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Qamar Anwar on Big Data and better client leads

The incredibly competitive world of personal injury and clinical negligence is an increasingly sophisticated, multi-channel environment where data drives a remarkable level of individualised targeting of consumers.

At First4Lawyers, we have immersed ourselves in it for the last nine years, but recognise that not everyone has the time or resource to do the same.

The rules are changing rapidly as new technologies are adopted, and the scale can sometimes be daunting – there are more than 150,000 keyword searches where we want First4Lawyers to be appearing top of the results.

Our research into the marketing spend of PI and clinical negligence of law firms last year showed an 182% increase in advertising, up from £27m in 2010 to £76m in 2014. This equated to £208,000 per day or £2.41 per second. It also showed that TV was the highest spending marketing channel with radio the lowest, although smaller firms still continue to use this channel. Print advertising is inevitably giving way to digital marketing, which is now the fastest-growing channel.
Be it traditional Google pay-per-click (PPC) and display advertising through to YouTube creative and on-demand TV, the internet now accounts for around £36m or 47% of overall spend.
However, PPC is squeezing the market and becoming increasingly difficult to generate enquiries. Many firms have tried to go after the main keywords, but find that they spend their budgets very quickly because the cost per click is so high.
Similarly with Google rankings, you have to create a history by proving yourself to Google. This can only be done by engendering the right type of client behaviour on your website.
Law firms can be forgiven for thinking that mastering today’s online marketing challenges is prohibitively expensive. Yes, considerable budgets are required. However, simply throwing money at marketing in isolation is unlikely to lead to success either. There’s so much more to it than that.

Many firms look to generate a high volume of leads, something digital marketing can readily do. However, volume doesn’t equate to quality. A marketing provider might tell you that they will generate 250 leads a month for £x a month, but what’s the real cost per lead? How much time will you then need to spend to qualify those leads and make a conversion? Often, the reality is if you buy cheap, you buy twice.

There has to be a level of people-led quality control applied in obtaining leads. Expert vetting, preferably with a legally qualified person, is essential to driving a volume of high quality claims.
We invest heavily in marketing to encourage claimants to call us rather than us cold calling them. We assess potential claims to identify those that have a genuine case and pass them on to our panel member firms which can help claimants to access justice. Of the 200,000 enquiries we handled last year, less than a quarter were passed to our panel members as potential claims.
Marketing campaigns need to be assessed and reviewed to make improved decisions. Many marketers and decision-makers struggle to understand the importance of insight, yet it is this insight, often called big data, which drives every decision that we make as marketing experts. It enables us to know when to put which adverts on TV, meaning we can reduce spend while increasing the number of enquiries it generates.

We are constantly monitoring the performance of our marketing and every aspect of our campaigns are measured against expectations.

As such, we can not only plan around which TV slots will generate enquiries, we can monitor to see if they actually delivered that enquiry. We can modify our marketing campaigns to ensure they are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible, which helps us to improve return on investment and overall performance. As a result, we can tell our panel member firms precisely how we have spent their investment and what it has achieved.

Despite the increasing digital nature of law firm marketing, do not forget that people drive marketing, however much technology is making the process easier and more automated.

When something looks too good to be true then it often is.

Qamar Anwar is the managing director of First4Lawyers

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