Jamie Tomkins - Head of Paid Performance

Jamie Tomkins recently celebrated his first anniversary as head of paid performance. Here, the history graduate and keen cricketer explains a typical day in the fast-paced role and how predicting what people are thinking is helping First4Lawyers to stay one step ahead of the game.

Advertising is no longer just about who’s got the most money to spend. With so many channels now available, businesses that want to get in front of potential customers must work out not only where they are, but what they’re thinking and when.

Paid performance is just that. It’s the ads you see on search engines and social media, but there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make sure they’re in the right place at the right time.

I started out working in SEO, writing blogs and responding to customer queries, which gave me a really good grounding in understanding consumer needs. It was only when I moved into paid performance, however, that I found my niche. It’s data-driven so there’s a lot of number crunching, but it’s also creative and requires quick thinking and decisive action. It’s never boring!

There’s a real ‘test and learn’ mentality in performance media. There are always new features on platforms for advertisers to try out ranging from types of adverts, all the way through to machine learning driven systems that automate parts of the job. You need to be open minded in trying these features out, but also careful that you’re not negatively impacting performance in doing so.

We are constantly analysing the keywords that we bid on to ensure that we deliver sufficient, relevant traffic to provide our partner firms with quality leads. There are various search engines around, but Google remains the biggest player, with over 90% market share in the UK and competition is fierce. The legal sector is extremely expensive with businesses willing to pay a lot of money for every click on an ad so it’s crucial that we’re continually monitoring performance to maximise return on investment.

Paid social is very different. On platforms like Facebook and TikTok, advertisers are essentially interrupting users as they browse and consume whatever content interests them, so you’ve got to be creative to stop them scrolling past your ad and get them to click on it. For this reason, content is king so we’re always testing new images and snappy messages to catch and hold people’s attention. TikTok is a relative newcomer to the marketplace with its unique video-based offering. Whilst it’s often perceived to be a young person’s platform, we’ve seen some interesting successes in generating leads showing it’s more than just that.

A typical day for me could involve writing an ad script or reporting to stakeholders, but always includes monitoring our paid performance which can see me adjust spend on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. It’s a live system and you need to think on your feet and be both reactive and proactive, but what I like about First4Lawyers is that everyone pulls together and is ready to offer help and advice. My previous job was in travel so moving over into the legal industry has been a learning curve.

I studied history at university and, while there’s no direct link to the job I’m doing now, I do think the analytical skills I learned have come in useful in my current role. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at that point and discovered something I enjoyed and was good at entirely by accident, so I consider myself really lucky.

Outside of work, I play for a local cricket team on The Wirral and have done since childhood, although there will be less time for that this year as my fiancée and I are busy planning our wedding.

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