The Results Are in: Law Firm Holiday Card Survey

Law firm CRM has come a long way. From integrations to automation, it seems like today’s CRM can do it all. From integrations to automation, it might seem a little silly to focus on something so basic, so traditional as holiday cards. Then again, given the response to the survey it seems like most marketers understand pretty well.

Yes, CRM can integrate with your firm’s systems like time and billing and it can automate processes and improve efficiencies. When used as part of a firm’s overall marketing and business development strategy, it can even help win new business. Yet with all the advances CRM has made, we receive numerous questions about holiday cards every year.

Holiday cards can be a lot of work. Are they worth it? Respondents to this year’s survey seem to think so.

Breakdown

  • Firm size: Ranged from 13 lawyers to over 1200 with an average of about 160 lawyers per firm.
  • Firms sending cards: 90% of firms responding sent cards in 2021 (down slightly from last year).
  • Total number of cards sent: Ranged from 150 to over 29,000 with an average of 6,000 cards sent per firm.
  • Time spent: Ranged from about 5 hours to over 200 or about 800 hours cumulatively and 40 hours on average, or in the words of one unnamed respondent, “Ugh. Too many!”

While it can be hard to quantify ROI, we know that most firms are spending tens of hours on holiday cards. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the time spent by marketing or others in the firm who are sending requests for contact information or updates to mailing lists – the cat herding you have to do leading up to holiday card season. No matter how you approach it, you’re probably reaching out at least a few times.

Other interesting takeaways from this year’s survey include:

  • Fewer firms are sending paper cards
  • More firms are sending electronic cards
  • More firms are designing their own electronic cards and videos

And is it just us or are law firm cards getting more creative? We’ve seen many cards taking advantage of the firm’s musical and artistic talents. From pulling together a firm band to sharing old family recipes, today’s law firm cards are increasingly clever, creative and personal. For some inspiration, check out Above the Law’s annual holiday card contest winners.

Based on the survey results, it’s a safe bet that many marketers will be focused on holiday cards again soon. There are a some things you can do now to get started and prevent future holiday card horror stories:

It’s never too early to get started. Take a little break to enjoy the new year and reflect on your successes.

Q1: When you’re ready, take some time during Q1 to go through your undeliverable cards – whether that’s bounced emails or a stack of returned envelopes, don’t wait until the next holiday card season to know who isn’t receiving your communications. If they didn’t receive your holiday card, they probably didn’t receive anything else you sent them.

Q2: Start thinking about the type of card you’ll send. Did you get great feedback to the new video card? How can you improve? Will you need outside assistance? Now is the time to make a plan.

Q3: If you’ve done the cleanup and planning in the first half of the year, Q3 can be dedicated to getting lists in front of your lawyers to give them plenty of time to update their contacts.

Q4: And if you do that, you’ll be ready to send those cards in Q4 and maybe even get out of a few of your own! 

View the recording along with the results of our holiday card horror story contest on the Resources page of our website.

Want to avoid holiday card horror stories of your own? Contact us!

Annual Holiday Card Survey: Share and Win!

TLDR: Want to know how law firms approach holiday cards? Please click here to take our annual holiday card survey. Share what your firm got right this year and submit your holiday card horror stories for a chance to win!

Integrations like time and billing and marketing automation, allow firms to take their CRM strategy beyond who knows whom to who knows them best while saving time, improving communication, and enhancing the client experience. We love to hear from clients using ContactEase to advance their marketing strategy and win new business – and we do, almost every day!

Yes, CRM can do so much now. Yet every holiday season we see an increase in questions on the basics of contact management and holiday card best practices. That’s why we want to hear from you. Tell us how your firm approached this holiday card season. Share your accomplishments and submit your holiday card horror story for a chance to win a prize.

We’ll share the results in an upcoming webinar (click to register).

#lawfirmmarketing #holidaygreetings #holidaycards

Tech Partner Talks: Putting the Right Teams in Place

In our earlier Tech Partner Talks, we shared questions to ask your tech vendor and why their answers matter, talked about the importance of law firm experience and why it’s important to know how many people are actually using the product, and the importance of understanding what happens when the implementation is finished. And while each of these talks is focused on helping you find the right partner, in this session we’ll look at both sides of the partnership — the one between vendor and firm. As always, you can find the full session as well as the earlier sessions in the Resources section of the ContactEase website.

Building the right internal team is just as important as selecting the right outside partner. You’ve heard it dozens of times if not more — it’s about the people and the processes not jus the platform. And it’s true! Including the right people from the start will help ensure buy-in for your project and keep it moving forward.

As Director of Client Services at ContactEase, Amber Elliot leads the implementation team – this means she works with clients from the start. It means working with firms rolling out CRM for the first time as well as transitioning from other products and overcoming failed implementations. After the implementation, she often finds herself offering guidance on best practices, providing a shoulder to lean on and works with our own internal teams like training and support to ensure clients receive relevant and useful content.

So, what does a successful implementation look like to Amber? Let’s hear from our in-house expert, “For me, a successful implementation really comes down to having the right team and a clear strategy. Identifying the right project team is a critical step in a firm’s planning process and it needs to be done early on. By the time a firms has signed a contract, they should feel pretty good about the vendor they’re partnering with and have probably met the people they’ll be working with, but often find that there hasn’t been a lot of thought given to the internal project team,” she said. Elliott finds that while most firms come into the project with a good idea of who the key team members will be often they’re surprised to hear her suggest adding or even not including others.

Depending on the size of the firm and the scope of the project, a typical project team for a CRM implementation might include:

  • Marketing & Business Development
  • IT
  • Internal Project Manager
  • Data Steward
  • Trainer
  • ContactEase Project Leads

Marketing/Business Development

When considering who to include from, you’ll want to think about how your team is comprised. How big is your team? If you’re a department of one (or even two), it’s pretty obvious that the entire department will be intimately involved with a software implementation. For larger teams, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to have everyone involved. When looking at who to include from the marketing and business development, your first instinct is probably to include your director or CMO. For some firms that will be the right decision, but that’s not always the case. Often times the director or CMO will be involved in the purchase of CRM, but they’re not always the best person for the implementation team because they have higher level priorities and don’t always have the time to focus on the project at a granular level. They will often entrust other members of their team to take an active role in the project and report back to them about what they need to know and what they need to do to keep things moving forward.

When you are selecting project team members, you want to make sure they are capable of understanding the higher concept ideas and the firm’s goals for the new technology so that they can translate those messages to others in the firm and ensure the identified goals for the project are being met.

Information Technology (IT)

Of course, no tech project is going to move forward without IT involvement. And it’s especially important for your IT team to understand the project’s technical requirements. For example, an on-premise solution may require more resources than something in the cloud.

Again, you might think that a CIO or director would be the good choice, but if their responsibilities are spread thin — working across multiple projects and priorities — you may want to rethink it. Questions to ask might include:

  • Who will be working directly with lawyers and others to implement the new technology?
  • Who will be answering technical questions?
  • Can the IT members of your team effectively translate the requirements to others in their department or in the firm?

Internal Project Manager

The internal project manager is probably the most important element of your team. It’s critical that you identify one member of your team as the internal project manager. This person will work closely with both the internal team and the vendor team and is ultimately responsible for the success of the project from beginning to end. Your internal project manager should be someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions, can make sure other members of the team are meeting deadlines, and has a clear understanding of the goals and objectives for the project.

Data Stewards

The data steward is the most common role we find hasn’t been allocated at the start of the project and it’s one of the most important. There are many ways to successfully fill the data steward responsibilities. Not all firms have full or even part time data stewards. Some prefer to dedicate a staff member for a couple of hours each week, others just do it where they can. There are also companies who provide data steward services, so outsourcing is an option. There are options for automated data cleanup as well. During the implementation, you’ll want the data steward involved because there will be key milestones for things like data clean up and finalizing your internal style guide. These are things that will affect the project even after the implementation is complete.

Vendor Project Team

On the vendor side, you should also have a dedicated team. Make sure the technology partner you’re selecting tells you how they staff their project teams.

Don’t Forget About Your Stakeholders

While they aren’t official members of your project team, it’s important to involve stakeholder representatives. These are people who can convey key messages about your project and the problems it will solve to their peers. They can also work as an extension of your project team – they don’t need to be caught up in the details. Keep them well-informed and make sure they’re capable of selling the product’s benefits across the firm. And just like your project team, your stakeholders should represent user types from across the firm.

For more information on building the right teams and to hear how firms benefit, be sure to check out the full broadcast on our Resources page!

Cure These Common Holiday Card Headaches with CRM

The pumpkin spice lattes have been flowing and the Hallmark holiday movies are now playing (or maybe they never stopped). For law firm marketers, this means holiday card season is here.

From selecting the right card to making sure your contacts actually receive it, it takes a team (and a whole lotta lattes) to pull it off. Without the right systems and processes in place, it can also mean a big holiday card headache! Let’s take a look at three common holiday card headaches and how CRM can help.

  • Are you struggling to find missing contact information? When you have a CRM that integrates with the systems your lawyers already know and use, you’ll always have the most current and up-to-date contact information.
  • Are you overlooking important clients and contacts? Look for a CRM platform with integrated list management functionality like ContactEase List Manager which makes it easy for lawyers to add their contacts to the right firm mailing lists for holiday cards and gifts. And when you have an integrated enterprise relationship management (ERM) solution, like ContactEase Relationship Discovery, you’ll discover important contacts that don’t make it into Outlook or CRM and better understand your firm’s relationships.
  • Do contacts receive multiple cards from your firm? If your firm lacks coordinated client outreach, a centralized database and ERM allows you to marketing touchpoints, understand the firm’s relationships, and identify who knows whom BEST to easily coordinate efforts among your professionals.

If you’re looking for a cure to your holiday card headaches, contact us to learn more!

Upcoming Webinar: Why CRM, Why Now

Join us for our upcoming webinar, Why CRM, Why Now. You’ll hear from the real experts — two law firm marketers using ContactEase to advance marketing, strengthen relationships, and help their firms win more business all year round. 

Make Tracking Part of your CRM Strategy

Many experts say that September is the other January, a great time to start fresh, set goals and make changes. Is it because we’re sending the kids back to school or is it the pumpkin spice? No matter the reason, there is definitely something about September that makes some us want to focus and tackle new challenges. If you’re looking to improve business development at your firm, tracking activities in your CRM is an effective place to start.

Tracking activities in your CRM allows you to maintain a centralized location of all the firm’s business development and marketing activities and touchpoints. Why is this important? Your lawyers are busy. Tracking their activities moves important business development information out of spreadsheets or their inboxes and provides you with the ability to measure and report on your firm’s active opportunities. Here are just a sampling of the benefits firms can realize when they track activities:

  • Coordinating pitch efforts (know who is talking to potential clients)
  • Identifying cross-selling opportunities
  • Creating reminders for lawyers so they can keep opportunities moving forward
  • Easily reporting on firmwide BD efforts, including activity opportunities and win rates
  • Eliminating the need to follow up with multiple contacts across the firm to get information
  • Providing lawyers with clear priorities and a focused list of targets to pursue
  • Sharing regular reports with practice groups and firm stakeholders
  • Identifying firmwide and industry trends
  • Reporting on progress toward yearly goals

If you’re ready to start moving your firm’s business development forward, tracking is a great place to start. A successful initiative starts with buy-in from your firm’s key stakeholders and it continues with consistent, correct data entry. Think about what you need to know to help your firm’s lawyers achieve their goals.

Do you remember learning the 5 Ws (and H) of storytelling in school? Think about tracking as the story of your firm’s relationships:

  • Who are your lawyers talking to?
  • Where did they meet them? How?
  • What did they do or talk about?
  • Why are they talking to them?
  • When should they follow up?

If you want to know more about how to start a tracking initiative at your firm, contact the CRM experts at ContactEase. We work with firms of all sizes that are using CRM tracking to move projects forward, improve internal processes and win more business.

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.

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!

Ready for a Little Post-Holiday Card Therapy?

While the holidays are stressful no matter your profession, they can be especially challenging for law firm marketers. 2020 was a year filled with stress and uncertainty, but law firms really outdid themselves with their holiday greetings this year. We saw many thoughtful, inspiring, and even heartwarming greetings with firms really going the extra mile to spread joy and come together during the holiday season. Check out the finalists in Above the Law’s 12th Annual Holiday Card Contest for some great examples and inspiration for next year. One of our favorites this year came from Bone McAllester Norton in Nashville. With an arrangement prepared by one of its attorneys, the video features talented singers from across the firm.

Holiday Card Survey & Post-Holiday Card Therapy Session

While the holiday card season is still fresh in your minds (or nightmares), we’d love to get your feedback. Based on the care that went into this year’s greetings, we know that holiday cards are important to firms, but we’d like to know more. Please take a few minutes to complete our survey and let us know how your firm approached cards this year. You can also share your holiday card horror stories. Our top ten favorites will receive a prize and we’ll share them, along with the results of the survey, during our Post-Holiday Card Therapy Session on January 8.

Direct Links

Survey: To take the holiday card survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CEHolidays

Register for our Post-Holiday Card Therapy Session: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2381505214183404814

Details: On January 8, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. EST, we’ll review the results of our holiday card survey and share some of our favorite holiday card horror stories. We hope you’ll join us!