The 5 Smartest Things to Do When a Consumer Contacts You

The 5 Smartest Things to Do When a Consumer Contacts You

When we discuss online marketing, most of the time it’s about how to get prospects to find and contact you. We talk about having a thorough Web presence, made up of targeted online advertising, claimed local listings, fresh social media pages, search-optimized content, and a professionally-designed website. And that’s great—you need all of these things to get consumers to discover and contact your business. But getting a first contact isn’t the end goal of your online marketing program. The true success of your online marketing is measured by what happens next – what you do once you get that treasured conversion like a phone call or email.

The truth is you can be doing everything right when it comes to getting found online and still lose a valuable lead. Here are five of the smartest things you can do to make sure you turn your prospects into customers.

1. Answer Calls and Provide Additional Information

The first and probably easiest step in generating leads from your online marketing is simply having one or more people designated to answer incoming phone calls in a friendly and helpful manner.  Train your staff not only to be courteous on the phone but also to have all the information they need at their fingertips: from basic business information like location and hours, to details about your products and services, specials, and staff schedules. By arming your staff with the information consumers are likely to ask about, they can speak to them with authority and confidence; and with a few sales skills, they can even provide information the customer didn’t know they were looking for. For instance, say a customer calls a salon to schedule a haircut, but you’re running a special on hair color and cut, the staff should be trained to mention the offer while the consumer is on the phone.

Plus, great customer service is key to moving a prospect from simply looking for information to truly becoming interested in your business. In fact, a study by CEI states that 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. So always provide great and personal customer service, even if the caller is simply asking for your hours or directions.

2. Respond to Voicemails and Emails ASAP

Sometimes consumers may call your business after hours, send an email, or fill out a form on your website. For emails and Web forms, it’s best to have a system that sends an automated email to the consumer letting them know their message was received. Then, it’s important to check voicemail and email inboxes daily and get back to the prospect right away. The sooner you respond, the better. One study showed that if you don’t respond within the first hour, the chances of you ever getting back to them drop 10x. The same customer service rules apply whether you’re calling a prospect or emailing them – make sure your tone is friendly, helpful, and provides additional information like promotions that can move them closer to making a purchase decision.

3. Build Your Contact List

One of the smartest things you can do when a new prospect calls your business is to add them to your contact list. Whether you are using an email marketing system, CRM solution, or your own database, when speaking with or emailing a prospect, always collect and record the following information:

  • Full name
  • Email address and phone number
  • Address, city, or neighborhood
  • Product or service they are interested in
  • When they are looking to buy
  • How they heard about your business

The simple act of collecting this information can have tremendous impact on your business. Collecting a prospect’s name and contact information means you now have a way to reach back out to them with specific information about the product or service they are interested in, as well as keep them informed later with marketing messages like helpful tips, offers and specials, announcements, and more. Plus, knowing the prospect’s location enables you target marketing messages specifically to their area. For instance, if you’re opening a new store or expanding your service area their location, you can send an email letting them know.  Finally, asking how they heard about your business is an easy way to see which marketing tactics are working to bring you new prospects.

4. Classify the Lead and Follow Up

When a contact comes into the business, it’s vital that you qualify them. Use the information you collected for your contact list to determine whether the contact is an active lead (meaning they want to buy quickly), a long-term lead (meaning they are just researching, or not interested in buying for a few months), or a customer. Note the status of the contact in your contact list, so you can provide them with the right types of information when you reach back out to them.

Once you have a standardized way to collect lead data and classify them based on their interest and stage in the consumer buying journey, it’s important to follow up with any leads that haven’t yet made a purchase. For active leads, follow up via phone or a quick email with specific information related to what they inquired about. Asking for the sale at this point is important to close the business. Alternatively, nurture long-term leads with a series of useful emails that include a call to action that will remind them of your business and encourage them to buy.

5. Track the Marketing Source

In addition to asking prospects how they found your business, you can employ tactics like call tracking, call recording, and website analytics to determine how consumers are learning about you. Call tracking and call recording are especially helpful if you are running offline advertising like direct mail, billboards, radio or TV ads, and more. Because prospects may call you directly from your ad, you can use different tracking numbers for each form of advertising to determine which types are most effective at bringing you new business. Website analytics will help you track clicks to your website from your posts on sites like your blog and social media pages, so you can track how much traffic you are getting from those sites.  This is essential to determining your marketing ROI and improving your online marketing programs.

Are you practicing all of these to turn the most prospects into customers? Are there any other strategies you find effective for increasing conversions? Let us know in a comment!

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Tamara Weintraub

Tamara is a content marketing manager at ReachLocal with over 7 years experience in B2B marketing and has a nerd-level affinity for software and technology. She specializes in helping local businesses succeed online, writing and learning about Google, search advertising, SEO, and social media marketing. When she's not writing about online marketing, you can find her watching cult TV and hanging out with her Doberman.

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