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: Meet Your New Best Friend

In the final Tech Partner Talk of 2021, Amber Elliott and Sara Coffey, are pulling from the earlier talks to help marketers and other tech partners make the most of their relationships.

From making the business case to keeping things moving forward, the right partner really can feel like a best friend. Check out the the Resources page of our website for the full broadcast or to listen to the earlier ones.

The right tech partner is just like your best friend. How?

  • They have your best interest in mind. One size doesn’t fit all and the right partner knows they’re not for everyone. What works for one firm might not work for another. The right tech partners knows when they’re right for you.
  • They show up during the tough times. Implementing new technology at a law firm isn’t easy, but maintaining the momentum can be even more challenging. At ContactEase, we partner with our clients for long term success.
  • They have similar interests, but their primary interest is your success.
  • They actively listen. Tech partners should be experts in their field and understand the the industries they serve. They should also be ready to listen to their clients’ to understand their pain points and their challenges.
  • They accept you as you are. We know that the legal industry can be slow to adapt and working with lawyers presents its own unique challenges. Even the best tech partner can’t change that, but they can provide solutions to make your work life more efficient and save you time, streamline your processes and deliver ROI.
  • They’re supportive. The right tech partner understands your challenges, has empathy for you and your experiences and can offer creative solutions.
  • They’re trustworthy. You can count on the right tech partner to offer sound advice and guide you forward.

Tech Partner Talks: Questions to Ask Every Tech Vendor

In the latest installment of our Tech Partner Talks series, ContactEase Director of Client Services, Amber Elliott and Documentation & Training Specialist, Sara Coffey discuss the importance of finding the right partner to move your projects forward and share some of the questions they think you should ask every potential tech vendor.

The wrong partner can really derail a project and potentially affect buy-in for future projects however the right partner can be your success for years to come. Check out the full broadcast on the Resources page of our website and read on for our top three questions to ask every potential tech vendor.

Question 1: Have you worked with law firms? How many?

At ContactEase, our focus is on professional services firms. Many of our clients are law firms and many of our team members are former clients. We know the legal industry. This is important because law firms are a unique business culture and if your vendor doesn’t understand that they may not be the best partner for your firm. The distinction becomes eve more important if your lawyers are going to be involved in the decision making process and also if they’re going to be using the product themselves.

If you’ve come to legal from another industry, you know that law firms just run differently. In addition to the pace, there are considerations like ethics rules, client service and a general understanding of the culture, language and work.

Early in Sara’s career, she would try to bring in friends for creative projects and it caused some frustration because often they just didn’t understand how law firms operated. I’ve also seen She also experienced frustrations with vendors who argued they could make it work because they’d done it a million times before and “how different could law firms really be?”

Question 2: Does your product integrate with other firm systems?

Integrations are popular for many reasons. We’re all looking for ways to improve efficiencies and ensure we have the best data in front of us. You may not be able to add more people, but you can leverage products and processes to make your work life easier.

When it comes to CRM, some of the most important integrations are with financial systems and email campaign platforms. An integrated ERM component is also a huge benefit:

Integrating your firm’s CRM and financial systems streamlines data entry processes. It can eliminate a lot of that back and forth between marketing and finance and help provide you with the most current information when and where you need it.

Marketing automation integrations like with Constant Contact for example or any other email campaign tool –  improve efficiencies for the marketing department – not only when it comes to getting your mailings out in a timely manner, but also to ensure that you’re getting those campaign metrics back into your CRM system where you can analyze and report on the effectiveness of the firm’s targeted marketing initiatives.

An integrated ERM tool ensures you are getting all of the firm’s contacts into your CRM system – even those that aren’t being entered by the attorneys. And even more importantly – you get critical relationship information so you understand not only who knows whom but who has the strongest relationship with each contact so you can truly leverage those existing relationships.

The systems you’ll want to integrate with will vary from firm to firm and depend on your unique goals, just keep in mind some products claim to do it all but when you integrate different platforms rather than look for one that keeps everything in one place you can ensure your products are doing what they do best.

Question 3: How is your product accessed? Is it on-premise or in the cloud?

Historically, law firms and the legal industry as a whole have been reticent to move their systems to the cloud. While many firms were beginning to look for cloud-based solutions, the pandemic of 2022 sped things up for many. When we’re talking about the cloud, it’s really just a way to say that files are housed offsite on “someone else’s computer.” Some firms are moving towards cloud-only solutions while others aren’t quite ready. Ultimately, its up to the firm. As long as there is need, we will always meet our clients where they are and where they want to be.

For further expansion on the questions above as well as more questions to ask your potential tech partners, visit the Resources page on the ContactEase website. Be sure to check back next week when we’ll be discussing how to build the right teams.

Tech Partner Talks: Making the Business Case for New Technology

ContactEase Director of Client Services, Amber Elliott, and Documentation and Training Specialist, Sara Coffey recently got together to discuss how law firm marketers can successfully make the business case for new technology. Spoiler alert: address your lawyers’ pain points to solve your own! In this inaugural session of ContactEase Tech Partner Talks, Elliott and Coffey reflect on their own experiences as law firm marketers as well as what they’ve learned helping firms implement ContactEase. To listen to the full talk, visit the ContactEase CRM Resources page.

In her role as Director of Client Services, Elliott works with firms of all sizes to implement ContactEase CRM and other products. She works with firms that brand new to CRM as well as those who are transitioning from other platforms. From helping prospective clients obtain buy-in and choose the right partner to helping firms refresh their CRM strategy years after an implementation, the ContactEase team has developed strong relationships. During each talk, we’ll use that experience to show how finding the right partner can be just as important as finding the right platform.

As marketers, you have to have the systems and processes in place to market your firm, help your professionals strengthen their relationships, and win new business. You don’t have to go it alone. The right partner can carry some of that load for you. Over the next few weeks, we’ll show you how to make the business case, find the right partner, build the right teams, and keep it all moving forward! The examples we’ll share do come from CRM, but the advice is the same no matter the platform you’re considering or the problems you’re trying to solve.

When making the business case, it’s important to identify your key stakeholders first. Some marketers may be in a position to make the buying decision, but in a lot of firms that happens at the committee level. Either way, you need to have buy-in from the key decision-makers and your stakeholders who will be using your new platforms. It really doesn’t make any sense to invest in technology your lawyers aren’t going to use. That’s why, when you make your business case, it’s critical to put them first. Focus on their pain points and their problems. In doing so, you’re going to find that you’ll be able to address your own. A win for everyone!

Let’s take a look at some of the common pain points we hear from marketers:

  • It takes too long to pull together a mailing list
  • Our contacts really aren’t receiving relevant information from us
  • We lack coordinated outreach

I bet you can relate to at least one of those, right? But, what’s missing? How it affects your attorneys. Attorneys don’t really care that it takes you hours to pull a mailing list together, or that you’re waiting for them to provide feedback on a list you sent weeks ago, but when you take that problem and position it in a way that impacts them directly — their practice, their professional reputation, and their relationships — they’re going take notice. So, your problem goes from, “It takes us hours to pull together a list” to things like:

  • Contacts aren’t receiving the e-alerts you’re writing
  • Contacts are missing out on timely and relevant information from the firm
  • Contacts are receiving this information from our competitors
  • Contacts may think we’re behind the curve

Elliott recalls working with practice groups at her former firm. One practice group she worked with was very active sending frequent alerts and always ready with information to send to their contacts. On the surface, they were doing everything right, but when they took a closer look at the lists they realized nearly 1/3 of the contacts didn’t have an email address. This meant that they weren’t receiving any communications at all. It’s examples like this that you want to look for in order to tell your lawyers how new technology will solve their problems.

So, when we look at the problems we’ve identified above we can argue that with a CRM we’ll have all of the firm’s contact data in a central location which is going to make it easy to categorize contacts for targeted marketing campaigns, update and review lists efficiently and ensure you have the data you need to get your e-alerts and mailings out quickly and to the right audience.

It’s a good way to show lawyers they’re doing it right but they could be doing it even better. Another frustration we often hear from marketers is that “we don’t know what our lawyers are doing.” Sometimes lawyers don’t understand why this is important for marketing. Let’s think about the implications when marketing doesn’t know what their lawyers are doing:

We don’t know what mailings clients are receiving or if they’re receiving them at all. When this happens, either through a missing email address or the inability to track the touchpoints, clients and contacts are missing out on potentially important regulatory updates that affect their business and their bottom line. They may think that the firm didn’t know about emerging issues and are just behind the curve.

When multiple lawyers reach out to the same clients, it shows a lack of coordinated outreach. The firm could appear disorganized and unprofessional, and it can be confusing for clients, too.

We don’t know the status of proposals and pitches. You may miss out on important deadlines or pitch for work that doesn’t pay well. You may even be including irrelevant or outdated information. At one of Coffey’s former firms, marketing decided to start tracking RFPs from a couple different angles:

  • Win rates when marketing was involved from the beginning
  • Time to complete when marketing was involved from the beginning
  • Who won the work

When the firm started tracking this information, they realized that when marketing was involved from the beginning there was a higher win rate and it took less time to respond. The marketing team also helped make the case against submitting certain proposals which freed up time and resources. When lawyers learned that marketing’s involvement paid off, they were brought in earlier and often.

In our last example, we don’t understand the firm’s relationships. Lawyers think they know their relationships and so they don’t think about the benefits of a firmwide understanding. To drive the importance of this home, lawyers need to hear:

  • We’re missing opportunities because we aren’t spending the best person to ask for work
  • We’re unable to effectively cross-sell the clients
  • We’re missing out on additional opportunities to provide superior client service
  • We don’t understand what more we can be doing for our clients

To address these pain points, you may want to look for an enterprise relationship management or ERM platform that integrates with CRM. This ensures you have all of the firm’s contacts in one location, even though that don’t make it into the attorney’s Outlook. On its own, CRM will tell you who knows whom, but when you add ERM into the mix, you can also who has the strongest relationship, and that will let you know how you can leverage those existing relationships across the firm for business development purposes. ERM also provides industry segmentation that allows you to identify growth opportunities in different sectors.

At Coffey’s last firm, understanding industry segments allowed the firm to develop a new industry group. The firm used NAICS codes to identify and segment industries in CRM and uncovered growth opportunity in higher education and other industries. a lot of relationships in higher education and make the business case for the industry group and expand our representation of colleges and universities.

These are just a few pain points we hear from firms. Just remember, no matter what yours are, when you really start thinking about your pain points and find a way to position them from your stakeholders’ vantage point, you’ll be able to gain the momentum you need and get buy-in for your projects.

WEBINAR: Why CRM, Why Now

Communicating with your firm’s contacts has never been more important. In this webinar, you’ll hear from Jill Rinne, Marketing Director at Larson LLP and Lindsay Vendegnia, Marketing Manager at Moye White — two law firm marketers using CRM to advance marketing, strengthen relationships, and help their firms win more business. 

What We’ll Discuss:

  • How they identified the need for CRM 
  • The problems they were trying to solve 
  • How they made the business case for CRM (and why they selected ContactEase)
  • Lessons learned and advice for fellow marketers

And of course, we’ll leave time for questions. Anything you ever wanted to know about CRM? Here’s your chance to ask! Feel free to submit them in advance when you register.

Can’t join us live? Register anyway and we’ll send you the recording. 

About the Panelists

Jil Rinne, Marketing Director, Larson LLP

Jil Rinne’s enthusiasm for branding and persuasive messaging combined with her insight into the legal industry and a keen understanding of how lawyers think, work, and communicate allows her to create effective and compelling stories about the people behind the firm. Prior to joining Larson LLP, Jil managed the marketing and communications department at a litigation boutique in Los Angeles and worked at two Am Law 100 firms in Boston. She is a member of the Legal Marketing Association and co-chair of the Homelessness Working Group for the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance.

Lindsay Vendegnia, Marketing Manager, Moye White LLP

Lindsay Vendegnia uses her passion for marketing, communications, and business development to develop new tactics to support emerging and developing practice areas and work with her team to create and implement the strategic efforts of her firm’s practice groups. Prior to joining Moye White, she acted as the Client Services Director of JC Denver Home Team and the Program Communications Director at the Parkinson Association of the Rockies. Lindsay is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and is pursuing her Master’s in Marketing from the University of Colorado at Denver.

About ContactEase 

ContactEase is CRM Made Easy for lawyers. With an industry-leading adoption rate, ContactEase CRM ensures your important firm contacts receive the right communications at the right time. In addition to its easy-to-use CRM platform, ContactEase offers an integrated suite of products from marketing automation to financial system integration and enterprise relationship management to strengthen relationships and help firms win more business. Learn more at contactease.com.


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. 

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!

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!

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.