A guest post by Isabella Woods
Growing Your Business Is About More Than Just Web Pages
Many businesses make the mistake of seeing their online presence as no more than a fancy brochure. They hire some designers, write some fairly solid sales content and a few months later they are live with a pretty new website. Sure not many people actually visit it or sign up as a result of visiting but it’s more than they were receiving before so it’s seen as a success and not much more is done to improve matters.
Understanding The Sales Funnel And How Web Technology Fits In
The most frustrating part about this misunderstanding about how business on the World Wide Web works is that most businesses would never dream of operating in the same way in the face to face retail market. A visit to a furniture store reveals exactly how well retailers understand the concepts. An advertisement for discounts in their new catalogue shows in a large window poster. When customers ask for a copy of the catalogue sales staff are quick to take their name and address so next months catalogue can also be supplied before showing the customer the stock and offers this month. Obtaining contact details to enable future interaction is crucial to sales due to the effect of the ‘Sales Funnel’.
Simply defined the Sales Funnel works as follows. Imagine opening a new website to sell 0 interest credit cards. If you have a sales brochure type site only you might sell to say five per cent of your visitors. Few users will bookmark your site and return of their own accord. However, if you have a newsletter that contains dozens of exclusive deals and offer that to your visitors through a well designed squeeze page (a page designed to obtain sign ups for newsletters) as many as 15%-20% more might sign up for additional information. Naturally the ability to market to those people by e-mail knowing that they are interested specifically in credit card deals is an extremely lucrative option for you and much better than simply hoping they return to a brochure site or sign up on the first visit (which some users will still do).
Even better for your results will be segmenting your list and understanding the individual requirements of your users. The furniture store will send a beds catalogue to customers who told sales staff they are looking for a new bed and the credit card site will send e-mails about their balance transfer rates to those looking to move money from another card not a selection of deals about foreign cash withdrawals. The logic is identical on and offline but for some reason many businesses fail to interpret the great techniques they use offline into a successful online model.
Moving Beyond E-Mail Into Social Interaction
Some businesses are more ideally suited to social interaction than others and the opportunity will therefore vary significantly. Financial sites such as the credit card business might struggle a lot more to get customers to follow on Twitter than a designer bag store for Women who offer regular discounts via the social network alone. Products like this combined with good local offers and a social following can be significantly more effective than e-mail alone (which is way more effective than Web alone) due to the fact that it will be very often re-shared (re-tweeted etc) with your potential customers. Other Women in your store’s area looking for handbags will be notified of your offers by their friends – can you imagine a more powerful and effective sales manager than a personal friend of a potential customer?
Having Something More To Say Is Crucial
It’s important to follow all this discussion of sales messages and increasing your conversion rate with the important advice that you must have something more to say than just sending out advertisements. Users will quickly unsubscribe if you have segmented your list poorly so they are reading information they don’t want to see or if you just try to sell to them all the time. A good example would be having a debt counsellor write some tips about getting out of debt for your credit card newsletter or blog one month. It’s fine to have some subtle sales messages in there too of course – if the counsellor is suggesting moving to interest free cards as part of the process make sure to have some offers at the side of the advice!
Embracing all the sales and marketing technology available online from simple websites to e-mail and social tools will yield significantly better results than a stand alone brochure site ever could. Ensuring your campaign is optimised, well segmented and that you have something interesting to say to your customers will make the difference for your business.