Make every lead count: Avoiding missed calls, ghost form submissions, and more
This is a guest post by Jonathan Naccache, Co-Founder and President of Webistry, a digital marketing agency dedicated to improving marketing performance and increasing sales.
As a business owner, you’ve surely experienced it time and time again; you launch a campaign and the leads start flowing in. The influx of inbound leads is great! You’re getting tons of incoming calls and form submissions, at a reasonable cost per acquisition. There’s a problem however. You can’t seem to get a hold of your leads, and when you do, things don’t necessarily go as planned. On one end, you have inbound missed calls that never seem to pick up when you call back and on the other end you get form submissions that never seem to respond.
You might say to yourself: these must be low-quality leads. But before you pull the plug and move on to the next idea, dig deeper. The last thing you want to do is turn the page on a profitable marketing campaign.
Is it a lead quality issue, or is it a process issue?
At Webistry, we’ve had to deal with this many times. We’d be running lead generation campaigns in Google Ads or Facebook Ads and the leads would be flowing. The client would then tell us “I have no sales.” I'd be convinced we were doing everything right, but we had no visibility as to what was happening post-lead. This is when we started digging into our clients’ sales process, interviewing their customer service teams/salespeople, and auditing their emails, calls, scripts, and so on.
We quickly found out that in most cases, the issue wasn’t lead quality. Instead, it was a process issue. For my agency to succeed, our clients had to succeed. This meant we needed to find ways to help optimize their post-lead process. Here’s what we found out.
The three pillars for your inbound calls strategy
1. Analyze: Identify the reasons for missed calls
If you’re experiencing an important percentage of lost leads due to missed calls or non-responsive inquiries, start by asking yourself “why is this happening?”. The reasons are often simpler than expected, and so are the solutions. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to help you pinpoint the reasons behind your unanswered calls.
CallRail Call Logs
Although daunting and sometimes overwhelming, you’d be surprised how much insight you can get from taking a look at your call logs in CallRail. The goal is to try and find patterns your missed calls share in common. For instance:
- A day of the week seems to be behind most of your missed calls
- An employee seems to be more problematic than others
- A certain time of day is the main culprit
- A specific campaign or source generates more missed calls
This analysis is made easier by using the “Filter” option. When picking your filter, select “Duration”. CallRail tags unanswered calls as “unanswered” or “abandoned”. However, if you have a respondent system or a voicemail, and the caller decides to hang up prematurely, that call will still count as a completed call with a certain duration. To account for that, select any duration under let’s say 1 minute. That last detail is up to you; it’s not a perfect science.
Once you’ve filtered for missed calls, try to see if you can find any patterns.
- Behavior (Missed Calls): Utilizing CallRail’s Reports can be very powerful. I personally like to use their “Behavior” report called “Missed Calls” that allows you to visualize all your missed calls for a specific date range, by time of day or day of the week. You can add filters to that report such as Source, Campaigns, and much more.
- Call by Agent: I also like their “Calls by Agent” report which allows me to pinpoint if any reps are more problematic than others. This could mean poor customer service, slow response times, etc.
- Call by Tag: Lastly, I like using the “Calls by Tag” report if my customer has the habit of tagging all their missed calls in their Call Log. Remember, CallRail won’t necessarily label a call as missed if your voicemail or respondent system picks up.
Integrations with advertising channels
For experienced advertisers, you might want to get more granular and understand which ads or keywords are bringing you more missed calls. You will want to see your call conversions attributed to your campaigns directly in your ad accounts. This might help you eliminate certain keywords, create a different ad schedule, or change your strategy entirely.
To do this, make sure you enable the following integrations in CallRail to tie to your marketing campaigns:
2. Pick up: Enable solutions to limit missed calls
Often enough the reason behind your missed calls is simply the processes you have in place with your sales or customer service teams. These can range from simple to complex. CallRail’s IVR solution, Call Flow Builder, has proved to be indispensable for us over the years when call volume is at its highest. Here are a few common issues I’ve found over the years and how to address them.
For instance, a dental practice running ads after 5:00pm is very likely to get missed calls if they close at 5:00pm. Most people are busy at work up until 5:00pm and will only take the time to make calls in the evening. If you don’t want to miss out on after-hours traffic, make sure you have after-hours support and route your calls to another number based on a schedule that you choose. To make this happen, you can use the Schedule option with CallRail’s Call Flow Builder.
If you have a small team and they’re often busy multitasking, it might be wise to use the Simulcall option with CallRail’s Call Flow Builder. This option will allow you to route your calls to multiple numbers at the same time. The first employee to pick up gets the call. This allows you to maximize your chances of having an available employee pick up.
One touchpoint for all calls
In many cases, a receptionist handles all inbound calls. If your front desk is busy helping customers or completing another task, they are more likely to miss calls. This is normal, and it will happen no matter how skilled your staff is as multitasking.
I like to utilize one of two Call Flow options for this problem.
This one is simple. Give your receptionist a break and create a simple and straight-to-the-point menu directly in CallRail. This will allow you to route your calls to the right team or employee without depending on one touch point to pick up. Popular menu options can range from:
- Customer service
A slight touch more sophisticated than the menu option, Responsive Routing allows you to set rules that will automatically route certain users to the right department or employee. The goal is to minimize wait times. Menus can sometimes be considered a negative experience for callers that are in a rush or impatient, since it’s an additional step between making the call and speaking to the right person. The more you minimize the friction, the less likely your caller is to drop the call.
For example, a dental clinic might want to route calls directly to the dentist’s cell phone under the following conditions: the call is made after-hours and it originated from a Google Ads “dental emergency” campaign.
On the other hand, you might want to route calls to Customer Service if they’re tagged as “Repeat Caller”. The possibilities are quite endless.
3. Call back: Recover a sales lead from a missed call
No matter what you do, missed calls will always exist. When they do happen, you can equip yourself to recover the lost lead. The best way to do this is to set up notifications that will alert you.
Here are three types of notifications I like to utilize with CallRail:
- Email notifications are useful if your teams spend a lot of time in their emails
- Text message notifications are useful for teams that are on the move
- Slack notifications, using the CallRail x Slack integration, can be useful when you want to notify an entire sales team for instance
Lost sales leads: missed calls vs. form submissions
Certain verticals are more prone to getting form submissions, rather than inbound phone calls. This poses a problem of its own.
From a paid traffic perspective, we know that the average “lead” is in shopping mode. If they’ve contacted you, odds are they’ve contacted at least one other competitor. These leads usually want to solve an immediate problem. They’re motivated. This is why a quick response is essential.
The issue with form submissions, compared to inbound calls, is that responding to the lead usually requires more steps and more time, therefore reducing your chances of 1) getting in touch with them in the first place and 2) getting the desired action from our interaction.
A deeper look at your sales process
From my experience dealing with countless of our customers’ leads, this is usually how the process goes:
- Form submission is received;
- Employee responds to the lead by email, usually asking their availability for a call;
- If the lead responds, availabilities are exchanged (this can often require multiple exchanges);
- Employee sends a calendar invite for a call, or books an appointment;
- If the next step is a call, the employee calls the lead at the agreed upon time.
This process requires at least 5 steps, and that’s if everything goes as planned. Not to mention that by the time the employee responds, emails are exchanged and the call is made, several days can go by.
What’s worse is when we discovered that, oftentimes, the initial response to the lead only occurs several hours, sometimes an entire day, following the form submission.
The result: a significant percentage of leads never responded. From those who did respond, an important percentage didn’t book. And from those who booked, an important percentage never showed up to the call.
Optimizing the post-lead process
As an agency we knew we had to solve this problem for our clients. But how? Imagine a dental practice, who’s sales team consists of their front desk. A receptionist or office manager has dozens of jobs jammed into one. You can imagine that a lot of time can go by between checking their inbox, getting to the email in question (the lead), responding to it or calling it, and exchanging availability.
We also knew we couldn’t change the fact that the front desk (for example) was busy and that their ability to respond faster would likely not change (trust me, we tried).
Our theory was simple. When a user becomes a lead, in that specific moment, they are the easiest to reach. Not only are they easier to reach, they are more likely to respond positively. In that moment, the user took the time to look, read, learn and reach out.
The longer it took to respond to them, the more likely it was that they lost interest, got engulfed by their daily routines, or found another solution.
Two quick plug-and-play solutions
Auto-responders, not enough
Our first attempt at solving the lead time issue was simple. We implemented email auto-responders for all form submissions. This way we knew for sure that the lead would receive an email response immediately, therefore increasing our chances of an interaction.
We immediately saw a lift in response rates. However, this led us to identify another issue. Exchanging availability still required multiple steps, during which the lead would cease to respond.
Automated scheduling, still not enough
We moved on to the next solution. We implemented scheduling links synchronized with the employee’s availability. Again, we immediately saw a lift in booking rates. However, yet another issue became clear; the leads would not always show up to their calls or appointments.
The solution: immediate call-backs
When you break it down, the solution is quite simple. If you want to maximize your chances of generating a positive result from every lead, you need to call them immediately. To be specific, you need to call them at the exact moment they reached out. Not an easy feat for even the best salespeople out there.
This idea makes even more sense for businesses that operate almost mostly on the phone (my go-to dental practice example fits that profile perfectly).
While searching for ways to automate this solution, we stumbled upon CallRail’s Forms and Quick Responses. Using both solutions will make it possible to be immediately connected, by phone, to every form lead.
You can create a CallRail Custom Form and place it on any external page, whether it’s on your website or on dedicated landing pages. We personally love to create custom forms titled “Request a Call-Back”, which would only ask for the phone number.
You can utilize CallRail’s External Forms feature and place their form tracking script on any page with an existing form.
Enabling a Quick Response for your forms will allow you to connect the lead with an employee almost immediately, therefore increasing your chances of 1) getting in touch with them and 2) closing the sale.
When creating a Quick Response, you’re given the option to pick between a Call Alert or a Text Message Alert. You can definitely choose both, but make sure you pick the Call Alert option. This option will be the one that connects you to your lead by phone.
This is what the business-customer journey looks like when you use CallRail’s Quick Response with their Forms. The following customer journey lasts approximately 30 seconds, from start to finish.
- The lead submits the form, including their phone number in the process
- CallRail’s system immediately calls the employee
- When the employee picks up, they’re prompted with an automated message, notifying them about the lead
- By dialing 1, the employee is immediately connected to the lead
One step at a time
The steps I laid out can feel overwhelming at first, but you can apply them progressively. I promise that you’ll start seeing improvements if you applied just one of the solutions proposed. Remind yourself that you might have sales knocking at your doorstep, and that every missed call or late reply is a lost opportunity.