Using An e-Guide To Generate Leads (Yes, it DOES work)

I've written about gating content before.  You "gate" content when you require a visitor to your website to provide her name and e-mail address in order to download a piece of content. Having her name and contact information amounts to having a fresh lead. 

In January, I launched a new website for a client. One of the key functionalities I built was gating an e-Guide to do precisely this - generate e-mail lead capture. In a single week, three people downloaded his e-Guide. While it's not an astonishing number by big firm standards, for my client, what I did for him was what the new website was all about - generating fresh leads he could convert to clients. I know his business well enough to know that if any of these leads becomes a client, that single conversion alone would pay for his new website, if not more.


The short answer:

I gave his visitors a preview of what his e-Guide contained. 

Some of my ideas about marketing come from watching my own behavior. I got the idea of providing a preview of my client's e-Guide from how I shop for books on Amazon. I find that when I read a preview, and it resonates with me, I almost always purchase the book or audio book. And more often than not, I do not regret the purchase.

So that's what I did for my client's e-Guide. I provided access to the first few pages, so that visitors could make a considered judgment about whether it was worth their giving their contact information to have access to the entire guide. 

Does providing a preview of your marketing asset work in all cases to encourage a potential lead to provide her name and contact information so that you can follow up with her at a later date? No, it does not. If your content i.e. white paper or e-Guide doesn't provide valuable, usable information, it will fall flat. If it doesn't meet these standards, you could give away all the content and it still wouldn't compel a potential client to connect with you.

In short, content is king only if it's good content. And that's a whole different story altogether (see my next post).

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What's Good Content For Small Law Firms?

I subscribe to the daily newsletter of Content Marketing Institute (CMI).  It's a highly respected site for content marketing, a thought leader in some areas and a fine guide in many others.  I do get the sense sometimes that they repeat their articles, but that's less about duplicate content and more about keeping ideas fresh and - more importantly - updated to align with emerging technologies and trends. In short, CMI is educational, useful and doesn't waste your time with fluff. They present an idea, illustrate it with examples or samples, and link to useful third-party sources that are themselves generally credible.

This observation makes for a neat segue into their latest article on content - "27 Reasons Why Your Content Sucks".  While I myself would pick a different word than "suck", I wholly agree with their observations. The key observation is one that is not new -- good content is valuable to the reader not to the business that is trying to sell a product or service. The client's frame of mind is important.  A sense of being catered to, looked out for and reassured are all effects of "good" content.

I'll leave you to read the CMI article, but here are my consolidate thoughts on what I think small law firms should be alert to when creating content:

It's about the potential client, not you.

You have a brand. For small firms, the brand is synonymous with you and your associates. You don't have the brand of a big law firm to boost your own personal brand.  This is not  necessarily a bad thing. People sometimes reach out to smaller firms because they sense they may be ignored when engaged by big law firms when theirs is a small matter.  But they still need to know that you're good at what you do, and accessible ad supportive.

Which means that you should speak less about how good you are, and more about how great you are serving your clients. One does not preclude the other, but remember your content should be written to cultivate a specific impression in the minds of your readers. Testimonials when detailed and well-written with a hint of emotion are excellent in boosting your credibility. But beyond that, your  other content also has to be service-focused. The good thing is that you already know what clients need. You understand their anxieties, the questions they angst over the most, the parts of the law that could be tricky for them. When you write, address these concerns.  My own view is that you can write case studies which have a factual tone to them, but which allow you to lay out your expertise, peppered with how you answered client questions with clarity, forthrightness and reassurance. The goal is to have people feeling like they are in good hands, which should compel them to reach out to you.

Keeping up-to-date. 

Do you cringe when you see that a website has a blog that is woefully outdated? That's a red flag for site visitors. This is especially so for those seeking legal guidance. People are skittish about getting the law wrong.  They expect lawyers to be almost obsessed with accuracy and detail (and rightly so).  The optics are bad if a site has an outdated blog post or having the last blog post written more than a year ago.  Or if service sections have not been updated with fresh links or new information. 

Value is all.

Having my own website and marketing initiatives means that I often relate to the challenges my clients face. It's not an easy thing to decide how much of your expertise to give away when you are creating content to generate leads or build a brand. Do I want competitors to imitate what I do? Do I want to provide valuable content that provides immediate solutions to potential clients, such that they won't need me at all? These questions are trick questions, truth be told. We are not what we say, but what we do. I can write volumes about legal marketing, but in the end, the real value of what I offer lies in its "do-ability". I can teach visitors to my website how to look at their marketing challenges, how to avoid pitfalls, but I also know that my value-add lies in being able to look deeper into their unique challenges that may require some finessing when it comes to solutions and initiatives. In short, I am not afraid to provide valuable useful content as I am confident that given the time and energy constraints of lawyers, it is likely that they would not be able to do all that I recommend, at least without some degree of guidance. I also do not hesitate to share my ideas and experiences because, in the end, it's about my potential clients and how they feel about my services. By being generous and transparent but discerning in how much I teach or share, I am essentially providing value. Which in and of itself is a great way to build trust in a brand.

Clients need to know you are good at what you do, but that you're also a true professional.

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Why I Switched Over From Wordpress to Squarespace

I've been using Wordpress for my website for almost two years. Prior to that, I was responsible for a wealth management firm's website, and used Wordpress for that too. In fall 2017, I decided to take a look at alternatives; my Wordpress website for Apto Marketing was sleek, professional in look and feel but ultimately not that easy to use when I wanted to integrate marketing automation and create more dynamic content. I had installed plugins for marketing automation but the path to implementation seemed too laborious for what I wanted to achieve. After much research, I settled on Squarespace. These are my reasons for switching:

  • Efficiency is important to me. Squarespace and other WYSIWYG website builders have highly intuitive UIs (user interfaces) and offer a truly effective way of creating websites that look clean, professional and which help us brand ourselves and generate leads. You can build what you wish to achieve without HTML coding knowledge.
  • Effective Support. Wordpress does require a bit of a learning curve and is much less intuitive. Even if you get someone to set up the site for you, serious glitches need to be fixed by them (e.g. my entire website didn't load because of a problem with a plugin update). If your web developer is a busy one, you may have to wait to fix glitches (and pay for it to boot!). Wordpress has an impressive community where you can get guidance but you may not always get the guidance you need, when you need it. I like that Squarespace has an award-winning customer service team that supports me 24/7. Thus far, every question I've had has been answered to my satisfaction, and promptly. Its Live Chat hasn't let me down thus far.
  • Cost. The cost of plugins and paying a web developer for what I could achieve on DIY sites such as Squarespace was also a factor in converting me.  I also had to pay separately for my site to be hosted when I used Wordpress; another addition to the debit side of my cash flow.
  • Centralization and ease of integration. I wanted to host my site on a service that freed me from having too many moving parts to attend to (and the vendors to match). I wanted back-ups and updates and security to be taken care of, rather than to have to monitor these crucial requirements constantly and separately. And I didn't want to buy another e-mail automation service and tag that on top of my Wordpress site.
  • Tried and tested. In both my personal and professional life, I go for brands that have a solid track record. I lean towards value over affordability. I also pick providers that have ironed out all the little hiccups that can make life challenging for their users. Squarespace has thousands of customers and it's survived the competition.  I now know why.

I'm not recommending that you switch to Squarespace or Wix, but it's important to always start with fundamentals - if you don't need all the bells and whistles, and the ones you need areaffordable, easier to use, and present your brand well, then these "DIY" platforms are worth considering. Wordpress remains a solid choice for those who need separate plugins and tools that allow for complex campaigns, tracking and deep-dive analytics.  Ultimately, you'll have to weigh the pros and cons of each service provider, and be very clear about what matters most to you. Or rather, which challenges you are willing to live with. 

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