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Sue Bramall

Sue Bramall is Managing Director of Berners Marketing, providing marketing and business development support exclusively to the legal profession. Email sue.bramall@bernersmarketing.com. Twitter @Berners4Law.

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Recently, I met a barrister who was handling a case where a website project had gone badly wrong, losing significant sales for the customer who had commissioned it. After comparing war stories, we concluded that a lot more websites go awry than one might realise and that it might be worth sharing some of the horror stories to highlight potential pitfalls and help others to avoid them.

In a profession where only a minority of law firms have a dedicated or experienced marketing manager, the role of project managing the new website often falls to the marketing partner or practice manager. Having never had to commission a website before, they may not be entirely sure what work is involved, how to write an effective brief or how to compare proposals from web agencies, and so it is easy to see how problems might arise.

Given that a law firm website might account for as much as 50 per cent of new business enquiries these days – equivalent to having another office – it can play a critical role in a firm’s business growth.

Outsourcing generally makes the media headlines when a multi-million pound government contract hits the buffers, and we all moan when having to deal with an overseas customer contact centre where the quality of the phone line and the quaint accent of the operator combine to leave us frustrated rather than delighted.

In the legal sector, media coverage of outsourcing has mainly focused on the wave of legal business process outsourcing to countries far and near.

As firms have become more confident in the use of outsourcing, they have extended its use to an increasing number of non-core services, ranging from telephone answering to cloud technology services. This article is concerned specifically with the outsourcing of marketing activities.

Occasionally we help new law firms to set up from scratch and a partner once asked me if I found the branding the most enjoyable part of the project. He was surprised when I said that the really satisfying aspect was getting the client data management right.

With a new firm, every contact and piece of work is valued immensely as survival depends on successful management of the pipeline of work. It is easier to build a culture of recording client information “right first time” amongst a small team. With high quality data captured from the outset it is easier to produce meaningful management reports to inform marketing decisions. Once partners recognise the value in this information, get used to quality reports and start seeing the results of highly-targeted marketing, it becomes part of the culture to truly value client information.

At the other end of the spectrum, in a firm that was established several decades ago or more, it is not uncommon to find client data in a mess, a prevailing culture of “the database is not my job”, systems that do not speak to each other and poor management reporting. Fixing that is much harder!

(with Chloe Dennis)

How many types of device might you view a website on during the course of your week?

We are becoming used to accessing the internet anytime and anywhere on whatever device we have to hand. Our choice of device at any time depends on personal preferences, availability and the ability to use the device in various situations.

Keeping the content on your website up to date is essential if you wish to be ranked well by Google. Not only does material need to be fresh, but it needs to be original. Whether you do this via a news section or a blog depends on your communications strategy, internal resources and the commitment of the team.

Comparing website proposals can be rather like comparing apples with pears. What questions should you ask and how do you know whether the quotes you receive are directly comparable?

Customer (or client) relationship management (CRM) is defined by BusinessDictionary.com as “Information-technology enabled strategy aimed at identifying, targeting, acquiring, and retaining the best mix of customers. CRM helps in profiling prospects, understanding their needs, and in building relationships with them by providing the most-suitable products and a very high level of customer service. It integrates back and front office systems to create a database of customer contacts, purchases, information requested, technical support, etc. This helps a firm to present a unified face to its customers, and improve the quality of the relationship.”

When it comes to other photographs that you might use on your website, in brochures and advertising (beyond pictures of your lawyers and staff) you now have three options: commissioning bespoke photography, rights managed images or royalty free images.

Although the legal profession provides a service, we are a long way from taking service measurement seriously compared to other business sectors. This article looks at the different types of client satisfaction measurement services and tools available. Off-line tools include face-to-face or telephone interviews and postal questionnaires. Online tools include electronic surveys and comparison websites.

This article looks at how to plan your email campaigns, how to choose a provider, how to compare costs and measure success.

Many firms are already convinced of the benefits of email marketing but they struggle to get the programme off the ground due to lack of email data. The aim should be to build a database of clients, contacts and prospects that genuinely welcome hearing from us. With anyone else we are wasting time and money, and risking our reputation by sending unwelcome emails – known as “spam”.