Nobody likes cold calling. It’s a time consuming, ego shattering and often boring process. Even the bosses who make their employees cold call will tell you they don’t take them.
Luckily there have always been other options and content marketing is the current choice. A kinder, gentler approach, it lets customers find you instead of your chasing them down with unsolicited calls, emails or “social” contact.
That’s fine if you have a mature content marketing plan in place. But for new agents or experienced ones who don’t, waiting for the calls to roll in from your nascent content initiative isn’t very productive. Still, it’s hard not to ignore the claims that cold calling is dead or that it doesn’t work in the internet age. Why waste your time? Fact is, though, those claims are wrong.
Consider the results of a survey by DiscoverOrg. They asked 1000 IT decision makers how they responded to cold calls or unsolicited emails. 75% said they had considered a vendor after being contacted via outbound marketing methods.
Can any content marketer say that 75% of their visitors considered them for a CRE assignment after visiting their site? Probably not, but no one really knows because content marketing success is still measured by traffic or viral activity. Viral activity may be a reasonable indicator but it’s still not the same as a call. And traffic? The average B2B site can expect between 8% and 10% of visitors to act in some way. These actions, also called conversions, could be downloading a white paper, sharing content or something more concrete, like signing up for a mailing list or making contact.
But cold calling certainly doesn’t have a 75% – or 8%-10% – success rate. And success or conversion rate is defined as getting an appointment or referral. According to a recent Baylor University study using residential real estate agents the cold call conversion rate is about 1.7%. (The rate would likely have been higher if over two thirds of the residential real estate agents hadn’t given up.)
How does content marketing compare in number of appointments/referrals generated? Since there are few closed loop CRM apps that can track content to contact, there’s only anecdotal evidence. To see what “hard” evidence might look like, I collected the number of unique visitors (according to Compete.com) for some of the major CRE bloggers. Annual unique visitors ranged from 6000 to 36,000 for the ones I checked.
To reach the average 8-10% website conversion rate, you’d need 480-600 to 2,880-3,600 actions that could be linked to your website each year. We’ll consider those actions analogous to making a cold call that someone actually answers with the other 90%-92% analogous to “bad” calls where no one answered or the number wasn’t in service. (The number of good to bad calls, however is more like 75%.) To reach cold calling’s 1.7% success rate you’d need to make/get 8-12 to 49-61 appointments/referrals per year off of your web content. So…how are you doing?
You know that if you’re not getting these conversion rates for content marketing, anyone who is will tell you it’s because you’re doing it wrong. The same thing goes for cold calling – if you’re not getting results, you’re doing that wrong, too.
Success for any method depends on the same thing – execution. And you’ve heard it before – you need multiple marketing channels. Excluding cold calling because of the lame claim that it doesn’t work comes from those who either haven’t mastered the method or they’re trying to sell you something – like their inbound marketing program. So don’t fall for it.