At a time like this, it is tough to look at anything with marketing being considered an opportunity. It is common for many law firms and businesses alike to cut marketing first when times are getting tough (contrary to what, you guessed it, marketers would advise you to do). An article from the Harvard Business Review entitled “How to Market in a Recession” during our last inevitable recession, discusses how to market during a recession. Only when it came out, we were experiencing a housing bubble instead of a pandemic. This is a high-level look at eight factors that should be considered, but I find them all to be worth considering. Especially:
Research the Customer
Of course, at this time, there are going to be legal services that simply aren’t needed. Some can “adjust their product portfolios” or move to offer legal services that could be more prevalent at this time but could also focus on more specific aspects of their current practice areas. A criminal lawyer may not have as many DUI cases at this time, but there could unfortunately be more instances of domestic violence. A personal injury lawyer may have fewer auto accident cases, but cases dealing with health and safety conditions may present themselves.
Focus on Family Values, Emphasize Core Values
Reiterating family values (and core values), or even defining them, is important in a time of crisis.
Maintain Marketing Spending
According to the HBR, “This is not the time to cut advertising. It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.” It is important to emphasize “maintain” – I don’t think there are many opportunities that present themselves where many law firms should be increasing their budgets during a crisis or recession but maintaining certainly has its merits.
In an article I discussed with a close SEO colleague of mine recently, Search Engine Land surveyed 1,000 marketers to take the pulse of the current SEO vs PPC debate, which has been ongoing for quite some time but was always sort of a moot point – both can work together simultaneously, but when choosing either, PPC seems short-sighted because of its arguably smaller piece of real estate on SERPs, notorious nature of lower quality leads, contingency of cost pegged to auction-like conditions, and lack of longevity. Either way, there’s a lot to be said about its effectiveness when coupled with SEO as far as additional opportunities of brand repetition.
Are Google Ads a Good Move Right Now?
Using SpyFu to analyze 25 metropolitan markets in the United States, and then up to 5 practice areas per market (Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, Family Law, Bankruptcy, and Probate), we were able to get general trends in spending from around the top 5 spenders in each variation (we got about 110 total). When you look below at every graph we painstakingly put together (which goes up until about mid-March and then all the way back roughly a year before), you’ll see that the “maintaining” as far as paid spend has been just about that – most law firms haven’t pulled back too much on their Ads spend. In some instances, it has been less, but in some instances it has certainly been more. Some law firms have apparently preemptively put more into their ad spend with the notion that their competition would likely pull back. If you have that in some markets, you simply have CPCs that increase when most volume is significantly less. You can avoid this pitfall by looking at your specific area as a case by case situation.
Though we have the availability of Google Ad budgets available, how are the cost of keywords? Since it is auction-based, can we see the average costs fluctuating in the past month or so?
This data unfortunately only goes up to the end of February 2020, so we’ll have to update it with the large shifts we may have seen in March, but we see mostly upward trends up until that point and only a competition level of “high” for bankruptcy. All of this data was collected for the United States as a whole.
The Long or Short Play
As anyone engaging in digital marketing knows, PPC is an ideal way to get a visibility and traffic going for desired keywords in the quickest way possible. Many times, PPC is set in place to get qualified traffic while SEO is ramping up. At this time, any specific keywords a law firm wants to target much sooner than later could be done via Google Ads. This graphic from BestSeoCompanies illustrates these concepts.
Google Ads are known for their fast results, takes perhaps months to become effective instead of years with SEO, has clarity with ROI (and in turn feels like a better ROI), but tapers off when we talk about cost effectiveness (long term) and its sustainability, which all in all is one of the most important factors for all marketing approaches. Because SEO so often suffers from a clarity and measurability standard, many marketers become biased from the factors that associate themselves with this. And frankly, if budgets weren’t a concern, I can almost guarantee that most SEOs wouldn’t be so pedantic about why SEO is a better choice. Altogether, they may be indifferent if there were any more algorithmic seismic shifts than there already have been in the past 12 months.
With all of our collected data and insight up to this point, these would be the steps I would take to consider Google Ads being a viable campaign to try out during this time:
- Stay vigilant with your current marketing budget – if you have money to pull from certain areas (maintain your SEO, I frankly don’t see the benefit of paid social right now based off of pushing to much lower user intent even with lower CPM), start there.
- Think about the shift in your current ideal client’s needs, and form keywords and ad copy around that
- Make sure you have confirmed your core values and how you are operating during a crisis, as they will be demonstrated on your landing pages and/or website when you direct your paid traffic there
- Look below to see if your market is saturated or holding steady with competitor budget, or use a tool like SpyFu to look at your specific market
- Use the keyword planner tool to see if keywords are relatively stable or actually less
- Launch a campaign yourself or work with a consultant/agency
At Market My Market, we’re helping several law firms navigate this challenging and uncertain situation. If you are considering changing your marketing efforts, we can advise you as to what would be the most effective changes. Call us for a free consultation or complete our contact form.
Washington DC Probate 2020 PPC Trend