Blog/Podcast: How Data-Driven Marketing Can Help Your Firm Break Down Silos

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If marketing is a numbers game, wouldn’t it be helpful to have the ability to slice and dice the numbers however you want?

According to Adam Stock, that’s what data-driven marketing can do for your firm. Known as a legal marketing technology pioneer (he founded the Legal Marketing Technology Conference, after all), Adam recently joined Foundation Software Group, which transforms disparate data into usable and actionable information for law firms. On the latest episode of the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast, he provided recommendations for implementing data-driven marketing and how firms can use this to gain a competitive advantage.

What is data-driven marketing?

Generally, a law firm’s marketing and business development group is one of the most technologically advanced, simply because marketing as a discipline tends to be quite technical. Tracking data (and finding the tools to track it correctly) is a major part of any marketer’s job duties. However, this approach hasn’t always extended into other legal departments, sometimes limiting the information available to the marketing and business development pros.

In the past, marketers were only focused on tracking what they were working on. Now, it’s possible to harness and combine data from other systems in the firm, such as time tracking and billing or Outlook address books—and that’s the goal of data-driven marketing: breaking down silos to give marketers (and everyone else in the firm) a more holistic view of the numbers.

Data-driven marketing isn’t so different from the marketing of 10 or 20 years ago. You still need to manage your lists, see who responds to your efforts and take action based on your findings. It’s just a new perspective that makes your firm’s marketing efforts more effective.

What are the benefits of data-driven marketing?

First and foremost, data-driven marketing creates more transparency between marketers and lawyers. Before, if a lawyer had an existing relationship with a client and opened a new matter, that was typically invisible to the marketing and business development group. With data-driven marketing, on the other hand, marketers have greater insight into what’s going on. You’ll see the new matter immediately, allowing you to do some marketing around it or adjust your strategy if necessary.

Data-driven marketing allows firms to better serve clients, too. Adam gave the example of a client who wanted to know how their firm’s diversity efforts were going. Since the firm was already pulling in data from its HR, time tracking and billing systems, it could easily create reports for the client, showing who was assigned to their matters and how the firm was billing against them. When you have more information, you can pass it on to clients (who want to be in the know more than ever).

Tracking data holistically helps narrow down the contacts that you should be focusing most of your attention on. A CRM system might list 500 people associated with a large client, but lawyers will have no idea who the vast majority of those people are. An integrated data system, however, will allow you to see the traffic going back and forth between the firm and the client, making it easy to narrow down the top 10 or 20 contacts. Then, you can track those people and take action when you notice any change in their behavior.

What systems should I implement first?

There are two significant gaps in data that many law firms face, which can be easily fixed with better integration of systems. First is the gap between marketing systems and billing systems. Billing systems usually show the number of matters open for each client, giving a clear picture of the work the firm is doing for them. Marketing systems, however, are usually organized by individual. You can see the people associated with the client, but you can’t tell who the most important contacts are or the scope of work the firm is doing for them. The solution? An ERM, or experience relationship management system, that links these pieces of data, giving the marketing department a better sense of what’s going on.

The second major gap is with your firm’s experience: the matters you’ve worked on, the attorneys who’ve worked on them, the outcomes, the industries and the locations. At far too many firms, this information is kept in a spreadsheet that’s difficult to navigate or is only updated sporadically. But imagine if you had a system where all of this knowledge was available at your fingertips. That’s what an experience management system does: it unleashes the power in your other systems so you can use it to get new business. The data gathered with an ERM system is incredibly useful when responding to RFPs, providing pricing estimates or doing strategic planning.

How to get your firm to invest in data-driven marketing

The harsh reality is that law firms aren’t growing aside from acquisitions. The legal landscape is extremely competitive, making the ability to get and retain work more valuable than ever. And on the client side, businesses are much more analytical when it comes to choosing a firm. More and more clients are using an in-house legal operations team or they’re working under a mandate to go through a formal RFP process and manage legal costs. Under these circumstances, any firm should be happy to invest in tools that set it apart from competitors and keep clients happy.

If you’re trying to convince your firm to invest in data, follow the business. Focus on the need-to-have systems that are clearly linked to business development. If you can show that these efforts will help bring business into the door, partners will be significantly more receptive to it. Once you begin to reap the benefits of these systems, it will quickly become clear that data-driven marketing is worth investing in.

Click here to download/subscribe to the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast.

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