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3 Simple Steps for “Makin’ It Rain” On Your Website

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Aaron Houghton – Enjoy!

rainmakerThe term rainmaker is often used to describe highly productive members of sales teams. These individuals have a special talent for communicating the value a business’ products provide.

What impact would adding a new rainmaker have on your team? What about one that only costs you a few bucks each month? Even better!

For many small business owners, that rainmaker is their website.

Today I’m going to talk about how to easily capture more sales leads from your website. But if you sell directly from your website, you can use the same process to drive more online purchases too.

Don’t Make This Mistake

Think for a second about the last 100 visitors to your website. Will you ever be able to interact with them again? In most cases, that chance is gone.

That is, unless you captured their contact information while they were on your site. To follow up with someone all you really need is their email address, phone number, or maybe their social media handle.

There are many ways to capture contact information from your website visitors. These include social media login, email newsletter signups, real-time chat, header bars, and embedded web forms. Among these options I prefer web forms.

Collecting sales leads through web forms works great because most people are comfortable typing their information into them. They also require less commitment than account sign-ups and shopping-carts that ask for credit card details.

Savvy business owners use web forms to convert more website visitors into new customers.

How to Use Web Forms to Generate More Sales Leads From Your Website

Convertingmistake more sales leads from your website using web forms is easy when you follow these three steps.

1. Give Visitors a Real Reason to Submit a Form

“Submit our form and we’ll contact you.” Seen that before? This is probably what your competitors’ web forms actually say. Your visitors are used to seeing this.

Let’s make it worth their time to submit your form by giving them a real incentive. You’re asking them to share their personal contact information with you. What are they going to get in return? Make it good.

A few common incentives include discounts like a 10% off coupon, a one-on-one demo, or access to something like an e-book.

Make sure to mention what they’ll get in the text right at the top of the form. But save the reward for after it’s submitted. Include the reward in the confirmation message or in your follow-up response.

A great incentive sentence looks like this:

Request a quote and we’ll send you a 10% off coupon for any products you purchase this month. Complete the form below to get the coupon.

2. Pick a Form Tool That’s Easy to Use

computer tech servicesTo collect your users’ contact information, you need a good form builder.

A good form tool makes creating forms easy. Editing forms should be easy too. And finally it should send submitted data somewhere convenient for you like an email in your inbox, your email marketing system of choice, or a Google Docs Spreadsheet.

Other nice-to-have features include the ability to send confirmation emails to visitors and to redirect visitors to a specific thank you page after they submit the form.

I have personally used Gravity Forms for WordPress before but I also hear great things about WuFoo and FormStack too.

All you really need is a nice short web form. Super long forms scare people away so only ask for information that you’re going to do something with. For instance, you probably don’t need to collect a fax number!

Important fields usually include name, email or phone, and maybe an open-ended field where the user can type a question or explain what they need.

3. Track Conversions and Optimize

Having a strong incentive and having a short web form are a great start. But it’s actually impossible to guess upfront which incentive or form will perform best with your actual website visitors.

Because of this it’s crucial to measure your conversion rate – the percentage of form submissions to unique website visitors – to determine how effective each incentive and form is at getting visitors to submit their contact information.

BoostSuite and Informly are two free tools that can be used to measure your sales lead form conversion rate. Sales lead forms on small business website usually have a conversion rate of about 5%.

If your conversion rate is less than 5% you should test various incentives and forms. Use one incentive for a month and then measure your conversion rate. Next month try swapping in a smaller form.

Solar panel installation company Southern Energy Management tested various incentives on their website and found one that produced 419% more sales leads than their original incentive.

The higher performing incentive drove in 160 new sales leads for Southern Energy in just one month. Compare that to just 38 sales leads from the original incentive – with similar website traffic – in the previous month.

A Little Bit of Work, Lots More Sales Leads

You work hard to get visitors to your website. Don’t make the mistake of letting them pass you by forever.

Build and test some incentives and forms on your website and you’ll find a winning combination that turns more window-shoppers into new customers for your business.

Aaron HoughtonAaron Houghton is a serial entrepreneur who builds web marketing products for small business owners. Aaron is currently co-founder and CEO of BoostSuite.com. BoostSuite is a product that helps small business owners get more marketing results on their own. Formerly Aaron was co-founder of email newsletter leader iContact.com that was sold to Vocus in 2012 for $180M. Aaron was an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year winner in 2008, was listed to Inc Magazine’s 30 under 30 list 2010, and was named as a Top 10 Most Influential CEO in 2010 (behind Zuckerberg, Andrew Mason, and Matt Mullenweg). In his free time Aaron is an avid wakeboarder and outdoor adventurer.

 

 

10 Tested Tips to Improve Ecommerce Conversions Without Going Broke

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Alexia McCormick  – Enjoy!

There are a couple ways for an ecommerce company to increase performance. One is to increase the number amount of traffic that arrives on the website through marketing, Pay Per Click advertising, and other forms of outreach. The other method is to develop the visitors you’ve already got and improve your conversion rate. While both methods have costs, the first method will usually require a much larger budget to be successful.

Sometimes, though, the simplest changes on your website can make a big difference, and you can improve your overall conversion rate without having to go broke. These ten tips are an effective way to get started.

1.  Headlines – The headline of the page should be your first priority because it can have the biggest impact on conversion. You need to look at the headline as a pointer. It’s not just about grabbing attention but building interest. Avoid the hype and be clear about why they should look at the rest of the plate.

2.  Copy – The copy on the webpage must provide value for the customer. Remember that you only have a few seconds and less than a couple of inches to catch their attention and give them a reason to stay, so put the important things first (free trials, new products, etc.), and always be clear and direct.

3.  Quantifiable Data – Most internet users are naturally suspicious of claims made by businesses on their websites. Phrases like “the most” or “the best” have no real meaning for us. Offer measurable data on what makes you stand out from the competition.

4.  Build Trust – The internet can be a scary place to do business with hackers causing problems and companies unable to fulfill their orders. Give your customers reasons to trust you. Do you have a history of fast deliveries and complete fulfillment? Is your shopping cart certified to be safe? Are you available to answer questions? Adding live chat software to the website and immediately responding to emails or other forms of communication will also put a personable face on the company and make it easier to do business.

5.  Images – An image needs to do more than break up the content. A smiling, happy, but completely unrelated person isn’t going to be very helpful. Your images should contribute to the message you are trying to deliver. Images should be about communication, not decoration.

6.  Consistent Messaging – Guide your customers through the entire process. If your PPC ad says one thing, make sure your landing page reiterates the message. Then follow through on the sales page to help them know that they are getting exactly what they need.

7.  Reduce Friction – How many clicks does it take to make a purchase? How much content do they need to read before they find out what makes your company so special? This all feels like work to the average internet customer, and they’d just as soon go elsewhere as work their way through a confusing sales process. Eliminate friction and you will take away an excuse to leave the site.

8.  Simplify Calls to Action – Whether it’s a button that takes them to another page or a form to fill out on the landing page, the call to action should be clear and simple. If a form has 12 elements, customers will balk. If the button is surrounded by bright pictures, it will be hard to see. Keep it clear and simple.

9.  Change Perception – Increasing your conversion rate isn’t about making huge changes to the website. It’s about making changes to the way your website is perceived by the customers. You need to think about the structure, content, and images from the customers’ point of view, not the company’s.

10.  Stay Focused – Too many options and choices can be detrimental to the conversion process. Stay focused on a single product or service on each page. Do not try to cross sell before you’ve made the first sale. Be confident in the page. You don’t need to sell them on your whole organization right now, just on one thing at a time.

Alexia McCormick is a writer for Netop. When Alexia is not writing, she enjoys sewing & learning about advancements in education. Netop has been a leader in classroom management, live chat software solutions and secure remote access for business and educational institutions for almost three decades.

People Who Search Convert

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Terry Costa – Enjoy!

People who conduct searches on a website convert at a higher rate than people who don’t.

So it makes sense to find ways to improve the search on your e-commerce site. There are several ideas for doing this. And the good news is that these ideas – taken from our “Big Book of Site Search Tips,” available at http://getsliebooks.com – don’t demand too much from your IT experts when you’re working with a full-service site search vendor.

Keep all eyes on the search box: The search box should be designed so that it’s different from other forms or boxes on your website’s home page, such as a newsletter subscribe box. Given that site visitors expect to easily find the search box – and given that they may abandon your site if they can’t find it – you should highlight the search box prominently on every webpage. To avoid confusion, in a newsletter-subscribe box, you can add text that reads “Your email,” which tells people that this box is expecting an email address, not a search term. Also, avoid using images that look like a search box, such as text inside a small rectangular box.

Another good way to get people to pay more attention to the search box is to name the button that begins the search process something like “Search,” “Find,” or “Go” – or use an icon such as a magnifying glass, which is clearly recognizable to visitors. Another alternative is to use a triangle that looks like an arrow. Some website owners use a combination of text and an icon – a good strategy, as both clues are clear and recognizable. In fact, the search box for Duct Tape Marketing, seen at the top of this blog, adds both features. Also, you can see here how the shoe retailer Footwear etc. adds text to its search box.

Since we’ve already concluded that people who search convert at a higher rate than people who don’t search, it makes sense to find ways to get people back to your search box again and again. To ensure your search box is always visible to visitors, float it so that it always appears at the top of the page as visitors scroll down. If you go to the website for wedding retailer American Bridal, you can see how this works: as you scroll down the page, the search box and coupon codes are always visible.

Learn to “searchandise” results: You should be able to manually control the order of search results, which is useful when you want to showcase something that’s different from what your search is showing. For instance, you can place sale or promotional items at the top of search results to attract attention.

Highlight different content types: It’s becoming more common for websites to add content such as blog posts, community forum posts, and videos to their search results. If you’ve spent time creating this content on your own website, it’s good practice to make this content easily searchable. The health and fitness website for 24 Hour Fitness uses tabs to draw attention to social media content.

 

Show a “breadcrumb” trail: Breadcrumb trails help visitors keep track of where they’ve come from when they are navigating through your site.  A search-oriented breadcrumb trail will show the search term the person used, and any refinements that they have applied to narrow down their search, like color or price options. It makes it easy for visitors to remove refinements and go back to a broader range of results – say, for example, if they think they narrowed down the search too much.

Make the most of search results “cells”: To help people more easily scan search results, organize information into what are called “cells.” Place each result in a thinly outlined box, or in a box with a colored background. If you want to create a more open look and feel, add enough white space between each cell so that people can easily tell the difference between products. If your product images have a colored background, spacing them just a few pixels apart should be enough to provide a natural separation. Search results cells typically contain a product title, product image, price, and a short description.

If your website is product-focused, think about showing larger product images when people mouse over a thumbnail image in search results cells. The reason is that search results pages usually show smaller thumbnail images that make it hard to see the full detail of the product. By adding a large image pop-up when people mouse over results, they can easily examine the close-up details without having to click to the product page.

You can also use “quick view” windows in cells – they help people view more product information without leaving the search page. Add a button that opens a product detail window, which eliminates the need to load the whole product page and saves people time.

Also, think about adding inventory status to search results cells. People like to know if a product is available before they begin checkout (and it annoys them if they find out they can’t buy something once they’ve set their minds on the purchase). One way to provide current stock or inventory information is to add it to your search results – for instance, including a message such as “In Stock” or “Out of Stock” in the search results cells next to each item, as Harry & David does here with a sold-out item:

If you include inventory status in search results, people can quickly find alternate items if their first choice is out of stock, and they’ll be less frustrated and less likely to leave your site.

Search results pages present great opportunities to promote sales and discounts, since people are usually sensitive to price and interested in chances to save money. Add a special “on sale” logo or banner to the relevant search result cells, place sale items at the top of results, or let people refine results to see what’s on sale.

Another good idea is to show both the full price and the sale price in search results for items that are on sale. If you show shoppers the savings they’re receiving by contrasting regular and sale prices, you give them even more motivation to make a purchase.

Include social sharing buttons: By helping your website visitors share your products and information on their social networks, you broaden the reach of your marketing. Consider including social sharing buttons such as Facebook “Like,” Pinterest “Pin it” and Google+ “+1” in search results. These social endorsements are even more useful for shoppers when they’re shown among a collection of similar products in your search results.

Add infinite scrolling: You may have noticed this feature on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter – when you get near the end of the page, more posts are loaded automatically, creating an endless scroll. In site search, when users reach the bottom of visible search results, more results are loaded without them having to click on “next” or a page number.

Use synonyms to offer more results: For instance, if a site visitor searches for iPods, and your site offers other MP3 players, connect these and other similar items so that they appear together in search results. This provides shoppers with more alternatives, encouraging them to browse similar products.

Allow people to refine by price: For product searches, as opposed to searches for content like news articles or blog posts, it’s helpful if people can refine results by price, since that’s an important part of many buying decisions. One option to consider is a price slider, which allows people to easily set a bottom price and a top price. It takes up less screen real estate than a list of price ranges, and it offers more flexibility than fixed price ranges.

Monitor keywords that are gaining popularity: Watch the keywords that your visitors are using more often so you’re able to meet increasing product demand. Trends around popular terms may shift with the seasons, or with popular songs and movies. As people use the same search terms with growing frequency, you get advance word, so to speak, that the products that go along with those terms will likely also gain in popularity.

As you make improvements to your website’s search function, keep a close eye on changes in visitor behavior – for instance, more people using search, more people making purchases after conducting searches, or a lower abandon rate. This will tell you that the features you’re adding to your site are actually working.

Terry Costa is vice president of marketing at SLI Systems (www.sli-systems.com/). 

How to Make an Impression in 8 seconds

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Barry Moltz – Enjoy!

This is a world of talkers. Business people are constantly chatting on their cell phones, email, blogs, texting or using whatever social media tools they can find.  They are telling people who they are, what they do and what they think about a situation.  But, can anyone really understand them? In fact, is anyone really listening?  Most importantly, are they doing it in a clear way that helps others understand how their company can help? 

This becomes a huge issue since the average adult attention span is 8 seconds. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention_span  In reality, most business people will stop listening after 5 seconds. Unless they have become interested, they are lost or on to their next thought about what they want to say.  Telling someone what a particular business does in 8 seconds or less is a talent and needs to be practiced word for word. Do not depend on any improvisational skills in order to be successful. In fact, each employee at a company needs to be taught the answers to these questions:

1. What problem does the business solve?

Customers always buy painkillers, not vitamins. This is true even during challenging times. Where to Start: Complete the following sentence, “My company helps _________ who are __________” or “Customers rely on my company because we are the best at ____________________”

2. What is the business’ voice and are they consistent with their values?

Are they communicated consistently in everything that comes out of the company? Where to Start: Ask customers to name positive and negative adjectives that best describe the business. While the feedback may be uncomfortable, it is important to ask for both.

3. Who is the business’ community? What type of customers are attracted to what the business sells? To they voice their opinion in a constructive way? Where to Start: Look at the current clients.  What is the profile that is now served? (Additionally, is this the community of customers that is important to be serving?)

Ok. I am ready to listen. You have my undivided attention for the next  8 seconds. Go!

Barry Moltz gets business owners unstuck. He is the author of 4 small business books www.barrymoltz.com/books . His latest book is Small Town Rules (www.smalltownrules.com) He hosts a weekly small business radio show.

Make Any Business Extraordinary Using EST

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Mike Michalowicz – Enjoy!

The London Olympics were nothing short of amazing.  Top athlete after top athlete trying to outdo each other.  Just like to business going to head, there is only going to be one gold medalist at the end of the day.

Arguably, Michael Phelps is one of the most impressive athletes of all time. His collection of gold medals speaks to it.  What is interesting is that every swimmer that lost to Michael Phelps was trying to be the ER swimmer.  “What is ER?” you ask.  It is when a competitor (business, athlete or otherwise) tries to be better than other competitor.  They try to be faster or stronger or smarter or funnier or louder or quicker or slower or anything better.

The thing is, if you aren’t the EST you go unnoticed.  If you came in second or third to Michael Phelps, you may have been better than the other swimmers, but you were not the best. You are forgotten. Michael Phelps got millions in endorsements.  Number two – the better then almost everyone else guy – got nothing.

At the end of the day, only the EST wins.  The fastest or the slowest or the strongest or the weakest or the funniest or the loudest or anything that is the most, the best.

Ironically, any swimmer could “beat” Michael Phelps by doing a cannonball into the pool when everyone else dives.  That is the craziest thing, and would be covered all over the news.  That swimmer would win the worlds attention, by simply being an EST.

Enter The EST

The EST is the superlative that is going to make your business more successful. For those of you who are not grammarians – the superlative is that which is added to the end of a word to show that it features a degree that is unsurpassed. The unsurpassed area is where you want to be!

The edge of the competition bell curve is awareness, as that is where customers see you. The center is just filled with noise; if you fall in that area of the curve, you won’t be heard. To succeed, it is essential that you work to become the EST. Applications of the EST can vary widely, so the field is wide open. You aren’t limited to aiming to be the greatest – there is also the fastest, cheapest, quickest, and even the not-so-obvious choices of being the slowest, strangest, funniest, and weirdest. Now you are getting the idea…

What if you had a restaurant that had the fastest meals – everything was served in under 30 seconds? That would be the talk of the town (and would blow away even McDonald’s)! You could also be the slowest by, say, inviting guests to spend three to four hours, slowing dining on a steady stream of tasty treats. That too, would be the talk of the town.

Being the Oddest

You may not see, quite yet, how standing out in an odd way could actually help you. But I am a college football fan, and even if you are a fanatic, too, I bet you would struggle to identify all of the Number One teams of the last 10 years. But you can probably immediately identify the only team in college football with a blue field! That is because that team’s field is the strangest!

The Boise State Broncos have the blue football field, of course. And everyone knows about them because of it. That little school has become an annual Top 10 contender in college football. Year in and year out, they get amazing recruits and they win.

Perhaps, just perhaps, by having the EST field in the country, they stood out from the noise. Perhaps like every college football fan, every college football recruit knows of the blue field. And maybe that has brought great athletes to a school that might not have otherwise been noticed. There is one thing for sure, they got a blue field and have been winning ever since!

Finding Your EST

Still not sure how you could apply the EST to your business? What about the coolest (you can only get in the store if you know the password of the day), loudest (think of speakers that are louder than jet engines), quietest (a silence room where you can actually hear your own heart beat), smelliest, sweetest, sourest…you get the idea.

The great thing about using the EST strategy to put your business on the road to success is that the sky is the limit concerning what yours will be! You get to decide what EST you want your business to be. Then put it out there in the biggest way, get out of the way, and watch what happens! You may just find that you have the craziest idea — one that turns your company into the neatest thing people have ever seen, which in turn will create one of the happiest entrepreneurs around.

Remember, the EST is the superlative that will show the degree to which your business is unique. So ask yourself, to what degree is your business set apart from others? If you don’t know the answer to that question, neither do others. There is no limit to what that can be, and once you can identify it and make people aware of it, you will be on your way to business success!

Image Credit: Jon Curnow

MikeMichalowicz is the author of ThePumpkinPlan and TheToiletPaperEntrepreneur. He is a nationally recognized speaker on entrepreneurial topics and is the CEO of ProvendusGroup, a consultancy that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued.

 

Standing Out in the Field

I’m taking some vacation time this week and I’m actually going to stand waist deep in the Columbia River in Oregon and cast for Trout. (Don’t worry I won’t hurt any I’m strictly a catch and release kind of guy.)  While I am away, I have a great lineup of guest bloggers filling my shoes.  This post is brought to you from Steve Woodruff.

Steve Woodruff serves as a Clarity Therapist to small businesses seeking to grow through more effective brand messaging. Steve also builds trusted business referral networks, which has earned him the moniker of Connection Agent. He blogs regularly at BrandWoodruff.com and ConnectionAgent.com.

Like it or not, you are one of many, many companies or service providers competing for a limited slice of attention in a marketplace overflowing with noise and information.

For consultants and small businesses – actually, for any size business – the cacophony of billboards, radio spots, TV advertisements, and the flood tide of digital noise from the social web makes it increasingly challenging to be noticed, let alone remembered. Your main competition isn’t your competitors. It’s distraction.

Which means that if you simply blend into the background noise, you’ve lost your advantage.

Let’s assume that you actually have some magic. You do have something unique to offer. How do you stand out in the field?

Some will say it takes a hugely expensive campaign; others will gladly take your limited funds to try generate something “viral.” These are not particularly effective or sustainable strategies. One fundamental trait, however, can make any business stand out: Clarity.

By clarity, I mean you’re clear on your offering, clear on your differentiation, clear on your message, and clear on your vision. It is the opposite of throwing 10 bullet points of possible work you might do up against the virtual wall and seeing which one sticks. That’s the quickest route to becoming a faceless commodity.

A Clear Offering

What does clarity look like? Actually, you don’t have to look any further than the Duct Tape blog. Look at these two summary sentences on the site:

Simple, Effective, and Affordable Small Business Marketing

John Jantsch has been called the world’s most practical small business expert for delivering real-world, proven small-business marketing ideas and strategies.

The reader immediately knows whether they are the target audience, and exactly what the Duct Tape promise is. By being that specific, John stands out – while gladly giving up a bunch of other potential business where he couldn’t be outstanding.

A Clear Differentiator

I am fanatically loyal to Amica Insurance. I don’t price shop, and I don’t consider other dance partners. Why? All the geckos and good hands and Flo’s that parade across the TV screen promoting other companies are noisy commodities to me, because Amica has provided stellar and attentive customer service for decades. They completely stand out. And, ever since obtaining the first-generation iPhone, I’ve never considered going back to a non-Apple platform. The user experience is simply too good to give up.

A Clear Message

We try to say too much, not realizing that our potential customers (and referral partners) can only process and retain one or two main things. Few companies have mastered the art of distillation, which is truly central to effective marketing.

Picture yourself bumping into a prospective customer at a trade show, just minutes before the next session starts. After introductions, she says, “I recall seeing your name before, but what is it that you do?” Can you, in one sentence, give her the distilled essence, in such a way that she’ll still remember it after the session – and, be able to tell her friend over lunch about you in 10 words or less? In this regard, clarity is also your key to ongoing referrals.

A Clear Vision

Once you have 20/20 vision about your purpose and direction, suddenly a whole host of decisions that have always plagued you becomes much more simple. Clients you spun your wheels chasing now don’t fit into the clearer vision. Non-core work that you were doing is no longer in the long-term plan. When you can look a client in the eye and confidently say, “THIS is what I do – not that, and that, and that” – everyone is far better off. But for many, even those who have been in business for a while, the most difficult step is saying it to the mirror.

I have terrible uncorrected vision. Glasses are mandatory! The fact is, clear vision is not an option. Whatever other investment I may forego, I will always spend the necessary funds to see clearly – because that is foundational to everything I must do! Amazingly, however, few of your competitors will do so. That’s why clarity can become your strategic advantage. Making youthe one standing out in the field.

Image credit: zakwitnij via Flickr

Is Direct Mail Dead or New Uses for Old Tactics

uzvards via Flickr

The first half of the title of this post is a question I get, in some variation, quite frequently these days. You could change the subject to email or face to face networking or press releases, but the implication is always that some long established marketing tactic has been supplanted by Twitter or Facebook.

My answer is always the same – nothing is dead – but the ways we use them have changed.

My take is that if you establish a strong marketing strategy, one that helps you build trust, and you fully understand the behavior and objectives of your ideal customer, then you can use almost any tactic to build your business.

In fact, some of the more “traditional” offline approaches have never been more effective when fused with technology and newer online approaches.

Digital has changed the customer communication environment fundamentally over the years and caused many to forgo the traditional broadcast tools.

But, smart marketers are discovering new ways to use old tools that are more in line with inbound marketing practices and are taking advantage of technology leaps to make a tactic like direct mail even more effective.

I return once again, as I do often, to my definition of marketing – getting someone who has a need to know, like and trust you – if you can find a way to use a tactic to do that, than no tactic is dead or even out of bounds.

Even the often maligned Twitter auto DM is fair game if you can find a way to use it to build trust – the fact is few can, but my point is there are no set rules or magic tactics in this game.

Here are a few examples of new uses for old tactics:

  • Use variable data printing on demand printing to create highly personalized direct mail pieces with unique images, stories and calls to action based on your customer database. The technology is there to do this in small batches with hundreds of variations.
  • Use technology to produce postcards that invite each recipient to a personal landing page that features information tailored to their interests and alerts a sales team to initiate a further contact.
  • Use traditional broadcast and print advertising to drive prospects to a series of free online videos that educate, entertain and inform – oh, and build know, like and trust.

Reaching markets and creating buzz about our products and services still requires an integrated approach – that part won’t ever change, but before you drop a proven way to reach your prospects from the mix consider how you might use it build trust instead of move product.

The Best Place to Invest Your Marketing Dollar

Budgets for marketing are always tight, but these last few years, well, they’ve been stretched beyond tight.

marketing budgetSo, how do you decide where to invest the little money you have. Traditional thinking points towards advertising and other ways to make the phone ring, get more traffic to the site, but I say there are lots of low cost and next to free ways to do that and the real payoff is in conversion. It’s amazing how much money is wasted generating leads that go nowhere. If you are generating a decent amount of leads, but only converting 5% to customers, ask yourself what it would take to get that conversion number to 10%. It might not take much at all and you would double your business. Wouldn’t that be worth your time, money and energy.

My guess is you actually don’t need any more leads, in fact, cut out the non qualified ones and you could probably double your business with less leads than you have today if you focused more of your energy on lead conversion. It’s the first place I go to fix a business when asked.

Here’s your plan of attack for greater lead conversion

Get metrics – figure out where you are today – use Google Analytics and pick up Avinash Kaushik’s book Web Analytics 2.0 to find a host of tools and techniques that will help you better understand all of your online and offline conversion numbers. Understand these four variables and go to work on improving them: 1) % of leads converted 2) Average $ amount per customer/transaction 3) Average number of transactions with each customer 4) Cost to generate a customer

Get better – Do some usability and multi-variant testing on your web pages using tools like Crazy Egg, UserTesting.com, and Google Website Optimizer to find out how to change them to get higher conversions. Pick up Tim Ash’s book Landing Page Optimization or better yet consider hiring a page optimization firm like Ash’s Site Tuners to help you increase the interaction, engagement and conversion from all of your web pages.

Get a process – Create scripted process that allows you to qualify, nurture, convert, transact and repeat with each lead that comes into view. Know what everyone in the organization is going to do with a lead to move them to the next step, present your unique value proposition, make an offer and thrill them after they agree to purchase. Have set, documented and scripted approaches for all to follow and follow them. Here’s a hint though: Don’t simply copy what everyone else in your industry does. Use your conversion process as a differentiator. Create an intentional interruption and be prepared to show why your way of doing it is a benefit. Invest whatever it takes in time and resources to get this right and continue to tweak it.

Get training – Not everyone comes out of the womb selling. For some it’s hard and sales training is often a great investment. But that doesn’t mean you have to come off as the stereotypical schmoozer sales person to be effective. Effective sales training is often a matter of creating some patterns and processes that make you a better listener, more authentic, and better prepared to demonstrate you understand the problem a prospect is experiencing rather than simply having an answer. I for one think books like Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play or Go-Givers Sell More are more relevant in today’s relationship selling world than the “close them or die” approaches of the past.

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