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Most Effective Web Lead Follow-up Strategies

If you’re struggling to connect with web lead contacts, you’re not alone. On average, 80% of B2B sales calls end up in voicemail and over 90% of voicemails go unreturned according to numbers from the sales data verification service, RingLead.

Call volume matters with web leads too, but calling warmer web prospects offers some smarter-not-harder shortcuts.

Recently, Find Accounting Software gathered data about web lead follow-up that was too interesting to keep under our hats, entitled “Case Study: 63,256 Calls Boiled Down to the Most Effective Web Lead Follow-up Strategies.”

The study takes on four questions that every sales and marketing employee deals with on a daily basis:

  • How does the speed of follow-up affect the results?
  • How many calls should be attempted?
  • What is the best time of day to call leads?
  • What is the best day of the week to call leads?

The quicker we called contacts the more likely we were to speak with them and successfully qualify their interest. Calling within 1 minute of lead submission doubled our first call successful contact and qualification rates.

Based on the research and simple common sense, we expected to see a positive correlation between quick outreach and improved contact rates. But we were still surprised by how profound the impact of tightening outreach times could be was when we looked at our actual numbers.

Most Effective Web Lead Follow-up StrategiesWould some people be turned off by the quick follow up? Definitely not. In fact, the quicker the call, the better the qualification rate. We qualified nearly twice as many prospects (39.6% versus 20.9%), just by picking up the phone immediately versus waiting an hour.

So How Many Follow Up Calls Should Be Made?

Calling contacts a full 10 attempts lead to nearly twice as many qualified leads versus calling only once. Research shows the average number of call attempts salespeople make to inbound leads is 1.3—far too few to maximize contact.

Perhaps the easiest way to visualize the efficiency impact of calling web prospects quickly is to look at the difference in the number of calls required to qualify a lead based on when we made the first call. In terms of calling efficiency, reaching out right away provides a huge win.

Most Effective Web Lead Follow-up StrategiesWhen we studied our own data was that there is a steep price to pay for cutting short follow-up. Qualified prospects will be lost—and lost in significant numbers.

Statistically the first call is your best bet to get someone on the line.

We found that we spoke to almost twice as many contacts on our first call as on our second (42.9% versus 22.2%). From there, the per call contact rates drop off. By the time we reached the 10th call, we were down to less than 1 in 20 individual calls resulting in conversations.

Admittedly, it is hard to get excited about a per call contact rate under 5%. But the cost of making an additional call is cheap (maybe 30-60 seconds). More importantly, over time the contact numbers add up.

We discovered that continuing through the 10th call increased our overall contact rate to nearly 80%—almost doubling the contact rate resulting from calling just a single time.

What effect does time of day have on contact rates? We found a few brief points

  1. The difference in the effect of time of day for calls is fairly minimal
  2. If you don’t correct for some variables, the data can be a bit misleading

We generally experienced the most success calling leads in the morning hours. However, the time of the day of call attempts had a relatively minor influence on lead contact. The difference in contact rates for the best and worst hours of the day was less than 5%.

One thing is clear: Morning hours are the better time to reach contacts. However, a variable might be misleading in this aspect.

Given the fact that we do not call leads/prospects outside of your standard business hours, all web submissions that come in after hours are ready and waiting to be reached the following morning.

This leads to us making a disproportionate number of first call attempts in the morning, which could explain the higher contact rates.

The thing we wanted to figure out was when contacts were the most receptive. To figure this out, we excluded leads submitted outside of standard business hours.

Looking at the adjusted data, call outcomes did vary by time of the day, but the variance was relatively mild. Mornings still emerged as a more effective time to make contact, but it doesn’t appear there is much data here to favor a particular time of the day.

Once again, we come back to how quickly and how many attempts are made to leads/prospects.

What is the Best Day to Follow-Up?

Every day is a great day to follow-up. However, the life of a salesperson can be busy, and they may need to set aside certain days for follow-up, while other days are reserved for other business activity.

Our data tells us that the middle of the week is the best time to contact, with contact rates getting better as the week goes on. Friday remains the weakest day of follow-up.

But, along with the best time of day to call, the variance is mild. A small trend can be visible given the amount of calls we analyzed, but it’s not a large enough trend to arrange a schedule around.

The middle of the week (T-Th) is a slightly more effective time to reach out to lead contacts. Calls on Thursday had the highest contact rate.

But day of the week is even less of a factor than time of the day on lead follow-up success. The difference in contact rate between the best day (Thursday) and the worst (Friday), was less than 3%.

In summary, numbers are great, but they don’t mean much without acting on them. In our case, we’ve enacted a number of process changes to increase the effectiveness of our outreach. One measure of the progress can be seen in our follow up times.

Over the past year, if you calculate our average follow-up time, we’ve been able to get it down to within 3 minutes. More than half the prospects who request follow-up on our site will now hear their phone ring within 1 minute.