Jul 1, 2011

Online Leads - Is Your Business Doing Enough?

Leads are generated in a variety of ways on the web, including direct marketing, email, forums, social networks, blogs and many other areas of your website. Plenty of time and money is invested to generate leads, but is your business doing enough to make this effort worth your while?

In the United States, many businesses are not responding quickly enough to online leads, according to research featured over at the Harvard Business Review. Of the 2,241 companies audited, 37% responded to online queries within an hour, 23% of companies never responded at all, and the average response time was 42 hours for those companies that did respond within 30 days.

These companies have often spent major money to find these internet leads but are failing to qualify them. A similar survey in the same article looked into how quickly sales leads can go cold:

"Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (which we defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later--and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer."

Though the research focused on the United States, what do you bet that this is happening in Australia too? Either way, here are some tips on generating and managing leads:

  • Make feedback/contact forms easy to spot and think about the questions/information fields in the form; this will help manage the leads once you've got your hands on them and ensure you devote resources towards leads that are more likely to go somewhere.
  • Consider the usability of your entire website; for example, is it easy to find a Help/FAQ section, or is it hidden under a lot of fluff? Analytics will help determine if your site is meeting the needs of visitors.
  • Share great web content. Free tools, seminars, blogs, or a newsletter can meet a visitor's needs while boosting engagement. These calls to action must be highly visible as well!
  • Respond to visitor interest as soon as possible. This means you will not only need the capability to gather customer questions and queries on the web, but also the time and resources to respond. Even an automated response can work if necessary, just be sure to follow up with a personal phone call.
  • Tailor your communications when you can. Crafting a personal response to every lead is not realistic, but when you make the extra effort to engage it can make all the difference.

There are many pieces to this puzzle - optimising your website to generate leads, managing leads when they come in and responding to customer enquiries and demands without sacrificing promising leads for dead ends....to name only a few issues involved.

So, how is your website and organisation performing?

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