Sharing your business knowledge and experience through a cohesive story should be the overarching goal of everything law firm content marketing strategy. Carefully review the content you have posted. If you notice a series of separate blogs or videos rather than a strong brand story, it’s time to refresh your approach. Incorporating an original survey-based research project into your content strategy could give you the boost you need. To help you get started, here are some steps for creating an editorial plan centered around designing and sharing a research survey.
1. Select your topic
The topic of your investigation should be of interest to your audience, align with your practice and the experience of your attorneys, and focus on an area that has yet to be researched. This last element is especially important because new research will not only help you establish your authority, but will also drive new links to your website whenever someone cites your findings in the future.
It’s best to start by asking yourself: How do I want my audience to think or behave differently, based on what they find here? Review your practice areas, then narrow down a topic from a list of hot topics in a particular niche or industry. For example, if you examine your health care area of practice, you may see a need for research into insurance changes or medical malpractice issues.
Your topic should be specific and differentiated enough to capture your audience’s attention and broad enough that you can reuse survey results in many forms throughout your law firm’s content marketing strategy. .
2. Design in dimensions
Consider the specific topics your research will encompass and how you will break down the study to cover all of these areas. The resulting categories, which you can think of as a sort of table of contents, will form the dimensions of your study, helping you organize its structure and plan your questions.
It is recommended that you identify three to five dimensions for your study. Although you want to formulate a hypothesis for each dimension, be careful not to formulate questions that only confirm your thesis. If the results disprove your assumptions, this could be a story in itself!
Now you need to design the actual survey. There are online resources that can help you create good questions. Be sure to constantly ask, “How am I going to use the data provided by this question?” This will ensure that you maximize the value offered by your survey results.
3. Analyze your results
Once the results start rolling in, extract your data and see if there’s a story to tell. Remember, numbers alone are forgettable, but an emotional appeal backed by data will be something your audience will care about.
Be sure to organize the results by the same dimensions you used to design your survey. If your findings don’t match your hypothesis, develop a story around it!
4. Go beyond blogging
Before creating various pieces of content, you will need to highlight your findings on their own landing page. To improve your site’s domain authority with search engines, redirect all search traffic to the new landing page.
Once you’ve established the landing page, start thinking about the types of content that can be written from your research project. Think beyond blog posts and videos, and consider slideshare presentations, articles on other websites, webinarsinfographics or podcasts.
To add more sophistication to this step, you can create a spreadsheet or use an online tool to track each content item with the information, stats, and links the item will share. You can even include separate posts if you need to know those titles, who is responsible for each piece of content, and if there are any attachments to manage.
5. Integrate into your calendar
Focus deeply on each trimester. You can consider each dimension (or topic) of your research or cluster and go from there. Determine a regular cadence for blog posts and schedule them ahead of time.
Maintain a library of data-related content that you can regularly post to social media. Review presentations for the coming year and see where you can incorporate content that stems from your findings.
An original research project can provide the necessary “cement” for a coherent content strategy. Follow the steps in this guide and you’ll be well on your way to developing a research-based editorial plan that aligns with your marketing and business goals.
This blog post has been edited and republished from August 16, 2018.