Inbound Marketing, the strategy and practice of persuading prospective clients to contact a business by offering information on, for example, a website or social media platform that piques a prospect’s interest and leads that individual to contact the business, stands in opposition to Outbound Marketing, which encompasses traditional marketing practices such as advertising, participation in trade shows, sending out press releases and making cold calls as a strategy to appeal to prospective customers.
Either method can be effective and one is advised to implement both to a greater or lesser degree depending on one’s clientele. Inbound Marketing is all the rage in some quarters, as it has the potential to deliver self-selected prospects. In 2009, US companies spent $22.7 billion on internet based advertising designed to drive Inbound Marketing to both B2B and B2C customers. Yet as with so much in life, follow-up counts. Time, it turns out, is the enemy of Inbound Marketing.
Do it now
Unless your product or service can be purchased online, fast follow-up to Inbound Marketing inquiries is absolutely essential. A 2010 study conducted by the Harvard Business Review revealed that the average response time to an Inbound Marketing lead is 42 hours. Evidence has shown that waiting nearly two days to get back to a prospective client may very well cause you to lose your chance. In 2006, James B. Oldroyd, professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, teamed up with the sales technology firm Inside Sales to address the question of the ideal follow-up time-frame for web-generated leads.
Dr. Oldroyd analyzed three years of cold calling data across six companies: 15,000 sales leads generated from 100,000 + cold call attempts. He found that Inbound Marketing leads have an extremely short shelf life. His data showed that 5 minutes is the best time-frame and that any response made after 30 minutes was a waste of time.
If follow-up was made within five minutes, the likelihood of a sale resulting was four times greater than if the call back occurred from five to ten minutes after the inquiry. Freelancers can take that to mean our follow-up needs to occur within 24 hours; waiting even two days to call someone back could cost you.
Time it right
There are also many theories floating around about the best days and times to contact a customer. Oldroyd studied that issue as well and discovered that 8:00 – 9:00 AM and 4:00 – 5:00 PM are the prime times to call. 1:00 – 2:00 PM is the worst time of day to attempt contact.
Popular wisdom has it that Monday is totally the worse day to call anyone and there is a school of thought that claims Friday is the best day, since clients are allegedly in a good frame of mind as they wind down and head into the weekend. Oldroyd’s study revealed that neither day is best or worst.
When it comes to cold calling or following up, Thursday reigns supreme and Wednesday is a close second. Friday emerged as the worst day to call and the other days are somewhere in the middle. So if you’re unable to respond back within the ideal time-frame for your clients, a reasonable Plan B is to call on a Thursday, between 8:00 – 9:00 AM or 4:00 – 5:00 PM.
The moral to this story is pretty simple, actually. If you decide to direct valuable resources into an Inbound Marketing strategy, then make sure that you or your team are prepared to respond to prospects in a timely fashion.
Thanks for reading,