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January was a month of content marketing and client engagement here on the HighQ blog. We focussed on this theme to mark the launch of Publisher 4, the latest version of our digital publishing and content management platform. Here is a round-up of the best articles we came across this month on the subject, and hopefully this will be a helpful guide for where content marketing and client engagement is at right now.

Confused about what exactly content marketing is?

Paul Boag breaks down a few commonly cited definitions in his blog post An introduction to content marketing and why it matters to you. He concludes by explaining why content marketing is so valuable: “Done right content marketing is far more effective than traditional broadcast approaches. It enables you to build a reputation, prove your capabilities and create real relationships.” The secret to successful content marketing, Paul says, is to focus on providing value to the audience.

In his article for the Content Marketing Institute, Steven MacDonald explains his five pillars of successful content marketing. He says that when done right, content marketing will be the most powerful source for new traffic and customer acquisition. He outlines five factors that he says are essential for getting content marketing right. They are: understanding the audience, mapping content to the sales cycle, creating the content, promoting content, and measuring and analysing results. These five pillars are Steven’s guide to creating valuable content for the audience and move them from one buying stage to the next, and continue to measure and analyse performance.

We wrote a similar article explaining how this can be applied to law firms trying to build client engagement. Like Steven, we positioned content at the heart of our strategy, but placed a heavy emphasis on the importance of relationship-building, with the goal of helping law firms to position themselves as trusted sources of information that clients and prospects turn to for guidance. Our five pillars were: gaining a deep understanding of content marketing, tailoring content to the audience, reaching the audience through multiple channels, giving the audience control of how they receive and consume content, and (like Steven), measuring, analysing and, importantly, iterating to improve engagement.

So why is client engagement so important?

Kate Boyd wrote an article about this new era of client engagement, explaining and how the complexity of the tools needed to deliver an experience that really deserves client loyalty is redefining client engagement. What clients want from their lawyer, Kate says, is the best results, delivered efficiently and a compelling reason to remain loyal and advocate to give the firm more work, and client engagement helps to cement this. We wrote about the so-called age of the customer in another blog post, explaining that now clients are much more informed and expect a higher standard of service and engagement with all organisations they engage with, including law firms.

Clients and potential clients are more powerful than ever thanks to the rise of mobile and social technologies, explains Erika Maguire in her article 6 strategies to drive customer engagement in 2015. She explains that their always-connected status and ability to find information in seconds puts them in control of their own experience, and this trend has forced marketers to rethink how they engage and connect with their customers. Businesses need to provide real-time, personalized experiences that reach customers just as they need them.

Cordell Parvin’s article Become remarkable in your clients’ eyes puts this into context for the legal industry by giving an excellent summary of exactly what client engagement means to a law firm. He states that: “The game plan for successful client development is having the clients come to the lawyer as a result of creating something remarkable or being remarkable and having clients, potential clients and people who can refer business talk about the lawyer.”

But how can law firms reach out to clients in the first place?

This is where content marketing comes in, says Nancy Myrland in her article What is inbound marketing for lawyers? Nancy explains how inbound marketing (closely related to content marketing) can apply to law firms, detailing how it is a holistic practice that requires firms to understand what they want to achieve and who they are trying to target before undertaking marketing activities. Nancy explains how digital traffic is important for law firms, as it exposes potential clients to the firm and its expertise.

John Hall agrees with Nancy’s holistic and planned approach to marketing in his article Breaking down barriers: 3 steps to a successful content strategy. He says that marketers often overlook the long-term advantages of developing a content strategy and opt for short-term campaigns that deliver tangible results fast. By creating a strategy, John states, firms can establish authority and credibility and build rapport (and increase engagement) with their clients.

In his article Are you missing this critical element in your content marketing initiative?Jayson DeMers asks what good is amazing content if nobody knows about it? This is true of law firms too, many of which create huge volumes of content and don’t make use of it. Jayson explains that without a solid plan for the distribution and promotion of marketing content, firms might as well not be producing it in the first place.

Ben Wightwick puts this in a legal context and goes into more detail on the subject in his article Five reasons why content marketing will be the new norm for law firms for Legal IT Professionals. He explains how law firms create huge volumes of content that goes under-utilised. By maximising the value of this content, law firms can use it to engage more deeply with their existing clients and even win new business.

If you want to find out more about client engagement for law firms, sign up for Kate Boyd in a webinar to be held on 24th February (4pm GMT/11am EST). Register today to secure your place on the webinar.

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