If your law firm is looking for a partner to handle your website design and digital marketing, it’s likely that you’ve come across Scorpion.
Scorpion Marketing is one of the longest-standing players in the law firm digital marketing space. It has grown into a sizeable company in part by deploying aggressive sales tactics (at one point sending tablets to potential clients).
Since you’re reading this, perhaps you’re being actively pursued by Scorpion, and maybe you’ve even been treated to a delicious cookie basket (several times a year we are informed by our clients of this solicitude 🙂 ).
Because of the scope of Scorpion’s reach, our potential clients frequently ask us for our thoughts on the efficacy of their service offerings and our overall assessment of the company.
While it might seem strange for us to be giving free ad space to a competitor, we are content marketing evangelists, and we make it our policy to identify questions our clients ask a lot and then answer them in public right on our website.
We give our clients this advice all the time, so why wouldn’t we follow it ourselves?
My name is Matt Green, and I am the Chief Strategy Officer at Juris Digital. I have spent the last 12 years of my life helping law firms grow their business online. Over that time, I have analyzed hundreds of Scorpion law firm websites and marketing campaigns. In this post, you’ll find 7 of my top insights for law firm owners and legal marketers who are considering working with Scorpion Marketing.
I hope you find this information helpful. If you have more questions about Scorpion, or about our thoughts on the most effective marketing for your law firm, I hope you’ll reach out to start a conversation.
7 Things for Law Firms to Know About Scorpion Marketing
1. Overall, Scorpion is a Solid Company
I caught you off guard with that one, didn’t I? This is not a hit piece. Scorpion is a solid company with solid leadership. You pretty much have to be to have been around as long as they’ve been and to have achieved the growth that they’ve achieved.
Over our years in business, we have lost bids to Scorpion, and we have also gained (and kept) clients who weren’t satisfied with their experience with Scorpion.
The fact is, there is no single provider of law firm marketing who is better than the rest. The experience that any given law firm has with any given marketing agency will depend on a myriad of factors. For every dozen clients who we’ve delighted we’ve have one who – for whatever reason – things don’t go as well. Sometimes in the world of B2B services, companies just aren’t a good fit, and that’s ok. Just like other companies, Scorpion Design gets complaints.
If you’ve received a proposal for Scorpion, I hope you’ll pause before signing on and reach out to us as well. We’d be happy to speak with you about your goals, review what Scorpion is proposing, and give your our thoughts for the approach that will be most effective for your law firm.
2. Scorpion Design Doesn’t Focus Exclusively on Law Firm Marketing
In the early days, Scorpion niched into legal marketing exclusively. As happens often, their growth ambitions seemingly led them into other industries. On their website, Scorpion states that they help law firms, home service businesses, dentists, franchise businesses, multi-location brands, and other businesses:
At Juris Digital we are often asked why we exclusively work with law firms. After all, folks say, don’t you have to turn down a whole lot of business from companies in other industries? The answer is simple: We don’t believe we can be the best in the world at digital marketing for all types of service businesses. But we know that we can be the best in the world at digital marketing for law firms, so that’s all we do.
3. Scorpion’s Websites Are Built on Proprietary Technology
I am sure that there are good and valid reasons why Scorpion chose to build their own website content management system (CMS) instead of using an open-source CMS like WordPress. However, I don’t know what those reasons are or what benefits Scorpion’s clients gain from this proprietary website backend.
But I do know that the key upshot that law firms need to understand is this:
Because Scorpion builds its client’s websites on a proprietary CMS you won’t be able to take your website with you. If you decide to stop working with Scorpion. In other words, no one outside of Scorpion’s organization will be able to make meaningful changes to your website. If you move on from Scorpion you are necessarily signing up for a new website.
Again, I am sure there are good reasons why Scorpion operates this way. However, we have worked with several law firms who were frustrated when we informed them that we would be unable to execute our SEO and digital marketing services using Scorpion’s website for the simple reason that we could not access the backend of the website. This is one of the most regular things mentioned in Scorpion marketing reviews. It’s also a reason they can be more flexible on scorpion web design costs.
At Juris Digital we build our law firm websites on WordPress, which is the most popular website CMS in the world, powering nearly 40% of all websites on the web. It’s used by brands like The New York Times, Microsoft, Etsy, and FiveThirtyEight. What this means for our clients, if nothing else, is that they truly own their own website, and can take it with them even if they decide to move on from our services. Click here to check out our portfolio of law firm website built on WordPress.
4. Scorpion Tends to Prioritize Paid Ad Channels (PPC, Paid Social, etc.) Over Organic Ones (SEO)
If you’re considering Scorpion, you’re likely interested in what their SEO capabilities look like. The overarching trend that I’ve seen – through speaking with clients and prospective clients of Scorpion and through my own competitive research of their client’s websites – is that they are prioritizing paid search methods (Google Adwords, social media advertising, display advertising, etc.) over organic search and SEO.
I do believe that for their highest-paying clients, Scorpion does execute aggressive SEO campaigns with local SEO, content marketing, link building, etc. However, it would not at all surprise me if Scorpion has decided that – for law firms with smaller budgets ($1k – $5k per month) – it can be far more profitable managing paid advertising campaigns than it can be with full-service SEO and organic online marketing.
I have seen Scorpion websites rank high in organic search results many times. I have no doubt that they have capable SEO professionals on staff who are able to drive real results with search engine optimization. What I do doubt is that Scorpion is committed to SEO over the long term.
Simply put, SEO is hard, it’s time-consuming, and there are no shortcuts. If Scorpion has made the decision that it can be more profitable by focusing more and more on paid advertising over organic marketing, I would expect its interest and investment in the latter to dwindle.
At Juris Digital we are committed to SEO for our law firm clients. While we certainly advise our clients to pair SEO with paid search marketing (PPC and Local Service Ads) when appropriate, we generally believe that SEO creates long-term value and so should never be fully neglected in favor of paid advertising that produces little residual value.
5. Scorpion Isn’t Always Fully Transparency About Ad Spend or Keyword Data
This is probably the most consistent feedback we have heard from Scorpion clients: That they don’t know exactly how much of their total investment with Scorpion is going towards actual ad spend vs. what they are paying Scorpion for its services.
Our understanding is that Scorpion makes little or no distinction between what you pay them vs. what you are paying the various ad platforms they use (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.). Some clients find this frustrating, especially when they aren’t necessarily satisfied with the results from their paid ad campaigns and want to understand exactly what they are spending on ads compared to what they are paying Scorpion for managing those campaigns.
At Juris Digital it’s our policy to only bill our clients for our services. This means that we don’t pay advertisers directly out of the retainer our clients pay us. Instead, our clients pay the advertiser separately, which means they always understand exactly how much they spend on paid ads.
6. Scorpion Spends Big on Both Outbound Sales and Acquisitions
I mentioned earlier that Scorpion routinely sends out cookie baskets to try and poach our clients. Our clients have been sent iPads loaded up with video testimonials from Scorpion clients. We’ve also known Scorpion to send Montblanc pens to prospective clients, which can cost upwards of $500 apiece.
In addition to spending big on outbound sales, the company is also aggressive with acquisitions of both competing and industry-adjacent companies. A quick Google search reveals that the company has acquired 3 marketing agencies and an SEO software company in the last few years, and that’s just the deals they’ve made public by issuing press releases.
Let me be clear: There is nothing wrong with any of this. Scorpion is an ambitious company that invests aggressively in its own growth.
At Juris Digital we value growth as well, but these sorts of tactics don’t align with our ethos. We rely almost exclusively on inbound marketing and word of mouth to earn clients because that’s the sort of marketing we believe in, and it’s the sort of marketing we do for our clients. We are also conscious of our client-to-employee ratio. While we embrace automation where it makes sense, we fundamentally believe that exceptional marketing requires time and attention from creative and strategic human beings. For this reason, we prioritize investing in our team while working towards sustainable growth, which keeps the interests of our existing clients at the forefront.
Scorpion Marketing is not the right choice for every law firm; neither are we! No single agency is the right choice for every law firm.
We believe there is a lot that Scorpion does well, and we know that many firms have a positive experience with them and see solid results. However, we have also worked with many law firms that did not have a positive experience with Scorpion for various reasons, some of which I’ve recapped here.
Whether or not Scorpion is the right choice for your law firm depends on what you value, both in terms of client experience and in terms of marketing strategy. At Juris Digital, we are evangelists of holistic, organic search marketing because it’s what we know, it’s what we do best, and it’s what we believe adds the most long-term value for our clients.
Scorpion’s approach here tends to be different. Scorpion bets more on paid advertising on the big tech platforms, and they tend to put less emphasis, in general, on organic lead generation channels, particularly for law firms with smaller budgets.
At Juris Digital everything we do is driven by our core values: Empathy, Honesty, Quality, Generosity, Gratitude, Communication, and Respect. We believe in building relationships with our clients that are rooted in trust and a shared commitment to a common goal. If that sounds like the sort of company you’d like to do business with, I hope you’ll reach out to discuss your law firm’s marketing.