Building a content strategy is a central part of success in digital marketing. It is the equivalent of getting out a roadmap and plotting your route. But understanding the buyer journey is a central element that can easily be forgotten.
Digital marketing is growing fast. Although the UK’s legal sector has been comparatively slow in taking it up, the simple reality is that in a digital age, the analogue methods of advertising and marketing turn in a poor return on investment.
However, digital marketing isn’t just print marketing on a screen instead of in the evening news. This is the means by which a law firm can take a much more effective and powerful approach to turning a potential customer into a real one.
Why is content marketing like taking the scenic route?
To take the road trip analogy further: content marketing is definitely the scenic route. While some forms of marketing attempt the equivalent of the quick route-one dash up the motorway, content marketing is the scenic route. It provides more editorial content on the general topic that relates to the services or product a consumer is interested in, selling indirectly.
The ultimate destination remains the same, even if it isn’t so fast. The key with this journey is that you have to take the customer with you. You don’t want them to jump out of the car and walk away. Making the journey a more attractive one is a key factor in achieving this.
Firstly, it should be noted it has distinct phases.
- Awareness: This is when someone first finds out about what you have to offer and may take an interest in it.
- Consideration: This is the transitional process where the potential customer is thinking about making a purchase. This is not necessarily a quick process: Marketers refer to the ‘law of seven’ in which the average consumer needs to encounter a marketing message seven times before they will make a purchasing decision.
- Decision: This is the point where they finally decide if they are going to take up what you have to offer with a purchase or walk away.
- A fourth element may be added: post purchase. This is the point where someone has made the positive buyer decision and is now your customer. You now have an opportunity to delight them with the quality of your offering and your customer services, so that you retain their custom and nurture their loyalty.
What this should make evident is that different messages are required for different parts of the buyer journey.
What helps create awareness?
For awareness, there are several key elements your content marketing strategy should include:
- You need to make your firm stand out: If they have found out about you through organic content, what you have written must be enticing, relevant, hold their interest and help steer them towards the consideration stage.
- Strong SEO for law firms is vital: Make sure it is optimised with good keywords, authoritative links, relevant images and a strong headline.
- Your content should reflect the needs and desires of your target market as epitomised by your buyer persona.
- You should provide lots of information about what you offer, but also emphasise your unique selling points and, above all, why you do what you do – make this a story, not a menu.
- You need to make sure you have a call-to-action of some sort, even if it is just to find out more, such as by clicking on a link to your website or social media pages.
- Your website needs to play its part by providing a good user experience. Slow load-ups or broken links can undermine your efforts.
How do you steer someone through the consideration phase?
The consideration phase will not just be about content, as by now someone who is aware of what you offer may have logged on to your site, visited your social media pages and perhaps signed up for something like an email newsletter. This means you may have more means of contacting them and gaining their attention.
Nonetheless, while your initial content will have been designed to entice with interest and an appeal to a potential customer’s needs – in particular the message that there are solutions available for their challenges and problems – the consideration phase will need to push this further.
This is the point at which you need to ensure content consistently outlines how you can provide that solution and the difference it can make. At this stage, any potential buyer will be mainly keen to know three things:
- Is what you offer something that will solve their problems and give them a competitive edge over their competitors?
- Is it worth their investment of money and effort in engaging with you to pursue this?
- Are you offering something better than your rivals?
The key with your content is to ensure it provides a ‘yes’ to all those questions.
What can you do to help them make that decision?
It is important that you have good internal links in your content, which can help direct readers from pages aimed at creating awareness to consideration. This is also important when moving from consideration to the decision stage.
This is the point where you can switch the focus onto highlighting attractive features like special introductory offers and case studies. Make sure the calls to action are clear and numerous so the reader doesn’t miss the chance to take that all-important final step.
Why you should not neglect the ‘delight phase’
It can be very easy to consider the buyer journey to be at an end when they make that purchasing decision. However, this is not so, for various reasons:
- It’s easier to get an existing customer to make further purchases than to bring in a new one
- A happy customer may come on your social media pages to say positive things about your firm. Word-of-mouth marketing is more powerful than any advertising, so such loyalty in action is a huge asset.
- Satisfied customers can also endorse you offline in conversations with colleagues, friends and family.
For this reason, the best inbound marketing strategies offer good content that will be of interest to existing customers who might want to extend their deals with you. Loyalty-based incentives such as discounts on second purchases and rewards for referring a friend can supplement this to help develop a stronger and more enduring customer relationship.
By understanding all the stages of the buyer journey and producing different content for each of them, you can develop a marketing strategy that covers every part of the journey and ensures you give your law firm the best chance of delivering a strong return on investment.
Charlie Britten, Beuniqueness.co.uk
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