Looking for more clients? This formula will increase your content marketing leads

content marketing
13 Apr 2022

It is not surprising that law firms use content marketing so extensively. Legal articles are among the most effective ways for law firms to generate new business.

When it is done well, legal content can achieve transformative results for a firm by providing a sustainable and recurring source of leads.

I do not want to make legal content marketing seem simpler than it is. But there is one prime consideration that certainly makes your content marketing a lot more likely to succeed. This also happens to be the issue that lawyers and legal marketers seem to struggle with the most in legal content marketing. This key factor is the decision of what to write about.

Even those firms who are seeing a decent flow of leads from their content efforts can likely get more leads, and more valuable leads, if they had a better process for picking their legal topics.

If you are hoping to generate leads from your content, you need to identify legal problems that you can solve for people. What law firms often do instead is to write about whatever new case law or legislation has recently arisen, with little thought whether this is useful content for your potential clients. Even if such an article attracts attention by virtue of being topical, that attention is likely to be short-lived if it is not closely related to an ongoing pain point faced by potential clients.

Another low-effort tactic is simply to write about broad generalist legal topics (e.g. “A guide to POPIA” or “The law pertaining to Retrenchment”). These are usually covered in hundreds of other places. Sometimes it is useful to jump on a bandwagon of a popular topic, but often you are contributing little of value unless you offer a new angle.

What is the right topic to cover in legal content marketing?

Effective legal content, for lead generation purposes, meets the following two requirements:

  1. The topic relates to a real problem that affects a potential client
  2. The problem must be neither too specific nor too general

If you tick these boxes, you are likely to attract readers, and those readers will become clients.

Let’s assess these criteria in turn:

Requirement 1 – The topic relates to a real problem that affects a potential client

Lawyers have a strange tendency to write for other lawyers rather than for potential clients. Your potential clients are unlikely to read your analysis of a technical new rule of court affecting how evidence can be presented in criminal trials. Nor are they particularly likely to care about awards your firm has won, and new recruits to your legal team. Even the articles that are focused on changes to the law, are usually too academic for the needs of a potential client. Content of this type may showcase your legal expertise to your colleagues, but it will not be effective in attracting leads from potential clients.

People go to a lawyer because they have a real-world problem (which happens to be of a legal nature). For a lawyer to build trust, she needs to show an understanding not only of the law, but of the real-world concern that the client is facing. Ultimately, your job is to navigate through, and then past, the legal challenge. There is little need to burden your client with all the theory and legal history.

A common way in which law firms get this wrong is when reporting on a recent judgement. The article typically sets out how the law developed in prior cases, then tediously states the facts of the case at hand, thereafter explaining how this new case advances the legal principle. Eventually, this article might actually explain the implications for the reader. In most cases, the reader simply needed to know the last part.

When people read legal content in order to solve a challenge, they are reading with intent. This means that when they find information that promises to help them through that issue, there is a high likelihood that they would take action and contact the author. As such, the goal of legal content is to help readers solve legal problems, capturing their attention precisely when they are seeking legal help.

Requirement 2 – The legal problem must be neither too specific nor too general

Good legal content is niche and specific. The internet enables people to do a lot of their own research. When someone is looking for legal information, they are typically not looking to get educated in a general area of law. They are more likely to be looking for a precise solution to a specific legal problem.

They might not always find an exact answer, but if they find an article that addresses their issue closely, they are much more likely to read that than an article that covers a broad area of law.

For example, consider a tenant who wants to get out of a lease early and is researching her legal options. She finds an article about how cancellations of contracts work in general. She also finds another article about how to terminate a lease agreement specifically. Both articles cover cancellation of contract, but she will obviously choose to read the second article as it explains specifically how to cancel her type of contract.

But even though your content needs to be quite niche, you do not want to go too niche. There is no point writing about a matter that is too specific to generate leads. This may seem obvious, but law firms make this error all the time. For example, in an effort to show that they are keeping abreast of legal development, they report on a peculiar new judgement. This is a wasted effort from a lead generation point of view if the judgement is too specific to have a real bearing on the clients which they are hoping to attract.

The same error applies when law firms report on their own court victories. This is a perfectly acceptable way to show their capabilities and to build their brand. But as a direct lead generation tool, it is less likely to be effective because the facts of the case are unique.

Picture1

This sweet spot, between niche and broad, is important for attracting readers from Google search. If your article is too niche, nobody will search for it. If your article is too broad, you will compete against an ocean of content, and you are unlikely to appear on the front page of search results.

It is well established that content marketing success rests in what we call “the long tail” – These are niche topics, each of which has relatively few readers, but the scale of the internet is such that “few readers” could still number in the hundreds or thousands per month. Jointly, these niche topics make up around 80% of search traffic.

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Most marketers are battling for attention in the “fat head” where there is a lot of competition for relatively few topics. Each of these topics might have millions of readers, but it is also very hard to capture these readers over the noise. And even if you get attention from these readers, they are not as likely to generate leads, because an overly broad readership means many readers will not be a match for the services you are offering.

The process for finding good legal topics to write about

So how do you come up with good content ideas? The process is basically to list some rough ideas, and then to make them more niche or more broad as needed so that they sit in the above mentioned sweet spot.

Typically, we would do this in a facilitated workshop, but the do-it-yourself version might work something like this:

Step 1 – look at your services

For this step, you look at your services, as listed in your website and other marketing material. In theory, each of your services is potentially an idea for something to write about. If you offer business formation as a service, then you might write an article explaining business formation.

Of course, such an article is likely to be too broad to warrant a legal article. But you might find certain recurring themes that are more niche. Perhaps, when clients utilise this service, their biggest concern is what happens if one founder wants to leave the business in a few years. The founders want to ensure that the shareholders’ agreement caters for this. Now you have a suitable topic to write about – “How to draft a shareholders’ agreement that caters for an exit plan” or some variation of that.

No doubt there are several other niche variations of the business formation service which you could write about; “What is the quickest way to register a shelf company”, “How to register a company if you are not a local resident”, and so on.

Chances are that each service you offer can be broken down into several such niche topics.

Step 2 – Look at your client history

Using your client history as a source of content ideas is likely to yield ideas that are initially too niche. Your job is to make them a bit more general so that you move them to the sweet spot.

Looking back at your client history, do you spot any you think could be repeated? For example, maybe you did a very specific type of business transaction, like some sort of custom joint venture agreement. It could be an excellent topic to write about and to attract long tail readers. Even though it is quite niche, perhaps there may still be 100 other people in the country that would want something similar, and if you attract 5 of them per year, that could be a lucrative source of business.

If looking back at your client history is too big a task, think back specifically on matters that you enjoyed, or that went particularly smoothly or that were highly profitable, or simply work through your most recent 5 to 10 cases. Whatever works.

A useful variation of this is to think of most recent 10 leads that came in from outside of your existing client base. If a matter is serious enough for someone to reach out and cold call a lawyer, it is likely that this matter has an urgency to it that is worth considering as a topic to write about.

Working through your list of ideas

If you followed the above process, you would have quite an extensive list of ideas. You might wonder where to start in terms of choosing one to write about. There is no right answer to this question (although I may explore some workflows in a future post). You might just want to work on gut feel and choose 5 topics to prioritise. Or you could get more scientific and assess which topic will bring the most lucrative leads. You could go onto google and research the topics in your list to see which topics have least competition.

What matters is that you have a list to work from and even if you pick at random from this list, it will yield better content than 95% of legal content out there.

Turning your ideas into winning content

Your job now is to put yourself in the shoes of potential clients, and develop an understanding and empathy for the circumstances which they are facing. You then use your expertise to map a way out of that difficulty. And that “map” takes the form of a legal article.

When you do this, you create a valuable asset that can generate leads for years to come.

There are other considerations that will affect how successful your content is in generating leads. Factors like SEO, where to publish, etc, will have an impact. It is beyond the scope of this article to cover all of these factors, but we do discuss these in How To Create Legal Content That Actually Generates Leads.

Onyo Marketing help law and advisory firms to embrace future business models, centred on content marketing and alternative legal services.

We offer a highly specialised content creation service for law and advisory firms focused on winning new clients for your firm.

This service usually costs R15,000 and includes 5 articles, but for the month of April and May we offer GoLegal readers the service at R12,500. To qualify for the discount, visit our Content Creation Service page. At the end of the page is a submission form. Fill in the form and stipulate in the comment box that you were referred from GoLegal.

In June, Onyo Marketing will host a webinar that goes into more depth on content strategies for lawyers. To be notified of the event, sign up for our newsletter at onyomarketing.com

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

Yoni started as a commercial lawyer, but early in his career felt a calling to help shape and modernise the profession. Entering law at the time that the information age...

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