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 If your systems don’t talk to one another, you run the risk of having information that is outdated, incomplete and just plain wrong.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If there’s no single source for information at your firm, you run the risk of duplicating outreach, having outdated information, and leaving key contacts off of important mailings.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. 

 

Law Firm Holiday Card Survey Results: Part II

As we mentioned in our last post, you don’t have to wait for the traditional holidays to celebrate, so before we take another dive into the results of our law firm holiday card survey, we’d like to wish you a happy Golden Girls Day! If only we could step off the lanai and into the kitchen to discuss them over some cheesecake (July 30 also happens to be National Cheesecake Day)…

In this post, we’ll look at the types of cards they send. Based on our experience, we expected e-cards to edge out traditional paper ones; however, it seems that most firms send a combination of both.

Holiday Card Types

 

If you’re going to invest in physical cards, make sure they stand out. As Ross Fishman notes in Law Firm Holiday Cards Dos and Don’ts, “Done well, the cards should reinforce your firm’s unique brand message, or at least stand out somehow, so they don’t get immediately discarded and forgotten.” For something that may immediately get thrown out (if opened at all), physical cards can be expensive. They require postage and someone to stuff the envelopes. They also require a good mailing list (this is where CRM can help) to ensure they arrive at all.

E-cards have certainly evolved over the years. They are fast and efficient, they may be personalized,  and of course they save paper. But, with all the other things going on around the traditional holiday season, they can also get lost in already busy inboxes or stuck in the junk folder. Not to mention that some of your clients may not check their email or even have an email address.

When we talked to Jacki Braga, Director of Marketing at Morse in Waltham, Massachusetts, she told us that lawyers at the firm have a choice between paper and e-cards. She said, “We’ve found that we get a lot more feedback from recipients by sending a fun e-card than we do generic paper cards, but I DO agree that attorneys who actually take the time to write a note to special clients are doing the right thing. And they can still send an e-card, too!” Last year, the firm’s e-card was a finalist in Above the Law’s annual holiday card contest! You can find the baking themed card (and some delicious holiday recipes) here.


Thank You for Being a Friend

In honor of Golden Girls Day, we want to thank our clients and contacts for being a friend! Let us know how you’re using CRM to manage your firm’s friendships (i.e. relationships) for a chance to win a Golden Girls’ Pez! Send your answer to marketing@contactease.com or post in the comments below. All responses will be entered into a random drawing.

Golden Girls Day

 

 

Law Firm Holiday Card Survey: The Results are in

We’re coming off of a heatwave in many parts of the United States and Canada, so while it might seem a little early to think about holiday cards, it’s something we’ve been thinking a lot about here at ContactEase!

Last year, we received a record number of questions about holiday cards from our clients. Many wanted to know what other firms were doing, what kinds of cards they were sending and even the holidays they were celebrating.

With all the features that today’s CRM systems can offer — from business development tracking to managing expenses and dashboard reporting — it can be easy to forget about traditional marketing practices like sending your firm’s holiday cards. This got us thinking about holiday card practices among law firms and how we might better understand them. In late 2018, we polled law firm marketers and lawyers to gather their thoughts on holiday cards (and to determine if they gave them any thought at all).

While the results weren’t a complete surprise (as noted in the graphic below, most respondents indicated their firm sends some form of holiday card), they did shed some light on how firms are using CRM to honor traditional marketing practices and evaluating their effectiveness.

Holiday Cards 1

Over the next few weeks, we’ll share our findings with you along with our insight and even some best practices. And if you didn’t have a chance to complete our survey, we’d still like to hear from you! Let us know what your firm thinks about holiday cards by commenting below or contacting us at marketing@contactease.com.

Did You Know?
In an effort to stand out from the crowd, some firms are opting to send cards (electronic and paper) at different times of the year. The National Day Calendar keeps track of over 1,500 fun and unusual days making sure we #celebrateeveryday.

 

 

 

Jennifer Whittier Writes on 2019 Legal Marketing Trends in Industry Report

In the recently released 2019 Legal Marketing Trends from FSquared Marketing, Jennifer Whittier from ContactEase  shares why she thinks 2019 is the year of the bridge when it comes to CRM data.  Jennifer joins other leading law firm marketing experts to share insight on important trends for 2019.

Law firm leadership is experiencing data overload when trying to make decisions for the future. While the law firm business model is based on relationships, the financial data that drives firm management is often disconnected from the relationship data.  It isn’t just financial data we struggle with either. Data resides in many places besides the CRM system: ERM systems, eMarketing systems, social media, and experience databases. 2019 will be the year of the bridge–between the data silos and the CRM database,

Jennifer Whittier in CRM in 2019: The Year of the Bridge.

Trends identified for 2019 include:

  • Using tech to productize legal services
  • Replacing random acts of content with a data-focused approach
  • Threats & opportunities in web accessibility
  • The rich opportunities of local search marketing
  • Bridging data sources through CRM
  • An increase in budgets, hiring, and specialization within legal marketing

fb_linked-legal-marketing-trends-2019

Click here to read the 2019 Legal Marketing Trends from FSquared Marketing.

Happy Holiday Cards: How Firms Manage the Process with ContactEase

This time of year we receive a lot of questions about using ContactEase to manage the holiday card process.  Amber Elliott, Director of Client Services at ContactEase, might understand the process better than most. As a law firm marketer, one of Amber’s favorite ways to get through the holiday card season was by grabbing a peppermint mocha and cranking up the holiday tunes. “It’s hard to feel anything but happy with that combo,” she says. And while she’s no longer working in a law firm, she’s still enjoying her peppermint mochas and music as she consults with clients on holiday card best practices — she just has to turn the music down during those conference calls.

After you learn how some of our favorite legal marketers manage the holiday card process at their firms, be sure to keep reading for information on our industry-wide survey of law firm holiday card practices and how you can get a free peppermint mocha (or beverage of choice) to see you through the holiday season!

Jacki Braga, Director of Marketing, Morse 

At Morse in Waltham, Massachusetts, Jacki Braga, Director of Marketing at the firm, and her team, provide their lawyers with a choice between paper and e-cards (and have done so for several years). Over time, the firm’s e-cards have evolved from static cards to cards with more interesting animation and interactivity (and flavor — this year’s card  featured a collection of recipes gathered from the firm’s attorneys and staff; last year’s card focused on holiday-themed cocktails). The firm used the new ContactEase List Manager to prepare the lists, ReadyMag as the host site, and Constant Contact to send.  And what insight has Jacki gained from providing the firm’s professionals with options? Jacki says, “We’ve found that we get a lot more feedback from recipients by sending a fun e-card than we do generic paper cards, but I DO agree that attorneys who actually take the time to write a note to special clients are doing the right thing. And they can still send an e-card, too!”

Krista Egan, Marketing Director, Flaster Greenberg

At Flaster Greenberg, a New Jersey-based law firm with offices throughout the mid-Atlantic corridor, the marketing team uses the built-in ContactEase Email Campaign Tool to send their cards. The firm uses Assignments to build their holiday card list to ensure they know which attorney to send the card from. Why does this matter? As Krista explains, “This enables us to create multiple versions of the holiday card in our HTML program, all tailored to each attorney. Many times we include a personal note and their signature block. Those attorneys who prefer to send the e-card from their own accounts can do so and have the ability to add a note before forwarding.”

Ian Jones, Marketing Technology Specialist, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn

At Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, a law firm with offices in California, Oregon and Washington, the firm’s marketing team starts by building a survey in ContactEase List Manager providing the lawyers the option to send either an electronic or paper card. The firm uses the ContactEase Holiday Mailer Tool and according to Ian, “The process has gotten significantly easier. We don’t have to manually sort out single-signer and multi-signer cards anymore. ” And what about potential overlap of signatures between offices?  They have that covered as well. Ian said, “We usually set them all up in one office and then forward en masse to the others. The survey also includes the legacy card assignments from the previous year in case people want to refer to that information when setting up a new list.”

How does your firm manage the holiday card process?  Does your firm do something unique to celebrate the holidays? We’d love to hear from you!

Industry-wide Survey on Law Firm Holiday Card Practices

Don’t forget about our survey on law firm holiday card practices! We want to hear from lawyers and marketers to understand the importance of holiday cards, what firms are doing, and how opinions differ between lawyers and marketers. Your time is valuable, and so is your insight! We’re offering a $5 Starbucks gift card to lawyers and legal marketers who answer our survey between now and the end of the year. We’ll publish the results in a white paper to be released next year.

 

Legal Industry Survey of Holiday Card Practices

CE Blog

In the United States, Thanksgiving is barely over, but the holiday card season is well under way. At ContactEase, we’ve talked to many marketers about managing the holiday card process at their firms. While some firms have moved from traditional paper cards to electronic ones, it seems that holiday cards are still very much a part of a firm’s relationships and traditions. Are we right? We’d love to get your thoughts on the subject. We’re conducting an industry-wide survey of lawyers and marketers to understand:

  • The importance of holiday cards
  • What firms are doing
  • How opinions differ between lawyers and marketers

Please visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HolidayCards to take the survey. It should take about three minutes to complete. Feel free to share the link with other law firm marketers and lawyers who may have an interest. We plan to summarize these results in an upcoming white paper and will be happy to share the results with anyone who participates. 

ContactEase Holiday Traditions: P.J. Sawchuk, Director of Support & Technology 

If you’ve spent any time with our Director of Support & Technology, P.J. Sawchuk, you know how passionate he is about food. As it turns out, that extends to his family as well! One of P.J.’s favorite holiday traditions is the Feast of the Seven Fishes. This Italian-American tradition is a celebration on Christmas Eve that typically includes fish and other seafood.

Of his family’s tradition, P.J. says, “We shoot for double digits. While you’ll always see things like shrimp, scallops and crab cakes [note: P.J. resides in the Baltimore area], we like to experiment, too. Some family favorites include bacalao (a salted cod dish) and an escarole with bread crumbs, olives, anchovies and capers. Big flavor!”

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Let us know in the comments!

Jennifer Whittier and Amber Elliott to Present at LMA Tech Midwest 2018

LMA Tech Midwest Speaking

Join us at LMA Tech Midwest in Chicago! Integrations are all the rage, but are they always the best answer? In this case study presentation, Joy Long, Director of Marketing at Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams (ORBA), Jennifer Whittier and Amber Elliott, from ContactEase, will share their experiences integrating CRM with ORBA’s new website and Constant Contact. Tying these three systems together has automated the marketing team’s workflow, eliminating duplicate entry and the risk for human error and saving the team countless hours on mailings each month. Attendees will learn what to look for when considering an integration and more importantly, the questions they need to ask of both their technology providers and others in their firm as well as who to involve (hint: don’t forget IT).

Participants will leave this session with the information they need to lead technology adoption in their firms and how to ensure the project keeps moving forward. To learn more about LMA Tech Midwest or to register, visit: https://www.legalmarketing.org/page/lmatech/midwest/2018/Home.

#LMATECH