Internet Form Response Times — Does A Quick Reply Really Matter?

July 31st, 2012 by Patrick Stoudt

In the search engine marketing world, one of the main tools for generating leads is the use of an online form. Forms can be an invaluable tool for generating leads and increasing revenue. They also provide a metric for classifying return on investment. We are all familiar with the usage of forms, but are we ignoring their full potential by underutilizing leads? As a business management major and online marketing enthusiast, I couldn’t help but wonder how these leads are handled by the staff at the many business for which we work, so I did some research.

I found a number of great sources on how the timeliness of a response affects the outcome of the lead. One study on lead responses went a little further then the rest. The level of detail in the study is fantastic, but I don’t want it to distract from the most important figures.

The study was conducted by the team at LeadResponseManagement.org with a sample size of over fifteen thousand leads over a three year span. The purpose of the study was to find out how the time of day, day of the week, and the time to respond to a online lead affected the rate of contact. While the conversion rates were not discussed, we can project standard conversion rates on to the study to get a basic idea of its overall impact.

Lets get to the meat of the study.

  • The best day of the week to contact a lead is a Thursday, best by 50% compared to the worst day.
  • The best time to contact a lead is between 4-5pm, best by 109% when compared to the worst time.
  • 69% of leads that were contacted initially within the first hour became qualified. (In the study, qualified had a few meanings including setting an appointment.)

Okay, we all get it. The time when we contact the lead matters. Let’s dive deeper.

  • The odds of contacting a lead decreased by over 10 times in the first hour.
  • The odds of qualifying a lead decreased by over 6 times in the first hour.

These statistics may seem a bit extreme. Just think for a second about your personal behavior. After submitting a form, there is a reasonable expectation that someone will be in touch with you soon — but how soon? Are you going to wait around all day to be contacted, or are you going to continue your search? Personally, I continue my search until I find someone that will sell me the product or service that I am looking for at the price I’m willing to pay.

Now for the most important piece of data in the entire survey.

  • The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drops by 21 times.
  • The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 10 minutes drops by 4 times.

Think about the logic behind why a quick response rate is so important. If you can manage to respond within 5 minutes, the potential customer is most likely still interacting with your website or brand. You are still at the top of their mind. With all of the psychological benefits of quick contact, the ability to get back to a potential customer before they move on to another business is invaluable.

The bottom line is responding to online leads within five minutes results in a 900% increase in contact rates!

While this kind of dedicated effort may not be possible for all businesses, the numbers seem to suggest it’s worth the effort. You could work 900% harder or just respond a bit faster — which do you prefer?

Do you use forms on your business’s website? What kind of response times do you usually stick to?