Building on Law Firm Experience, ContactEase Welcomes Deborah Dobson

ContactEase is pleased to welcome Deborah (Deb) Dobson to its growing team of experienced law firm marketing and IT professionals. In the newly created role of Business Analyst, Dobson will work closely with the development team and key stakeholders to understand the needs of our clients and translate them into technical specifications to ensure continuous delivery and enhance the client experience.

With over twenty years of experience working in law firms, Dobson’s understanding of the legal industry, paired with her technical savvy, makes her a great addition to the ContactEase team. ContactEase President, Jennifer Whittier, said “Not only does Deb have a great reputation in the industry, but she understands the importance of using technology to help lawyers reach their business goals. We’re excited to welcome her to the team.”

Prior to joining ContactEase, Dobson was the Marketing Technology Manager at Fisher Phillips where she collaborated with firm leadership to implement large scale technology projects and leverage marketing technology across the firm. In addition to her legal marketing experience, Dobson was the Assistant Director of Information Systems at Spencer Fane for nearly a decade.

When she isn’t writing or speaking on blockchain, she enjoys photography and learning new technologies.

Fun fact: Deb is an identical twin!

Improve Your Metrics by Understanding Your Undeliverables

For many marketers, it might seem like getting sign-off for firm blogs and e-alerts (if not getting them written at all) is the biggest challenge to the success of an e-mail marketing campaign, but there’s one thing that matters even more – your email data quality.  

From layout to content approval, firm marketers spend a lot of time on email campaigns before they can even think about sending them. But, what good is any email if it isn’t seen by its intended recipients?

Sending to undeliverable or “bad” email addresses can have a significant impact on you email performance metrics as well as your overall sender reputation. Let’s take a look at two of the reasons why:

  • Sending to bad email addresses can negatively impact your open rate. When you send to bad email addresses, your open rate declines. While there are many reasons a recipient might not open your email, one of the most obvious is that they aren’t receiving them.
  • Sending to bad email addresses can negatively impact your sender reputation. Consistently including bad email addresses may result in flagging your sender account as spam and send emails from your account directly to the junk folder even when an email address is valid.  

So, how do you improve your contact lists?  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Make sure you’re sending to contacts who want to hear from you (opt-in). Whether you have a process as part of your intake of new clients or a subscription form on your website, make sure your contacts want to hear from you and they know what they can expect to receive from you. It’s not just good manners, it’s good business and can also ensure your compliance with privacy regulations like CAN-SPAM, CASL and GDPR among others.
  2. Regularly review your engagement reports. If you have a high number of bounces or unsubscribes and a low open rate, there’s probably a reason why. Make sure you’re removing bounced email addresses from your lists and create a process to research and update with good ones. Keep track of when contacts unsubscribe and target your content accordingly. Think about a tool like ContactEase Change Tracker which can improve your deliverability by looking for changes to key fields like job title, email address and company name.  
  3. Segment your contact lists. Craft targeted content and build targeted lists to ensure that the information you share is relevant and meaningful to your readers.

Taking a proactive approach and reviewing your email engagement reports on a regular basis will improve your email metrics and ensure that your communications are getting to the right people at the right time. As former law firm marketing and IT professionals, the ContactEase team not only advises clients on e-mail and data quality best practices, but we’ve experienced many of these challenges ourselves. If you have questions about how to address data quality at your firm or want to know how firms are handling similar issues, contact us. We’re here to help!

Revisiting ROI

Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular downloads on the ContactEase website is a case study on boosting revenue with CRM. One of the easiest ways to determine the success of a platform is to look at a firm’s return on investment (or ROI), but what may be considered a huge success for one firm may seem insignificant to another. This is why it’s important to go into any implementation with a clear strategy. What may seem like obvious metrics in the beginning may not be as important a few years in. Taking time to revisit what ROI looks like for your firm is a good way to keep your CRM strategy fresh and moving forward.

Many firms begin looking for a new solution because an existing one has failed to meet expectations. And while ContactEase features an industry-leading adoption rate, we’ll be the first to tell you that the platform is second to a firm’s people and processes. Without an emphasis on either of these areas, your CRM strategy will fall flat.

CRM is for Everyone

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to CRM is overcoming some lawyers’ insistence that the system is simply a marketing tool Of course it is, but it can be so much more. Often lawyers won’t make CRM a priority until it affects them directly. For example, one firm came to us after a client received an important notification in their personal email after the relationship partner was asked not to send anything to that address. One tersely worded email from the client was all it took to get the lawyer on board.

Your Firm’s Needs

Before one mid-size firm implemented CRM, they had several contact “databases” (mostly spreadsheets) and thousands of paper cards (in a Rolodex — the original CRM?). As you might imagine, this caused a lot of problems (and a lot of work) for the marketing team. Not only were contacts receiving multiple mailings some weren’t receiving them at all. Hence one of the goals for this implementation was a centralized location for all firm marketing contacts. To some firms this might seem like a simple goal, but for many firms this is everything.

Automate and Increase Efficiencies

An effective CRM also allows firms to streamline communications. Before CRM, many firms spend days if not weeks preparing to send communications. With CRM and integrations with marketing automation tools like Constant Contact, HubSpot, and Vuture firms know they have the most recent contact information available. No, CRM can’t help your lawyers write faster, but it can help ensure you get your client alerts to the right people at the right time.

A successful CRM implementation can pay for itself many times over, but it’s important to to look at more than the bottom line.

Colorado Privacy Act: What Law Firm Marketers Need to Know Now

In a recent report from U.S. News, Colorado was ranked second in a list of Best States for economy. In that same study, the Rocky Mountain state was ranked 4th for business environment, 5th for growth, and 1st for employment. Colorado is also known for its highly educated workforce and is home to three of the top twenty performing cities in the United States. In addition to established businesses and industries, Colorado also has a thriving startup market. Over the past five years, capital invested in Colorado companies has grown nearly 90% in industries as diverse as artificial intelligence, software, biotech, fintech, media and telecommunications — all of which makes Coloradans lucrative to marketers in any industry.

To address privacy concerns and increased data collection, the Colorado Privacy Act (CPA) was recently passed by state legislators and will soon go before Governor Jared Polis for his signature. So, what does this mean for firms marketing their services in Colorado? Firms that acted under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) should be in good shape.

Wondering if the CPA applies to your firm? Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Does your firm collect and store data on more than 100,000 Colorado residents?
  • Does your firm earn revenue from the data of more than 25,000 Colorado consumers?
  • What kind of opt out process do you have in place?
  • What kind of data are you collecting and storing (in your CRM, for example)?

If you answered yes to either of the first two questions, the CPA applies no matter where your firm is located. Unlike CCPA and GDPR, the CPA includes a provision for a universal opt-out which would provide Coloradans with the ability to say no to the collection of their personal data across all websites (akin to the National Do Not Call Registry). With the universal opt out in play, it’s important to have a process for managing your opt outs.

Worried you’re not quite ready? Don’t fret! If signed by Governor Polis, the effective date for the bill is July 1, 2023 and the universal opt out must be must be honored starting in 2024 — you have some time. In the meantime, our team of former law firm marketing and IT professionals are here to help! Contact us with questions about the data your store in your CRM or to conduct a database audit.

Look for a post on best practices for managing your opt outs and unsubscribes coming soon. Having a process in place isn’t just a best practice, it’s good business. The integrity of your contact data and the quality of your mailing lists impact your deliverability and your sender reputation which ensures that those wanting to read your communications get the chance to do so.

What Star Wars Can Teach Us About Implementing CRM

It’s May the 4th. Do you know that that means? It’s Star Wars Day! Smart legal marketers have always known that ContactEase is the easiest to use CRM in the galaxy. If you’re wondering why this is worth mentioning on a CRM blog, read on.

The Star Wars franchise can provide important lessons for marketers implementing new technology. In this post, we’ll share a few of our favorite bits of wisdom from Yoda and how to apply it to your firm’s CRM strategy.

Determine Your Path

In the Path of the Jedi episode of Star Wars Rebels, Yoda says, “Your path you must decide.” This is true for any successful implementation. Before you get started, think about the problems you’re trying to solve and the efficiencies you’re hoping to gain. Establishing your path early on will help ensure your project gets off to a strong start and stays the course.

Keep Moving Forward

In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker is concerned about an unsettling vision he’s had. As he wonders if it’s too late to help, Yoda tells him, “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.” Things are always changing. What marketer could’ve predicted how quickly things would change as the result of a global pandemic? And yet legal marketers pivoted and increased clients communications at a rapid pace. Things don’t always go as planned. Take time during the implementation process to check in with your team and identify any changes you’ve encountered along the way – reevaluate your priorities and check in with your stakeholders as necessary.

Meet Your Lawyers Where They Are

As a young Anakin Skywalker prepares to go before the Jedi Council in the Phantom Menace, Yoda advises him that “Fear is the path of the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” People often fear what they do not understand and lawyers can be particularly averse to change. This can create suffering for many a law firm Jedi (i.e. the marketers). ContactEase has an industry-high adoption rate because it works with the systems your firm already has in place and that your lawyers know how to use. Unlike young Anakin, there’s nothing to learn and no extensive training required.

Share Your Knowledge

One of the most common questions we receive is, “What are other firms doing?” With hundreds of successful implementations completed, we’re always happy to share what we’ve learned. As you make your way down the path, just as Yoda told Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi, “Always pass on what you have learned.” Sharing knowledge is a great way to instill confidence and position yourself as your firm’s CRM expert.

Understand Your Lawyers’ Needs

In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker is down on himself after being unable to lift his ship using the force. He says the ship is too heavy and Yoda reminds him that, “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?” As Yoda lifts the ship using the force, Luke learns that size does not matter. This is a good reminder for anyone implementing a new system. It’s easy to get distracted by bells and whistles, but if your lawyers can’t easily and reliably use it, what good is it?

Don’t Let the Past Derail Your Future

Yoda was full of wisdom, but there’s one piece of advice we’d encourage you to ignore when it comes to implementing new technology, “Once you start down the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny.” When a system didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean you should avoid implementing another. Sometimes a system simply isn’t a good fit – a firm’s strategic objectives can change over time and what once seemed a perfect solution no longer fits. Learn from your past, but don’t let it prevent you from moving forward. Whatever you decide, remember “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Looking for more inspiration? Check out these 40 Yoda Quotes that Will Leave You With All the Star Wars Feels. And if you’re looking for the best CRM implementation team in the galaxy, contact us!

Making the Most of Your Virtual Conference: LMA Tech West Edition

With most conferences moving to virtual experiences for time time being, it’s likely you’ve already attended one if not several. For many, moving in person events to an online platform made them more accessible and more affordable.

It’s no secret that many of us are experiencing virtual meeting fatigue. However, virtual conferences continue to provide a great opportunity for engagement and education from the comfort of offices (wherever those may be located these days). In 2020, many conference organizers held successful virtual events and even managed to capture some of the networking magic we thought could only happen in person. The LMA Annual Conference hosted a talent show where members performed and at ILTACON volunteers hosted walks around their towns, virtual tastings, and even some stand up comedy.

If you’re attending LMA Tech West this week, consider some of the following to make the most of your conference experience:

  • Log on early to familiarize yourself with the conference platform. The LMA Tech West Conference is utilizing Pheedloop which is an all-in-one platform to provide opportunities to participate in sessions and networking, too. Visit the exhibit hall, talk to vendors and other attendees and get the lay of the virtual land.
  • Block off the time on your calendar. If your firm allows it, think about adding an out of office message to let your colleagues know you’ll be attending and that your responses may be delayed.
  • Review the agenda to identify the can’t-miss sessions. Many virtual conferences provide attendees with access to post-conference recordings and LMA Tech West is no different. One of the unique features of an online conference is the opportunity to engage with session through chat – something you can’t take advantage of in a recording. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend every session, think about flagging those you’re really interested in and make a point to attend to ask questions during the live session.
  • Engage! If you’re active on Twitter or other social media, use the conference hashtags to share your thoughts and engage with other attendees and the speakers. Think about sharing your favorite takeaways.
  • Network! Most conferences have built-in chat capabilities. As a vendor, we love it when people stop by to say hello. It’s okay if you’re not in the market for CRM. Stop by and ask questions. Let us know how the conference is going for you.
  • Talk to the speakers. At LMA events, most of these speakers are your legal marketing peers. They’ve put a lot of effort into their presentations. Let them know what you’ve learned and your key takeaways. This is a great opportunity to ask follow-up questions if you didn’t get a chance during the session, too.
  • Don’t keep what you’ve learned to yourself! Think about sharing your thoughts on LinkedIn or in an LMA blog. Make sure that your firm knows the value you found in the conference and how you plan to use what you’ve learned.

Identify the Need for a CRM Integration at LMA Tech West

In 2020, we learned a lot about the legal industry and its ability to pivot. Firms increased their communications at a rapid pace (one ContactEase firm reported increasing communications by more than 400%) and transitioned in-person events to webinars. How did they do this? Having the right teams and the right technology in place certainly helped.

Even before the pandemic completely changed the way law firms do business, law firm marketers were evaluating their existing technology stacks for ways to improve efficiencies, deliver excellent client service, and, yes, make their lives easier.

And that’s because technology is intended to make our lives easier. Today, there’s an app or a software solution for almost everything. But, with so many tools available, it’s important to ensure that the ones you use work together. This is why software integrations are so popular. When we talk about software integrations, we’re talking about the process of combining two or more software platforms to solve problems and improve efficiencies.

If you’re attending LMA Tech West this year, be sure to join ContactEase President, Jennifer Whittier as she moderates a discussion with Jodi Coverly, Director of Marketing & Business Development at Hutchison and Shannon Donnellan, PMP, Project Manager – Business Development at Procopio. This session will examine how the two firms adopted a forward-thinking approach to:

  • Identify the need for an integration between their systems
  • Solve the problems they identified
  • Improve efficiencies at their firms

Can’t make it to LMA Tech West this year? Contact us anytime to learn how integrations can make your life easier, improve efficiencies at your firm, and allow you to better serve your clients.

Details:

When One Solution Won’t Do: Identifying the Need for a CRM Integration
Date: April 29, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. PDT

Register for the LMA Tech West 2021 Virtual Conference at https://www.legalmarketing.org/e/in/eid=1572.

ContactEase Welcomes Denise Ash as Customer Success Team Leader

ContactEase is pleased to welcome Denise Ash as Customer Success Team Leader. In this newly created role, Ash will serve as a liaison between the ContactEase Support Team and clients to ensure a seamless customer support experience.

Ash joins ContactEase from the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA). At ILTA, she served as Education Coordinator, planning educational sessions at the leading legal technology organization’s conferences and serving the member liaison community. She first became involved with ILTA through her role as a User Application Specialist at West Virginia law firm, Robinson & McElwee. Ash served as the Regional Member Liaison for Charleston, West Virginia, and as a member of the Apps and Coordinating team. She is also a recipient of ILTA’s Distinguished Peer Award – User Support Champion.

Denise brings nearly two decades of law firm IT experience to ContactEase. Most recently, she was the Training Manager at Jackson Kelly PLLC where she was responsible for training the firm’s users on ContactEase and managed several significant software deployments.

Denise lives in St. Albans, West Virginia, and has two adult children. In her spare time, she enjoys local history, team trivia, escape rooms, and cheering on the Marshall University Thundering Herd.

When Your CRM Strategy Goes Stale

Breakups aren’t easy. When a relationship is good, but not great, it can be easy to just keep going through the motions; but, what about your firm’s relationship with CRM? Sure, implementing new technology is a challenge, but maintaining the momentum and keeping things fresh can be just as difficult. When you lose momentum, you also lose any efficiencies you hoped to gain and your firm’s users will often be left frustrated and frazzled. They may even feel like their time and efforts have been wasted and check out completely.

So, what’s a firm to do when they find their relationship with CRM has gone stale? Some firms reimplement their existing system with a focus on new goals, strategies and incentives. Meanwhile, others may choose to look for a new system altogether. From buy-in to implementation (and even ongoing adoption and usage), moving to a new CRM can take a toll on a firm’s already limited resources. When a firm invests in technology and no longer sees the value, it creates challenges for everyone.

Amber Elliott, Director of Client Services at ContactEase, understands this struggle all too well. “When we talk to firms looking to make a CRM switch, lack of user adoption is something that comes up often. Sometimes it’s because the system is just not a good fit or difficult to use. ContactEase has one of the highest adoption rates in the industry and that’s not through luck,” she said. “We’ve worked hard to to define a custom implementation process to prevent our clients from falling into that trap. When a firm’s users understand the purpose behind the project, there is a sense of unity that leads to CRM success.” And that’s the case whether a firm is making a switch to a new system or looking to reimplement an existing one.

Just as systems go stale, so do strategies. That’s why it’s important for firms to evaluate CRM strategy on an ongoing basis. It’s important to know if a system is meeting a firm’s objectives, but it’s just as important to make sure that the firm’s objectives are in alignment with the firm’s current goals. This is why it’s also important to focus on CRM as a strategy and not a one-off project. Whether it’s a new platform or a new approach to your existing system, there are a few things you can do to reinvigorate your firm’s CRM strategy:

  • Leverage Relationships with Vendors. With team of former law firm marketing and IT professionals, the team at ContactEase has not only have seen and heard it all, we’ve most likely experienced it. Ask your technology vendors what they’re hearing from other firms and don’t be afraid to look outside of your industry for new and innovative ways to approach your CRM strategy.
  • Think About Your Users. Defining value to your users is a key component of a successful CRM strategy, but it’s important to remember that what matters to one set of users, may not matter to another. Outline your use cases and establish key messages focused on your different user groups.
  • Communicate. Communication is the foundation of any successful relationship. After you’ve defined value to your users, develop a focused communication plan for each group and stick to it. You can’t communicate too much when it comes to obtaining buy-in and charting a course for CRM success.
  • Define, Measure and Celebrate Success. Think about what a successful CRM strategy looks like for your firm. Track your successes and don’t forget to celebrate them, too.

Relationships are hard enough, your CRM doesn’t have to be. ContactEase and its team of of former law firm marketing and IT professionals have worked with firms of all sizes to successfully reinvigorate stale CRM relationships. Thinking about breaking up with your current CRM or want to know how to regain momentum with your existing platform? Let’s talk about it!
Additional Reading: ContactEase Case Study: CRM Conversions Made Easy.

New Year, New Job? Pay Attention to Your Firm’s Culture

A new year brings new opportunities. For those new to the legal industry it can also bring new and significant challenges. Whether you’ve joined a firm with an established marketing and business development function or are starting from scratch, adapting to law firm culture can be overwhelming. In the excitement of landing a new job, it can be easy to overlook the importance of understanding culture and with so many of us still working from home, it may also seem downright impossible. According to the authors of When You Start a New Job, Pay Attention to These Five Aspects of Company Culture, paying close attention to key dimensions of a firm’s culture can provide new hires with the tools they need to be effective in their role. In this post, we’ll look at two: relationships and communication.

Relationships

It’s important to understand how your firm cultivates internal relationships. The organizational structure of a law firm is itself unique. “I basically have 90 bosses and on any given day I’m probably working with more than half of them,” said one marketing director. It’s important to understand what’s required to get work done and make decisions. Some lawyers may prefer in person meetings while others stick to email. Depending on your office set up, lawyers may prefer to drop in with little or no notice. And when you’re new, you have to navigate introductions as well. Ask a colleague or a lawyer to facilitate those connections for you.

Communication

Understanding how people communicate at your firm can help you start strong. Your lawyers’ assistants can provide some great insight here. Sara Coffey worked in law firms for over a decade before joining ContactEase. When she began working with a lawyer at a new firm, she went straight to the lawyer’s assistant for help. “I knew [the assistant] had a good relationship with the lawyers. Some of my colleagues had experienced difficulty working with her, so I knew it was important to ask for help if I wanted to start off on the right foot,” Coffey said. The assistant advised Coffey to pay attention to how the lawyer signed off in emails, “An exclamation point? You’re good. No exclamation point or no punctuation at all — proceed with caution,” she was told. “Having that insight was really helpful and allowed me to fare better than some of the marketers who preceded me – for a little while at least,” Coffey recalled with a laugh.

Laying the Groundwork for Future Success

It’s important to remember that while you were hired based on for your past performance, your future with your new firm will be impacted by your ability to understand and work within your new firm’s culture. Taking the time to understand these key areas will help ensure your success and allow you to make a lasting and positive impact.

Ask Us

New to legal? The Legal Marketing Association is a great resource for those new to the industry (see regional initiatives from LMANext Southwest and LMANext Canada for more information). With our team of former law firm marketers and IT professionals. ContactEase also understands the unique challenges of working in the legal industry. Questions about your new industry? There’s a good chance we’ve experienced it ourselves or know someone who has. Feel free to contact us anytime!