest ROI. However, all that effort will be lost if your ad copy isn’t effective. How do you create copy that helps drive quality leads and convert them? Consider these tips:

Compel with Clarity

Clarity for legal ad copy is key to maximizing your PPC ROI. How so? Simply put, attracting the right searchers and weeding out the irrelevant ones helps you reduce cost per click (CPC), Average Conversion Rate (CVR) and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). Lowering those metrics optimizes your campaign and boosts ROI.

To compel the right leads and weed out the wrong ones, remember that most people do not read every word of an ad. They simply scan. That means your keywords must stand out. For example, if you are a personal injury attorney, repeat the word “injury” five or six times. This attracts quality leads and decreases the number of non-injury clients that might click your ad (remember you pay for every click) or call you.

Define Your Target Audience

Who are your prospects and customers?

What are they looking for or trying to accomplish?

When are they usually online and searching for information about your service?

Where are they, both physically and online?

Why are they searching for information and why are you the best choice to fulfill their needs?

This insight helps you define your market and also drives your ad copy.


10 Ad Copywriting Tips to Live By

Clarity is the overarching principle. The clearest headlines almost always beat out any other variations. Above all else, get clarity down.

Here are 10 tips to help you keep it simple.

1. Be relevant. 

The copy has to match your target keyword and the messaging on your landing page. However, being relevant is about more than matching keywords. Your competitors are bidding on the same keywords too. Your ad must address your searcher’s pain point.

People will click your ad because it promises to solve their problem, not because it’s keyword-rich. Before writing your headline, think about what the user wants to accomplish. Does your headline meet their end goal?

2. Use numbers.

Creating ad copy with statistics grabs attention and provides social proof. According to HubSpot, 83 percent of global consumers say they trust social proof recommendations more than any other form of advertising. So, run your numbers and share them. Have you generated impressive results for your clients? How many cases have you won in the last year?

For example, if you are a personal injury attorney, how much money have your clients been awarded over the last year or five years? Share your average win-rate, number of clients, or total years in business.

3. Ask questions.

Searchers looking for legal answers often have a million questions running through their minds. Make sure your ad hits on one of them. Be the solution to their challenge. For personal injury, try something like “Have you been hurt in a car accident?” A family attorney might ask, “Need help finding a divorce attorney?” or “What child custody arrangement is best for my children?”

4. Use emotional triggers.

Emotional triggers spur users to action. While many internet searchers are simply looking for information, legal searchers are looking for solutions to matters that weigh heavy on their minds. Get to the heart of their concerns by crafting copy that solves those weighty matters. Focus on these five triggers:

Trust: Reinforce trust and help searchers feel they can rely on you. Be transparent by showing stats mentioned in No. 2. Show testimonials or use your landing page to link to reviews on appropriate third-party sites. Trust builds if readers feel risk is reduced. For example, if you are a personal injury attorney and clients do not pay unless you win, be sure to state that. Use phrases like “free consultation” or “100 percent satisfaction guaranteed.” Give your firm a human face by showing photos of your team or linking to social profiles.

Value: From buying a car to making grocery purchases, buyers are more price-savvy than ever. The same goes for legal services. They want to avoid buyer’s remorse at all costs. Do you have a price guarantee? How do you compare to your competitors? Do you have a unique fee structure? How about adding a call-to-action that says “Call for a free case review?”

Instant Gratification: People buy products and services that give them instant gratification. They want to feel the effects of their decision right away. That’s challenging in the legal arena, but possible. Include words in your copy such as, today, now, within 24 hours or instant access. Help them feel like a winner right away. For example, a personal injury attorney could use “Call us now to get the money you deserve” as their call-to-action. It makes the user feel like they are on the road to easing their woes, and your firm is going to act quickly.

Hope: Paint a picture of a brighter future. “Get the relief you need” or “We’re here to help you get what you deserve” are two possibilities for personal injury firms.

Fear: Fear doesn’t seem like a positive emotion, but it does drive the decision-making process. The fear of being left out is a strong motivator. Don’t craft a bleak message. Instead, show how your services are the right decision. The user will conclude that not using your services could have negative consequences. For example, try something like “Stop worrying about medical bills from your car accident.” It conveys the fear that those bills will not go away without contacting your firm.

5. Speak to one person.

Hyper-targeted ads are most effective. If you are a searcher looking for a divorce attorney, you are more likely to click an ad that specifically addresses divorce instead of one that only advertises family law. Speak to an individual searcher as if you were meeting with a potential client in person. Remember, Google RSA’s allow you to create over 43,000 different ad combinations. Take advantage of new technology to give potential clients customized content.

6. Don’t use legal jargon.

Don’t be tempted to show your expertise through technical or overly dense language. Remember, clarity is key. Give a concise message that users can digest in just a few seconds. Avoid references to statutes or specific laws.

7. Focus on the reader, not you. 

Don’t focus on your services. Focus on the benefits of doing business with you. What do clients get for working with your firm? Don’t overuse “we.” Talk to your potential clients. Use “you” instead. There’s nothing wrong with mentioning your credentials, experience or reputation, but don’t make your ad look like a resume. Pick a few highlights that specifically relate to how your credentials help your clients.

8. Listen to existing clients.

Your existing clients are a treasure trove of information for ad copy. When you onboard clients, you most likely ask them to complete a questionnaire about themselves. If you don’t, start now. Tell your clients you want to know all about them. Get their story directly from them. What are their pain points? Lift phrases from that questionnaire for your ad messaging. It’s likely their pain points are the same as your potential clients.

9. Think holistically.

Consider how your ad copy fits with the rest of your online strategy. Think of your ad as the start of your messaging road map that leads potential clients to conversion. For example, different ad versions may link to different landing pages. If your ad is about divorce, be sure it takes users to a page that is specifically about divorce.

While some repetition is okay, too much repetition can be distracting. Give your visitors a satisfying experience from start to finish. Make the steps to conversion as clear and easy as possible, starting with your ad.

10. Keep testing.

Every ad is not going to meet all these tips. That’s why it’s critical to test ad variations to see what is effective for your target audience. What’s the easiest way to test? Follow these steps:

  • Go to the “Ads & Extensions” section of your campaign.
  • Determine your highest performing ad.
  • Click the “pencil” icon next to that ad.
  • Select “copy and edit.”
  • Use the Ad Variations feature to test different ads against each other.
  • Look to the bottom of the left-hand menu and select “Drafts and Experiments.”
  • Click the “New Ad Variation” option.
  • Follow the wizard prompts to apply new variations to your selected campaign.

Test out various minor changes. Swap out calls-to-action. Replace entire sections of copy. Try minor changes in headlines. A/B testing your headlines alone has been proven to result in a 127 percent improvement in conversion rates.

Be sure to only test one element at a time so you can identify exactly what factors are improving performance. Remember that Google’s RSAs test for you as well. This feature allows up to 15 headlines and four descriptions. It’s a simple way to perform testing. Use this feature to your advantage.

Determine Your Keywords

Keywords and phrases are the heart of a PPC campaign. The keywords you choose to target tell Google AdWords and other ad platforms which user searches your ads should appear for and tell users what your product or service is about.

Make sure you make heavy use of negative keywords, as well. Negative keywords act as a filter to tell Google which keywords and phrases you don’t want to appear for, helping you reduce wasted spend on clicks that aren’t likely to convert.

Optimize Ads and Landing Pages for Mobile

Research shows that 90% of people move between devices to accomplish their goal, with mobile search having great impact on the purchasing decisions. Ninety-two percent of searchers go on to purchase after a mobile search. Tailoring your ads and landing pages to match this level of intent is key to your mobile PPC success.

Dominate the Screen on Mobile

Second place is the first loser in PPC. Especially on mobile where the screen real estate is far more precious.

If you can land in one of the top spots your ads should own the screen space if they have been designed correctly. You can essentially push the competition right off the page. We’re constantly testing new ad formats to own more screen space.

Also, strongly consider using sitelinks to segment your visitors and get way more relevant (which Google loves).

These are the links that you often see below an ad’s description copy that allows you to link to other relevant areas of your site. Or even better to other relevant landing pages created specifically for this purpose.

PPC Best Practices for Mobile

  • Optimize for a mobile experience from start to finish
  • Enable Ad Extensions across your campaigns
  • Utilize sitelinks to segment prospects for a more custom experience
  • Incentivize mobile searchers with calls to action
  • Analyze performance, continue testing and constantly optimize

Landing Pages

Again, think about the costs of PPC advertising.

Ninety percent of the top 100 most expensive terms and 100 percent of the top 25 most expensive terms are legal keywords. Every time an irrelevant searcher clicks your ad but then realizes your landing page isn’t where they wanted to be, you are wasting money. You are also lowering your quality score, which negatively affects your ranking.

Understanding how expensive PPC can be, do you want to make it difficult for your best prospects to become a qualified lead?

Of course, you don’t.

So why are we asking such a basic, no-brainer question? The answer often doesn’t lie in the ad itself. The answer is often what happens AFTER the prospect clicks an ad (post-click). This is the big disconnect.

After someone clicks your Google Ad, Facebook ad, or any other link to your online content, what happens next?

This is why targeted, easy-to-test, dedicated landing pages are often where we can really move the needle.

Landing pages are designed for one purpose only: to get the prospective new client to reach out to you.

Dedicated landing pages are the natural extension of your PPC ad. They are a dedicated, campaign-specific webpages that drives visitors to complete a single marketing goal or call to action. By dedicated, we mean that the page has (virtually) no ties to your website, and serves only one purpose: getting your visitors to convert through a single call to action.

By campaign-specific, we mean that for each initiative or marketing campaign you run, you should have a tailored page just for that campaign.

If you compare your homepage to a landing page, you’ll see why landing pages are so important to the success of your campaigns.

Your homepage is designed with a more general purpose in mind. It’s your Brand Central Station. It speaks to your overall brand and corporate values and is typically loaded with links and navigation to other areas of your site.

  • Contains many links and navigation points
  • Encourages exploration rather than conversion
  • Designed for many purposes

Think of the links on your pages as leaks. Each link on a page that doesn’t support your conversion goal (such as calling you about a car accident) is a distraction that will dilute your message and reduce your conversion rate.

Landing pages produce better campaign results because – by dedicating themselves to just one action with an attention ratio of 1:1 – they narrow a visitor’s focus and get more people to follow through with your call to action.

As an example, let’s say you wanted to focus on generating more car accident cases this month.  First you would create a separate lead generation campaign in Google. Then to get the highest conversion rates and encourage the most phone calls, you’d send that campaign’s traffic to a dedicated landing page instead of your homepage.

Once the prospect clicks this ad they would be taken to a custom landing page designed just for car accident prospects.

You are matching the landing page with the intent of the search, and only giving them one option…tap to call your office!

We have helped clients improve their conversion rates from 3% to upwards of 30% using proven post-click strategies and techniques. The strategy comes in a number of formulas, but the most common is something like:

  • Restate their specific problem
  • Provide a solution
  • Answer all of their doubts
  • Build trust with GOOD testimonials and reviews
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Reinforce points 1 and 2
  • Split test and test different variations continuously 

There you have it. The building blocks of a well-designed landing page!


As our friend and legal marketing expert Harlan Schillinger likes to say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” This is particularly true of the intake process.

You’re spending your precious marketing budget to run your Google Ads PPC campaign. By failing to focus on the internal call intake process, you might be sabotaging that investment. Maximize your PPC campaign by optimizing your call intake process. Here’s how.

Avoid the Pitfalls of an Automated Phone System

Many firms have turned to automated systems to manage the increased call intake from their PPC campaigns. Automated phone systems help staff manage their time and workflow. However, they are not received positively by consumers. Seventy-five percent of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live person. This is especially true in the legal arena, where you have callers who are reaching out during one of their most vulnerable moments.

Having to listen to multiple menus, only to get re-routed and led to a voicemail is frustrating. In fact, according to an American Bar Association benchmark study on the call intake process, 11 percent of calls lasted less than 10 seconds. The most likely explanation? Callers were frustrated because they could not reach a real person. That means your potential client just moved on, probably to one of your competitors.

Why Automated Systems Don’t Work

Consider these five reasons automated systems aren’t the best solution for law firms.

  1. Clients have nuanced requests. No two clients are alike. Automated systems increase frustration when none of the options seem to fit the client’s reason for calling.
  2. They leave a bad first impression. Customers form an impression of a business within the first seven seconds. When is the last time you encountered an automated recording, and thought, “Wow. That was great customer service?” The moment the phone is answered, the customer’s experience begins. Is it positive or negative when a new client dials your number?
  3. They are not adaptable. What happens when a caller is three layers into the automated menu and they realize they needed to choose another option? Or, what if they have a reason for calling that fits into two menu options? Once again, frustration results.
  4. It’s impersonal. Whether you are dealing with personal injury, family or criminal law, potential clients are looking for someone with whom they can share their personal problems. An automated system does not project a perception of a trusted, reliable advisor that personally cares for the caller’s needs.
  5. Automation results in hang-ups. Frustrated callers will simply hang up, and try another option.

The Power of Talking to a “Real Person”

So, we’ve established that automated systems are not an effective way to handle your call intake process. What about simply answering calls yourself? Odds are you (or your staff) can’t realistically pick up the phone 24/7, and that means you risk losing clients. In fact, recent studies have found that 80 percent of callers would rather hang up than leave a message

We live a world of instant gratification. Consumers expect immediate information, and most of the time it’s at their fingertips. If your potential client can’t reach you with their important matter, they’ll just keep going down the search engine results page until they reach an office that answers. How can you possibly handle answering calls 24/7? If you have the staff and budget, you could develop an after-hours schedule for employees to answer phones. If that’s not a realistic option, you could outsource your intake calls, at least for evenings and weekends. Depending on the level of service you need, third-parties offer simple call services and full intake services.

Call Services vs. Full Intake Services

So, what’s the difference?

  • Call services guarantee that your calls will be answered by a real person 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. That means they can take your calls during evenings, weekends, holidays or even during the day if your staff just isn’t able to get to the phone. Using a call service that specializes in legal firms means they are trained to distinguish between calls that require a live transfer at that moment and ones that can wait until a later time, optimizing your firm’s time management. Some services will even set up new consultations, manage appointments and confirm court times. Additionally, they have the resources to offer foreign language support. All client interactions are documented in your CRM.
  • Intake response services are broader than simple call services. They often handle the entire intake process. In addition to all the call services, they screen calls to verify potential new clients, asking scripted questions and communicating your practice’s process and policies. They often fill out intake forms as well. You get verified, complete client data. Full intake services are an extension of your in-house staff.

The most effective call intake strategy will depend on your firm’s needs. The key takeaway, however, is whether you use a service or your internal staff, make sure your potential clients can talk to a live person. Otherwise, you are losing clients and wasting your PPC campaign money.

Call Intake: Best (and Worst) Practices

If your staff has picked up the phone, you’ve already gained an edge over your competitors, one-third of whom routinely neglect their phone calls. Effective call intake, though, goes deeper than just picking up the phone. Staff training will ensure that all clients receive courteous and consistent service. Consider our best and worst practices.

Worst Practices

  • Putting callers on hold before even speaking with them.
  • Practicing cold transfers. Cold transfers are when you just transfer to another staff member without letting them know why the client is calling, forcing the client to repeat their reason for calling.
  • Transferring a call without verifying that the other staff is going answer.
  • Leaving calls on hold too long.
  • Pushing the client for more information than they comfortably want to give. This practice makes it seem like you are “all about business,” not interested in the caller personally.
  • Interrupting while the client is speaking.
  • Answering calls with too much background noise.
  • Using legal jargon or language that is too complex. This is often perceived as condescending and unsympathetic.

Best Practices

  • Smile. A smile will come across in your voice. Answering with a pleasant tone will put the caller at ease.
  • Be sympathetic. Treat every caller as if you personally know them and sympathize with their situation.
  • Listen. Let the caller explain their situation completely before asking for required information.
  • Connect. Clients will be more likely to choose an attorney with whom they have a personal connection. That goes for the intake staff too. They reflect the personality of the firm. Get the caller’s first name upfront, and use it throughout the call to show personal interest.
  • Document. Leave your CRM or other intake software up and ready to go all the time. Use headsets so your hands are free to type and take notes.
  • Train. Prepare staff to handle the most common scenarios. Introduce role-playing to help your staff prepare for difficult or hysterical clients. Staff should know when to escalate a call. Whether it’s a high-value potential client or someone with a high-value issue, your intake staff must recognize when a call needs the attention of a senior member of the firm.

Track and Monitor

The customer experience is the new battlefield, according to researchers at Gartner. That is true in every industry, but is especially true in the legal sector. Your PPC campaigns will fall flat if your client’s experience is negative. That experience starts with the call intake process. In determining if your customer experience is on target, data is king. Forbes explains, “By using advanced analytics, companies can make better use of their customer and user experiences, leading to higher satisfaction — and loyalty — in the long term.” Google provides all kinds of data about your PPC campaign to evaluate its effectiveness. However, tracking and monitoring your intake calls provides valuable insights as well. When matched with PPC analytics, you can track your ROI and find holes in your process.

Track via Reporting Tools and Case Management Software

Utilize available technology to monitor your intake process and track leads. An effective CRM will help you manage intake workflow. Most give you the ability to feed leads directly from your website. Data from phone calls can be entered by staff or your third-party service. Parameters can be set to highlight leads that need immediate follow-up, and reporting tools help ensure no lead slips through the cracks. Additionally, using software to track your leads helps to streamline staff workflow. For example, if a potential client submits a web form and calls the office, your staff will immediately recognize the same person is responsible for both interactions, eliminating duplicate work.

Assessing Your Process

Recording every point of contact, and following the client through the entire intake process will help you assess your lead nurturing process, identify trends, improve your conversion rate and optimize your PPC campaign. Train your intake team to capture every lead and input consistent data. Even when you lose a potential client, valuable data can be gleaned. Every lost lead contributes to helping you understand what marketing strategies are working and where your lead nurturing process needs improvement. Monitoring is such a critical component of PPC success that many agencies who specialize in PPC campaigns, such as Digital Rain, offer call monitoring for two key purposes:

  • To better understand which keywords are driving the most productive calls.
  • To provide intake advice on how you can prevent losing good leads.

How Many Leads are You Losing?

According to Alert Communications, a leading legal call service, law firms should have a lead loss benchmark of one percent. The industry as a whole has a lead loss rate of over eight percent. Achieving a 99 percent capture rate means you are gathering almost every lead from every source, including calls and web forms. What’s your benchmark? If leads are slipping through the cracks, you’re not just losing revenue from those potential clients. You’re decreasing the ROI from your marketing campaigns.

Don’t sink your PPC campaign before getting started. Evaluate your intake call process, train your staff, and implement data tracking and monitoring strategies. The results will speak for themselves.