Sharing your firm’s knowledge and experience through a cohesive story should be the overall goal of any law firm content marketing strategy. Take a hard look at the content you’ve been publishing. If you notice a string of separate blogs or videos rather than a robust brand story, it’s time to refresh your approach. Incorporating an original survey-based research project into your content strategy could provide just the boost you need. To help you get started, here are a few steps to creating an editorial plan centered around designing and sharing a research survey.
1. Select Your Topic
Your survey topic needs to interest your audience, align with your practice and your attorneys’ experience, and focus on an area yet to be researched. That last item is particularly important, as new research won’t just help establish your authority, but will also elicit new links to your website anytime someone cites your findings in the future.
It’s best to start by asking yourself: How do I want my audience to think or behave differently, based on what they find here? Look at your practice areas, then narrow down a subject from a list of hot topics within a particular niche or industry. For example, if you examine your healthcare practice area, you may see a need for research on insurance changes or medical malpractice issues.
Your topic should be specific and differentiated enough to capture your audience’s attention and broad enough that you can repurpose the survey results in many forms throughout your law firm content marketing strategy.
2. Design Within Dimensions
Consider the specific topics your research will encompass and how you’ll break the study down to cover all of these areas. The resulting categories, which you can think of as sort of a table of contents, will form the dimensions of your study, helping you organize its structure and plan your questions.
It’s best practice to identify three to five dimensions for your study. While you will want to formulate a hypothesis for each dimension, be sure not to craft questions that simply confirm your thesis. If the findings disprove your assumptions, that could be a story in itself!
Now 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.
3. 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 that you used to design your survey. If your findings don’t match your hypothesis, develop a story around that!
4. Go Beyond the Blog
Before creating various pieces of content, you’ll need to highlight your findings on their own landing page. To improve your site’s domain authority with search engines, point all traffic that originates from the research to the new landing page.
Once you have the landing page established, begin to brainstorm the types of content that can be drafted from your research project. Think beyond 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 even include separate publications if you need to know those titles, who is responsible for each content piece, and if there are attachments to manage.
5. Incorporate Into Your Calendar
Focus in-depth on each quarter. You can consider each dimension (or subject) from your research or 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. Review presentations for the upcoming year and see where you can plug in the content that arises from your findings.
An original research project can provide the “glue” needed for a cohesive content strategy. Follow the steps in this guide, and you’ll be on your way to a research-based editorial plan that aligns with your marketing goals and business objectives.
We’ve helped many law firms and companies leverage original research to enhance their content strategies. If you need assistance developing a research project to further your firm’s content marketing goals, reach out today for a free consultation.
This blog post has been edited and republished from Aug. 16, 2018.