Earlier this week, I sat in on Successful Content Marketing During COVID-19, a webinar presented by Adrian Lurssen, the co-founder of JD Supra, and – as is always the case when I hear him speak – I was glad I did.
...everyone in the law firm is in the role of growing business, and legal marketers are no exception.
Adrian skillfully articulated the essentials of content marketing – titles that tell people why they should read your written work; analysis that captures how changes in the law impact your audience; guidance on what your clients should do in response – framed within the urgency of today's pandemic.
Equally important, he laid out a road map that legal marketers can follow to make a meaningful contribution to the success of their firms in these uncertain times. Three key takeaways:
1. Content Marketing Is Not A Popularity Contest
JD Supra's readership has exploded during the pandemic. Updates included in the platform's monthly Popular Reads round-up have gone from around 5,000 readers a month to upwards of 50,000 a month. That's a huge increase that reflects a seismic shift for legal content marketing becoming perhaps the most important way for lawyers and firms to get advice and insight in front of their target audiences.
But that doesn't mean that all readers have equal value for authors. While large readership numbers can be satisfying, content marketing isn't a popularity contest. Instead, it's about targeted reach: lawyers must make sure that their work is getting in front of the people who are in a position to hire them. Focusing and framing your thought leadership, calling out a specific audience, helps.
Adrian offered two examples: one of a law firm whose update on essential workers generated so many questions from people who weren't in a position to hire them that the firm ultimately decided to pull the update; another of a practice group whose industry-specific analysis was so targeted and timely, a reader wrote back right away, asking to hire the team of authors to solve his exact same issue.
2. Analytics Are Powerful, Even (Or, Especially) When You Don't Know The Names Of Readers
One of the more powerful data points you get from readership analytics, like those provided by JD Supra in its monthly reports, are the names of the people who read your content. Because they have agreed to share their names, you're free to reach out directly to those contacts, to establish connections, answer follow-up questions, provide additional detail, and move efforts from marketing to business development.
But not getting the names of readers – getting instead the names of the companies they work for and the business sectors they represent – can also give your firm's broader content marketing program a significant boost.
Among other things, that data allows you to identify specific industry trends and to learn what's important to target companies, both of which are critical for determining if you're reaching the right people and writing about the things that matter to them.
3. Successful Legal Marketers Commit To The Success Of Their Firms
This final takeaway isn't a point that Adrian made directly, but it was clearly one of the underlying themes of his presentation: everyone in the law firm is in the role of growing business, and legal marketers are no exception. Now more than ever – in this time of furloughs and budget tightening and salary reductions – marketers need to commit to efforts and initiatives that produce results. They need to know what works and what doesn't, the opportunities that content marketing success represents for the firm, and most importantly how to achieve those results, through editorial best practices, disciplined content production processes, and focused review of analytics.
What types of success can marketers contribute to? New client matters are the Holy Grail, of course, but there are important steps along the way: increases in targeted readership and social sharing, media engagement and pickups, new contacts and conversations, speaking invitations, and more. Today's marketer fully versant in these metrics and how they can guide lawyers toward each individual result.
One more thing I realized while listening to Adrian: successful content marketing is a science, not an art. Marketers should approach it from that perspective and bring a methodical and systematic analysis to the firm's program to help their firms stand out, now and in the future.
Lance Godard has helped lawyers and law firms articulate their value, engage their readers, and grow their business through compelling content for three decades. Follow his new work on JD Supra. Connect with him on LinkedIn to see how he can help you, your practice group, and your firm upgrade your content and marketing strategy.