How Content Marketing Supports Maintaining, Expanding and Attracting Business for Law Firms

Competition in the legal space is fiercer by the day, so law firms, practice/industry groups and individual lawyers must do even more to stay ahead of the curve and stand out in an already crowded environment. Content marketing is one of the most important ways your firm and attorneys can shine brighter than the competition.

Content marketing is at the core of any comprehensive brand awareness and advancement (BAA) legal marketing strategy. Content marketing for law firms serves as a catalyst for differentiation in an industry already saturated by “putting to work” your specialized subject matter expertise.

A catalogue of original content offers the potential to keep clients at your firm and attract new ones. You may be able to appeal to potential and existing clients based on your current BAA initiatives, however, without truly noteworthy content, it will be more and more difficult to consistently convert brand awareness and leads into cross selling and new client opportunities.

We understand though, from first-hand experience, that interesting content takes strategy, commitment and precious attorney billable hours… so why do it? Content Marketing supports value through cost efficient marketing ROI.

A sound law firm marketing content strategy can be relatively low in cost to deploy and maintain when compared to other public relations and traditional marketing initiatives such as advertising, annual reports, brochures, events and the like.

When it comes developing content to support your law firm marketing, practice/industry-specific team, and individual attorney, one of the biggest rewards is enhanced SEO. Greater visibility and higher rankings will attract more leads to your door. Content once in market will function like tentacles by expanding BAA exponentially.

It will not only will your original content educate your clients and help guide them to smarter decisions surrounding legal services, but when shared throughout your firm’s entire online and social media platforms you encourage other individuals and sites to review and reference your information, exponentially increasing your reach and lead pool at no cost to the firm.

What is content marketing and how will my firm benefit?

There are many answers of varying lengths and degrees of complexity when seeking to define content marketing. To keep things simple and easy to understand, we refer to the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) definition:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content marketing can include, but is not limited to, written communications, images, infographics, presentations, audiocasts, and the list goes on. Strong content opens a dialogue more naturally then traditional sales methodology. Content marketing:

  • Educates your existing and/or potential clients as to whether your firm qualifies for the work and/or is the right for them in a given substantive legal discipline (e.g., practice and industry overviews, bios, about us, blogs and newsletters, tutorials and videos, etc.)
  • Drives your firm and individual attorney social media marketing efforts toward the cultivation of deeper and more personal relationships, feedback/commentary, more relevant, direct conversations not based on an immediate sale, and expanding your reach though increasing visitor traffic.
  • Expands backlinks which is a link from an external website to your content and offers the potential to bring new traffic to your site by clicking through from a trusted site used by your target. It’s like a virtual introduction between peers. Backlinks are also a crucial component in SEO rankings.

Why should my firm create content?

Content marketing supports building and expanding relationships with current and prospective clients, enhances SEO, and helps to establish trust, thought leadership, subject matter expertise, and practice group awareness. Set forth is a summary of five reasons to begin and/or expand your content marketing initiative summarize from

  1. To balance traditional marketing efforts, content should be at the core of your marketing endeavors. Instead of pitching your services, content marketing allows you to provide poignant content that helps solve client/potential client problems.
  2. Content marketing is used by leading brands. CMI research shows marketers and major brands (including P&G, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and John Deere) are using content marketing developed and executed by small businesses and one-person shops across the U.S. and around the world.
  3. Content marketing is good for your bottom line and for your customers. CMI asserts that the benefits of content marketing include increased sales, cost savings, and better customers with more loyalty.
  4. Content is the present – and future – of marketing. As individuals view a seemingly relentless amount of potential and actual content in a day, only information that is interesting and relevant will stand out.
  5. Marketing is no longer workable without great content. CMI notes that regardless of the marketing strategies you employ, content marketing should be part of your process and not a stand-alone endeavor separate from your “bigger picture” BA plan.

Questions to ask yourself when developing audience-specific content

Developing content is not easy. Many clients are overwhelmed at the thought of even getting started. Keep it simple by asking yourself (and your attorneys and firm management) 10 questions to get the process of developing subject matter going:

  1. How will I be organizing our content (i.e., by individual attorney, practice/industry group, etc.)?
  2. What style/format should I develop so that messaging is consistent throughout all firm communications/posts?
  3. Where does my firm excel?
  4. What industries/practices do we want to highlight?
  5. What are my competitors doing?
  6. What opportunities from other organizations can I join in or lead a conversation?
  7. What are the current trends and hot issues by practice and industry?
  8. What are legal and business publications writing about (i.e., ALM, JD Supra, Lexology, reginal business journals, etc.)
  9. Is this content valuable and/or relevant to my target audience?
  10. Is this content timely and/or current?

If 10 questions is too many, let me distill it down to only three:

  1. What is my client’s product, service and reason for existence?
  2. What are my client’s problems and/or biggest challenges?
  3. Who are my client’s customers and their competition?

Answering just those three questions will get you going in the right direction.

Where should my firm distribute content?

The SEJ (Search Engine Journal) provides 20 options to get started. We have edited that list back to our “short list” for law firms:

  • Website (The cornerstone of your content strategy)
  • LinkedIn (Brand/Personal Pages and Articles)
  • Twitter (Brand/Personal Accounts and Chats)
  • Facebook (Brand/Personal Pages and Facebook Groups)
  • YouTube (Brand and Personal)

Notably, JDSupra and Lexology are also important industry digital resources and through partnership can dramatically increase your content’s reach. JDSupra is an outstanding daily source for legal intelligence on all topics business and personal that distributes news, commentary and analysis from leading lawyers and law firms. Lexology provides a comprehensive source of international legal updates, analysis and insights for law firms and in-house counsel. Just keep in mind that your own site should be at the epicenter of your content strategy.

And let’s not forget email… it still works… well!

How do we determine ROI?

Google Analytics is one of the easiest ways to measure traffic and ROI. Google Analytics is a web analytics service that tracks and reports website activity as a platform inside the Google Marketing Platform brand. Google Analytics allows you to evaluate conversion rates and how each channel impacts your firm’s ROI, optimize your cross-channel advertising investment, and measure your digital marketing efforts.

An article entitled “How to Measure Your Content Marketing ROI + 7 Metrics That Matter” provides actionable insight on content marketing ROI. Below is a summary key take-a-ways:

  1. Lead Quality: outstanding content draws an audience and therefore generates leads. You know it is working if your blog post is read, your related resources are reviewed, and you are contacted with questions.
  2. Sales: track how many of your leads turn into client individual engagements and/or billable hours.
  3. Web Traffic: traffic drives revenue, so your firm’s website and visitation metrics are key to content marketing success. In addition to your general traffic analytics, you should also review how your traffic is performing over time and from where it is coming. Understanding the source of your traffic allows you to pinpoint which strategies are working.
  4. Client Engagement: Getting people to your site is one thing — keeping them there is another. Your primary goal is to attract and maintain clients by keeping them engaged and with a low bounce rate. The data will show if visitors are reading your content to the end, checking out other content, and subscribing to a newsletter.
  5. Social Media: Social media and referral traffic are important because many decisions are influenced by peer recommendations. Buzzsumo is another content marketing tracking tool expressly focused on social media. If visitors share content it is because they find it valuable and/or utilitarian — which ultimately expands your sphere of influence/reach and enhances your reputation.
  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): when it comes to SEO performance, make sure that your content/keywords rank well; you are appearing in relevant/topical answer boxes, i.e., authority sites link to you; and that inbound links continue to expand. This way, you can reach more of your market.
  2. Exposure and Authority: exposure and positioning yourself and your firm occurs both on and offline. Content marketing serves as the catalyst for establishing authority, which ultimately increases reach and lead generation potential. The more people see you as an authority and/or thought innovator, the more they will want to share and link to your content.

Begin your process of measuring ROI with keyword research, as good reference point to guide your blog posts, ebookscase studies, and other lead generating activities.