Leading law firms use content marketing to build their brand, attract new clients, and grow their revenue. By offering useful information that answers a potential client’s initial questions, you’re positioning your law firm as an expert and authority on a given issue or topic, and this effectively builds trust with your potential clients. Furthermore, publishing valuable content consistently can help your law firm’s site rank higher in search engine results, which makes it easier for people to find your practice online.
So with all the obvious benefits of content marketing, how can your law firm actually get started with it? These days, most people understand the value of content marketing – but that doesn’t mean they have a strong strategy in place. In this post, we’ll simplify the content marketing strategy: how to create content, distribute it, and use it to attract leads that turn into clients. Here is a 10-step guide you can follow to get the most out of your law firm’s content marketing efforts.
1. Align your content strategy to your business goals.
Before you do anything, you need to know exactly what you hope to accomplish and how you’ll know if you did. It’s easy to get caught up in tactics, but it’s more important to make decisions that will guide your overall efforts. Your goal might be email signups, newsletter subscriptions, webinar attendance, etc. Keep in mind that you need to have a certain traffic goal to meet any other goals. You’ll need to attract a certain number of readers before they can do anything else. Once you determine how many people you need to read your content, you can start sorting through where to publish and how to promote.
2. Understand and serve your target audience.
Once you have a clearly defined reason for creating content, you need to know exactly who you are hoping to attract that will meet those goals. The best content is created with an audience in mind. First, you’ll perform research to understand your ideal audience. Document demographics such as age, gender, job, etc. You also want to document psychographics – which are things that you cannot measure – such as values, attitudes, etc. From there you can develop a client persona which is basically an illustration of your perfect client. Keep that client persona in mind as you plan content, and be present where your audience already exists. For example, are they using Google to search for content? Is your audience on Facebook or other social channels? Which blogs or podcasts do they rely on for information? Don’t try to attract them to a totally new channel – put your content in front of them where they already are.
3. Create a blog, or make sure your existing one is set up correctly.
There are so many options when it comes to a platform for hosting your content. You can create your own technology in-house or leverage one of the tools already available. For most law firms, it makes sense to use one of the plug-and-play options out there. For many law firms, using a WordPress-powered blog will meet the majority of content needs. You can also look at platforms like YouTube for video or Apple for podcasts. Though we don’t necessarily recommend building a blog platform in-house (because of the resources required to do so), remember that when using a third-party platform you will not be in control of the technology or what happens in the future. Whatever you decide to use, it’s important to start a blog as soon as possible. If you’ve already done that, then make sure your technology is correct and that you’ve implemented any technical best practices to help with SEO, measurement, etc. See: A Guide to Blogging Platforms For Lawyers.
4. Update your current content.
This step only really applies if you’ve already been creating and publishing content (otherwise, the first step is to start creating!). Now that you have re-evaluated your goals and audiences, you need to make sure that the content that you have is aligned with those items. We suggest developing a few core “content pillars” that will be the foundation of your strategy, and which most content will be built around. Start with 3 or 4, since you’ll be expanding on each of them. For example, you might choose:
- Estate planning
- Legal tips and tricks
- Interviews with other experts or thought leaders
With those pillars in place, you’ll create content that focuses on 3 central themes: Engagement, Evergreen, and Events.
- Engagement – this material will start a conversation. A good place to start is often an opinion piece or updates on a big case.
- Evergreen – this content is based solely on your own business and will be relevant for a long time to come.
- Events – legal happenings or trending topics provide great content opportunities. Create items around a new precedent or industry news.
With this strategy in mind, review all of your existing content and ensure that it lines up with your pillars and fits into one of the 3 categories above.
5. Build an email list and be intentional in how you use it to disseminate content.
Email is one of the most effective (and cost-effective) ways of distributing content. That’s why your email list is critical. To start with a comprehensive email program, you’ll need an email service provider such as HubSpot or MailChimp. Consider the goals of your email campaigns: brand awareness, lead generation, etc. A weekly newsletter is a great place to start and you can pull from your blog content. There are three main types of emails to support various marketing goals:
- Newsletters and general campaigns – These will go to your full email list
- Targeted communications – sent to various segments of your list
- Automated email marketing – sent to multiple people over time, usually triggered by a certain action on their part
It’s important to be consistent when sending emails. Make sure you follow email marketing best practices and avoid spamming your audience. Focus on distributing valuable content.
6. Develop new content ideas using keyword research.
You have your foundation covered: audience research, established goals, and proper technology. Now you need to actually create the content that aligns with your strategy so far. We suggest starting a content calendar that is based on the content pillars you came up with earlier. Great content marketers aren’t reactionary. They already have a plan in place with some wiggle room for timely pieces. Use keyword research to discover the interests and concerns of your audience and follow these steps to come up with content that they are looking for.
- Brainstorm topics and terms, writing down any that are appealing.
- Gather results by plugging those terms and keywords into a tool such as Google Keyword Planner.
- Enhance and refine the original list based on what you discover with the keyword tools.
- Create a spreadsheet where you can organize this data. Document terms, keywords, ranking info, etc to help you prioritize ideas and terms.
- Outline content that hits the 3 needs mentioned above. Take your top terms and come up with ideas that will serve not only your goals but the user’s needs.
7. Determine which forms of content will work for your firm.
There are so many forms of content available – blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc. Not all of them are suitable for every need. Think about the emotion you want to invoke and the action you want people to take. Those should be at the forefront of your creation process. Also consider how people might share the content – you want to make it easy on them. Starting with blogging is the easiest since it doesn’t require special resources – just have a subject matter expert sit at their laptop and go! Here’s a few tips on getting started:
- Begin with an outline. Just start with a few lines about what you want to say and why people should care.
- Add the “meat” of the blog, the details. Now is the time to bring in statistics, quotes, images, etc. Perform more research to build facts around whatever case your blog is making.
- Consider the competition. Likely, someone else has written about this topic before. See what else is out there and how you can provide just a little extra value.
- Add images. Add relevant and interesting images that can enhance your points. In a BuzzSumo study of over 1 million articles, those with images peppered in every 75 to 100 words got twice as many shares as those with fewer images.
8. Outline “competition-free” content.
Your goal is to have content that’s unique in your space. Here is where you outline the actual tactics you’re going to use while taking into consideration how you’ll distribute and promote content. Find places where you’re not competing with existing content. Start by observing competitors, doing your own research, and asking your own team what resonates. Your business development team is an invaluable resource when it comes to topics people actually care about.
9. Leverage social media to promote your content.
A modern content strategy must take social into account since it’s the key way to promote and distribute. As a general strategy, we encourage firms to provide value on social and not just links to content. You want people to feel like you’re truly a thought leader they should follow, and eventually when they need your services they have no question about who to turn to. Build a social media strategy that includes all the platforms you’ll use, and then generate material specific to that platform. Also, you might want to consider tools that will help streamline your social media marketing efforts.
10. Use paid social media advertising to get more eyeballs on your content.
Speaking of social, many of the platforms are moving to a “pay to play” model. Meaning, even with a great following, you may still need to invest in paid ads to get the reach and website traffic you’re hoping for. The nice thing about paid social media advertising is you don’t have to invest a ton right at the beginning. Start small and test a few things, see what works. Paying for advertising on social media is a science all on its own. For a better understanding of paid ads and how to get the most from them, check out our past blog post.
The most effective content marketing comes from a well-developed plan. Law firm content marketing involves much more than merely publishing blog posts. It requires a comprehensive strategy that involves audience definition, topic ideation, editorial workflow, promotion strategy, and more. Follow these steps to create a successful content marketing plan for your law firm.
Developing a content marketing strategy doesn’t need to be stressful. For a more detailed guide, checkout our complimentary eBook: The Law Firm Guide to Content Marketing. You’ll learn how to create content more efficiently and engage your audiences in new channels beyond your site.
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Updated and Republished from Oct. 21, 2020.