Law Firm Marketing Budget: How Much Should You Spend on Marketing in 2022?

Law Firm Marketing BudgetWe often advise law firms that they need a marketing budget. But how much is enough? What should your firm be spending on your marketing strategy in 2022?

There’s no right or wrong answer, although spending too much (or not enough) on marketing is generally a bad move.

Not having a marketing budget at all is also inadvisable. Most smaller law firms have no set budget for marketing. The ABA’s 2020 websites and marketing survey found that under half (46 percent) of law firms of all sizes have a marketing budget.

law firm marketing budget

So, how do you know what to spend on marketing? And which channels should the majority of your budget be invested in?

Here we’ll look at how to arrive at a realistic figure for your marketing budget based on our experience working with law firms of all sizes — from solo attorneys to multi-practice, multi-location firms with many lawyers.



Average marketing spend for law firms

Firms that do have marketing budgets can spend anywhere between 2 and 20 percent of gross revenue on marketing.

The figure you should aim for depends on who you listen to. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7-8 percent of gross revenue on marketing. Some law firm management consultants encourage firms to spend only 2-5 percent.

The Legal Marketing Association and Bloomberg Law reported in 2018 that the average marketing spend is 6.7 percent of revenue. So, for every $100,000 in revenue, $6,700 was spent on marketing.

However, this includes the largest firms with almost limitless budgets. From observation, most smaller firms spend much closer to two percent of their revenue on marketing — just $2,000 for every $100,000 in revenue.

Numbers vary greatly depending on factors such as:

  • The practice area of the firm
  • The location of the firm
  • The level of competition in the area (both geographical and practice areas)
  • How established the firm is
  • The lifetime value of clients/leads

We look at how these factors affect a law firm’s marketing budget later on.

For now, let’s take a quick look at the importance of the lifetime value of clients, which is often missed in marketing budget calculations.

Consider this example:

law firm marketing client value

A firm trying to attract clients like Phil is likely to increase its marketing budget due to the higher average lifetime customer value.

Ultimately, you can justify a higher marketing budget for clients who spend more with you, targeting them at all customer journey stages: awareness, interest, desire, and action.


Why set a marketing budget?

As you’ve seen, most smaller law firms have no set marketing budget.

That usually means they don’t have a documented marketing plan, with most firms taking an ad hoc, DIY approach to marketing.

DIY approaches are notoriously hit and miss. Your marketing strategy should be targeted and measurable. This requires a controlled investment plan so that you hire the right professionals and invest in the right channels to attract leads successfully.

benefits law firm marketing budget

To effectively develop your firm’s marketing budget, we can break things down into specifics to help you estimate what you spend on each marketing channel.


Why should digital marketing dominate your strategy?

Around 65 percent of law firms spend most of their marketing budget on digital marketing. That’s because it has the best ROI.

Almost everything you need for a comprehensive law firm marketing strategy is online, from websites and social media profiles to email marketing and paid advertising.

Having created successful marketing campaigns for multiple law firms over the years, our clients report the following types of results from digital campaigns:

law firm marketing resultsDepending on your practice area, there may be a place for traditional marketing. But most law firms would benefit from a purely digital approach.


Where should your money be going?

Depending on your practice area, both client acquisition marketing and client retention campaigns may be required.

Also, keep in mind that how established your firm is affects where the focus of your marketing will be.

Are you trying to boost awareness of legal issues with potential clients, attract them when they show interest in your particular service, or when they’re deciding to hire an attorney?

An established business lawyer might focus on running retention campaigns through referral programs and email marketing. A personal injury, family, or estate planning lawyer might seek a steady flow of leads over a long period, investing resources in their website, content marketing, and SEO.

If you’re seeking new criminal defense clients more immediately, you might focus your resources on pay-per-click advertising.

Or you may want to invest in all three approaches. In any case, we have broken down typical law firm marketing budgets by marketing category.


Website development

Your website is the hub of all your marketing activity and can help you significantly grow your business — so don’t skimp on this key channel.

Law firm web development takes some investment. But the benefits of an eye-catching, scalable, and informative website cannot be overstated.

This is a good example from personal injury firm Auger Hollingsworth.

Law Firm Website Development
(Image Source)

Marketing budget for website design and development

An investment of at least $5,000–$25,000 is about right for a small to mid-size firm requiring a site built from scratch. There are ongoing costs of a few thousand dollars per year as you add content and take steps to improve the user experience.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO ensures that your audience can find the outstanding law firm website you build on search engines. It gets your website ranking so that it appears prominently in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

See how the website of personal injury firm Auger Hollingsworth ranks first in Google’s organic search results for the search term personal injury firm Ottawa,

Law Firm Marketing Budget SEO

You’ll need a concerted effort that takes time to get results like this. You may also want to invest in law firm SEO professionals who can optimize your site around target keywords. This will get your website to appear in more organic and local searches to generate leads.

Marketing budget for SEO

An investment of around $3,000–$7,500 per month is right for most small to mid-size firms in moderately competitive markets. Some firms can spend $25,000 per month or more in particularly competitive practice areas and locations. In less competitive areas, under $1,000 per month may suffice.


Content marketing

Content marketing is the foundation for many types of marketing, usually at the informational/awareness stage of the buying process. Content is at the core of a powerful website, as well as aiding in SEO, email marketing, and social media efforts.

Content marketing includes the production of blog posts and articles (optimized for search), long-form content such as eBooks, white papers and reports, practice area pages, and so on.

These types of long-form, informative blog posts by criminal defense lawyer Richard Hochhauser are particularly effective.

Law Firm Content Marketing Budget
(Image Source)

Marketing budget for content 

Content creation is an ongoing commitment to informing and educating your target market and may constitute anywhere from 20-50% of your total annual marketing budget. An average mid-size firm could spend $2,000–$10,000 per month on content marketing.


Social media marketing

Social media marketing may not feature highly in many law firms’ marketing plans, but it can’t be ignored. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are excellent channels for getting more eyeballs on your content.

The ABA found that 77% of lawyers use social media themselves for professional purposes.

Here’s an example from the Facebook page of Trey Porter Law, a DWI firm in Texas.

criminal defense facebook page
(Image Source)

Marketing budget for social media

It’s difficult to put a budget on social media marketing as many lawyers invest time into their private pages separately from their firms. If your profiles are managed and you invest in social media paid advertising, your budget should be around $1,000–$2,000 per month.


Google Ads and other paid advertising

According to the ABA, 49% of law firms say their best marketing channel is buying web leads. This may involve lawyer directories like Avvo, FindLaw, and Nolo, or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising like Google Ads.

Well-managed PPC campaigns can send a high volume of quality leads your way quickly. But note that the cost per click varies widely between practice areas, as the following graphic illustrates.

law firm ppc budget

So, an estate planning law firm generally pays much less than a personal injury law firm for its leads via PPC.

Marketing budget for Google Ads

Paid advertising for lawyers is not cheap. Legal keywords are some of the most expensive to “bid” for. However, the lifetime value of legal leads is often high, so a realistic budget for professionally managed campaigns might be $5,000+ per month, including ad spend, depending on your practice area.


Email marketing

Email marketing has long been reported to have one of the best returns on investments of all business marketing strategies, with Litmus reporting in 2020:

email marketing ROI

This strategy can be used by lawyers to educate and nurture leads at the “top of the sales funnel” and also to convert interest into paying clients.

Marketing budget for email marketing

Professional email marketers can help you segment your audience, design and schedule campaigns, and test emails to improve conversion rates. A realistic budget for email marketing, if you were to hire a professional, is $1,000 per month or around $10,000 per year.


Branding

Branding falls under a broad range of categories. Each of the above marketing strategies could assist with developing more awareness of a firm’s brand.

While it’s tempting to roll this into one, deciding to re-launch a website, develop a new logo, or perform market research can require a separate budget from the regular marketing work you do.

Marketing budget for branding

Branding work may be charged by the hour (often at similar rates to lawyers’ fees) but larger, fixed fee re-branding projects will cost around $5,000.


Event marketing and networking

Some large law firms devote tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to professional networking events arranged offline. Most small and mid-sized law firms will rely on smaller local events, seminars, public speaking, and webinars, which help reduce marketing expenses.

Ogletree Deakins, an employment law firm in Philadelphia, has an active webinar/seminar campaign, where it gets to present regularly to large numbers of potential clients.

Law Firm Webinar Marketing Budget
(Image Source)

Marketing budget for events and networking

If your networking and events are digital, the cost could be included as part of your social media budget (e.g., LinkedIn may be used for networking) or you may set aside a webinar budget of a few thousand dollars.

Offline events will depend on location, travel expenses, print media requirements, rental of venue space, and other factors that could easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars.


The big marketing budget question: 2% or 20% of revenue?

Most law firms don’t know how much they’re spending on marketing, the return on investment, their cost per lead, or other important metrics because they’re not tracking them.

As we’ve seen, the total budget you should set aside for your marketing strategy will depend on many factors, such as the size of your firm, service area, the strength of the competition, how established you are, and the lifetime value of leads.

So, should you be spending 2 percent or 20 percent of your gross revenue on marketing? Which is it?

Take a look at the following table that breaks down how each budget-influencing factor will impact your overall marketing budget.

We start at a base minimum marketing budget of two percent of revenue for argument’s sake. The following example considers the case of a personal injury firm in New York, which you can adapt for your purposes for an idea of what you’ll need to spend on marketing.

Law Firm Marketing Budget Calculation

The above example purposely uses a high-end example of marketing spend for a relatively unestablished personal injury firm in New York. You can see that the marketing spend needs to be 15–20 percent of revenue rather than two percent.

At first glance, an established estate planning firm in a small Oklahoma town will likely need to spend considerably less of its revenue on marketing. However, if the lifetime value of each customer was higher, the firm could justify upping its marketing spend.


Law firm budgeting templates to help you calculate marketing spend

Not every strategy you employ will be successful. Still, it’s essential to budget by establishing how many leads you need and approximately how much each lead is worth to you, on average. You can determine how much you’re prepared to spend on obtaining each lead.

Also, consider your growth targets when setting your budget. If you want to increase revenue by hundreds of thousands of dollars, you’ll likely have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on marketing to achieve your goals.

At JurisPage, we have developed a couple of tools to help you get a handle on your law firm’s marketing budget.

Firstly, the following tool will help you calculate how many new leads you can generate per month for your proposed budget.


Law Firm Marketing Budget Estimation Tool


Investing VALUE/mon will yield between.

0 - 0 Sales leads per month.
$0 - $0 Costs per lead.

Please contact us to discuss your budget to see how we can best serve you.

The minimum monthly budget is $1,000.


After you launch marketing campaigns, you’ll need to keep track of the leads you generate and your spending. This will enable proactive shifts in the emphasis of your marketing efforts to the methods that are performing best.

Use the following law firm marketing template to document your marketing tactics and budget accurately.


Create a

Successful Law Firm Marketing Strategy

In 10 minutes or less!

Our template will help you to:

  • Define your SMART goals
  • Craft your brand story
  • Create your customer personas
  • …and more!

Download Now


Marketing budget tips to make the most of your funds

As you develop your marketing budget, prepare to follow a few tips from those who’ve successfully used their budget to meet their marketing goals and realize an excellent ROI.


Set realistic goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Before you establish your budget, know what you’re aiming for.

For instance, look at the following SMART goal.

criminal law firm smart goal

With a goal broken down in this way, it’s easy to understand what it will take to achieve it and how much it will cost.


Beware of false economies

Cutting corners by asking the in-house office junior or legal assistant to look after the marketing is surprisingly common in smaller law firms.

Lawyers are professionals and as such, expect people who need legal help to come to them. The same applies to marketing — it’s best left to the professionals.

Hiring the right professional marketing team can pay dividends many times over. Do your homework, find the right professional website developers, SEO team, PPC managers, and content marketers… and don’t be tempted to handle it in-house unless you truly have the capability.

Otherwise, you could be saving money that costs you money: a false economy.


Measure and track results to fine-tune strategy

According to Martindale Nolo:

Email Marketing Budget Lead TrackingYou need to evaluate which strategies and marketing channels work best for your firm based on the available data relating to web traffic, click-throughs, engagement, and so on. There are many analytics tools to help you do this quickly and accurately.

Better yet, use a CRM system designed specifically to manage leads, close sales, and track customer relationships.


FAQs


How much should a law firm spend on marketing?

According to the US Small Business Administration, an average marketing budget for a law firm should be approximately 7-8 percent of gross revenue. So, if your firm’s revenue is $1 million per annum, a marketing budget of $70,000-$80,000 would usually be reasonable.

According to the 2020 Martindale-Avvo Attorney Compensation Report, the average 2019 compensation for solo attorneys was $150,000 per year. So, a solo attorney might look to spend $8,000-$15,000 per year on marketing.


How much do law firms spend on Google Ads?

A realistic budget for professionally managed Google Ad campaigns for a mid-size law firm is between $10,000 and $50,000 per month, depending on your practice area and your goals.


How much should law firms spend on SEO?

An investment of around $7,500 per month is about right for a small to mid-size firm, but this figure may rise to $25,000 or more in competitive practice areas and locations.


Should law firms spend more on digital marketing than traditional marketing?

This depends. Digital marketing is generally more targeted and cost-effective for lawyers than traditional marketing methods like billboard and newspaper ads, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars with little reward.

But poor marketing campaigns are inadequate, whether online or offline. A poorly managed Google Ad campaign can also cost tens of thousands of dollars for little in return.

If you hire experienced digital marketing professionals, you can expect an unparalleled return on investment. Usually, then, digital marketing warrants the bulk of a law firm’s marketing budget.


Get serious about marketing by setting a budget

Digital marketing has created excellent marketing opportunities for all businesses, including law firms. The problem is that lawyers studied law, not business or marketing.

The potential reward of generating volumes of high-quality leads means that firms should be investing in digital marketing. But it needs to be done in a structured way, starting with goal-setting and a marketing budget.

Then you know what you’re aiming for and where you should be putting your money to get there.

Hopefully, this article has helped you address that and get more “forensic” about your marketing spend and marketing strategy to generate the leads that will grow your firm.


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