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What’s the ideal time to follow-up on online leads?

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 09 Aug, 2011
Essential Essential topic

Web response time statistics summary

I was recently called by an email service provider following-up on a whitepaper I had downloaded. Nothing unusual there, it's a good B2B permission marketing practice and for high value consumer products or services too.

What stood out for me was that it was a full month after I had downloaded the document and they chastised me for not reading the paper when I said I hadn't had time to take a look. How about they followed-up sooner!

This got me thinking about when is the ideal time for a follow-up? Is immediate better or is this too "big-brother". Well I recalled some data on this from a while back and turned to my Google+ Email commentators circle who soon pointed me at the data I was thinking of from back in 2008. Thanks Brian Eisenberg and Riaz Kanani!

Here are the results... It's from a post on 5 tactics on lead follow-up based on a study from InsideSales.com which showed that the odds of contacting a lead by phone drops by 100x in the first 30 minutes... Compelling!

The report also has useful data on response by time of day which as we might expect shows earlier and later in the day are best.
Checking out the latest 2011 data on web response follow-up by phone and email from an InsideSales report showed there are still difficulties in getting web response processes to work:
55.3% of the 159 companies never responded.
Of companies that responded:
  • 40.4 hour average to initial response time.
  • 2.6 average response attempts.
Of companies that responded by phone:
  • 49.3% of companies responded to inquiries by phone.
  • 65.4 hour average initial phone response time.
  • 31.0% responded by phone within 24 hours.
  • 1.4% responded by phone within 5 minutes.

How do you compare to these?

To complete the picture, of companies that responded by email:

  • 74.6% of companies responded to inquiries on a web form by email.
  • 40.1% responded by email within 24 hours.
  • 2.8% responded by email within 5 minutes.

Still not great, but considerably better than previous surveys I've quoted in books where the majority didn't respond at all.

So, to wrap up, what are the implications? Well the actions are clear

1. Review current web response times by phone and email and impact on lead maturation, i.e. conversion quality.

2. Set response targets of minimum follow-up

3. Put in places the people, process and technology to hit your targets - always the most difficult.

I'd be interested in how readers have tackled the measures+people+process+technology issues if you've grappled with this problem. What works for you?

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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