Six reasons why your leads are unresponsive and what to do about it


a 9-minute read | Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2020 and has been updated in August 2020 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Sometimes, leads feel like these strange, mysterious creatures. What do they want? How can we get them on board? What’s their secret weakness? In all this frustration, we forget a very basic fact: leads are people, just like us. They ignore ads for the same reasons we all do. They say “no” for the same reasons you do. And – perhaps the most important similarity – all leads change their minds at one point or another. Your job is to make sure they change their minds for you, not for some other competitor.

Here are the six most common reasons leads remain unresponsive to your offer and why they might say “no” to pressing that final ‘purchase’ button:

  1. Your Leads Don’t Know, Trust, or Like You
  2. You’re Coming On Way Too Strong
  3. We’re All Trained To Say “No” To Strangers
  4. You’re Not Giving Them the Fact(s) to Change Their Minds
  5. You’re Giving Them Too Few Changes to Change Their Mind
  6. You’re Not Giving Them What They Actually Want
Leads might remain unresponsive unless you find out who they are, what they want, and what is the best possible way to deliver the solution to their problem.

#1. Your Leads Don’t Know, Trust, or Like You

We’re not trying to hurt your feelings here, it’s nothing personal. Think about the last time you read an interesting article online. Maybe you loved it so much you shared it with your friends. But you probably never thought about the fact that an actual human being took the time to write this article. You’ll certainly not have considered the fact that they likely only did it because they want something from you in return. Even if you did think about that, a single article doesn’t make you overly inclined to trust the person who wrote it, no matter how great the content was. This is pretty much exactly how your leads think, too.

All the epic content in the world isn’t going to make a lick of difference unless you give your visitors a concrete reason to trust and rate you highly as a business. Give them a free ebook. A free video series. A no-obligation consultation. Whatever it is, make sure it adds value. Once you’ve actually helped your leads in some way, it’s time to start building an ongoing relationship of trust with them. This is the first point where you can realistically expect them to buy from you.

#2. You’re Coming on Way Too Strong

Rushing leads to buy from you makes them feel under pressure. Imagine if some brightly-dressed stranger came running up to you on the street and screamed, “Here! Take this free book and then buy my video series!” Would you be convinced?

Of course not! Stranger danger! Break out the pepper spray! Yet this is pretty much exactly how most marketers approach their sales funnels. As soon as a lead hands over their email, they’ve got an automated system ready to blast one message after another into that lead’s inbox, loudly proclaiming the urgency of visiting a sales page.

No matter how compelling your copy is or how worthwhile your offer is, people will be instantly put off by that level of pressure. Even when phrased gently, most people will still see what you’re doing because we’re all exposed to sales tactics like this every day. By this point, we all know the game. Tactics like this leave the person feeling like they’re being tricked and it’s not the best start for a long-term, valuable business relationship.

This is where the quality of the relationship is key. Even if you have managed to sell to a few people using aggressive techniques, those people will never be the majority of your customers. If you keep using tactics that target them at the expense of more wary shoppers, then you’re leaving a lot of money on the table and scaring off potentially loyal customers. It’s time to stop catering to your outliers and annoying everyone else.

#3. We’re All Trained to Say “No” to Strangers

From the time we first learn to walk and talk, we’re told again and again to always say “no” to strangers. Especially ones who offer us gifts out of the blue. It’s in our nature to be suspicious – and that’s a good thing! If your customer says “no” to strangers, that means they’re smart and are critically thinking about your offer.

Of course, this isn’t to say you never buy anything from strangers. That’s obviously not true: we all buy things from strangers every day. Every time you go to the grocery store, you’re handing over money to a total stranger. Although – is that strictly true? Let’s dive deeper.

You’ve been to that grocery store (or one like it) many times before. You know what chains sell the food you like, what brands you prefer to buy from. You might even recognize some of the cashiers’ faces, even if you don’t know their names.  In other words, you know some basic facts that make you more willing to hand over your money to this particular stranger at this particular time and in this particular place.

That’s exactly what your leads want too. So how can we offer them this reassurance?

#4. You’re Not Giving Them the Fact(s) to Change Their Minds

If a lead has given you their email address, that means they’re interested. There’s likely a particular fact that you could show them that would persuade them to buy right now. Your lead probably doesn’t know exactly what that is but, at some point, they’re going to find it. Once they do, they’ll be ready to buy: whether that’s from you or from one of your competitors is down to you.

We call this nuggets of convincing information response indicators – the specific action, or piece of knowledge, that just about guarantees a customer will respond.

Sometimes working out a lead’s response indicator is simple. For example, maybe you sell cars and your lead just wants to take a test drive. Maybe you sell solar panels and your lead needs to see statistics showing that your brand will slash her energy bill more than your competitor’s will. In most fields, though, response indicators are a lot more subtle.

Say you’re selling a video course. You might discover, if you’ve got good analytics, that 60% of the leads who download your free ebook go on to pay for the full course. That’s a solid response indicator. If you’ve got especially good analytics, you might go on to discover that a huge 90% of the leads who download your ebook and read it cover to cover end up buying your course. Now that is a fantastic response indicator.

Your goal is not to push your leads to buy. Your goal is to move them from one response indicator to the next to the next, for as long as it takes for them to change their mind. Essentially, you’re piling up the facts and the persuasive content that will encourage them to buy and making it more likely for you to hit that key response indicator.

#5. You’re Giving Them Too Few Changes to Change Their Mind

Somewhere along this chain of response indicators, you might start to see a pattern forming. Change and fresh ideas are key for successful conversions. The vast majority of your customers will be people who said “no” the first few times they saw your offer, but finally came around because they were impressed with your consistency and patience. The more chances you give them to change their mind, the more sales you’ll make. We call this multiple conversion points.

A lot of campaigns have just one conversion point, repeated multiple times. There’s a big difference here. If you’re sending a whole series of emails that all make the same offer in the same way, that’s still only one conversion point. Your conversions will go through the roof when you make a range of seemingly different offers at various points in your buyer’s journey.

You can use response indicators to work out where these conversion points should be along your customer journey. Let’s go back to our video course/ebook example from before. You’re trying to sell a video course, but you’re hardly getting any conversions from your email series. From your fantastic analytics, you already know that 60% of people who download your free ebook end up buying the course, plus a full 90% of people who read the whole ebook buy the course as well. What’s the logical way to set up your conversion points?

Make sure the offer for the course pops up as soon as a lead downloads your free ebook, to catch some of that 60%. Then make sure the offer, phrased differently, of course, is inside the ebook, where the rest of the 60% of your leads will be thinking of buying. Make absolutely sure the offer is at the end of the ebook, where 90% of your leads are primed and ready to buy.You’re not just sending your leads the same offer again and again, hoping they’ll magically change their mind on one of those repetitions. Instead, you’re showing them variations of the offer at different POINTS in their journey. Giving them these opportunities to change their mind, at the exact moments when this change is most likely to happen, makes them far more likely to decide in your favor.

#6. You’re Not Giving Them What They Actually Want

This doesn’t mean your product isn’t of value to your leads, or that you’ve got irrelevant leads in the pipeline. Just because you make a good product does not necessarily mean that you’re offering your leads what they want. It’s an easy trap to fall into; let’s try and understand why.

You think, “My leads are interested in increasing their sales. I made a video course on how to increase sales. Therefore, my leads should want to pay for my course.” It seems logical on a surface level – but it’s actually a huge oversimplification. It’s like saying, “My leads want to travel quickly over long distances. Catapults throw things quickly over long distances. Therefore, my leads should want to pay for catapults.”

Your product or service needs to do more than just generally achieve what your leads want to accomplish. You need to help your leads achieve their goals, and do it in the same way that they want to achieve them. Savvy consumers are skilled at sniffing out products and services that promise exactly what they’re looking for. But they can also tell which ones only deliver half, or even a quarter, of the solution they actually need.

The first step to solving this is to dig into your analytics, and find out precisely where your leads are dropping out.

  • Example A: Your leads are devouring loads of articles on your website, but aren’t subscribing to your email list. This probably means the list doesn’t promise the kind of help they’re looking for and you need to restructure your offer
  • Example B: A lot of leads subscribe to your email list, then unsubscribe a few weeks later. This means your email content isn’t delivering what you promised, and it’s time to put together some better email articles.
  • Example C: Your leads are downloading your ebook, but not taking action on the offers inside it. That means the ebook’s content itself is not solving their problem, so they’re giving up.
  • Example D: They’re downloading the ebook and purchasing the video course, but they demand refunds a few days later. This means your videos are not helping in the way you promised and causing widespread customer dissatisfaction.

Once you’ve found the general source of the problem, the next step is to pinpoint exactly where and why your leads are getting frustrated within that particular step or piece of content. Maybe your subscribers-only email content is nowhere near as helpful as the free articles on your site. Perhaps your ebook is too light on specific, actionable tips, and your leads see it only as a bunch of useless fluff. Maybe your videos are too long and people stop watching them after the first two minutes. Perhaps, worst of all, you’re promising a specific kind of help, but failing to deliver solutions that actually help your audience solve that problem.

Whatever the case, you need to study your audience’s behavior until you understand exactly where and why they’re getting fed up with you. Then you need to find a way to give them what they actually want. This process can take time and end up leaving you frustrated. Critically assessing the content that you’ve put endless hours of work into is a tricky business.

Some Final Thoughts

We’re here to help. We can offer you one-on-one guidance on how to get your leads to like you, trust you, buy from you (obviously), and love their purchases so much they spread the word to their friends. When you’re ready to take your sales to the next level, get in touch. Let’s talk about turning your website into a high-powered conversion factory.

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