Online Publishing: How do I market legal content online?

It's there now: Legal content in digital space. Even if they are still somewhat timid or not yet in the ideal form. In this article we give you four tips for the successful digital marketing of legal content (online publishing).

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Online Publishing: How do I market legal content online?

In the following, the point is not that digital access to content (e.g. articles, overviews of court rulings, news articles, etc.) is valuable and has become an indispensable part of today's legal research. The Corona pandemic is likely to have convinced even the last sceptics. In this article we give you some tips on how to market a legal magazine digitally. By the way: The following remarks are also largely valid for online publishing by companies in a more informal style.

The story of "zsis"

We start with an example. As many of you know: For the Institute for Swiss and International Tax Law we were allowed to design and technically develop the publication platform "zsis"( in 2018 and 2019. The "zsis" emerged from a tax law journal which, like many other legal publications, consisted mainly of classical articles. Other typical features: Although the journal was of high quality in terms of content, it increasingly missed the target audience. The articles published by the diligent authors were available on Swisslex, but were completely lost there. There was a lack of (digital) visibility and accompanying measures.

In such a situation the downward spiral is pre-programmed. So the editorship has reacted: The result is the "Center for Swiss and International Tax Law" - a multimedia and dynamic publication platform in tax law. It is the first online publishing platform for academic content in tax law. The "zsis" is only one and a half years old, but is already well established in the market. The platform is a success:

  • Rising subscription figures: zsis" now has over 1,300 subscribers (November 2021).
  • Contents: In 2020, more than 20 scientific articles were published. Many of these articles reached the editorial team at the direct request of the authors without any prior acquisition effort. This shows the attractiveness of the platform for people with an interest in publishing.
  • Finance: The number of sales on the platform has increased significantly year on year since its launch in 2019.

These are just the hard facts. In addition, a successful online magazine brings further advantages (reputation) and opportunities (cross-selling) for the issuing institutions.

A detailed report on our involvement with zsis) can be found in the associated project description.

4 tips for marketing an online magazine

But what about successful online publishing in the legal market? Here are a few tips:

1. Announce upcoming publications!

Anticipation is the best joy. It is worthwhile to bait your target groups a little bit in advance. Tell them what they can expect soon. This will at least interest the people who will benefit most from the theme of your next publication. They will pick up on it and take up your communication more consciously in the future.

In this area, the digital communication channels will help you, among other things: Newsletter or social media. If your magazine is available in printed form, the print version can also be used to promote the online product (and vice versa, of course).

Undoubtedly, some of the contents are dry. However, anyone who thinks that legal content is not suitable for generating real anticipation in lawyers, tax consultants, court authorities or administrations is sorely mistaken.

In the case of "zsis", for example, we always point out upcoming priority expenditures in advance. On this occasion:

On 24 October 2020 the zsis focus issue "STAF" will be published. In 8 articles, proven experts analyse the regional implementation of the STAF proposal throughout Switzerland. Those who have not yet subscribed can do so here:

2. Give something to get something back!

It is worthwhile to rethink your own business model from time to time. What is the value of the product? What do my customers pay for? What other consideration can I get? What is the purpose of my institution? What goals do I generally pursue with my magazine?

Giving something does not mean giving content. It is about differentiating between paid and free content. With a clear strategy and skilful content marketing, you can put the content of your magazine directly on the reading list of your target groups. It's about generating visibility and attention. As a customer, I want to understand what I can expect from a product before I commit to buy anything.

Conceivable are for example: trial subscriptions, excerpts, free submission of articles with less relevance (e.g. because they are already a few years old), updates of articles, testing/info on additional technical functions (e.g. research tools, filter functions, interfaces etc.). In the digital sector there are numerous different ways to sell content and to use the delivery of free content in a clever and controlled way.

In the case of legal content, I am particularly interested in the quality, regularity, form of publication and the people who produce the content. Especially for young products the creation of trust is an important basis. Important: Even established print magazines must first prove that they can also convince in the digital space. Content is king - but not everything!

And another thing:

Don't let your customers bring you to your knees! Many believe that digital content is worthless and should be available for free. Although this misconception is steadily diminishing, it still needs to be fought through clever marketing and communication.

3. Master your digital sales and communication channels!

This tip follows on from the first hint. Only where a channel exists can advance notice be given.

Sales and distribution is not equal to communication. Many people think of social media or newsletter tools when they think of digital sales. But these are first and foremost communication channels. You exchange information with your target groups, you inform interested people and you acquire potential customers. Of course LinkedIn is an important source of information for modern lawyers. So you need a working strategy. This applies to all digital legal publications.

Other social media networks you should choose cleverly. It's only worth being active where resources are available to manage the profiles. Twitter and YouTube can (depending on the content of the magazine) be quite exciting platforms.

Other important things: Newsletter and website! These are the essential basics of digital communication, which you should definitely get on your toes!

With sales: There are good players in the (digital) market who can support you in marketing. It can be worthwhile to enter into partnerships with other institutions. Particularly where this will give you meaningful access to customer segments. This applies to specialised, new companies, but also to providers such as Swisslex or Legalis, which you should definitely evaluate carefully as possible distribution channels.

4. Become more useful and successful!

Legal content should not be geared solely to demand. Strategies based on pure user interests are often criticised in our industry. The legal industry should be able to think freely and laterally. That is certainly right in this matter. But it can't hurt to take advantage of the benefits of digital publication. That's why it's essential to evaluate the reach of your own content, analyse user behaviour and examine possible improvements.

How is the content found? What is read/viewed/heard? Who visits our magazine? What do we sell and what does it leave behind?

Obviously, a university or other institution should also publish articles that are more likely to contribute to marginal topics in the scientific discourse. It is important that there is an awareness of this activity. So that a functioning strategy can emerge.

Online Publishing: It pays off!

The marketing of digital content has become a core competence of HeadStarterz. In addition to "zsis", since the end of 2016 we have also been the founder and co-editor of - the largest tax blog in Switzerland with over 1,700 subscribers. In the past two years, we have also been able to accompany other renowned magazines. More about this will be available soon.

Online publishing is worthwhile. First and foremost, of course, because it allows you to reach your target groups (still/again)!

Our experience also shows that it will usually go much further than you can imagine. So it is no coincidence that with the launch of "" we have created the first digital event platform for online legal events. After all, the mediation of content in the legal industry does not only work via text. And many editors of legal journals are also important organisers of further education. Also in this area, exciting digitisation issues naturally arise.

More information on the digital event offer can be found in our article on the topic "".

If you have any questions regarding the digital marketing of content, please contact me at