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!

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.

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. 

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.

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.

When Your CRM Strategy Goes Stale

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

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

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

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

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

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