The Secret to More Productive Law Firms: Workload Automation
Are you killing your law firm’s productivity? You might not be doing it on purpose, but if you’re not using technology to help with tasks like analyzing campaign metrics and following up with prospects, your legal practice is definitely not running at full speed. Read on to learn how to automate your law firm.
Change that by automating five of the most time-consuming attorney marketing processes explained below, and discover how workload automation can make your law firm more productive while cutting costs.
The Biggest Benefits of Workload Automation
Every law firm must manage dozens of moving pieces at any given time. Online attorney marketing duties alone encompass:
- Email marketing: building a strong email list of ideal prospects, sending out communications, assessing effectiveness
- Online reputation management: developing a review solicitation strategy, gathering positive online reviews from current and past clients, addressing negative comments
- Following up with prospects and converting them down the funnel into leads and clients
- Creating an effective legal website and A/B split testing to improve conversion
- Managing a legal SEO strategy and social media plan
- Crafting a content marketing calendar and producing all scheduled attorney marketing pieces
That is a lot of work! And the list doesn’t even include other day-to-day duties like closing cases and managing staff.
This is why workload automation is essential for law firms. There are only so many hours in the day, and automating attorney marketing processes that eat up time (but are necessary to gathering new business) can ensure that those hours are spent as efficiently as possible, for lower overhead costs and higher return on investment (ROI).
The following five legal marketing processes can be much more cost-effective and efficient when paired with automation technology.
5 Ways that Workload Automation Can Improve Productivity
- Automating tailored prospect follow-up
Failing to communicate with prospects is a surefire way to lose potential business, but communicating with prospects and leads is time-consuming. Automate the process from start to finish and you can save hours every week on following up via email and telephone.
A legal client relationship management system (CRM) can help you automate follow-up. Simply enter your leads’ contact information and track all attorney marketing communication—including email and phone—from the beginning of the funnel to the end.
For instance, the James Legal CRM enables you to review touchpoints from a single dashboard and automatically route leads down a certain pathway depending on their actions, such as sending an “appointment set” campaign after the lead agrees to a consultation. And this doesn’t just work for email communication; the system comes with a telephone software that tracks follow-up efforts (and allows unlimited dialing for no extra charge).
Automating online and telephone follow-up ensures that contacts always receive communication that is highly relevant and tailored to them, increasing the odds of conversion—without ever having to spend time and money on micromanaging the process.
- Sending out relevant, high-quality content
Highly targeted email marketing is a vital piece of prospect follow-up and one of the best ways to convert leads into clients; McKinsey reports that email is 40 times more effective at gaining new clients than Twitter or Facebook. However, many legal practices don’t have the resources to develop and manage email drip campaigns (series of messages sent out at predetermined intervals).
Solve that problem by automating attorney marketing processes such as sending out quality content to each segment of your list—cold leads, warm leads, former clients, and disengaged recipients. For example, you can use a legal CRM to trigger a “welcome” email campaign introducing your attorney team when a potential client signs up for your email newsletter.
According to eMarketer, business-to-consumer companies (like some law firms) who leverage automation have experienced conversion rates of up to 50%.
NOTE: If you haven’t developed high-quality content, don’t worry. The James Legal CRM comes pre-loaded with legal specialty-specific, well-crafted content at no charge, including a 100-page e-book branded with your law firm’s name and background.
- Soliciting and managing online reviews
Nearly all your prospective clients will read through online reviews when deciding whether to consult your law firm. According to BrightLocal’s 2016 Consumer Review Survey, 84% of online searchers trust reviews as much as recommendations from a friend or family member.
In other words, you must gather positive online reviews and minimize negative ones in order to stay competitive and cultivate new business. Review-generation software like the one included in the James Legal CRM can automatically send out review requests to easily build a cache of appealing reviews and improve your law firm’s SEO… without requiring you to take attention off of clients.
- Collaborating between team members and managers
Communication about legal marketing strategy is the key to success, especially if there are multiple people involved in the content creation process and a separate decision-maker to approve all attorney marketing pieces.
Take the burden of collaboration off your shoulders by implementing Google apps like Drive for document collaboration and Calendar for synced schedules, which can make both communication and approval quick and easy.
- Analyzing marketing ROI
Analyzing ROI is the key to pursuing effective marketing strategies and avoiding unnecessary marketing spend. For instance, identifying which email campaigns are working can help your law firm iterate on successful ones and constantly improve conversion rates. The James Legal CRM displays complete analytics on one dashboard so you can see a complete snapshot of your marketing performance and spend.
Additionally, Optimized Attorney includes a free assessment of marketing efforts and business processes to cut down wasteful marketing spend. Typically, clients’ savings have ranged from three to five figures, which can reduce the real cost of the James Legal CRM to zero.
5 Ways to Automate Your Lead Follow-Up and Score More Clients
Think about how much time you spend sourcing leads from social media, your website’s email opt-in form, and referrals. Expending that effort and gaining leads just to let them slip away from inconsistent follow-up… that’s like wasting your lawyer marketing budget. With these five simple processes in place to ensure that you’re following up with clients quickly and consistently, your law firm can easily convert more leads into clients.
- Establish a lead qualifying system
Not all leads are created equal. On any given day, your attorney team will connect with people who are noncommittal looky-loos, promising leads, and ideal clients. That’s why it is so important to qualify your leads before taking follow-up action; it is not worth your time and money to pursue a lead that will most likely never commit to opening a case with your law firm.
The first step of automating your lead follow-up for better lawyer marketing is to establish a lead qualifying system. Take a look at your existing clients and pinpoint exactly what makes them ideal clients. For instance, you could consider elements such as:
- Income level (do they make enough to afford your legal services?)
- Type of problem (do their needs fit your service offerings?)
- Urgency of the problem and estimated timeline
Develop a rough profile using these elements and use it to create a rubric that your team automatically applies to all incoming leads. You could establish a cold/warm/hot rubric or a scale from 1-5—whatever works best for you. This makes it easy to instantly sort through leads and determine where your legal marketing attentions should be focused… and where you’re wasting your time.
- Utilize drip email campaigns
Drip email campaigns are automated emails that go out on a schedule determined by your lawyer marketing team. They ensure that you’re constantly keeping in touch with warm leads, trying to reconnect with cold leads, and moving potential clients down the sales funnel—without having to spend time manually sending out hundreds of emails.
Since you’ve already established a lead qualifying system, it should be easy to separate your email list into categories such as:
- Cold leads: for example, leads that are at least 6 months old and have very low open rates
- Warm leads: leads that are less than 6 months old and have average open rates
- Hot leads: leads that are less than 1 month old and have demonstrated interest in your practice in some way, such as calling in or signing up for your law firm’s email newsletter
Then, develop a campaign for each category of leads. For example, cold leads could receive an email with a message like “We haven’t talked in a while. Are you still wondering whether bankruptcy is right for your financial situation? We can help!”
Learn more about drip email campaigns and how to pair them with an effective legal CRM here.
- Use lead generation forms on your legal website
Some law firms still require potential clients to email their email@example.com address to receive a consultation. That may get the job done, but at what cost? It takes a significant amount of time to wade through emails, reading every line to glean a clear understanding of what each potential client is reaching out for.
Expedite this process through lead generation forms on your website (like this example from the Optimized Attorney & Attorney Marketing website). Separate the form by categories that you would like to gather information for, such as:
- Contact information
- How they found your firm’s site
- Services they are interested in
- Additional comments
Once website visitors submit the form, your team will receive a formatted email that is easy to read and contains all of the contact’s information in one place.
- Receive informative reports
Keep an eye on your lead follow-up with reports that automatically gather and consolidate the data you want to see, such as the number of email opt-ins per day versus the number of website views. Checking on these lawyer marketing figures regularly, or even having them exported and emailed to you, can keep you in the know about how many leads are converting into clients.
It’s easy to set up a centralized reporting dashboard through a capable legal CRM (see below).
- Implement a comprehensive legal CRM
Automating individual processes can save time while converting more leads into clients, but overhauling your entire lawyer marketing system and implementing a comprehensive legal CRM is the best way to automate your lead gathering and follow-up process from beginning to end.
A quality legal CRM like the James Legal CRM includes the ability to:
- Gather and view reports in one easy-to-view dashboard
- Create email drip campaigns
- Oversee your online reputation and gather more positive online reviews
- Track leads within the sales funnel and automate follow-up
- Manage client relationships
With the right legal CRM in place, your lead follow-up can basically run itself while you experience greater conversions from leads to clients.
Legal Marketing Automation: The Pros and Cons
When you’re grinding out email campaigns, newsletters, blog content, and social media posts, marketing automation may sound ever so enticing. What better way to quickly and easily manage marketing across all channels, right? While marketing automation can be a helpful tool for some practices, it’s not always the best solution for all situations and attorney teams.
Read on to discover the pros and cons of legal marketing automation and assess whether it’s a fit for your firm.
Pro: Less time spent on manual, repetitive tasks
Automating procedures like sending a response email to someone signing up for your attorney blog and newsletter list can save a substantial amount of time. Instead of having to go through a list of new sign-ups and send each recipient an identical email, you can set an email to automatically send to everyone who provides their email address on your site.
This not only saves time (and your sanity), but can also ensure a speedy response time on your end, as an automated email will be sent straight to a new contact’s inbox within minutes.
Con: Setting up a new system takes dedication
Implementing a new legal marketing system, learning the ins and outs, experimenting, and responding to mistakes takes some dedication. Even after setup, it takes time to establish each email campaign and regularly make content updates as necessary, as well as develop content for specific audiences you’ve designated in your system.
If you don’t have the time, money, or energy to familiarize yourself with a new marketing tool and how to best use it to your advantage, automating your marketing may be a poor investment.
Pro: Triggered emails tend to have higher open rates
The average email open rate within the legal industry is 22.67%, according to MailChimp. Marketing research company Econsultancy estimates that triggered emails, on the other hand, consistently see a 45% to 55% open rate—double the average open rate!
Con: It’s easy to over-communicate
There’s a fine line between staying at the top of a client or contact’s inbox and burying them with messages. By automating your legal marketing, it’s easy to overstep the line and communicate too often, which could have a less than desired effect: pushing prospects and clients away rather than enticing them closer.
Is Legal Marketing Automation For You?
Automating some legal marketing processes at your firm could lighten your marketing burden. But beware of taking things too far and relying too heavily on technology to create positive prospect and client interactions. Sometimes, it’s best to go the old-fashioned route, or outsource your marketing tasks to professionals who know how—and when—to use the tools at their disposal rather than trying to go it alone.
Content, SEO, and social media go hand in hand. Ask us about all three affordable services today!
5 Common Fears About Marketing Automation That Sabotage Attorney Success
There are a lot of misconceptions and fears out there about attorney marketing automation. As a legal marketing company that has helped dozens of law firms and attorneys since 1981, we consider it our duty and privilege to correct these rumors that could prevent you from implementing cost-effective and time-efficient tools in your law practice.
Below, we have debunked 5 myths about legal marketing automation that we commonly hear from attorneys. Read on to discover what you really need to know about legal CRMs, and how marketing automation can increase lead generation, improve client conversion rates, and save your law firm money at the same time.
Fear #1: It’s too difficult to set up and learn the system
Installing marketing automation software can sound like a long, intimidating process. Attorneys worry about integrating the new program with existing programs, or switching over to a new system and ruining the productivity of their teams.
In reality, problems typically only occur when the marketing team botches the setup and/or rushes through training. A successful CRM installation requires significant attention from a dedicated marketing partner.
For instance, when the James Attorney team installs a James Legal CRM, we provide ongoing training, explain all features of the program and personalize them as necessary, and add customized content based on clients’ needs. This attention prevents issues and ensures that a law firm can get the most out of their new CRM.
Fear #2: The CRM won’t be effective
What if the CRM doesn’t improve our conversion rate? Will it successfully simplify our sales funnel? Will our potential clients really experience a more customized experience?
These are the types of questions and concerns that most attorneys have when considering the addition of a CRM into their law firm’s marketing. After all, if the marketing automation software isn’t effective, then it is just a waste of time and money.
When a CRM doesn’t produce ideal results, it is usually because the law firm does not build up a larger marketing system and strategy to support the CRM. For instance, they:
- Do not build an effective funnel to gather new leads and drive website traffic
- Create poor landing pages that do not successfully convert prospects
- Do not spend enough time developing content, such as email messages, that appeals to their audience
- Fail to develop client personas that help them understand their prospects’ challenges, desires, and best mediums of communication
Essentially, a legal CRM can help law firms improve and simplify their marketing performance, but only if they work to establish a solid foundation first and stay committed to developing a sales funnel and lead generation system to support it… or work with a legal marketing company to build an automate a comprehensive marketing strategy.
For example, the James Legal CRM:
- Automates prospect follow-up and review gathering
- Provides a single dashboard to monitor marketing efforts and telephone follow-up
- Sends customized content to prospects
- Integrates Google apps for streamlined collaboration and communication
- Includes a free business process analysis
This all-inclusive system helped Phoenix criminal defense attorney Howard Snader increase from 18-25 prospect inquires per month to more than 200 calls per month.
Fear #3: Marketing automation software is too expensive
Good CRMs can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. For some law firms, it is difficult to justify this cost, especially on a limited attorney marketing budget.
Installing a CRM is an investment in your company, just like running television advertisements or developing a user-friendly legal website. This does require some expenses on the front end, but they often result in a greater payoff down the line.
Clients that implement the James Legal CRM, for example, usually find that their real cost is $0. How? Increased revenue from a greater caseload, as well as savings obtained by:
- Installing telephone software and eliminating your telephone bill
- Terminating or reducing unproductive marketing efforts
- Eliminating unnecessary software and services
Using this system, Optimized Attorney saved Orange County probate attorney Phil Lemmons more than $14,000 per month in unproductive marketing spend.
Fear #4: Automation only makes email easier
Marketing CRMs are just glorified email marketing tools—at least, that’s what some law firms believe. They make email communication easier and more consistent, but that’s it, right?
Automating your law firm’s marketing is about more than just making email easier. Marketing automation using a CRM involves:
- Tracking performance data to ensure that your attorney marketing is on the right track
- Crafting email drip campaigns that automatically go out to leads
- Making and featuring lead magnets to generate new leads
- Automatically gathering positive online reviews to improve your reputation
- Monitoring the sales funnel
- Ensuring prospect/lead follow-up
- Customizing web intake forms
- And more
Overall, marketing automation is about enhancing your business processes and improving your conversion rates across a variety of mediums, not just improving email management.
Fear #5: Marketing automation can compromise the security of sensitive information
A CRM holds client and prospect information such as email addresses, phone numbers, addresses, calendar appointments, and more. Attorneys can be loath to store too much of this data online and within CRM systems, especially with cyber attacks on the rise.
Using a server locked in your law firm’s closet can actually be less secure than options offered by the legal marketing company supporting the CRM. Optimized Attorney, for instance, is experienced in migrating law firms from their personal servers to cloud technology, and introducing Google’s suite of apps for secure collaboration.
Find out how much more successful your law firm could be with the James Legal CRM. Receive a free audit of your marketing spend and business processes today!
4 Ways to Automate Your Law Firm’s Marketing Processes to Save Time
They say that “time is money” for a reason: the statement tends to hold true, at least in the legal industry. When you and your team have to balance a heavy case load, bring in new clients, and network with fellow professionals and businesses, you don’t have time and resources to waste on marketing processes that could be efficiently automated.
The information below demonstrates several powerful ways to automate your law firm’s marketing processes in order to strengthen your marketing strategy while saving valuable time, and your sanity.
1. Schedule Social Media Posts
You have better things to do than be chained to a desk waiting to push social media posts live at the right times. Schedule your posts ahead of time to ensure that they go out when they need to, without oversight.
Not sure how to automate social media posts? Check out the platform’s help center or user portal to find out the best, most up-to-date way to do so.
2. Implement A/B Testing
A/B testing your website’s landing page or another important webpage is a great way to determine which layout, design, or content results in greater:
- Leads gathered
- Time spent on the page
- Page engagement
With A/B testing, website visitors randomly view one of two page options that you’ve set to display. After a while, your law firm’s marketing team will have enough data to conclude which option pays off for your firm.
3. Gather and Qualify Leads
If your firm is serious about gathering leads via email opt-in fields and other options on your website or within emails, you may already have a way to dump that data into spreadsheets or an email marketing service provider.
If so, take it a step further and sync things with a customer relationship manager (CRM) system to make your life easier and qualify your leads as they get further into the sales cycle. For instance, you’ll have the ability to establish triggers that push leads from the “cold” list to the “lukewarm” one if they hit a specific threshold like 5 website visits.
4. Cue Tailored Email Content
In addition to lead gathering, automating email marketing is another way to save time while ensuring that your law firm’s marketing strategy stays on track. Using a marketing automation service or a third-party email management system with automation features, your firm can send email content that is appropriate to specific users, increasing the chances that they’ll resonate with your email and move forward in the sales process.
For example, if a potential client downloads a free white paper on new tax law updates, that could automatically trigger an email sent to them regarding similar content such as blog posts about upcoming tax law changes (the email could also include an offer for a free consultation and discount on services for a limited time, for extra oomph).
Find out how custom content can drive traffic to your website and increase lead conversion!
Measure, Improve, and Automate Your Attorney Marketing ROI
Whether you’re measuring the number of shares on Facebook posts or counting the email addresses on your newsletter mailing list, keeping an eye on your marketing ROI can be a great indicator of success. Tracking analytics helps to ensure that you’re spending time on the most effective avenues of communication and constantly striving to improve your marketing payoff.
Follow these best practices for measuring and improving your attorney marketing ROI, and learn how to automate processes in order to make your life easier.
Measuring Attorney Marketing ROI
If you’re unable to spend hours of time gathering loads of data, track these two essential ROI elements first:
- Website traffic
Potential clients will make your website one of their first pit stops when assessing whether to consult your team or not. Use tools provided by your website host or content management system (such as WordPress’ Jetpack plugin) or resources like Google Analytics to gather valuable attorney marketing information. This includes the number of visits to your website, the type of visitors (new/unique or returning) viewing your site, and where these viewers are coming from.
There are three types of visitor sources:
- Direct visitors—ones that land on your site by directly typing your URL into the browser
- Search visitors—those that visit based on search engine results
- Referral visitors—viewers that route to your website from outside websites, blogs, or social media
Analyzing these figures helps to determine which audiences you’re reaching most, how well you’re ranking on search engine results pages for various keywords, and which referral sites are the most effective.
- Visitor actions
Even more important than knowing where your potential clients are coming from is figuring out what they do when they reach your website. Analyze these factors to answer insightful attorney marketing questions that could guide your entire website design:
- Bounce rate—the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page
- Visitor interactions—what pages do visitors look at? Do they enter their email addresses in your blog subscription box, use your live chat function to ask questions, or do nothing at all?
- Visitor conversions—the rate of viewers who move down the sales pipeline, e.g., subscribe to your email list or reach out to your attorney team for a free consultation
The key to improving your attorney marketing ROI is to use the analytics above when honing in on the right areas of improvement. Here are the right steps to take if you are experiencing…
- Low search traffic
If you’re not receiving much traffic from search engine results pages, focus on improving your SEO strategy. For example, use Google Analytics to see which keyword phrases your competitors are using and target high value, low competition keywords. For a personal injury firm, this could mean focusing on terms like “injury law firm” or “hurt on the job Orange County” rather than “personal injury law firm.”
- High bounce rate
If most of your visitors leave your website after viewing just the homepage, that’s a good sign that your homepage needs improvement. Try redesigning your legal website homepage page to make it more visually appealing, organized, and professional.
The web design experts at Optimized Attorney can help, as can online tools. Crazy Egg provides a heatmap of your site to determine where visitors click and view the least, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights provides advice for improving your page loading speed (hint: if your homepage takes longer than a few seconds to load, most visitors won’t stick around).
- Minimal visitor interactions
Let’s say that you experience a consistent trickle of visitors to your site but see a minimal opt-in rate for your email newsletter. Set up an A/B split test to determine which types of forms and calls to action work best for conversion.
Automating Attorney Marketing ROI
Tools and resources like Google Analytics and Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) are gold when it comes to constantly tracking attorney marketing ROI so you can find significant patterns. In fact, the two integrate incredibly well. If you haven’t set up your Analytics and Search Console accounts, don’t wait any longer to do so.
Additionally, there are several other tools that you can utilize to track analytics and automate processes, resulting in less manual labor.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) tools like Salesforce can automate prospect and client follow-up, and even help with lead scoring (a prospect ranking system that pushes high-priority leads to the top of the list)
- Email management systems such as MailChimp enable you to schedule campaigns, analyze interactions, segment clients into lists so you’re sending relevant content to different groups (prospects, current clients, and former clients), and automate email follow-up
With all the tools out there today, it may take a while to determine which one works best for your particular attorney marketing needs. You may find that using a combination results in the greatest automation chain. For instance, a personal injury practice could utilize Google Analytics to track how well their guest blogging efforts lead to website traffic, their website host or content management system to set up an A/B test for the best email opt-in form, and Salesforce to send follow-up emails to visitors who sign up for their legal newsletter.
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Whether you need a system overhaul or just a few more automated processes in place, the James Legal CRM is your affordable answer. Find out more now!
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