A couple of months ago I wrote a post titled Curiosity May Have Killed The Cat But Complacency Will Kill The Marketer. In that particular post I told of the dearth of retention marketing by quoting a survey which revealed that 60% of the B2B and B2C companies surveyed devote less than 20% of their marketing budget to customer retention.
Today I want discuss another form of marketing, one that has become extremely important since the digital age was thrust upon us - inbound marketing.
There are many definitions of the term inbound marketing but I happen to love this description/definition of inbound marketing, courtesy of Trust Media:
"Inbound Marketing is a marketing strategy where businesses implement tactics to 'get found' by customers. Inbound Marketing involves creating and providing valuable content for your customers, promoting your remarkable content, building customer relationships, and overall 'pulling' the customer toward you. Inbound Marketing strategies create brand awareness, improve Search Engine Optimization, create thought leadership, develop valuable customer relationships, establish credibility, and build trustworthy reputations."
You may have your own favorite definition of the term, but I think most people would agree with the basics of the above description/definition of inbound marketing.
Now, I highlighted the phrase "overall 'pulling' the customer toward you" because at the end of the day, this is the ultimate goal of inbound marketing. If your goal is to " pull your customer toward you" in order to sell them something, then time is definitely of the essence.
Follow The "Lead"er
Way back in 2007, if someone used the word "pinterest" you would have thrown the flag at then for misspelling and only the cool kids had iPhones, Dave Elkington, the CEO and founder of a company called InsideSales.com, along with Ken Krogue, the president and co-founder, wanted to know the answer to a question that sales professionals had pondered since the beginning of time - Internet time that is.
What Dave and Ken wanted to know was how and more importantly, when sales pros should respond to sales leads coming directly via inbound marketing.
After discovering that no research had been done on this topic, they decided to do it themselves. They reached out to James B. Oldroyd, a visiting faculty fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
"Because so much money was migrating to Internet marketing efforts, we knew there would be significant interest around the topic of lead response rates, timing and effort, and there influence on the outcome of a lead," says Elkington.
Krogue recognized the changing tides and shifts that were occurring in the world of marketing, "quickly realizing the industry was migrating away from the old way of doing business (outbound) cold calling to the new digital marketing environment, centered around web leads."
Don't Take Five
The most dramatic finding from the 2007 study had to do with the time it takes to respond to an inbound, marketing generated lead. "The study revealed that the odds of making contact with a new lead are extremely high if you call within the first 5 minutes of submission," said Elkington. "The odds drop off dramatically by the first 30 minutes. Specifically, a rep is 100x less likely to make contact if the first call is made 30 minutes after submission. The odds of making contact drop by 3000x if the first call is made 5 hours after lead submission."
"We call it the 'wow effect' as in wow, that was fast! You are impressive." says Elkington, referring to the reaction a person has when contacted so soon after submitting a lead.
But according to Elkington the most interesting data had to do with qualification behavior. Qualification is defined as the rate at which the lead contact is willing to set an appointment and enter the sales cycle.
The study revealed that the odds of qualifying a lead dropped 21x if the first contact is made 30 minutes after lead submission.
The study, entitled How Much Time Do You Have Before Web-Generated Leads Go Cold, was presented at Marketing Sherpa's 2007 annual summit. Krogue can still remember the reaction he got from Ann Holland, the founder of Marketing Sherpa."I told her about the survey results and the first words out of her mouth were: "Do you really have what you say you have? She couldn't believe it."
That Was Then, What About Now?
Since the survey findings were released and over 100,000 downloads later, one would think the number of businesses/companies would now "get it" when it comes to the need for a rapid response.
Not so, according to Krogue who says they routinely conduct audits of businesses but "the bar is still set pretty low" and that many businesses are still "not responding fast enough nor are they persistent enough."
There also may be the case of businesses not even realizing what's going in their own company and that some are under the misconception that their company is not as bad as others. Krogue gives an example of a national sales exec at a U.S. based insurance company who raved as to the efficiency and proficiency of their sales team when it came to web based leads.
Sure enough, after submitting a lead of his own as a test, Krogue did not receive a follow up contact until six days had passed - hardly the optimal five minute time frame to say the least.
According to Elkington B2B companies spend anywhere from $30 to $200+ on each marketing generated lead while B2C firms typically spend from $2-25 for each hot lead. He says "if a CEO realized the amount of money they were throwing down the drain in terms of wasted leads and lower close rates due to no-follow-up, slow-follow-up and low persistence, they would shake the tree and turn things upside down."
I think it's time to shake the tree and turn other things upside down in all sorts of other ways when it comes to inbound marketing, wouldn't you?
Think about your own personal experience. If you go so far as to enter your contact information online via a form let's say, all under the guise of wanting to learn more about a given product or service, aren't you going to be more receptive to talking about it while it is still fresh in your mind?
I know I would be.
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review, Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has significant experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email,Twitter, LinkedIn or his website.