Utility is what in-house counsel and executives say they're most attracted to in online content. "We also believe it's the quality most likely to move them toward purchasing decisions. Content that tells them not just what happened, or what it means, but what they need to do about it is far more likely to make them call the author and say 'I need you to help me do that,'" according to a new report on content marketing.
The 2019 State of Digital by Greentarget and Zeughauser Group, found that corporate executives in the "C Suite" are just as involved as the general counsel in choosing a law firm to hire -- particularly in high-value, bet-the-company matters. In order for content to have utility for in-house counsel, according to 73 percent of respondents, it should be educational.
Shon Ramey, General Counsel at NAVEX Global, an ethics and compliance software and services company, says: “There's a reason I Googled the issue. I know it's an issue. So tell me what I need to know and what I need to do with that information.”
Other highlights of the 46-page report:
LinkedIn is a favored source for researching outside counsel. For in-house counsel, it's a favored source for
researching outside law firms.
- Traditional media (like the Wall Street Journal) are used frequently by 77% by in-house counsel, along with publications and websites covering the profession, and trade publications covering industry news.
- Law firm ranking and listing services are not worth the investment. Only 9% of in-house counsel say such rankings are "very important."
- Content that is too "salesy" or not impartial is not effective. For example, announcements of partner promotions, are passed over by in-house counsel. “I get that you're trying to promote your expertise,” Ramey says. “But give me information I can use, not content that tells me how great and wonderful you are. The five competitors before you and the 10 after are saying the same thing — and I can't do anything with that information.”
85% of in-house counsel rank search engines as the most valuable method for finding content. Websites and blogs are considered valuable sources of content for business, industry or legal news. Research reports by law firms are especially attractive. The survey reveals an increased preference for (and reliance on) websites and blogs as sources of information. "A firm's website is a natural vehicle to host and promote thought leadership content."
The report recommends search engine optimization (SEO) as a method to attract corporate audiences, but this is actually just one factor in being found in Google. Other important factors are having a site online at least 2 years, at least 200 pages of content that are written for clients, 100 visitors per day, and following Google's Webmaster Guidelines (no deceptive or misleading content.)
Other content that in-house counsel likes include articles, conference presentations, webinars, email newsletters, interactive charts, and podcasts.
The report extols LinkedIn as a place to distribute content. On June 25, LinkedIn announced algorithm changes that favor niche professional conversations in the Feed instead of viral content. It offers advertising in the Feed just as Facebook does. Advertisers complete an online form, select a budget or choose to time span for the ad to run. "The C-suite is fairly bullish on the effectiveness of LinkedIn content targeting, with 63 percent of respondents agreeing that professional service providers use it effectively. The report claims that LinkedIn is more effective than email for distribution content. "Nearly every single CMO we surveyed says LinkedIn is a valuable marketing tool and content distribution platform."
"Podcasts again made gains in 2019 among both C-suite executives and in-house counsel as a preferred content source," the report says. "70 percent of C-suite officers perceive them as “educational” — suggesting that this segment welcomes receiving research through this medium."
But the bottom line is that "Utility attracts decisionmakers to content more than any other attribute."