Is anybody home? Are you really responding to your inbound inquiries?

website inquiry
Our online inquiry page for one of our regional publications ( I think we are pretty efficient in answering these inquiries -- many of which convert to orders. How good are you at truly responding to your inbound website inquiries?

In a recent issue of The Ontario Homebuilder, writer Mary Robertson reported on a disturbing and challenging test. She made online inquiries to 51 builders websites, “where I posed as a mystery shopper seeking to relocate along with my husband.”

The shocking data: More than half of the builders failed to respond at all.

Just 22 builders actually responded — via email or phone call — to my website contact page inquiry. A handful of those non-replies included automated responses promising to get back to me shortly, but were never followed up. A few contact pages were finicky or not working at all, or required repeated attempts.

Of course, some builders got it right. Six of the 51 responded within an hour, and another 10 got back within a day (and a few stragglers took up some weeks to answer). The responses varied in quality, with some truly taking the time to consider the client’s needs and others simply directing them to the sales office.

Robertson based her survey on a similar, wider-spread project partnered by Do You Convert and prospect management company Lasso CRM. That survey “showed that between 2012 to 2015, 40 per cent of individuals who filled out a request for information on a builder’s website received no reply, while more than 70 per cent never got a phone call. ?Most surprising was that a paltry three per cent of the 800 plus online inquiries conducted over that time resulted in more than one phone call and two emails over a 30 day period.”

“We study builder follow-up with sales prospects who have requested additional information on the builder’s website, and each year’s data has shown that our industry has yet to understand the potential revenue from those searching for a home online,” writes Mike Lyon in Professional Builder magazine‘s May 2016 edition.

I won’t speculate on the reason for the dismal data here, but the obvious question is: If you build a lead-generating tool, and the leads arrive, surely you should have a process in place to respond to them.

Robertson suggests you conduct your own test of your own site — and see (a) how easy it is to submit an inquiry and (b) where that inquiry goes? If it turns out your response/contact forms are either not easy to use or working properly, you should fix them right away. And if you don’t have a systematized and rapid (yet human) approach to responding to the inbound communications, shame on you. After all, none of the marketing you conduct matters even a bit if you fail to capture the leads your marketing generates.

(I should note, somewhat sheepishly, that last week a reader contacted me through the back-up contact tool asking to subscribe to one of our regional publication’s eletters. ?I checked, and discovered there was a flaw in the form recording system — you couldn’t subscribe even if you wanted. I corrected the error and thanked the reader — and thanked myself for building a back-up communications tool into the web form system we use for initial inquiries.)

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