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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
When One Solution Won’t Do: Identifying the Need for a CRM Integration Date: April 29, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. PDT
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.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 excellent, how would you rate the data in your client relationship management (CRM) system? It will never be perfect, but if it’s not close to 10, you’re not realizing the full potential of CRM. Misspelled names, incorrect addresses, incomplete information and duplicate records can limit the effectiveness of even the most powerful software. In short, the quality of your data is a key determinant of the success of your system.
Building and maintaining a clean and complete database can be a real challenge for a number of reasons, including:
Inconsistencies may exist between different databases utilized for different purposes (e.g. billing and mailing)
Professionals can be reluctant to share information about key contacts
Having no clear goals, no data management plan, and little or no training
Responsibility for maintaining the data is unclear
Data management is not a priority and falls to the bottom of to-do lists
Having clean, accurate, complete and up-to-date data is essential to CRM success.To find out what firms are doing to meet the data management challenge, ContactEase CRM convened a panel of professionals with extensive CRM experience and created a whitepaper to help you achieve success. For the full whitepaper visit our website –http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx
For more on data management and other aspects of CRM, please call ContactEase at 1-800-447-1212 ext 2 or visit colevalley.com.
For our last post, we shared ROI: How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift PC, Part 1, Need. The five-part series will continue to focus on: 1) Need, 2) Planning, 3) Launch, 4) Benefits and 5) More Benefits.
Because Kim has a market research background, she started by asking the stakeholders what had gone wrong with the previous attempts to implement CRM and what they wanted the new system to do. In addition to surveying the attorneys, she held focus groups with support staff and brought in Chris Fritsch, who is also an attorney, to talk with key leadership about their expectations and the realities of CRM.
Doing all that helped to identify fears, pain points and needs, such as the ability to keep private any personal information put into the system (a separate notes field allows that), as well as to see who made changes to a record (an audit trail makes this possible). It also showed that about 60% of the attorneys were using Outlook to manage their contacts, which meant they were likely to use a system like ContactEase that integrates with Outlook.
Plus, involving the attorneys and support staff in the planning process helped them see how CRM could make things better, and that helped get their buy-in. With the help of several attorneys who championed the cause, Kim convinced the firm’s leaders to go with ContactEase CRM.
What’s up next – Part 3 is the Launch…ROI: How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC. For the full whitepaper visit our website –http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx
Part 1 of our five-part series on ROI: How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift PC
Wouldn’t you like to see numbers like these at your firm?
$53,463 in annual savings on newsletter costs
200% increase in the number of newsletters
sent out annually
700% reduction in time spent on data entry
$15,600 in annual savings on list management costs
$121,973 in fees from three new Ag Law clients
149% ROI on your CRM investment
Those are just some of the benefits that Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC, a 95-attorney law firm based in Lansing, Michigan, has realized from implementing ContactEase CRM — and that your firm can enjoy, too. Others include a more accurate and easier-to-update database of 42,000 records, the ability to readily track and manage business development activities by type, and the ability to manage client compliance with employee benefits laws and maintain related forms and correspondence.
According to Kimberly P. Hafley, Director of Marketing & Recruitment for Foster Swift, here’s why the firm chose ContactEase and what it did to realize those benefits and facilitate business development.
When Kim joined Foster Swift in 2009, the firm had seven databases, including 7,000 records that were only on old-fashioned paper Rolodex cards. Entering data and maintaining records was a nightmare. As a result, many people were getting multiple copies of mailings, or mailings were returned as undeliverable. The costs were huge. For example, for one estate planning mailing that required an oversized envelope, the unit cost was $2.50. Of the 4,000 mailed, 500 came back — a waste of $1,250.
The firm had tried but failed twice to implement CRM. One reason was that CRM was totally Marketing’s responsibility, but Marketing did not have access to all information, and there was no system for getting database changes to Marketing. So if Marketing was not given a new name or address, the database was not updated. Another reason was that the CRM system was proprietary, so it didn’t interface with anything else and was the equivalent of adding yet another database. “The partners thought that all you had to do was buy a CRM program, plug it in, press a few keys and everything would magically work,” says Kim. “Of course, it didn’t.”
The catalyst for trying CRM a third time was a mailing that went to the home of an important client who had given strict instructions that nothing was to be sent to his residence. This event resulted in a prominent senior shareholder sharing his displeasure with both Kim and the firm’s Executive Committee, resulting in approval to research CRM options. So Kim asked a consultant that had helped her successfully update Foster Swift’s website to recommend a solution.
“I was very gung-ho and thought we would be able to go all-out with CRM right from the start. But Jennifer and Chris noted that our firm had already had two failures and suggested that we slow down and take baby steps. — Kim Hafley, Director of Marketing, Foster Swift
Kim was referred to Chris Fritsch, who consults with law firms on CRM. Chris suggested that they look at three CRM providers, including ContactEase CRM from Cole Valley Software. Kim talked about ContactEase with several firms that use it, including Ulmer & Berne in Columbus, Ohio, Sherin & Lodgen LLP in Boston, and UHY LLP in Chicago. She was impressed by what she heard, as well as by the helpfulness of Cole Valley CEO Jeff Reade and Chief Brand Officer Jennifer Whittier in identifying what she needed to do to successfully implement CRM.
“I was very gung-ho and thought we would be able to go all-out with CRM right from the start,” Kim says. “But Jennifer and Chris noted that our firm had already had two failures and suggested that we slow down and take baby steps. We had to get clear about what we needed and get buy-in from the attorneys before we launched a new system.”
What’s up next week – Part 2 is Planning…ROI: How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC. For the full whitepaper visit our website –http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx
For our last post, we shared CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 4, Data Management. This is the last of our CRM five-part series: 1) Getting Buy-In, 2) Planning and Budgeting, 3) Implementation, 4) Data Management, and 5) Impact and ROI.
This is Part 5 – Impact and ROI
Full implementation of a CRM system can take considerable time and effort. It’s important to track and measure impacts along the way, so you can determine ROI, demonstrate benefits, and celebrate success. This will increase buy-in and help you maximize the effectiveness of your system.
The following is what our peers had to say about the differences CRM made in their firms.
Kim Hafley comments:
We’ve seen three main impacts from CRM. First and foremost was the amount saved in printing and postage by cleaning up the data for all the mailing lists. That in itself was in excess of six figures.
The second was that, instead of entering data three times and having it take 24 man hours a month, it’s down to about 4 man hours. Over a year, that’s a huge chunk of somebody’s job, so we’ve freed up that time.
The third has to do with Christmas. We send out cards to a large list and run a huge event — a dress rehearsal with the Grand Rapids Ballet. By using CRM, we were able to reduce the time all this from 300 man hours to 50. We now have a great system that uses the Mailing List Manager, and the attorneys update their lists. We are able to email out invitations, and participants are able to sign up. We have their tickets waiting with their attorneys when they arrive so they get a personal greeting from their attorneys. It’s made the event a huge success.
CRM has also enabled us to make sure our messages get out to the right people, as well as to print out reports that help our attorneys with cross-selling opportunities. They love that!
— Barbara Joseph
Barbara Joseph comments:
We’ve received the most positive feedback and praise for how ContactEase has enabled us to be more proactive. For example, our data steward will use the system to run a report and give it to our client and industry teams with a note asking them to identify contacts to remove or add for a specific client or organization. It has also enabled us to make sure our messages get out to the right people, as well as to print out reports that help our attorneys with cross-selling opportunities. They love that!
CRM has saved us money, too. When I started, we were publishing and mailing about 8,000 copies of a glossy magazine three times a year. Some people were getting more than one copy, and that was expensive. By using CRM to de-duplicate and massage our data, we cut our mailing list down to 5,000. That’s a huge savings! Now we’re able to build up the list with the right people by using CRM to identify contacts who should be getting the magazine. It’s a great tool.
So is Mailing List Manager, part of our CRM system. We have an annual tent party at a West Virginia University football game and send out 5,000 e-invitations. We used to have to look through our old database, run a separate Excel spreadsheet for every attorney and
circulate it. They would mark it up and return it, and we would then have to go in, change the data, enter the information, print it out, and send it to the printer for the mailing.
This morning it took me less than 30 minutes to update my Mailing List Manager and send an email to our attorneys saying “Here’s a spreadsheet with all your contacts. Please mark who should be invited to the tent party.” As the attorneys mark the spreadsheets, Mailing List Manager automatically updates the information in our database. When I need to, it will take me 15 minutes to pull an Excel spreadsheet for the mailing and send it to my printer. Mailing List Manager will save me 20 to 30 hours of work, just for that one event.
Joy Long comments:
For me, the benefit of using CRM is just amazing. For instance, we were able to get rid of six-figure printing, postage and mailing costs. Also, before CRM we were able to send out only two or three things a month because of the incredible time involved. Now I’m able to work with the different industry and practice groups and expand our blog platform. So today we have eight blogs and seven newsletters, and we regularly send out seminar invitations and special client alerts — all without having to increase staff!
Before CRM we were able to send out only two or three things a month because of the incredible time involved… Today we have eight blogs and seven newsletters, and we regularly send out seminar invitations and special client alerts — all without having to increase staff! — Joy Long
Because we’ve gained so much efficiency with the CRM, it’s easier to send out things. Something that would take two or three days is now down to a matter of minutes because you’re putting the tools in everybody else’s hands. It’s just so much more efficient!
Last week we shared CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 3, Implementation. This is our CRM five part series: 1) Getting Buy-In, 2) Planning and Budgeting, 3) Implementation, 4) Data Management, and 5) Impact and ROI.
Part 4 – Data Management
Inconsistent, inaccurate, duplicate, and incomplete data can cause chaos even after a successful implementation. The more effective CRM implementations have made a focused effort on data integrity. Some firms use a data steward who assumes the primary responsibility for managing the accuracy and reliability of a firm’s data.
Hear from these panelists how, if you practice good data management and implement a constant cleansing process for your CRM, you will be able to actually realize its full potential. That’s when your CRM data is really an asset!
Kim Hafley comments:
We use CRM as a broad data management system. We have in it not only clients, but also referral sources and people who attend our events or subscribe to our newsletters or blogs.
Before CRM we had seven databases and knew that people were getting multiple copies of mailings. So we focused first on getting that data cleaned, because we knew that from a business-case perspective, we’d be able to show that we were providing better client service, saving money on printing and postage, and ultimately getting the materials to people on a more timely basis. That was phase one.
We also knew that each of our attorneys has a business development account, and we had a system where the data was getting entered three times, which was obviously very ineffective. So we worked with Cole Valley on using the tracking module to come up with asystem that enables the attorney or the attorney’s secretary to enter a business development expense, get reimbursement and create a report.
We also helped marketing use the module to create a tracking system that shows how much we’re spending on entertainment versus individual corporate sponsorships. So it’s been a win-win all the way around. We’re actually working on phase four right now.
“If you spend time on the front end making sure that your data is the best it can be, you’re going to be a lot better off. The data stewards aren’t going to have much in the way of cleanup.” — Kim Hafley
Barbara Joseph comments:
Having a data steward really helps us get the most from CRM. She can run all kinds of reports, and see changes or updates to the data that have come through. Particularly when a new attorney syncs his or her data with the database, the data steward looks at it and notices if there are any process errors. If so, she goes in and tries to correct them. Otherwise, it’s that junk-in, junk-out issue. The reports she runs at different intervals really help, and ContactEase has all those reports built in so you can easily get them. That’s been very helpful.
It’s easier to manage shared contacts if each of our attorneys doesn’t have 2,000 of them in the system. CRM enables our attorneys to choose whether to share an Outlook contact, or keep it personal. We’re not asking them to delete anybody from their overall contacts, but just to choose which to share with the overall system. If they haven’t had any contact with someone in the past five years or can’t verify that the person is alive or dead, we ask them to make that contact personal or delete it.
Joy Long comments:
When I did the audit I mentioned, one key question was “Where does all the data in the firm lie?” I’m not just talking about the mailing lists, but also Outlook data, Excel spreadsheets and maybe industry lists or other mailing lists.
I wanted to look at that from the get-go and determine where the communities of data were and what made the most sense in how to bring it in. It’s very easy to end up with garbage in, garbage out, so you essentially get one shot at this. Finding and cleaning the data took six to seven months, because it was like building a layer cake. How do you bring in new data so you don’t put garbage on top of clean data? That was really a huge challenge for us.
If you spend time on the front end making sure that your data is the best it can be, you’re going to be a lot better off. The data stewards aren’t going to have much in the way of cleanup, and it won’t take as long as before. It’s still critically important, because once you let it go, it goes downhill really fast.