A 2011 Harvard Business Review study of 1.25 million online sales leads concluded that “U.S. 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.”
Since 2011 the lifespan of online leads has regressed at a shocking pace. While online lead generation budgets have exploded during this time, there seems to be a disconnect between what happens once a potential customer finally clicks on that ad and after they fill out the form that marketing worked so hard to generate.
As attention spans decrease year over year, the race to capitalize on it has reached a fever pitch. The companies leading the race have one secret ingredient and despite the misleading title of this article, it is not auto replies.
Nobody values a generic response…
Working at one of the nation’s fastest growing sales automation firms, maybe I shouldn’t say this but only having an auto reply to an online lead is not the solution to your attention span issue.
Does it help? Yes. Having a response to a customer filling out a form and trusting you with their mind share and email address does help. But with most things at the intersection of technology and human behavior the answers get a little murky after that.
People love an immediate response and the feeling of being heard, especially in this age of extreme automation. Human interaction is now at a premium.
In their day to day life, everyone has an inherent understanding of this concept. Most people love immediate feedback, whether it is a “Facebook Like” or a timely response to a text message sent to a friend. People love the feeling of crossing a to-do item off their list and achieving something. Knowing this, why do so many firms, after setting up such elaborate ways of grabbing attention and generating leads, not have any email automation set up, post form submission? Why do so many firms that do have auto-replies set up, go for generic wording like “we have received your online request and a representative will reach out shortly” emails?
To capture that 7x increase in conversion rates, companies have to evolve to keep up with customer expectations.
Customers expect a storyline, yes…even B2B customers
The noise online can sometimes be deafening. We’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970’s to as many as 5,000 ads a day today. The easy access for companies to start advertising and the early success of many online marketers is largely to blame for this, but where to firms go from here?
Companies like Nike, Apple, and Whole Foods have maintained and increased market share because they have a cohesive story to their brand. This leads to their overall “stickiness” and in the long run they have to spend less (relatively of course) on marketing. But what does all of this have to do with online lead generation and auto-replies?
The number one place where the customer “story” breaks down especially, with B2B companies, is the delta between what the customer expected when they filled out an online lead generation form and their immediate next interaction with the company.
Working with dozens of companies, from VC backed startups to fortune 500 companies around the world, the single biggest reason for this across the board has been because of the siloed nature of marketing and sales orgs. The top part of the funnel is all marketings kingdom and once the form is submitted it becomes a sales issue.
Who is to blame and how do we solve this at scale?will reach out shortly” emails? To capture that 7x increase in conversion rates, companies have to evolve to keep up with customer expectations.
Auto replies to the rescue, right? Eh kinda, but on steroids (unless that is illegal in your vertical).
The key to creating a unified storyline for a customer is yes, using auto replies as a tool but more importantly making sure that the auto reply becomes the bridge between marketing and sales. This means using deep personalization in your auto-replies and making designing them a collaborative and tracked process, with both marketing and sales resources.
Here are a few dynamic fields we recommend adding to your auto-replies to personalize and connect your story.
Content based on their web activity (ex: They viewed the pricing page before submitting online lead)
Custom rep signatures and headshot, based on Salesforce assigned user
Regional context based on state field
Reps available times to meet (Should be dynamically inserted via their real time calendar availability)
Customer industry and title based personalization ( Do not add these fields to your lead form as they would reduce your conversion rate. We recommend using real-time lead enrichment tools like Clearbit to segment.)
The key take away here should not be “look how awesome technology is” but, how we can leverage automation and technology in order to make our customers feel like they are getting a personal touch while reducing on boarding times for new reps and creating predictability in conversion metrics. Let’s use automation to make people feel more human.
Need help coming up with an effective auto reply strategy and setting it up? Reach out to your Client Relationship Specialist today, they are well trained experts and always ready to help.