New research from strategic communications firm Greentarget and consulting firm Zeughauser Group shows a near-unanimous feeling among in-house counsel that “information overload” is a problem in their daily efforts to consume information about business, industry and legal topics. Nevertheless, law firms plan to create more content—even though a strong majority haven’t yet documented a content strategy.
The new study, 2017 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey, also shows that law firm chief marketing officers know the information overload problem exists. But just 26 percent said they had a documented content strategy—up from 13 percent in the previous survey in 2015, but still surprisingly low. Given that void, this year’s report includes key guidance on content strategy and distribution.
“The slight improvement in the documentation of content strategy is a positive sign. But more law firms need to develop and document their own strategies if they hope to develop and optimally deliver robust content in support of their most important practices,” said John Corey, founding partner of Greentarget, in a news release. “In an era of information overload, strategy brings clarity and the ultimate opportunity for firms is to bring the right content, to the right audiences and the right time on the channels where (and when) they congregate.”
To help law firms at this important inflection point, Greentarget and Zeughauser Group have taken a new step in this year’s report: providing guidance to those firms—culled from some top law firm marketers and content strategists—in order to drive new thinking and strategic adjustments to content operations across the legal industry.
“The guidance focuses on content creation as well as content distribution, which is becoming increasingly important as firms try to stand out in an increasingly competitive legal and media landscape,” Corey said.
Highlights of the research:
In-house counsel survey
- Ninety-six percent of in-house counsel said information overload was a problem in their daily efforts to consume information regarding business, industry and legal topics affecting their companies. LinkedIn remained the dominant social media tool that in-house counsel use for professional reasons, with 73 percent saying they had used it within the past week—up from 68 percent in the previous survey.
- Despite the flow of so-called “fake news,” traditional media (e.g., The Wall Street Journaland The Economist) remain the most credible sources in the eyes of in-house counsel; 95 percent said those sources were very or somewhat credible.
- Fifty-two percent of in-house counsel ranked law firm content as very good or excellent, compared with 43 percent in 2015.
Law firm marketer/CMO survey
- Eighty-one percent of law firm CMOs said they will produce more content in 2017 than in 2016, and none said they will produce less. Nearly half (49 percent) of CMOs said their content budgets would increase over last year while the same number said they would remain the same.
- Twenty-six percent of respondents said their firms had documented content strategies, which is up from 13 percent in 2015. Forty five percent said they had undocumented strategies, and 23 percent said they were planning to implement content strategies in the next 12 months.
- The greatest challenge for content marketers was a lack of engagement from attorneys within the firm (46 percent) followed by a lack of staff time (26 percent).
“We’re at an important inflection point when it comes to creating and distributing law firm content,” said Mary K Young, a partner with Zeughauser Group, in the release. “Smart firms will embrace documented strategies, understanding doing the hard but important work of effectively distributing highly relevant content will pay off in the coming years.”
“In the seven years that we’ve done this survey, we’ve seen the sophistication and quality of firms’ marketing efforts increase—creating a divide between the firms who are doing it right and those who aren’t,” said Kevin Iredell, Greentarget’s director of research and market intelligence, in the release. “The smart firms are embracing a strategic approach to content and digital marketing.”