Triple Digital Blog

How Much Do Small Law Firms Spend on Marketing?
Posted on:
August 22, 2022

From solo practitioners to entire firms, the legal industry is one of the most competitive industries in the world. With so much competition out there, it makes sense that law firms need to budget and invest an average of two to ten percent of their total revenue into marketing channels and advertising. The exact percentage a law firm decides to dedicate to marketing depends on several factors, including the size of the firm, the area of law they specialize in, the marketing strategy they choose to use, and other factors.

While a budget for marketing represents a percentage of your target growth, there's an exception to the rule. If, for example, you want to grow your revenue by $100,000, there's no guarantee that you'll reach that goal by investing $7,000 per year into marketing. Since the industry is so competitive, if you don't invest enough money in a marketing plan, your competitors will outspend you, and your website and listings will basically become invisible.

Whether you're just starting out and want to understand more about how to tackle your marketing strategy effectively or are here because you're trying to figure out where you've gone wrong in your marketing strategy, read on. This guide contains useful information about small law firms' marketing spend and helpful tips to guide you through figuring out how much you should spend on an effective marketing strategy for your law practice.  

Deciding On a Minimum Marketing Budget

You can spend as much or as little you want on legal marketing, but if you want to see consistent results in your efforts and investment, you can plan to spend a minimum of $2,500 to $3,000 per month if you live in a major metropolitan area, and a little less if you live in a residential area. 

It's tempting to cut corners with your marketing budget, but a general rule is to be wary of agencies that offer to work with you for $500 per month. If, after a year or two, you realize that you aren't seeing any results (which is the most likely scenario in such cases), you'll be out $12,000 and have nothing to show for it. 

As you're deciding on a minimum marketing budget for your small law firm, there are two types of marketing to consider: retention marketing and acquisition marketing.

Retention marketing focuses on reminding former clients that your firm exists. You should always invest a small portion of the marketing budget into ensuring that clients can remember your firm's name easily when they need to. This type of marketing is also valuable because it can cost up to seven times more to find a new client than to get an existing one to return. Therefore, when you're deciding how much to allocate to retention marketing, follow a general rule of spending $1 for every $7 you spend on acquiring new clients. 

Acquisition marketing refers to the budget for acquiring new clients. This amount gets distributed among: 

  • Content marketing
  • PPC
  • SEO
  • High-performance web design
  • Online directories
  • Reputation management 
  • Digital tools

Every law firm will have a unique set of needs and should customize its marketing budget to meet them. 

The Impact of Firm Size on Marketing Spend

Naturally, the size and maturity of the firm play vital roles in determining the marketing dollars amount. Generally, the larger firms have to allocate less to marketing. While smaller firms spend an average of 5-10% on marketing, medium-to large-size firms spend between 2-5% and the AM Law 200 firms spend just 2% of their budget on marketing. Of course, the exact amounts depend on a number of factors, including the area of practice, how well intake and sales processes work, and the overall marketing strategy.

Budgeting for Internet Marketing and Advertising

Thanks to the advancements of the internet, most of society today has shifted its attention toward technological mediums for entertainment, knowledge, and communication. Because of this, there's a growing need for law firms and legal services (among companies across all industries) to invest a majority of their marketing budgets into online and digital marketing. 

Firms that aren't investing heavily in internet marketing tactics may be missing out. Recent studies have shown that regardless of the size, law firms that invest in content marketing and SEO generate a vastly higher amount of online traffic and leads than those that didn't invest. In one study, over 78% of firms stated that internet marketing was their top-performing advertising channel. It has also been reported that at least 65% of law firms spend the majority of their marketing budget on digital marketing and online advertising. Almost 40% of these firms reported that they spend between 76-100% of their marketing budget on internet marketing. 

The Effectiveness of Various Marketing Efforts

One of the clearest measures of success in marketing is whether a prospective client retains the firm as a result of specific marketing activities. Small law firms that consist of between two and nine lawyers and independent lawyers report the highest rate of effectiveness with their marketing efforts. 35% of independent lawyers and 34% of small law firms reported getting clients through social media. However, only 3% of Twitter users reported new client business as a result of social media. 

How to Choose a Marketing Agency for a Small Law Firm

Ranking on Google's first search engine results page can be the singlehanded factor that catapults a law firm (or any other business in any other industry) to success. But it isn't easy to get there, and especially not for law firms with so much competition out there. 

Law firm SEO is actually one of the most competitive areas of digital marketing, which is why only a select few firms will end up ranking on Google's first page. You can be sure the ones that do rank have spent a hefty amount of their budget on marketing.

If you want a chance at ranking on Google's first page, you'll need help with your law firm SEO campaign. If you're looking for a company to work with, follow the tips below before committing. 

Identify Your Goals

Consider and address the following questions during an initial consultation with a legal practice online marketing agency:

  • What's your area of practice?
  • Do you need a website?
  • Is local SEO a priority for you?
  • Are you more interested in organic rankings, paid campaigns, or a combination?
  • Is high ranking your number-one priority or is your focus on ranking for specific keywords?
  • Are you looking to improve the quantity or quality of leads?

The answers to these questions will help you narrow down your options and find law firm SEO services and marketing agencies that can help you achieve your specific goals. 

Consider Past SEO Results

Don't listen to the vague details you might hear from the agency, and don't be fooled by them showing off one client's success story. Before you commit, ask to see the rankings for two to three clients in mid- to large-sized cities. 

Talk to Former and Current Clients

If you want additional opinions about the agency and its content strategy, go straight to the source. Contact their former and current clients and ask them directly about their experience working with the agency. Have the following questions ready and note down the answers:

  • How responsive was the agency when you needed to ask questions or make requests?
  • Did they deliver the results they had promised?
  • Why did you discontinue the agency's services/are you planning on discontinuing their services?

Reach out to different firms and contact a few clients from each to get a realistic picture of the results you can expect from working with them. 

Building a Custom SEO Plan

The best law firm SEO agencies will be ready to build custom legal marketing plans that focus on your specific area of practice and the types of cases you want to handle. Look for agencies that are willing to tailor your SEO campaign indefinitely and understand the best practices for getting you worthwhile leads.

Consider the Services Provided

The most worthwhile law firm SEO agencies will offer a wide range of services and tools that provide a holistic SEO approach. Before you commit, be sure that the agency is ready to tackle your marketing campaign from every conceivable angle. Look for the following services:

  • In-depth keyword research
  • Local SEO to improve leads and call volume
  • Customized websites with SEO-friendly architecture
  • Content that's written or developed by lawyers
  • On-site SEO, including meta descriptions, headers, optimization of title tags
  • Intelligent internal linking for UX optimization, social media marketing, outreach
  • PPC marketing as a supplement to organic campaign
  • Competitor research and analysis

  • White hat link building campaigns, including monitoring and link profile analysis
  • Current website and domain assessments
  • Will You own or lease Your website?

Investing in a new website can be incredibly valuable. Beware of SEO agencies that create a site for you to use, not to own, and aren't transparent about this fact. It doesn't matter how great your content and SEO strategy are, if the site isn't user-friendly or visually appealing, people will be turned off. It's always best to invest in a new website. 

Ability to Build a Conversion-Driven Site

The whole point of any marketing campaign is to convert clicks into leads. When you work with a marketing agency, they should have the ability to create a conversion-driven site based on the following factors:

  • Visual appeal
  • Authoritative content and material that answers the questions of potential clients
  • Structured content that's displayed in an easy-to-digest and easy-to-navigate way
  • Information that's easy for users to find without spending too much time or energy looking for it
  • Quick load time for pages and a fast site speed overall
  • A website that's free from mistakes and technical errors
  • Calls to action and easily accessible contact forms throughout the site

Do They Provide Local SEO?

Law is local. If you want to maximize your ROI (and, of course, you do), you need an SEO marketing firm that has experience and a proven track record ranking local firms among the local people. 

One way to see whether the SEO agency you're considering provides effective local SEO, ask to see a Local Falcon report with a one-mile radius from a client's office and check with target keywords containing the name of the city combined with the area of specialty. For example, 'Boston Personal Injury Lawyer'.

How Transparent are the Projects?

You can't build trust without transparency, and you need to trust the agency that's handling your marketing campaign and SEO. 

With SEO being as much of an art as it is a science, you shouldn't have to sit and wonder what they're doing behind the scenes. The agency you work with should be completely transparent with you and be ready to explain every detail. 

To learn more about marketing options for your small law firm, contact Triple Digital and find out how we can help you achieve your goals. 

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