Best Practices for Web Lead Response Times

You’ve narrowed audiences, tracked their online behavior, and set up the funnels to bring in the leads, but how do you most effectively approach them once they’re sitting at the ready in your lap?

Part of understanding how to best respond requires an understanding of how timing affects success. In a society that expects instant gratification, the longer you wait to make your connections, the more likely it is those connections have already found what they needed elsewhere.

In 2011, the Harvard Business Review published an article that explored the lifecycle of online sales leads. It found that calling people who had shown interest in your product or service within 5 minutes of them doing so made them 100 times more likely to convert than waiting 30 or more minutes. So many revenue opportunities were determined to have been missed on the basis of long wait times. Business to business (B2B) companies specifically were found to average a lead contact wait time of 42 hours.

Let’s take a look at why timing is so important and how not setting up a strategic process around lead contacts can affect your business’ bottom line.

When Leads Go Cold

Generating leads via the web has proven to be successful in both quantity and quality of potential customers. It’s a cost- and time-efficient channel to tap but requires its own set of expectations on behalf of your interested audiences. Online, one of the biggest factors in turning a lead cold comes down to delayed response time.

Data from Lead Response Management show that each tier of delayed response time (responding in 30 minutes rather than 10 and so on) leads to a drop in qualified leads by 4.3%. Working in conjunction with this, making too many unsuccessful contact attempts lessens a lead’s quality by 5%. What this means is that it’s about balancing when to contact leads and how to contact them—a balance of quantity with quality. Making improvements in both areas can increase lead qualification by 11%.

Even with this knowledge, a large number of businesses fail to properly optimize their online lead follow-up strategy. The survey of 2,241 companies within the United States found that only 37% respond to online leads within 1 hour. In fact, 24% of businesses take more than 24 hours to respond, and, even more astonishingly, 23% fail to respond at all. So, as a general rule of thumb, consider 30 minutes as the moment when the clock really starts ticking.

Taking Time to Respond Can Kill Your Business

It may seem like an over-exaggeration, but failing to accurately estimate the importance of response time for online leads can lead to the beginning of the end. Based on the statistics mentioned above, not getting in touch with leads within a certain period of time costs you a potential conversion and affects sales overall. While somewhat intangible at first, the build-up of this loss in the long term impacts the bottom line.

When you’re not driving interested leads into the arms of your business, you’re inadvertently driving them into the arms of others. The more often this happens and your competitors benefit, the more awareness they will garner and target market they will control. In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll continue exploring online lead response and how to automate optimized contact processes.