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The Rainmaker Institute
Rainmaker Report
Practice Building Tips for Today's Attorneys
  January 2015   

Paying for Leads: Should You Buy or Build?

Dear Reader,

An attorney in one of my LinkedIn groups recently asked a question that I've heard many times before:

"I am curious whether anyone here has had luck with pay per lead generation agencies. I am looking to expand my bankruptcy department and am wondering what has worked well for others in the past."

There are several lead generation companies out there for attorneys with similar pay-per-lead (PPL) business models where you pay a flat fee for each lead.

From Total Attorneys (quite possibly the original one) to Nolo (may be the best one out there), to Lead Rival and LegalZoom. It seems like new ones pop up every month, but they all follow the same playbook. Some of these offer exclusive territories while others send the same lead to two or three of your competitors at the same time, leaving it up to the individual firms to "fight over" the lead.

Keep reading to learn how PPL works and whether it's right for your firm.



Stephen Fairley

How Does Pay Per Lead Work?

The way lead generation companies get their leads is very much the same way thousands of tech savvy attorneys get theirs-through the internet. They typically use a combination of Google pay-per-click and SEO to drive leads to a landing page where the lead signs up to "get more information from an attorney about their situation."

The company then sells that lead to the participating members for anywhere from $10 to over $100 per lead, depending on the practice area and the specifics of the case. Bankruptcy leads are usually $10-$60; personal injury start at $20 and go over $100 for more serious injuries; divorce/family law are $20-$40; DUI/DWI leads are usually $50-$100; medical malpractice leads can be $20-$60; and mesothelioma leads are over $100.
Some of these companies screen each call to "ensure a higher quality contact," but the results are debatable; while others simply forward the contact information to the law firm. While this business practice of selling leads may sound dubious, over a dozen State Bar ethic's committees have deemed it acceptable.

I'm sure some of you are asking right now, why would I buy leads? Common reasons I've heard include: I'm just getting my law firm started. I have a lot of overhead to pay for and I need more leads now. They can produce leads cheaper than I can. I can't compete on Google so I'm just paying for someone to do it for me. I don't have time to waste waiting for my networking efforts to pay off. It's just the cost of doing business in the internet age.

7 Keys to Improve Your Lead Conversion

Over the years, we have worked with several hundred attorneys who use or have used lead generation companies and found there are some common characteristics among law firms who are successful in converting those leads. So if you are currently buying leads or are considering using one of these companies to supplement your own marketing efforts, then you need to know these key points.

1. The leads must be geographically exclusive. It is extremely difficult to convert PPL leads in the first place because many of them are price shopping or just looking for free information. Almost all of them fill out multiple sites, so it's twice as difficult if you are competing with another law firm who was sold the same lead at the same time by the same company! I would only recommend you get leads if you are the only one they are sent to.

Now here is where it gets a little sticky-there are some unethical companies who buy their leads from a lead broker (usually at around $10-$15 per lead) who sells them to multiple PPL companies, then the PPL company sells them to your law firm on an "exclusive" basis. While they are "technically" exclusive in that the PPL company only sold the lead to you, the lead broker also sold it to another PPL company.

Be sure you ask very pointed questions about where they get their leads from.

2. You must have a dedicated intake specialist whose primary job is to call the lead. No attorney or paralegal will go after a lead with the kind of persistence and dedication it takes to convert them. Referrals are easy to convert, paid leads are not. If you are not willing to hire a dedicated intake specialist and train them to go after these leads like a pit bull, then I would reconsider paid leads.

3. There must be a sense of urgency when following up with the lead. Research by indicates your conversion rate drops precipitously if you fail to follow up within 5 minutes after the lead comes in. If you are going to use PPL, you must be faster than any of your competitors! A sense of urgency must be driven home to your intake specialist. The same study found your lead conversion rate drops by half if your first follow up attempt goes from 5 to 10 minutes!

4. Your intake specialist must be instructed to call them a minimum of 7-10x before giving up. No, that is not a typo. If you want to convert these types of leads, you will have to work harder than anyone else. There should be 3 calls made the first day: one within five minutes, a second call within about an hour, and the third by the end of the day. Two more calls should be made the next day, then two more the day after that, then ideally one per day for the next 2-3 days.

5. You also need to send them 3-5 emails in addition to the phone calls. These emails should be educational in nature and subtly informing them of why they should call you and set up an appointment.

6. You must be dedicated to tracking every single lead, how many of these leads turn into appointments, how many of your appointments show up, how many sign up at the initial consultation, and how many sign up afterwards.

7. You must use lead conversion software. There are three components to a successful law firm: people, software, and systems. You need the right people running a lead conversion software (this is completely different from practice management software) and following a precise system of best practices in intake and lead conversion. I invite you to contact us at (888) 588-5891 if you want help with implementing these for your law firm.

If you're unwilling to make these commitments, I recommend you stay away from buying leads from lead gen companies, as your conversion rate will be so low it won't give you a good ROI.

By the way, the average consumer attorney only converts 5-15% of their leads into paying clients (out of 100 leads they sign up 5-15 new clients). I have met many attorneys buying leads who are converting in the low single digits. If you use a systematic approach to lead conversion, including the principles I mention above, you can increase that to 25-35%, which is what the best in the business achieve.

If you'd like to learn more proven strategies for business development, I invite you to attend a Rainmaker Retreat, our two-day law firm marketing workshop. We have sessions every month around the country - go to to check the schedule.

If you're ready to take your firm to the next level this year and would like some assistance in achieving your goals in creating a lifestyle law firm, I invite you to sign up for a complimentary strategy session with one of our trained Rainmaker Law Marketing Consultants by calling 888-588-5891 or filling out this form.

We have helped over 10,000 attorneys across the nation discover the secrets in building a financially successful and personally satisfying legal practice and we would love to have your law firm be our next success story!
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6 Key Numbers
Friday, January 23, 2015*
10-11am PT | 1-2pm ET

*Time doesn't work?
Registrants will receive a recording of the webinar to watch at their convenience.

There are 6 financial numbers every lawyer running and growing a business needs to understand and review every month.

Unfortunately, many attorneys don't have the systems in place to obtain these numbers or they don't know which numbers are the most critical to their business. If you don't know your numbers you cannot build a financially successful law firm! This webinar will provide you with the tools you need to accurately gauge the financial stability and health of your business.

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Miami, FL

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