You would have thought media and publishing companies were now well practiced in change. With the digital disruption of the sector, the loss of core audiences and the fundamental need to transform outdated business models, adaptation should now be a core competency. However, it appears the media industry has failed to keep pace with another transformation, the move to use content to drive inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing has become such an important part of any B2B growth strategy that there have been countless articles, such as Harvard Business Review’s piece, that cover the importance of effective lead management. The topic has even led to scientific research about the optimal time to contact web-generated leads.
What does this research say?
While Lead Response Management (LRM) isn’t a new concept and every business fundamentally understands that they need to reach out quickly and professionally to new prospects, how effectively are they doing this? Research shows that both speed and persistency matter when responding to leads. Not only are the odds of contacting leads within five minutes 100 times greater than calling them after 30 minutes, but the chances of a lead entering the sales cycle increase by a significant 21 times. In addition, making six to nine contact attempts and using a mix of email, voicemail and phone calls can increase contact rates to more than 90%.
The media sector is missing the opportunity
The millions invested by the media sector into inbound marketing strategies, content and technology show that the value of generating incoming leads is well understood. Indeed, these new approaches to demand generation are business critical for many of the media industry’s giants. Despite all of this, the average media company is still struggling to respond effectively to their marketing-generated inquiries.
How do we know this?
Over the course of February and March 2016, XANT surveyed more than 50 media and business information organizations to ascertain how quickly and persistently they responded to web-based leads.
What did we find?
- The overall response rate (62%) was better than the UK 2015 average (46%)
- Only 17% of those surveyed phoned inbound leads
- The speed of response is slow, taking an average of 11 hours by phone and 36 hours through email
- The response persistence (1.8 attempts) is far below the 2015 UK average of 2.39 attempts and well below best practice standards
So, in short, media businesses are generally not calling leads back, taking too long to respond (when they are trying at all) and giving up too easily on contact follow-ups.
Why does this matter?
Every time a prospect slips through the cracks, you’re wasting the time, money and effort it took to produce that lead in the first place. With the average lead costing somewhere around €40, this is significant waste.
Industry data suggests that 45% of inbound inquirers end up buying and 78% buy from the first vendor to respond to their web inquiry. No business can afford these missed opportunities, especially the typical media business trying to rejuvenate its revenues.
Given the disruption and challenging business climate within the media sector, it is surprising that more are not capitalizing on the “low-hanging fruit” of hot inbound leads. There remains an opportunity for media firms to create a competitive advantage by adopting best practices in lead response.
This is great news for any media business. You don’t need a 12-month sales transformation project to develop a competitive advantage. Just get sales and marketing to make some simple process changes and ensure the sales teams work them.
The bottom line: Response times to new sales leads should be measured in minutes and seconds, not hours or days.
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