Perhaps because the small business owner is NOT a digital marketer, the necessary elements of effective internet marketing are not well utilized. The evolution of website maturity starts with "I need a good website". Then the realization sets in that a good website doesn't matter without traffic. Most businesses understand the need for ranking on the major search engines. That's the focus of most small businesses relative to their website today. It's not enough!
What happens when you've gone through these two stages? You've got a great website (by that I mean it represents your brand, is attractive and highlights your products and services). And let's say you're also pretty well positioned in the search engines. You're getting quite a number of hits to your website but you realize that those visitors aren't necessarily turning into customers. That realization is the difference between you and the digital marketer.
I've been looking at this gap for several years and have decided to help my clients raise the stakes. Every digital marketer making money online is using the same basic ingredients.
- The List
- The Offer
- The Communication
THE LIST - The CRM Tool
The list of is the most important ingredient to any business. You have at least one list. It's your list of customers. You probably also have a list of prospects and maybe even a list of leads? The problem is that YOU have them... but your website doesn't. What would your website do with that list? A LOT! The first ingredient missing in your website is an embedded Client Relationship Management tool - or CRM. You should be devising a strategy to collect as much contact information as possible. Every client that enters your website is at least a suspect and probably a prospect considering the fact that he had to type keywords relative to your products and services to find your website in the first place.
Once you have the CRM tool, you're focus should be on how to fill the pipeline with suspects, prospects and clients!
THE OFFER - Sales Funnel
If yours looks like most small business websites, you've covered the essentials. It says who you are, what you do, and where you're located. It may list your core products and services. And... if your website is like most business websites it doesn't offer a single thing to the visitor beyond just providing information about the business. You might be giving away a coupon but if you're like most businesses, even that is done incorrectly.
My old boss used to coach me by saying before every sales call: "What are you going to give? What are you going to get?" The visual clue that distinguishes the digital marketer from the average website owner is the offer page or the landing page. A landing page has a purpose. It feeds the list! It may give away something or even sell something but it has to have that one goal to be effective. It must get the visitors contact information. Once achieved, it may launch into another page (an upsell) or just a thank you page. Ultimately, the sequence of pages starts with a single landing page with that single purpose. The sequence is usually referred to as a sales funnel.
It is possible to build landing pages within a typical website using the available tools. However, it usually isn't practical. Beyond the challenge of just building the page, adding in the sequence of pages (the funnel) and integrating the process with the CRM challenges even the more technically inclined website owner. To coin a phrase... There's an app for that.
COMMUNICATION - Marketing Automation
If your landing page is effective, then you have achieved the number 1 goal. You have the visitors contact information. For some small businesses, that may be enough. For most, it's not. The digital marketer uses his website as an effective communications tool. The first response to getting a visitors contact information is a simple thank you. Obviously, the response will also be to provide whatever it was that the visitor was asking for. You might be tempted to just redirect the visitor after he fills out the information on the site... but what if the information provided was wrong? The communication email is used to verify that you have a real bonafide prospect or customer. The simplest form of this is an autoresponder. The autoresponder in its simplest form is a automatic response to filling out a form. In my opinion, even in it's very simple form, is way under-utilized. It's often the first time you get to say something to the client about you and your business... so don't brush over this tool. It's probably something you already have as a tool on your website, so use it.
However, what the digital marketer knows and you might not is that the marketing automation platform is your most effective tool for NURTURING suspects and prospects into clients. We all know the marketing rule of thumb - the prospect must interact in some way with your business or brand seven times before he feels comfortable enough to become a client. Of course there are exceptions to that rule but understand the concept. The more you can increase the communication "touches" between your business and your prospects, the greater the potential for turning the lead into a sale.
You don't have to rely on the automatic entry of this contact information either. You can hand feed the marketing automation system. For example, let's say you just attended a trade show. If you had planned ahead for that show you could have setup a sales funnel that works directly with the trade show. You can setup landing pages and even embed your giveaways instead of just handing them out at the show. The goal is to create some interaction beyond your first meeting. You get the business cards or emails from the tradeshow and enter them into the system yourself. Before you think this is spamming... it's NOT! Do this correctly and you'll be the 1 in 1000 that actually gets remembered after the trade show is over and done. The marketing automation system is a way to be remembered.
The marketing automation system integrates directly with the sales funnel and the CRM. Together these tools will take your website and make it work for you as a true lead generation system. There are a number of systems out there and many small business may even be aware of them but for the most part, the cost is out of reach for small local businesses (my clients). As I mentioned, 50Bubbles has been looking at this for some time. We have been able to put together these essential ingredients in a website platform package at a fraction of the cost you might expect.
If you think it's time to up your game - it's time to give us a call! (nope, I'm not going to spill the beans here. If you actually read this blog... you know why!)