Most telephone answering services use some sort of marketing to grow their business. If your answering service can grow without any marketing, that’s great. However, most aren’t so fortunate. There are two key metrics when it comes to analyzing marketing efforts, be it online or offline. The first is response rate, that is, the percentage of people who respond to your ad. The second is conversion rate, that is, the percentage of people who respond that end up buying. Here are four reasons why your conversion rate may not be as high as you would like. 1) Misleading Marketing: In the online world, we’re familiar with clickbait. Clickbait is a sensational headline that entices us to click, but when we do we’re disappointed at what we find. The promotion was a blatant misrepresentation of the results that were provided. A similar situation occurs in the checkout line at most grocery stores, with incredible headlines plastered on the front pages of the tabloids. The headlines give a promise, but the story beneath them fails to live up to the hype. When we market answering services, we can fall into the same trap, though hopefully not to the same degree. Does your marketing piece promise something you can’t realistically provide? For example, your promotional piece might say that you will answer every call on the first ring with a live person. This is misleading marketing. People may respond to it, but they won’t likely convert. 2) Wrong Target Market: Some marketing managers go after low-cost promotion opportunities. In print media, perhaps the ad cost is very attractive, with a low rate for a good-sized ad that will be seen by a high number of people. In online marketing, it may be as simple as a low click rate. But if these marketing mediums are to a market or demographic not inclined to by answering services, then the good rate will mean nothing. Although you may be able to create a piece that gets people to respond, if they’re not likely to buy, then your conversion rate will be low. 3) Slow Follow-Up: In an area that many marketers overlook when analyzing poor conversion rates is slow follow-up by the sales team. In today’s economy where people want answers right away, prospects won’t wait very long to learn about your services. If you don’t respond fast, one of two things will probably happen. One is they will contact your competitors until someone gives them the information you did not. The other is that by the time you respond, the pace of their work moved them on to something else and they either forgot you or lost interest. How fast should you respond? The answer is as fast as possible. No longer is by the next business day acceptable, not even the same business day, or within one hour. A thirty-minute response time should be the minimal standard, with a five-minute response time being the goal. If you want to get their attention, respond within sixty seconds. That will dramatically boost your conversion rates. A related item is not following up at all. As shocking as it may sound close to half of all leads produced are never followed up by the sales team. When that happens the conversion rate for those leads is zero. 4) Not Enough Follow-Up: Following up quickly is essential. However, very few prospects buy on the first call. It takes multiple contacts to close a sale. Many salespeople give up too soon. They stopped following up even though the prospect is still interested and hasn’t yet decided. How many times should a salesperson follow up on a sales lead? Again, the answer will surprise you. It’s not twice, three times, or even four. Five stands as the minimum, with a dozen times being the standard. And remember that if you need to make twelve contacts on average to close a sale, then some will require more. Many sales are lost simply because the salesperson loses interest and doesn’t follow up enough times. Again, this is a key contributor to a low conversion rate. This discussion applies to marketing efforts that are producing a nice response rate, but have a low conversion rate. This means your ad is working but sales don’t follow. What do you do if your ad doesn’t produce a response? In that case, the conversion rate matters little and the above four items don’t have much meaning. If your ad fails to get a response then you need to look at your marketing piece and fix it first. Once you get your response rate up, then you can address your conversion rate—but not until. Successful answering service marketing starts with effective marketing promotions that produce a respectable response and then yields a high number of sales due to a good conversion rate. Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at email@example.com or call 800-901-7706. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan and a longtime member of the TAS industry.