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Updated: November 28, 2022

How Much Do Law Firms Spend on Marketing?

As a digital marketing company for law firms, we’ve worked with small, medium and big budgets and can tell you from experience that there is a law firm marketing budget that’s just right for accomplishing your objectives, and it’s important that you know it.

Spend too little and you won’t get the results you want. Spend too much and you won’t be able to handle the caseload, which will result in overworked employees, poor performance, and bad reviews.

So, what is the right budget for you?

It depends on your goals and is actually a percentage of your target gross revenue. That’s why you always start planning with your goals.

There isn't a one-size-fits-all budget. Law firms typically spend a percentage of their target gross revenue. Your law firm's budget is also dependent on your company goals. That's why we always start by asking what our client's business objectives are.

In this blog, we provide budgetary guidelines as well as tips on how to utilize your marketing spend.

How Much Does an Average Law Firm Spend on Marketing?

Most digital marketers operating in the legal industry recommend spending between 2-18% of your firm’s gross revenue on marketing. Of that, 65% should be allocated to online marketing, which usually falls into three areas: marketing strategy management, media creation, and Martech (marketing technology) subscriptions.

A Typical Marketing Budget

Let’s assume up until now you’ve spent zero on law firm marketing strategies. So, how much do you have to invest during 2022 to achieve the results you’re looking for?

According to the American Lawyer, large-sized law firms spend anywhere between 2-5% and smaller law firms between 5-10% of their gross revenue.

In major metropolitan areas where competition is fierce, expenditure ranges between $2,500 to $3,000 per month.

Smaller law firms tend to spend more to capture their share of the market, especially if they’re not as established as legacy firms.

And then there’s also practice area to consider. For example, personal injury law is the most expensive type of law to market, while B2C is pricier than B2B.

If we use a hypothetical example and say your firm earns $500,000. So, you set aside between 7% to 10% for marketing costs. That’s roughly a $35,000 to $50,000 marketing budget for the year.

We know it sounds like a lot, but high-performance marketing campaigns are an investment.

If you could put $50,000 in a bank and get $500,000 at the end of the year, you’d do it, right?

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The only thing preventing you from spending marketing dollars is not knowing whether you will really get a high return on investment, and that’s a valid concern.

To ensure you make the best of your marketing budget, we recommend that you work with a high-performance, experienced digital marketing agency. When interviewing potential digital marketing agencies, use this list of questions.

How Should Law Firms Budget for Online Marketing?

When determining law firm marketing costs, you need to consider several factors:

  • Law firm age: Younger firms typically have higher marketing budgets.
  • Areas of practice: B2B and B2C have different needs and sales funnels.
  • Firm location: Competitors in the same location will increase your budget spend.
  • Current marketing context: Law firms that have no or a very limited online presence will need to spend more.
  • Marketing strategy: The level of marketing aggressiveness needed to achieve the results you’re after.
  • Competitors’ spend: Occasionally, bigger law firms can push up marketing investment for all firms.

Marketing budgets for law firms differ according to business goals. For example, are you trying to increase client acquisition or advertise a particular service?

An established firm might focus on running retention campaigns through email marketing, while criminal defense attorneys might want a campaign that brings in a steady flow of leads over a long period of time. Therefore, they will need to invest in website development, SEO, and content marketing.

As you can see, it’s highly personalized, so much so that it’s best to determine business goals first before attempting any marketing.

How Much Should a Firm Spend on Marketing According to the Marketing Funnel

Knowledge of the marketing funnel is also useful to help determine marketing spend. There are roughly three stages a lead goes through before becoming a paying client; awareness, consideration, and conversion.

  • Awareness: At this stage, the goal is to develop content that attracts leads and encourages them to become potential customers. You probably want to set aside 10% of your online budget for this type of top-of-mind promotion that involves social media advertising and display ads.
  • Consideration: This is where your marketing content plays a crucial role in positioning your law firm as a viable option for your target audience. Here, you should spend 20% -50% of your budget on SEO and targeted PPC ads to increase website traffic.
  • Conversion: All your marketing efforts should aim to get as many leads as possible to this stage, where you establish your law firm is the only choice for them. This takes the most budget, between 40%-70% and involves retargeting ads, SEM ads and high-intent PPC.

As you travel down the funnel towards more conversions, you’ll spend more money on tried-and-test techniques. However, you should always have some leeway for experimentation. Trying new campaigns and approaches can lead to business development.

Which Social Media Channels Should I Invest in?

The research shows Facebook continues to dominate the social networking market. While it is slowly declining in use, this channel remains a valuable source for marketers.

Although there is no direct investment evaluation for this study, some notable trends among social media platforms indicate a focus should primarily be given to social advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

According to The National Law Review, a realistic budget for paid advertising on social media can range from $10,000 to $50,000 per month depending on your practice area. This is likely with an incredibly aggressive marketing strategy.

Social media marketing can help you build an online presence and generate leads that convert into paying clients. When using social media, it’s important to gear your messaging to your target audience. If you stay consistent, use the right keywords, monitor your campaigns, and tweak tactics as you go along, you’ll be on the right track to success.

Again, your actual budget depends on your goals and is actually a percentage of your target gross revenue. That’s why you always start planning with your goals.

How Much Do Law Firms Spend on SEO?

While social media marketing is valuable to build brand awareness and establish your law firm’s credibility, it can’t replace the bedrock of digital marketing; search engine optimization (SEO).

This costs anywhere between $2,500 and $15,000 per month. However, law firms with fewer competitive areas of practice might pay less than $2,000.

Because SEO is a long-term strategy, it’s generally advised to have a contract with an SEO agency for a few months. Just be sure to do your homework and select a reputable agency that has a robust track record of delivering results.

SEO services generally consist of on-page, off-page, technical and local SEO, as well as website development.

The exact services your legal firm needs depends on the standards of your current marketing and goals like:

  • Do you want to launch a PPC campaign to provide short-term results while you wait for your organic strategy to pay off?
  • Do you need to develop an SEO-friendly law firm website first?
  • Do you want to target multiple locations with local SEO?

At Comrade Web Digital Marketing Agency, we’re big advocates of SEO, and believe it’s one of the best marketing investments you can make.

The more SEO-friendly your website and marketing efforts are, the higher your firm will rank on Google. The higher you rank, the more traffic you’ll receive, which means more leads and profits.

How Much Do Firms Spend on Advertising?

A small caveat: There is a difference between marketing and advertising.

The American Marketing Association offers the following definition:

“In basic terms, marketing is the process of identifying customer needs and determining how best to meet those needs. In contrast, advertising is the exercise of promoting a company and its products or services through paid channels. In other words, advertising is a component of marketing.”

In this context, we might consider pay-per-click campaigns as advertising. Unfortunately, there is no magic dollar amount. Pay-per-click can be expensive, however, if you pay $100 for a click but make $4,000 off one client, then it’s worth it.

A ballpark figure for pay-per-click ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 and more per month on ads.

The Importance of Smart Marketing Goals

At Comrade, we follow a SMART marketing framework that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

The mistake most law firms make is setting goals that aren’t measurable. For example, an attorney will tell us they want to improve their revenue and leads.

While these ambitions are great, they don’t help because they don’t provide any metrics to work with or quantify growth.

Instead, it’s much more useful if they tell us they want to improve revenue by 20% and leads by 30% within six months.

This gives us a time frame and clear KPIs to work towards. Implementing SMART goals creates successful marketing campaigns and ensures your marketing budget is well spent.

It’s also a good idea to break up your goals into quarterly KPIs. This way, you can track how close or far you are from hitting your long-term objectives. More importantly, you can make adjustments to your campaigns and marketing budgets if need be.

How to Allocate Your Law Firm Marketing Budget

Another aspect to consider when developing your law firm’s marketing budget is retention vs. acquisition marketing.

  1. Retention marketing. This reminds your former clients about your services. At some point, they may need you again, and you want to be the first firm they call. As a rule of thumb, it costs seven times more to get a new client than to retain an existing one. So, for every $7 you spend on acquiring new clients, spend $1 on retention.
  2. Acquisition marketing. Your budget for new clients should be distributed among SEO, PPC, content marketing, online directories and traditional advertising.

With that in mind, 70% of your content marketing budget should support brand building and attract target customers to your website, while 20% should be allocated for premier content that’s more costly but has a higher chance of expanding your client base, like high quality video content.

The key is to consider all factors and create a bespoke budget, rather than using an arbitrary figure you found on Google.

The creation of a budget for your legal marketing is the start of your law firm’s marketing journey, and it deserves time and attention. If you follow this legal marketing budget guide, you are far more likely to succeed in growing your business and winning more customers.

 

How to allocate your marketing budget

Minimum Marketing Budget for Lawyers

To reiterate, your marketing budget is a percentage of your targeted growth. However, there is an exception to this rule.

Let’s say you want to increase your revenue by $100,000. This doesn’t mean you’ll achieve that goal with a $7,000 yearly marketing budget.

The legal industry is highly competitive. If you invest too little, you won’t achieve the visibility needed to turn a profit. That’s why most law firms spend far more on marketing on average in comparison to other industries.

So, what’s the absolute minimum you should spend on digital marketing to achieve active growth?

Based on our experience with digital advertising, we’d recommend no less than $2,500 to $3,000 per month in a major metro area.

If you’re absolutely new to digital marketing, you’ll want to ensure your website is up to scratch and SEO-friendly. Once. your website is up and running, then you can think about digital marketing, and allocate a monthly budget to increase leads.

Be wary of marketing agencies that only charge $500 per month. This is unrealistic and won’t produce the results you want.

Like all business investments, marketing does cost, but it delivers a high ROI.

Minimum marketing budget for lawyers

Partner With a Legal Marketing Agency

Great online marketing companies with specific legal expertise always seem expensive at first, but in the end, turn out to be free — because they deliver fantastic marketing ROI for lawyers and reach performance goals for attorneys.

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Call us at (312) 265-0580

Comrade is an internet marketing company that specializes in website design and digital marketing for lawyers. Read more about our content marketing service for law firms.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find your company?

Comrade originates in Chicago, but we worked all around the United States. We can help your business grow and increase revenue whenever you are. We have offices across most major cities in the US. For example, we can offer digital marketing services in Columbus or San Diego. You can even find our internet marketing experts in Dallas! If you want to know more about our Milwaukee digital marketing agency or find out how exactly we can help you, contact us via the phone or email.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

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About the Author
Sasha Berson
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.
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