Law firm Web sites are the single most effective marketing tool employed by corporate, transactional and defense firms, according to a national survey by Alyn-Weiss & Associates, Inc. of Denver (www.prdenver.com).
Seminars and presentations slipped to second on the list of most effective marketing tactics. Fifty-five percent of firms reported receiving work directly or by referral from those efforts, which is down from 77 percent in 2004.
For the past 20 years, our bi-annual national survey of business and defense firms, along with every other survey we have ever reviewed, has ranked seminars and presentations/speeches as the most effective business development tactic a business and commercial litigation law firm could employ.
"However, the 2006 reveals that 82 percent of the 119 responding firms had "received work directly or by referral during the past 24 months," from their Web site," said Robert A. Weiss, President of Alyn-Weiss & Associates, Inc. "That's up from 51 percent of firms in 2004 -- a huge leap reflecting the power and pervasiveness of the Internet on traditional legal services purchase patterns.
Our survey also revealed a growing number of business law firms employ formalized search engine marketing to obtain case inquiries from the Internet. No firm reported using search engine marketing techniques in the 2004 survey, but 20 percent said they did in 2006.
Follow-up calls to firms about the change confirmed that most of the 20 percent of responding firms who had employed formal search engine marketing techniques -- key phrase optimization, geotargeting and click-through campaigns -- had received a steady flow of case inquiries.
Trade and community group participation came in third with 47 percent of firms, the same as in 2004, reporting they obtained work that way.
The survey also ranks the use and relative effectiveness of client entertainment, law firm networks, cross-selling programs, print advertising and other marketing tactics. It also reveals how much firms spend on marketing overall as a percentage of gross fee volume. Results are compared to answers given by firms in 2004.
Participating firms filled out detailed questionnaires concerning their marketing efforts and expenses. The questionnaires were developed with input from a panel of law firm marketing directors and legal administrators. Returns were received from December 2005 to January 2006.
The survey is conducted every other year. In off-years, the company surveys the marketing done by contingent fee practices. The 2006 survey and previous surveys done by the firm are available at www.prdenver.com/survey.php.