The Underappreciated Contact List

In the recent 2021 Marketing and Business Development Report published by Lexis Nexis and the Hinge Research Institute, nearly 80% of firms surveyed said marketing was important to firm-wide strategic direction, and high-growth firms (firms that reported annual-revenue growth of 11% or higher) now invest more than ever before in marketing and business development.

This is great news for legal professionals who specialize in this work, and who understand how powerful marketing efforts can be when they are actually integrated into a firm’s overall strategic plan. While marketing departments can create opportunities for attorneys and prospects to connect across a number of platforms, we would like to advocate for a humble but critically important effort that far too few firms take seriously: Update and maintain a central firm contact list.

While 69.6% of firms surveyed say they engage in email marketing, we have to ask what portion of those marketers are sending their beautifully composed emails to the wrong people or out-of-date email addresses, and also which newer contacts (who may be in an attorney’s personal contact list but haven’t yet been shared with the firm) are missing the email entirely.

In addition, are these marketers taking full advantage of email platforms’ ability to segment lists by category or interest, in order to send highly targeted messages?

Your email marketing efforts are only as good as your contact list. Here’s how to treat your firm’s list with the respect it deserves:

Persuade your colleagues. Educate your firm’s leaders about the untapped power of a centralized and well-maintained contact list, and ask for their help in overcoming some attorneys’ reticence to share their key contacts.

Plan for the care and feeding of your list. Who is going to be the steward of your contact list, and what tools does this person need to best maintain it? What is the plan for making regular updates? How can they capture new contacts at touchpoints along the business development process?

Learn how to use all the functionality of your email platform. Don’t be that firm still using an Excel spreadsheet to store its contact list. Mailchimp, Constant Contact and a host of other platforms offer much greater functionality at all price points. Take advantage of tutorials to learn how to automate subscriptions, segment your list by category, tag entries, run test emails and view data on how your emails are performing.

With the return to in-person work further delayed, digital marketing efforts are more important than ever. Make sure the foundation of your outreach — the all-important contact list — is ready for prime time and prime business development.