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A Better Digital Advertising Strategy for Criminal Defense Attorneys
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A Better Digital Advertising Strategy for
Criminal Defense Attorneys

It’s not easy to build great ‘criminal defense’ advertising campaigns in AdWords. Let’s be honest, it can feel like you’re trying to carve an impossible path through solid rock.

New Example started with our first AdWords client in the legal space in early 2016. We might be new to your industry, but we’re not to ours. We’ve helped open digital advertising channels for small and medium businesses since 2010 and helped our clients adapt to change and increased competition year after year. That experience has allowed us to create a better advertising strategy for law firms. Your local competitors can be ruthless; national law firm marketing firms play in your backyard and drive up your advertising costs. For the past year, New Example has been figuring out a way to beat these problems, and now we’re ready to share our solutions.

This is a ‘PPC for Lawyers Guide’ on how to use AdWords to help your law firm win new clients in this legal marketing landscape. We’ve gathered up-to-date industry trends and exposed some of our best tactics that you can start using today.

To Thrive In A Crowded Market You’ll Need Great Ad Copy

Here’s Our Best Performing Ads in 2017 for Q1 and Q2

With more than four law firms always in front of the customer promoting their expertise and record of success, your message has to stand out. So, what does a stand out message look like? Check out these two highly successful ads we wrote for our clients in Q1 and Q2:

Click-Through-Rate: 6%; Conversion Rate: 29%

Click-Through-Rate: 5%; Conversion Rate: 22%

These ads received a 5-6% CTR (click-through-rate). What does that mean? The average CTR for the legal services industry in Q1 of 2017 was 2.9%. That means if 100 people saw an ad from your competitor, they received three visits to their website. If 100 people saw an ad from a campaign by New Example, our clients received six visits to their website – double the engagement.

We battle-tested these ads against the competition and they performed brilliantly. If your ads need some dusting off, then please refer to these high achieving examples and make them work for you.

Remember, effective ads take many rounds of edits. These final ads went through no less than six edits when we were testing them. And we’ve since moved on to new versions. User behavior changes, people grow weary of seeing the same message so we are constantly adapting the message. A campaign that is constantly evolving has the best chance to beat the competition. Knowing what message will connect with your clients can be hard to determine, but in this guide, we’ve shared a strategy for that too.

Get reliable insights by having at least three ads always running in your campaigns.

How do you address
rising costs in AdWords?

One way is to make sure you’re
only paying for valid traffic.

If your daily campaign budget is running out, the solution is not always to increase it, nor should you conclude your budget is being exhausted by increased bids from the competition.

Invalid traffic can eat up your daily budget quickly. These are visits from people who saw your ad and clicked on it, but they were looking for something completely different. When your budget runs out (due to anything) AdWords suggests increasing your limits. If you’re not monitoring your campaign performance closely, this is the wrong action to take. There are a few fixes you can try first, that will avoid spending more of your money.

Check your search term report and update your negative keyword list. If you haven’t done this before, these are definitely improvements you can make to eliminate invalid traffic, allowing you to reach more qualified customers without ever changing the budget.

There are never-before-seen search queries your clients are using everyday, and the best way you can connect with them is to use broad keywords to match your ad. Making these type of keywords part of your campaign will trigger the most ad impressions, and help catch these opportunities.

This strategy poses a problem though: if you open up your campaign to capture more of these “wild” search terms, how do you keep the bad traffic out? That’s where your negative keyword lists come to the rescue. These lists are essential walls in a campaign that keep invalid traffic away from your ads. New Example’s average number of negative keywords for our client accounts is 1,600, which is a mixture of common nouns, proper nouns, business names, and geographic locations.

We’ve shared our best performing broad keywords for the first half of 2017 in Table A. Make sure to follow our next tips for making a negative keyword list if you experiment with this match type for your campaigns.

16% of all Google searches are brand new everyday.

Running broad keywords means you will need a great negative keyword list. You can find your first opportunities for this list by looking at the search terms report in AdWords. We recommend analyzing this list daily for the previous day. Depending on how aggressive and robust your campaigns are, you should have plenty of data to review day-by-day. Comb through this report, decide if you can exclude keywords such as other law firm names, searches for legal services outside of your core business, and searches for law firms in other parts of the country.

Here’s a shortcut we like to employ to quickly setup a negative keyword list for competitors. Add the first and last name of every attorney in your area (except your own of course). It takes time to do, but it will save you hundreds of dollars. This information is already easy to find as well. For our clients in Florida, we go to The Florida Bar website directory and do a filtered search for lawyers in your county. Add the list of names to your negative keyword list, and you’ll at least be certain you won’t continue to pay for invalid traffic hoping to get to other law firms.

Table A
Top Keywords for Criminal Defense

KeywordCTRConv. Rate
Criminal Defense Attorneys9.33%25%
Attorney for Misdemeanor8.49%22%
Violation of Probation6.33%20%
Criminal Record Expunged5.22%26%
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Are your mobile ads making an impact?

Fact: Clients Search for Your Legal Services on Mobile Devices, More Than Desktop or Tablet

The largest segment of new clients for your law firm is found on mobile. New Example runs campaigns targeting all devices, which is not a new strategy for law firms, or any business. We do this because month-after-month the majority share of our clients’ leads come from mobile.

Mobile 61%
Desktop 34%
Tablet 5%

If you’re just starting a digital campaign for your law firm, adopt an AdWords strategy that includes mobile. Make sure you’re prioritizing strategies that will help you reach your mobile customer. Here’s four things you can to do today to make your campaigns stronger for the mobile audience, to ensure you’re a part of the opportunity set:

These are tactics that will give your campaigns the opportunity to capture the mobile user. Check your reports: you should be acquiring a majority of new clients from your mobile channel. If that’s not happening, try implementing the adjustments we shared.

Avvo.com released a study in 2016 about “The New Legal Consumer.” They surveyed 899 legal consumers in the U.S. and found that 42% of them are online researching an issue, and 31% are online researching lawyers.

This insight matches the data above, which is a performance report snapshot for one of our legal clients. For all of 2017, mobile has been the strongest channel in three performance areas (impressions, clicks, and conversions). Another finding from the Avvo report, 42% of legal consumers are actively hiring a lawyer directly from their digital device. If you haven’t already, it’s time you made mobile a priority.

A majority of new clients should originate from your mobile channel.

Rich Customer Data,
Just Below The Surface

Your campaigns can tell you more than just cost-per-conversion.

If you know how to slice the data, your AdWords campaigns can give you reports beyond cost and conversion metrics. They can tell you exactly what your customers want to know, which you can use to plan a campaign that feels personal and connected – meeting your clients’ needs and concerns. Here’s our story about one law firm we work with; how we found and used new client interest in “reviews” to their advantage.

One report we run frequently for our campaigns analyzes search term traffic for the account, to see what real search terms people are using that trigger the ads we run and evaluate if we are meeting our benchmarks for click-through-rate, conversion rate, and other metrics.

When we ran this analysis in February 2017 and we noticed a 31% CTR for search terms that included our client’s name and the word “reviews.” It was clear that our client’s customers were searching for reviews about their law firm. How can we use this to help our campaigns? What else does this information reveal about how their customer makes decisions when choosing a law firm?

Since people were using the word ‘review’ in their search phrase, we added those keywords and other related ideas to their account:

  • Defense lawyer reviews
  • DUI lawyer reviews
  • Criminal attorney reviews

Then we wrote new ad copy to include the word reviews, and built new landing pages for the ads featuring client testimonials. We also advised our client to start building new reviews on the organic search result sites where their name appeared: Avvo, Facebook, and Yelp.

After six weeks of testing new ad copy and modifying the landing pages, the metrics changed for “review” search terms significantly: 64.41% click-through-rate for ads, and a 31.58% conversion rate.

Another piece of insight we picked up during this process: 50% of people who use the search term ‘reviews’ in conjunction with the name of a law firm have visited the website before.

Build custom reports that show you how customers found you, then personalize your message for their interests.

These review-focused customers are looking for any information they can find about what it’s like to work with you, so it’s important to clean up and strengthen those external reviews in the organic listings. It’s also strategically helpful to use ads to keep your name, and a positive message, in front of people while they look for those reviews.

The takeaway here: ‘review’ focused searches have an impact on whether a lawyer is getting that new case. These insights are hanging out in our clients’ campaigns, ready to guide us. We just had to take the time to look. For more ideas on how to connect with your next customer, take a look at Table B of add-on terms that we pulled from our clients’ accounts.

Table B
Add-On Terms Used to Find Law Firms – June 2017

Keyword TrendsNumber of Times Searched
First [offense]126

Is your law firm ready for a better digital advertising strategy?

Now that you’ve read our better advertising plan for law firms, we hope you’ll try out the tactics for yourself. If you have any questions you can always give us a call – our consultations are free. A New Example marketing technologist is ready to review our methodologies with you.

New Case Study:
AdWords Upgrade for Criminal Defense Attorney

The strategies in this guide were applied to the AdWords campaign for a law firm in Florida. Read about their results to see how the tactics can work for you.

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What sets New Example Internet Marketing apart?

Google Premier Partner Interview – May 2017

Antonio Castillo, Principal Marketing Technologist at New Example Internet Marketing, chats with Google Premier Partner Account Manager Amy Gold. They discuss how our marketing technologists get to know our clients, specialize in many services, and are always ready to listen.





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