Newsletter No 4 - April 2012

Welcome to my email newsletter on the topic of Making Your Website Work for You.
Your website isn’t there just to look pretty, it’s there to do a job and that is to generate interest in your company or organisation and get new business, clients, members or whatever you are trying to achieve. You want people to visit your website and you want people to contact you so this month’s newsletter is about:

Responding to web enquiries

Way back in the last century (yes really!)  I worked with a small group of consultants trying to get companies to take an interest in setting up a website for their business. This was a whole new way of reaching people that would set them ahead of their competitors and reduce their marketing costs.

It was a difficult sell.  Objections  - apart from “What’s a website?” - included:

  • “My customers want to speak to me personally.”
  • “My customers don’t have a PC at home” – true for many then – but things have moved on a bit now!

and my favourite:

    “I don’t want to be plagued by lots of new enquiries”

Aaah – I though that’s what marketing was about!

It’s a genuine concern though when you are busy with existing business. But to keep that level of business you need to spend some time and effort getting new customers. Your website and associated marketing activities are there to maintain a flow of enquiries which in turn will generate new business. Dealing with enquiries is vital.

Whether you have a full e-commerce site or a small e-brochure site you need to have in place a procedure for replying to enquiries. These may come from:

  • an on-line form on your website
  • clicking on an email link
  • a phone call
  • on-line chat
  • comments on social networks or forums

and you don’t want to miss out on potential business from any of these.

Who’s going to do it?

For each enquiry type there should be someone responsible – at all times.  If your office closes at 4.00 pm on Friday and opens at 8.00 am on Monday that’s a long time for people to wait for an answer. You should designate someone to monitor emails and comments over the weekend and holidays. Even if you can’t give a complete answer to the question a personal response - rather than an auto-answer or, worse, complete silence - will keep you in the enquirer’s mind till you can deal with it properly on Monday morning. Don’t forget to monitor comments on your blog or social media (you can set it up so you get an email alert when there’s a comment).

How to say No

If you only supply green and blue widgets and the enquirer is looking for red widgets – still reply. Say something like:  ”Sorry we can’t help on this occasion but please come back again. Take a look at our new range of red gizmos. Why not sign up for our newsletter to keep informed of our latest products and services?”  and include links to the gizmos product and newsletter sign-up pages.

Say Thankyou

Don’t plague your enquirer with a stream of follow-up emails. That can really put people off. But they opened the conversation. You can justifiably follow up their enquiry with a further email thanking them for their interest and just asking if they now have all the information they need and if there is anything else you can help with. When you respond, probably by email, you should include links to your website, blog, social sites, newsletter sign-up. Make sure these are included on your email signature. Your enquirer may not have bitten immediately but if you have responded courteously and with useful information they will remember you and perhaps come back. Make sure they have your details on every email you send so they can contact you easily.

Make it easier

Keep track of enquiries and your responses. There are various tools you can use to provide automatic follow-ups. If you have a sizeable business it would be well worthwhile investing in a CRM system to manage all prospect and customer communications and remind you to follow up enquiries. Your accounts package may have a basic system included. Alternatively you may wish to consider outsourcing this to a professional.

You can reduce the number of “trivial” enquiries by including downloadable brochures on your website and an “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions” page on your website. It’s a good idea to have a template response for replies, although prospects always appreciate a little personal touch too.
 

Best wishes and make your website work for you!

Sandra Dillon

If you found this useful and would like me to include any specific topic in a future newsletter please let me know sandra@realcom.co.uk.

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If you are considering a website for your business or organisation or would like professional help with an existing project please email me at sandra@realcom.co.uk or call on 01530 440000

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