Rising above the digital chatter 17 April 2018

Why clarity and cut-through rest on twin pillars of success

The long-promised information tsunami is here and it is real. Tweets, texts, emails, PMs, WhatsApp messages, posts, comments – and, dare we say it, blogs – all jostle for space and attention like competitive 5 year-olds. Thanks to the creation of endless digital noise, the medium is now drowning the message. Think it’s different in the rarefied world of Professional Services? If only.

Our latest Living Ratings report of the brand and digital intelligence of the world’s leading law firms makes for a revealing read. When it comes to relevant, focused, accessible content (the stuff that achieves ‘cut-through’ status), there’s real scope for improvement.

Two cheers for the lawyers

This year, just 13% of the firms we surveyed make it into the top quartile, representing ‘Determined’ digital communications – a fall from last year’s figure. Worse still, a number of previously high-flying firms are slipping down the rankings as their functionality becomes dated, content feels old and social outreach fails to connect.

As the quantity of content increases (almost exponentially), there’s surely a role for better search and enhanced curation, to ensure that the most relevant, recent and motivating content is surfaced more visibly. The best firms instinctively understand this, along with the value of issue-based marketing, with messaging geared around real-world business challenges, rather than a bland re-statement of ‘the big I am’.

Don’t panic!

For the 87% who fall short, there is a path to digitally ‘Determined’ enlightenment. And it rests on the twin pillars of what we call ‘Engagement’ and ‘Evidence’. In other words: what you say, and the tools, channels and platforms you use to say it. Excel in one pillar and it’s a start. Excel in both together – like our top-rated firm Baker McKenzie – and you’ll truly build experiences for your visitors. Baker McKenzie’s approach crafts digital communications with clients at their heart, with a clear and thoughtful understanding of what drives and inspires them, putting the firm head and shoulders above the rest.

According to Erin Nixon, the firm’s Head of Digital Marketing, taking top spot in the latest Living Ratings is the result of a holistic, client-centric approach to digital communications: “To us, digital means more than just tech”, she says. “It’s a powerful enabler, but ultimately it’s there to help us reach out to clients with content that will resonate with them. Our approach is to put clients first and stay focused on what matters most.”

It’s about clients, clients, clients

How to achieve ‘Determined’ status in your own right? Start with your own client-centric mindset – then focus on being a digital super-server. This will not only influence the spending decisions you make (on everything from your CMS to digital design) but help shape your approach to ongoing communications. A structured digital CRM strategy should be at the core of your plan, as you reach out and engage. Set a timetable for regular, relevant emails. Understand the hooks that give you a reason to communicate. And make it easier for your clients to engage with you, with thoughtful digital touches including premium client content and a dedicated client area for information sharing and collaboration online.

Understand people, understand content

Take steps to understand what (and how) your clients and prospects actually read. Find out about the kinds of content they appreciate, interact with, share and follow-up on – and the chatter they’ll ignore or delete. A robust, future-focused content strategy goes a long way to ensuring that your investment in ‘evidence’ goes further.

Now here’s the good news. Despite consolidation, despite merger mania, despite the palpable lack of content innovation evident in this year’s Ratings, there are reasons for cautious optimism. A huge 48% of our surveyed firms now sit in the ‘Focused’ quadrant of our ratings chart – one rung below our highest accolade of ‘Determined’. They’re already winning the war for engagement. Tick, VG, Gold Star. Now they need to start battling to enhance their evidence, and create the content that really drives an audience. For the world’s leading law firms, the digital opportunity is still out there.

Duncan Shaw
Executive Creative Director

How we can help

Here at Living, our deep understanding of our clients’ sectors means we challenge thinking, inspire ambition and deliver meaningful change across their businesses. In a world that’s always changing, content rich and visually crowded, we help our clients communicate their difference and stay ahead.

To find out how we can help you and your brand to rise above the incessant digital chatter, please contact Kate Shaw in London, Aliena Lai in Hong Kong, or Kevin Windorf in New York. 

 

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