Our Chris Davidson recently published a piece on how in-house legal marketers manage many spinning plates as part of their roles. Having been an in-house marketer in leading law firms himself (and indeed with various members of our team having formerly been in-house marketing professionals), Chris noted that he finds it “heartening that law firms are recognising the value of having in-house marketing support during these times of unprecedented change in the legal profession.”
But even with the best in-house legal marketing resource, there are many sound business reasons for outsourcing all or part of your firm’s digital marketing, whether working alongside an existing in-house digital marketer or not.
1. Have a 15+ strong team with niche in-depth expertise on your side for the cost of one in-house digital marketer
As the saying goes, "she who is her own lawyer has a fool for a client.” That sentiment also rings true for the lawyer or legal marketing professional who dabbles in digital marketing / online lead generation activities without having the requisite expertise or experience.
While having some knowledge of online marketing in the legal sector is useful for the purpose of being able to instruct the right provider and to speak to their language to some extent, it can quickly become a significant distraction from your other roles and responsibilities.
For an investment similar to that of taking on one in-house digital marketer, you can have an entire team of (in our case 15+) trained professionals execute digital marketing campaigns on your behalf with speed and efficiency – including developers, graphic designers, branding consultants, SEO specialists, content marketing experts, analytics and conversion rate optimisation professionals, PPC managers, general online marketing strategists, marketing automation specialists and more. Recruiting such a team internally for your firm would, for the vast majority of law firms, be cost prohibitive
With the right provider working hand in glove with you as your outsourced in-house digital marketing team, you can focus your valuable time ensuring that other elements of your marketing and business development strategy are working as hard for your business as nobody will or should know your practice better than you do. But this doesn’t mean that you should do all of your firm’s marketing yourself – you shouldn’t have to be involved in the day to day minutiae of the digital campaigns required to generate the right business for your firm (and probably won’t have the time or training to do so in any case). As one of our very first customers once said to us, “you don't get in a taxi and ask the driver how the engine works. You just ask him to take you...”
So hiring an outsourced team of legal digital marketing professionals makes more sense from a financial perspective. But what about time and resource?
2. Save significant time, gain resource and avoid worrying about staff holidays!
Finding talented digital marketers specialising in the legal sector can take a great deal of both time and expense. With an outsourced specialist agency, you would gain greater resource for your firm and avoid having to worry about employee costs, employee benefits, holidays and more. Instead, a more flexible monthly rolling contract could exist which could be increased or decreased depending on the level of extra business you’d be looking to attract.
In addition, the time, effort and expense required to train an in-house digital marketer, not just at the outset of recruiting them but also longer term, all adds up on top of salary costs.
But what if you see outsourcing your online strategy as being an alien concept for your law firm?
3. Your firm is already outsourcing other important functions – a growing trend
A recent Report on Trends Impacting the Legal Industry highlights the growing trend towards outsourcing of certain functions in law firms. From the results of the survey of over 800 lawyers and other legal professionals, topping the list was the outsourcing of marketing – 62% of the firms involved in the survey noted that they outsource their entire marketing function, not just digital marketing. This compares to 51% of firms outsourcing both their HR and IT (e.g. practice management software, email hosting etc) requirements.
Leading commentator on the future of legal services Professor Richard Susskind notes that such a growing trend is to be expected in the future - “routine, repetitive, process-based, and administrative work will be conducted through a variety of alternative sources – for example, by legal process outsourcing, near-shoring, off-shoring, sub-contracting to lower cost law firms, and so forth.”
Provided you choose the right partner, outsourcing your internet marketing shouldn’t be any different effectively from outsourcing your HR or IT requirements.
See also our top tips on how to grow a small law firm here, one of which is to outsource certain activities and responsibilities.
Digital Marketing Activities for Lawyers and In-House Legal Marketers
But this isn’t to say that there’s no role for lawyers or in-house staff to play for the purposes of the firm’s digital marketing strategy. Some of the main and best ways they can be involved include the following:-
- Increasing word of mouth referrals – providing an exceptional service for your clients should always be a key focus. The way that such referrals happen today is different to what it was 20 years ago, with the internet playing a much greater role. As per a 2017 study of online buying behaviour, 97% of consumers will look online for a local business and 85% of consumers will trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. What needs to happen internally, therefore, is not just that your service to clients is as good as it can be, but also that you acquire and present reviews from your clients online, such as through Google My Business. We have a template email and process that can help with this, but ultimately, it’s up to those within the firm to lead this crucial aspect of digital marketing.
- Upselling and cross-selling to your database of clients – some of the best ways to do this is to use email marketing or marketing automation / demand generation software. Having someone in-house co-ordinate such activities with an outsourced provider can work well given that the person within the firm will have a good idea of what the client-base needs to know/hear at certain times and such a person would indeed also usually be responsible for updating the database of existing clients and contacts.
- Blogging – while we help our customers by providing tailored blog and landing page content (we wrote over 120,000 words of unique content last month), a good content marketing strategy can be turned into a great one with more engagement from within the firm with more content being written by the solicitors themselves, for optimisation, publishing and sharing thereafter – something an engaged partner, lawyer or other in-house person within a firm is well-placed to achieve working in collaboration with an outsourced marketing provider – particularly where the outsourced provider is setting the overarching strategy and helping with the more technical elements after the lawyer has produced their own expert insights.
- Nurturing leads – with a regular stream of online enquiries reaching a firm, it would be easy for partners to assume not much extra work would be required to turn those leads into clients. But that’s where the hard work and engagement by lawyers and in-house staff is essential. In the personal injury sector, as an example, after doing their online research, the average consumer will contact around 3 firms before making a choice. So if your front-of-house staff / enquiry handlers and solicitors aren’t trained in converting such enquiries and if your firm doesn’t have a process for following up / nurturing leads to the point of instructing you, there’s a good chance such consumers may well be going to your competitors. In our experience, most law firms aren’t great at this follow-up process. We ourselves are working with our customers to help them improve this aspect of their business, whether through sales training or our demand generation / client acquisition product for law firms - Client.ID. This itself is the subject of another Insights piece we’ll be writing about soon - connect with us on Twitteror LinkedIn for such updates.
Moore Legal Technology – Helping Modern Lawyers Thrive
Choosing to outsource part or all of your firm’s online marketing is, and rightfully should be, a significant decision. Even if you have existing in-house legal marketing resource or if one of your lawyers within your firm has knowledge or experience of internet marketing, there are many convincing business reasons for following the outsourcing route.
Not only can you gain a team of many trained internet marketing professionals at a cost similar to or less than an in-house digital marketer, but you can also save significant amounts of time and expense required with training, together with not having to worry about holidays or employee benefits/costs. And such a decision wouldn’t be dissimilar to your outsourcing for practice management, email hosting or other IT requirements.
To find out how we can help your law firm succeed online by increasing your turnover, enhancing your brand, improving your efficiency and future-proofing your business, call my colleague Chris today or email