The overall goal of any law firm content marketing plan should be to share your firm’s knowledge and experience through a cohesive story. This can be difficult for any organization, and especially for law firms. If you take a hard look at the content you’ve been publishing and notice a string of separate blogs or videos, versus one robust brand story, it’s time to bring a fresh approach to your content strategy.
One innovative way to do this is to apply a survey-based research project to your content strategy. Here are a few steps to creating an editorial plan based around designing and sharing a research survey.
Select your topic
It goes without saying that your topic needs to interest your audience. The topic should also align with your practice and your attorneys’ experience, and focus on an area that’s not yet been covered by research. That last item is particularly important because not only can new research set you up as an authority on a subject, but your website will be what people link to when they cite your findings in the future.
A good start is asking yourself: How do I want my audience to think or behave differently, based on what they find here?
One way to select a research topic is to start by looking at your practice areas, then narrow down a subject based on hot topics within a particular niche or industry. For example, if you take a look at your healthcare practice area, you may want to do some research on insurance changes or medical malpractice issues. The goal is for your topic to be specific and differentiated enough that it captures your audience’s attention, but also broad enough that you can repurpose the results throughout many forms in your law firm content marketing strategy.
Design within dimensions
Consider the specific topics you want your research to cover, and the way your study will be broken down to cover this information. These categories, which you can think of as sort of a table of contents, are the dimensions of your study.
These dimensions will help organize your structure and plan your questions. A best practice is to identify three to five dimensions for your study. Consider a hypothesis for each dimension, but, importantly, do not craft questions simply to make your hypothesis true. If the findings prove different from your hypotheses, that could be a story in itself!
From there, you’ll need to design the actual survey. There are resources online that can help you create great questions. Make sure you’re constantly asking, “How will I use the data this question provides?” That will ensure you’re maximizing the value your survey findings offer.
Analyze your findings
Once the results start rolling in, pull your data and see if there’s a story to tell. Remember that numbers alone are forgettable, but an emotional appeal backed by data will be something your audience cares about. Make sure you organize the results along the same dimensions you designed your survey by. If what you find out doesn’t match your hypothesis, develop a story around that!
Go beyond the blog
Before creating various pieces of content, you’ll need to have a landing page for your findings. Point all traffic from the research to this page which will help to improve your site’s domain authority with search engines.
Once you have that landing page established, begin to brainstorm the types of content that you can draft around your research project. Think broader than blog posts and videos, and consider slideshare presentations, articles on other websites, webinars, infographics, or podcasts.
Adding more sophistication to this step, you can create a spreadsheet or use an online tool to track each content piece with the insights, stats, and links the item will share. You can add separate publications if you need to know those titles, who is responsible for each content piece, and if there are attachments to manage.
Incorporate into your calendar
Focus in depth on each quarter. You can consider each dimension (or subject) from your research a cluster and build out from there. Determine a regular cadence of blog posts and schedule those in advance. Keep a library of data-related content that you can post regularly on social media , and review presentations for the upcoming year and see where you can plug in content. If you notice that your content strategy doesn’t seem to have “glue” holding it together, a research project can serve that purpose.
If you need help developing original research for your law firm content marketing strategy, reach out!