Checklist: Nine Ways to Find BD Opportunities In Your Reader Analytics

In my capacity as VP of client services at JD Supra, I am often asked by firm leaders for advice on how to help their writers make sense of their reader data.

As authors log into their own analytics dashboards to see the direct impact of their work, they're asking: what can I do with this information? Or, put another way:

How do my reader analytics further my business development goals?

I have nine answers to this question, all listed below in the form of a question.

My advice to any author: make sure you have access to your analytics and log in regularly (at least twice a month, and perhaps even more often if you write frequently). Set aside half an hour to peruse your reader data, looking for answers to the following questions:

1. Are existing clients reading me? 

And if yes, do you have upcoming client meetings or is it time for some outreach? Consider how you might prepare for your next client conversation based on this knowledge... 

(Additionally, ask: are the firm's clients reading me, but on matters other than those for which we provide service? Is this an opportunity for a deeper relationship?)

2. Am I being read by an old contact (with whom I am largely out of touch)?

You are likely in a relationship-based business if you are reading this post. If you're being read by former clients or contacts with whom you have little or no meaningful visibility of late, use this opportunity to re-connect. More than just serendipity, the power of networking is ... well: actual networking.

3. Are prospective clients reading me?

One of the most powerful questions you can ask when looking at your analytics, and the answer can help inform subsequent meetings, pitches, and RFPs (as articulated so well here, in this short video by Kathleen Flynn, CMO at Bryan Cave).

Follow-up question, as above: are the firm's prospective clients reading me even though someone else in an entirely different group is pitching for other work? Time to break down silos and act on this information...

4. Are potential referral sources reading me?

You know your business, you know who qualifies as a good referral source (best answer: those people who have referred you business previously). This can include attorneys at other firms, as well as service providers who have the same clients as you (accountants, compliance professionals, financial advisors, etc).

Look for such referral sources among your readers. Easy next step: connect on LinkedIn, consider setting up a lunch to develop the relationship.

5. Are reporters, industry bloggers, and media folks reading me? 

Your writing can lead to meaningful communications opportunities, if not outright media wins.

Take the time to scan for writers, especially those covering the industry or sector in which you practice. Foster those relationships as they come up.

(Tip: if you're referenced by an industry blog with, for example, a link back to something you wrote on a particular issue, spend a moment perusing that blog. If they offer webinars to their readers, get in touch. Thank the editors for the link, make it known you are available as a webinar guest covering anything in your particular expertise.)

6. Will I be attending any upcoming conferences?

...and am I targeting my writing accordingly. 

There are a number of aspects to this point. If you know, in a given quarter for example, that you'll be attending a high-profile and important conference in your area of practice, I suggest writing about that program (and certainly the subjects it will cover) well in advance. If you are speaking in a session, mention this directly in your writing.

If you then see particular engagement with that work - especially among other vendors/providers, firms, or simply attendees who are an important part of your network - use that engagement to set up face to face meetings at the conference. Mention at the bottom of your posts that you'll be attending the program and look forward to connecting in person, with a link for, yes, LinkedIn.

7. Am I reaching target industries?

I advise JD Supra partners (firm-wide or individual authors) to export their reader data (it arrives in an Excel file) and to sort those analytics by industry. 

Scan the list of industries and see which are reading you and why. If you're reaching your target markets, double down and write more on the same subjects. If you'd like even more exposure in certain sectors, work with a marketer or BD manager to see how you might focus your content (and, likely, headlines) to reach that readership.

8. Reader feedback: What work is doing well? What work could be doing better?

An important exercise as a writer: see what you can learn from your best performing work. Is it reaching the right industries? What did you write about? How did you title it? 

Typically, writing good titles is an ongoing practice unto itself. Your reader analytics can help identify not just what you think should be doing well, but what is actually resonating with real readers. Double down on those activties.

(Tip: read this case study in which an immigration attorney launching a new blog learned from her analytics the importance of address in her titles.)

9. Am I asking for the sale?

When you have a moment, listen to this wide-ranging conversation between JD Supra's Adrian Lurssen and Ary Rosenbaum, an ERISA attorney who built a national practice publishing his writing on JD Supra. 

One key aspect to Ary's success: he wrote content that was specifically of value to the people who could refer him work. As you will hear in the recording, he did not leave this chance, but addressed it head on, as a matter of editorial focus in his writing. 

That's my advice to anyone who counts on seeing more referrals from third parties via their work. I've seen many examples of such an editorial approaches, from Ary's as articulated above, to deposition companies writing about trial techniques, and so on.

In short: write the work that engages your referral sources and (ultimately) gives them a reason to share your work with their clients. Experiment!

Finally, a note to any JD Supra client: you should log into your account and visit your subscriptions page to receive analytics by email (firm-wide or for individual authors) Sign up for the monthly recap or the ongoing alerts of notable readership. Look through those emails with the same questions, above - it's a great way to stay current on the impact of your writing and be on the lookout for opportunities.

Any other questions authors should be asking of their analytics? I'd love to hear them; I'll share your feedback in a follow-up post.


[Paul Ryplewski is VP of Client Services at JD Supra.]