A lot of talk gets thrown around these days about content marketing. Especially when it comes to the best ways to use it for law firms. Many attorneys are left asking, “What’s it for? Why do I need it? What’s all the fuss about?”
The best answer: content strategies are a highly-profitable marketing tool to utilize in growing your business. Unfortunately, they’re also a channel that very few law firms utilize correctly. However, the ones that do are able to build strong relationships with potential clients and create a sales pipeline that eventually almost runs on its own.
As with any other type of marketing, the true measure of an effective content marketing strategy is the ROI it generates on behalf of the business. In our case, content marketing is designed to create an asset (your website) that systematically and profitably produces new high-quality leads on an ongoing basis.
Like the old saying goes, “working smarter, not harder.”
So how can you tell if your content marketing strategy is actually working? By following the tried and true principles of metrics. In particular, analyzing the data surrounding your website visitors’ behavior and what effect it has on your business. These types of success metrics are sometimes referred to as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
Here a few of the most critical KPIs when it comes to online traffic:
Reach refers to the total number of different people who are exposed to your offering (at least once) during a given period of time. A common measure of reach for legal websites is the number of “unique visitors per month.”
Sessions - A session is a period of time someone is engaged with your site. This counts the total number of times someone engaged with your site.
Users - This is the total number of people that visited your site. A single user can have multiple sessions if they leave your site and come back later.
Reach also indicates the traffic volume directed to your site each month and how often your content or ads are being clicked on. Reach is one of the most important metrics of website success.
Getting visitors to your site is great, but if they don’t stick around the numbers are meaningless. Engagement, as the name implies, refers to the level of interaction guests have with the content available on your site.
Are they reading your articles? Exploring your services? Or simply popping in and then right back out again. As you can imagine, more engagement equals better results.
Three key elements of engagement to measure are:
Time on Site - the duration of time each visitor stays on your site. Usually measured in minutes (hopefully) or seconds.
Pages per Visit - the number of pages a visitor browses in a single visit. This number is an average of the total page views divided by the number of visitors. A high page per visit number is a good sign of quality content and a site that’s easy to navigate.
Bounce Rate - the percentage of visitors who leave a site after viewing only a single page. Poor content or bad design often results in high bounce rates.
While reach and engagement are important areas to focus on, your efforts may be in vain if you’re not getting quality conversions. For conversions are all about taking action once a reader has interacted with your site. Although there are a number of different ways to measure action, downloads and requesting more information are two of the best.
Lead Magnets - a valuable offering for prospects in exchange for their email address or contact information. Think white papers, case studies, checklists or how-to guides. You're helping your clients solve a problem or reach a goal by providing genuinely helpful information when they need it most. In return, you receive their contact info and continue to build the relationship and earn their trust. This makes the buying decision an easier process.
Consultation Requests - requesting more information is the ultimate proof that your content marketing system is working. Otherwise, you’d be hearing crickets.
As management scholar Peter Drucker once noted, “what gets measured gets improved.” This statement fits the mold of content marketing perfectly. For if you don’t know how and why visitors are consuming your content, you’ll never be able to improve your offering.
At this point, you may be thinking that creating a solid content marketing strategy sounds tough and you’re wondering if it’s really worth the effort. Actually, YES. On both counts.
Although developing a content marketing strategy does require a bit of planning and strategic thinking, it’s one of the best things you can do to grow your business. Creating a content development system now will pay for itself many times over and be a source of quality leads for years to come.
Building Trust/Authority/Expertise - putting great content out to the world positions you and your firm as friendly, authoritative experts. A law firm that wants to help clients and keeps their best interests in mind.
Generating content that addresses your visitors’ challenges (and offers solutions) builds trust and earns respect. Especially when you provide this information willingly with no expectations in return. Show them how to improve their situation and you’ll likely earn their business afterwards.
Higher Engagement - providing visitors a wealth of quality information keeps them parked on your site and interacting with your content. In return, your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) is reduced. You now have an efficient website that automatically turns more qualified prospects into potential leads.
Stronger Narratives - what’s the key to holding an audience’s attention? Telling the right stories. Through effective content marketing, law firms can essentially stack the deck in their favor.
Think about it. When you’re able to capture a potential client’s attention early-on in the research process, you have the opportunity to lead them down a path of your choosing. By providing leads insanely valuable content throughout their journey, you demonstrate expertise and create a decision-making framework that inherently works in your favor.
For example: writing a blog post titled “10 questions you should always ask before hiring a personal injury attorney.” In that post, you have the ability to influence how prospects will evaluate their attorneys. You craft the questions in such a way that highlights your firm’s strong points and underlines your competitors’ weaknesses.
Talk about controlling the conversation!
Bigger Marketing Funnels - when it comes to content, most law firms have it backwards. They target customers in the final stage of the decision-making process (where traffic is the most competitive) vs capturing the wide open funnel of initial searches. In other words, you should begin developing the relationship before prospects even realize legal action is an option.
Not as they’re trying to determine who should represent them.
This type of strategy is known as a “top of the funnel” approach to marketing. You’re capturing visitors’ attention earlier in the process where there’s less competition and your CAC is much lower. How? By consistently providing value and creating content to address their needs before they even ask for it.
Momentum - consider, for a moment, the propellers on an airplane. That first initial rotation always requires the most effort to get started. After that, things get easier with each subsequent revolution. The same goes for your content marketing system.
Once you create your content it's there forever - continuing to garner traffic and build more leads over time. And as your site traffic grows search engines send more visitors your way (and your conversions skyrocket).
This is a never-ending cycle that is fueled by both the quantity and quality of the content you provide to your audience. Gaining momentum is one of the easiest ways to grow your online presence and increase revenues over time.
Whether or not you like it, content marketing is a business strategy that’s here to stay. Savvy law firms are jumping on the bandwagon now and assembling their content libraries rapidly in order to ease client acquisition costs later on.
Providing relevant, high-quality content regularly is one of the fastest ways to connect with prospects and build stronger relationships in your sales funnel. Establishing authority, expertise and a sense of trust is a marathon race, not a sprint. And a solid content marketing plan is the energy you need to cross the finish line.
Matt Byers is a co-founder of Smart Growth Labs and has been working in the digital marketing industry for 8+ years. Matt has developed strategies leveraging a combination of SEO, content, pay-per-click, email, mobile, and display advertising to execute effective lead generation campaigns in the fields of legal, insurance, and non-profit event marketing.