We recently spoke on legal marketing at the Future Proofing Your Law Firm Online Summit, hosted by PCLaw | Time Matters™, and one of the questions we received was about building a law firm CRM? We could talk on hours for this, and put everyone around us to sleep, so we decided to blog on it instead.
First Things First
What is a law firm CRM and why do you need to build one? CRM stands for Client Relationship Manager. It is a list of everyone you know – those you send holiday cards to, thank you gifts to, who receive your newsletter, who pay (and don’t pay) your invoices, who refer you business, and more.
Ok, I’m sold. What now?
Choosing where to house your CRM will take some research (more on this later). In the meantime, here are a few things you need to focus on.
Pull Your Contacts Together
Export your contact lists from Outlook, or whatever email platform you use, LinkedIn, or anywhere else you keep this info. Combine it, remove duplicates, add missing info. We will assume you are working in Excel.
Break the info into the following columns as your data requires: prefix, first name + middle initial, last name, suffix, spouse/partner first name (and last name if different), business street address, city, state, zip, home address, city, state, zip, work email, personal email, and phone number(s).
Then, add everyone you know – referral sources, clients, former clients, other attorneys, prospective clients, vendors, alumni connections, attorneys you clerked with, folks who sit on non-profit boards with you, your bowling team, your caddy, reporters who have interviewed you, friends, family, your third cousin and his dog… You get the picture. Don’t exclude anyone. Include everyone.
At this point you will need to add a column to identify your relationship. We recommend making this a drop-down list so the information remains consistent and can be sorted accordingly. Your categories, or sources, should include referral source, client, attorney, prospective client, vendor, alumni, reporters, friend, family, and any others groups you have added.
Now you need to decide if you are going to invest in building a law firm CRM System. There are many, many options. We will discuss a few to keep your head from spinning, and your checkbook from crying.
Free or Almost Free
You can continue to house your information in Excel – just make sure to update activities accordingly.
If most, or all, of your outreach will be via email, services like MailChimp or Constant Contact may be enough for now. These programs will allow you to send email campaigns to your audience, and track who opens and engages with the content. You can create tags for clients who should receive certain news or alerts so you ae never “spamming” anyone.
If you want to try out a CRM platform for free, give HubSpot a look. The free version offers decent functionality and you can customize it as needed.
Some Money or More Money
Platforms like keap (Infusionsoft) and ContactEase (which was built specifically for the legal industry), will cost you some money, but the options of what you can do with this information is endless. Features include automation, integration, and tech support. These options are best if you are a die-hard marketer, or have someone to handle your marketing.
The key to having a successful CRM is keeping the information up-to-date, and tracking how you are connecting with the people. So kudos if you have one. If you don’t, building a law firm CRM is a wise investment. Have question, contact us!