What The Digital Body Language of Clients Says About the Strength of Your Relationship

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If you’re following my series on digital body language and the sales / business development funnel for professional services, you’ll know that we’ve arrived at the final stage in the funnel:

This is the stage where your audience takes action: prospects hire you for new work and current clients retain the firm for work outside the scope of your existing representation.

When prospects move into the ‘Action’ stage of the funnel – when they hire your firm – the goal of your content marketing changes from attracting potential clients to retaining existing ones. But the tactics remain the same: produce ever more relevant thought leadership to explain legal developments, identify problems and challenges, and propose solutions to the specific issues facing your clients.

Your client’s digital body language tells you how well you’re doing.

Which ‘Action' Data Is Available?

Once a prospect has become a client, your relationship with that company and its personnel changes. But their relationship with your content does not.

Now more than ever they look to you for insight and guidance, rely on your white papers and client alerts to inform them of critical legal and regulatory developments, and expect a steady stream of thought leadership programs to guide them in a wide range of areas that include but are not limited to the specific issues for which they hired you.

...your relationship with that company and its personnel changes. But their relationship with your content does not.

That’s why it’s critical to continue tracking their digital body language to know whether your content is meeting their needs. Here’s what to look for:

  • Increased shares of your content – client alerts, white papers, webinar presentations, videos from your content portals, etc. – with colleagues and connections
  • Expanded subscriptions to receive guidance on additional topics and practice areas
  • New conversations on legal and business issues, via email, messaging apps, and in webinars
  • A growing number of subscribers and webinar participants among client organizations

What Can Be Learned From the Data?

Just as in previous stages of the sales/BD funnel, the digital body language of people in the ‘action’ stage tells a valuable story about your clients and their confidence in your service and firm. Pay attention to changes in the total number of people at client companies who are interacting with your content:

  • Clicks / opens of client alerts
  • Shares of newsletters, email invitations, and other communications
  • Mentions on social media
  • Website subscriptions to publications
  • Webinar registrations and archive access
  • Visit to and searches on your website

Key: these numbers should be moving steadily upward.

You’ll also want to track the people and job functions that are consuming your material, like HR managers, in-house lawyers, sales people, and the like, to identify opportunities to engage clients and respond to their questions before they ask.

What Does the Data Tell Us About Maintaining – and Enhancing – the Client Relationship?

The digital body language of clients tells when their relationship with your client is going well, and when it isn’t.

When the numbers are moving in the right direction, the data can help you identify opportunities to enhance your relationship with clients:

  • By developing a client-specific webinar when you notice increases interest at a client in a particular issue, say on workplace drug policies in response to New York’s legalization of cannabis
  • By proposing anti-corruption training to a client’s sales team when you see that the CCO is searching for and downloading FCPA alerts
  • By publishing a white paper with in-depth analysis of the impact of the Biden administration’s new Russia sanctions on businesses active in the country when your client’s GC shares your Russia sanctions client alert with her team

When, on the other hand, the numbers are not growing, it’s worth spending time to figure out why and experiment with your content and delivery:

  • When people are searching for guidance they can’t find on your website, consider developing material that covers those topics.
  • Are webinar invitations going unopened? Perhaps you’re not covering subjects that are top of mind for your audience. Perhaps you’re not framing them using the right language. Perhaps you need to convey more urgency in your subject lines.
  • To get more people to share your thought leadership, consider making it easy to share by adding social media buttons on every piece of content that allow sharing via email, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sites.
  • To increase numbers of subscribers to firm publications, you might want to add a subscription link to your email signature.

How are you using digital body language to enhance your relationships with clients? I’d love to hear about it.

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Katie O'Rourke is Regional Vice President, Sales, at ON24. Connect with her on LinkedIn; follow for her latest writing on JD Supra.

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