Why is everyone talking about content marketing?

By Nick Holmes on November 20, 2012
3 comments
Filed under Blogging, Marketing

It’s likely you’ve heard a lot of talk recently about “content marketing”. What’s that? You might turn to Wikipedia for an explanation:

Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to attract, acquire and engage clearly defined and understood current and potential consumer bases with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing has benefits in terms of retaining reader attention and improving brand loyalty.

What we’re actually talking about is getting useful informational content (as opposed to promotional messages) to our target audience in the expectation that enough will engage sufficiently to recognise us in future and hopefully come back for more and, praise be, be converted to our products/services.

The way you “do” content marketing is via the so-called social media. In the legal sphere there’s few better up on this than Stem Legal. In a recent post Jordan Furlong puts us straight – don’t think social media marketing, think content first:

If you’re thinking about social media in your law firm, what you’re really thinking about (or ought to be thinking about) is content marketing. Create good, legitimate, practical, reader-oriented content. When you’ve done that, go back and create more. Then more again. Don’t even think about designing a blog, opening a Twitter account, starting up a Facebook page, whatever, until you’ve figured out very clearly what content you’re creating, why you’re creating it, and who you want to reach with it.

And if you’re thinking primarily textual content, then we’re talking newsletters or blogs. Is there a difference, and if so, what? In an earlier post Jordan tries to calm fears about blogs:

A blog post is an example of content marketing. It’s no different from a live presentation, a media interview, or a newsletter article. Either you think content marketing is worthwhile, or you don’t. If you don’t, pay no attention to blogs. If you do, please be assured, really and truly, that there’s nothing unusual or problematic about them.

Sue Bramall in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers has a good, practical article on the similarities and differences:

Either a news section or a blog can help by:

  • raising the firm’s profile and highlighting expertise;
  • making your site easier to find by potential clients, media etc; and
  • generating links and boosting traffic to your website.

You’ll note that two of the three bullets relate to search engine optimisation and that’s certainly central to Sue’s advice. If you use a content management system like WordPress (or Blogger etc) to publish content (whether it’s a blog, a newsletter or some other type of update site), you have – to an extent – built in SEO.

Of course, there’s much more to content marketing than using the right sort of publishing platform. It’s what you write (the content) and how you support and promote it (the media) that will make the difference.

Where is all this content marketing going on?

Blogs get mentioned frequently and I’m reasonably alert to the appearance of new ones. At the last count there were 385 in my Lawfinder Blogs catalogue. That’s a lot, considering where we were just a few years ago, but not a lot given the size of the profession. And of these blogs only a relatively small number could be regarded as part of a deliberate content marketing strategy; rather the majority are the fruits of individual creativity, published not so much for marketing purposes but just because … By way of example, look at the latest additions at the time of writing:

(follow new additions in the More Blawgs feed in the sidebar).

If not blogs, then surely many firms are publishing newsletter-type content? After all almost all websites are now published using content management systems, and all CMS will incorporate most recent-first publishing templates appropriate for blogs/newsletters/articles/updates; so implementing the publishing mechanics is not the issue. There must be many competent and effective if unremarkable efforts, but sadly, for some, basic competence is the issue.

Image: K Urbanowicz

3 comments

Intelligent, well-thought out and reasoned blogs are great trust influencers – essential for a legal website.

As you state above, if you are going to “do” content marketing – “do” it! And consistently. Too easily is that hard earned trust lost when the visitor discovers that no new blog post has been created in weeks.

Nice article and infographic.

by Andy - Zoodle Media Legal on 5 December 2012 at 8:00 pm. #

I’m surprised more firms don’t focus on newsletters / email marketing a little more. I can’t remember the last time I saw an email capture form on the website of a law firm similar to the style you see on some internet marketing websites. I’m sure there are some, they’re just not as common as you’d expect.

Using them, firms would have a great way to show their new content to individuals and companies who have already expressed an interest in their site by subscribing in the first place. Not only could this result in SEO benefits from linking, but also bring in more business for the firm.

by Mark on 6 December 2012 at 12:36 pm. #

I digitised a Top 30 firm from top to bottom. 7 services lines, 1300 staff and a shed load of newsletters. The best ‘open rate’ we ever had was 7%. The CTR was even worse. The unsubscribe rate was through the roof – although there was an insistence from Heads of Dept that “our clients tell us all the time that they love our newsletters”!

Content is difficult to produce on an ongoing and consistent basis. Many firms now are ramping up and hiring professional support lawyers and ex-journos who can create material.

by Graham | Rokman Laing on 23 January 2013 at 5:04 pm. #