What The Data From Google Trends and the American Bankruptcy Institute Reveals About The Coming Surge Of Personal Bankruptcies Post Covid-19

I’ve spoken with a number of bankruptcy lawyers who are anticipating a tidal wave of bankruptcies over the next few years due to the economic impact of COVID-19. In addition, I also learned that the recession of 2008 triggered a surge in new bankruptcies which reached a peak of nearly 1.6 million new filings in the year ending September 2010.

We know that history tends to repeat itself. And so, as a marketer who helps bankruptcy lawyers get clients, this sparked my interest and I decided to take a look at the data before, during, and after the great recession of 2008 and compare it to what is happening now.

Google Trends vs. American Bankruptcy Institute

For this case study, I would be looking at data from Google Trends (search volume data) and the American Bankruptcy Institute. 

First, I wondered if we would see the correlation between the two.  According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, bankruptcies in August 2020 were down about 41% from 2019.

Here are the Google search volume indicators from August 2019 and August 2020:

August 2019 79-94 (Mean 86.5)

August 2020 54-64 (Mean 59)

That is an approximate decrease in Google search volume of 37.80%. That’s not too far from the American bankruptcy Institute number 41% reduction from 2019 to 2020. It does seem that Google search volume correlates pretty closely with the numbers from the American Bankruptcy Institute. This will be important as we consider the numbers and attempt to predict what will happen in the coming one to two years.

The following graph shows Google search volume for the phrase bankruptcy from 2004 to the present. (January 2004 through October 2020). 

From the beginning of the recession, December 2007, to June 2009, we can see  a 76.6% increase in searches and one that steadily climbs.  Also note that bankruptcy filings peaked in March 2010 according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. 

The following charts show monthly Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptrcy filings from 2006 to 2017. Notice how closely the filing trend follows Google search trends.

The Most Important Thing Bankruptcy Lawyers Can Learn From This Data

If we learn anything from the last recession it’s that we could see a surge of bankruptcies over the next three or five years with the peak coming in 2022.

Did you notice something interesting about the the data from Google Trends and the American Bankruptcy Institute?

If you look back at the charts above you will notice that the bell curve from the American Bankruptcy Institute showing bankruptcy filings peaks approximately nine months after search volume peaks.

As a bankruptcy lawyer, you’re keenly aware that most people are hesitant to file. The truth is most people start contemplating bankruptcy and researching their options months, and sometimes even more than a year, before they are finally ready to take the leap. The majority of people will spend months doing Google searches and considering the idea before they are ever ready to sit down to meet with a lawyer.

The search trends confirm this. The bell curve for bankruptcy filings is nearly 8-9 months after the same peak in searches.

That is why advertising an e-book to people who are not yet ready to schedule a consultation can be so powerful.

Now is the time to position yourself for the coming wave.

Using a surfing analogy, you’ve got to get yourself paddling up to a certain speed and have your timing right to catch a wave.

Lawyers who wait until the tidal wave hits, will pay skyrocketing PPC advertising rates, and only those bankruptcy attorneys who are willing to spend $75 to $150 to acquire a lead will be able to compete. (That will be the cost to acquire a lead, not even a customer.)

The good news is that the people who will be filing bankruptcy three months from now are already thinking about it.

They’re already researching their options. They are also visiting your website in their research. 

The problem with most law firm websites and advertising campaigns is they only give people one reason to respond – schedule a consultation.

If the visitor is still just researching their options, scheduling a consultation will be too big of a threshold cross.

Unfortunately, when they are finally ready, they will search again and find someone else. That is one of the biggest mistakes lawyers make and it can waste a large percentage of their advertising dollars. Unfortunately, when they are finally ready to schedule a consultation with an attorney they will do another Google search and pick the first one who comes up.

That’s the true power of the type of ebook advertising campaigns we are running for bankruptcy attorneys.

They lower the threshold by offering something that would appeal to anyone, whether they are just starting to consider the possibility of bankruptcy, or they are ready to schedule an appointment now.

Our bankruptcy lawyer clients are connecting with people who are in all different stages of their own personal journey. They are building huge mailing lists of people who are going to remember them and trust them when they are ready to cross that threhold and file bankruptcy. 

Click here to watch a free case study revealing exactly how we are we are generating a predictable stream of daily leads for bankruptcy lawyers.