Is Avvo Paid Advertising Worth The Money?
We often get asked by law clients that are approached by AVVO to advertise on their site. We often recommend they don't but wanted to feature this guest article which is a terrific explanation of "Is Avvo Paid Advertising Worth the Money?"
Written by Casey Mraz
There is no denying that Avvo is a huge website with massive visibility in Google and on TV. In fact, according to a recent SEM rush report I conducted, I found that they’re getting an estimated 1.3 million visits a month in Organic traffic. You can see how their monthly organic traffic has been growing pretty steadily over the past year in the graph below.
With that much search visibility, you may find yourself asking the question: “Are Avvo’s paid advertising services worth the investment?” Today we’re going to look at some real world data to see how effective it’s been for some of our legal clients.
To answer this question accurately it’s important we look at all sides of this story to get a full understanding of the benefits and detriments of Avvo’s paid services.
First, let’s look at how much visibility Avvo has
I usually tell my clients the first step in their journey should be to conduct a visibility study and determine if Avvo is ranking for keywords that are important to your business.
For us, we track important keywords through GetStat and simply run our whole keyword list through a ranking analysis in a metropolitan area. If we find that Avvo has enough visibility for our clients in that specific geographic area, then we can continue to the next step.
Right now it looks like Avvo is gaining prominence in a lot of searches and it seems they’re targeting “best” and “near me” queries with some of their optimization efforts.
You can see this in the SERP example below (the way they optimize their title tags)
In most cases, you will find that Avvo does have enough visibility to ensure you shouldn’t totally ignore it. You also can’t forget the ways you can show up on their website.
How You Can Show Up on Avvo
You can’t hide from AVVO in a lot of search results and there are a couple of different ways to show up on AVVO.
First and foremost you should know that AVVO attorney profiles are free listings. By being an attorney you can get a free profile and be a part of their internal database. This allows you to show up in their internal searches. This profile will also rank highly for attorney name searches in Google once you optimize your profile.
Here is an example of a free attorney name profile below:
But that is just one of the ways a profile will appear on the website. The page where a new client who did not previously know about you or your firm will likely find you on a search results page. Potential clients can find these ranking directly in Google or by doing a search on the Avvo.com website from any page.
The problem with the standard search pages is that there are no free listings above the fold. This means that a user would have to scroll to find you if you’re not paying for a pro listing.
To give you an idea of which listings are paid listings, I highlighted them in red in the example below.
You can see that there is heavy promotion for the paid listings and the free listings are dwarfed. The problem with this is that even if you have the highest attorney rating and someone sorts by rating you will show below the sponsored listings and premium profiles.
Your organic placement on Avvo depends on your overall rating numerical score from 1-10. Now let’s look at the different services they offer for paid placement.
What Advertising Options Does Avvo Offer?
Avvo offers a variety of services some of which are free and others which are paid.
The free options they offer include:
Avvo Profile – Free listing for attorneys on the AVVO main website.
Avvo Reviews – Although these are a part of your Avvo Profile, they deserve more attention.
Legal Q&A – Avvo offers a free legal Q&A section on their website where you can
Legal Guides – You can create free legal guides to share with consumers and show your expertise in an area.
I always recommend maximizing your free exposure and thus I suggest you take advantage of a free profile and fully optimizing it. You should also focus on getting clients to leave reviews on your profile as a standard business practice. If you need help optimizing your profile, read my Avvo optimization guide here.
In addition to the free options, Avvo currently offers two paid services that are good for potentially generating more case leads.
The paid listing offers include:
Avvo Pro – The pricing for this service starts at $49 a month
Avvo Advertising –The pricing for this service starts at $100 a month
Avvo Websites – We will not cover this in today’s article, but will in the future
What Is Avvo Pro?
Avvo pro is a paid subscription service by Avvo that can enhance your Avvo profile. According to Avvo it promotes the profile and gives consumers additional features to contact that specific attorney.
Some of the things the Pro designation allows you to do are:
Create a personal introduction for each practice area
Remove competitors ad’s from your listing
Optimize and highlight preferred client reviews
Include a link to your blog feed
Track analytics in your profile
In addition to this you are given a pro designation on your profile listing which may affect click through rate. We also saw earlier how having an Avvo Pro profile increases your overall visibility above the “free” members.
Below is an example of an Avvo Pro Listing with the Avvo Pro Badge (in blue)
What is Avvo Advertising?
Avvo advertising is a service they created specifically to help your profile gain more visibility within the Avvo.com website. Through this service, they offer paid advertising for those searching in your geographic areas and practice areas. Its similar to a Google Pay Per click in that sense but typically less expensive for attorney based searches.
Using the same example from the screenshot above you can see how these appear circled in red.
One thing to consider before you decide to advertise on Avvo is what your rating is and whether or not you have enough client reviews. Even if you pay to play you are still being compared to other attorneys.
Let’s Look At Some Actual Data From an Avvo Advertiser & Pro User
Case Study #1: Criminal Defense Attorney in Central California // Avvo Advertising
The first case study we’re going to look at is a criminal defense attorney located in central California. This attorney advertised with Avvo for over 3 years starting with a basic pro listing and then upgrading to the sponsored listings in targeted geographic areas.
Over time it sounds like he has been tracking his Avvo performance pretty carefully and better than most attorneys I speak with. Currently, he has maxed out all of the advertising impressions in his area by blocks. Avvo sells the equivalent of listing impressions in blocks of 100.
Thankfully, he was kind enough to share some of his Avvo analytics data with me which you can see below:
I think it’s also worth noting that he does have a 10 Avvo rating as well. Looking at the data above you can see he had over 6,000 impressions during that recorded period. Those numbers seem big! But did it result in cases?
“On average, with current amount I pay, I get about 25 calls and another 25 website clicks per month. But sometimes these are the same person calling or visiting on multiple occasions (because AVVO tracking requires their own special phone number). Those provide ample opportunity to generate new business.I probably close about 5 per month straight from AVVO and the average fee per client is between $2500-$10,000. Some months a very slow and some fast.” – Nicco
Traffic looks cool, but if it doesn’t convert then it’s useless. Looking at the screenshots and data, I was able to confirm that he was getting about 25 phone calls and 25 website visits a month. You can see this in the screenshot below:
Although website visits can be great they differ from phone calls because they still have to contact you once they reach your website. This is why having goal tracking and analytics setup properly can play such a huge role in tracking your campaign success.
Overall, the math worked out like this. He spends about $2,000 per month to get around 6,000 profile views. Of that, it results in 50 contacts.
The Math Breakdown
The Avvo paid listing impressions have an overall conversion rate of about .0083%. This is based on the total “potential clients” metric Avvo provides which seems to count impressions from unique visitors.
This brings the total cost per case from Avvo to $400.
” I have been happy with AVVO but only as a piece to the puzzle. Ideally I would cut my blocks down in half and devote that other $1000 to some other form to further diversify but I can’t complain” – Nicco
Overall Nicco seems pretty happy with his Avvo paid services and it’s meeting his business goals. It would be interesting to re-evaluate the conversion rates by the impression channel. For example, if 25 conversions came from his profile views then that conversion rate would be very high.
If you get a higher conversion rate on another channel it may make sense to increase the investment there.
Case Study #2: Personal Injury Attorney Located in Denver // Avvo Pro Listing
In this example, a Denver-based personal injury attorney was solicited by an Avvo outbound call team to sign up for their premium listings. This law firm has been advertising with Avvo for over a year using this service.
Here are the stats for a year of Avvo advertising with a Pro Listing:
Website Visits from Avvo: 100 ~ these are visitors who clicked from the AVVO profile to the client’s website.
Email Contacts from Avvo: 5 ~ these are emails sent via Avvo.com to the client
Calls Generated: 7 ~ these are calls tracked from the Avvo Call Tracking number.
Cases Signed: 1
The data below is over the past 30 days and was pulled from Avvo’s back end analytics. It is just tracking the actual contacts and not the visits.
Analysis Of Efforts:
In this example, you have to remember you get what you pay for. At $100 a month, it would have been worth it for this client if they signed at least one case, which they did do.
While the ROI worked out for them in this case you can see that it’s probably not effective for someone who wants a quality volume approach. There is also no way to separate which of these visits were “free” visits vs. which ones were paid visits which can make a big impact.
There is also no saying that consumers didn’t find the attorneys profile via a free search and then click through to the clients website. One of the frustrating things is that they do in fact show profile visibility history for the past 30 day date range but it does not show which channels resulted in the contacts. I suspect this is on purpose and you can see this in the example below:
Since Avvo hides some of this data it’s difficult to say how effective ads are being vs the free profile listing. This is something to consider when deciding whether or not to purchase paid ads from them.
What Did Other Lawyers Who Paid for Avvo Have To Say?
I interviewed seven other attorneys who have used Avvo’s paid services over the years and it seems that there results were pretty typical of what I have seen.
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Location: Fresno, CA
Nico, an attorney from Fresno, California seemed to have the biggest wins I heard about during my interviews. According to Nico,
I have used (paid) AVVO for a couple years now. I started with just the simple pro plan but as my business grew I expanded with block/sponsored paid listings. The cost was prohibitive at first but now it is an integral part of my attempt at diverse marketing. Fact is, whether us lawyers like it or not, people gravitate towards directories like AVVO because of the review system. AVVO reviews are a whole other conversation but consumers really do look at them. I have gotten far more business from “I found you online and liked your reviews” than “I spoke with so and so and they said I should call.” It is the modern approach that my firm strives for because modern clients care about that stuff.” – Nico
Practice Area: Probate & Estate Planning
I spoke briefly with an attorney named Jon who does probate and estate planning in Florida. He wished to remain anonymous. He signed up for three months using their promotional rate at about $100 per month but did not receive any leads from this.
Practice Area: Corporate Transactions
The firm Peter works at, Scarinci Hollenbeck, is a bigger firm with a lot of attorneys and multiple locations. Over the years they have tried Avvo with several different attorneys at various lengths. During their trials, they also did not sign any cases they were able to attribute to the Avvo.com listing.
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Paul from the Saputo Law Firm has been advertising with them for over a year at around the $100 price point. During this time he has not been able to attribute any cases to Avvo although it did seem it may not be tracked fully.
What Can We Learn From This?
Paying for ads from a service like Avvo can be a tempting proposition to sign more cases. Over the years I have worked with a lot of attorneys who have tried Avvo and sadly their results were typically less than subpar.
However, those attorneys who invest in reviews and getting a 10.0 score do seem to perform a bit better. At the end of the day, you have to determine if Avvo is a good opportunity for you to try. To make the best decision I recommend looking at your ROI. If $1,200 a year ($100 a month) will get you one case in that year that would mean you have a $1,200 cost per case! That’s a large investment!
On the other hand, what can you use that money for that will do better? Typically we recommend content marketing and link building initiatives but every firm is different. The fact remains though that if you can’t track what sources your cases are coming from, you have more groundwork to do.
Although I’m not a fan of Avvo for many reasons, I will also say that you should never consider ignoring it.
Should You Use Avvo’s Paid Ad’s To Sign More Cases?
No matter who you are you should use Avvo to sign more cases for your firm and know that you can do that using their free services by putting your attention towards the right things. If you’re still considering Avvo paid ads you should enter into a limited time campaign with proper goal tracking setup and evaluate the campaign after a certain period. Since the ads start showing immediately you can run it for 30 days and see if it’s a good fit for your business.
Here are some things you should do with Avvo no matter what.
DO Take Advantage of Avvo’s Free Services
Potential clients do research before hiring an attorney online. Even if they’ve already found you elsewhere they might type your name into Google and find your Avvo profile. Having a strong listing with good reviews and one that is optimized is essential to your success.
Don’t Ignore Reviews on Avvo!
Long H. Duong, a Florida Probate attorney from www.WeProbateFlorida.com told me how important reviews are to his business. He said, “The real value of Avvo for me is the client reviews. I am the second highest reviewed attorney for probate lawyers in the State. Clients regularly tell me that they check those reviews before finally deciding to hire me.”. This is a simple lesson. Don’t ignore online reviews because potential clients WILL research you online.
DO Optimize Your Avvo Profile & Contribute
You can learn more about how to get that Avvo 10 rating here.
DO NOT make Avvo Advertising Your Primary Choice For Immediate Stream Of A lot of Cases
Like we saw in the examples above, Avvo can work for you depending on your per case value and your goals. But it’s unlikely to generate a stream of cases overnight or in the short term without a huge investment.
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