A 2020 study found that 65% of law firms spend the majority of their marketing budget on online marketing.
However, what these statistics don’t answer is how much they spend on marketing overall and how this money is allocated across various digital platforms.
The reason for this, in a nutshell, is that each law firm’s marketing budget depends on a variety of factors—from size, service area, to number of competitors, and so on. These factors greatly influence how much money a law firm can expect to spend to see results.
In this guide, we’ll cover some important details about budgeting and marketing, including what the average budget looks like for several marketing categories. We’ll also provide recommendations on how to more effectively allocate your own marketing budget.
- 1 Do You Have a Law Firm Marketing Budget?
- 2 Law Firm Marketing by Category
- 3 Search Engine Optimization
- 4 Social Media Marketing
- 5 Website Development
- 6 Branding
- 7 Paid Advertising
- 8 Email Marketing
- 9 Content
- 10 Events & Networking
- 11 How Much Does an Average Law Firm Spend on Marketing?
- 12 How to Make the Most of Your Marketing Budget
- 13 Create content assets
- 14 Measure results and follow success
Do You Have a Law Firm Marketing Budget?
Many modern law firms do not have a set marketing budget. Unfortunately, this contributes to a “DIY” approach that can result in a lackluster ad hoc strategy that fails to produce useful results.
According to marketing statistics from the ABA, “Less than half (46%) of law firms of all sizes have a marketing budget. Among 46% who said their company had a budget, 11% said it was decreasing, 26% said it was increasing from a year earlier, 27% said it remained the same, and 36% said they had no idea.”
To generate a significant return on investment, law firms must dedicate appropriate funds to expert-level marketing services, which go far beyond DIY tactics.
Budgeting for expert-level knowledge can result in:
Very fine niche or target market
Adjustment of cost savings based on marketing performance
Selection of the most suitable marketing channel based on specific objectives
Regular evaluation of KPIs and other metrics
Law Firm Marketing by Category
While it’s important to establish your overall marketing budget needs, it’s only the first step. Because there are so many unique channels and methods for law firm marketing, it’s also important to set a specific budget for each marketing category.
Depending on what is best suited for a particular law firm, these budgeting figures may differ for legal specialties and certain geographic areas. However, the goal is to provide a research-based benchmark that law firms can follow when setting a budget for each type of marketing campaign.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing content for search engine results pages (SERPs). Qualified SEO experts can help law firms by:
Appears in more organic and local searches
Develop keyword strategy for content marketing
Optimize pages and links for maximum performance
Perform SEO reporting and analytics
The cost of SEO for lawyers depends on how competitive the market is, with denser markets requiring a larger investment.
Several marketing agencies report that the average SEO budget for law firms is close to $7,500 each month. The top end of SEO investment for a highly competitive company is close to $25,000 per month.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing involves creating content for social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Before investing heavily in a single platform, it is important to know which one suits the target market or audience of the company. Decisions may depend on demographic data.
Social media is a unique marketing outlet, as many attorneys and attorneys choose to invest in their own individual pages. Data over the last decade shows that 71% of lawyers secure clients through social media.
Budgeting for social media marketing depends on whether the law firm pays for profile management or invests in digital advertising. In general, costs range from $1,000-2,000 per month for a social media marketing plan
It’s very difficult to grow, scale, and leverage other marketing methods without a professional website. As a result, it is a major area of investment for law firms.
The average cost of a professionally designed WordPress website for a law firm ranges from $7,500 to $25,000 in total. These budgets are typically for small to medium sized companies that need a site from scratch.
Website development becomes more expensive with the addition of tasks related to legacy systems, migration, and domain consolidation. These extra steps can add another $1,000 to your total bill, but the benefits are enormous.
Branding is a broad marketing category that includes both large and small activities. Branding tasks may include:
Brand visualization and strategy
Some branding agencies charge by the hour and can charge law firms $150-$300/hour. Larger projects, such as a full rebrand, can cost up to $5,000. This amount depends on the specific purpose, geographic location and length of the contract.
Paid advertising is the use of digital content and advertising to drive results. In relation to digital marketing, the most paid advertising is Pay Per Click, or PPC. Paid advertising also takes place on social media channels where potential clients spend their time.
A realistic budget for paid advertising can range from $10,000 to $50,000 per month depending on the area of practice. While this number is high, you get what you pay for with a paid advertising service. Investing too little can result in expensive campaigns that generate very few leads and credible leads.
Email marketing can be divided into two main goals – maintenance and sales. While it is important to maintain current clients, it is also important to generate new business through effective sales tactics. Email marketing professionals can help with tasks such as–
One attorney recommends allocating $10,000/year to email marketing. Annual budgets allow law firms to develop strong written copy and regularly evaluate email performance metrics. According to the ABA, 41% of law firms dedicate a large portion of their marketing budget to email.
Content marketing sets the stage for other marketing campaigns. Activities like email, paid advertising, and social media depend on creating strong content. A content marketer can be hired to produce:
Long-form content (eBooks and whitepapers)
Content creation is an ongoing task and is sometimes included in the SEO budget. Good content moves potential clients from awareness to consideration to conversion, and the consideration phase should account for 20-50% of a company’s marketing budget. Additionally, the average midsize business (the size of most law firms) spends $2,000-10,000 monthly on content marketing.
Events & Networking
While events and networks are important pieces of the marketing puzzle, they vary widely based on the size, budget, and reach of a particular company. While some large-scale companies are able to devote hundreds of thousands of dollars to professional events, others may rely on organic networking methods to generate results.
Virtual events are another option for law firms looking to host events and expand their reach. Analysis reveals that the average virtual event size can range from $5,000-15,000. Consider the following expenses when planning to host or network.
Marketing costs for events (print and digital)
Technology services (video hosting, production, etc.)
Post-event engagement and follow-up
How Much Does an Average Law Firm Spend on Marketing?
It is good practice to allocate anywhere from 2% to 18% of gross revenue for marketing. In 2018, the Legal Marketing Association reported that law firms only allocated an average of 6.7% of their revenue to marketing initiatives. These numbers show that there is room for growth for marketing investments.
Law firms should also consider the total marketing budget as a percentage of the growth target. For example, if a company wanted to increase revenue by $500,000 in one year, it would require more than a few hundred dollars per month on the average marketing project.
To establish your own company’s comprehensive marketing budget, consider the following numbers.
How to Make the Most of Your Marketing Budget
While you may be spending thousands of dollars a month on marketing, you need a plan to maximize that investment. A marketing budget shouldn’t go to waste, and there are several ways you can ensure the best ROI.
A professional agency or marketing expert has the experience, tools, software and insights needed to design high-yield campaigns. Working with a qualified marketing professional eliminates the guesswork and allows law firms to outsource key tasks to those who understand logistics. In the end, it saves critical time, resources and money.
Create content assets
Maximize inbound online traffic by capturing links with ebooks, PDFs, and other selected content assets. These resources also help strengthen law firms as authorities or thought leaders in the industry. Creating evergreen content ensures that visitors and prospects always have a valuable resource to consult when they are curious or in need.
Measure results and follow success
Observe and evaluate which platform is the most suitable for your law firm based on analytics. The data should include performance related to web traffic, inbound leads, engagement and sales.
Don’t be afraid to do more things that work and pivot–even when you set out with certain preferences and data leads you to different conclusions.