In 2017, digital ad spend is set to outstrip TV ad spend for the first time ever, according to a March 2016 projection by eMarketer. The company predicts that digital will comprise nearly 40% of total ad spend in the US, while television will land at 35.8%.

If you’re reading this changing marketing landscape and want to join other law firms in dedicating more resources to digital legal marketing, the first step is to use the information below to craft a reasonable budget for your online marketing needs.

  1. The age of your law firm

Law firms that are 20, 10, or even five years old typically don’t have to spend as much money on marketing as younger firms. That’s because newer practices must work to strum up business, since they don’t yet have a solid client base and consistent stream of referrals coming their way.

Take this into account when creating your online marketing budget. If your firm is just a few years old, you will need to allocate more time and money to legal marketing strategies like:

  • Online reputation and review management—gathering positive reviews, responding to negative ones, and ensuring that you achieve high rankings on your Google My Business listing as well as your Yelp page
  • Google+ Local Optimization to improve your search marketing (see #3 below)
  • Lead magnets to gather new contacts
  • Email drip campaigns to nurture leads
  • Sales funnel tracking and follow-up tools for cold, warm, and hot leads

For younger firms, these branding and lead gathering strategies are particularly important—and they go hand-in-hand. Branding ensures that your law firm is represented consistently across all mediums, and that all online marketing embodies the attitudes and values that you’re trying to portray.

Strong branding enables greater lead gathering, which continuously pumps potential clients into your sales funnel so you always have new cases coming down the pipeline. Devote a good chunk of your law firm’s marketing budget to these elements to build a solid marketing foundation in the younger days of your practice.

Download our free guide and discover how these 15 lawyers are obtaining clients.

  1. The right channels for your legal marketing

When creating a legal marketing budget, you’ll need to take into account the channels and strategies that you’d like to pursue most heavily. For instance, do you think Facebook advertisements would be most profitable for your firm, or would you rather focus on blog content that can be adapted into email newsletters?

Nailing down your marketing strategies—both long- and short-term—can determine the kind of budget to set each week, month, and quarter, and outline exactly where that spend should be going. For example, if one of your biggest online marketing strategies is drip email campaigns, you can consider the costs of:

  • Writing copy/content included in each email (are you hiring legal marketing professionals like James Publishing and Attorney Marketing to produce great content, or are you paying an employee?)
  • Creating any landing pages necessary to link emails
  • Tailoring each email campaign to specific groups of recipients
  • Designing emails and ensuring that they are optimized for mobile and desktop
  • Setting up every campaign
  • Tracking campaign data through a legal CRM
  • Producing any resources or prizes associated with campaigns, such as free e-books or gift cards

Itemizing costs can take a significant amount of time, but knowing where every penny is going in the future can help to create an online legal marketing budget that is reasonable and achievable for your law firm.

  1. The importance of local marketing

The nuts and bolts of local marketing may change as search engine algorithms do, but the ultimate purpose remains the same: to appeal to the right audience and drive more local traffic to your law firm’s website or through your doors. Marketers are seeing huge benefits through this strategy since internet users are completing more local searches than non-local ones.

The bottom line: when creating a budget for your online marketing plan, skipping out on local marketing is a mistake. Direct resources toward local online marketing strategies like Google+ Local optimization to increase the visibility of your Google+ listing in local search rankings, and connect with local internet users who need your legal services.

Local search will soon outnumber non-local ones. Are you ready?

Set up your Google+ Local account today for a better local ranking!

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