Online leads go cold quick. Quicker than you can imagine. This was first shown in a lead response management study done by MIT researcher Dr. James Oldroyd in 2007. He found that, if you wait 30 minutes to contact your leads instead of contacting them within 5 minutes after they sign up:
- The odds of getting in touch with the lead drops by 100X.
- and the odds of qualifying the lead drops by 21x
The first one is obvious. If they were just on your site and took the time to sign up for a free service or paid trial, they are probably right by their phone or their desk. So, the chances of getting them to talk to you on the phone or email is highly likely.
Their pain points and problems are fresh on their minds too. Besides, most customers by this point have already done their research and are farther along the buying cycle. So the chances of qualifying them are also pretty high. Buyers this far in the buying cycle need personal contact from you.
So, what did we do?
Inspired by this study, we decided to use the five minute rule for our lead response. We also made sure we personalized our first contact with all our leads — either by phone or email.
For example, when we noticed two influential leads sign up for MailLift, we called them within the first five minutes. They were pretty impressed. Impressed enough to mention us to their fans and followers on facebook.
This word-of-mouth buzz garnered attention from other influencers and also generated other warm leads. Not bad for just two 5 minute calls to influential leads.
Given, over 85% of Gen C relies on peers approvals for buying decisions, word of mouth marketing has become extremely important part of marketing and sales.
So, you are wondering how did we not creep out our customers.
Customer service before sales
Instead of viewing these calls as a start of a sales cycle, we view it as a customer service call. Even though they are not our paid customers yet. As Brian Solis puts it, it is necessary to commit to adopting and embodying a customer service mentality fueled by empathy and the desire to deliver a resolution—one strategic engagement at a time.
Recently, a friend of mine who moved to San Francisco got locked out of her new Mazda, apartment and wallet. All at once. She had managed to put away her house keys and her wallet along with her shopping from Target in the trunk. Luckily she still had her phone on her. So, she called Mazda’s roadside assistance. Both the automated message and her rep started the call by making sure she was safe and not in any kind of danger.
It didn’t stop there. While she was waiting for her roadside assistance rep to come help her, she got two updates on the ETA. She also got a call from the rep confirming her location and letting her know what car to look out for. My friend is a tough cookie to crack. But, boy was she impressed with their service.
Most companies provide, or at least, aim to provide such good customer service after the customer has already bought the product from them. A good practice indeed.
But, why not start when your lead is still in the decision-making phase or the trial phase. Don’t just pelt them with your drip marketing emails as soon as they sign up. Make the first engagement personal.
Make sure you research them first. Give them something to let them know that you know whom you are talking to and why.
Here are a few basic things you should know:
- Are they influential or not?
- What are their topics of interest? What do they talk about on their social channels
- What’s the size of the company? Do they fit the target markets? Your product might work for companies with employees of 500 but for a company with 25 employees it might be too expensive.
- What is their title? What is their role? Are they going to be the end users, decision makers or recommenders?
Use this knowledge to understand how your leads might need help. Now pick up the phone and call them. If you can’t call, at least send them a personalized email.
Your welcome auto-responder email does not count. At this stage they are more than just window shopping. Here is what Dr. Oldroyd found,
These auto-generated emails in customers’ eyes are like a door chime that signals to a potential customer that the firm recognized (or at least should have recognized) that someone entered the store. However, our leads were “ready” to purchase. All that was needed was a contact to finalize the deal. Imagine signaling to your customers that you recognize they entered your store, but 84% of the time not speaking to them until after eight hours.
Makes sense. On the other hand don’t harass them. Just ask them if they need help or assistance. Make sure they are okay. Answer their questions.
Just managing and optimizing your lead response process will help you increase the number of qualified leads in your pipeline without spending more money on lead generation.
We use a tool we built called ProfilesIO to get instant sign up notifications by text and email. We also get both basic and in-depth research on our leads in one email. So, we don’t spend the first high value minutes researching prospects. It’s free if you want to give it a try.
How do you manage your lead response process? Do you have one? What kind of results have you seen?