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!

Back to Basics: A Single Source of Truth

In our Back to Basics series, we’re doing just that – getting back to basics to understand the fundamentals of CRM and why it matters to your firm. In this post we’re looking at CRM as a single source of truth and what that means.

As we wrote in our last post, the main job of any CRM is to store and organize your firm’s contacts – all the details, any communication or touch points you’ve had with them – in one place (i.e. a single source of truth). CRM helps your firm’s professionals stay connected to your clients and can help improve profitability and internal processes (see ROI: Boost Revenue with CRM).

So yes, at its most basic, CRM provides you with a single source of truth for your firm’s important clients and contacts. With so many data stores available at most firms, it can be difficult to know what to trust. A CRM provides you with a single, reliable source of truth where your clients, contacts and opportunities exist. This is also why integrations are so important.

An essential feature of any CRM should be the ability to integrate with other systems (see Bridge Building with CRM). When you integrate CRM with your firm’s existing systems, data from your technology stack can be captured across platforms and you can rely on your CRM as, yes, you guessed it, a single source of truth. At ContactEase, we know that we make a great CRM. We don’t want to do it all. That’s why we partner with other popular applications that your firm already knows and uses.

In recent years we’ve introduced integrations with marketing automation systems like Constant Contact, Mailchimp, and Vuture and time and billing systems like Aderant, Juris and Elite. We are constantly evaluating the market and speaking with our clients to connect with the systems they are using. If your systems don’t talk to one another, you run the risk of having information that is outdated, incomplete and just plain wrong. When you make CRM and data integrity a priority, your firm will be better equipped to understand where your communications with your clients and prospects stand.

Talking Points: Does My Firm Need CRM?

If there’s no single source for information at your firm, you run the risk of duplicating outreach, having outdated information, and leaving key contacts off of important mailings. CRM can provide a single view of every client’s contact information and firm outreach, without which, you may not be able to fully implement strategic marketing and business development initiatives.

ContactEase Recommended Reading: How Law Firms are Handling the Most Interesting Budgeting Season in Years

“What the pandemic has proved is that those law firms that have spent significant dollars on technology investment were better prepared than those that didn’t.” 

October is a busy time for many marketers and it’s also typically the time of year we start to hear from firms looking to make room in their budgets for CRM for the coming year; however, we all know there is nothing typical about this year.  If you’re struggling to figure out how to approach “the most interesting budgeting season in years,” you’re not alone.  In a recent article from The American Lawyer, law firm leaders shared their insight on how they’re approaching their budgets for 2021 (registration may be required). 

With a decrease in traditional business development activities and an uptick in communications, it’s never been more important to stay in touch with your firm’s important clients. According to Michael Heller, executive chair and CEO at Cozen O’Conner, “What the pandemic has proved is that those law firms that have spent significant dollars on technology investment were better prepared than those that didn’t.” We’ve heard this from ContactEase clients as well.

While many firms have increased the frequency of their communications (in fact, one firm reported they’d seen an increase of over 400%), our clients said it was the processes and technology they implemented before the pandemic that allowed them to quickly and efficiently pivot during this time to keep their clients and contacts informed and engaged.

One marketing director said, “Getting lawyers to provide content has often been a struggle for us, but not this year. Like a lot of firms, we developed a COVID resource center early on. We used List Manager to provide lawyers with a summary of their contacts and used the Constant Contact integration to send our mailings and track the success of our campaigns.”

If you’re looking to make room in your budget for CRM, be sure to visit our website to learn how CRM can pay for itself many times over by saving you time and money. Download “ROI: Boost Revenue with CRM” to learn how one firm was able to boost its revenue and realize an ROI of over 100% with ContactEase.

Are You California (Consumer Privacy Act) Dreaming?

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) goes into effect on January 1, 2020 and many law firm marketers (and their firms’ privacy attorneys) are scrambling to ensure they are compliant when the law goes into effect next week. If you’re still struggling to understand the law or how it impacts your firm, you’re not alone. While the law goes into effect in January, it’s unlikely that enforcement will begin until July so you still have some time to figure it out. Enforcement of the law will begin in July, so you still have some time to figure it out.

Do I Need to Comply?

The number one question we’ve received at ContactEase is, “Do I have to comply with the CCPA?” The CCPA applies to with businesses with more than $25 million in revenue or access to the personal information of more than 50,000 people. In a recent webinar from the Legal Marketing Association and ILTA, the panelists recommended asking the following:

  • Do you have California residents on any of your mailing lists? (Do you know?)
  • Do you ever swap contact lists with event co-sponsors or other third-party entities? Do you buy/acquire contacts lists (and import them into your CRM system)?
  • Are you collecting user details related to website traffic and or/click tracking on your mailings (analytics, email campaign systems and marketing automation tools, cookies, etc.)?
  • Can anyone in your firm download contact information? What about your vendors?
  • Does your disclaimer language address how to opt-out from having information sold?

If any of the above apply to your firm and it has annual revenues of over $25 million, you must comply with CCPA. Under the CCPA, California consumers have the right know if companies sell their information, what information companies have already collected on them, and the option to opt out from either or both the sale and collection of their personal information.

Selling Personal Information

Most law firms are not in the business of selling personal information; however, according to the LMA/ILTA webinar, “sold” in this instance may also mean “providing, disclosing or making information available in exchange for consideration or a thing of value.” Many firms receive mailing lists as a sponsorship benefit. Marketers and their attorneys often review these lists to identify persons of interest to connect with or meet at conferences and other events. And while we can’t be certain that this will fall under CCPA, it is better to err on the side of caution.

Privacy Policy Examples

One of the requirements of the CCPA is a page on a company’s website that provides information on how to opt out of the sale or exchange of personal information. THis page must provide California residents with the ability to say, “Do Not Sell my Personal Information.” This page should include the information you track and how it is used. Here are are few examples:

The CCPA also requires that firms be able to provide information tracked over the past twelve months and that this information be provided upon request within 45 days of the request. This includes cookies as well as personal information and information that you may log in your CRM system (such as Activities and Tracked items in ContactEase). In preparation for CCPA as well as other data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CASL, we have recommended that clients not track anything they would not want to share upon request. This information must be provided within 45 days of the request. In ContactEase, this can be accomplished with a simple search and export.

Additional Resources

The number of available CCPA resources seems to grow by the day as the effective date draws near. Firms are being contacted by companies that specialize in compliance to create “do not sell my personal information” buttons on their sites (and ensure they actually work) and companies are setting up email accounts to deal with customer requests. Here are just a few we’ve collected:

Contact Us

If you have questions about the CCPA or the impact it may have on your firm’s data, contact us!

The Return of Pumpkin Spice and Another Look at the ContactEase Holiday Card Survey

We might not be ready for summer to end, but we are ready to take another dive into our survey of law firm holiday card practices (now with 100% more pumpkin spice)!

It seems that the holiday season comes earlier every year. Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte today (the earliest release yet) and along with it the reminder that soon the days will get shorter and law firm marketers will begin thinking about their firm’s holiday cards (if they haven’t already).

We work with our clients year round to share best practices, implement processes and help alleviate some of the stress associated with the holiday card season. That’s why we weren’t anticipating too many surprises when we put out the call for our survey of law firm holiday card practices last year. We knew that firms were sending cards and that most were using CRM to manage them; however, one of the most surprising things we learned was about the importance of holiday cards.

Holiday Card Importance

When asked about the importance of holiday cards on a scale of one to five (one being least important and five being most important), we weren’t surprised that many ranked them somewhere in the middle. We were surprised by the number of firms ranking cards as very important.  As you can see in the graphic above, an equal number of respondents designated holiday cards as extremely unimportant and very important. Of course the business of law is built on relationships and sending cards and staying in touch can enhance existing relationships, but it shouldn’t be your only means for staying in touch.

No matter how important holiday cards are to your firm, managing you firm’s relationships should be paramount. Whether you’ve decided holiday cards are somewhat important or very important, they shouldn’t be a replacement for year round communication. Besides, if you’re only reaching out to them during the holidays, how important are they? Tracking business development and marketing activity in your firm’s CRM can go a long way in ensuring that you’re reaching out on a regular basis and that your efforts are coordinated across the firm.

In celebration of PSL Day, we want to know how you’re planning to spend the remaining days of summer!  Let us know by September 23, 2019 for your chance to win a Starbucks gift card. Winners will be selected in a random draw and notified by e-mail on September 24, 2019.