If you are using an online marketing firm that focuses on a particular area of business, such as legal, medical or dental, chances are you are not getting what you pay for. In fact, your agency could be costing you much more than you ever imagined, without you ever even knowing it.
With over 1.3 million attorneys in the United States, the competition for available clients and cases can be brutal. Most law firms have chosen to advertise digitally, leveraging the power of Google, Bing, Facebook and other online marketing channels.
The Problem – Online Marketing for the Legal Industry is Super Lucrative
With certain keywords in the personal injury, mesothelioma and criminal arenas costing into the hundreds of dollars per click, there is a lot of money to be made by online marketing agencies that handle law firms. Competition is fierce, and with those kinds of dollars being spent, there are agencies who find it so lucrative that they have decided to focus specifically on legal.
Unfortunately, as with any business that deals in massive cash flow and high profits, complacency, greed and just plain sloppy business practices seem to become the norm. And, all too often, the price for those practices is unknowingly paid for by their clients – the law firms themselves.
Why Attorneys Choose Online Marketing Agencies Who Specialize
The lure of working with an agency that “specializes” in your area of business seems like a no-brainer. All they do all day is work on legal, so they must know what they are doing, right? Plus, look at all the other law firms they say they represent… they must be good.
Smoke and mirrors my friends, smoke and mirrors.
Why Agencies Choose to Specialize
Online marketing firms choose the vertical-specific business model because it’s easier and far more profitable. They can automate common processes, replicate creative and duplicate campaigns across all of their similar clients. This allows them to manage more clients with fewer employees and maximize their profits. That sounds really great for the agency, but typically what it gets the law firm is mediocre, cookie cutter marketing that costs you far more than it should.
Why We Know a Little Something About This Subject
Our firm is a third-party independent auditor of online marketing. Through our audits, we’ve seen behind the curtains at some of these online marketing firms that specialize in legal. What we’ve found would shock you. It shocked us. We found waste, egregious overcharging and surprisingly outdated and careless online marketing tactics.
This is not an indictment of all law firm-specific agencies, but we found this to be so pervasive that we were compelled to write this article in hopes of signalling an alarm to the thousands of law firms that use these kinds of agencies.
What You Should Expect
The job of any good digital agency is to spend your marketing budget as effectively and efficiently as humanly possible – to squeeze out every possible opportunity with little to no waste. That requires super competitive tactics, daily attention to bid adjustments and constant A/B testing of messaging and campaign strategies. Remember, your competitors are always actively doing the same to get a leg up on you.
Unfortunately, what we found was far from this type of dedication to success.
What Our Audits Uncovered
In one particular audit of a large national law firm marketing company, we uncovered a laundry list of sub-par tactics, consistent overcharging and incredible waste of budget. This went beyond the subjective, almost to a point of being criminal. Even the reporting they provided the client was skewed to make the numbers look more attractive.
They had a set it and forget it approach to paid media (PPC). They were not adjusting bids, and there was absolutely no A/B testing of messaging. In fact, they hadn’t changed out any ad creative in almost a year. SEO was just as bad if not worse. They hadn’t done any link-building in over six months and admitted they were only putting about 10 hours a month into the client’s SEO and content efforts. Our expert auditors agreed that this high profile account should have required over 80 hours a month to achieve their first page goals.
Additionally we have also found contracts written craftily to ensure that the client didn’t even own their own website and contracts that included the option to buy their own website back from the agency for an astronomical sum. Worse, we’ve heard horror stories about agencies holding websites hostage and not letting the client take them when they were ready to leave.
Scared yet? If you’re using a law firm-specific online marketing firm, you might be in the same predicament and not even know it.
Many attorneys just pay their online marketers and accept what they say as gospel. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a busy, successful attorney. You don’t have the time or the expertise necessary to hold your online marketers’ feet to the fire and separate fact from fiction.
Trust But Verify
We believe in the adage, “trust but verify” and we provide the verify part. Our independent third party audits take an objective, in-depth look into the tactics your agency is using to market your services online. We are experienced in sifting through complicated service contracts and determining what you’re paying your agency for, then matching it against what you’re actually receiving and uncovering any discrepancies. We can tell you if you’re getting your money’s worth or if you’re being taken for a ride. And, if our audits reveal that your agency is not performing at an acceptable level, we can help you find a new, exceptional agency that will deliver outstanding effort and the kind of verifiable results you’ve always expected, but never received.
Are you getting what you pay for from your online marketers? We can tell you. Call us today for a FREE consultation.