Are you following up on mail order leads?

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Are you using your leads ... or drowning in them?
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Dropped leads, late responses could be costing you money

You work hard for your mail order leads.  Whether you spend hard earned dollars on lists of leads, or generate them yourselves from a website, direct mail marketing or some kind of advertising, those leads come with a high cost. 

But what happens once you have those leads in hand?  Are you doing everything you can to convert leads into paying customers?

Here are some common mistakes catalog and mail order marketers make when in comes responding to new leads.

I'll get to them later

It's amazing but true.  Every day hundreds of companies get new leads that will remain untouched for weeks or even months. So by the time anything goes out to what might have been a potential customer, there's a good chance they've moved, changed e-mail addresses, no longer need the product or service, or (worst of all), bought from your competitor.

The fact is, when you receive your leads, you need to immediately respond to them.  This is especially true when the lead has come from a prospect directly through a comment card, download request, opt-in, e-mail or phone call.  These "golden leads" have already made the effort to contact your company, or have expressed an interest in something your company offers.

If you don't have a plan in place to respond to new leads, now is the time to create one.  Set up a process for the time and nature of your initial response to each new lead, and then stick to it. 

Are they good?  Are they bad? Who knows?

If you're buying lists of leads, it's up to you as the marketer to verify that the leads are good. Sending out catalogs, direct mail or other responses without making sure the mail order leads are indeed complete and valid is a great way to waste money.  But it's not a good way to acquire new customers.

As a catalog or mail order company paying for leads, you can elect to use a company that validates addresses for you, or you can do it yourself with one of the software or online services. But you have to do something to check each and every mail order lead before you mail. Otherwise, you're wasting mailing costs on catalogs and other direct mail that will either be returned or trashed.

And like the prospect generated leads, this verification needs to be done in a timely manner.  Most reputable lead generation companies will credit your account for bad leads, but only within a certain (and usually brief) time frame.    

One size fits all

Many mail order companies don't make distinctions when it comes to mail order leads.  Every lead gets the same generic response, the same sets of catalogs or the same offer.

But that is not only a potential waste of money up front, it could actually alienate potential customers.  It's bad customer service, and bad marketing.

Instead of taking a "one size fits all" approach, create a few possible responses to new leads.  This could be as simple as choosing who gets which catalogs or which kind of letter is sent out. The nature of your business will determine how specific the response groups need to be. 

The results are up to you

No matter where you get your mail order leads, the value they provide depends on your response.  Make sure it's a good one, a timely one, a real one. Only then will you see the results in your bottom line.

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