You can gain reliable insight into the current state of law firm blogging from two recent market research studies:
- According to the ABA’s Legal Technology Report, less than 1/3 of all law firms have a blog, and most of those are large firms. More importantly, of those firms that blog, only 1/3 are able to associate their blogging with new business; the other 2/3rds either can’t, or are unsure of any new business connection.
- According to the State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey – produced by the management consulting firm, Zeughauser Group – in-house legal counsel are reading blogs less frequently, and valuing blog content less highly than they did 3 years ago. And nearly 1/3 of CLOs do not read blogs at all.
Clearly, all of the hours devoted to blogging, at some of the nation’s largest and smartest law firms, does not appear to be time well spent…if the goal of a blog and other forms of content marketing is to generate new business.
If there’s a disconnect between your firm’s blogging and new clients related to your posts, here are 10 possible reasons why:
Your blog topics are boring.
Avoid topics that have been (or are likely to be) covered by other firms, or topics that may be considered old news by the time your post is published. Select blog topics that are of immediate or continuing interest to your target audiences, and cover them in a unique manner.
Your headlines don’t grab attention.
With less than a few seconds to grab a potential reader’s attention, headlines are the most critical element of a blog post. Invest the time necessary to write a snappy headline that addresses the “What’s in this for me?” question.
There’s too much legal-speak.
Everyone knows you’re a lawyer, and a blog is not the proper platform to display your brief writing expertise. In fact, legalese is probably the #1 reason why people are not reading your blog posts. Write in clear, simple prose that can be understood by people without a law degree.
Your posts are too long.
You’re competing for eyeballs and attention against all types of online and offline content, as well as human distractions. You need to state your case in fewer than 750 words. Fewer than 500 words is even better. Make your point, and leave them wanting more.
You don’t provide an interesting point of view.
People read blog posts to gain insights and opinions. If you’re simply presenting facts, your posts are probably a snooze-fest. The potential for you to make your blog a marketing device lies in your ability to present provocative, unique or contrarian viewpoints. Be a thought leader; not a news service.
You have no blogging strategy.
If you’re selecting blog post topics on a random or opportunistic basis, then you’re lost in Tactic Land. Create a simple plan that identifies key blog topics related to your firm’s value proposition (why people should hire you), and integrate those topics into an editorial calendar to ensure that you cover those topics over 6 months or a year.
You don’t blog consistently.
A blog’s marketing function is to drive top-of-mind awareness with your clients, prospects and referral sources. If you are not generating original content with some regularity, probably at least once a month, then don’t bother blogging at all.
Your blog content is not optimized.
For people to locate your blog content online, it needs to contain (hidden) coded title tags and meta tags based on key words and phrases related to your blog topic. If you’re publishing your posts on a platform with a user-friendly Content Management System, you can add this coding yourself. If you don’t want to be bothered, get someone who understands Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to do it for you. Skipping this step will greatly limit potential readership.
You don’t merchandize your blog content.
Another way to increase readership of your blog is by re-purposing its content, in whole or part, in places where it’s likely to be seen. For starters, they should be published on LinkedIn, both on your personal profile (as a long-form blog post), and as an “Update” on your law firm’s corporate LinkedIn page. Posting it on Twitter also makes sense if you (or your firm) have a reasonable number of Twitter followers.
You don’t drive traffic to your blog.
Unlike “Field of Dreams,” simply having a blog does not guarantee that any readers (particularly potential clients) will ever benefit from your intellectual capital. You need to promote your blog posts, individually and collectively. As a first step, every quarter send your database of contacts (hopefully you have this) a nicely designed email featuring 2 or 3 of your best recent blog posts, with an “In case you missed this” cover note.
Here’s the silver lining in all these reasons why your blog isn’t generating new clients: according to the Zeughauser Group survey, 74 percent of in-house counsel said that they find law firm blogs valuable.
So if it’s done correctly, your blog can and will deliver a meaningful marketing ROI. In most cases, this means working smarter, and not necessarily harder, on your law firm blog.