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August 05, 2015 Dialogue

Reaching Online Legal Consumers at the Micro-Moment They Need You

By Ken Matejka

When marketing to the modern online consumer, it is essential to get your message in front of them at the moment they decide it is time to hire a lawyer. Google says that the mobile revolution has eliminated the normal sales funnel for many services as consumers have grown to expect immediate fulfillment of their needs.

Google refers to this as the "Micro-moment":

"Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something . . . In these moments, consumers' expectations are higher than ever. The powerful computers we carry in our pockets have trained us to expect brands to immediately deliver exactly what we are looking for when we are looking. We want things right, and we want things right away."

Advertising by local legal service providers like LRISs has changed dramatically since the widespread adoption of the smartphone as the preferred device for accessing the Internet.

This article will describe a few of the key metrics to be aware of so you can refine and narrow your use of online advertising to make the most of your marketing budget.


When do people search for legal help?

It has been found that legal consumers, like all consumers, are generally task-oriented during the week—particularly in the mornings—and that by late afternoon and weekends, their searches tend to be more entertainment and news-related. In the chart below, we see e-mail inquiries by time for the Bar Association of San Francisco LRIS for the first four months of this year.

According to the chart, people are most likely to make contact with the program between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. For advertising, we'll want to make sure our ads (whether it's Google or any other online advertising channel) are scheduled to run during those hours of the day at the least. For staffing, we want to have maximum coverage by phone, email, text and chat during those hours as much as possible.


In the following chart, we see inquiries to the Bar Association of San Francisco's LRIS by day of week, extending back through the nine years that I have been managing their Google advertising. Overall, Tuesdays are the most productive days, with Mondays close behind.

With a small advertising budget, we want our ads to be running as much as possible on Tuesdays. Then, if budget allows, we want to run ads on Mondays, Thursdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, respectively. Likewise, we should keep these high-volume periods of time in mind when scheduling our intake staff.

What phrases are they searching for?

The data is clear that highest volume law-related searches are very general in nature. The highest volume search terms shown in the chart below are the single words "lawyer," "lawyers," "attorney," and "attorneys," accounting for 35% of all searches. Variations of "legal aid" weighed in at 6%. Out of 2,401 search terms that we're bidding on in this particular English-language Google campaign for the Brooklyn Bar LRS, the top 30 search phrases (each search phrase including variations of "lawyer" and "attorney") account for 71% of the overall search volume.

Naturally, the highest volume search phrases happen to be the most competitive and expensive to target. In a self-managed campaign, a large volume of local legal consumers can be reached by bidding upon just a few dozen phrases, but by bidding on the other several thousand less-competitive phrases, you stretch your marketing dollar the furthest. Consequently, you should make an effort to build out your search phrase inventory as much as you can.

What devices are they using?

The chart below shows 2014 inquiries to the Bar Association of San Francisco LRIS by the type of device the legal consumer was using to make contact with the program. The device used most often to make contact with the lawyer referral service in English and Spanish was a smart phone.

Not surprisingly, when the LRIS does not have a mobile-formatted version of its website, the smartphone is not a significant source of inquiries, which causes the program to miss out on the majority of inquiries that it could be receiving.

It is worth noting again that if a Spanish language user is searching in Google and makes contact with an LRS, the data shows that the user almost always makes contact by click-to-call through a smartphone—virtually to the exclusion of all other device types—as shown in the chart above.

Finally, it is further worth noting that Google has nearly 100% of the smartphone search market, being the default search engine on Androids and most iPhones.

It is recommended that your marketing budget, which is presumably limited, be weighted toward advertising to people who are searching on smartphones, allocating less of your budget toward desktop advertising.


In Summary 

  • See if something can be dedicated to Google advertising in order to reach people during the micro-moment they are looking for legal help. It doesn't have to be very much. By way of example, I manage one lawyer referral service campaign where the monthly budget is only $100.
  • Set the schedule of your advertising to run when you have the staff resources to answer every phone call, ideally during primetime for law-related search. If your budget permits, extend your advertising to lower volume weekday afternoons. I recommend not advertising on weekends unless your monthly budget is very large.
  • Bid on as many search terms as you can to keep your cost-per-inquiry as low as possible.
  • Mobilize your website to reach the considerable number of consumers who are searching for legal help on their smartphones! Shift your marketing investment toward mobile devices to reach consumers during the micro-moment that they need your help. (For information on how to mobilize your website inexpensively, consult the April article in #LRS2Know, “It's Time to Make Your LRS Website Mobile-Ready.”)

Ken Matejka


Ken Matejka, J.D., LL.M, is a California attorney and a former member of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Services. He is author of the #1 bestseller "The Lawyer's Ultimate Guide to Online Leads." His company, Matejka Marketing, Inc., currently provides online marketing services to 32 bar associations nationwide.