How I helped a civil rights lawyer go from barely any leads to 15 signed clients in 1 month 

Back in March, I contacted someone on Upwork who was looking for a “social media marketer” to help him bring in more leads. 

He was a civil rights attorney helping women who had been sexually harassed by their landlords. 

I sent him a proposal, explaining why he would be better off hiring me (a conversion copywriter) and a Paid Ads Specialist instead. 

He ended up taking me on as fractional CMO for the project (to handle everything from the strategy, research and copywriting to the hiring and project management). 

The problem: 

Low quality leads that weren’t turning into clients 

My client had spent $18,000 on a marketing agency – which generated one lead. He was more successful on his own, but said that the results weren’t consistent. 

He ran Facebook Ads in the past, but they brought in low-quality, low-intent leads that didn’t result in ROI. 

The ads would generate a few leads here and there – but when my client tried to call them, they wouldn’t pick up the phone. 

My client said that if he got 3-5 fileable cases per month, that would be “crazy, wild, wonderful success.” With that goal in mind, I got to work. 

The solution:

Changing ad platforms – and crafting empathy-driven, unlawyer-like copy that resonates with prospects 

Step 1: Researching the prospect

Before building out the funnel, I started with voice-of-customer research, so I could crawl inside the head of the person we were targeting. I wanted to know what they were thinking and feeling before, during and after working with my client. Specifically, I wanted to know: 

  • How the sexual harassment made them feel (and how they reacted to the situation) 
  • What other solutions they had tried (and why they failed) 
  • How they stumbled upon the law firm
  • Any hesitations they had about taking action (and suing their landlord) 
  • What motivated them to file a lawsuit 
  • The process of working with my client 
  • How they felt after taking action (and what their life has been like since) 

In order to get answers to those questions, I:

  • Interviewed my client
  • Interviewed my client’s former clients 
  • Searched in forums (like Reddit) to see what our target audience was saying 
  • Read articles about women who had been sexually harassed by their landlords (shockingly more common than I realized) 

Given the sensitive topic (and the fact that this isn’t something that many women talk about openly), it was a bit of a struggle to get VOC (voice of customer) research.. But fortunately my client was very generous with his time and provided insightful answers to all my questions. And I was able to get quite a few lightbulb moments by interviewing him and his clients. 

Step 2: Crystallizing the messaging 

Once the research was done, I mapped out the messaging for two buyer personas: 

  • Women who are currently being sexually harassed by their landlords 
  • Women who were sexually harassed by their landlords (but are now safe and out of the situation) 

I created one Google doc for each persona, where I included:

  • Fast facts about the persona
  • Problems/pain points
  • Details of the sexual harassment
  • Failed solutions
  • Desired outcomes/dream states
  • Demotivators
  • Hesitations
  • Motivators
  • Urgent motivators
  • Driving emotions
  • Hindering emotions
  • How she feels after taking action (and suing)
  • Beliefs and conversion pre-cursors*
  • Purchase criteria
  • Competition
  • Things to make offer irresistible*
  • Costs if fail to act*
  • Most persuasive proof*
  • Click triggers/risk reducers*
  • Sticky voice-of-customer phrases

*Credit to Copyhackers for that terminology (and for teaching me pretty much everything I know about copywriting)

Those who are currently being sexually harassed by their landlords are more desperate to find an immediate solution. Their state of mind, motivations and hesitations will be different from someone who is removed from the situation. 

This woman is thinking: Help me make the sexual harassment stop. Her primary motivation is keeping herself and her children safe (and stopping the sexual harassment before it gets even worse). Her secondary motivation is getting justice (and making her landlord pay for what he did). 

At the same time, she’s thinking: How do I sue this dirtbag without ending up homeless in the process? What if he evicts me – or retaliates in some way? 

Women who are out of their harasser’s housing will need more convincing to take action since the situation isn’t urgent. In this case, her primary motivation is getting justice (so that her landlord doesn’t continue to harass more women). She’s not as concerned about retaliation – but there are still a few concerns holding her back: 

  • I’m too busy… between working a full-time job and taking care of my kids, I’ve got too much going on to deal with a lawsuit
  • Nobody will believe me anyway
  • But… I hate lawyers. They’re all just after my money. They all have an attitude. And they make me feel stupid. 

My client’s ideal client is someone who is no longer in their harasser’s housing. Otherwise, it can be difficult or impossible for him to help women get out of their housing situation and prevent retaliation. 

Step 3: Choosing the best platform 

After speaking with several paid ads specialists, I decided that Google Ads was the best platform to target these prospects. 

Here’s why:  

People on Facebook aren’t actively looking for a solution. So even if they click on an ad, they might not be serious about taking action. They’re going to require more nurturing in order to pick up that phone. Facebook is *great* for: 

  • Advertising products that people don’t know exist or don’t need right now 
  • Building brand awareness (and building a loyal customer base) 
  • Selling products with a huge visual appeal 

Google Ads, on the other hand, is ideal for targeting people who are actively searching for a solution and ready to take action (aka pick up the phone). 

I hypothesized that Google Ads would attract more leads who are still being sexually harassed by their landlords (and not removed from the housing situation). 

Why? Because these women are in a more urgent situation and are therefore more likely to be actively searching for a solution. 

Even though it’s not my client’s perfect-fit client, it seemed to be the lowest hanging fruit here. 

Step 4: Building the funnel 

Next, I planned out the funnel which looked a little something like this: 

The prospect clicks on the Google Ad, which takes them to a landing page. 

They fill out a form, which asks them for just their first name and phone number (to reduce friction and any concerns that people might have about privacy).

Those who fill out the form are taken to a brief survey, which asks them a series of follow-up questions (which will help determine if the leads are qualified). 

Those who provide their email address are sent a nurture email sequence to help build trust in the law firm – and encourage them to pick up the phone. 

After planning out the funnel, I wrote the copy. And then hired a small agency to help set up the Google Ads, landing page and automations. 

Step 5: Creating the messaging hierarchy: How I organized the messages on the landing page to ensure the copy resonated with the reader 

Before writing the copy, I outlined the messaging on the landing page. I wanted to ensure that the messaging hierarchy (the way the messages were organized on the page) resonated with prospects. 

I always think of the landing page as a conversation with prospects. What are visitors thinking when they land on the page? What questions are they asking as they scroll down the page? And what’s going to convince them to take action? 

In my interviews with my client’s clients, I asked them what motivated them to take action – and many of them said that they wanted to stand up for themselves and do right by their kids. They said that money wasn’t a factor at all in their decision. So I decided to focus on justice as the “big idea” for the landing page. 

I imagined that people were probably thinking (in this order): 

  • Who are you? How can you help me? 
  • Show me that you understand what I’m going through 
  • But… does this really count as sexual harassment? 
  • Ok.. I guess it does count. But maybe I deserved it…
  • Ok, maybe I didn’t deserve it. But why should I take action today
  • But I’ve been through this before… and I got nowhere. How will this time be different?
  • So who are you anyway? Why should I trust you? 
  • What’s the next step if I want to move forward? Do I have to pay anything? 
  • But… what if I don’t have any hard proof of the harassment? Can you still help me? 
  • What if I flirted back? Or gave into his advances? 
  • Maybe I can just do this another time… I’m busy (mainly directed to people who are out of the situation) 
  • But… I hate lawyers. They always make me feel stupid 
  • Ok, you’re starting to convince me. What are the next steps? 
  • Show me proof that your process works 
  • Remind me again why I should take action 
  • Will my landlord retaliate? Or evict me? 
  • Remind me once more why I should take action 

No, the order isn’t perfect. And obviously it might change a bit from prospect to prospect. But that’s a logical order of thoughts and questions many people probably have as they land on the page. 

Step 6: Writing the copy

Once I knew how I would lay out the messages on the page, I started writing. Now let’s take a closer look at how the copy responded to each of those thoughts and questions…

“Show me that you understand what I’m going through” 

The first section helps to build trust and empathize with the prospect. Take a look: 

I decided to put that copy just below the fold because I felt like these prospects first needed to feel heard and understood. I wanted them to read that copy and think “YES. This lawyer gets me. This is exactly what I’ve been going through.” 

“But… does this really count as sexual harassment?” 

Next, she might start doubting herself (as many victims of sexual harassment tend to do). She could be thinking “maybe I’m overreacting… I don’t know if this really counts as sexual harassment.” There’s also a good chance that she doesn’t know her rights as a tenant. And that what her landlord is doing is actually illegal. 

That’s why I used this section to explain what sexual harassment is. And that they do have rights. This section also helps qualify prospects – so the ones who fit the criteria will feel inclined to keep reading (or even take action). 

“Ok.. I guess it does count. But maybe I deserved it…” 

I had read that many victims of housing sexual harassment blame themselves for being a “bad tenant.” For not being able to pay their rent on time. Or for being in this situation to begin with. Many women think “I guess this is what I have to put up with for being poor.” 

I wanted to absolve them of the blame. And reassure prospects right off the bat that they did *not* deserve this. No matter how poor they are. And no matter what they did (or didn’t do) in the past. 

“Ok, maybe I didn’t deserve it. But why should I take action today?” 

Now that they are hopefully starting to rid themselves of the guilt, they might start to feel incentivized to take action. But they still need a bit of a push and reminder as to why they should take action right now. 

This section reminds them that they aren’t the only ones who are in this situation – and that by taking action, they can help all the other women who are suffering from sexual harassment as well. And their kids. 

“But I’ve been through this before… and I got nowhere. How will this time be different?”

Many of my client’s prospects have already tried just about everything. They’ve spoken to the police (who blew them off… or even blamed them for what happened). They’ve spoken with other lawyers (who have said they can’t help them). They may have even spoken with a housing authority (who were rude and/or slow to respond). 

So at this point, they might be feeling exasperated – and ready to give up. And they may be skeptical that my client can really help them. 

Using the “even if” technique, this part of the landing page is meant to convince them that my client *can* help. Even if they’ve tried just about everything until now. 

“So who are you anyway? Why should I trust you? 

At this point, the prospect is starting to believe that we can help. But we still have to introduce ourselves. 

So in this section, we introduce my client. Share his story and why he cares about this issue. And build credibility (explain why the prospect should trust him). 

I requested that we use a more casual picture of my client (as opposed to a serious one in a suit). I was thinking that a more casual photo would connect more with the audience (and stand out from all the websites with stuffy photos of lawyers in suits).

I wanted to contrast my client with the typical arrogant lawyer. Get a bit vulnerable. And have my client admit some of his former mistakes and faulty thinking. 

(To see more why vulnerability is so important in copywriting, check out my post on Linkedin here.) 

“What’s the next step if I want to move forward? Do I have to pay anything?” 

By now, prospects might be ready to take action. But a big question floating around in their minds is likely “Do I have to pay anything to sue my landlord?” This section addresses that. 

I wanted to make the next steps sound SUPER easy for them. And remind them that their harasser won’t find out anything unless the case is filed. 

“But… what if I don’t have any hard proof of the harassment? Can you still help me?” 

Many women in this situation don’t have evidence of the sexual harassment (other than their word). So one thing holding those women back might be “what if I don’t have any recordings, text messages or hard proof? Do I still have a shot?” 

That’s what this section is for: 

What if I flirted back? Or gave into his advances?” 

Another concern these women have is that they might not have a case if they gave into their harasser’s advances. 

The next few lines of copy serve to address that hesitation: 

“Maybe I can just do this another time… I’m busy” 

Women who are no longer being sexually harassed by their landlords are probably not feeling a strong urgency to take action. They might be thinking “maybe another time…” or “I’ve got too much going on right now to deal with a lawsuit…” 

The next paragraph incites a bit of urgency in the situation and tells them why this isn’t something that they should put off. 

“But… I hate lawyers. They’re money-hungry and they always make me feel stupid” 

Lawyers don’t have the best rep. Many people see them as greedy, arrogant and untrustworthy. 

I wanted people to know that this law firm wasn’t like other law firms. That they truly cared about these cases and each individual. 

Here’s how I did that: 

“Ok, you’re starting to convince me. What are the next steps?” 

Now that people are (almost) ready to take action, they are likely wondering what the next steps are. There are a LOT of steps in the process (over 10), but I didn’t want to overwhelm people right off the bat and scare away potential prospects. So I simplified the process, only sharing the information that they needed to know (as my client will explain the rest on the call anyway). 

Notice also that the crosshead isn’t just a “How it works” crosshead (what Copyhackers would call “placeholder copy”). Instead, it focuses on how my client’s process benefits the prospect. 

“Show me proof that your process works” 

Here, I wanted people to know that a) this process works and b) my client would go above and beyond for them. 

“Remind me again why I should take action” 

In the next section, we’re reminding people that this isn’t just about stopping the sexual harassment. This is about standing up to sexual harassment and ensuring that other women (and their kids) don’t have to go through what they did. 

“Will my landlord retaliate?” 

Just before the closing, we have the FAQ section where we address some final questions that people might have before taking action like “will I get evicted?” and “when will my landlord find out that I’ve sued him?” 

“Remind me again why I should take action” 

In the close, we tell readers what will happen if they *don’t* take action: 

I tried to use words that would evoke a bit of emotion (ie: “monster” instead of “guy”). 

Also notice the microcopy below the calls-to-value (that reduces friction by telling people what to expect when they click that button). 

The result:

3x the amount of signed clients my client was hoping for – at half the marketing budget 

Here are the results within one month of running Google Ads (and just a $2997 ad spend): 

  • 54 qualified leads 
  • 13.64% landing page conversion rate 
  • $2.75 CPC 
  • 10.47% CTR (industry average is 2.41% according to WordStream)
  • $16.47 cost per conversion (average is $48.96 for search ads) 

We also had a 3:33 average time on page (which we started measuring in July). Considering that the average time on my page on my client’s website is just 1:01… that’s pretty darn good. It shows that people are interested and engaged in the content. Hotjar recordings – which showed many sessions of people seeming to read every word on the page – confirmed that (and once again, goes to show the importance of compelling copy). 

And here’s where it gets *really* good…

In just one month, my client has already gotten 15 signed clients. While not all of those clients will result in ROI (since some won’t make it past the investigation phase), many of them will. Those who do are worth, on average, tens of thousands of dollars to my client. 

So assuming that only half of those clients have a fileable case, my client has already made hundreds of thousands of dollars from this venture. He’s even had to hire more people to handle the volume of leads coming in.

What we could do even better (‘cause there’s always room for improvement): 

Now that we have some data to work off of, my focus is on optimizing the campaign. Here are a few goals I have – and how I’ve been tackling them. 

1. Improve lead quality 

Out of 110 leads, 56 haven’t been qualified.

In the first week or so, we had a lot of leads come in who weren’t qualified (who had been harassed, but not sexually harassed by their landlord). So we added a question to the form: “Is the harassment you’re dealing with sexual in nature?” 

The ones that marked “no” were immediately disqualified (so my client didn’t have to spend time on calls that went nowhere). 

But I also wanted to make sure that we aren’t wasting ad money on unqualified leads. 

After digging into the data I bit, I found that many of the leads who searched using the keyword “landlord stalking” (or some variation of that) weren’t qualified (since the harassment wasn’t sexual in nature). 

So to make sure that my client is spending his ad dollars on keywords that are resulting in not just leads –  but clients – we added “landlord stalking” (and other related keywords) as negative keywords. 

I also added a bit of copy to the form that states “we can only help you if the harassment is sexual in nature.” before the question “Is the harassment you’re dealing with sexual in nature?” 

Since we’ve added that copy, our lead qualification rate has gone up significantly (from 65% to 88%). 

2. Attract more qualified traffic to the landing page 

In the first month, we were running two ads: one that was more general (ie: “fight landlord abuse”) and one that was more specific to sexual harassment (“stop housing sexual harassment”). 

Ad #1: 

Headlines: Lawyers for Harassment Victims/Fight Landlord Abuse/Stop Housing Harassment 

Description: Get free legal support if you are a victim of housing sexual harassment. We fight for your rights as a tenant.

Ad #2: 

Headlines: Stop Housing Sexual Harassment/Lawyers for Harassment Victims/No Fee Until You Win

Description: Tired of keeping secrets for dirty men? We can help you sue your landlord and get justice.

Before we added the copy to the form (stating that we can only help if they have been sexually harassed), the more general ad (ad #1) was performing much better. From May 18-June 22, it had a 20.53% conversion rate compared to the more specific ad which was just 1.14%. BUT as we later found out, many of those clicks and conversions were unqualified. 

After we added the copy “we can only help you if the harassment was sexual” to the form, I noticed that ad #1 (our ad that’s specific to sexual harassment) started getting a much higher conversion rate and lower cost per conversion. 

The ad that’s specific to sexual harassment has been getting a 9.59% conversion rate — compared to a 4.27% for the more general ad. That’s a $16.97 cost per conversion for the specific ad and a $38.05 cost per conversion for the more general ad. 

Next, I wanted to test and see if the specific ad copy was indeed performing better due to headline copy that’s specific to sexual harassment. 

So we started running an A/B test with two versions of the ad that are exactly the same except one has the headline “stop housing harassment” and the other has the headline “stop housing sexual harassment.” 

My hypothesis was that the more specific ad would perform better (higher conversion rate + reduced cost per conversion) – but the CTR on the general ad may be higher since many of those clicks are unqualified. 

My plan was this: 

If my hypothesis was correct, then we’d replace the general ad with the specific ad. If my hypothesis was wrong, then we’d run another A/B test to see what else could be causing the specific ad copy to have a higher conversion rate (perhaps something in the description which is evoking more emotion? Maybe the “no fee until you win” in the headline is attracting more high quality leads?). 

After letting the ads run for a few weeks, we found out that the more specific ad copy was indeed performing better. Here were the results: 

Clicks Imp. CTR CPC Conv. rate # Convs Cost/


Specific ad  268 5,958 4.50% $3.51 9.33% 25 $37.67
General ad 532 5,813 9.15% $1.74 4.70% 25 $36.97

So my hypothesis was right – and wrong. The specific ad copy indeed performed better overall (higher conversion rate). While the general ad brought in 2X the amount of clicks – but half the conversion rate. 

The cost per conversion was about the same for both ads – because both ads resulted in 25 conversions over that time period. BUT the general ad likely brought in much more unqualified traffic. 

Based on the results, I suggested that we funnel all the ad spend towards the more specific ad copy. I also suggested that we add “landlord invasion of privacy” to our negative keywords, since that keyword isn’t specific to sexual harassment and could be contributing to the problem. 

My thinking was that those two changes would help us bring in more qualified traffic – and leads. Also, it would increase our conversion rate and because our ad copy matches the keywords people are searching for, it should increase our quality score, which will tell Google our ad is relevant – and improve our ad position. 

It’s only been about a week since we made those changes, but already, we’ve seen a big jump in conversions. Our conversion rate over the past week has been at 10.34% (compared to 6.73% from the previous week). 

While it’s still a bit too early to tell, I’m hopeful that the lead quality will also be higher. 

Moving forward, I’d like to test out more specific ad copy. And continue to look for ways that we can bring in more high quality traffic – and leads. 

10-month update: Lessons learned

We recently halted the campaign because my client decided to sell his law firm. So I thought I’d update this post with some of the final learnings from the campaign.

  1. Don’t put much importance on CTR, Quality Score and CPC 

So many ad agencies focus on CTR and CPC that I used to think they were important metrics. Now I’ve realized just how wrong I was!

Quality Score is a vanity metric used by Google to try to increase CTR (so they can make more money from ads). Our quality score has been “poor” throughout the entire campaign (more on that below) — but our results have been through the roof.

As for CTR, you can have the highest CTR in the world but if isn’t resulting in qualified leads, then it’s not worth a gosh darn thing. Yes, ideally your CTR will be high and your CPC will be low. But those aren’t the metrics that matter at the end of the day. What matters are your conversion rate, percentage of qualified leads and (most importantly) ROI.

2. Pin your headlines! 

By default, response search ads (RSAs) mix and match headlines. Google will try to convince you NOT to pin your headlines because it reduces reach and click-through rate. But don’t listen to them! You’ll have much better results if you pin your headlines.

Pinning your headlines gives you control over how the ad appears. And allows you to attract a targeted audience.

I witnessed this firsthand. In February, my client informed me that a few unqualified leads had been trickling in. For some reason, we’d been getting leads outside of housing (like prison and residential rehab).

So rather than let Google mix and match our ad copy, I suggested we pin the headline “Stop Housing Sexual Harassment” so it would appear first in the ad. And help pre-qualify leads.

I hypothesized that it might decrease our CTR, but would increase our conversion rate. And bring in higher quality leads.

And… I was right!

While the CTR dropped from 14.29% to 4.26%, our conversion rate for that ad skyrocketed from 7.87% to 19.36%. Most importantly, the lead *quality* improved 🎉

And nope, it’s not a fluke… those results stayed consistent over the past month.

But here’s the funny thing:

Even though we got better results, our quality score stayed “poor.” Presumably because we weren’t listening to Google’s recommendations.

So… yes, pinning your headlines might result in a lower quality score — but don’t let that scare you. ‘Cause it could lead to (much) better ad performance. And at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.

3. Run a thank-you page survey to get VOC (voice of customer) that you can use to optimize your campaign 

Credit to my copywriting training (Copyhackers) for this one, but running a thank-you page survey can help you get valuable insights that you can then use to optimize the campaign.

Here are the questions that I put on the thank-you page survey:

  1. What motivated you to seek out a lawyer for the sexual harassment?
  2. What made you consider our law firm in particular?
  3. What are you looking for in a lawyer?
  4. Do you have any hesitations about hiring a lawyer?

The responses to those questions helped us track lead quality (more on that below) and optimize the campaign (message match). Oh and in case you aren’t convinced that messaging had a big role to play in the success of the campaign, here were some responses to question #2:

  • “Feeling understood after researching your firm online”
  • “After searching on Google the message on your homepage made me feel like I made the right choice”
  • “Thought you seemed like you would fight for me”
  • “Researched others and you explained exactly how I felt”
  • “Everything you stated in this ad is exactly what I’m dealing with 10000%”
  • “You know what I’ve been through, you might as well be describing the hell I went through and am still in…”

In other words, the messaging on the landing page mirrored these prospects’ deep-seated pain points, desires, motivations and hesitations. So as they were reading the copy, they felt understood. Like they were having a conversation with a particularly empathetic friend (rather than a lawyer who was selling them services).

And because of that…

My client became the *only* choice for them. In fact, my client said that the messaging was so effective that leads felt betrayed when he turned down their case! 

4. Always track where leads come from (ad campaign, search term) 

My client had said he wanted to focus on physical sexual assault cases. So we ran two different campaigns: one which focused on those types of cases. And another that was more general (related to all types of sexual harassment). I requested that we add a UTM parameter that would allow us to see the keyword that leads were coming from. As well as the ad campaign.

At first, it appeared as if the physical sexual assault campaign resulted in fewer conversions and leads. But I wasn’t convinced. I wanted to see the *quality* of those leads coming in.

After reviewing the thank-you page surveys and analyzing the data, we saw the physical assault campaign indeed resulted in higher quality leads. Fewer conversions but more qualified leads.


Thinking ahead: Broad match vs phrase/exact match?

For this campaign, we ran exclusively broad match keyword campaigns. My ad partners thought that was the best approach and would, well, broaden our reach. My concern was that — even with all the negative keywords we added — broad match brought in too many unqualified leads.

For future campaigns, I would like to try out phrase and exact match keywords more as I’m fairly certain this would help bring in more qualified leads.

Another benefit of exact match is that it allows you to see the exact search term that each lead came from. Whereas with broad match, we can only see the general keyword group that they come from (not the actual search term).

A good in-between might be phrase match, since that will allow us to narrow the audience more than broad match (but not so much that we miss out on leads who could be searching for similar search terms).


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