The costs associated with accessing legal data have dramatically decreased in the last decade, to the point where law firms, regardless of their size, can use legal data to find and win business with a greater return on investment (ROI) than traditional digital marketing campaigns on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google.
Today, litigation data is more widely available, thanks to the ever-growing legal tech ecosystem and increased competition in the legal-data-as-a-service market. Rather than casting a wide net with costly social media advertising campaigns only to amass a few new leads, and even fewer true conversions, utilizing litigation data allows law firms to hone in on their target audience while gaining more business from their existing customers.
Challenges with Traditional Digital Marketing for Law Firms
While social media advertising campaigns on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google are some of the most common places to spend your marketing budget, a more cost-effective way to allocate marketing dollars exists. Legal data has become more accessible, and law firms should be capitalizing on the powerful insights it can infuse into their marketing strategies.
A 2018 joint study between Bloomberg Law and the Legal Marketing Association found that the average law firm spends 6.7% of its gross revenue on marketing. While this may not seem like much at first glance, for every $100,000 earned, $6,700 would be spent on marketing. When considering the little room for error in marketing budgets for small law firms, 6.7% is a significant number.
LinkedIn advertisements typically cost between five to six dollars per click, with a conversion rate of around 6.1%. In total, this works out to about $90 per conversion, which is where your business actually comes from. So with a modest budget of $1,000 for a month of LinkedIn advertisements, statistics suggest that you will receive about 11 conversions from your marketing campaigns in any given month. These ballpark figures are meant to illustrate just how much money, time, and effort is required to maintain basic social media advertisements and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.
Now that Google is not only a noun but also a verb, synonymous with “search” for most people, it comes as no surprise that fighting for space at the top of the queue is becoming more and more difficult. With millions of websites employing the highest-ranking SEO terms and keywords to work their way up the list and drive traffic, it can take months or even years, in addition to large investments of resources and money, for a firm to build up enough web credibility to appear on the first page of results from a Google search.
This traditional means of marketing is growing impractical for smaller firms without the sizable legal marketing budgets of BigLaw firms, as despite all the hard work to optimize your keywords and website tags, you may still fall short of beating out veterans in the organic web-development department. But not all hope is lost: legal data presents a solution.
Capitalizing on Legal Data for Business Development
Access to litigation data is available and affordable for more than just BigLaw. Now, any law firm is able to sharpen its business development efforts with litigation data without worrying about the hefty costs and expertise required to aggregate, structure, and clean that data in-house.
To put it in perspective, law firms can sign up for subscriptions to get basic access to the data they need to enhance their legal marketing for far less than the average cost of a modest LinkedIn campaign. Many legal data as a service providers have plans starting at less than $100 per month, and law firms can easily pick and choose between the options that work best for them based on price and their relative sophistication when it comes to accessing data. For instance, depending on their comfortability with leveraging data, firms can choose between accessing data within an application, getting on-demand or custom reports, or using APIs to download data in bulk.
With the startup costs of having to collect, clean, and organize litigation data being handled by legal tech companies, law firms are free to focus their efforts and resources on leveraging the intelligence behind the data. And while this may all sound like it would take an expert to manage, using litigation data for business development is not rocket science. With a few simple types of reports you can get the data you need to better target your legal marketing and increase your ROI.
For most law firms that are new to using litigation data for business development, there is a simple place to start: looking more intently at your clients. After gathering litigation data for a couple of years for all of the cases your top clients have been involved with, investigate some basic questions. First, what’s your real market share with your top clients, and are you receiving an increasing or decreasing percentage of their overall litigation work? Even if you seem to be getting more cases year over year from your top clients, without looking at the data to confirm their true case volumes and who they’re sending work to, it’s impossible to know whether you are missing out on existing opportunities.
In looking at your clients’ litigation data, you also want to determine if there is more lucrative litigation work that you could be handling, and especially if there are certain types of cases where your firm has the requisite niche expertise and experience to take on that work. And even if your firm currently does not have the bench to handle those lucrative cases, would it be worthwhile to consider expanding your practice areas to capture those opportunities with key clients in the future?
Looking at your firm’s trends with your most important clients is vital to discovering new business opportunities and pragmatically assessing any shortcomings. Analyzing your own client roster to identify new opportunities and understand where your greatest areas for growth lie will not only save you time and energy on your marketing efforts, but it will also allow for more impactful expenditures to pursue tangible business opportunities.
Expanding Your Legal Marketing Toolkit
Though we don’t expect law firms to altogether abandon traditional social media advertising and PPC campaigns anytime soon, incorporating legal data into your firm’s marketing strategy is paramount to increasing your ROI in today’s extremely competitive legal marketplace. Now, more than ever before, legal data is openly accessible for law firms of all sizes, so there’s no excuse not to use it to make your marketing budget go farther and strategically focus your business development.
About the Author
Josh Blandi is the CEO and co-founder of UniCourt, a SaaS offering providing case research, case tracking, legal analytics, and legal data as a service to AmLaw 50 firms and Fortune 500 companies.