This is how I’m starting to feel about Google AdWords.
For about the last six months, our primary advertising tool – and our only paid advertising – has been through Google AdWords. For those who are unfamiliar with AdWords, you’re wrong: you only think you are. AdWords is the Google advertising service that pops up ads alongside your Google search results. Do a search for “How do I change an alternator?” and among the search results an ad for Tires Plus pops up. Google is by far and away the number one search engine, and AdWords uses that power to deliver your law firm’s ad to people who are searching for services your firm provides.
Smart practitioners make it a habit to ask potential clients as part of the intake process, “How did you find out about our firm?” And if your experience is anything like mine, the consistent and maddeningly unhelpful answer is inevitably “I found you on the Internet” – or even more more maddeningly unhelpful, “My girlfriend found you on the Internet,” which prevents you from following up at all. You try and track whether an increase in your advertising budget, tweaks in your keywords or campaign direction, lead to a corresponding increase in calls, but with the small sample size of a typical small firm’s incoming potential clients, correlation does not necessarily mean causation.
This is a problem in some ways unique to the Internet. Most personal referrals come attached to a name; if someone found your ad in the Yellow Pages, they will tell you. When someone calls who found you “on the Internet,” it is difficult to track. For those who don’t refer questions of marketing to the “Wishful Thinking” department: How do you gather that information when a potential client calls? How do you connect the client to the specific marketing campaign that led them to your door? How do you find out what convinced them to come to you in the first place, with so many law firms out there? In other words, how do you evaluate the quality and source of potential clients when using an online marketing tool like AdWords?
My point is, I want to tell Google AdWords to stop standing in the doorway with a mouse in their teeth. If they’re going to come in, come in!