Have personal injury firms become early adopters?

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The legal sector isn’t particularly well known for its marketing innovation, but the world around us continues to change at a rapid pace and artificial intelligence, voice search, programmatic marketing and mobile marketing are already being embraced by various industries. So, is the legal sector keeping pace or is it falling by the wayside? And are all law firms created equal or are certain sectors, such as those serving personal injury, carving themselves out a niche as early-adopters within a snail-paced industry?

To examine exactly where the legal sector is at with its marketing capabilities, First4Lawyers commissioned research company IRN to poll 100 small- and medium-sized entity (SME) consumer law firms—with turnovers ranging from less than £500,000 to more than £10 million. We wanted to explore the current and future state of their marketing, in particular looking at whether firms are future proofing their strategies and adapting to a changed marketing landscape. The results made for sobering reading.

In a world where there is a plentiful supply of data and information to aid marketing planning and decision making, it was quite shocking that so many respondents to the research are investing in marketing activities that they openly admit are neither important nor effective. However, personal injury firms seem to be breaking the mould.

The survey data showed that only 17% of specialist personal injury firms are expecting a marketing budget increase compared to 26% of the total survey. Far more are expecting a decrease—22% compared to 15% of the total survey. However, despite smaller budgets, it seems that personal injury firms are embracing new marketing strategies to make the most effective use of their available resources.

For example, personal injury firms are now much less reliant on print advertising, with just over two thirds, 67%, using it compared to 84% of the survey. Perhaps this is because they have made the move to social media with seemingly greater ease—some 72% of personal injury firms are using Twitter on a regular basis against only 53% of the survey sample. The reach and influence social media now possesses can transform a business. It allows consumers to feel a part of a brand or a company in a way that print advertising simply can’t. It would seem that personal injury firms have recognised this and discovered how to get more bang for their buck.

The research also showed that the surveyed firms rated paid search activity as one of the top three most effective marketing tactics and almost 70% of them said it was an important or very important marketing activity. Yet only 41% of the total survey are actually using it compared with 61% of specialist personal injury firms.

But perhaps most tellingly was that in a data driven age, only 12% of the total survey were using competitor analysis to drive their marketing decisions, but this jumps to 22% of specialist personal injury firms. It would seem that too many firms are making decisions based on gut instinct or anecdote, rather than data and hard evidence. In most areas of business life now, data is king.

Marketing in its many different forms is crucial to every law firm in 2017 and while personal injury firms may not be at the cutting edge of marketing innovation, they may at least be leading the charge from the legal sector.

Qamar Anwar is the managing director of First4Lawyers

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