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Many law firms to prioritise online marketing

Firm websites a central component of online marketing strategies, survey finds

19 October 2012

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Many law firms expect to increase their online marketing spend in future, a market survey has found.

It found that law firms are currently spending 38 per cent of their marketing budget on online activities and 62 per cent on offline activities.

Among the larger firms disclosing their marketing budgets, just over a third spend up to $1.5m  (£940,000) a year on all marketing activities, while half have a budget of between $1.5m and $7.5m. A few said they had marketing budgets in excess of $7.5m.

The survey findings are based on responses from 184 law firms from around the world, of which 35 per cent are from larger law firms (100+ lawyers).

The majority of respondents said their firm’s website is a central component of their online marketing strategy.

In the next 12-18 months, respondents in larger firms said they want to further enhance their firm’s website by:

  • keeping content relevant and up-to-date (77 per cent);
  • improving its design and navigation (55 per cent);
  • optimising content via SEO programmes (40 per cent);
  • becoming more mobile friendly (38 per cent);
  • integrating social media channels (35 per cent); and
  • achieving better integration between the firm’s website, email system and CRM/practice management system (35 per cent).

    To date, 59 per cent of respondents from larger law firms said they had integrated social media channels into their firm’s website.

    Twitter and LinkedIn were the most popular social media channels used, with larger firms seeing Twitter as having the most potential business benefits. YouTube was used to a lesser extent by larger practices.

    Less than a quarter of all respondents said they currently offer secure client areas on their websites, although the report notes that this facility is much more popular among larger practices and is likely to grow in future in response to client demand.

    The survey found that the most popular content on firm websites is lawyer biographies/profiles, cited by 85 per cent of all respondents. This was particularly the case among firms in Asia Pacific, Canada and Western Europe.

    When providing content for law firm websites, the survey found that, in larger firms, the marketing department seems to take more of the lead, both to coordinate efforts and produce content.

    However, it appears that far more attention is currently being paid to generating content than to measuring the effectiveness of online activities.

    Most respondents said they had access to either paid-for or free website analytics, but few felt they made full use of the information available to them or viewed the statistics frequently enough.

    Nearly three quarters said they used free website analytics tools, with Google Analytics highlighted as the most popular software. Around a fifth said they paid for analytics software, of which Webtrends was the most frequently cited.

    Only 11 per cent of respondents using analytics software said they made very extensive use of the data generated, while 50 per cent said they made little or no use of it. The survey found little difference in levels of usage of web analytics data among firms using free or paid-for tools.

    When considering the effectiveness of their websites in lead generation, client retention and brand building, 87 per cent said their websites were somewhat or very effective in building brand awareness and reputation.

    Around two thirds said their site was effective in helping to retain business from existing clients and in generating inbound marketing leads.

    Three quarters of all respondents felt the firm’s website helped it to generate new leads. 

    Nearly two thirds also said that their firm’s presence in online legal directories and third-party content websites were effective in lead generation.

    The full findings of the survey by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell are published in The Use of Websites in Law Firm Marketing.

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    Marketing