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Content strategy for law firms: How to increase and sustain client engagement by optimizing the digital client journey

A group of coworkers look at a white board with sticky notes on it while another female coworker begins to write on the board

Over the past decade, the concept of the digital client journey has taken hold and flourished in the legal industry, with law firms building robust marketing and business development programs that leverage a wealth of digital channels. Firms have launched microsites and email nurture campaigns, increased the variety of content to include blogs, videos, and podcasts, and experimented with how best to use gated content.

With the pandemic preventing firms from interacting with clients and prospects face to face, marketing teams invested in the maturation of the digital client journey, and are now carrying forward those learnings to create rich and immersive content experiences for in-person events. Forward-thinking firms are further refining their content strategy by creating digital client journey maps that encourage the progression of clients and prospects through an enhanced content experience that’s specifically tailored to their mix of interests and needs.

Delivering effective campaigns to address multifaceted personas

With firms focused on opportunities to cross-serve existing clients — while concurrently running educative campaigns across digital channels designed to impart value-add knowledge — it’s highly likely that an individual prospect will fall within the target-audience profiles for multiple marketing campaigns. And because a prospect is likely at a different stage of the client journey for various areas, they’re going to receive communications from numerous specialists.

The relationships between clients and their individual lawyers further contribute to content strategy complexities. Marketing campaigns benefit from leveraging personal relationships between clients and specific lawyers; however, legal marketers must be respectful of the nature and nuances of those relationships. With all these factors in play, oftentimes the resulting reality — although unintentional — is that clients and prospects receive an incohesive content experience resulting from inconsistent cadence and positioning.

Without carefully considered firmwide processes and technologies that facilitate advanced segmentation abilities, digital marketing campaigns will at best fall flat and at worst compromise the experience of long-standing clients.

Mapping campaign design to goals and objectives

The success of any digital marketing campaign relies on thorough prework that defines campaign parameters, which starts with documenting clear goals for your go-to-market content strategy.

Say your firm is planning to launch a new practice area or enter a new geography. In this case, your primary objective may be acquiring a novel audience segment, and therefore your content strategy will focus initially on lead capture. That digital strategy may require that you incorporate paid social into your campaign, as well as gated content, at the appropriate time. However, when entering a new market, teams must be mindful to achieve a balance between content that elevates the firm’s profile and brand awareness over the long-term and short-term, tactical, lead-generation plays.

Once you have defined key audience attributes — including industry, company size, and job titles for key decision makers and influencers — researching and building rich personas will help you understand the types of topics and content formats that will spark engagement, as well as the channels that most likely reach specific audience groups.

You will then want to incorporate a series of content pieces that span the length of the marketing funnel, starting with thought leadership pieces that build awareness, then nurturing your target audience by putting the experts in front of them via podcasts, webinars, and videos, which help create a sense of what it’s like to work with the people at your firm. As prospects move toward being ready to engage your lawyers, you can transition into case studies and other content pieces that contextualize value and provide proof points.

The ability to carefully target relevant content that’s in the right form for subscribers and is based on a thoughtful and sophisticated set of hyper-current attributes ensures you’re providing a quality digital client journey devoid of clutter.

Ultimately, your goal is to make it as easy as possible for your subscribers to move through your carefully targeted content stream, and to prevent losing them because they’re hitting dead ends or experiencing friction as they navigate your content. Using a solution suite like DealCloud sets you up to succeed with the digital client journey.

Amplifying the impact of your firm’s content strategy

Your planning should include your social media strategy to support your campaign. If you’re prioritizing acquiring new audience groups and generating leads, you’ll likely consider a combination of organic and sponsored social media.

Although it’s more efficient to keep the campaign planning team small and nimble to avoid the decision-by-committee conundrum, you’ll need to scale the reach of your campaign by leveraging your employee’s social media networks. Make sure you invest in sufficient internal communications and education to give your colleagues the confidence to share and comment on your posts on their networks to increase their impact.

To lend credibility to your campaign, and to elevate and differentiate your content, identify one or more true subject matter experts who are willing to create content reflecting a strong point of view on a trending topic. It’s not enough to write about new regulations in the pipeline — your audiences will also want to know the implications of those regulations, and how they could impact their businesses. Effective social media programs will combine carefully planned content from the firm with a sustained commitment from individuals to share this content, adding their own perspectives, and engaging with discussions and networks to both amplify the firm’s thought leadership and build their own networks and profile.

On the other hand, if you’re focusing on client retention and cultivating specific individuals to become advocates, or talent attraction, organic content is highly effective. Over time, building the brands of individual lawyers within the firm on social media can appeal to a range of important audience groups.

Planning for next steps

As more and more firms embrace change in how they deliver their advice, incorporating legal technology or nontraditional resourcing models, the time is here to think through their clients’ digital journeys along the full lifecycle of an engagement — from appointment and onboarding through delivery of the work to billing and matter close. Thinking in these terms will help ensure that investments in CRM are not considered mere enablers of effective marketing campaigns — but rather an expansive firmwide commitment to becoming a truly connected firm.

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