Online advertising might be one of the most untapped digital marketing tactics among law firm marketers. If your firm hasn’t explored options for digital advertising, it’s not too late. When evaluating your law firm’s overall digital strategy, think of online advertising as another marketing channel.

Your firm’s content distribution strategy might look something like this:

But have you considered other channels that might boost your visibility exponentially with minimal effort and nominal marketing dollars?

This is a comprehensive, 360-degree marketing strategy. For this blog post, let’s just focus on this channel:

Why Consider Online Advertising?

While many digital channels can take time to produce results and often target a broad audience—SEO is one such tactic, geared toward a larger audience—paying for ads online provides:

  • An immediate channel to reach your market
  • The ability to hyper-target a campaign to a desired audience
  • A digital medium where changes can be made quickly and in real time to improve conversions
  • Detailed metrics to measure conversions and ROI

Where Can Your Law Firm Advertise Online?

The Internet offers a variety of places to run online ads. The most popular include:

  • Search engines, e.g., Google and Bing
  • Social media platforms, e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Third-party websites, including industry publications.

What Types of Online Ads Are Appropriate for Law Firm Marketing?

1. Text ads in search results: Probably the most commonly used ads, these appear at the top or on the side of search engine results pages. Known as pay-per-click (PPC) ads, they are configured and purchased through Google, Bing or other search engines. If your firm has difficulty “showing up” in organic search results for specific keywords, purchasing PPC ads can provide immediate exposure. It’s important to conduct good keyword analysis and test out multiple versions of ad language to refine the targeting and messaging of the ad campaign. Since Google and other search engines price ad placement on a bidding system, clicks can be expensive. A firm should always assess their campaign strategy and measure the cost of conversions to determine whether PPC ads deliver a positive ROI.

2. Display ads (also referred to as banner ads): These visual ads appear all over the Internet—in sidebars, top banners, footer banners and even within article text. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, encouraging viewers to take an action with moving animation or big buttons. Ad space can be purchased through the Google Display Network or other ad networks. Display ads can be used to promote a practice area or a speaking event. They can provide a free article download or offer an event signup portal. When creating a display ad campaign, it’s important to ensure the target market is clearly defined and the ad offer speaks to that specific audience. Pricing is based on a cost-per-click (CPC) or a cost-per-1,000-impressions (CPM) model. As with any online advertising campaign, you need a clear conversion metric to judge your ad performance.

3. Social media ads: While social media advertising varies from platform to platform, the most common places for law firms to advertise are on LinkedIn and Facebook. To a lesser extent, Twitter also offers options for paid advertising.

Social media ads appear in the right sidebar, like this one on LinkedIn:

Law firms can also spend additional money to “boost” content that has been shared as an update (LinkedIn) or post (Facebook). Boosting a post helps your content reach more people outside your organic social reach. Here’s another LinkedIn example:

Notice the personalization, clear call to action (CTA) and moderate sense of urgency. If you’re already running a content marketing program for your law firm, the cost for creating content, posting and sharing has already been spent. For a fraction of this cost, you can boost distribution with social media advertising. For example, just spending another $50 to boost an update on LinkedIn can drive significant targeted readers to your content.

What Are Important Considerations When Creating Online Ad Campaigns?

  • Landing page optimization: Almost every online advertisement clicks through to a landing page. When developing landing pages, keep in mind that this might be the visitor’s first interaction with your firm. The landing page content has to relate directly to the ad that was clicked, and the directions for completing the desired action have to be crystal clear.
  • Customized messaging: Each ad should be customized to resonate with its target audience. Social media sites even offer the ability to personalize ad delivery (see the LinkedIn example above).
  • Clear call to action (CTA): Very clearly indicate what you want the viewer to do on your ad. Buttons and animations help to draw attention to the prompt versus text links, which can be overlooked.
  • Direct the visitor’s action: Once viewers have clicked on your ad, you need to direct their actions very clearly on the landing page using text, visuals and a layout that facilitates navigation. Common actions for law firm online ads include: completing a form, subscribing to a publication or an email campaign, downloading an article or brochure, or contacting the law firm or attorney.
  • Facilitate data collection: How much information can you capture from your visitor once he/she has clicked? Online forms offer the ability to capture valuable client data. For instance, require people to complete a brief form before downloading an article to collect name, email address and any other information that could be of value.
  • Measure results: Monitor the metrics you established when setting up the ad campaign. If something isn’t working, change it.
  • Conversions, not impressions: Don’t be misled by big “impressions” numbers. Advertisers like to include the number of “impressions” or how many people were served the ad. This is not an accurate indication of how many people actually saw your ad. Instead, focus on conversions—how many people completed the action you requested in the ad.

This broad look at online advertising for law firms gives you a general overview of where to start if you are considering online ad campaigns. If you would like more detailed information, feel free to contact me, Melanie Trudeau, at mtrudeau@jaffepr.com or 970.376.7746.