A “significant proportion” of large law firms are investing in content or ‘inbound’ marketing schemes that “simply don’t work as they should” and could even damage their reputation, a report has been found.
Researchers said a “staggering” 19% of the top 100 law firms let people sign up for legal updates – often with quite complex preference forms – only to never actually send any.
Marketing consultancy Thought Spark said it was essential for law firms to develop inbound strategies to “engage and retain potential clients”, leveraging platforms and data to build a relationship in the digital world before any direct contact was made. Firms agreed with its importance.
“The essence of inbound marketing for legal professionals is to share a limited but engaging element of the law firm’s expertise with prospective customers.
“This could take the form of expert legal updates on core topics and sectors, where interested parties are invited to sign up directly and register on a firm’s website for the areas that are most interesting to them.
“The firm can then send each registrant relevant updates on a regular basis – personalized to their areas of interest.”
Researchers found that three quarters of the top 20 firms and 69% of the top 100 as a whole offered email sign-up for case/subject updates.
It was “not a problem” that the top 20 firms favored weekly updates and the top 100 as a whole monthly, since larger firms had more to communicate.
However, only 38% of the top 100 firms sent updates at a consistent interval, rising to half among the top 20.
“The remaining businesses demonstrate an astonishing underlying level of poor practice. A staggering 19% of top 100 firms allow interested parties to sign up for legal updates – often with quite complex preference forms – then never send any bulletins.
“A further 10% of these firms start sending one or two bulletins, then stop. This seems even more extraordinary than those that never started – in that the mechanism for sending legal update bulletins is clearly in place but is simply not functioning properly.”
Among the marketing problems raised by this behavior was that clients and prospective clients were “receiving an impression of incompetence – effectively the firm is investing in giving its client a bad impression”.
Researchers went on: “With many commodity legal services becoming more automated and consumer trends for identifying and engaging legal support moving to online, now is the time for law firms to really invest in their digital marketing functions and drive new businesses.
“However, a significant proportion of legal firms ranked 21-100 are investing in inbound marketing programs that simply do not work as they should – this results in a waste of effort and in some cases can even be damaging to the firm’s reputation.”
Dr Jessica Wax-Edwards, director at ThoughtSpark, commented: “Despite an almost unanimous consensus amongst the top firms that inbound marketing is the way forward, there remains a lack of proper know-how in delivering a well-performing digital strategy.
“The data gathered in this study clearly demonstrates the importance of professional skills and hard experience – internal or external.
“Inbound marketing is so important to firms’ future ability to attract business that it cannot be left in inexperienced hands – for strategic planning, quality, frequency, targeting, implementation and measurement.”