Create the conditions for a positive ROI for your on-line business investments.
Focus on these three areas:
CONNECT – Create opportunities to connect with your target audience through SEO.
CONVINCE – Improve engagement with visitors with your optimized website.
CONVERT – Develop leads into customers with marketing automation.
For these three steps to work, it’s important to understand how people buy today.
We have access to information on almost every topic imaginable – most of this information is FREE.
There are over six billion (6,000,000,000) searches daily looking at information on over one billion (1,000,000,000) websites. It doesn’t matter whether you are targeting consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B). Decision-makers, on desktop, tablet or phone – are on-line educating themselves and they are doing this without having to talk to anybody.
The Buyer’s Process Replaces Your Selling Process
Most buyers, through their on-line research, are 70-80% of the way through their decision-making process before engaging with a sales professional (if at all), meaning their buying process has largely replaced the traditional proactive outbound sales role, which consisted of outreach, qualifying, being the resource/authority on the solution, and closing.
So we can still be an authority on a topic that helps solve customer problems, but we have to change the way we use this authority to guide the prospective buyer to a successful sale. This means more and varied content, delivered appropriately.
Funnel Management: One-time versus iterative optimization
You may already have some level of success with your on-line lead funnel – your Adwords campaign, your website, maybe your blog and social media, and the resulting traffic converts into sales leads (for this example) 5% of the time.
So now you have a choice – you can jack up your current time & money efforts and get more leads while maintaining your 5% conversion rate, OR
You can start taking steps to measure and make adjustments so that there are ongoing incremental improvements to the processes that make up your lead funnel so that you now convert 10% or 15% or higher vs the original 5%.
Let’s take a high-level look at each of the three stages and what kind of actions we can take to optimize our lead generation:
Connecting to your target audience requires creating pathways from where your prospects are, out on the Web, to your website. Search engines, external websites/blogs and social media platforms are key to creating pathways and, let’s be honest, require time and effort to be effective.
There are things we can do, however, to make sure that our efforts are focused and measurable. This means research into buyer profiles, the language they use to search on-line and the places they go on-line for information.
Buyer Search Terms – Keywords
We want to ensure that the language around our solution and our value proposition is aligned with the word phrases that your target customer is using in search.
Additionally we are looking to satisfy the discovery and indexing tools of search engines which, once finding your site, will be scanning your content and how it is applied across web page elements to establish topic relevancy.
Keywords, therefore, are the foundation to drive actions both outside your site and on it as well.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search optimization comes in two parts:
- On-Page – how keywords are used on your website pages
- Off-Page – How keywords are used to get links pointing to your web pages
On-Page Keyword Optimization
After you have completed keyword research (on your own using 3rd party tools or hiring an SEO expert) you should have a good idea of the “phrases that pay”, their search volumes and competition for that traffic.
To satisfy our two audiences (humans and search engines), we’ll want to ensure that not only are our web pages worth reading for humans, but search engine friendly as well – For a checklist on best practices for on-page optimization, click here.
With our website now optimized, it’s time to turn to creating those pathways to the website.
Off-Page Keyword Optimization
Your keywords not only serve to help structure your website content, they are the basis for helping your potential customers discover you where they hang out on-line. Therefore, when adding your website to business directories, having other websites connect to you, in hashtags on social media and within your blog posts, use your keywords to strengthen the association between other web properties and platforms and your web site.
What Works and What Doesn’t
Once you start establishing your different pathways and develop traffic, you’ll want to start analyzing results.
A great place to start is with Google Analytics. Here are some examples that can help you analyze and take action to incrementally over time improve traffic to your site:
• Acquisition – where they came from search, ads, social media, referred from other sites. Seeing where traffic is coming from can help you decide where to apply additional effort (highlighted boxes show Google Analytics left-navigation bar reports):
• Behaviour – you can see entry pages, the next page they visited, and drop-offs, which can give you insight into how your important web pages are doing in terms of visitor retention and engagement, and whether you need to rework certain parts of your web-site:
• Device Use – Also, becoming more & more important – what device were they using to visit your site – mobile, tablet or desktop? This can impact how you arrange page content so that it works effectively across different screen shapes and sizes:
This is all valuable information, but remember it’s anonymous aggregated data – you have no insight into individual behavior and how a potential lead is evaluating your site. More on this later.
With traffic coming to the site and some sense of user behaviour, we now want to look at the next area of optimization, which is:
“First impressions are most lasting” applies equally to a user’s experience with a web site. First time visitors will have an undercurrent of questions as they scan their viewing screen:
• Am I in the right place?
• Can you hold my attention?
• Do you have what I’m looking for?
• Can you solve my problem?
• Are you qualified?
• Do you have proof?
Design, Navigation and Offers
There’s been a rapid evolution to telling your introductory story as simply as possible that allows a visitor to scan and scroll through essentially a short slide deck that works on desktop and mobile. Here’s an example of the elements that can make up a Home Page layout:
It’s important that the Hero Image banner (the first thing they see on loading the page) visually convey an aspect of, or a feeling related to, your product/service. Overlaid text should confirm, through the use of language that is related to your keyword population, that they have come to the right place and that they should start scrolling down to find out more.
And once you’ve been able to convince them to hang around the web page, they now want to be told what to do.
Clear navigation (to get them deeper into the site) and multiple offers called CTAs (Call to Actions) help the visitor decide what to do next.
Acknowledge where they are in their buying process
Especially in the B2B world, prospective buyers are rarely ready to purchase on first visit. If their pain point involves making a decision around an internal business process that requires a long-term commitment to a new software application, they will be taking their time researching alteratives.
Have Multiple Offers
Have offers on your website that appeal to different stages in a buyer’s journey. Scale them in order of value and where they might apply to the buyer’ journey:
- Blog posts
- Trade Show Invitation
- On-line Demo
- Special Offer
Offer value to secure contact information
It takes work to get visitors to your site, let’s maximize the opportunity to make that first transaction happen. At least an email address and ideally first name as well. This puts you in a place to start personalizing delivery of future content, starting with their name.
Optimizing Web Pages
In terms of free tools to help us test what page content works best and to track conversion rates from visitor to subscriber, there continues to be Google Analytics, but now we’re not getting the complete picture of how people are behaving on your website.
Using Google Tag Manager (GTM) to create more granular event capture is possible but requires programming skills. Strategies like A/B testing (where pages and forms are alternated to determine best conversion performance) with Google Analytics on WordPress websites requires coding within WordPress PHP scripts and is not a task for the faint hearted.
A number of software vendors have apps and plugins to simplify testing and measure page conversion rates. Some of the market leaders are:
- Landing Page Design (good as destination pages for Adword campaigns): Unbounce
- Forms Design (can really impact sign-up rates): Gravity Forms
- Heat Maps (how visitors click and scroll across your web pages): Crazy Egg
So now lets look at the on-line processes that are closest to making sales. . .
Once you’ve got a first name and email address, now you want to start nurturing your contacts and move them down the path to actually doing business with you.
There are the freemium email types like Mail Chimp and Constant Contact, with typically low price points for some additional functionality for segmenting lists, and then there’s looping in Google Analytics again to have some sense of conversion rates and where conversions are coming from.
But Email marketing by itself is a bit of a blunt instrument, and here’s an analogy by way of example:
It happens that many relationships can be one-sided.
It happens with print media, and television (where we are being talked to) and it happens with email marketing – All of these are essentially a one-way broadcast with limited customization for individual subscribers.
Even more importantly, there’s no sense of the overall relationship your subscriber (and potential customer) is having with all of your content:
- What content have they downloaded
- What web pages have they visited
- How many times have they come to the site
Having that kind of information helps you understand what’s important to each prospect. It’s feedback that can help you customize and adjust your content and delivery timing so that you better address their information needs and make other offers and invitations to guide them closer to a human-to-human interaction and/or a sale.
What would be really good would be tools that can take feedback and deliver the right messages and information at the right time customized to the prospect, and this is what Marketing Automation is set up to do.
Marketing Automation Defined
Marketing automation is a set of integrated tools that let companies:
- Nurture Leads by delivering personalized content that aligns with the buyer’s profile and their stage in their buying process
- Deliver Sales Ready Leads by tracking and scoring a lead’s behavior with company content (webpages, emails, collateral, events)
- Generate more leads by identifying anonymous web visitors through reverse IP tracking
- See comprehensive ROI for every marketing tactic by tracking the entire sales process from end-to-end.
There are a number of vendors such as Marketo and Hubspot which are feature-rich but come with a higher price tag. One of the more value-based vendors that better address the small- and medium-business in-bound marketing needs is SharpSpring that delivers 95% of the enterprise-type marketing features plus includes an integrated CRM as well.
Using Workflows to score and qualify
Typically you have to touch a potential lead 7-10 times before you can move ahead into a potential sales engagement. So you can set up a workflow that tracks email opens, web page visits, even picking up the anonymous visits from the lead before they even signed up for anything.
One of the great things about workflows is that you can assign weights to each interaction the prospect takes, plus have a complete view of their engagement history. The prospect essentially self-qualifies based on their investment of time in accessing your content.
This makes alignment with Sales easy – At the onset of planning you come to an agreement with your Sales Team on what constitutes a qualified lead. Sales is then notified once the lead has reached a certain score. All subsequent Sales activity can be tracked as well (calls, emails, meetings).
The other big benefit is campaign attribution – knowing what marketing activities contributed to and supported the sales effort to close a deal helps you determine what works best, allowing you to optimize and focus on the activities and content that deliver the best results.
- Current State of Marketplace: Your prospective buyer now controls most of the decision-making process leading up to a sale because of the wealth of information on the Internet.
- Your Website’s Job is to engage in their search/evaluation and decision-making process.
- There are Three Key Areas that on-line lead and business generation activities need to focus on:
- CONNECT – Create opportunities to connect with your target audience through keyword research and optimize both your website and the links coming into your website from search, websites, blogs and social media platforms (Search Engine Optimization)
- CONVINCE – Improve engagement with visitors with your website by testing and updating website content and offers (Conversion Rate Optimization)
- CONVERT – Develop leads into customers with marketing automation that customizes the prospect’s experience and prepares them for engagement with Sales
So it’s possible to make headway in optimizing your funnel at the macro level using tools such as Google Analytics and other entry level programs, and if you’re looking to accelerate the optimization and conversion rates of the steps within your funnel, then you’ll want to go through the process of calculating ROI for investing in some productivity tools.
Your Next Step
We’re ready to have a no-obligation consultation with you to determine if we’re the right fit to help you generate more business on-line.
To contact us, click here