Landing pages are website pages designated as the destination for paid advertisements — typically pay-per-click ads, display ads, and social media ads. When somebody clicks on your ad, the landing page is what they see.
When one of your viable potential clients clicks on your ad, the landing page will be their first impression. It will be highly influential in determining whether that person ultimately contacts your office or immediately hits the back button on their browser, leaving your website and draining your budget without benefit.
Pay-per-click ads are extremely expensive for attorneys. If you intend to spend money on pay-per-click marketing, it’s best to understand best practices for creating landing pages for lawyers.
I’m writing this blog post to address a common point of confusion about law firm landing pages. The confusion is unwittingly promulgated by PPC thought-leaders and vendors who are not attorneys and don’t understand how real potential clients interact with law firm ads, landing pages, and law firm websites as a whole.
Why Law Firm Landing Pages are Different
Not all industries, products and services are equal. The best approach for selling low-risk, low-dollar products like e-books and nutritional supplements is not the best approach for lawyers in most areas of law practice who want viable potential clients to contact them through their websites.
For low-risk and low-cost products, the conventional wisdom for landing pages is to build the page in a way that isolates visitors by removing the website navigation menus and not adding links. The reason for doing this is to prevent the prospect from leaving the page to view other pages on the website, thereby decreasing that page’s conversion rate and making it more difficult to track the true cost to sell the inexpensive product.
For e-books, supplements and thousands of other low-cost items, most buyers can get all of the information they need to make an emotional buying decision on a single well-designed and written landing page. This is because, for that particular purchase or action, the time commitment, the risk level, and decision thresholds are very low. For businesses that sell things (as opposed to professional services), the PPC landing page serves a transactional purpose. Either the buyer is ready, or she is not. And if she’s not, the clicks are typically cheap, and there are plenty of more prospects out there. For businesses that sell things, especially inexpensive things, it’s a numbers game, and the business wins if it creates a predictable cost to acquire a customer that, once the other costs of making and selling the product are tallied, leaves a profit margin.
Although some marketing companies, and lots of marketing articles, try to treat lawyers like widgets, as a lawyer I don’t want to be commoditized, and neither should you.
The Generally Accepted Composition of PPC Landing Pages that Sell Inexpensive Things and Not Professional Services
Let’s say you want to sell vitamins that will boost your male prowess for $19.99, or a $59 video course on how to become a billionaire trading penny stocks. For simple and cheap purchases, the conventional wisdom for landing pages is to have the following 7 attributes or elements:
- A sales pitch consisting of a headline, sub-headline, reinforcing statement and a closing pitch;
- An image or a video showing the product or service;
- A bulleted list of features and benefits;
- Social proof in the form of endorsements or usage statistics;
- A single conversion goal (usually to fill out a form);
- No header, footer, or sidebar navigation; and
- No links that would take a visitor to another page.
This formula works well for selling things under $100, especially when accompanied by a money back guarantee. But saying that the above website landing page formula should be applied to lawyers is akin to saying that the sign spinning tactic in the video below would work as well for lawyers as it presumably does for Jiffy Lube.
As I’ll explain next, legal landing pages for most law practice types work best with a different approach.
How PPC Landing Pages for Lawyers are Different
The “conventional wisdom” about PPC landing pages outlined above is flawed when applied to most law practice types, and a slightly different approach is recommended. Later in this post, I’ll outline the ideal attributes for legal landing pages for most practice areas, and also give some examples for practice types where the above 7-attribute approach might also work. First, let me explain why lawyer landing pages benefit from a different approach.
Hiding the navigation and links on landing pages limits your clients’ options, and limits your results. When you remove the navigation menus and other links from your law firm’s landing pages, you are severely limiting your potential new clients’ (“PNCs”) options. You’re boxing them in by giving them two choices. Typically this means that they have the choice to either: a) contact you or b) go away, and nothing else.
When they aren’t ready to contact you, and they go away, you’re missing an opportunity to educate them, connect with them through other pages on your law firm’s website, prequalify them, and ultimately, when they are ready, to inspire them to contact and hire your firm.
When your PNCs go away, you’re also flushing the money you spent on the click to get them there. For many practice areas and locations, this can mean that you are betting between $50 and $200 that they will choose to contact you even when they are not well informed, qualified or ready.
And, when they do contact you, because they are doing so with a lack of important information, there is a much higher probability that they will waste your time and will never convert into revenue for your law firm. The abbreviated pre-qualification process that many law firm PPC ad and landing page campaigns force a firm’s potential clients into is one of the reasons lawyers complain that paid ads produce inferior or junk leads when compared to the leads that they receive through organic website traffic.
Hiring a lawyer is a major investment with potential life consequences. The reason Google had classified law firm websites as having Your Money or Your Life consequences and holds them to a higher standard is because the consequences of misinformation, or of making a bad decision can have an impact on a person’s “current or future well being (physical, financial safety, etc.).” Google acknowledges that law firms are different than companies that sell day trading courses for $59. The additional scrutiny that it paternalistically gives to Your Money or Your Life websites and ads is similar to the additional scrutiny that your potential clients naturally approach your marketing. But Why?
Contacting an attorney is a major decision. Your law firm’s PNCs often want to see more than a compelling ad before they contact your law firm. The serious (and most viable ones) want to know more about you before they invest their time, and trust you with their confidential information. They may be intimidated by the idea of contacting a lawyer. They may have an inherent bias against, or mistrust of, attorneys and the legal system as a whole. Depending on the type of matter they have, they may be angry at the system and view you, the lawyer, as an extension of that system out to take advantage of them.
So how do you overcome their hesitation, trepidation or bias? The answer is slowly and carefully, and not by forcing them to make a quick and uncomfortable choice. The $19.99 male supplement does not need to court its customers. Your male potential client visiting the supplement site may only need to think “me man, me want be more manly, me buy, risk free.” But when he visits your website, he needs much more.
Before they contact you, your PNCs want to know you first. Clients pay for and engage in relationships with lawyers that are more complex and agonizing than most transactions (with a few exceptions I’ll cover below). As I frequently say in CLEs and webinars, your PNCs need to know how much you care, need to like you, need to see proof of your competence and believe that you can help them before they will make the decision to contact you or your firm. It is not practical to put enough information on a single PPC landing page to give your average potential client everything they need.
People don’t revisit ads to learn more. Unlike the decision to purchase a $29.95 miracle diet pill, the decision to contact a lawyer with intent to hire often takes multiple impressions over hours, days or weeks. The decision often involves a “diligence process” that differs from client to client, but frequently involves multiple visits to the law firm’s website, as well as looking for online reviews on Google, Yelp!, Avvo and others, looking at news articles about the attorney, Googling the attorney’s name, and even attempting to snoop into the attorney’s personal social media. And the more they see of you, especially on your website assuming your website is built to convince and convert, the more likely their original click of your ad, the resulting ad spend and visit to your landing page is to result in revenue for your firm.
If your landing page fails to include navigation to other parts of your website, you are paying for clicks that limit your PNCs exposure to your firm. And they may not get enough information from that single page to spark sufficient interest to run a “diligence process” on you, and therefore you’ve wasted your ad spend.
When your law firm’s landing pages exclude navigation, your PNCs will not be able to explore your website to read your reviews, your bio, your results, the substantive information about your practice how you can help them address their problems. If they aren’t ready to contact you at the moment you pay for their click and they visit your landing page, they will press the back button on their web browser. When they do this, there is much less of a chance that they will revisit your website without exposure to even more ads (and an even greater cost to you, and potentially more revenue for your marketing agency). And even if you pay for additional ads, including remarketing, the overall probability that they will return to your law firm’s website is still diminished from where it would have been had you simply included the navigation. Had they been able to navigate to other pages of your site, they would have been more likely to return because your website would have done the heavy lifting of causing them to trust you or to remember you.
A landing page in isolation is less likely to qualify serious PNCs. If your landing page only gives your PNC the option of converting or leaving, and they do convert, they will do so knowing very little about your law firm. While most attorneys would say that any conversion is better than no conversion, this isn’t always the case.
Conversions of unqualified potential clients often waste lawyer and staff time. When as-yet unqualified PNCs fill out the form on your limited landing page they are far less likely to show up for their initial appointment, sign your retainer agreement and pay their bills.
There is a real cost of doing intake, scheduling, and consultations that never result in a fee to the firm. So conversions cost the lawyer a lot more than the $50-$200 spent on the PPC ad.
When PNCs who are uneducated about your firm do show up for an initial consultation, they will take more time to educate and sell (this should be the job of your website if you want to run an efficient and enjoyable law firm). They will often be much more difficult clients to manage. And they will leave negative reviews with greater frequency if you don’t take their case, or give them free advice, or quote them too high of a fee, or tell them tough news that they don’t want to hear. This is because they are investing time in you, just as you are in them. When they make a decision to invest that time in you based on marketing copy from a single page, they not only trust you less out of the gate, but they are more likely to resent your efforts as a “bait and switch.”
When you omit the navigation on your landing pages, you deprive your PNC of a chance to further get to know you via your website, which would otherwise pre-qualify them, set realistic expectations, and strengthen their commitment to show up, hire you, and pay you. This leads to a lot of needlessly wasted time that you could have spent on productive revenue-generating activities.
Your PNCs are already feeling pressure. Depending on the type of case, PNCs are often embarrassed, confused, frightened, skeptical and frustrated all at the same time. They already feel pressure, and if your landing page pressures them to contact you without giving them any other option, they can get instant relief by pressing the back button on their web browser. This is not optimal because, depending on your practice type, your PNCs who are feeling the most embarrassed, frightened or frustrated are often the ones with the most urgent need and motivation to hire you. Your marketing just needs to be patient enough to allow them to come to the conclusion that contacting you will eliminate their discomfort.
Your marketing vendor’s goals may conflict with your goals. Marketers want you to give them credit for conversions. Without it, you are less likely to continue paying them. When PNCs are allowed to navigate away from your landing page to other pages on your law firm’s website, you are less likely to attribute the eventual successful conversion to the marketer when it later happens several pages later. So, looking at it from your marketing vendor’s perspective, it makes sense to remove your website navigation and links.
But your goals are different. You want your landing pages optimized to result in profitable and pleasant relationships with your new clients. But why does including header and footer navigation on your landing pages help in this regard?
There is an optimal time and mental state for your PNCs to fill out a form on your website or call you. If it happens too early, your chances of closing them diminish. And if you do still manage to close them, the likelihood of an unpleasant attorney-client relationship increases.
If you push your leads to convert too fast, they may still convert but they will lack a foundation. If they’re not yet believers and telling themselves the story of why they came to the conclusion that you’re the attorney for them, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. They will treat you with skepticism. They will be more likely to regard you as a salesperson rather than a professional. Avoiding this is more important than many attorneys realize because the initial conversation sets the tone for the entire relationship to come.
Exceptions: Practice Areas That May Benefit From Landing Pages Without Navigation
The advice that law firm landing pages should have navigation, is subject to exceptions for transactional and commoditized matters, where there’s little contact and no ongoing relationship with the client. Here are some examples:
- Civil speeding ticket defense.
- Parking ticket defense.
- Simple business formations.
- Simple trademark applications.
- Other form-driven business documents like NDAs and simple service agreements.
These services are typically inexpensive, and low impact for potential clients.
Theoretically, a lawyer could run a PPC ad to a landing page with the following:
- Headline: “I’ll Vanish Your Speeding Ticket”
- Sub-headline: “$250 dollars, and you pay only if you win.”
- Features and benefits: No-risk. You don’t have to show up for court. Avoid insurance increases. Avoid traffic school.
- Proof: A testimonial or two by clients that say something like “Bob fixed my speeding ticket. No traffic school. No record. No fine. Thanks Bob!”
- Call to action: Complete this form and Bob will do the rest.”
Theoretically, this page would be complete without header or footer navigation, which might get in the way of the impulse buying decision.
In reality, depending on the competition to bid on local speeding ticket searches, even if the page converted extremely well, the attorney might not be able to collect enough revenue (ie, do enough volume) to make this an economically viable campaign.
The Best Law Firm Landing Pages
So for most law practices that are not commoditized and transactional, what should your law firm’s landing pages look like?
- A declaration consisting of a headline, sub-headline, reinforcing statement and a closing statement that tells your potential clients that you care about them, that you are an expert, and that you’re here to help them like you’ve helped others with their exact problem.
- An image or a video that is relevant to the potential client and that either gives them useful information or isn’t overly distracting or obtrusive.
- A bulleted list of compelling reasons the PNC should hire you.
- Social proof in the form of endorsements from former clients that you helped with the exact problem that the page addresses, along with statistics or examples of positive outcomes you’ve achieved on behalf of people just like them.
- Assuming the goal is to cause the PNC to contact your firm, an invitation to call your firm (along with the phone number) and an easy to complete form (without any human verification spam controls) that requests a small amount of information unique to the type of matter the page addresses;.
- Include your the regular header and footer navigation from your law firm’s so your website visitors can freely navigate your site, including access to your bio, your testimonials, your case results, and your office location(s) page.
- A small link below the form that offers them an opportunity to learn more before submitting the form, and that goes to a more substantive description of the practice area that is the subject of the page.
Compare this list of landing page attributes recommended for lawyers to the list above for transactional commodities. While there are many similar elements, there are profound differences that acknowledge that a person’s online consumer behavior is different for expensive purchases, and purchases with life-changing consequences.
To further illustrate my point, ask yourself the following:
- Would you make an appointment with a doctor based only on a landing page without knowing that doctor’s background and other information about her practice?
- How about an accountant?
- How about a personal trainer?
- How about a group yoga class?
- How about an auto-glass repair person?
If you’re like most consumers, you are unlikely to answer “yes” for number 1 (the doctor), but likely have little hesitation about answering “yes” about number 5. Most potential clients of law firms, in most practice areas, are about as likely to feel comfortable saying yes to the same question about lawyers as they are about doctors.
Law firm landing pages are different. The marketing advice that applies to other business does not apply in most cases to lawyers. If you want to get the best results from your pay-per-click marketing with the least possible margin for error, I highly recommend that you include the header and footer navigation from your website in your landing pages.
If you’re interested in learning more about pay-per-click marketing and landing pages for lawyers, I recommend watching our on-demand webinar “2019 PPC Primer for Attorneys.”