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Posted by Nick Salloway on 27 July 2016

Reasons why your law firm can't ignore the value of content marketing

In one of my earlier blogs I highlighted what we believe are the 10 most important digital marketing trends for law firms this year.  One of those recommendations was the need to invest in content marketing, with research from Econsultancy showing that content marketing is now viewed as the most effective digital marketing discipline by law firms - and in this blog, I’m going to give my take on exactly why!

What exactly is content marketing? 

It's a term that you're likely to have heard, but you may not be entirely clear on what it means, so let's start by looking at the definition of content marketing.

The Content Marketing Institute define content marketing as;

"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."

Through audience research and strategic planning, the digital content you create and publish can be personalised to answer your prospects' and customers' basic questions and needs, thereby enabling close alignment of your content marketing to exactly the way in which people think and behave when considering which law firm is right for them.  

The diagram below illustrates the role in which content marketing plays within a wider inbound marketing strategy;

INBOUND_MKT_CHART3.png

 

Reasons why a law firm should invest in content marketing

So why is content marketing important for the legal sector? Well, the following quotes provide some good starting points.

Firstly, the need to keep up with your competition, many of whom are already using content marketing to increase the visibility of their brand online, ultimately, to improve the quality of sales leads and grow their business;

“Law firms that don’t adopt content marketing with a frequently-updated blog will gradually fade away, as other web-savvy law firms nip away…smart law firms already know that more frequent blogging equals more leads and clients.” Larry Bodine, Attorney

And secondly the huge opportunity it provides (when done correctly) to closer engage with prospects and customers, and in turn drive profitable actions;

Everything we do has to be of value of our clients. And ‘of value’ means: would I like it? Would I bother watching that video, reading that report, taking that call? Most people don’t apply that basic criteria and therefore the stuff that’s spewed out by most law firms and accountancy firms lacks engagement. It has the right intentions but lacks oomph. Where’s the heart? Where’s the soul? Where’s the passion that recognises what we all enjoy as human beings? The machine we’ve created has delivered more than 100 per cent revenue and profit growth in five years.” - Elliot Moss, Director of Business Development, Mishcon de Reya


Further benefits of adopting a content marketing strategy include;

1. Content marketing helps to build brand awareness

In an increasingly competitive market, where the legal services on offer can often be identical, or at least very similar to the competition, there’s a real challenge to show how you differ.

Conversationally written content that informs and helps your audience, and positions your firm as experts in your specialist areas will differentiate your firm and build awareness effectively, and most importantly start conversations with your prospects on a larger scale than traditionally networking practices could ever deliver.

2. Targeted content can support individual departments with business development objectives

If you wish to achieve a return on your investment in digital marketing - and we’d expect you do - all marketing activity, including your content marketing, should be aligned directly to your firm’s business objectives.

Taking a strategic approach to content marketing will allow the content you create to be aligned with those top-level objectives, whilst also allowing you to cater to the needs of individual or specialist departments.

For example, if your law firm wishes to encourage specific growth within a certain department, such as commercial property law, highly relevant content targeted at buyers within that sector can be created and published on platforms known to be used by that specific target audience.  

3. Content marketing improves client engagement and trust

Well constructed and highly targeted content will connect with your audience better than almost any other communication method.

Your firm’s content marketing strategy should clearly identify whom you want to engage. Well-considered buyer personas will help you generate the right type of content that will interest, engage, and, importantly, be useful to your target audience.

Also, it will be hugely valuable for your firm to take the time to understand what a typical buyer journey might look like for each of your key target audiences, as they move from conducting research, gathering information, and then making a decision on which law firm they wish to appoint.

The objective here is first to attract, engage with, and then gently convert strangers – i.e. prospects who are not familiar with your business and brand - to qualified leads, and, eventually, to customers and advocates of your firm’s services.

4. Content marketing drives inbound leads and website traffic

HubSpot has published findings from their 13,500+ customers to show the direct link between publishing content and generating leads and website traffic. Their stats show that “Companies who published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies who published between 0 - 4 monthly posts…and…4.5 times more leads”.  

5. Content marketing will help to position your law firm as thought leaders

Advertising can sometimes be regarded as ‘self-serving' and dismissed quickly by your target audience, without a further thought, particularly if don't identify any substance behind your messaging.

By contrast, well-written content can impart the same message, and significantly elevate a prospect’s view of your firm to ‘knowing what they’re talking about’ and providing added value through the advice you offer and the experience and knowledge you share.

Importantly, this doesn’t mean that content should be written in ‘lawyer-speak,' in fact the opposite is actually true. Engaging and effective content should be conversational and empathetic, showing a real understanding of the issues and problems faced by your target audience, and offering insights into the possible solutions your prospective client should consider to solve the issue they are facing.

Ask yourself, who would you rather do business with; a specialist who talks about what they do, or a specialist who was helpful, engaging, empathised with your situation and offered actionable advice?

6. Content marketing is often less expensive than traditional marketing methods

The average cost of generating a lead through content marketing is estimated at $143, whereas through traditional outbound methods it's estimated to be $373 per lead.

Perhaps, more importantly is the fact that organic leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) only have a 1.7% close rate, according to Eric Siu of Search Engine Journal.

So not only do you spend less to get a lead using a content marketing strategy, but more of those leads convert to real business.

Steps to take to ensure your content marketing strategy is a success

If you have yet to adopt a strategic approach to your content marketing, then hopefully this blog has played a part in inspiring you to get started.  And if that's the case then three important points to consider are;

  1. Relevance – Your content must be a reflection and amplification of your firm's brand. It must be relevant to the target audience you’ve identified as an ideal fit for your firm. And, it must be relevant to where these decision makers are in relation to their individual buying journey.
  2. Quality – Publishing loads of content for the sake of publishing content may feel like you're taking positive action, but it also is a big waste of time, money and resource. You need to ensure that every piece of content which your firm creates offers value to your audience. Does it contain relevant keywords, which your target audience would use? Is it being published on the right social platforms for your target audience to find? Does it fit your overall and specific business goals i.e. is it strategic?
  3. Consistent Output – Inconsistent publishing can’t build an audience, whereas relevant, high quality content published regularly will have followers waiting for the next one, and it will also help significantly with your organic search rankings.

If you're interested in keeping updated on our digital marketing blogs for the legal sector then simply subscribe and you'll get all future posts delivered straight to your inbox.

And if you're keen to get cracking on your content strategy and wish to discuss any of the points covered here in more detail then please do get in touch - I'm always happy to have a chat!

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