By John Thyfault, Vice President of Search & Social Strategy, Beasley Direct Marketing
Client: A law firm specializing in family practice.
Issue: The client wanted to reduce cost per lead, which was more than $220.
Solution: Segmented marketplace to reveal which segments were most productive; refined keywords used in online advertising; reworded ads; analyzed lead history to optimize ad placement.
Results: Within six months, reduced cost per lead by about 50%; increased conversion rate by about 15%.
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A law firm specializing in family practice in New Jersey asked Beasley Direct Marketing to reduce its cost per lead and acquisition. The practice handled a broad range of issues, including divorce, marriage, child custody, naturalization, immigration and pre-nuptial agreements. When we started with the firm, cost per lead was more than $220. The law firm advertised both online and in print in local publications.
Our first step was to determine if the client wanted to target all types of business that it handled, or only specific segments. We discovered that, historically, the types of clients providing the most revenue at the lowest cost per acquisition were divorce, child custody arrangements and pre-nuptial agreements. Further analysis showed that the quality of pre-nuptial leads was poor (lots of people were voyeuristically searching for celebrity “pre-nups”), and this was dropped from the ad program. In the case of divorce and child custody, we were able to identify clients, segment by male versus female, and target those who were in the process or just thinking about it.
The overall quality of the leads coming in from the firm’s advertising program was poor. Quality scores tend to vary by market; similar click-through rates in two different markets may yield very different levels of quality. We did geographical targeting, aiming at commuters in the bridges and tunnels in the tri-state area, and we also developed localized ads to support the firm’s different offices, getting the ads in front of people who worked or lived in proximity to those offices. So instead of bidding on “New Jersey family law firm,” we bid on specific towns and regions. This was especially effective on the New Jersey turnpike corridor, where towns tend to run into one another. (Geographical targeting alone yielded a 10% decrease in cost per lead.)
We analyzed the language of the online ads and refined them with cleaner, less cluttered language (keeping in mind at all times the restrictions on lawyer advertising by the New Jersey Bar Association). We also looked at the list of keywords to identify those that had historically converted well, winnowing out the less-productive ones. We continue to do this on an ongoing basis.
We also looked at timing considerations. When we first started with the firm, it was running all the ads at the same price 24 hours a day and seven days a week, all year long. Examining their Google Analytics data, we were able to identify where they derived their most leads by time of day, week and year. For example, Sunday evenings from 10 pm to 1 am were highly productive times; apparently, the end of the weekend is a time when many people begin considering divorce. Another spike occurred just after lunch during weekdays. We also noticed that suppertime on any day and mid-morning and mid-afternoon during weekdays were not productive. This allowed us to pare about 30% off the cost of acquisition, simply by running ads only during the times of greatest productivity. The remaining cost reductions came about through keyword expansion and refinement and constant ad testing, which allowed us to drop losing ads and retain or develop ads that were proven winners.
The client wanted to try remarketing—the practice of identifying a searcher’s interests and targeting ads that follow that individual around the web. We were not in favor of this because the client sells services with many privacy concerns. For example, if a man has been searching for divorce lawyers and his wife uses the same computer, she may be able to discern from the ads she sees that her husband is contemplating divorce—information that, if true, should come from her husband, not the Internet. But we did a limited test, and actually saw a decrease in click-throughs and conversions, so the downside was greater than even we had anticipated.
In addition to abiding by the advertising regulations of the New Jersey Bar Association, the client also wanted to stay within the bounds of good taste and a genuine concern for clients’ privacy and wellbeing. This concern extended to which keywords we selected, as well as the wording of ads. Despite these restrictions, we were able to slash cost per lead by about 50%, while increasing ad productivity by about 15%.
Of course, this kind of process is never “done.” We continue to keep track of keyword productivity, ad scheduling and other data to assure the client’s promotional program is cost-effective and productive.
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John has more than 18 years of marketing, sales and product development experience, and he brings a proven track record of successful campaign, program and product development expertise. His knowledge of search engine optimization and marketing, combined with an in-depth understanding of customer identification, market analysis and segmentation, allows him to deliver high returns on our client’s marketing investment for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets.
Prior to working with Beasley Direct, John was Senior Client Services Project Director at ThirdAge.com, a first wave baby boomer lifestyle and community website. At ThirdAge he successfully led major client sponsorships for Fortune 100 companies in healthcare (Tylenol), financial services (American Century), technology (Intel & IBM) and consumer products areas (Revlon & Viactive). He was responsible for strategic and tactical goal setting, project management, new product creation and web site production. John previously worked in Channel Marketing and National Account Sales for IDG Books Worldwide, the publishers of the immensely popular “…For Dummies” book series. Additionally, he managed the wholesale distributor sales channel for Tor/Forge Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.
John is active in local marketing associations, including the Direct Marketing Association, the Business Marketing Association and is currently serving on the board of directors for the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association.
John has taught search engine marketing fundamentals extensively. He has led workshops for the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association, Northern California Direct Marketing Association (DMAnc) and the Business Marketing Association. He also teaches Search Engine Marketing at UCSC Extension (Silicon Valley).