Advanced Criminal Defense Advertising for High-Growth Firms

Sep 11, 2023

Patrick Carver

Patrick Carver, CEO & Founder, Constellation Marketing

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Is your criminal defense firm ready to outshine the competition?

Discover the advertising strategies that promise not just visibility but a surge in case acquisitions and firm growth.

Imagine a future with a bustling practice, a renowned online presence, and a steady stream of high-value cases. This is not just a possibility; it’s within your reach.

We unveil the secrets to a successful criminal defense advertising campaign that will set your firm apart.

Are you prepared to elevate your practice? Embark on this transformative journey with us.

In the competitive landscape of criminal law, standing out is not just an aspiration but a necessity.

Why Should Criminal Defense Lawyers Invest in Advertising?

As a criminal defense attorney, online advertising, specifically pay-per-click (PPC), offers distinct advantages that can elevate your practice:

  1. PPC supplements your criminal defense SEO efforts, providing more search engine results page (SERP) coverage and yielding faster results. It’s like a turbo button for your online presence.
  2. PPC offers real-time flexibility, enabling you to adjust campaigns and budgets on the fly, giving you unmatched control over your advertising strategy.
  3. Ads can be updated instantly, allowing for tailored messaging that can be as generic or granular as needed, ensuring that your advertising resonates with the current landscape.

Embrace these strategic advantages and position your practice at the forefront of innovation and engagement.

8 Fundamentals of a Successful Ad Campaign for Your Criminal Defense Firm

criminal defense marketing navigate

Running a successful advertising campaign for your criminal defense law firm involves more than just choosing the right platform; it’s about utilizing a proven strategy.

Regardless of the platform you choose, protecting your investment is paramount. Without the right knowledge and execution, you’re headed toward big losses and a flood of unqualified leads. But, with the right approach, you can generate plenty of high-quality new cases and a tremendous return on investment.

Stay tuned, as we’ll dive into platform-specific tips later. But for now, remember, the platform sets the stage, but your strategy is the star.

1. Have a Tight Intake Process

PPC advertising is paid advertising. If you’re not picking up the phone, you might as well be ripping dollar bills in half. In today’s competitive criminal defense market, you cannot afford to waste at-bats due to poor operations.

Before you think about investing heavily in advertising, you need to get your house in order. Make sure you’re ready to capture the value of your investment with a solid intake process.

3 Golden Rules

  1. Respond to leads quickly: Pick up the phone immediately; don’t let it go to voicemail. If you miss a call, return it immediately. If it’s a form submission, get on the phone and call as quickly as possible. There are 10 other criminal defense lawyers just waiting to get the call and the case.
  2. Be organized: Not everyone is going to convert during the first conversation. Make sure you have an organized process to track and continue to nurture leads.
  3. Use multiple touch points to convince the lead: Most people are not going to send a large retainer on the first call. They may not be able to immediately jump into a deep conversation about their legal matter. Do not be deterred if they don’t immediately sign. Make sure to follow up with prospective clients using a variety of communication types like email, phone, and text.

2. Create a Massive Negative Keywords List

In the realm of criminal defense law firm advertising, negative search terms are your shield against unwanted traffic. Forget the era of exhaustive keyword lists where bidding was confined to exact words. Even with the “exact match” method, a phrase like “criminal defense lawyer” might still pull in “criminal defense attorneys” or “cheap criminal defense lawyer.”

At the launch, deploying core negatives is essential, but the real art lies in continuous vigilance. Keep expanding that negative search term list. Imagine if HBO releases a show titled “The Happy Criminal Defense Lawyer,” and you’ve overlooked negating terms like “happy,” “show,” or “series.” Suddenly, you’re footing the bill for a flood of irrelevant clicks.

In the fast-paced world of online advertising, staying ahead means staying alert. Your negative search terms aren’t just a set-and-forget tool; they’re an evolving strategy to ensure that every click is a potential client, not a wasted opportunity.

Look out for these common false positives to add to your list:

  • Free, pro bono
  • Cheap, affordable
  • Names of other lawyers in your area
  • Race or ethnic-based searches
  • Salary
  • Jobs

3. Use Well-Designed and Responsive Landing Pages

criminal defense advertising optimized mobile

Clicks come at a premium; squandering them is not an option. Sending users to a homepage? That’s yesterday’s strategy.

Your criminal defense law firm landing page is where you make your first impression. It must be well-designed, with information that’s easy to find and compelling to act upon.

Clear calls to action (CTAs) must guide the user to the next step without hesitation. In a world where most users reach out through mobile devices, responsive landing pages aren’t a choice; they’re a mandate.

Responsive CTAs are your closing arguments. A tiny form or an unlinked phone number? Those are missed opportunities, leads slipping through your fingers.

And let’s not overlook the theme. If you’re a serious, aggressive criminal defense attorney, your landing page must reflect that persona. Images, taglines, and colors must align with your message. A smiling headshot or mismatched imagery can confuse a potential client, leading them astray.

In the high-stakes game of online advertising for criminal lawyers, your landing page is your opening statement, your evidence, and your closing argument. Craft it with precision, make it responsive, and watch as those clicks turn into clients.

4. Identify and Target Your Ideal Client

Knowing your ideal client is half the battle won. Before you spend a dime, define the prospective clients you’re reaching out to. Tailor your ad and landing page (LP) copy to help potential clients self-select. Targeting high-end clients? Use keywords like “best” or “top.” Pinpoint the right locations to maximize your reach.

Clarity is your ally. If your firm juggles DUI and traffic cases recognize that the ROI might differ between the two. Splitting your budget could backfire. Don’t shy away from being selective. Certain DUI cases might not align with your practice, and that’s where negative search term lists come into play. Have the right keywords at your fingertips.

The language you use in your ads and landing pages isn’t just words; it’s the voice of your criminal defense practice. Mentioning free consultations and detailing specific services for your target audience are not mere details. They set you apart from the competition.

In the world of criminal defense marketing, precision is power. Identify, target, and speak to your ideal client. Your message isn’t just an ad; it’s an invitation to those who need you most. Make it resonate.

5. Utilize Social Proof in Your Ads

In the digital age, reviews are the currency of trust, and for criminal defense lawyers, they’re a vital tool in your advertising arsenal. Consistency is key. Gather reviews, showcase them, and let them speak to the common pain points of your potential clients.

Consider Google Local Services Ads, a platform that thrives on reviews. Think of it as a digital word-of-mouth referral service. Perfection isn’t the goal; you won’t garner 5 stars from every client. But a steady stream of recent reviews can turbocharge your ad performance.

When it comes to landing pages, social proof isn’t just a nice touch; it’s a persuasive force. Select your top three reviews, display them prominently, and watch them bolster your CTAs. But choose wisely. “John Doe got my charges dismissed” resonates more powerfully than a generic compliment.

In the courtroom of online advertising, your past successes are your most compelling arguments. Let your satisfied clients do the talking, and let their words build the trust that turns a click into a client.

6. Use Marketing Attribution Software

In the complex world of marketing for criminal defense, knowing where your leads are coming from is not just insightful, it’s essential. Before you launch your ads, set up a full-funnel system like WhatConverts that tracks calls, forms, and chats. Regularly review the lead lists with your marketing provider.

Consider the case of Acme Law Firm. They have a criminal defense firm website, Google Ads, a billboard, and a radio ad, all sharing the same phone number. They want to invest more in law firm marketing, but where should the money go? The answer is elusive without proper attribution.

Attribution isn’t just about tracking; it’s about understanding. A simple phone tracking might reveal zero calls from the radio ad, leading Acme to abandon it. But a more robust system can pinpoint whether a form submission came from Google Ads or an organic website visit. Analyzing this data with your marketing provider help you prioritize quality over quantity.

Imagine your Google Ads only brought in 10 leads, while radio ads captured 20. A superficial glance might favor radio. But a deeper analysis might reveal that three Google Ads leads became clients, while none from the radio converted.

In the legal advertising landscape, every lead is a potential case, and every case is a potential victory. Marketing attribution software is your roadmap to success, guiding your investments to the channels that truly convert. Make informed decisions, invest wisely, and watch your criminal defense practice grow.

7. Get Acquainted with Professional Conduct Rules

Navigating the legal advertising landscape isn’t just about creativity and strategy; it’s about compliance. Familiarize yourself with the rules in your state, and ensure your criminal defense marketing team is equally informed.

Every state has its unique regulations governing legal advertising. From prohibitions on specific verbiage to restrictions on the use of statistics or figures, these rules are often intricate and may be overlooked by marketing providers and law firms alike. Required disclaimers or specific policies, particularly in paid advertising, add another layer of complexity.

In the world of criminal defense marketing, being on the same page isn’t just a clever phrase; it’s a mandate. Understanding and adhering to professional conduct rules isn’t a mere formality; it’s the foundation of ethical and effective advertising. Make sure you and your marketing team are aligned, not just in strategy but in compliance. Your reputation, brand, and success depend on it.

8. Constant Iteration

In the dynamic world of criminal law advertising, flexibility is not an option; it’s a requirement. Sticking to a “set it and forget it” strategy is a path to obsolescence. Likewise, clinging to “this has worked for the last decade, so I’ll keep doing it the same way” is a recipe for stagnation.

In the race of criminal law advertising, riding a proven horse is wise, but never take your eyes off the track ahead! Constant scrutiny for improvement is key. Even a winning strategy needs a nudge now and then. Top-performing campaigns regularly tweak their approach. Don’t just ride; gallop ahead of the competition!

Ad Platform Review for Criminal Defense Attorneys

criminal defense advertising user experience

Google PPC

Google’s dominance as the world’s top search engine is undisputed, and its PPC capabilities are a versatile asset for criminal defense campaigns. Whether you’re aiming for a broad sweep or laser-focused targeting, Google PPC offers location targeting, exact bidding options, and exclusion strategies unmatched by other platforms.

Want to geofence all the jails in your county or exclude specific areas? It’s within reach. But caution is advised, as this precision can come with a hefty price tag, sometimes reaching $100 per click for criminal defense.

Grade: A+

Google LSA

A fresh addition to the advertising toolkit, Local Services Ads (LSAs) have been an option for law firms since 2020. Unlike PPC, LSAs work with categories and subcategories rather than search terms. For a criminal defense attorney with a specific target in mind, this approach might be too broad, risking a dip in lead quality. The upside? You’re billed only for actual calls, not clicks, offering a distinct advantage.

Grade: A

Bing (Microsoft Ads)

Don’t discount Bing, the go-to search engine on Microsoft Edge. Though it garners only a fraction of Google’s traffic, it presents a more budget-conscious alternative. Many users may gravitate toward Google, but Bing’s cost per click is considerably lower, seldom hitting $40 CPC for criminal defense. It may be a less-traveled path, but one that could yield unexpected gains.

Grade: B

Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising is a digital age staple, but for criminal defense law firms, it’s a different game. Clients aren’t looking to “like” posts or reconnect with their defense attorney. Paid ads on social media platforms often miss the mark. Criminal defense law doesn’t lend itself to casual browsing or “lightbulb moments.”

We’ve extensively tested advertising on social media platforms, and the results fall flat. There’s no shortage of leads, but the quality is always low.

Grade: D

Criminal Defense Display Advertising

Criminal defense is one of the most regulated practice areas when it comes to display ads; we believe it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

Still, networks like Google Display and YouTube have an amazing reach. To be effective with this strategy, it demands precision, creativity, and a deep understanding of your target audience. When executed with finesse, it can certainly help you connect with the clients who need your expertise.

Grade: C

Offline Advertising for Criminal Defense Lawyers

The world of marketing for many criminal defense firms has long been anchored in traditional methods. For over two decades, billboards, radio spots, phone book listings, paper ads, and park bench or shopping cart promotions have been the go-to strategies. These static marketing techniques might still resonate with some industries, like real estate, but for criminal defense attorneys, the tides have shifted.

The rise of online searches has revolutionized the way potential clients find and contact lawyers. The immediacy of the internet has rendered many offline advertising methods less effective, if not obsolete.

In the fast-paced digital age, criminal defense lawyers must recognize this transformation and adapt. While offline advertising has its place, relying solely on these methods risks falling behind in a world where clients are just a click away. The challenge is to blend the traditional with the modern, leveraging the strengths of both to connect with those in need of legal defense. The landscape has changed, and a nimble, responsive approach is key to thriving in this new environment.

Grade: D

Hone Your Law Firm’s Marketing Strategy to Thrive in the Digital Age

In the complex landscape of criminal law advertising, grasping the subtleties of these platforms is essential. Whether it’s the surgical precision of Google PPC, the evolving terrain of LSAs, or the sleeper potential of Bing, each avenue offers unique opportunities and hurdles. Choose with care, and let your strategy align with your target audience.

For criminal defense firms, a well-balanced marketing strategy is key. It’s not just about SEO or picking random advertising platforms. Find where your ideal clients hang out and target them there. Consider partnering with our proven law firm advertising agency, Constellation Marketing. It’s about smart investment, not just spending. Make your marketing count!

Patrick Carver

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