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Content Marketing and Blog Trends for Lawyers in 2020

Like almost everything else in business, there are cycles of what clients want to read at blogs written by attorneys and law firms. In 2020, the most important development in content marketing trends for attorneys will be that the preferences of clients is changing—again. As a result, lawyers and law firms need to adjust their content strategy and approach to maximize the likelihood of generating new opportunities.

Analytics we run for clients are revealing how content trends had shifted in the past several months. “Think pieces” of roughly 1,000-to-1,300 words are gaining favor over posts that are shorter and take a “how to do something” approach.

Content Cycles

Content marketing trends and tactics have gone through perhaps five cycles since we invented the concept in 1992— before anyone knew it was a thing or had heard the phrase.

  • When we replaced all of the newsletters and brochures of a major firm with a glossy, four-color business magazine, studies revealed that the articles getting the most reads and generating “letters to the editor” ran around 1,000 words. Articles in each issue covered emerging business trends with a legal implication that executives needed to be thinking about for their company.
  • When websites came into widespread use and some firms began writing blogs, short pieces of around 300 words became the most-widely read.
  • Ten years ago, when blogs were becoming more common and SEO became an important tool, both readers and Mr. Google were happiest with content that ran roughly 750-to-1,000 words. Favored content was nitty-gritty focusing on decisions, laws and regulations.
  • About the same time that firms figured this out around 2015 or so and began posting longer blogs, everything changed once more with viewers and search engines preferring pieces of 600-to-750 words.

The latest shift to a preference for longer pieces means that lawyers have to change what and how they write blogs that their target wants to read.

Case Study

The positive impact of paying attention to blogging trends can be seen in our content marketing tactics with clients. A case study illustrates the point.

We work with a corporate lawyer at a mid-sized firm. She had us write blogs every week about new regulations and pending laws that would impact public companies, what executives acquiring another company needed to focus on in their due diligence, court decisions that affected businesses and how a company gets in trouble with employment contracts.

As we do with all clients, we tracked numerous metrics. The blogs averaged about 635 words each. Over the past year, we saw the number of readers slowly dwindling from a peak of around 275 per week after we’d been writing her pieces for about four months to 150 readers a week. Engagement declined as well: Few, if any, readers were leaving remarks anymore either at the website or on LinkedIn where she promoted each new blog.

We suggested a “think piece” topic based on a slowly emerging trend in her focus area. It ran nearly 1,200 words, which made her nervous.

Yet within three days of it being optimized and going live, it attracted more than 500 readers and seven comments. Her LinkedIn promo was shared by three people, extending her reach. More crucial is that she received four queries asking for help with the issue she’d raised. That’s thousands in revenue she would not have had if she stuck to “just the facts” blogs. Think pieces now are the focus of her content marketing strategy.

Lessons for Attorneys

There are three broad lessons to be taken from the current trend in reader preferences.

First, you need to understand what people want to read and how they want to read it.

Second, use the information that’s available to ensure that your ideas will resonate with the people you want and need to attract.

Third, don’t be afraid to change “we’ve always done it this way” when your audience wants you to do it that way—and keep measuring the results.

It is one thing to invest the time and energy in creating content for your website. But if it is not written the way your target audience wants to read it and provides the kind of information they find useful, then all you are doing is indulging in an intellectual exercise that won’t be as likely to get someone to pick up the phone to ask, “Can you help me?”

Jim Bliwas

Law marketing veteran Jim Bliwas has spent most of his career working in and with law firms in the U.S. and Canada. He is senior marketing and communications strategist for Professional Services Marketing LLP, and managing director of Leaner Law Marketing Strategies. Reach him at Jim@PSM-Marketing.com.

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Filed Under: Featured StoriesMarketing

About the Author: Law marketing veteran Jim Bliwas has spent most of his career working in and with law firms in the U.S. and Canada. He is senior marketing and communications strategist for Professional Services Marketing LLP, and managing director of Leaner Law Marketing Strategies. Reach him at Jim@PSM-Marketing.com.

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