2020 was a transformational year for thought leadership in professional services. With all the confusion and changes in the industry landscape, many clients turned to the insights of their external advisors to help understand the threats and opportunities facing their businesses.
There was a 136% increase in readership for content in 2020 across the network of firms using Passle to share their insights with the market. With the need for more content came more authors and lawyers, accountants and consultants who had never before published content began to use thought leadership as a way of opening doors and deepening engagements with their most valued clients.
A question we're asked often by authors and marketing teams alike is "What content works?" We looked back at over 30,000 posts from hundreds of expert authors in 2020 to find out.
How long is the ideal length for professional services thought leadership?
The average time on page for a visitor reading thought leadership was just over 3 minutes. That rose slightly from just under 3 minutes in 2019.
Shorter, pithy content continues to be king - but within that category of digestible content reader's attention span does not seem to have been significantly affected by the events of 2020.
Indeed as we look at the small minority of the most successful posts, time on the page grows to 4-6 minutes. There is a strong relationship between content that engages audiences for that 4-6 min time frame and content that performed very well in terms of numbers of reads.
As for length, a 3-6 minute read or about 300 - 500 words seems to be ideal. Whilst the absolute highest "viral posts" receiving 20,000+ views tended to be around 1200 words or thereabouts, these are definitely the outlier.
The vast majority of successful posts that received over 1000 reads are between 300 - 500 words.
What topics and formats are best for professional services thought leadership?
The best post is the post that gets published and shared with the people that matter. Above all considerations of length, format & topic, any post genuinely written by a thought leader and shared will, by far, outperform less useful content or content that is not shared.
When we looked at the most successful posts across the network, there were some clear ideas for what type of content was favoured the most in 2020.
- Q&A posts & FAQ's, that were able to digest a series of topics at the same time around a core theme. Here is a brilliant example from Lucy Hitchen of Charles Russel Speechly's.
- Timely & relevant content that captured the biggest question of the hour. Here's a brilliant example from Matthew Pelkey at Colligan Law.
- Posts that show the way forward. In a year where everyone had an opinion, it was only the genuine experts that were able to provide a clear picture of what to do. Posts with that information were by far the most successful across the Passle network. Here is an example from Chris Clements & Katie Jackson of Deloitte.