What’s your plan for dealing with leads who don’t convert immediately – or at least, say, within three months?
As a business coach, the answer I often hear from business owners is, “I don’t need one – they’re probably tyre kickers, anyway.” And that may well be true. For a portion of them, anyway.
You could certainly be forgiven for believing it is better not to invest too much of your marketing spend on bad leads, preferring to focus more on filling your sales funnel.
You might be surprised to learn, however, that the numbers tell a very different story. A large study conducted by The Inquiry Handling Service showed that when a group of people make an enquiry about a product or service, just over half of them will go on to make a purchase within 18 months.
For the group who does decide to buy, only 15% will do so within 90 days.
So… what does this mean for your business?
The opportunities are in the ‘bad’ leads
As a business advisor, I mentor business owners that increasing their follow up rate is an important strategy for business growth – this research really backs that up. If you aren’t checking in with that remaining 85% of people who’ll make their purchase between 90 days and 18 months after that first enquiry, you are definitely leaving money on the table.
If that rather large group of leads isn’t purchasing from you, they are purchasing from one of your competitors. What if all that stands between you and getting a bigger piece of that delicious dollar pie is a follow-up process?
A tiny marketing tactic that packs a whallop
Real estate entrepreneur, author, podcaster and online marketing expert, Dean Jackson, offers a quick, inexpensive and easy-to-execute follow-up strategy that could completely solve this issue for you.
It’s known as the nine-word email.
What is a nine-word email?
It’s fairly self-explanatory, really. Basically, you send a very focused email (free of pleasantries and padding), based on that customer’s enquiry or pain point.
It might look something like:
Have you made any progress with your home renovation?
Is your water heater still making that strange noise?
Are you still looking for a more reliable electrician?
Is your roof still leaking every time it rains?
Simple but effective, this single line email is probably the least effort you’ve ever put into your marketing. Yet, as a business advisor, I’ve seen emails like this have a huge impact on a business owner’s bottom line.
How should you craft your nine-word email?
There are several rules to keep in mind when crafting your own version of the nine-word email:
- No fluff – if you can’t get it down to around nine words, use as few as you can get away with
- Don’t give it more than one job to do – remember that all you are trying to do is open a dialogue with the recipient, not make a sale
- Personalise it – according to Jackson, this is achieved by putting just the person’s first name in the subject line. That’s it – you’re done.
- Phrase it as a question – an open-ended question puts the ball in their court, requiring a response from them – which is exactly what you want
- Make it about them – remember, this email isn’t about what you offer, it’s based around that person’s pain point.
Why does the nine-word email work so well?
There are a few reasons why this tactic is so effective:
- you are sending it to someone who had a genuine interest in (and need for) your product or service
- you already have a history with this person, so you are communicating with them in context
- you have a very simple goal – to start a conversation.
Another key reason that I believe the nine-word email works is that when a recipient replies, it acts like a mini conversion, or commitment, re-engaging them with your business and brand. With each interaction like this, they become just a little more invested (and therefore more likely to choose to do business with you over your competitors).
You’ve got nothing to lose
The best thing about the nine-word email tactic is that it’s low effort, maximum impact: you aren’t investing much time or money, yet the potential benefits could be huge. As a coach, I mentor business owners that regardless of the response they get, it’s a win; either the recipient makes contact and you (at the very least) gain some valuable customer insight, or you can close out the sale and clean up your CRM system or email list in the process. So, what are you waiting for? Go dig through your emails, your database – even the notepad by your phone – for all those leads you’d long give up on. It may be that nine magic words is all it takes to turn that ‘tyre kicker’ into a customer.