Focus your attention more narrowly and track results more precisely.
When a law firm’s marketing activities don’t have a particular focus, the messages become blurry and less effective. A campaign-driven marketing approach can keep things clear.
A campaign-driven marketing approach focuses on individual marketing campaigns that enable law firms to target their efforts on their primary business development goals and effectively measure the success and impact of those efforts. Within campaign-driven marketing, law firms select specific practice areas, target specific personas or focus on specific legal topics or issues. This approach enables firms to focus their attention more narrowly and track results more precisely, helping them gain a better understanding of the return on investment of their marketing efforts and plan their budget and resources more effectively in the future.
In order to successfully adopt a campaign-driven marketing approach, there are six key steps a law firm must consider.
Step 1: Define business objectives
The first step in planning a campaign is to decide on its business objectives. Law firm marketers must determine what the goals of the campaign are and ensure that they are closely aligned with the firm’s overall business goals.
In addition, it is imperative that each campaign has been approved by a business stakeholder, has a clearly defined budget, includes the right internal or external resources and clearly defines the metrics for success.
Goals can vary from campaign to campaign. Examples of business goals include generating leads, building brand awareness, cross-selling, adding client value, generating publicity and enhancing market share.
Finally, it is important to determine what the key performance indicators of your campaign are in order to properly measure whether or not it achieved its goals, which, again, should be aligned with the firm’s overall business goals.
Step 2: Identify the target audience
The next step in planning a campaign is to identify the target audience. In this stage, a legal marketer must determine whom they are targeting and what their buyer persona is. According to HubSpot, buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of a firm’s ideal clients.
Personas help marketing and business development professionals visualize potential clients and relate to them as real humans. Having a deep understanding of a buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, client experience, business development follow-up and anything that relates to client acquisition and retention. Some examples of buyer personas for law firms include business owners, in-house counsel, HR professionals, board members, investors and reporters.
Identifying the buyer persona is only a part of what is required to identify a target audience for a campaign. The other part is to identify where the target persona is in relation to the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey (or sales funnel) comprises the different stages a prospect takes in order to become a client. Those stages are usually awareness, consideration, decision, retention and advocacy.
- The awareness stage is where the prospect becomes aware that they need the help of an attorney.
- The consideration stage is when the prospect begins to research and consider the different options in terms of attorneys and law firms that are available to their company.
- The decision stage is when the prospect makes their decision and becomes a client.
- The retention stage is how the client experiences the relationships and services offered by the attorney and the law firm.
- The advocacy stage is when the client becomes an advocate and recommends the attorney or law firm to others within their company or others outside their company.
In order for a marketing campaign to be successful, they need to identify the buyer persona and their stage in the buyer’s journey. This is a critical component and a requirement for the next step of the campaign plan.
Step 3: Develop a content strategy
Developing a content strategy is the most important step in the marketing campaign plan. The content and visual assets will frequently determine the overall success of the campaign. Once a marketer has determined their target audience (buyer persona + buyer’s journey stage), then — and only then — is it possible to craft the content strategy.
The type of content that is developed needs to reflect the interests and needs of the buyer persona and take into account their stage in the buyer’s journey. Below are the types of content that are generally created for each step of the journey.
The goal with awareness-stage content is to educate your audience on a specific question, need or pain point they're looking to address, but without a sales tie-in. This content comes in the form of blog posts, bylined articles, explainer videos, infographics and client alerts. There will be an opportunity to do this with consideration-stage content, as explained below.
In this stage, the content should continue to educate but also start the process of positioning your firm as the solution to the prospect’s needs and challenges. This content comes in the form of white papers, webinars, case studies, e-books and checklists. It is important to demonstrate an understanding of the prospect’s business challenge as well as your experience in handling similar issues in the past. All of this content, with the exception of case studies, should require at a minimum that the visitor give you their email address in return for the valuable content.
At this stage, your prospects know your firm, and they should be comfortable engaging one-on-one. This is where a free audit or assessment, evaluation or consultation works nicely to start the dialogue and to begin to fully qualify your most interested prospects.
This is the beginning of the client experience: how they experience your firm and the service you provide. It is important to ensure that the experience remains as positive as it was before they became a client. Clients look for value-added service beyond the work that was contracted for. This added value can come in the form of client alerts, CLE seminars, client events, firm newsletters and client retreats. This is also a good opportunity to inform the client of other practice areas and services that the firm provides, which may lead to cross-sell opportunities.
At this stage of the journey, the goal is to convert the client into an advocate, so that they can recommend the firm to other professionals within the client organization or to colleagues and friends at other companies and organizations. At this stage, you should focus your content efforts on client alerts, webinars, workshops, roundtables and tools.
Step 4: Research and select distribution channels
Once the content strategy has been finalized, the next step is to research and select the distribution channels for the content. The focus here should be on reaching your target audience in whatever channel is most effective for each stage of the campaign.
There are many options to consider. The choice will depend on where your target audience is most likely to consume and engage with your content.
- Social Media: Social media (both organic and paid) channels are usually a good choice because of the large volumes of traffic they receive. When considering social media, the marketer should consider their target audience and which social network they are most likely to participate in.
- Search: Search engines are also an important channel to consider when determining how to target your audience. You want to ensure that your content can be found on search engine results pages based upon the keywords your target audience would use in a search. Therefore, it is critical that you conduct keyword research to determine the best keywords to target, and then make sure that your content is properly optimized for those keywords. Often, if the keywords are highly competitive, it will be difficult to achieve a high ranking on search engine results pages in an organic fashion. In those situations, it may be appropriate to consider paid search options so that your content can be easily found at the top of search engine result pages.
- Email: Email is also an extremely effective distribution channel and should certainly be considered as a key channel for any campaign. If you have an existing list of targets, this is usually a good place to start. Otherwise, there are opportunities to build a list through some of the content I describe above.
In addition, it may be worthwhile to research associations and organizations where your target audience may belong and contact them to see what kind of opportunities are available to reach their members.
Whatever distribution channels you select, it is critical that you are able to measure the impact of each channel on the campaign. This will enable you to attribute results to different channels and gain a better understanding or what worked and what did not.
Step 5: Set a time frame
This step is important in order to set proper expectations with stakeholders as well as with members of the marketing and business development team. In this stage, you will begin to identify all the tasks and deliverables required for the campaign and assign timelines and tasks to your team.
The length of each campaign will vary depending on the type of campaign, the target audience and the number of content assets that have been created. It is also important to consider the sequence of each part of the campaign and the timing between each sequence.
This is especially true when it comes to drip-and-nurture email campaigns. You want to give enough time between each drip or sequence to allow your target to have an opportunity to review and engage with your content. Business professionals lead busy lives. You can’t expect them to drop everything and pay attention to your email simply because you want them to.
Some things to consider when you are in the process of setting the time frame for your campaign are: When is the target launch date? Are there any dependencies, and who is responsible for them? Does the launch align with other priorities and business activities? Have you determined the sequence for each of your content assets?
It is usually a good idea to assign a project manager to the campaign. This person will be responsible for making sure all deliverables and assets are produced on time, properly reviewed and executed as per the agreed-upon timeline. This individual can also alert stakeholders when there are dependencies that haven’t been met or if there are issues that may affect the proper execution of the campaign.
Step 6: Review results and glean insights
One of the key benefits of a campaign-driven marketing approach is the ability to measure the results of the campaign, determine return on investment and glean valuable insights that can help a firm plan for the future.
In order to do this properly, you will need to have the right tools in place to enable you to measure all aspects of the campaign and determine what the business outcomes are. There are a wide array of tools available to help you measure the impact of each campaign. Some of the most valuable tools are marketing automation platforms like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot and InfusionSoft.
The benefit of marketing automation platforms is that they enable you to have all of the information about your campaign in one place. In fact, many of the assets you build for the campaign, such as emails, landing pages, blog posts, calls to action and other content assets, can be created on those platforms. A marketing automation platform is not required to create and execute a marketing campaign, but it can make the process much easier than if you were using separate point solutions.
Whatever tool or platform you select, you must ensure that it is able to measure all of the activities of the campaign and provide you with data you can use to gain insights into your campaign and your target audience.
It is not enough to get the data if you can’t make sense of it, or if it doesn’t help you to understand why a campaign failed or succeeded, or how it can be improved. In fact, you should not wait until the campaign ends to start measuring and analyzing results. You should be able to analyze each stage of the campaign and make adjustments or tweaks based upon the data you are seeing.
Adopting a campaign-driven approach for your law firm may seem like a daunting task. However, the results and insights you can gain from a well-executed marketing campaign are well worth it.
My advice to legal marketers is to walk before you run. Pick one campaign to plan and execute, and carefully measure the results. This will enable you to learn all of the nuances of planning and executing a marketing campaign, and will provide you with data you can use to convince firm leaders and stakeholders that this is the right approach for your marketing and business development initiatives in the future.
Guy Alvarez is the founder and chief engagement officer at Good2BSocial. A former practicing attorney, Guy helps law firms and companies in the legal industry that are serious about growth but frustrated that they have spent time, money and effort on their websites and digital marketing and yet do not see the results that they had hoped for.