77% of Firms Report Using LinkedIn as a Marketing Tactic

Aug 2nd, 2012 | Company News, Law Firm Marketing

Our latest bi-annual National Marketing Effectiveness Survey reveals 77% percent of corporate, transactional and defense firms have embraced LinkedIn as part of their mix of business development tactics and that 15 percent have received cases directly and by referral from the professional online networking site.

Our just completed survey also presents other intriguing results we’re digesting.  For example, firms have cut out-of-pocket spending for marketing, the first drop in spending in the 20 years we’ve been surveying.  On average the firms in our survey spent an average of 2.1 percent of their annual fee volume on marketing and business development in 2010-2011 compared to 3.3 in the prior two-year period.  The percentage had been increasingly steadily since the early 1990s.

The drop in expenditures is not unexpected but it our analysis is it’s not all due to what most people would think, the Great Recession.  And we don’t think it signals reduced marketing efforts overall.  The cost of print advertising, brochures, printed announcements, holiday cards and newsletters have all been replaced in recent years and to varying degrees at law firms by digital equivalents— web sites, banner ads, e-alerts, e-cards, blogs to name a few.  Cost efficiencies were inevitable.  In combination with the recession, the drop makes sense.

The survey also reveals blogs are now used by 38 percent of firms.  Of those firms blogging our survey shows 10 percent having received work directly or by referral from a post.

The tactic that fell most in effectiveness was third-party media coverage and press releases, the old pillars of public relations.  This trend clearly parallels the demise of the daily newspaper and rise of specialty legal media including listings, print and digital publications. Although 64 percent of firms still issue them, less than 10 percent of firms reported general news coverage lead to paying work.  Media relations, as we once called it, isn’t even in the list of the 15 most effective tactics surveyed firms employ today.  In the 1990s, it was in the top five.

Clearly, a shift has occurred.  Social media is not replacing journalism as we know it, it has already replaced it.

As the Word of Mouth marketing Association (WOMMA) recently reported: “Consumers trust their friends before anyone. However, the next stop is the blogger.”

Our survey showed 64 percent of law firms were employing search engine optimization (SEO), as well.  That’s from nearly zero using SEO six years ago.

“A big part of the SEO formula revolves around original and updated content. What better way to create, distribute, and communicate original content than through blogging?,” WOMMA asked, adding that blogging “lets you talk directly to your target audience. What press release can do that?”

Indeed, and consider the efficiency, cost savings and increased speed of delivery. Plus, you can push it out as an alert to less-digitally inclined clients, prospects and referral sources.  And if your target market includes in-house counsel, a survey by American Lawyer Media from 2010 reveals they report getting more of their news, industry and legal information online than from printed sources.  That’s true for house counsel of all ages, not just Gen Y.

The Alyn-Weiss National Marketing Effectiveness Survey is conducted bi-annually. Its detailed questionnaire is returned by more than 100 full-service firms from dozens of cities across the United States.  The 2012 edition indicates every law firm should be evaluating its marketing mix for efficiency, in both marketing spending and reach.

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