Editor’s Note: We asked industry leader Molly Miller of ALM to give us perspective on mobile consumers of legal content – what they’re reading when and why that’s important. As she says below, the implications here go beyond mobile-optimized websites (what she calls tablestakes). Here’s how smart marketers can put this to work for them in 2018.
When you want to know more about the use of mobile among legal professionals, look to legal news consumption. With today’s lawyers supporting clients 24/7, a firm’s mobile usage tied to client work is not necessarily a good bellwether of the mobile habits of the broader legal industry, or of firm clients and potential clients. But looking instead at legal news consumption across platforms can shed insight into broader client interests and needs. At ALM, here’s what we have seen in 2017 about how readers interact with legal news on mobile.
Legal news is read first thing in the morning, on the run to court or a meeting, on the way home and later in the evening while relaxing with family. Mobile makes it possible to stay continuously connected to all news, including breaking legal news. But we have learned that mobile is far more than a device and a platform. It is a way of thinking about and using content in new ways that required us to deliver content in new ways—and not just a better mobile website.
While we have seen mobile grow to about 20% of traffic over the last year (still a low number when compared to the consumer mobile trends), we see it jump up to nearly 30% during vacation weeks. We see a spike in the early morning, ranging from about 6 am to 9 am local time, then another around lunch time. Then we see our users jump over to mobile from around 4-6 pm.
This all makes perfect sense. We thought that would be it, that we wouldn’t see any more spikes for the day. But we were wrong. We found another spike around 10-11 pm.
What are legal professionals reading at these different times of day? First thing in the morning, of course it’s the headlines—what happened abroad, what developments took place late in the day that may have been missed, what’s to come in the day ahead. It’s for these reasons that we created law.com’s Morning Minute as a way for readers to get just what they need as quickly as possible. We know that on mobile, readers may not want to link out to read stories so we provide as much detail as needed to tell the story, but of course offering links for those who choose to read in more detail.
We see that the afternoon spike is a parallel to the morning—what happened today that I should know about before I leave the office? What is on deck for tomorrow that I will want to follow up on in the morning? What do I need to know in order to be prepared for the day ahead?
That interesting evening spike is clearly for ‘lean-back’ content—articles that are more focused on the people behind the stories, more about why an event happened and its impact rather than just the fact that it happened (morning is the time for ‘just tell me what happened.’)
Another insight we have gleaned from watching usage over time is that readers care very much about who the reporter is—this is more true now than ever in the concern about ‘fake news’ and credible, objective reporting. For this reason, we developed a series of Briefing newsletters available to law.com subscribers. These reporter-led platforms give readers an insider view on the news, focused on specific topics such as The Law Firm Disrupted, What’s Next-Future + Law, Inside Track for inhouse lawyers, and more. Additional Briefings are forthcoming, all from the pen and voice of reporters who have developed expertise around the topics through their daily beat coverage.
Mobile for the legal profession means keeping work moving and staying on top of key developments. What it means for publishers is that reinvention isn’t just providing mobile-optimized websites. That’s table stakes. It means creating new products that deliver what the mobile legal professional needs at various times in their day—a day that starts at least by 6 am and ends around 11 pm. We expect this trend will deepen in 2018 and we should all be ready—with solutions that make it easy and effective to support the mobile thinker and do-er.
ABOUT Molly Miller
Molly is responsible for leading the integrated editorial organization to develop synergies between industries, identify new monetization opportunities and engage critical audiences. Since joining ALM in 2012, Molly has held several leadership positions, including Publisher of The Recorder and Law.com, Chief Content & Product Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. Previously, she held marketing, editorial market planning and product champion roles at Lexis Nexis after practicing law in Cincinnati and reporting for the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Coming in January!
LMA’S Digital & Social Media SIG is launching a benchmarking initiative. It’s designed to give legal marketers comparable data to enable them to assess the effectiveness of their programs and strategies. We encourage all firms to participate in order to make this as useful as possible. Details coming soon!