Showing consumers respect turns browsers into buyers. Yet, when consumers reach out, their inquiries often seem to fall on deaf ears.In the digital age, a prompt response is anticipated – always. And when it’s not delivered, it can easily kill the sale. Many businesses don’t recognize patience is scarce on the fast-paced Web. Even the slightest delay in response prompts consumers to go back to Google and friends to click the next search result. While planning web copy for an HR firm, they sent requests for quotes to three web designers. Within 48 hours they made their choice between two; they refused to wait for the third to respond. Meanwhile, some businesses just don’t care. Two years ago, Webcopyplus was referring several businesses to an industry partner, and a couple clients made comments about their response times. E-mails weren’t returned for up to four days. When we raised the issue with the service provider, we were stunned with the response: “Just because we’re an Internet-based business doesn’t mean people should expect us to return e-mails right away. Brick and mortar businesses can take a few days, so why shouldn’t we?” The partnership was terminated on the spot. The fact is technology is making the world smaller, but also faster. Plus, it empowers consumers to get exactly what they want, when they want. Consequently, if you don’t satisfy consumers’ specific needs swiftly, you can’t stay in the game. And, with consumers spending millions of dollars online daily, the stakes are high.

Innovations Aid Customer Acquisition Cycle

Fortunately, marketing firms are providing a host of innovative solutions to assist businesses with customer acquisition cycles on and off the Internet. In fact, LeadsCon, which hosted its inaugural conference last month in Las Vegas, featured 250 companies with online marketing tools aimed at attracting customers and converting sales. “Boosting conversion rates and facilitating relationships generally implies increased efficiency in a previously manually process,” said LeadsCon founder Jay Weintraub. “What we see in the online customer acquisition space, especially with respect to lead generation, are advances along the spectrum of the customer acquisition cycle.” Companies have long tried to manage customer acquisition cycles on their own, explained Weintraub. “But thanks to the scale of the industry, specialists exist so companies no longer need to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “As a result, organizations can focus on their core business.” Online marketing tools featured at LeadsCon included: Form Optimization Amadesa showcased a robust analytics package, as well as the first platform to gain insight on what questions a company should ask on a form, and in what order. As a result, companies can define points of friction in their current acquisition processes and make necessary revisions. Buyer Management Burstabit Media and Boberdoo presented tools and systems that allow businesses to collect lead information and sell it to buyers without having to build complex back-ends for managing, filtering and distributing leads. Lead Management Leads360 and Kaleidico revealed lead conversion tools designed to help businesses that buy leads close more of them. The technologies, likened to Salesforce for the sales industry, are proving to be valuable for both lead buyers and managers.

Technology to Help Close the Deal

Sammy James of San Diego’s MarketingAnd, which specializes in online marketing tools for businesses and schools, says LeadsCon was a success because observant organizations are recognizing the need to eliminate bottlenecks as more consumers use the Internet to search for products and services. He cited response times as a common issue for businesses and schools alike. James explained that delayed responses results in missed opportunities as consumers are not catered to when they are at their peak point of interest -- the most critical part of the customer acquisition cycle -- when they are most likely to make a purchase. As a result, the online marketing specialists are having great success arming clients with products like Rings Right Now!, which instantly converts Internet form inquiries into phone calls. “As soon as the online visitor clicks the submit button, the business or school is automatically connected to the prospect through the phone number provided on the form,” said James. “The organization can then thank the person for visiting the website and engage them in dialogue.” By closing the gap, he said the tool significantly increases “lead to conversation ratios.” That translates to more full-fledged customers.

About the Author

Rick Sloboda, Senior Web Copywriter at Webcopyplus, has been writing for websites since 2001 for some of the world’s largest service providers (Cingular, Scotia Bank, etc.). He speaks frequently at Web-related forums and seminars.