How to determine PPC budget for your law firm (and why it matters)

PPC is one of the most popular tactics in legal marketing, but it is also a tactic that receives a lot of flak because of how complicated it can get, and how quickly it can burn a hole through your pocket if you aren’t careful.

This article aims to address some of the burning questions law firms have when they think of PPC budgets. Realistically, how much do law firms need to spend to get a decent ROI?

LaFleur Digital Marketing | September Blog – How To Determine Budget for Your Advertising

Top 3 PPC budget concerns

I have a fixed budget in mind. Does that work?

Yes! Google is a self-managed account without budget restrictions. So technically, yes, you can set a budget of your choice to run the campaign.

But this budget may or may not be what your campaign needs to be successful. Many companies try the set-it-and-forget-it method for PPC and find it doesn’t work. We know this from experience, because many of our PPC clients at LaFleur come to us after trying a fixed-budget approach and getting poor results.

The reality is that setting an arbitrary PPC budget and failing to adjust it over time will often amount to throwing money away. You need an expert (or preferably, a team of experts) who can not only update your budget as necessary, but also monitor your campaigns to look for waste and opportunities for improvement.

The LaFleur team has access to tools that allow us to look at data like the average bids for top spots, competitor bidding, and other key metrics that help us make a more informed decision about what your budget should be.

Related: Creating and optimizing effective PPC campaigns for Law Firms

Where’s the simplest place to start?

At LaFleur, we believe that all your marketing discussions should begin with understanding your marketing goals. Here are some questions that will help you in that direction:

  1. Is your campaign goal brand awareness or lead generation?
  2. What is your website’s lead-to-client ratio? How many leads do you need to generate to achieve your client intake goal?
  3. Are you running any complementary campaigns that could aid in the performance of this campaign?

Here’s an example of how these details can help you arrive at your law firm’s PPC budget:

Let’s say your law firm’s goal is to sign on 30 new clients every month, and your company has a close rate of 30%. In that case, you would need to reach 100 new leads to get those 30 new clients (100 leads * .30 close rate = 30 clients). Now that you’ve determined you need 100 leads, it’s time to find out what keywords align with the search intent and are relevant to your business, and what the average bids look like. Another step in this process is to look at how much your competitors are spending and what keywords they are bidding on.

How do you determine competitors’ budgets? Start with Google Keyword Planner to understand what your keywords are bidding at for the top spots. In addition, you’ll need special PPC research tools for this task, and most of those tools require paid subscriptions. (We’re fans and avid users of SEMRush. Another popular tool that we’re familiar with and can recommend is SpyFu.)

If you happen to be a personal injury lawyer, the keyword bids can be quite expensive, depending on your location.

Now, you know that to beat your competitors with a campaign that uses similar keywords and targets a similar audience, you’ll likely need to bid more than the average cost/click. Why do we say “likely”? Because the PPC bidding process is automated and dynamic, so bids won’t always match a set amount in the real world.

Most people start their Google ads campaigns with automated bidding. This allows the system to bid on your behalf. This does not mean that you set it and forget it. Even a campaign on automated bidding requires regular checks and optimization.

Your keyword list could be a combination of keywords that could bid as low as $40 or as high as $180 per click. Choose your keywords wisely to cover user intent, but beware of filling up your list with high-bid keywords.

Once you have your list, take an average of the bid amounts. Let’s assume your average bid is $55 and your industry average conversion rate is 10%. Going back to the original example, to get 30 clients to sign on every month you need 100 leads, which means you need 1000 clicks per month: $55*1000 = $55,000/mo.

Depending on the size of your business, that could be exactly what you had in mind or far out of reach. If the budget you’ve come up with is unrealistic, it doesn’t mean you can’t afford PPC advertising, but it does mean you’ll need to either find a different strategy (target different keywords, for example) or adjust your expectations regarding how many people your campaigns will reach.

A key thing to note here is that this is a basic version of budget calculation. Historic performance of the campaign, campaign location targeting, and auction insights can significantly change this number.

The experts at LaFleur are skilled at working with these tools and coming up with estimates that suit your goals. If you are thinking of investing in a new PPC campaign or would like help with your existing campaign performance, reach out to us at (888) 222-1512.

Related: Unsure where your advertising budgets are going? Your firm deserves better

How do I make sure that I am not wasting my PPC ad dollars?

Managing a PPC campaign is a continuous and evolving process. “Set it and forget it” almost never works. You should monitor how much you are spending versus your cost per acquisition on a regular basis.

Having said this, any PPC campaign will take some time to scale and perform. While it is important to iterate and make changes, you must also give the campaign time to learn the changes and perform to your expectations. Changing your ads, bids, or budget too early or often can be a recipe for disaster.

Here are some things you can make a part of your optimization game plan:

  • Review the auctions insights report. Understand how your ads are performing in terms of impression share compared to other competitors in the market. If your ads barely show up in the top spots, or are losing impressions because of bids, it may be time to review your bids.
  • Review competitive metrics. Keep tabs on how much impression share you are losing because of rank and analyze if this could be because of lower bids and budget, or if other factors like landing page quality or ad quality are affecting it.
  • Analyze traffic/lead quality. Review how much time your visitors spending on your landing page. What parts of the page are they spending more time on? How many leads are coming through the page? Are these leads legitimate?

Another PPC budget variable: your industry

As you can see, there are a lot of variables to consider when trying to set a PPC budget: time, geography, business goals. Also, PPC budgets tend to vary widely by industry. More competitive industries in densely populated geographic regions have higher cost-per-click rates than niche industries or businesses in rural areas.

We know from both agency experience and nationwide data that the legal industry is one of the most competitive for pay-per-click advertising. So, if you want to advertise your personal injury law firm in Los Angeles, you’ll need a much bigger PPC budget than if you want to advertise artisan woodworking services in Dacula, Georgia. If your business operates on a national scale, things can get even more competitive.

In general, the stiffer your competition and the higher the budgets, the more you need an experienced PPC advertising team to help you get the most out of your spend.

Related: Digital marketing for law firms

Calculate Your PPC budget for other platforms

PPC advertising is a vast arena, and to think of PPC as only Google search ads would be a myopic view of the advertising landscape. Though PPC search ads dominate the search market, it certainly is not the answer to all advertising goals. Here are some recommendations on how you can calculate budgets for other paid campaigns:

Microsoft search campaign

More than 1 billion devices are running Windows 10, and a lot of that traffic uses Cortana (and by extension, Bing) for search. CPCs on Microsoft Ads have historically been lower when compared to Google Ads. The search campaigns that you build on the Microsoft Ads platform are eligible to show not only on Bing, but also on Yahoo search, AOL, Duck Duck Go, and other syndicated partners.

Calculating budget for Microsoft Ads is very similar to Google Ads. You can start your research by identifying the keywords that match your campaign’s search intent and then proceed to check traffic and minimum bid requirements for the keywords. This will help you gauge what your average bid should be to fit into your budget calculation formula.

To begin the process, you can log into your Microsoft Ads account and find Keyword Planner under tools:

Display campaign

Display advertising is a key tactic if your law firm is looking to create brand awareness. There are several ways you can reach your intended audience, including in-market & life event audiences, affinity audiences, custom intent audiences, combined audiences, remarketing, and similar audiences. Display campaigns are not based on search intent, so they are not generally developed for lead generation.

Calculating display campaign budget is slightly different from what we see with PPC search campaigns. The reason is that display campaigns are based on CPM bidding: cost per 1000 impressions.

The best way to start calculating the budget is to first figure out your target location and target audience. Start by creating a display campaign in your Google Ads account and select your goal. (For the purpose of this campaign, I chose “Brand Awareness & Reach.”)

Once you select your goal and proceed, the panel below will open up. Select your campaign parameters, including campaign settings like ad rotation, geo targeting, etc.

On the next step, you can access the budget and bidding option of the campaign creation. Here, start off with a daily bid you are comfortable spending and bid you are okay paying.

A key thing to note here is that the display bids are often lower than search bids. However, the average CPM can vary depending on your tactics. Reach campaigns, which aim at building broad brand awareness, typically have a lower CPM than a retargeting campaign, where you are reconnecting with people who have already engaged with your brand.

A tip here is to make sure you fill out the targeting section before you analyze your bid and reach metrics.

YouTube campaign

A YouTube campaign is very similar to display campaigns when it comes to campaign goals for a law firm. Most law firms use this campaign type to build awareness among its target audiences. YouTube offers CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and CPV (cost per view) bidding strategies.

To calculate YouTube campaign budget, you can start off by accessing “Reach Planner” under the tools tab in your Google Ads account.

On the Reach Planner page, please select the date range, audiences you’d like to reach, geo targeting, ad type, etc., and a budget you are willing to spend to see the reach on the right side of your page. You can iterate and adjust the budget to see what fits your reach expectation.

Calculating the right budget is one of the most important aspects in deciding if the tactic is affordable or not. Careful consideration of all targeting aspects will help you arrive at a budget that is appropriate for a successful campaign. If you are beginning to think of setting up marketing campaigns for your law firm or are in the middle of it and need help, reach us out at (888) 222-1512.

RELATED: PPC advertising for Law Firms

Make Your PPC Campaigns More Efficient With LaFleur

At LaFleur, we believe in a dedicated and holistic paid digital advertising strategy. Our PPC experts have years of experience managing diverse campaigns for businesses of all shapes, sizes, and industries around the United States. If you’d like to discuss developing new paid digital advertising initiatives or optimizing existing campaigns, please contact us by calling (888) 222-1512 or completing this brief form.

Bob Flavin

Bob Flavin is LaFleur’s lead digital strategist, directing all the agency’s paid advertising and data analytics work. He has over a decade of experience guiding B2B and B2C digital strategy.