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Digital Marketing

Does Your Law Firm’s Marketing Content Suffer from TL;dr?*

By Nancy Slome

Is your firm producing the kind of marketing content clients and prospects want to read?

If I had a dollar for every panel discussion where a GC admitted to ignoring an important client alert after reading the first or the second one in their inbox, I’d be a very wealthy woman.

They’re Called ‘Client Alerts’ for a Reason

Having worked in-house at several law firms and as a consultant, I know how long it takes to get a client alert or blog post from concept to first draft, formatting and distribution. Yet, despite legal marketing surveys that show this to be true year after year, very few firms manage to get it right. Client alerts and blog posts should be informative and of particular interest to your firm’s clients.

Like a present that arrives days after the recipient’s birthday, the client alert’s impact is greatly diminished if it’s too late or never opened.

Improving Your Marketing Content: Tips for Lawyers and Law Firm Marketers

So, what’s a lawyer or legal marketer to do? Here are some suggestions to help improve your firm’s content.

For Marketers: What’s the difference between a good email subject line and one that gets ignored?

Whether you’re emailing the perfect thought-leadership piece or client alert intended for your firm’s clients, you have mere seconds to grab their attention. Marketing pros recommend 50 characters or less in your subject line, but if you’re the marketer, you know that’s not gonna fly with your lawyers.

Marketers know that the firm’s clients are too busy to read everything that lands in their inbox, so you need to stand out and get to the point! Start with a compelling subject line. Think “more interesting than boring,” and definitely not “click-bait.” I hope you’ll remember these tips the next time you’re presented with a subject line that you know is way too long.

For Lawyers: Think “executive summary” when writing an article for publication

Imagine you’re explaining the topic to an executive (client) or editor who has little time for what you’re proposing. To get you started, what you need is two or three sentences summarizing the main ideas, and then start filling in your outline. Bonus points if you can prove how or why this is important.

For Marketers: Add hyperlinks at the start of the web page

Your goal is to tell the reader what each paragraph is all about. Create a short heading for each topic and hyperlink to the specific section of the page. Yes, this is a standard convention that’s been around for years, but it’s still effective.

For Lawyers: Remove those extraneous words

Grammarly will only take you so far. Proofreaders are worth their weight in gold. But … if you want to up your game and dexterity as a writer, I highly recommend the Elevate app for your phone or tablet. Elevate is “an award-winning brain training tool designed to build communication and analytical skills.” My favorite section of Elevate trains you to remove extraneous words and revise long-winded text. At $40 per year, Elevate is a bargain.

For Marketers: You’ll wonder why you hadn’t done this sooner 

We’ve already established that law firm clients are super busy. Last week, I queried a group of legal marketers if they could point to a firm that is already indicating reading time with their posts and alerts. For example, The Wall Street Journal’s home page indicates the estimated reading time, along with a clock icon and “4 min read.”

marketing content example wall street journal

Erin West, who is the senior PR Manager at McDermott Will & Emery, quickly responded to my query and shared a recent “Insight” page from her firm, which displays the reading time near the alert’s title.

Nancy Myrland, one of the top social media experts in law firm circles chimed in, letting us know that LinkedIn automatically adds the reading time under her posts, like this:

Do Associates, Partners, and Senior Partners Need to Market Themselves?

myrland marketing · 7 min read.

Nancy now offers two types of podcasts. Her Legal Marketing Moments are always under three minutes, whereas the Legal Marketing Minutes podcast is typically a bit longer, and always under 10 minutes.

Adding reading time functionality to your site is relatively easy for your web developers to implement. This feature can improve usability and will be a valuable marketing asset that can distinguish your firm from your peers.

For Lawyers: Short and Sweet

Typically, your bio is the first stop for a potential client searching for a lawyer or law firm. Ruth Carter, who also writes for Attorney at Work, makes two terrific points in her article, “Give the People What They Want: Attorney Bios.” Ruth writes:

“When in doubt, leave it out. If your bio is a wall of text, a prospect may choose not to read any of it (TL;DR = Too long; Didn’t read). Break up the information with headings and space, so at a glance, someone can find the information they’re looking for.”

Ruth also shares this key stat from Andrew Davis, who spoke at the Content Marketing World Conference, “75% of consumers know who they want to hire before they contact you.”

Let that one sink in a little bit.

For Marketers: L x M H (Length x Marketing Hours)

Sure, there will be a few posts that begin magically in your brain, working their way to your fingers, and voilà are ready to distribute online.

For all others, blog posts take more time than you might think. These stats come from Andy Crestodina, who heads up Orbit Media. His company sends bi-weekly emails and publishes a terrific yearly survey on blogging that is worth downloading. Here are two eye-opening stats from Orbit Media’s survey from 2020 that jumped out at me:

  • Hours: The average blog post takes 3 hours and 55 minutes to write.
  • Length: The average blog post is 1,269 words.

For Lawyers and Marketers: CTA 

When you’re uploading a blog post or sending out client alerts via e-blasts, don’t forget the CTA (Call to Action). Whether you do this within the text (“for more information, contact us”), adding a hyperlink that points to your contact page or including a suitable button – make it simple and easy for your readers to respond.

*For those who aren’t familiar with the term, TL;dr stands for Too Long; didn’t read.

Illustration ©

More from Nancy Slome:

“When SEO Tactics Undermine Your Brand” by Nancy Slome

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Nancy Slome Nancy Slome

Nancy Slome heads up Lawyers Biography Service and is a seasoned legal marketing consultant with more than a decade of experience advising attorneys on strategic marketing initiatives and creating compelling content for law firm websites. She was recently the VP of Content Strategy at Jaffe and a principal with One to One Interactive. Nancy has held marketing director positions at Pillsbury and White & Case and served on the Board of Directors for the Metro New York Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. She is a regular presenter at industry conferences. Follow her @LawBioService.

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