Six ways to plug the holes in your lead funnel

17th Oct 2014

In a competitive market where consumers have a wealth of choice, it’s more important than ever for businesses to maximise marketing return with successful lead conversion. Up to 75% of internet leads are lost because businesses don’t have the right knowledge and tools to plug leaks in their lead funnel.

In an ideal world every prospect would find you online, visit your website, contact you and become a customer. In reality, only some of those prospects will turn into customers, which is frightening when you consider that the UK is the global leader for purchasing goods and services online – 77% of us do this at least once a month according to The Connected Consumer UK TNS/Google research published this year. By identifying and fixing leaks in your lead funnel, you can maximise the number of leads that convert into sales.

A lead funnel is made up of only three core parts: one where prospects ‘discover’ you, another in which they ‘contact’ you and a third in which they ‘choose’ you. Each of these stages must be handled properly to make the most of every penny of marketing spend, whether you invest hundreds or tens of thousands. Some customers are ready to buy, but others need nurturing. You must have the right tools in place to generate, nurture and convert your leads.

Here are six tips, based on our own experience, to help you ensure leads are maximised and ‘leaks’ are plugged in the sales funnel:

1. Have a well-designed, smart website

A website is a key conversion tool for any business. Getting it right can result in a huge uplift in leads and revenue, especially when over 60% of the time customers cannot find the information they are looking for and leave without taking further action. It has to:

· Be well designed: your website represents your business and if it’s poorly designed customers will go elsewhere – Online Marketing Institute figures show 85% of visitors abandon websites because of poor design.

· Have visible contact information: up to half of potential sales are lost because consumers can’t find your contact information. When a potential customer visits your website they may have already conducted extensive research and be ready to engage with you, so you may lose them if they have to hunt for your contact information. The top right hand corner of your website is the optimum position for contact details.

· Clearly demonstrate what you do: a website should demonstrate your value proposition and contain a clear call to action for customers.

· Have sufficient conversion paths: customers should be able to complete a transaction or request further information from any and all of your web pages.

· Be mobile friendly - many consumers are increasingly accessing the internet on mobile devices such as smartphones (68%) and tablets (40%). Make sure you connect with consumers on the move and ensure your site is optimised for mobile devices to make buying simple.  

2. Offer more than one contact method

Many people searching for services may not immediately telephone you, especially if they are at work or it is outside business hours. Provide email forms, live chat and social channels to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to contact you. These methods will also help you capture valuable customer data.

3. Capture sufficient customer data on every channel

One of the biggest leaks in the sales funnel is caused by a failure to capture customer data. If you don’t know who your prospects are, you can’t understand how they found you and you can’t follow-up to convert them into sales. Wherever possible, capture contact details such as the prospect’s email address. This lets you pro-actively follow-up on leads.

4. Support sales staff with the right information, when they need it most

Consumers expect to be contacted quickly when they make an enquiry. Make sure the processes and systems are in place to provide timely notification of new contacts, pushed to your mobile devices. Call recording software can also help you capture the finer details of a conversation for future reference and lets you review calls and provide appropriate training to improve sales skills.

5. Consider automated marketing systems

As lead numbers increase it becomes more difficult to manage customer contact, particularly if you are trying to manage other areas of the business too. Automated marketing systems can be a way to relieve the pressure by taking care of tasks such as building custom, branded lead-nurturing emails; automatically sending customised marketing emails to prospects to keep your business top-of-mind until they are ready to buy; and keeping the sales team reminded of active leads.

6. Respond quickly to every query

Aim to reply to web forms, emails and calls within an hour. That sounds like a tall order, but with multiple businesses to choose from, many customers will opt to do business with the company that calls back first. 55% of purchase-related conversions occur within one hour of an initial mobile search, according to Mobile Search Moments, underlining how quickly you must act. 

Whether you are a sole trader or a growing small business, it is essential to plug the gaps in your sales funnel. Competition is stiff particularly as the economy regains stability and starts to grow. The question you have to ask yourself is how many sales can you afford to lose to the competition? It’s not simply a matter of revenue, it’s one of reputation and sustaining growth.

Paul Liascos is MD UK at ReachLocal.

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