By the Numbers: Using Data Analytics to Build Smart Content Strategies

susan Kostal  Adrian Lurssen
Susan Kostal

Principal, Stet Consulting

Adrian Lürssen

Vice President, Co-founder, JD Supra

John Page
John Page

Director of Communications, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, LLP


“Oh great, extra work that I can’t bill for.” As discussed at the recent 2018 Legal Marketing Association Tech West conference, lawyers are often reluctant to become involved in their firms’ marketing efforts.  This is particularly true of content creation because it’s just one more task in their never-ending workload. This creates managerial and leadership challenges for legal marketers, including how to incentivize lawyers to write beyond a legal brief.

Fortunately, lawyers need not restrict themselves to writing. Creating videos, webinars and podcasts are all ways that they can contribute to a firm’s content strategy. John stated that at the international law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, LLP, they create various types of content and use sharing analytics to get attorneys more engaged in content creation. Metrics, such as new clients and leads, as well as analytics and anecdotal examples, validate the lawyers’ marketing efforts.

“Content strategy is the high-level vision that guides content development to deliver against a specific business objective.”

Using content to deliver specific business objectives requires knowledge of clients, competition and the firm itself. For instance, RFP managers should be focusing on who’s reading the content their firm produces, and who among them awarded or declined to award contracts to the firm.

“Small data is more important than big data.”

According to the panel, the pieces that only get 35 or 40 reads may be the most valuable if they get read by the right people. This relates to vanity metrics vs. engagement metrics;  it feels good to have a post that gets read by hundreds of people, yet what ultimately matters is whether that translates into new business.

There are several types of data:

  • Big data
  • Small data
  • Other people’s data
  • Motivational data
  • Integrated data

Panelists noted that every data type has its strengths, but motivational and integrated data are the most effective ways to use data to get lawyers engaged in your content strategy. Combining information from various data points into general feedback (integrated data) and highlighting the positive data points (motivational data), can be key factors to keeping your attorneys on board with content strategy for the long term.

“Perspective and context is everything, so you shouldn’t be talking about data unless you understand the role of strategy in your firm.”

Susan noted that managing the content attorneys contribute is also about being able to say “No, but…” or knowing how to say no without saying “No.” Content may not target the kind of client your firm is best-suited to work with; it may be too jargon-laden or it may be off the mark in other ways. Navigating issues like this and building consensus in your firm are central to content management.

The point here is that attorneys should be looking at analytics just like the marketing and business development people do, although perhaps in less detail.

“Some data is like a Tinder date looks good in candlelight after a drink, but probably deserves closer consideration.”

As you use data to monitor which prospects are viewing your firm’s content, and which subjects they’re most interested in, you should expand upon those topics and give clients an unimposing “heads up.” For example, you may offer a free webinar on some aspect of patent law based on that prospect’s viewing history, and give them advance notice. You don’t have to tell people you know they’re reading your work in order to act on that information.

John reaffirmed Adrian’s insight: “Be as creative as you want and have fun with it.” In his assessment, not being afraid to fail was a big ingredient in the success of Kilpatrick Townsend’s content strategy. Don’t fail to create content because there’s already “too much noise.” People say there are way too many lawyers, but there could always be one more good lawyer, and similarly, there will always be room for good content.

The panel closed with a few final tips regarding content strategy:

  • Develop a clearly-stated content strategy to provide guidance and objective criteria for pushing (or rejecting) different types of content.
  • Don’t just look at analytics for current and recent campaigns. See what content is getting views one year after publication as a signal that you should revisit it.

“You Need to Pimp Your LinkedIn Profile”

  • Create engaging headlines. Susan shared a fun example of an article of hers that cut through the clutter:

While that level of “flair” shouldn’t be used all the time, people like sexy, fun headlines, with some caveats. Headlines that intrigue people without being misleading are essential to rise above the noise.

What did you take away from this content strategy discussion? What would you add? We’d love to hear from you. Contact Berbay Marketing & PR

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