Long-Form Content: Establishing the Pillars of Your Legal Content Marketing
Content marketing has taken the world by storm over the past decade, and every industry has embraced some form of it as law firms look for new ways to reach consumers and/or clients by developing helpful, informative, and entertaining blogs, videos, podcasts, or webinars. For attorneys, the story is the same—reach consumers by writing content that answers their questions, delivered to them when they search for it.
Avoiding “Content for the Sake of Content”
However, too many attorneys write a few blogs a month or record the occasional YouTube video, hoping that it inspires the reader or viewer to click the contact button or subscribe to the email list. In some cases, this works according to plan—you write a blog and optimize it for search engines; a reader asks the exact question you answered, needs your help immediately, and reaches out to you.
Unfortunately, there are two problems with this:
1. Your blog is going to be competing with thousands of others for the exact same search term.
2. Getting a potential client to click “contact” after reading a blog is a huge step.
Luckily, there is a way to overcome both of these challenges: Long form content. Long form content includes whitepapers (8-10 pages), eBooks (10-100 pages), webinars, or the like that deliver enough value to a reader that he or she wants to give you contact information.
An Economic Argument for Long-Form Content
The idea of long-form content is rooted in economics. As an attorney, you know how much each client is worth to you and will charge a reasonable rate for your services. In turn, your potential clients will place a perceived value on their personal information and will trade this information for something they believe will provide them equal or greater value.
For example, if you write a blog, you are putting forth something of value and are asking for someone to commit a few minutes of their time. However, once you start asking for personal information, you are asking for another transaction. A potential client will place value on his or her name, email address, and phone number, trading it for something he or she feels will provide equal or greater utility. This creates something HubSpot refers to as “page friction,” anything that causes a reader to abandon your form.
As with economics, the price of this information is elastic. A client in need of a criminal lawyer may go straight from a blog to the contact page because there is an immediate need for legal help (i.e. need an attorney before the court date). On the other hand, a client in need of estate planning services has a much longer window to make a decision and will therefore place higher value on personal information.
When you write a whitepaper or eBook, host a webinar, or lead a live event, you are offering enough value for a client to share personal information to get it.
Long-Form Content: The Pillar of Your Content Marketing Efforts
As with any content marketing initiative, your long-form content should fit into your ‘big picture’ efforts; in fact, your long-form content should drive the rest of your strategy. When you write a whitepaper or present a live event, you have essentially built a “content pillar” from which you can expand upon with smaller pieces of content—all of which drive traffic back to the strategic piece of content.
What Are Content Pillars?
According to Kapost, a content pillar is a substantive and informative piece of content on a specific topic or theme that can be broken into many derivative sections, pieces, and materials. Examples of content pillars include eBooks, reports, and guides.
Basically, it’s a large piece of content that you can turn into many smaller pieces of content to fuel all those channels you’re currently struggling to fill. By focusing your attention on creating a single content pillar, it’s easy to break that finished piece into blog posts, infographics, videos, emails, social media updates, and more, to attract different kinds of buyers through different channels.
These are your high-value pieces of content, the ones for which a customer will gladly trade contact information.
Leveraging Long-Form Content
By writing a whitepaper or eBook, hosting a webinar, or leading a live event, you’ve given yourself a gift. For each piece of pillar content, you can likely create five blogs. Each blog can generate five to ten social posts. The bigger the content piece, the more opportunities you have to create touchpoints (Kapost used a single eBook as the basis for 122 pieces of content—32 assets and 90 unique social media posts).
Example: Dozens of Content Pieces and Touchpoints from a Single Webcast
For example, we discussed this in our blog on promoting and running a successful webcast, noting that you could take this single piece of content and create dozens of customer touchpoints to promote it:
- Upload the slide deck to SlideShare
- Post clips of the webcast to YouTube/Facebook Video/Vimeo
- Write blogs recapping the key talking points
- Email people who missed the webcast and people on your email list who didn’t register
- Draft a whitepaper or eBook on the topic covered
- Post the blogs, whitepaper, and video links on Legal Services Link, linking them to your profile.
There is no denying that short-form content has an important place in your overall content initiatives, but getting a reader to contact you just because they read your blog requires a big commitment, often one that he or she isn’t comfortable making. They barely know you and now you are asking for their name, number, email address, and details about how you can help them.
By developing high-value long form content, you are bridging the gap by providing something that not only convinces a potential client to share his or her information with you, but also creating something that informs your long-term content initiatives.
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