Is Anyone Reading Your Content? How to Make Sure They Do
Giving clients and prospects valuable information is a proven way to market, but to be effective it has to be the right kind of content both in terms of style and substance. It also needs to be marketed with your end goals in mind. Fortunately, there are many ways to improve the quality of content as well as make it a more successful tool to market the firm’s practice.
The most important thing to remember is that content must focus on the reader, not the writer. Too often, lawyers write for themselves – what they think is interesting – or for their colleagues who are not their target audience. When thinking about topics to cover consider the following:
1. Who Is the Audience?
One of the keys to successful content marketing is understanding your target audience. Identify who you want to read the content. Then, develop a buyer persona, which is a detailed profile of the ideal person you want to attract. The persona should include key demographics and behaviors, such as:
- Age, gender, profession
- Job title and responsibilities
- Company size and revenue
- Role in the decision-making process
- Budget and priorities
- Interests, concerns and pain points
- Information sources
- Level of knowledge about your services.
2. What Does Your Audience Want to Learn?
Ask clients and prospects what would interest them. Encourage attorneys to think about frequently asked questions they receive. Also, do research. Use your buyer personas to identify what topics would resonate with your audience.
For example, identify and subscribe to publications your audience reads, set up Google alerts to monitor areas of interest to them, and use social media to “listen” to what topics they care about. You can do this yourself or use paid media monitoring and business intelligence tools to gather information.
3. In What Way Can You Offer Unique Insights and Analysis?
Dry factual reports are not particularly interesting, and are easily available from multiple sources. Clients and prospects want to understand how something affects them and how it may solve their problems.
This is where attorneys should shine, by providing genuinely helpful information that showcases their knowledge and expertise. They should go beyond what other firms provide. The goal is to stand out from the competition. Many attorneys don’t do this because they fear revealing their “secret sauce.” However, an article or blog post can’t possibly address every issue in detail. Even if it could, most people don’t want the responsibility of doing it themselves and making a big mistake. Instead, they want to feel that the person they are dealing with understands their concerns and has the expertise to handle it.
How you present information can be just as important as what you’re communicating. If you want to attract and keep readers’ attention, follow these tips:
1. Start Strong.
According to a Microsoft study, our attention span is just 8 seconds, so you must make a point quickly and effectively. Make sure you have a compelling headline to entice people to want to read more. Then, in the first paragraph, clearly and concisely tell readers what you are going to talk about and why it’s important to them. Don’t bury the lead or you’ll lose them.
2. Use the Same Terminology As Your Target Audience.
Speak to them in their own language. In most cases, attorneys shouldn’t write for potential clients the way they would write for colleagues or referral sources. Using the right tone and language not only will make the content more readable and interesting, but it will prove that the author can relate to his/her audience.
3. Show Your Personality.
Depending on where the content will appear, it’s okay to write in a more informal and conversational style. Don’t make your content sound like an academic paper unless you are actually writing a scholarly piece.
4. Incorporate Stories.
This is a great way to demonstrate how you help clients solve their problems. Provide case studies and examples to demonstrate to your audience that you are helping others similar to them. It’s more interesting to read a story than a bunch of facts. And you can omit confidential/identifying facts without sacrificing the value of your story.
5. Break Up the Text.
A big block of text can easily put off readers. Lists, bullets, headings and other strategies can help organize and relate the discussion in a more readable and compelling way. Dividing the text visually enables readers to more easily scan and understand the points being made.
6. Keep It Simple.
Your writer may be an expert with considerable and amazing content to share, but readers will be confused and overwhelmed with too much information. You want to help readers identify the important issues and gain some understanding, not provide a step-by-step guide to solve their problems.
7. Include Graphics.
Studies show that using visuals in your marketing makes it significantly more likely that someone will view, share and remember your content. Develop charts, graphs, images, infographics and video. You can provide these components to written content to add impact to the text. However, they can also be used alone to attract interest on your website, social media and emails. A great visual can tell a story in a more engaging way than text and it’s also a way to entice people to want to read more.
Now you have compelling content in substance and style, but there are other issues that can affect whether it works.
1. What Do You Want to Accomplish with Your Content?
There are many excellent reasons to engage in content marketing including: to increase visibility, improve web traffic, build credibility, establish expertise, stay top of mind, etc. However, your content won’t be successful if it doesn’t take into account your goals. Having concrete goals enables you to establish metrics and measure the effectiveness of your content, including looking at which types of content are best. In addition, when there is a clear reason for producing content and measurable results, it’s easier to keep everyone motivated to continue.
2. How Will You Promote the Content?
Just because you created the content doesn’t mean it will be seen. You need a plan and appropriate resources to make sure you are taking full advantage of all available marketing channels to reach your target audience, especially social media and email.
Encourage everyone within the firm to share it with their personal networks. Incorporate strategic SEO tactics to increase the probability that your content will be found by search engines. Finally, don’t forget to test and revise your marketing tactics. Try different headlines or subject lines to improve results.
3. Do You Have a Call to Action?
What do you want readers to do after reading your content? Contact you? Sign up for your e-newsletter or event? Make sure to have a clear next step for the reader. You want to encourage people to continue to engage with you in some way, and you want to nurture those leads until they make a decision to retain the firm.
Content is a valuable marketing tool when used strategically. Once you catch a reader’s eye, if you keep him or her interested, you have won the race. Follow these tips to make your efforts more successful.
By: Edie Reinhardt
Originally published in Marketing the Law Firm, September 2017, Law Journal Newsletters. ALM Properties Inc. All rights reserved. To view the issue, visit www.lawjournalnewsletters.com.