GT Survey: Law Firm Content Is Flowing, but Are In-House Counsel Reading?

Fifth annual survey of in-house counsel and law-firm marketers shows firms keep churning out more content, but often without documented strategic plans.

A survey released today by communications firm Greentarget and consulting firm Zeughauser Group shows that while law firms continue to pour resources into content creation, they may be failing to engage a critical audience: in-house counsel. The report (#contentsurvey on Twitter) also reveals that few law-firm marketers have documented content strategies.

In an accompanying report, we draw a connection between those two findings, asserting that, before producing any content, firms should carefully consider what information their audiences need, and how delivering that information will meet the firm’s own business goals. Taking those steps to a documented content strategy would vastly improve many firms’ returns on their content investments.

Some of the most telling findings of the 2015 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey revolve around a key content offering: blogs created by law firms. Nearly a third of in-house counsel said they don’t read those blogs, that they don’t expect them to affect hiring decisions and, perhaps most alarmingly, that they view blogs as increasingly less credible.

“The survey clearly shows that in-house counsel know the value – or the potential value – of relevant content generated by law firms,” said John Corey, founding partner of Greentarget. “But the sheer volume of content out there combined with the dearth of documented strategies, and even the absence of any kind of strategies, has caused a problem for many firms – and an opportunity for those who can get it right.”

Although 58 percent of respondents said their firm had a content strategy, only 13 percent said it was documented. Documented content strategies have been shown to produce better results for business-to-business marketing. We also believe that law firms need documented strategies that adhere to the concept of corporate journalism, which Greentarget defines as:

A practice that combines an organization’s market intelligence and subject-matter expertise with the credibility and narrative techniques of professional journalism. Done well, corporate journalism should incorporate elements of traditional journalism, including the critical notion that journalism serves its audience above all others.

The Highlights:

In-House Counsel Survey:

  • Client alerts and practice-group newsletters more valuable than blogs – Respondents rated traditional client alerts and practice group newsletters as the most valuable types of law-firm generated content. Just 35 percent picked blogs, down from 38 percent in 2014.
  • Mainstream platforms becoming more popular — Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are continuing to gain ground as far as professional use.
  • LinkedIn continues to lead the pack – Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they used the service in the last week, compared with 62 percent in 2014.
  • Wikipedia use on the rise – Seventy-one percent of respondents used Wikipedia to conduct company and industry research — up from 51 percent in 2012.

Law Firm CMO/Marketer Survey:

  • Content’s increasing, budgets aren’t – The vast majority of law firm CMOs (87 percent) expect to produce more content in 2015 than in 2014 while at the same time less than half (43 percent) have received larger budgets to do so.
  • Who’s managing content? – Forty percent of firms have a dedicated content manager, up from 29 percent last year. But only 19 percent have staffed the position with a journalist, content specialist or professional storyteller.
  • Increasing focus on results – Firms are stepping up how they measure results; 74 percent of respondents said they used analytics such as “views” and “shares” to justify content marketing investments, up from 59 percent in 2014.

“With all the content out there, law firms need to be especially strategic in how they create content offerings,” said Norm Rubenstein, partner of Zeughauser Group. “This year’s findings, especially as they relate to law-firm blogs, show that a documented strategy is more important than ever to drive thought leadership and distinguish their brands in efforts to increase market share.”

A summary of the report is available for free here. The full report is available for $300. For more information, contact Jackson Pillow at jpillow@greentarget.com or (312) 253-8127.

About the Survey’s Authors:

About Greentarget (www.greentarget.com)
Greentarget is a strategic communications firm focused exclusively on the communications needs of highly competitive business-to-business organizations.  We counsel those who counsel the world’s most sophisticated businesses and aim to direct smarter conversations among their most important audiences to help deepen the relationships that impact the long-term value of their organizations.

About Zeughauser Group (www.consultzg.com)
Zeughauser Group is the firm of choice for legal industry leaders seeking to increase their competitive advantage and profitability, enhance market position, and strengthen organizational culture.

For nearly 20 years, John has focused on conceptualizing and executing marketing strategies for financial, professional and other service businesses.

Devoted to his family, he enjoys letting loose on golf cart adventures with his kids.