Before you start producing anything at all, whether it's audio, video, images or writing – you've got to create a business case for your content marketing strategy.
Create a Business Case
This article has nothing to do with actually producing content.
Many people get all excited about the content creation stage, and they forget to do a very important first step: create a business case for your content marketing strategy.
A lot of people forget that part.
They know they ought to be producing content, they have seen other people producing content, they've read marketing articles saying, “Quick, you should be producing content”, and then they go, “Oh, well we'd better produce content too, let's go”.
But they haven't stopped to think about why.
Why are you producing content, what do you hope to achieve with it, and how are you going to actually measure the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy?
Lawyers are in business – law firm marketing is a business exercise, not just a stroll in the park.
Content marketing and digital marketing is different from just doing stuff online. You need to actually have a business case for your content marketing strategy that allows you to put into place some ideas about how you are going to measure the effectiveness of your campaign.
You know whether you need to tweak (change up, pivot, or abandon entirely) some aspects of your strategy.
So let's do it.
What Will your Content Marketing Strategy Cost?
Just because you're not writing a cheque, it doesn't mean that your strategy costs nothing.
In fact – it costs lots.
Content is generally produced by the professional lawyer. This means a few things happen.
First: the cost of production is lost in the overall scheme of things because you forget to measure it, or just lump it in with your overall “marketing” time codes.
As a result, the time is not captured and the value and cost that you are investing into the process isn't visible. You can't measure a return on investment unless you actually have measured the cost of the investment – pretty obvious, right?
Is your Content being Utilised?
Once you're actively measuring the cost, then you need to also measure the utilisation of your content.
A lot of content goes underutilised. It is produced, it is sent out into the world, and it is never used.
You need to have metrics in place to allow you to measure the utilisation of the content that you are actually producing.
How is your Content Performing?
How is your content actually helping you get what you were after?
How are you tracking and measuring its effectiveness and its performance as a marketing strategy?
The big picture for any content marketing strategy and any strategy for lawyers in the marketing space is to capture clients.
But if you don't have the necessary metrics in place to measure that sort of effectiveness, then you're never really going to know what's happening in terms of your marketing strategies.
You might notice some trends, you might have some anecdotal evidence – but that's about it.
It's a good idea to have a slightly tighter grip on how you're actually going to measure and track the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy.
Let's Set some Content Marketing Goals
The first thing in a business case is to start with a goal.
What is the actual goal of your content marketing strategy?
I appreciate that sometimes these come out a little generic, like:
- I want to build my personal brand;
- I want to become better known in my industry.
Those goals are fine and I understand them from a “big picture” point of view. They can also be a little bit nebulous because measuring your “personal brand” is fairly difficult, other than from a very broad viewpoint.
So I wanted to propose today three more specific goals you can consider, and a how you can measure the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy as it relates to each.
Get In Front of “Early Stage” Buyers
The first goal you might have is to engage with “early stage” clients.
Many lawyers skip this early stage buyer strategy and go straight to “you need a lawyer right now, therefore we are going to advertise to only you”.
For example, I've seen on Facebook recently people advertising in the no win no fee space for personal injuries, and they're advertising “call us for a free first consultation”. Like this ad from MacDonnells Law:
Fairly obviously that is not targeted to an early stage buyer, that is someone who is at the point of wanting to engage you as a lawyer.
And that's fine if that's your strategy and it's working.
But there is a big lost opportunity here. Your long term results will absolutely be there if you can engage people earlier in the process. They might not be anywhere near ready to actually engage a lawyer at all yet. People aren't always hunting around, ready to go.
They might need information first, they might need awareness of their rights first, they might need other valuable things you can provide them from a content point of view, before they're at the decision making point.
So if you can reach these early stage buyers in your industry, then you're going to have a better opportunity to ask them to come to you.
This is the part that so many people forget about, and as a result they are leaving so much money on the table.
This is the early stage buyer component, it's a huge body of people, and it's worthwhile investing in that area, but you need to track how you're going on it.
Engage your New Prospects
The next stage leads off from the first stage, which is how are you engaging new prospects?
It's all well and good to get traffic, but we want to actually engage new prospects with our content.
There's value in capturing early stage buyers, but only if they hang around. Only if they are nurtured and engaged until the point where they're actually ready to buy.
So after working to capture early stage buyers, you have to look towards engaging those new prospects with your content.
Which Prospects are Converting?
Of course the last thing you want to look at in my three goals that I've selected is the critical one: what is the percentage of people becoming clients, who would not otherwise have become clients.
It's the conversion ratio.
Whether they joined you at the start of their buyer's journey when they had just a vague interest in things or they came in right at the point of sale – who are the people that you are capturing from your content and material, that you would not otherwise have converted?
You can look at that fairly easily but the best way to do it is to have ways in which you can track people all the way from the start of the journey to the end.
To do that, you need to get people on your email list.
Why is that? Because with the right email marketing software you can see right from the beginning: how they found you, what they engaged with, what they didn't, and what the point at which they were ready to engage with you as a client was.
Even ignoring all tech options, the easiest way to measure this is quite simple: when you get a new client ask where they came from.
A lot of people forget to do this.
If you ask how they first became engaged with your material, then, you can easily find out how you're actually going in terms of your content marketing.
Now, if they say I was referred by X, then the question is why did X refer them, was it X that was engaged with your material and they referred this person to you as a result, so it's good to drill down a little bit.
You might be surprised over time how many people say things like “I've been reading your blog for a long time” or “I've been following your work for ages” – those are the early stage buyers that I spoke about at the top of this article.
Your Business Case for Content in a Nutshell
If you're only going to take one thing away from this it is this, you need to create a business case for your content marketing.
Even if your solitary goal is to build your personal brand then you need to at least have some metrics around those goals. How are you increasing your visibility, and is it having a tangible result?
Set some goals. Measure them. Pay attention to the results. See where people are coming from and pay attention to your strategy.
I'd be interested to hear how are you measuring the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy? Are you measuring at all? Would you like to know more? Don't hesitate to drop me a line.