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How to Nurture Leads with Auto Response Emails

ByErica Bell,
business.com writer
|
Mar 19, 2013
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> Marketing
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A new study from Optify looked at the websites of over 500 of the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies and found that only 37% are using autoresponders to follow up on leads. Our research has found that there is a direct correlation between follow-up timing and conversion rates. Because a sales rep is not always available to reach out immediately to a lead, auto response emails are a simple and effective way for your business to communicate with a new prospect. There are four elements to an auto responder: a form, a "thank you" page, an email and cadence. Your initial and follow-up emails need to be branded, relevant and timeless. Our testing has found that emails sent from a person within the company, as opposed to sending from a generic company name, drive a higher response. Auto response email campaigns are a great way to stay connected with prospects after they submit a form and here are three ways your business can make the most of them.

The Thank You Page

A clear call to action can direct your customer further down the conversion funnel. The thank you page is an opportunity to upsell, cross-sell or deepen engagement with links to your blog or social networks. Focus on delivering content on your thank you page that helps the reader make sense of everything they just read and how they can put it into action to improve their business. You can even offer additional downloads. Turn your thank you page into a resource page and a way your business can continue to build its brand.

  • Optify found that 91% of the B2B companies analyzed displayed a "Thank You" page stating that the form was received
  • Only 18% of those with thank you pages displayed a call-to-action upon form submission. Be sure your thank you page encourages leads to continue interacting with your business.

The First Follow-Up

A fast auto response email places your business in the eyes of a potential customer again, before they have a chance to forget about your business and the form they filled out. Include trackable links to content on your site or blog. Sales teams are often reaching out to leads via phone calls. Your team's first follow-up shouldn't be a call or an email. It needs to be both. Timing is everything and when responding to a completed form within 5 minutes versus 10 minutes leads to a 900% increase in contact rate, your business needs to be reaching out to touch base quickly and through multiple communication channels if needed.

  • 70% of the companies that use autoresponders send the first email within 15 minutes of a form being submitted with the average response time for these companies being just over 3 minutes.
  • Only 58% of the immediate (within 15 minutes of submission) auto response emails were personalized.
  • Emails sent in between phone calls raise the chances of achieving contact by 16% (Leads360).

The Next Follow-Up

Play with timing until you find the best time to submit emails. One best practice your business can follow is the 3:7 schedule. While your first email is sent immediately, second and third emails can be sent 3 days after form submission and then again one week after submission. After the first email, your follow-up emails need to progress depending on where the person is in the purchasing funnel. Letting the user know what to expect provides an additional layer of transparency to your lead nurturing process.

  • 6% of the initial auto response emails contained an indication of a future email (Optify).
  • Most companies send more than one follow up email - the average number of follow up emails sent in the first week was 2.54 and the average interval between the first and second email was just over 30.5 hours.
  • The data from Leads360 reveals that the optimal number of email messages to increase conversion during the first month of a prospect's lifetime is 5.

Combining the findings for phone calls and emails, the most effective contact strategy involves 6 phone calls and 5 emails, interspersed over 22 days. Use auto responders to make this process more efficient. An effective auto responder campaign generates a response. Give the prospect another opportunity to request additional information and connect with your business. An auto response program collects additional information about each prospect that your company and sales reps can use to prioritize follow-up. You can use your auto response efforts to nurture leads and guide them through the conversion funnel for greater optimization and success.

Has your business seen success with the use of auto response emails? How so?

(Image: Optify)

Erica Bell
Erica Bell
See Erica Bell's Profile
Erica is the Social Media Specialist, as well as a content coordinator and writer. She writes on topics such as small business marketing strategies, human resources related best practices and customer service.You can find her posts on the home Business.com blog as well as the Performance Marketing blog. Erica is a double-major graduate of the University of California, Irvine. Aside from blogging and social media marketing, Erica enjoys playing soccer and rooting for the New Orleans Saints, spending time at the beach, and cuddling with her dog, Moo.
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