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How Much Should Law Firms Spend on Marketing?

When law firms say something like, “every client matters,” they aren’t just projecting a cozy image. They also literally mean they need a steady pipeline of clients. New clients ensure the firm remains profitable and sustains its growth goals. 

By investing some of their hard-earned revenues on marketing, law firms can expand outreach, gain new client cases, and reliably grow their earnings-per-year. Making these investments is especially important during a time of financial uncertainty. By creating marketing campaigns, firms can develop a steady pipeline of clients to weather through these tough times.

Marketing for Law Firms: Answering the Right Questions

Well-positioned marketing activities will not only help a firm outcompete others for clients, but they can also convince someone to seek legal representation when they otherwise wouldn’t have. In this way, law firm marketing provides a public good by educating individuals on their right to pursue compensation.

Although the importance of marketing for law firms can easily be understood, recognizing it raises an all-important question: “How much should we spend on marketing?” 

The answer depends entirely on your goals. With that said, firms of all sizes should understand that the money they spend on search engine optimization (SEO) and other marketing channels directly affects their capability to grow. Small-to-medium-sized firms can grow quickly within their region, while large, established firms can push out to new regions with consistent success. Making deliberate plans for this growth is particularly critical when firms are weathering an economic downturn, since more work is needed to sustain profitability while ensuring people are aware they have access to legal services in their community.

So, when you ask yourself, “What’s a good SEO budget for my law firm?” realize that what you’re really asking is, “How much do I want to grow, and where do I want that growth to occur?”

Law Firm Marketing Budget Benchmarks

Every law firm should customize its marketing budget to meet its unique needs. At the same time, it can help tremendously to have a frame of reference. Looking at national law firm marketing budget statistics can help provide some perspective and help a firm set reasonable expectations.

According to a 2019 law firm marketing review by the American Bar Association (ABA), the amount a typical law firm spends on marketing varies greatly depending on the size of the firm. While just 47% of all firms surveyed had a marketing budget, 94% of firms with 100 or more lawyers did. 

On the other hand, just 31% of firms with 2-9 lawyers had a marketing budget, while only 17% of solo firms did.

According to the ABA survey, the majority of law firm marketing spending goes to email marketing (used by 41% of respondents), Facebook (30%), and direct mail (19%). Additionally, 30% of all respondents used some of their budget to outsource SEO to another consultant or agency.

An earlier 2018 study by Thompson-Reuters found a strong correlation between the size of a firm’s marketing budget and its recent growth history. Firms with an average amount of growth spent $12,700 on marketing for every $1 million in revenue earned. 

However, firms with no/zero growth typically spent $11,300/million, whereas firms considered market leaders in growth spent $13,600. These metrics apply independent of firm size, too. Accounting just for spend per-lawyer, the top-performing firms outspent competing firms with static growth by $2,300 per lawyer on the payroll, and outspent firms with average growth by $1,000 per-lawyer.

Together, these statistics assemble a strong picture arguing on behalf of the old adage: you get what you pay for.

Why Your Firm Should Increase Its Digital Marketing Budget

Law firms that lack a cohesive marketing strategy overlook the importance of search engine visibility. According to Google statistics, 82% of consumers turn to a search engine to research a product or service before they make a purchase. That number may largely apply to retail goods, but an even higher number of people will turn to search engines for answers to their burning legal questions.

By dedicating some of your budget to SEO, you increase the chances that a local search will land on your content any time someone in your region has a legal question or wants guidance on legal matters. 

Each search engine hit has the potential to convert into a case lead, which happens fairly often in the legal industry. According to a study of paid search engine marketing (SEM) performance, the average AdWords ad convinces just 0.77% of people who see it to click through. However, law firms enjoy an SEM conversion rate over nine times higher! That puts it as the second-highest converting industry of those examined in the study. 

Consider that organic SEO has a performance benchmark of closing about 14.6% of leads, compared to paid search and other outbound forms of marketing that have just a 1.7% close rate. You can see how investing in your search performance can pay dividends.

You Don’t Have to Spend a Lot on SEO for Law Firms to Start Earning More Clients Fast

In our experience, firms that currently have a limited digital marketing budget can make rapid search engine performance gains with just a few hundred dollars spent per month on content creation, strategy, and optimization. 

For firms that have an existing SEO strategy, increasing the quality and quantity of your current content output helps you gain coveted ranking positions near the top of page one on Google. This can have a dramatic effect on your ability to earn leads compared to your competition, making it a wise avenue if you’re looking to increase your volume of new cases per month.

Overall, law firms should realize that they don’t have to spend thousands every month in order to earn new clients. By focusing on quality content creation and researching the keywords that drive new client searches, they can capture a captive market that’s interested in exercising its right to legal representation. 

Recognize that while times may be tough financially, there are people out there who desperately need compensation. By investing in marketing to these individuals through SEO, you can help individuals hurting in your community at the same time you bolster your revenues.

If you have questions about your existing content strategy and which digital marketing budget benchmarks might work for your lead generation goals, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. We’re an experienced Atlanta SEO digital marketing firm with clients all across the U.S., many of whom we can proudly say have climbed Google rankings quite rapidly. 

Contact us now, and find out what you need to succeed in your marketing and client acquisition goals.