Law Firm Advertising on Facebook – Preliminary Observations

Jeremy Hessing-Lewis

Facebook Experiment

Thanks to some credits provided by Facebook, we recently completed a trial Facebook campaign for a Lower Mainland personal injury law firm. This particular client is already running an AdWords search campaign, an AdWords display network campaign, and a Bing/Yahoo search campaign. Traffic to their website is almost exclusively pay-per-click and they were open to experimenting with a new online platform.

Our thinking when it comes to marketing on Facebook has been “Go to where the people are.” With 2.1 million Facebook users in BC (thanks to our friends at 6S Marketing for the infographic), law firms can meet their prospective clients where they already are. Facebook in Canada Infographic by 6S Marketing The goal of this trial campaign was to improve brand awareness through ad  impressions. When people login to Facebook, they are not generally looking to retain a lawyer.

The Challenge

The power of marketing through social media is the granularity of demographic targeting. In other words, users share so much information that you can target your campaign to very particular types of users. You could run a campaign where your ads only ran on profiles of 19 year old men in Port Coquitlam who listen to Daft Punk, enjoy wake-boarding , are enrolled in University and are currently engaged to be married. If you’re selling t-shirts or concert tickets, this is the advertising medium for you.

The power of this targeting is not as advantageous for identifying people who have been injured in a car accident. Accordingly, we left the advanced targeting options relatively open-ended for our experiment. Gender, age, interests, relationship status, and education were all left open. We did make particular use of the location targeting.

While you can either pay-per-click or by 1000 impressions, my experience suggests the per-click model is almost always cheaper.

Facebook also offers the ability to run “Stories,” which are ads that promote an advertising effort within the Facebook system. For example, if you want people to “Like” your brand/company, Stories are for you. In our case, we’re looking to draw people out of Facebook to an external law firm website.

The Results – Crunching the Numbers

The number of impressions registered on a Facebook campaign is astonishing. Our experiment recorded 894,614 impressions in less than 14 days for a total cost of $113.33 (minus the $50 credit). I was surprised to see that the campaign also directed 136 clicks to the client’s website. I didn’t think we’d see any clicks. These are very good numbers, far exceeding the 500k impressions for the firm’s banner ad campaign on Google AdWords. Taking a deeper dive into the analytics, the numbers are not nearly as flattering:

Bounce Rate = 91%

Time Spent on Site = 0:15.

Pros

The advantage of running a Facebook campaign seems fairly obvious: lots of impressions at a very low price. If you’re looking to blast your brand’s message over your market with a limited budget, a Facebook advertising campaign would be an excellent choice. Making use of the advanced targeting options would also be particularly appealing. If we were running a campaign for a Wedding DJ company, targeting users based on “Relationship Status” would be ideal.

I should also note that setting-up a Facebook adverts campaign is relatively quick. You can have your campaign up and running in under an hour. In contrast, selecting campaign options, keywords, and managed placements for an AdWords display network campaign can take from hours to days.

Cons

  • Despite the volume of impressions, Facebook is not great for brand awareness. The image size is quite small (110px x80px) and doesn’t make much of an visual impression on most users (purely a personal observation). These ads really can’t compete with a display network banner ad. Moreover, they can’t be animated.
  • We were unable to make use of the advanced targeting options due to the law firm’s prospective client base.
  • The quality of the clicks is very poor. Based on the amount of time on the site and the bounce rate, I can only conclude that most clicks were either accidental or that they actually had no interest in legal services.
  • Unsurprisingly, there is a discrepancy between the clicks that Facebook claims and the numbers registered by Google Analytics. I’ve experienced similar problems with Bing/Yahoo campaigns, but it makes determining the actual traffic volumes quite frustrating.

Conclusion

For a personal injury law firm, its very hard to make a compelling case for running a Facebook advertising campaign. While there are good reasons to have a company page on Facebook (search engine visibility, client engagement etc), our experiment suggests that a Google display network campaign remains a better investment for brand awareness. It offers comparable costs per click with much better visibility for the brand.

However, if a client had a particular demographic in mind (e.g. 55 year olds engaged to be married), I do think we could put together a campaign that would generate quality traffic. We’ll be trying another experimental campaign using the Stories option for a different client and will report back with our observations.

 

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