2020 was quite a year for everybody. Many law firms saw declining intake calls and business disruptions as they struggled to adapt to the new normal.
As the Vice President of Marketing of one of the largest personal injury law firms in the Southeast, I had to re-evaluate and adjust my firm’s marketing – just like everybody else – to try to get a bigger slice of a smaller pie.
But that’s my job – whether we’re in a pandemic or looking ahead to the future. And the way I do it, is with data. I’m an admitted data hound – I measure, review, and react to numbers. I make decisions on marketing channels, tactics, and strategy based on data, and I strongly encourage you to do the same. And this reliance on data has served us well – our firm weathered the storm in 2020 exceptionally well, and we are achieving record profits in 2021.
In this excerpt, I will share with you some straightforward dos and don’ts of law firm marketing to help you increase your slice of the pie in the new normal (served ala mode with a scoop of data, of course.). For a more detailed review of the most effective marketing channels for law firms, check out my full blog “The Dos and Don’ts of Marketing in the New Normal.”
Do Measure Marketing Efforts
It’s not too surprising that one of the first things I recommend to all law firms is related to data – measure your marketing. You can start slowly and inexpensively by simply asking clients how they heard about you. Measuring top-of-mind awareness (TOMA) allows you to start getting a handle on which of your marketing tactics are having an impact.
To measure your digital marketing efforts, you can implement website tracking (if you manage your own website there’s a free version of Google Analytics that can provide web traffic insights) or have your website provider track your web traffic.
Here are the key things to measure:
- How are people learning about you? Track where inquiries (or leads) are coming from. Did they see a TV or print ad, click on an online PPC ad, or drive past a billboard? Perhaps they were referred by a friend? You need to know where your leads are coming from so you can make informed decisions about which channels to continue investing in.
- Which channels are getting results? Track TOMA to see how channels perform over time. Set up conversion events to track things like website chats, form fills, and pay-per-click conversion. Which marketing messages are converting the best? Also measure the ultimate conversion – when an individual signs on as a client.
- How much revenue is being generated? Once you know which marketing tactics are converting leads, measure the income generated from those leads (new clients) and link it back to the marketing channels. This will help you gauge the success of specific marketing activities and campaigns.
- How much are you spending? This is straightforward accounting. How much did you spend on each channel? What did the direct mail piece cost to create, print, and mail? How much did you spend on online ads? These figures should not be looked at in isolation when making decisions – calculate your cost per lead and cost per case for each channel that you can.
- What’s the marketing ROI? The marketing return on investment (ROI) ties it all together by attributing profit and revenue growth to the impact of a marketing channel or campaign. By tracking where leads are coming from, how they are converting, the revenue they generate, and the total cost of acquisition, you will be able to measure the effectiveness of the marketing dollars you spend. Compare the ROI of different channels and campaigns and make informed decisions about your marketing spend. Test adding funds where needed to max out the channels that have the highest ROI .
Don’t Cut Marketing Spend
I’m not telling you to throw money away. If there is a channel that is not working, don’t waste your marketing dollars on it. But make your marketing spending decisions based on data, not emotion or gut reactions. Don’t blindly cut marketing just to cut your expenses. Think of your marketing as a key driver of future revenue rather than as an expense. And future revenue is the long-term goal.
The past two years have been very strange, but remember that the pandemic is temporary, and law is lasting. Now is the time to be strategic. You need to ensure that you are doing what it takes to get ahead of other firms by building brand recognition and staying top of mind. Believe it or not, we are seeing competition increase in a number of markets, so maintaining a strong marketing presence is more important than ever.
If you cut your marketing spending too far, or in the wrong areas, you will sign fewer cases, which leads to less revenue, which affects your ability to fund future marketing efforts – it’s an all too familiar downward spiral that is hard to break out of. If potential clients don’t see or hear from you, they’ll forget you, so resist the temptation to cut your marketing and communications efforts.
Do Reallocate Marketing Spend
Rather than blindly cutting marketing spending, use data to analyze if your marketing spend is resulting in new cases. And if it’s not, reallocate those funds to more effective marketing efforts. Here’s where the payoff on measuring your marketing really comes into play.
At my firm, I constantly look at data to determine if we are spending our marketing dollars wisely. Luckily, our GrowPath case management software has marketing analytics which provide data on marketing spend by source, time of day, and specific geographic location – all overlaid with data from our media buys. So I can see if a specific TV ad resulted in an uptick in intake calls in the city where the ad ran, when the ad ran. GrowPath also lets me quickly generate marketing reports showing cost per lead and cost per case by channel, giving me a clear picture of marketing performance. I can tell exactly how, when, and where our clients contacted us. And I use this data to reallocate my marketing spend to those tactics that are working for us.
We are seeing more and more advertising dollars get moved to paid digital, so if you are not there already, you need to be. When investing in paid digital, testing and analysis is really important. As with any marketing channel, track your average case value, cost per lead (CPL), cost per case (CPC), and intake to case conversion so that you can tweak and reallocate among different campaigns and tactics accordingly.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to do direct mail in your state, A/B test your pieces and track the data to see which piece converts better. This should be an ongoing process. Track your CPL, CPC, and cases obtained from direct mail, and use this data to identify if you should increase or decrease your mailing threshold.
Test, test, test. Test marketing channels, test the copy in your marketing, test how much money you put into a channel. And then reallocate based on the results.
Don’t Ignore Your Website
These past two years have increased everybody’s reliance on the internet as an information source. Now is a good time to look at the competition to see if your online presence is competitive. Take an objective look at your site also:
- Do you offer multiple ways for someone to contact you?
- Is your contact information easily accessible?
- Do you incorporate graphics and white space?
- Do you have photos of all your attorneys with bios?
- Is the language understandable to your client base?
- Is there outdated information and stats?
- Do you have pages that don’t format correctly or have broken links?
- Do you have a blog or videos?
These are just a few of the things you can work on immediately to improve your website presence.
You should engage your website provider, or whoever manages your website, to see if dedicating time and resources to search engine optimization (SEO) is right for your firm. SEO is a long-term play that requires ongoing maintenance and a constant stream of high quality content, and it does not immediately lead to new cases. However, it can build awareness of your firm and help with organic search.
Do Consider All Marketing Channels
In the new normal, be careful not to keep doing the “same old same old” – open up that menu of marketing channels and really check out your options. Look around and see what your competition is doing, and factor that into your decision-making as well.
For a more detailed review of the most effective marketing channels for law firms, check out my full blog “The Dos and Don’ts of Marketing in the New Normal.”
About the Author: David Chamberlin is the Vice President of Marketing at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. He is the driving force behind the firm’s marketing and communication efforts and has helped propel it into one of the largest plaintiffs’ firms in the Southeast.