Why are integrated marketing campaigns so hard for law firms?
Integrating online into your mix
One of the big marketing challenges facing many large professional services firms is integration. Whether this is integrating myriad back-end systems, data, or marketing, large firms find it difficult.
There is a realisation that more traditional marketing channels no longer complete the picture and so more firms are looking to integrate online channels with their events, hardcopy and brochure marketing. With the proliferation of available channels, your clients expect you to be visible where they are, be that online, blogging, on social media, in secure extranets, or via mobile. Make use of these and you’ll be able to reach an increasingly connected and niche audience.
The wider problem here is content and messages tend to end up as one-off pieces of information sent out in a vacuum, which doesn’t maximise the potential impact of many hours of fee-earner, BD, and marketing time. So, law firms could be better at rolling out content across multiple channels in a consistent way, but what can we do to get better about it?
The challenge we face is how to get maximum impact from an integrated campaign, across multiple channels, within limited timeframes AND keep the attention of both our fee-earners and clients. With this in mind, I've categorised three levels of online channel integration for marketing campaigns.
Chances are you’re doing this already. You send out an email to a list of clients. You add the publication to the website. Job done, right? Wrong. What about following up the users who didn't read your email a few days later with another email? What about testing different subject lines to see which get the best open rates? Do you use any syndication services to share your web content to a wider audience, and if so, do you receive reports on who has read it to feed back to your fee-earners as part of the business intelligence process?
Moving from a one-off ‘hit’ to a series of touchpoints over time can significantly increase end user engagement with your campaign.
The above, plus microsite, social media, blogs, video.
Microsites and blogs aren't new, but they can be a hugely effective hub to house campaign content without having to try and squeeze this content onto your corporate website. Social media also isn't new (see my recent blog post on 'Why do law firms engage so poorly with Twitter, and how can you do it better? [link: http://www.legalsupportnetwork.co.uk/blog/%7Fwhy-do-law-firms-engage-so-poorly-twitter-and-how-can-you-do-it-better]), but lends itself nicely to a focused campaign around a niche topic.
These channels are quick and relatively cheap to set up, and they can extend the life of your campaign. Also, if your content is regularly updated, you are more likely to gain good search engine rankings relatively quickly, which makes you very visible online around your chosen topic.
The benefit of incorporating a microsite into your campaign (apart from it being measurable) is all activity drives your audience to a single place. Articles, press coverage, events and follow up materials, key contacts, videos etc. can all be stored and updated on a single URL – which can be shared across everything, and gives you a clear idea of which channels are working best for you. Social media offers you a niche window into an audience interested in your topic, and can build engagement and brand awareness with them. Of course if your audience isn’t using the channel, this could be wasted effort.
The above, plus mobile web/apps, targeting online thought-leaders, online PR, active link building, Search Engine Marketing.
Moving from passive to active management of a campaign is one of the biggest barriers I've come across in law firms, but doing it right enables a much greater level of engagement with your target audience. If the campaign is big enough, and your target audience are prolific users of mobile (if you don't know, ask them) making your content available in a mobile format could be key as mobile users tend to show more engagement.
Actively approaching bloggers, commentators, and thought-leaders will widen the reach of your content (I doubt you have time to build the size of community that they are already speaking to), and can add credibility to your brand, supporting your positioning.
Using tools like Google AdWords can inexpensively guarantee you visibility at the top of search engines and you can track performance of keywords around your campaign.
The likelihood is, when engaging in these advanced channels, your campaign is a big one, or has longevity. Widening your channel strategy enables you to be everywhere your clients are consuming information, and put simply, gives you a higher chance of engagement with them.
Integration in practice:
Recently I worked on an 'advanced' campaign that tied the majority of the elements mentioned above together. The ingredients were:
• Report and infographic
• Programme of events
• Microsite hub
• Talking head videos
• Twitter and LinkedIn group
• Google AdWords
• Thought-leaders/commentators targeted with content
The results were incredibly positive, demonstrating broad reach and extensive engagement with different audiences in different channels, over a period of three months.
There is no doubt that time and systems play a big part in marketers ability to manage and deliver more advanced campaigns, but being able to report on what I think are the three big measures of a campaign, Activity, Reach, and Engagement, will more than justify the journey to get there.