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Law firms curtail traditional and embrace digital marketing : Survey

Digital from traditional marketing law firmsLegal marketing has changed dramatically over the past five years.

Today, law firms large and small are cutting back on traditional marketing tools and embracing digital activities and new technologies to market their people and services.

Networking and word-of-mouth relationships that lead to new business referrals continue to be pillars of legal marketing, but these tried and true tactics are being turbo-charged by social media activities and online marketing. Terms such as SEO, Twitter, Skype and LinkedIn now are as common in the marbled walls of a law firm as they once were in the funky workspaces of technology start-ups.

This from a survey (pdf) of more than 1,300 lawyers conducted by Avvo and LexBlog earlier this year.

Based on the frequency of the requests I am receiving from lawyers and legal marketing professionals looking to make a case for social media in their firms, I thought in important that I share some key findings from the survey.

  • More time and money will be spent on marketing in 2012. Whether it is online, offline, or both – attorneys are seeing more value in marketing initiatives. More than 60 percent of respondents plan to spend more time marketing in 2012 and 81 percent plan to spend the same or more on marketing in 2012. However, there is a large variance in how much of these budgets are spent.
  • As marketing budgets increase, so does the investment online. With the decline in off-line and print advertising and growth in online advertising, 24 percent of respondents said they spend more than 75 percent of their marketing budgets online.
  • Lawyers are utilizing social media for business development. 54 percent of those surveyed utilize social media tools to grow their business.
  • LinkedIn and Facebook are also being used to communicate with clients. Aside from Avvo and LexBlog, LinkedIn (72 percent) and Facebook (50 percent) are the most popular social media channels for generating new business among those surveyed. Lawyers are also using these tools to communicate with existing clients, blurring the line between online and offline relationships.
  • Online legal marketing has breached the generational divide. There was not a significant difference in age between those spending time and money online and participating in social media versus those who do not.
  • Blogs are valuable sources for professional development. Although CLE courses and conferences are the most common methods of professional development, 56 percent said they read and follow blogs to grow their professional development.
  • Those who don’t participate in online marketing are still concerned about their online reputation. Although 54 percent of respondents said they are utilizing social media tools, 72 percent said they are monitoring their online reputation.
  • Online Q&A is a key marketing channel. The majority of survey respondents said that answering legal questions in online forums is an effective marketing channel. The minority who do not participate in online Q&A also tended to not use social media tools in general, citing concerns about potentially establishing an attorney/client relationship, as the reason why.
  • While having an online presence is important, offline marketing is still a priority. The key to marketing success is learning how to connect online and offline participation, and make them work together.

I’ll continue to share findings from the survey in the coming days including top 10 ways legal marketing has changed and detailed results.

Imagery courtesy of Flickr by Dennis Skley.