Sometimes known as the seven dwarfs these steps make perfectly good sense once you understand them, but be wary of making any rash assumptions. Even when you are running an ecommerce operation all of these steps occur but are sometimes less easy to identify and the order is not always the same. For a professional review and a strategy for your site, visit this page
- Get found by a sufficiently large number of people with a reasonable likelihood of being interested in doing business.
- Keep the visitor for more than 1 second
- Get the visitor to initiate further contact
- Qualify the visitor under BANT or similar rules
- Get agreement to a pitch, or a cart-add
- Make a good competitive offer
- Convince the prospect to act now.
Poor assumptions that amateurs frequently fall for.
- Only eCommerce businesses sell via their website, for the rest of us it’s just PR
If you don’t plan to sell via your website, you are probably going out of business. Web search has become he number one method of sourcing, even when they can see your building out of their window. It tells them you are a suitable business, it tells them some information, it convinces them to contact you and begin a buying process, in some cases it facilitates an eCommerce sale. The majority of business sales that begin on a website, result in a lead that is eventually converted via a salesperson or by a frustrated customer doing your job for you.
- If you explain yourself well, they’ll understand.
Now there’s the mother of all bad assumptions, the fact is that the majority of visitors are expecting your site to be more clickbait and have their finger poised to leave if in any doubt. Even when you have exactly what they want, some visitors will decide your site is not what they wanted and just leave. You definitely can’t win them all, but following a few basic rules combined with some good housekeeping can make a big improvement in leads and sales.
- You can win them all.
Gamblers suffer a lot from this syndrome. Some think you can and should win most of your bets if you are good. Big mistake. The key is making a steady profit. Others think if you try your hardest to win each and every bet, your average will be higher and you will do better. No it doesn’t work like that either.
Statistics and averages in particular have had some long awaited updates lately with some great new books hitting the shelves. Many still miss the point though. Knowing the average depth of the Colorado river is less than 3 feet won’t save you from drowning in a 30 foot plunge pool any more than it is feasible to build a bridge over all of them. The key is to be good at deciding which ones to take on and which ones to completely ignore so you increase your chances and save some wasted time It’s the combination of these two things that makes all the difference. The value of averages is simply to look back from a difference and ask if you have been doing well overall. A very different beast, I hope you agree.
- You can bully the customer into buying.
No, there isn’t any situation where you can get a sale from somebody who doesn’t want to buy from you for whatever reason. Not the same as helping someone who wants to buy but has a problem to overcome, but that’s outside of this scope. Whether you are attending a pitch or serving content on your website, there’s a time to let go.
- Amazing presentation is all it takes to win business
This the commonest mistake and it usually is found among wannabee marketers and wannabee salespeople and plenty of highly paid marketers, come to that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very important to present the proposition well and help the customer really understand the benefits, but investing your hopes in swaying unqualified leads with great presentations is just like swimming those dangerous deep pools we talked about. Walk away and focus on the ones you can win. Understanding what that customer needs and being able to offer it is the key, sometimes she doesn’t need much and goes away really happy that you helped. Sometimes she doesn’t know you are right and she’s wrong. Live with it.
- Customers are dumb.
Customers don’t tell you everything, even when you have known them for years and you’ve just been on the golf course for several hours with them, let alone on your website. They even make foolish decisions for secret reasons you will never know. The important thing is that this is their right and you have to respect them, but don’t set out to mislead because you are the only one likely to be mislead.
- People need to think it over and come back, that’s what websites and phones are for.
There is any amount of evidence in almost every business that keeps records, all of it demonstrating categorically that customers who want the deal, just buy it and people who want to think about it almost never, close enough to be never, ever come back. If you added up the entire profit from customers who thought about it and came back over a decade, it wouldn’t buy you much and indeed as a segment they are extremely unprofitable in most business. Now let’s be clear, these figures assume that a customer is considering a small purchase, the sort that requires little or modest levels of thought, or the customer has been engaged and qualified as described above and has then absorbed the information, invited a pitch or whatever and wants to think about it.
- The sale is all that counts.
Sales forces will argue this one time and again. Whenever there’s a budget argument and the discussion returns to attribution, sales-people will assert that they got the sale and the marketing was of little consequence. Well when this happens, suggest that they meet their targets next month without any leads or marketing support. The fact is that the initiating action is still the most important one until it has happened.
- All the Content can be critically important in getting the sale.
Marketers are sitting on increasingly huge budgets to generate mountains of content and engage on Social Media and naturally they will argue strongly for increasing this budget.
They will show you a convoluted customer journey and point out that without the random email at this point that formed a conviction about the brand, the other steps might never have happened. Well no two propositions are identical and hard and fast rules are tricky to come by, but there are some things we know that should be taken into account:
In the modern world we tend to either close a sale via an eCommerce workflow or by generating a lead which is then handled by sales-people.
In the case of the ecommerce journey, there is a minefield of often unknown problems waiting to thwart your customer not to mention missing pieces of information that might cause her to abandon that cart. This is life and we must be able to profit from a good conversion rate and keep working on perfection. Piling more information in her path is definitely not the way to go. Closing is all about facilitation and the path of least resistance.
After all, a decision made is a job done and then there’s the anticipation to look forward to, we just have to get it reasonably right and not get in the way.
Leads handled by sales-people are definitely a case of “ Passed the previous tests, just one left to go”. The sales person can have a big impact, but more content is not likely to help, nor is the previous content very relevant other than the possibility that it helped create this sales opportunity.
Let me simplify this a little. The first part of the process, however many virtual steps you may have placed in your funnel, is getting a prospective customer to the point of purchasing.
For the complex, there is a lot of good content to consume and there are ways to engage and ask questions, take trials and so forth. This is all legitimate reason to create and test content, but remember you can’t win them all and your time may be better spent qualifying new potential customers.
Purchasing is about checking a few final details, making arrangements and committing to OR making payment. Only some of it in a face to face sale and none in a shopping cart journey involves going back over previous questions. The shopping cart is all about confirming that everything is indeed as promised and making it very easy to complete the purchase.
While I have designed Attribution funnels many times with many different degrees of sophistication, in most cases, my instinct is to create three main steps.
Instigate a conversation, Generate a lead, Close the deal. They apply equally well to eCommerce as selling high powered cars and they save a great deal of wasted effort with attribution.
Another great way is to follow old-fashioned frameworks like AIDA (Attention Interest, desire, Action, or DIPIDA (Discovery, Identification, Proof, Acceptance, Interest, desire, Action) The latter is more suited to a complex consulting type engagement with analysis followed by a pitch etc.
The key is understanding where to invest your time, effort and capital.
What CEOs think
- Everyone else is better at this than I am
- They bounce on arriving from SERPS
- They abandon carts
- PPC drives visitors but not revenue
It’s like sex, there’s a lot of talk and most people are not as good at it as they’ve been told.
And it definitely depends on who you’ve been hanging around with.
Where to start sorting out your website and turning it into an asset.
- Begin by giving it a role and a purpose in life.
Obvious as that may sound, have you done it? Does everyone in the organisation know what its role is and its purpose in life? Even more to the point, does everyone in the web department know the role and purpose of your website?
If you are in any doubt go and as ka few questions, but before doing that, I would recommend you look at the site through the eyes of a customer and see what impressions you get about its role and purpose, then go and ask those questions of a few key people.
You will need to define very clearly where the website fits within your overall marketing and selling activity and how it relates to other channels. If it is the whole thing, that’s simpler.
Once you know these answers it will be a lot easier to work out how well it is doing and where, if anywhere it may be falling down.
- Compare your site to the competition
Now before you get too excited about your site’s role and purpose, you need to take a serious look at your competition. What competition do I mean? Well if you are say a local interior designer and still getting a fair bit of business from referrals and other sources, but worried about missing out on the web, it may be that many of your competitors are no further forward than you are. If that is the case, don’t buy yourself a big ego by comparing yourself to them, just focus on the ones competing with you for online enquiries.
- Get a clear grasp of who is searching for your offerings and the cost of attracting them.
To do this you need to begin by researching the keywords and especially keyword phrases that are frequently used to find offers on your competitors websites. Don’t pay too much attention to what traffic they get or how highly ranked they are, these things might or might not be significant. If it’s not a highly competitive web niche it is most likely not that relevant.
You need access to a good commercial tool for competitive analysis that is able to show you a history of the adverts run over a period of time by each of your competitors and analyse key data for this activity but to begin with, simply search today with every search phrase you imagine your customers using and place these terms of yours in a little notepad or somewhere handy.
Take into account the points they are clearly making in their advert copy and when you click through to their landing pages. What they are bragging about, what they might be hiding, the main gist of their headline and what they are expecting you to do.
Out of this you can usually discern how thy see themselves and how they want to be seen and that is a lot of information when used intelligently.
Now ask yourself what you would have to do to be competitive with them. A good PPC tool like Wordstream, Spyfu or SEMrush can be used to gain a good insight into the amount of clicks etc that your competitors gained.
If you go to Google Adwords planner, open a free account if you don’t have one and paste that little list we made into the place where you discover keywords, then Google will show you all the other keywords and phrases people were using and tell you how much you would have to pay and how many clicks others have been getting. Whatever you do don’t use that list un edited, it is just a good starting point.
- Find out how much traffic there is for your propositions and estimate how much of it you could be having.
With this information to hand, you should be able to make a sensible rule of thumb estimate of the traffic available, the likely clicks through and how much it will cost.
If you are stuck you can assume a click though rate of about 3%, the global average and make your own guesses about how many leads you might be able to generate from that and what value of sales you might achieve. You need to accept that like all statistics, Google statistics are form a wide range of situations so be prepared for a variation from say half to double to predicted traffic.
- Get an understanding of when and how people search for your propositions.
While you are on Google, you can find some information about where the most clicks come from, times of day, which search terms are more effective and generally useful information to help you make sense of what you are seeing in the context of your own industry knowledge.
- Visit social media sites where people might discuss your industry or products and esearch a core of good keyword phrases and some insight about sentiment.
This information can give you ideas about things not to say, emotions to target and even new product ideas to address their needs. If there is sufficient audience size, it even provide the basis for a small campaign.
- Now test your ideas with a real pilot or series of small pilots.
Here you will find a great guide to planning and running a PPC pilot. In essence a pilot needs to be just big enough to give some usable data. A few hundred clicks through is usually enough to give you a strong indication on a specific approach, term etc. Occasionally you will be fooled despite doing everything right, that’s life, but most of the time you get very powerful information very quickly. Compare reading a book with switching on a campaign and seeing someone spending money in your shopping cart five minutes later. With some planning you can find a way to chat to some of the buyers and abandoners too and gain even more powerful insight.
Focus on one question at a time and navigate your way to a conclusion.
Then begin slowly and carefully with the real campaign and build it up. Great campaigns are a never ending pilot campaign.
Please remember that attracting the customer to your website, however important that ay be, is not a guarantee if profits, you must also learn how to convert a visitor to an interested lead to customer and maybe a repeating customer. How to achieve each step is the answer to another similar exercise of research, consultation, pilot, refinement until you get to that winning formula.
- Now apply your new found customer insight to SEO and drive Mr Ideal Customer to your website free or near free.
When you really understand your customer and you know how to convert her into revenue, you are now equipped to turn organic traffic into revenue and you have all the knowledge and tools at your disposal to build a killer SEO strategy and a long term low cost source of great customers.
SEO is even trickier to do well and to get right, so I strongly advise that you hunt around for a reliable firm without too huge overheads and start off small until you build a little trust.
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