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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2017-09-06


Savvy marketers know email is ideal for nurturing leads – moving prospects through the sales pipeline over time with multiple campaigns that offer real, helpful value. We’ve covered the topic of lead nurturing quite a bit on the OMI blog because many of our marketing clients spend a lot of time, effort and resources on this activity alone. But while this discipline can take years to master, it doesn’t have to be rocket science either.


One aspect of lead nurturing that seems to be intuitive is to follow-up with interested prospects as quickly as possible. But many marketing and sales teams aren’t doing that. A new study by marketing automation provider Certain says that only 2 percent of marketers follow-up with leads collected at marketing events the same day; 25 percent follow-up in 1-3 days; 29 percent in 4-6 days; and 27 percent in 7-13 days. The rest (12%) take 2-4 weeks, while 6 percent admit it takes more than a month!


Why the delay in responding to someone who, presumably, is at least interested in a company’s product or services? Almost half (44%) of the survey respondents said it’s lead preparation that is taking so long, and about a quarter (23%) admitted their process can take a few days. Many attributed the delay to lack of tools to automate the process (23%), and 15 percent stated they lack an organized process altogether. Another 11 percent said they intentionally delay follow-up (perhaps waiting for attendees to get back to their offices after an event) while 7 percent admitted to simply putting off the task.


Manual processes also add to the delay: 42 percent of respondents said leads are manually entered into their databases. And when it comes to following up, marketers primarily do so via email (52%), although phone calls (23%) and social media (18%) are other methods, according to the survey.


Why & How to Expedite Lead Follow Up


Successful marketers know that every delay in following up with prospects leads to a decrease in the likelihood of a conversion or sale. According to information compiled by automotive digital marketing agency Search Optics:


  • The odds of successfully contacting a lead are 100 times greater when follow-up occurs within 3-5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes after the lead was submitted.1
  • Prospects who received replies to an inquiry within 10 minutes were 3 times more likely to visit a business than those who received a slow response.2
  • Lead response times are critical to sales: 71% of online leads simply become missed opportunities.3


Delays in reaching back out to your prospects are almost certainly costing your company money. Preparing your sales team and readying those involved in digitizing leads can help accelerate the process, but perhaps not eliminate the bottleneck entirely. We certainly understand that many companies (especially smaller ones) have limited resources in managing all this. The study, in fact, shows that most companies have less than 30 people working on lead follow-up, and almost a third of those (30.5%) have only 2-9 people doing so.


As a result, some organizations are turning to outside help for rapid lead outreach. Search Optics offers an outsourced solution, a Virtual Business Development Center, specifically for nurturing leads. The company boasts an average lead response time of only two minutes and around-the-clock live responses. For some companies who are struggling to respond to leads right away – such as those that are taking months to do so – outsourcing the lead follow-up process might be something worth considering.


If you’ve ever received an immediate follow-up to a lead – from a service or technology provider or a potential business partner – you know you are more likely to give that company your business. With technology, mobile devices and the internet, we live in a time of instant gratification, where immediacy in lead response is expected. It’s imperative then that marketers contact leads as soon as possible in order to get them into the sales pipeline immediately – and on their way to a sale.



1: Lead Response Management Study, M.I.T/Inside Sales

2: Lost Leads, Automotive News

3: Why Companies Waste 71% of Internet Leads, Forbes



Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can help you achieve better email marketing ROI, and convert more prospects into customers. Ask us how. Also, take a look at our complimentary e-book on building a successful B2B email marketing database. â€¨


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At OMI, we believe good things happen when you share your knowledge. That's why we're proud to educate marketers at every level - in every size and type of organization - about the basics of email marketing and the contact data that powers it.

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