1. Find out how much traffic the branded network’s site generates. Check with a company like Quantcast, which provides an estimate of the traffic generated to a single website.
2. Find out where the company pulls in the leads. An unscrupulous company might be purchasing low-quality leads to funnel to their lawyer network.
3. Find out how the service operates. For example, does it focus on generating the traffic by purchasing Google AdWords? What is the strategy for generating leads to push to the lawyer network? The cost of the service to your firm is going to depend on its costs to generate the leads to forward to you.
4. Note how tailored the lead generation service is to your specific practice area and jurisdiction. Some companies may restrict their own marketing to particular states or regions to generate leads for the areas where they have the most lawyer members in their network.
- If the service is attempting to generate leads from landing pages that are too broad, this is going to mean fewer warm leads for you.
- Are you in a jurisdiction where the company has focused its marketing to the public, or will you be one of only a handful of lawyers in your jurisdiction using the service?
5. Do a cost/benefit analysis based on the return you would get from each lead and how much the company is charging for leads.
- If the service is performance based, then find out if you must pay for leads even if they are not warm leads or if you are unable to convert a lead to a paying client. Most performance-based services will define a qualifying lead as any individual sent to you with a legal need that you have told the company you will handle.
- Factor in the amount that you would charge that client for services and make sure the cost to acquire the client in the first place is the most effective use of that money.
- Some companies with these services offer lead monitoring and tracking tools as well as other forms of support to help the lawyer with lead conversion.
What Is Online Lawyer Lead Generation?
Online lead generation services go a step further than lawyer directories and the matching services of most branded networks. Companies with lead generation channel individual warm leads, prospective clients ready to retain a lawyer, directly to a specific lawyer in the practice area in which they need assistance.
The key to this business model rests in conversion rates—or how often a warm lead is converted into a paying client by the lawyer who received that direct lead from the company’s service. To achieve high conversion rates, the company has to focus on the quality of the leads that it generates and directs to the lawyer. Accordingly, many of these companies use strategies that narrow in on specific practice areas so that they are attracting traffic to landing pages with legal education and content that appeal to the prospective clients the company’s lawyers want channeled to them.
Some of these companies will even provide exclusivity in the delivery of leads to the lawyers. This means a company may allow only a limited number of lawyers in its network who provide services within a particular jurisdiction or zip code. This ensures that the lawyers in the network are receiving quality leads rather than having to share those leads among a large number of lawyers on a rotating basis or leaving the selection of a lawyer from a list up to the consumer. Some of these services will use live call centers to vet the consumer’s need for legal services before sending him or her to a lawyer in the network. Other companies will use a live call center along with an online form designed to determine how ready the consumer is to purchase legal services and then decide whether one of their lawyers is capable of and willing to handle that matter within the budget and time frame requested by the lead.
Many of these companies also provide a platform for management of the leads generated through their services. As with any prospective client that comes to a lawyer, it is the lawyer’s sole responsibility to convert that lead into a paying client who has signed an engagement agreement. Lead management tools behind a company’s platform may be a useful way for lawyers to keep track of incoming opportunities as well as ensure that they have responsibly responded to each potential request for legal services by either agreeing to discuss the matter with a prospective client or putting on digital record that he or she declined representation. Online management tools might be combined with analytics to show the effectiveness of each of the lawyer’s marketing channels. This could be useful for the lawyer in establishing an online marketing strategy.
[This material is borrowed and updated material from my book Consumer Law Revolution which examines lawyer collaboration with branded networks – companies that market online legal services to consumers while also matching the consumer to a lawyer in the company’s online network.]