The Key To Content Marketing Success? Measure Your Results. Here's How...

JD Supra Perspectives
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Evaluating results is an important part of any execution plan, and the content effort at your firm is no different.

Readership data – including stats on visitors to the firm’s blog, reader analytics from companies like JD Supra that publish the written work of your lawyers, and likes and shares of your work on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook – allow you to gauge whether or not people are actually reading the insight produced by your lawyers.

analytics can help you decide if you should keep doing what you’re doing...

That’s essential: analytics can help you decide if you should keep doing what you’re doing, tweak your approach, or discontinue your content program completely because the costs outweigh the benefits. 

But regularly analyzing data has a broader impact on law firm marketing and business development efforts than merely quantifying how your content is doing. That’s because using hard data and real numbers to measure results allows the firm to move away from a marketing program based on what “feels right” – where decisions are made based on assumptions and gut feelings and that which other firms are doing – to a data-driven approach that relies on facts and figures to support initiatives and expenditures. It allows you to begin articulating the ROI for the firm’s marketing efforts. It allows you to start requesting hard data to justify participating in an industry conference or buying an ad in a local business publication or inviting a client to a networking reception. 

I typically recommend that firms undergo a comprehensive content results analysis every four to six months to see how the numbers are changing. And when they do, I recommend that they use the data to answer the following questions: 

1. Are we reaching the people we want to reach?

The obvious end game in any content strategy is to get more readers for your work. But it’s not just any people: when you began your program, you had a clear perspective on the target audience, like start-up founders in the technology space, HR directors with mid-size companies, or in-house lawyers at global multinationals.

You identified and wrote about the topics that were most relevant to those targets. You’ve probably even focused your business development efforts on connecting with more of those people. That’s why it’s critical to determine whether those targets are reading and sharing your work, and whether that audience is growing.  

2. Are certain topics doing better than others?

Knowing what people are actually reading gives you invaluable insight: those numbers tell you what’s important to your audience, which topics you should write about again, and whether you’re even writing about the right issues at all.

Use the data to update your editorial calendar. Find ways to dig deeper on the subjects your targets truly care about, and they’ll thank you by reading and sharing more. 

3. Which successes can we repeat?

The numbers will tell you when your authors hit it out of the park – when an article gets 10X more readers than usual, when the GC of your most significant prospect shares it on her LinkedIn feed, or when several readers write to say that the piece helped them understand a complex legal issue.

That won’t happen every time, but when it does, you must develop a plan for repeating that success. Maybe the answer is to write more about an important topic that resonates well with your client base. Maybe it’s a question of alerting specific influencers who share and promote your work. Maybe the piece hit a larger audience simply because you asked readers to share it. Whatever the reason, the data will tell you when it worked so you can attempt to repeat that success.  

4. Which content works best on which channels?

Although you already have a pretty good sense of the audiences that different channels offer – JD Supra, LinkedIn, and Twitter, of course; but also your firm’s blog, emailed newsletters, and the other methods you use to get your written work in front of audiences – the data will confirm that.

More importantly, the numbers will tell you which content resonates best with readers in each of those channels so that you can shape your distribution plan accordingly, to ensure that your work gets in front of the people who will read it. 

Measuring the results of your content marketing is critical. And done right, it will make your program better and better each time. 

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[Lance Godard has spent three decades within the legal profession, in-house and as a consultant, helping lawyers and practice groups grow their book of business. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow his new work on JD Supra.]

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