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The results are in! In this first installment of Justia’s end-of-year series, discover the results of our survey on the legal marketing trends of 2021 and 2022.
Welcome to the first installment of Justia’s end-of-year series, where we look back at 2021 and take a quick peek ahead at 2022.
We conducted a voluntary, anonymous survey of lawyers across the United States who are listed in our directory and asked a few questions about their marketing practices in 2021, as well as their predictions and plans for the coming year.
The results are in, so take a quick look at some statistics we gathered on legal marketing in the past 12 months and the next 12 to come.
Who Participated in This Survey?
You already know that lawyers from various jurisdictions across the United States anonymously participated in our survey, but what else do we know about them?
Most of our survey participants are solo practitioners (59.6% to be exact), but lawyers in firms with 2-5 attorneys, 6-10 attorneys, 26-50 attorneys, and even 101+ attorneys also shared their opinions with us.
We asked these lawyers to share the top practice areas for their firm with us as well. From Criminal Law, the most common practice area for our participating attorneys, to less common practice areas, such as Cannabis Law and Military Law, participating attorneys came from diverse backgrounds across various disciplines.
Below are some of the top practice areas the participating lawyers reported for their firms:
Legal Marketing Management
One of the biggest challenges for many law firms in the early stages of the legal marketing process is determining who will be primarily in charge of managing the firm’s marketing plan. The answer is often determined by the best fit for the firm after weighing various considerations, such as the firm’s financial resources and human resources.
We checked in with the lawyers participating in our survey on this very question.
When asked who primarily oversees the management of the law firm’s marketing strategy, just under 73% of respondents indicated it was a managing member/partner, or in the case of solo firms the lawyer answering the survey.
Meanwhile, just under 11% of participating firms indicated that their firm hired an external marketing agency to manage their marketing strategy, while 7.3% of the survey participants indicated their law firm has an internal marketer or marketing department in charge of their marketing efforts.
5.5% of our survey participants indicated a lawyer in the firm, other than a managing partner, handled the law firm’s legal marketing strategy. Notably, 3.6% of participants indicated that their firm does not have a defined marketing strategy or opts not to participate in formal legal marketing, and therefore, no one is assigned to manage it.
Legal Marketing Spend in 2021
One of the most critical aspects of defining a law firm’s legal marketing strategy is determining your budget. After all, your marketing budget has a direct impact on how many different marketing channels your law firm may be able to use, as well as the types of efforts you employ. For example, if a significant portion of your marketing budget is allotted to a key marketing asset, such as your law firm website, you may not have the remaining financial resources to spend on other channels, such as video marketing. Knowing your budget helps you allocate marketing dollars.
We asked our survey participants what percentage of their law firm’s total budget was allocated to legal marketing in 2021. In response, 55.4% of participants indicated that they allocated 0-5% of their total law firm budget for marketing purposes. 23.2% set aside 6-10% of their law firm’s total budget for legal marketing, while only 5.4% of answering lawyers noted allocating 11-15% of their budget to legal marketing.
Some law firms set aside even more for their marketing efforts. Over 10% of our survey respondents stated their firm dedicates 16-20% of their law firm’s budget to legal marketing. About 1.8% of responding attorneys indicated their firm allocates 21-25% of its total budget to legal marketing and 3.6% of answering attorneys even said their firm earmarks somewhere between 26 and 30% of its budget for legal marketing.
Notably, no attorney participating in our survey indicated that their firm spends more than 30% of its total budget on legal marketing.
Most Popular Legal Marketing Channels in 2021
We asked survey participants to share which legal marketing channels and strategies their firm used in 2021.
Overwhelmingly, a law firm website was the most popular marketing asset, with 78.2% of lawyers indicating their law firm utilized a law firm website for marketing their firm over the past year, followed by lawyer directories with 58.2% of lawyers indicating their firm utilized this strategy over the past year.
Over 43% of our survey respondents reported utilizing social media to market their firm, and more than 23% used Google Ads to reach new clients. Some less popular methods of marketing included billboards (3.6% of respondents using this strategy), print ads (7.3% of respondents using this strategy), and podcasts (5.5% of respondents using this strategy). Participating lawyers also reported unique methods of legal marketing over the past year, such as movie theater slides.
You can view more results below:
2021 Leads and Positive ROI
However, just because a particular channel was popular does not necessarily mean it was successful in helping the law firm achieve its legal marketing goals. Thus, we asked lawyers which legal marketing channels brought their firm a positive return on investment (ROI) in 2021.
The top answer for a positive ROI remained overwhelming law firm websites (64.7% reported positive ROI), followed by lawyer directories, and search engine optimization. Additional results are available below:
As another measure of successful marketing strategies, we also asked lawyers which marketing channels brought their law firms the most leads in 2021. Again, a law firm website was the leader of the pack for bringing in the most leads. The second most frequently reported channel for bringing participating law firms the most leads over the past year was Google’s Local Services Ads (LSAs).
You can view the breakdown of responses from our survey participants below:
Legal Marketing Plans for 2022
Looking ahead to the year to come, we also asked lawyers to share more information about their anticipated legal marketing plans for 2022.
First, we asked participating lawyers which legal marketing strategies they used in 2021 that they plan to eliminate in 2022. Most participants indicated they either did not plan to eliminate any channels or that they did not have a legal marketing plan for 2022 developed for various reasons.
Of our survey respondents that used Google Ads, 16.7% indicated their law firm would be eliminating this channel from their legal marketing plans in 2022. Similarly, 11.1% of respondents indicated they would no longer use Google’s Local Services Ads (LSAs) in the coming year. The same percentage of respondents indicated they would no longer utilize lawyer directories as part of their future marketing plans, while 5.6% of respondents indicated they would be eliminating Facebook Ads, print ads, or their law firm website.
We also asked lawyers which marketing channels or strategies their law firm would test for the first time in 2022. Video marketing and Facebook Ads led the way as the top two strategies law firms are planning to test next year. More results are below:
Predictions for the Coming Year
Finally, we asked participating attorneys to gaze into their crystal balls and predict which marketing strategies or channels they believed would be the most important for legal marketing success in 2022. Most respondents agreed that law firm websites would be among the most important marketing channels for achieving success in 2022, but other strategies also made the list.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
If 2020, 2021, and the COVID-19 pandemic have taught us anything, it is that no one can predict what a new year may bring. Nonetheless, looking at these statistics and the information and opinions shared by other lawyers can provide your firm some guidance while planning your own legal marketing strategy for 2022.