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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.

 

 

6 Ways to Uncover Highly Targeted Referral Prospects

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

PresentationOne of the most important elements of getting more highly targeted referrals is to make it EASY for others to open the right doors by being crystal clear about what you want.

Stop saying “if you can think of anyone else who might benefit from my services, please have them give me a call”  because it hardly ever works and, if it does, the referrals will likely be unfocused at best.

Since no strategy can work every time, here are six ways to excel in uncovering the best referral prospects:

  1. Pre-planning

Before you meet, do some homework on who your client is connected to:

Google them, search LinkedIn contacts and think through what other people, groups or interests they have already mentioned in their life.

Before every meeting, ask yourself: what would I love to ask this person for? This is the one of the best referral habits you can have.

  1. Listen differently

Make it a goal in every meeting to identify 1-3 names of people who fit your ideal target prospect.

When you do, you will find that you pay more attention to conversation that in the past may have seemed frivolous or unrelated to your agenda for the meeting.

You already know that there are times when you don’t listen closely to everything someone says. When you make a point to listen closely for names, you’ll start to notice that sometimes they do mention specific people.

  1. Ask different questions

If you don’t know yet what people are in their personal and professional world, ask different questions! Remember the goal is to identify specific people or opportunities for you.

“What do you love to do?”

“What are you working on right now?”

Let them tell you. If something comes up that you believe you could help with: “How do you think it would be best for me to help you with this situation?”

“Who’s your ideal client?” This ought to then give you a chance to respond too.

“If you were me and building a business in this area, who would be the important people for me to know?”

Ask your clients:

“I’m curious: What do you tell other people about the work we do?”

  1. Use generic specifics

If have yet to identify anyone: instead of 30 family members say ‘siblings’ or ‘parents’; ‘best friend’ beats ‘friends’; and ‘favorite colleague at work’ beats potentially dozens of anonymous ‘co-workers’; “who do you most like to (e.g.) golf with that you discuss this kind of thing of with?”

For business owners ask about favorite clients, favorite vendors that they outsource to, and referral sources.

  1. Memory jogging stories

Educate people about the different types of work you do by sharing stories so they know all that you’re capable of. During general conversation, start weaving in more stories of how you have helped other people in different situations. The goal is to hear: “I didn’t know you did that. You know, you might want to talk to…” Look for flickers of recognition.

You could even legitimately ask: “Do you ever run into people in that situation?”

  1. Ideal client list

A few people have success presenting a list of prospects to others in their network. If you’ve got water in the well with someone, it is perfectly appropriate to say: “I’m curious to ask you about a list of area businesses that I put together the other day. (Show list) Do you have any decent contacts at any of these places? I’d love to talk to them about their (fill in the blank) because I’ve worked with a lot of similar organizations and they’ve turned into excellent relationships.”

Create an ideal client list of specific names, companies, locations or professions and life situations.

The results come when you make it very easy for others such that they do not have to think about it. So be very clear about what you want by knowing whom you want to meet.

Matt AndersonMatt Anderson, founder of The Referral Authority, is the author of Fearless Referrals. He leads seminars and coaching groups around the globe for business development professionals on how to develop the lifetime skill of getting referrals. Contact him at [email protected] or 312-622-3121.

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.

 

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.

Image credit: stuartpilbrow

Is Selling Becoming More Like Marketing?

sales doctorI have to admit that part of the motivation for the title of this post is to excite the sales oriented folks out there, but no question, the Internet has forever changed the practice of sales.

Today’s salesperson is often greeted by a sales lead that knows more about the technical or historical aspects of a product, service, or industry than they do. Selling evolved long ago from an act of presenting and closing to one of educating and consulting, but access to information via online sources, rating sites, filtering social media streams, and tools for competitive analysis have once again changed the game.

The game of selling in today’s digital information age has become one of helping a prospect aggregate and filter information and come to the shared conclusion of what value looks like. The salesperson that can best illustrate a valuable outcome wins. I don’t know about you, but from where I sit, that sounds a lot like what good marketing aims to do.

I love to use the medical profession to help make this point. (Doctors have long sold patients on what was best for them!) Years ago you went to a doctor, they diagnosed your problem, and offered a solution. If you were really sick you got a competitive prospective, but for the most part, you took the advice and moved forward. Today, patients have access to information about medical conditions, experimental drug trials, and therapies from alternative practices. Today’s medical buyer is often more informed on new medical directions than treating physicians. Few doctors can expect to see a patient and dictate a solution. The practice of medicine has evolved, in large part due to access to information, into one of helping patients filter information and come to a shared conclusion of the best path.

Today’s salesperson must employ the same online aggregating, filtering, and listening devices as their prospects or prepare to be dismissed as a hack.

Image credit: Lisa Brewster

10 Small Business Lead Nurturing Tools

lead nurturingLead nurturing is the act of following up with leads in a consistent and, hopefully, logical way moving them gently along the path of becoming a customer.

In some high end, long decision process selling environments it’s the only way a sale is made. “Hi, glad to meet you, call me when you’re ready to buy,” isn’t a very nurturing approach.

In today’s marketing world smart companies are tapping powerful nurturing tools and technology to help their prospects get to know, like, and trust them, make sales when competitors can’t get past the front lobby, and charge a premium for their products and services.

In some cases it’s a matter of automatically dripping more and more information, in others it’s case of knowing exactly when your prospect is showing interest and in still others it can come down to gaining greater knowledge about your prospect by simply using technology to understand their behavior. (Don’t worry, none of this need be done in a creepy way, it’s all a matter of using technology and the information your prospects willing share.)

The secret is to stay top of mind and continue to educate, but do it ways that have impact.

The following ten tools are ones that I would suggest to most any small business owner to use in tandem with a cadre of education based marketing content in the form of ebooks, audio, video, newsletters, surveys and seminars.

1. BatchBlue – a lightweight CRM tool with a twist. BatchBlue makes it very simple to add your prospect’s social media profiles thereby having access to their blog and twitter feeds right at the point of interaction. Really great for your journalist target market too!

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A Lead Nurturing Technology

EnthusemLead nurturing, the act of moving a lead logically along the path of know, like and trust, takes systems thinking. Not every prospect you meet at the Chamber function is going to jump at the change to spend their money with you just because you’ve got a nice business card. Or maybe you’ve finally connected with that big fish at company X on LinkedIn, now what? You’ve got to woo them a bit, get their attention with your follow-up and, in my opinion, your stylish use of technology tools.

Recently, I started using a technology, Enthusem, that I think fits the lead nurturing bill in a very nice way.

At the most basic level Enthusem is a card sending service. You design a greeting type card or cards, input an address and the system sends your card out first class the next day.

Nothing totally new about that approach, but here are few nice differences:

  • The card is very high quality stock and printing
  • Card is delivered in see through vellum envelope – stands out and gives the impact of your message before opened – first class stamp
  • Card carries whatever personal message you wish

But, this is where it becomes a powerful lead nurturing tool:

  • Card invites reader to visit a landing page on your site
  • This landing page can carry any kind of message – ebook download or audio or video greeting
  • Once recipient visits the page, you get an email alerting you to follow-up

enthusem cardsThis type of systematic follow-up and nurturing step makes it easy for you to get a prospect’s attention and focus your follow-up in a timely manner on those most interested in moving to the next step. I might not use this tool in a bulk way, but as a personalized, hi-tech, hi-touch tool, it looks like a winner to me.