How Attorneys Can Use Retargeting to Attract New Business

Posted by Larry Bodine | Oct 01, 2018 | 0 Comments

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Have you noticed after you visit a retailer's website, you often see banner ads for the company on other websites that you visit, including Facebook? This is a widely employed online technique called retargeting, to remind you to return to the earlier site that you visited.

E-commerce companies, recruiters, universities, real estate brokers — and now law firms — are employing retargeting to display online advertising to website visitors who previously visited your law firm site. These visitors are prospective clients who might otherwise contact a competitor because they left your firm's website and then found theirs.

Retargeting combines two of the most important aspects of digital marketing: automation and personalization. Once the retargeting campaign is set, it works automatically. It personalizes the follow-up based on a particular Web page that an in-house counsel visited or a particular path the person took through your firm website. Retargeting then harnesses the power of familiarity. It's like seeing someone in a Starbucks and then meeting him or her later at a business event.

In simple terms, marketers use retargeting to stay in front of the consumer across devices and to ultimately try to reach them at the right time — the moment of purchase intent. Retargeting enables a CMO to engage new clients, improve response rates and deepen relationships with existing clients.

How Retargeting Works

A law firm website that uses retargeting will place a cookie, or line of computer code, on the visitor's browser. The cookie will store the site visit but does not store any sensitive information, such as the visitor's name, address or any other information that might personally identify the visitor. Then, when that person visits a site in the advertising display network — especially news channels such as CNN or ESPN — the visitor will see the law firm's banner ad.

To try it out, simply visit the Kühl clothing site, look at a pair of shorts, and leave without buying. Next, you will continue to see Kühl ads all over the Web.

The technique is popular with boutiques and firms in smaller markets. Examples include Hughes & Coleman, a Louisville, KY, trial law firm, D.M. Cantor, a criminal defense firm in Phoenix, AZ, the Richard Harris personal injury law firm in Las Vegas, NV, and Steven D. Miller, P.A., a family law firm in Plantation, FL, according to the Geobid customer list.

However, the technique is tailor-made for large law firms that are expanding or launching new practices. Currently, many large firms are expanding their high-stakes IP litigation practices (such as Morgan Lewis and Venable LLP, which both acquired patent practices recently from other firms). Other hot areas, according to Bloomberg, are construction litigation, data privacy protection, trade secret theft, consumer class action defense, workplace discrimination defense, and multi-national employment-based immigration. Target clients include life sciences companies and clients in the social networking, software, electronic game and mobile applications sectors.

A CMO can base a retargeting campaign on visits by in-house counsel to a particular practice area, such as IP litigation. Once that person visits a different site, they will see a banner ad for a selected case history, or a tailored online ad aimed at an industry that has extensive IP litigation.

A proven online marketing strategy 

Retargeting (often referred to incorrectly as “remarketing”) is a proven online marketing strategy. “97% of prospective law firm clients look at three to five law firm websites before contacting one,” says Law Firm Marketing 360. “Many people spend weeks or months researching their legal issue, deciding what to do. The reality is very few website visitors convert [become a client] on their first visit.” As in-house counsel research legal concepts, or just read the news, your ads stay with them, building awareness and trust.

“When they come back, they are showing interest, they are consuming your content, they are downloading, and they are interested in your solutions. This is why you need to try to bring them back to your site and not try to convert them on their first visit,” says David Myers, product manager from Marketo.

A Google search will reveal many marketing agencies that will set up a retargeting advertising campaign. The ultimate suppliers include Google and AdRoll, which says it has more than 37,000 customers.

Retargeting can be inexpensive. The cost of a click based on a legal term in Google AdWords can cost more than $100 per click, but a click on a remarketing advertisement will typically cost as little as $1 to $3 per click on the banner ad.

The setup fee for a campaign is in the $750 range, with a monthly cost of $800 per month. According to a recent study by Marin software, the majority of marketers are spending less than 10% of their advertising budget on retargeting.

Facebook Pixel

Retargeting ads on Facebook can cost as little as $1.35 per click. This is done with a Facebook pixel, which is also code that you place on your website. It helps you track conversions from Facebook ads, optimize ads based on collected data, build targeted audiences for future ads and remarket to qualified leads.

Retargeting has been robust for advertisers on Facebook, as the ad platform AdRoll saw a 31% year-over-year increase in spending.

On average, individuals spend 20-40 minutes a day on Facebook and visit the social network 14 times per day, according to WordStream. The online advertising company's recent benchmark data says that “the click-through rate on Facebook ads compared to traditional display ads can be as much as double, meaning the likelihood of bringing clients back to your site is much higher than other ad types.” See, “Facebook Ad Benchmarks for Your Industry.”

You can use Facebook pixel tracking to collect data when someone lands on a page on your website, when someone uses the search function to look for something on your site, or when someone completes a registration form on your site, such as for a newsletter subscription.

“As you work hard to build a name for yourself within your industry, you need as many loyal consumers as you can find,” says Wisconsin Media. “Rather than giving up on the ones that didn't find what they were looking for the first time, retargeting allows you to reach out to them again and again until they find just what they want.

Benefits of retargeting include:

  • Higher engagement rates (400% increase in click-through rates on retargeted ads, according to Marketo).
  • Lower costs (40% to 70% lower cost per acquisition).
  • Loyal customers rather than lost visitors.
  • Recapturing of lost leads.

Setting Up a Retargeting Campaign

Attorneys can retarget visitors:

  • Based upon a person visiting any page on your website.
  • Based on visiting a certain page such as a contact form or a particular blog post. For example, a visitor to a particular bio page can be shown ads that illustrate that particular practice.
  • Even based on not visiting a certain page, like a page of industries served.

Frequency Capping

Attorneys can choose how they would like to store the cookie in a visitor's computer, up to 180 days. For example, if you have a service that requires individuals to register after 30 days, you can adjust the cookie duration to 60 days so that visitors are retargeted if they forget to renew directly after 30 days.

Another important feature is frequency capping. You can limit displays of your retargeting to 10 times per day or put no limit at all. However, if you show your ad too often to users, it is likely that you will begin to annoy them. For example, the Kühl will appear for weeks after you visit their site.

One way to avert inundating potential clients who have converted is by implementing a burn pixel. This is a snippet of code placed on the law firm's post-transaction page. This code serves to untag people who have completed a purchase so that they do not see further ads.

Retargeting and Ethics

Retargeting, like any other advertising, must comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct. ABA Model Rule 7.1 requires that ads not be false or misleading.

Rule Rule 7.3(b) Solicitation of Clients prohibits a lawyer from soliciting professional employment by live person-to-person contact when a significant motive for the lawyer's doing so is the law firm's pecuniary gain. However, a lawyer's communication is not a solicitation if it is directed to the general public, such as through a billboard, an Internet banner advertisement, a website or a television commercial, or if it is in response to a request for information or is automatically generated in response to electronic searches.

Aviva Meridian Kaiser, the ethics counsel with the State Bar of Wisconsin, agrees that retargeting can be an effective way to increase the number of potential clients who visit a law firm's website.

It is true that more people are using ad blockers, with eMarketer projecting that by the end of this year, 30% of people that use the Internet will install and run ads. However, most news websites can detect if an ad blocker is being used, and will obscure the content until the visitor turns the ad blocker off.

“You don't propose on the first date,” says David Myers of Marketo. “You'll have to reach out to visitors on your website and bring them back with your offers, constantly engaging them and building a relationship with them. You should not push offers in your visitors face, because you know the process takes time. They will likely consult other sources, and do additional research.”

By harnessing the power of familiarity, retargeting effectively engages people in the buying process in today's digital age.


Larry Bodine is the Sr. Legal Marketing Strategist for He may be reached at [email protected] and 520-577-9759.

About the Author

Larry Bodine

Larry Bodine is a marketer, journalist and attorney who knows how to turn website visitors into clients for trial law firms.


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