Pay Per Lead or Pay Per Click – What’s Best for Lawyers?

July 15 , 2022 | BY Matthew Stark

pay per click

Pay per lead and pay per click both have advantages for lawyers. Most firms should be using a combination of both. 

If you’re focusing entirely on a tool that’s supposedly the best, you’re probably missing out on some opportunities. Feel free to fill out our contact form or call (888) 590-9687 at any time. We can discuss your options and work out a comprehensive strategy that targets your unique business development goals.

As usual, there are some exceptions to be discussed and some clarifications to be made. We’ll take the time to dive into some of the details in this article. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Pay Per Lead Overview
  • Pay Per Click Overview
  • Different Goals of Lawyer Advertisements
  • Pros and Cons of PPL
  • Pros and Cons of PPC
  • PPL or PPC: What’s Best for Lawyers?
  • Different Practice Areas
  • Low-Level Diversity Within Individual Strategies
  • Big-Picture Guidance and Planning

Pay Per Lead Overview

When you advertise, you’re paying for specific types of behavior or attention. When you pay per lead, you pay for information that lets you contact prospective clients.

You don’t actually do the advertising in most pay-per-lead systems. Instead, an advertising platform or an aggregate lead provider uses its own advertising methods to generate potential that is routed to you in the form of leads. 

These platforms and service providers may or may not advertise information that is specifically about your firm. If ads do include firm-specific information (this is sometimes the case with PPL programs on advertising platforms), you often have little control over the appearance, function, and content of the message.

Many lead providers use a combination of large-scale, generalized advertising campaigns and affiliate marketing programs. In these cases, you benefit from expensive advertising that generates lots of attention, but you only pay for the leads you can actually use. Furthermore and finally, these lead providers assume the ethical and business risks associated with running large-scale campaigns.

Pay Per Click Overview

Pay per click, or PPC, is a type of advertising in which you pay each time a web user clicks on your ad. You’ll also see this term used generally for the standard search-engine ads that appear before the organic results — even if the goal is not to get people to click.

A bidding system is typically involved, so PPC advertising for lawyers is relatively expensive when compared to other industries and professions. However, it also offers a high level of customizability and adaptability. The various options can focus ads and reduce costs, while automatic tools can adjust ads to improve performance and meet budget requirements.

Most law offices use PPC because it’s easy to get started. It’s unfortunately also easy to throw money away on these campaigns, especially without proper preparation and customization.

Different Goals of Lawyer Advertisements

Your goals matter when it comes to advertisements. For example, consider some of the most popular PPC bidding strategies for law firms:

  • Targeting conversions (i.e. leads): This is the goal of most lawyer ads. Google has a tracking function that can help you target conversions directly, but many attorneys without professional marketing teams miss out on this. 
  • Targeting clicks: Clicks are important to many different types of businesses online, including law offices. If an attorney’s strategy focuses on clicks, they’re probably confident that their website or landing page combined with their campaign targeting will be able to provide the desired conversion rate.
  • Targeting impressions: Few law offices focus on targeting impressions, as this is more of a tool for increasing brand recognition. Firms might consider impression-focused campaigns if also consider advertising services such as billboards, commercials, and print ads.

Depending on your goals for your business, certain types of advertising will be more effective than other types. You’ll be able to choose the right advertising tools once you understand how they can help you achieve your goals.

Pros and Cons of PPL

PPL for lawyers has many benefits. Here are some examples:

  • It lets you ensure a minimum amount of leads per month coming into your office.
  • Leads are typically delivered in real-time.
  • Many lead providers have options for you to pay per call.
  • A third party handles the business and ethical risks of running large-scale advertising campaigns.
  • It’s one of the simplest ways to get leads online.

Buying leads has some drawbacks, too. Here are some weaknesses of PPL:

  • Some lead providers lock attorneys into unnecessarily long-term tier-based contracts without options for adjustment.
  • Non-pay-per-call PPL is dependent on a responsive outbound call process in your firm.
  • PPL typically does not allow much (or any) control over the initial advertising message potential clients see.
  • Some PPL programs, most notably Google Local Services Ads, require you to go through a screening process that takes your online review score into account.

Pros and Cons of PPC

Pay-per-click ads for lawyers have been the standard for a while, and there’s a reason for that. Here are some of the upsides of PPC:

  • You can target advertisements very specifically.
  • There is a relatively high degree of control over the appearance and content of your ad.
  • There are various display and bidding strategies to help you achieve specific business goals.
  • Platforms are easy to start using.
  • You can run multiple campaigns for different purposes and set different budgets for each one.

PPC, for law firms in particular, also comes with a few downsides. Here are some examples:

  • PPC requires knowledge and skill to use efficiently.
  • Keywords for lawyers tend to be expensive compared to other professions.
  • PPC only reaches potential clients who use the advertising platform, e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google.
  • You need a strong website and good landing pages to convert clients using a standard PPC ad.

PPL or PPC: What’s Best for Lawyers?

PPL and PPC are usually better together than they are on their own. That’s because the most efficient way to optimize the advantages and overcome the shortcomings of each of these advertising tools is to use them in combination.

The basic idea for most firms would be to target specific types of cases or practice areas in PPC campaigns. Then, to ensure a minimum amount of leads per month coming into the office, the firm would subscribe to a PPL service.

The exception here is large regional or national firms. These organizations might not need very much pay-per-lead at all due to the fact that they already run campaigns at a similar scale to professional lead-provider services. 

Different Practice Areas

As you probably already know, certain legal practice areas have more competition in advertising than others. This does not affect your choice between PPC and PPL as much as you might think.

These two forms of advertising are linked in that the cost and effectiveness of PPL (from agencies) usually depend partly on the cost and effectiveness of running large PPC campaigns. If a practice area allows for inexpensive, effective PPC campaigns, PPL for that practice area should follow suit.

If you’re interested more in the costs of these programs, some estimate tools are available. For example, you can use Google’s Local Services Ads campaign estimator to get a ballpark monthly budget for that PPL program. 

Diversity Within Individual Strategies

Aside from choosing what combination of PPC and PPL is best for your firm, you may also want to consider which tools and strategies are best within each option. Here are some questions to ask yourself so you get the type of attention and leads that you want for your business:

  • Are you getting enough leads? If not, buy leads to increase the minimum number you get per month.
  • What are your goals? Consider running PPC ad campaigns that target impressions, leads, or clicks, based on your business development goals.
  • Is your strategy balanced? Even if you only want leads PPL and PPC  work together. For example, the latter can help long-term lead-generation goals, such as increasing organic search rank.
  • Are your clients on social media? Make the most of your firm’s social media presence and website by running LinkedIn or Facebook ads in addition to search engine ads.

The bottom line here is that there are a lot of choices for online marketing and advertising, even within both of the general categories we’ve discussed in this article. You can usually cover a lot more ground by pursuing multiple tactics at the same time. This diverse approach is also typically a more efficient use of your budget. Finally, you will probably also want to focus on SEO and content marketing strategies to secure your long-term goals and complement your paid ads.

Big-Picture Guidance and Planning

Luckily, you don’t have to become an expert to get a diverse, well-balanced advertising strategy for your firm. Forward Lawyer Marketing is here to analyze your business, listen to your goals, and devise a plan that works for you. Please call us at (888) 590-9687 or book a free consultation today.