Chapter 1 - Leads! Leads! Leads!

Questions you will be able to answer at the end of this chapter:

  • What is a lead?
  • What is lead generation?
  • How do I get more leads?

We have attempted to make this book as succinct and as practical as possible by outlining all of the steps required to navigate the abyss of internet marketing. In the end, you will have to decide which approach best suits your firm, but we have provided projections and analysis with data procured from actual Social Security law firms and our own web campaigns to assist the decision process. However, before delving into the intricacies of lead generation and how to grow your Social Security practice, it seems fitting to provide some background and terminology that will form the basis of later discussion.

You have most likely encountered the term “lead” during your legal endeavors, whether via a sales call or within some marketing materials. While many use the term with little contemplation, the exact definition may remain elusive to some.

When talking about “leads” and “Social Security lead generation,” we are referring to an indication for a potential opportunity, namely the opportunity of acquiring a signed Social Security case. You may have referenced a “lead” by one of its many nicknames, including a “contact” or “intake.” Regardless of the preferred diction, we will use “lead” to denote any individual with a potential case, the contact information of which derived from your own marketing effort or from that of a third party.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the semantics because if you have ever run a print, television, or radio campaign, you are already quite familiar with the concept of a lead. Though you may have called it something else (e.g., potential, prospect, etc.), for our purposes, “lead” will suffice. For example, a potential claimant sees a television ad, calls the listed number, and requests assistance from your firm. This potential claimant may now be referred to as a “lead.”

In the legal sphere, numerous mediums may produce viable leads, including print, television, radio, web, and more. One needs only to drive down an interstate, watch a few minutes of television, or turn on the radio to witness the prevalence of lawyer advertising. While these methods may certainly prove effective, especially within the realm of Social Security Disability (SSD) lead generation, you must ask yourself whether they constitute the most efficient use of your marketing dollar. Usually, to start a television or radio campaign, you have to purchase a certain amount of ad space/time and designate specific markets. Unfortunately, altering the campaign in any manner (e.g., modifying budget or reducing the market size) proves quite difficult, and the ability to make real-time adjustments is often infeasible, since many middlemen and third parties must be traversed before actual changes take effect.

Enter internet marketing, and more specifically, search engine advertising. As search engine algorithms have become more complex and internet browsing more prevalent, the web has revealed itself as an information mecca to which people flock. On account of advances in navigational and semantic search, specific search queries tend to yield fairly on-target results. Thus, if you could somehow have your website appear for terms that you deem valuable (e.g., social security attorney or social security disability), you should, in theory, receive a significant amount of qualified traffic.

The good news is that this is quite feasible. The bad news is that it does require some upfront investment of time and capital. Nevertheless, there are two main methods of generating search traffic to your website: pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimization (SEO). While each possesses its respective advantages and drawbacks, they can both be leveraged in a powerful way to grow your case load.

If time is of the essence, pay-per-click advertising can offer a quicker return-on-investment and is thus the easiest way to enter the web arena. PPC advertising allows real-time campaign customization options for keyword targeting, ad appearance, budget and territory. This flexibility enhances its appeal over other advertising media, especially for the web novices among us.

While certainly not as quick as PPC advertising in producing results, search engine optimization provides more sustainable long-term benefit, as about 50% of web traffic flows through organic search. SEO refers to enhancing the organic, or natural, listing of your website within the search engines. When you input text in the search bar, the results are divided into two categories: sponsored listings and natural listings. Sponsored listings arise from bidding on specific terms (i.e., PPC advertising), while natural listings result from the search engines themselves deeming that a site is relevant to a specific search term. Unlike PPC advertising, the search engines do not charge you for organic traffic, making it the most coveted, and often most difficult, type of traffic to receive. Further, the algorithms of the major search engines are considered trade secrets, so many optimization strategies spring from conjecture and theory rather than concrete knowledge. Nevertheless, the majority of the SEO “experts” would agree that having large amounts of original, relevant content combined with links from high-ranking, relevant organic sites correlates with competitive organic placement. This seems logical, but unfortunately months or even years may elapse before any organic visibility is realized. It is therefore recommended to run organic and PPC campaigns concurrently, thereby hedging against rising PPC costs and changing search algorithms.

Though PPC advertising and organic optimization represent the two principal ways of generating traffic to your website, other web lead generation methods exist, including social media outreach, banner ads, third-party providers, and more. We will consider lead generation options in greater detail in Chapter 3, but for now, we can accept that these two methods can prove effective for acquiring more cases. Also, despite the conceptual similarities between web lead generation and other lead generation techniques, it is worth noting that you may need to alter your customary follow-up strategy slightly when dealing with internet leads. This will be discussed in Chapter 4.

What’s the bottom line? If you are looking for more Social Security Disability cases, maintaining a solidified web presence is vital. Nielsen reports an over 150% increase in web users in the last ten years, underscoring the web’s new role as the principal information supplier to the curious world. Keyword research obtained from Google exhibits high user interest for search terms such as social security disability and disability benefits. Further, as smartphones now offer full web browsing capabilities, advertisers can capitalize on a new demographic of users.

At this point, you should have a solid grasp on the concept of lead generation and its potential to augment your practice. The rest of this book is devoted to laying the foundation for an effective lead generation campaign, how to generate web leads, tips for the follow-up process, and how to monitor lead quality.