Data-Driven Decision Making for Content Marketing Success

Law firms’ marketing and business development teams are increasingly tracking, analyzing, and using data to inform decision-making. At the inaugural LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Conference on November 1, Michelle Woodyear, Director of Digital Marketing at Covington & Burling, and Adrian Lurssen, Vice President and Co-Founder of JD Supra, discussed the different types of data available in law firms, and how teams can move toward data-driven strategies. As Adrian fittingly noted, "data is just another word for evidence."

Here are five key takeaways:

  • Categorize data into two classes: big data and small data. Once you begin to collect and analyze data, the sheer volume available can quickly become overwhelming. Big data is generalized information, such as company and industry, times at which people are reading your content, topics people are reading most, and the areas of your website that are most heavily trafficked, among other things. Big data allows you to uncover broader opportunities in industries or sectors. Small data, which one presenter described as the data that "means everything in relationship-driven marketing," drills down to the individual-level, including what content specific users are reading. At Covington, Michelle’s data science team reviews both big and small data for trends, which are validated by the business development team and used to inform marketing campaigns and individualized business development outreach. By categorizing your data into two classes, your actionable activities can become more apparent.

  • Data is useless unless it is filtered by what it means for your business. Collecting data for data's sake will not drive informed decision-making. The data must be interpreted based on what it means for your organization. For example, your firm could have very high readership on your client alerts about sexual harassment, but if that is not an area of focus for the firm or is not profitable, this visibility may not be useful for the firm. In other words, data can indicate visibility, but the marketing and business development team must determine if it is the right visibility for your firm. 

  • Data collection must start with an end goal in mind. Marketers and their business development counterparts must consider what they hope to learn from data collection and structure their data collection efforts accordingly. Setting campaign goals with predetermined actions based on engagement is an important first step. Audience identification (defining who you are targeting and why) is a critical second step. Defining these variables helps build consensus among the attorneys and business development team on the goals and objectives, and helps to reduce random alerts that aren’t part of a consistent content strategy. Once defined, these goals can be used to measure the success of a content campaign and identify leads and opportunities.
     
  • Data is a springboard for action. Data analysis should be used as a means to move your firm's strategies forward. It can be used to inform content marketing strategies, develop targeted client outreach programs, build practice-specific marketing campaigns, and so much more. Examples of effective content marketing include:

    • Combining evergreen content with timely alerts to keep your firm visible in your area of focus;
    • Training your lawyers to write for the web to maximize readership;
    • Employing A/B testing with subject lines, email send times, and headlines to learn what drives engagement;
    • Repurposing content across challenges and formats to prolong its life;
    • Highlighting what the law means for the client, not just writing about the law.

  • Data must be socialized. Some lawyers will be more interested in this approach than others. Find a group or individual to act as your "data evangelist," and work with them to demonstrate its value to skeptics. It’s important to present data through the lens of what it means for the firm. Be sure to present the information to the business development team and lawyers in an organized and accessible way.

By Michelle Woodyear, Director of Digital Marketing, Covington & Burling; and Ashley Hollingsworth, Brand Marketing Specialist, McDermott, Will & Emery; for the Fourth Quarter 2018 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter

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