Why Every Personal Injury Law Firm Should A/B Test Google Ads

Jennifer Roberts
Mar 10, 2017 · 5 min read

One of the most important digital marketing concepts that personal injury law firms routinely ignore is A/B testing. Specifically, A/B testing ad copy for Google pay-per-click campaigns is virtually unknown in the personal injury attorney advertising industry, unless your firm can hire an outside consultant or agency to manage ad campaigns — and even then, there’s no guarantee that the person you hire does it correctly.

At Lawfty, we’re lucky to have an amazing in-house team of data scientists and legal marketers who use their analytical and creative prowess to manage this process for our personal injury advertising. In this article, we’ll share their expertise with you by exploring what A/B testing is, why it matters, how it works, and what to do if you don’t have the time to manage it on your own.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing means running a default ad against a new ad that differs from the original in one aspect only, for a specific length of time, and then analyzing the results for statistical significance. At Lawfty, and for purposes of this article, we call the original the Champion and the new ad the Challenger.

Once we’ve let two different ads run in the same ad group, we analyze their performance and choose the winner — which is continually tested against new variations that may beat its performance. To do things right, A/B testing requires the right statistical analysis tools — while we’ve developed our own, you can start with this free tool.

Why A/B Testing Matters for Personal Injury Law Firms

The whole point of A/B testing is to systematically uncover new combinations of words that when combined, give you more traffic and less cost. Because law related keywords are so expensive and competition is fierce, even a small difference in cost per click of $1–2 can add up to thousands of dollars saved yearly. That means potentially more signed clients for your practice, because you can maintain the same advertising budget while increasing the number of inquiries you receive.

If you could be saving thousands of dollars and getting more clicks, then wouldn’t you want to know how to make it happen?

What Factors can You Test?

While this list isn’t exhaustive, we recommend that personal injury lawyers first start A/B testing the following parameters:

Headline: the line you lead with can make or break your ad. Try testing variations like “Now,” “Today,” or different terms to describe the same type of accident. Sometimes even the position of one word in the headline can produce a huge difference in response rate. Consider “Talk to a MVA Attorney Now” versus “Talk to an Auto Accident Attorney Now.” What other variations could you come up with?

Text: this is the actual body of your ad. Consider trying different statements that express the value you deliver to your clients. Maybe potential clients are more attracted to statements about your availability, your expertise, or your location — and the best way to find out is by testing two variations against each other.

Display link: Google lets you customize the link that a user sees when your ad displays. The more relevant text you can put in there, the better. For example, if I’m searching for “car accident attorney” and I see yourfirmname.com/car-accident versus yourfirmname.com/mva-attorney, which would perform better? A/B testing will tell you the answer.

A/B Testing Best Practices

At Lawfty, we find that running split tests on our ads requires a few best practices.

First, we have a defined goal so we know what we’re optimizing for. Our machine learning algorithms already take care of dynamically optimizing our bid for the lowest possible cost, so we focus on manually optimizing ad text for CTR (higher volume of clicks). If you’re more concerned with how many advertising dollars actually give you inquiries, you might optimize for conversion rate; or if you’re into spray and pray, you could go with overall ad impressions. In any case, make sure you have a goal and know what you’re optimizing for.

Second, we set our ads to rotate evenly. Google’s default setting is that over time, an ad with better performance in a given factor will gradually be shown more often. However, if you’re interested in using advanced statistical analysis like we do at Lawfty, we prefer to let our A/B/ testing for Personal Injury Lawyers run manually, then analyze results and Set ads to rotate evenly.

Third, only test one factor at a time if you want to pinpoint what actually works. Assuming that my Champion ad copy is on the left and my Challenger is on the right, and my hypothesis is that calling the initial interaction an “Evaluation” versus a “Consult,” then this would be an effective A/B test that only examines one variable at a time:

Finally, the fourth best practice we have is to monitor results and innovate often. We’re constantly working on improving our algorithms and our ad copy, and there’s no time to waste when we’re focusing on driving more cases at a lower cost to our partner firms. That’s why we have a cut-off date of six weeks for any A/B testing, and we review results of our experiments every week to monitor their progress. There’s no sense in wasting money when our business and our partners’ business is on the line. When we see a clear winner, we retire the underperforming ad and move on.

If you don’t have the time or energy to A/B test

If this all sounds like a lot of work to you, then that’s normal. Not every law firm can develop an in-house digital marketing team with enough people dedicated solely to optimizing Google pay-per-click ads. Working with an agency is also a challenge because there’s no guarantee that the other party will devote the necessary time and resources to split testing your ads — and even if they do, there’s very little transparency in how much of the monthly retainer fee you pay them is being spent. Lawfty works with a select group of partner firms in geographically exclusive relationships to solve the problem of overpriced costs of Google pay-per-click ads — so if you’re interested in harnessing the power of our team, don’t hesitate to reach out.