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Persuasion Point 5: Prospects Respond to an Action Call

Sarah Jamieson - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This  blog is adapted from a series of articles I wrote with my colleague James Atkinson entitled: SEO Strategy: Buyer Persuasion Points

In this series of blogs on Persuasion Points, have shown that there a number of points at which an online business can influence and persuade searchers and prospects. Persuasion Points are predictable and can be discovered through market research.

These points are excellent places at which online sellers create and begin ‘reciprocal relationships’ with searchers. The right types of reciprocal relationships eventually lead to sales.

I have earlier discussed the following entry Points: 

  •  Prospects have a need or desire
  • Prospects start researching online 
  • Prospects start an educative process
  • Prospects engage in social relationships.

Thus, knowing the ‘Persuasion Points’ of buyers in their marketplace a business can then “convert at all the bases” so that the entire search-to-sales continuum is covered.  To put it another way – you should publish content that allows searchers to FIND your business no matter which Persuasion Point the searcher enters the search-to-sales continuum.

I now move to the fifth of these points – Prospects Respond to a 'Call to Action'.

When a prospect wants to solve a need, desire, or problem they’ll often seek or encounter an online ‘call to action’ offer. This is where many sellers BEGIN their sales process. You of course know better!

In online jargon, sales relationships are often referred to as “direct response”.

What is direct response?

It’s an offering that demands a direct response. For example, the seller / marketer seeks an opt-in to an email list or directs you to a sales letter then seeks a buy response. Thus for more information the prospect may: click on a Google Adwords, join an email list, click from an email to a sales letter, click a BUY button on a sales letter and so on.

All eBusinesses MUST incorporate direct response attributes which is another way of saying you need a sales process.

In internet marketing, the terms “direct response” and “direct market” appear to mean the same thing. But there are qualitative differences. So, I want to briefly discuss two aspects of direct response marketing

1. The direct response as internet marketing ‘norm’

The use of the direct market model EXCLUSIVELY – without the benefit of surveys, prospect segmentation, SEO, and Social Marketing is the most prevalent online business model and is widely taught by internet marketing gurus as the only eBusiness model that works!

Because it holds a ‘normative’ position, this type of direct marketing causes many systemic dysfunctions in markets.


When I was learning internet marketing, I used the direct market model exclusively and extensively. The old model WORKS – though it is expensive to operate and you need to be very wary of advertising costs – especially Adwords. 

Strictly speaking direct response by itself is a MARKETING system, but many eBusiness owners would consider direct response as their primary eBusiness “model”.

This form of online marketing is practiced by many large corporations and individuals who appear to function from a “making-money” point of view. This type of activity may eventually lead to a form of systemic dysfunction in particular marketplaces.    
For example, in the “internet business” market, GREED and “making money” drip through the pages of endless emails and sales letters.

Wary buyers eventually turn off the hype and conversion rates drop below 1%. Put another way, 99% of potential customers are not really “listening” and the cost of doing business in a market becomes prohibitive.

The direct marketing standard is actually an offline business model. I’m sure you’ve encountered this model. All that junky paraphernalia stuffed into your mail box is one part of the model. The online model uses the same techniques adapted to the internet.

It works, but it’s becoming less & less effective, more & more expensive - especially now that Google and other search engines are shifting their search algorithms towards shared social relevance.

2. ‘Call to Action’ as a necessary part of a sales process
 
This facet of direct response is simply the sales process part of my system. It is the fifth of the Persuasion Points that I show above.  

All online businesses must have some form of direct response ‘call to action’ sales process. This is one of the advantages of running an internet business. It is relatively easy to set up these systems – such as obtaining an eMail opt-in, directing prospects to a sales letter and so on.

The model allows a great number of areas in which persuasion principles can be built into your sales process.

The internet is a wonderful place to establish “like-minded” communities. It’s relatively easy and inexpensive. When you “sell” in a community environment – you are tapping into a long-established way of doing business.

Picture a hardware store in a small town - run by a Mr. Jones. When you want help to fix a leaking roof you go to Mr. Jones. He advises you how its done and provides all the necessary materials. He does not try to “sell” you a bunch of unnecessary goods.

You have a reciprocal relationship with Mr. Jones. He advises you and he knows you’ll buy what’s necessary to do the job. Reciprocal relationships - this is the best way to sell.

For more information of how our Persuasionworks system functions please see: Online Marketing Strategies.

In the next blog I’ll look more closely at various ‘calls to action’.

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Persuasion Point 4: Prospects Engage in Social Communities

Sarah Jamieson - Monday, March 24, 2014

This  blog is adapted from a series of articles I wrote with my colleague James Atkinson entitled: SEO Strategy: Buyer Persuasion Points

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This is the fourth Persuasion Point in my series. Please see my earlier blogs on the topic.

Your goal in the social networks is to gain trust and build a community. By doing this you create the ideal conditions for sales.

There seems little point in spending time and money building sites and relationships if you don't have a sales and back end sales process. You want prospects and customers – not thousands of online friends.

As the image below shows, sales persuasion does not occur 'clear space':

The picture illustrates some of the many factors that influence the buyer - in addition to the psychology issues raised above in Why Buyers Buy.

Online social relationships that are imbued with Meta Narratives are an excellent way to affect your persuasion strategy. I'll explain Meta Narratives in a later blog.

Social networks are a Key Information Point where conversations are happening in your market, opinions are being formed, and buying decisions are being made.

Social networks are a powerful vehicle to create traffic, persuade, and influence the decision to buy. Online social media has a huge user base that is rapidly increasing all the time.

The reality is that if you're not influencing your prospects in the social networks, then your competitors will. Social networks are different from traditional internet marketing – users want quality information and interactions with like-minded people.

Sales pitches in social networks are ineffective.

The way to create traffic and sales through social networks is by building reciprocal relationships with prospects. Persuasion research shows that familiarity makes people more likely to find what you say credible and convincing. Familiarity makes prospects like you more, another driver in creating influence. These are compelling reasons to engage with your market regularly.

Google is also paying attention to social networking. Your level of social influence now has a direct effect on your search engine rankings. Social networks are a Key Information Point where you can exert enormous influence to gain more traffic, sales, and even higher search engine rankings.

Social Networks and Persuasion

Social networks give you a valuable way to engage with prospects and shape their views throughout the buying cycle. You can join in the conversation and shape prospects' views about your market.

This extends all the way from pre-buyers who are researching a market to existing customers with whom you want to deepen relationships.

Before the internet, marketers didn't have much influence in the buying cycle until a prospect was actually ready to buy – at which time their opinions had of course already been formed. Shaping opinions in the pre-buying stage was tough.

Prospects got their information from a small group of friends and that was what influenced buying decisions.

Likewise, we didn't have as much influence on the backend to keep customers buying. Contacting customers to deepen relationships, build loyalty, and reinforce our unique benefits was difficult and expensive.

Social networks have also made business a lot more transparent. Bad products and service are discussed and word spreads very quickly. Good products and service will also get 'talked about'!

The information prospects find in social media influences their opinions about the market, their needs, and the features and benefits they want.

You need to have a voice in that conversation and engage your market on social networks. If you don't, you can be sure your competitors will.

The Future of Social Influence

As an interesting aside, haute couture has over the years recognizes the importance of the internet for sales. At the Dolce & Gabbana show in Summer 2009, CEOs of the major cloths retailers were pushed back from their normal position in the first row.

Who displaced the executives? The CEO of an online retailer!

In a show for the high-end Dolce & Gabbana line a few days later, bloggers occupied front-row seats. In the ultra-hierarchical world of high fashion, this was a significant shift towards the internet. Online high-fashion retailers Net-a-porter and Yoox have proven that haute couture sells online.

Social networks like Twitter and Facebook are full of brands like Louis Vuitton and Burberry, and audiences at the European shows were Tweeting about the runway action as it happened.

Dolce & Gabbana now have their own online magazine and create web content by having their European shows filmed from multiple angles to be released online – everything from the street outside, guests arriving, and the designers inspecting models backstage, to the runway show itself.

Traditionally, fashion magazines - like Vogue - are the media where audiences for designer labels seek information. Magazines create a seamless blend between advertising and editorial content. The content exists to support the advertising and give it third-party credibility.

However, this is clearly changing. Now the Key Information Points are also found online, in the search engines, social networks, and blogs are starting to shape the audience conversation.

The Goal of Social Marketing

Your social marketing goal is to build relationships with a loyal community of people who regard you as a trusted authority.

You do this using a two-pronged approach:

  • Quality, relevant content
  • Two-way interactions

This is where persuasion principles come into play.

Giving people content that is of value to them and helping them through personal interactions activates the reciprocation principle. They will subtly but powerfully feel obligated to repay you by buying or taking some other action like sharing your content or joining your email list.

A community of people who are engaged with your content is a very powerful force for influence. People who enjoy your quality content will share it to the farthest reaches of the social networks.

Content sharing creates an ever-increasing influence ripple effect for you as your content achieves more prominence and produces more followers, traffic, and sales.

Google now considers social network prominence – for example: how much your content is being shared, voted for, and bookmarked – as a primary factor in rankings. Social factors have largely replaced the old link-building model, which was too easy to manipulate, as the main criteria for off-page relevance.

The biggest asset you can gain from social media is a community. Quality content and personal interactions are investments you make to build your community.

This is how you establish trust, loyalty, and a following. Once these elements are in place, the benefits of social networks flow naturally.

Communities = higher ranking = more sales!

Social Networking is Very Different from Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing tactics don't work in social networks – period.

If you want to be successful in social media, you'll need to unlearn much of what you know about marketing.

Here's the difference in a nutshell:

  • Traditional internet marketing is about going out and pitching your sales message to a cold audience that has never heard of you. Hype, sales resistance, and lack of trust are familiar features.
  • Social networking is about building relationships to position yourself as a trusted expert through quality content and two-way interactions. People naturally come to you when they're ready to buy because they see buying from you as being in their own best interests.

People on social networks are not receptive to overt selling. They want information and relationships with people they trust, not a sales pitch. Any attempt to sell on social networks does not work, and could damage your reputation.

Social media is about building relationships with an ever-expanding community of followers. The first step is to gain trust. You do this with quality, relevant content that is of value to your audience.

Once prospects associate you with quality again and again, they will start to trust you. This giving and helping approach leads to a position of influence, trust and authority in your market. From there, traffic and sales follow naturally.

With the social networks, you don't have to go out and try to sell prospects that have never heard of you and don't trust you. As I already mentioned, trust is a condition that must exist before a sale can be made.

But a sales letter is not the ideal place to establish trust. Trust is best earned slowly over time with quality content and two-way interactions. With social networks, you build relationships to establish the ideal conditions to make sales: people already know and trust you by the time they are ready to buy.

You are not trying to sell anyone, per se. You are simply using the leverage of social networks to shift their mindset so they grow to trust you as an expert who is on their side.

Once prospects see you as an advocate who is on their side, they will view it as being in their own best interests to buy from you. Once prospects have made this change in their perception, they have an internally-generated motivation to buy. You don't have to try to sell them with hype and marketing pitches – they will sell themselves on your products because they believe they are the right choice.

People will come to you when they're ready to buy rather than you having to go to them. You have achieved a position where what you want and what they want are the same thing – a win-win situation.

Their perception of you has changed from someone they know nothing about (the position marketers are in with traditional internet marketing)to someone they know and trust as their advocate.

And the speed with which this can be accomplished online is astounding!

My next Persuasion Point is Prospects Engage in a Call to Action.

 

Persuasion Point 3: Prospects and the Educative Process

Sarah Jamieson - Sunday, March 23, 2014

This  blog is adapted from a series of articles I wrote with my colleague James Atkinson entitled: SEO Strategy: Buyer Persuasion Points

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When prospects want to solve a problem or need, they initially WANT information about that topic. The information helps them solve the problem.

This is the third  of the Persuasion Points that I list in earlier blogs. This the point at which you begin to create reciprocal relationships – that ultimately lead to a sales process.

People go online to find out about things – to educate themselves about all sorts of subjects. Before you begin to write content that educates you should conduct a survey to help you discover exactly the distinct segments of your market, what each segment wants, and what drives them to buy. Thus, market research creates a blueprint for your products and marketing messages. It is the foundation of all successful persuasion and marketing. See Prospect Segmentation.

When searchers seek information they are NOT particularly receptive to advertising or sales letters – they are looking for information.

This is a golden opportunity for you to engage your market as they search for solutions. You can use your content and interactions with them to shape their views of the market and position yourself as an authority in that market.

Most of all, you can gain prospects' trust. Trust is the foundation that must be in place before you make a single sale. That’s why web sites spend so much time on testimonials, credentials, sales numbers, proof screenshots, and so on. It all builds trust.

In this pre-buying stage, prospects are most responsive to non-sales content that builds trust – things like informative, useful and relevant blog posts, videos, and articles.

The Power of Content

Your survey should have already pinpointed the exact problems that your market wants to solve, thus providing you a golden opportunity to help prospects – and position yourself as a trusted authority at the same time.

You can publish the content on your web site, blog, and social networking profiles. The content may be text, videos, audios, images - any medium really that is going to grab your prospects’ attention.

Your main vehicles to get visitors to your content are the search engines and social networks. You need an integrated strategy to position yourself high on the search engine organic results and to make yourself highly visible in the social networks.

As they continue to consume your content, you should be influencing and shaping the views of your prospects and placing yourself in a position of strength – as a trusted authority.

Producing lots of excellent, useful free content can be highly persuasive and enables you to activate a number of the influence principles discussed in our articles section. When you are genuinely educating people about how to solve their problems you can do this without the pressure of the sales environment.

Positioning yourself in this way provides a number of advantages. From free content pages you can get followers to join your email lists - so you can communicate with them whenever you choose.

Pre-existing relationships result in more sales, less resistance, and no need to use hard sell tactics.

Because they already like and trust you and see you as an authority, they will naturally give you their business. In so doing you can position yourself as the best choice when your prospects are ready to buy.

Relevant Content Leads to HUGE Traffic and Sales

Search engines know that users are only interested in one thing: relevance. You’ve got to give the search engines what they want – relevant content that meets searchers’ needs. See The Relevancy Regulators.

Once you do that, the search engines give you what you want – lots of targeted visitors.

The same rule applies to social networks. You simply can’t fake your way to social prominence using sales messages!

The only way to harness the enormous power of the search engines and social networks is to follow a strategic plan to provide - on a regular basis - two things:

  • High-quality, relevant content
  • Relevant social interaction

The prospect’s information search starts long before the sale and often continues well after the first sale for as long as the person remains interested in the market.

They Google it, and in many markets they identify and read / watch the new information on their favorite content sites daily, or sign up for email lists so they can get content delivered regularly.

In my previous blog, I’ve explained in "The Search Continuum" how you can take advantage of the prospect’s search for information. We can now influence prospects throughout the buying process which can be presented in different places – for example:

  • Pre-Buying Education Content

    This is the stage where prospects have identified a need and are searching for information and solutions. They are still forming opinions and assessing which features and benefits are important. The keywords prospects enter in the search engines at this stage are called “information” or “educative” keywords.

Virtually all traffic originates from a search engine or social network!

The pre-buying stage is important because information gathered at this stage actually creates buying decisions. In the past, prospects would have gathered this information from their circle of friends, but now the information search has moved online.

Thus, the internet allows you to put your message in front of prospects and shape their perceptions of the market.

So what’s the best way to influence prospects?

At the pre-buying stage prospects use search engines and social networks heavily because those sources are believed to provide unbiased, transparent, and non-sales information.

It is for this stage that you create high-quality educative content. The results of your earlier survey should provide the answers to questions that prospects are seeking.

Your answers are then perceived to be ultra-relevant to prospects’ needs.

During the pre-buying stage, prospects are researching the market and the available solutions. At this point, they aren’t ready to buy yet, so ads and sales letters that aim to get an immediate sale won’t be effective. Something more subtle means are needed – influence and persuasion. Using your survey, you’ll find out exactly the topics people in your market are desperate to know more about.

Use this knowledge to create irresistibly relevant content that speaks directly to prospects. The content must be free and have no apparent sales message. Your goal is influence: to position yourself so that when they are ready to buy, they naturally come to you.

Sales Eucation

This is the educative process that directly leads to sales. I try to keep my pre-buying educative process separate from my sales education process.

Probably the easiest way to do this is to run sales education via autoresponder email and video campaigns. But of course this is a matter for your own online business model. In addition, WHEN you start your sales education is also a matter for your own business model.

The Sale

This is the process that directly leads up to the sale.

It includes direct response elements designed to make the sale, like ads and your sales letter.

The survey will tell you the “buying”keywords that can lead to an immediate sale so you can put your ads in front of the prospects who are ready to buy right away.

The Backend

Many online business models rely heavily on the backend – that is, they’ll take a loss on creating a customer through say Adwords in the hope that the customer will buy more products on the backend. Because you can contact customers directly by email, marketing costs fall in the backend. Thus, conversion rates are higher when you sell to existing customers.

Your content goal in the backend is to continue building strong relationships that create powerful loyalty to keep your customers buying. I suggest you strengthen your relationship with customers with lots of quality content and personal contact.

As you continue to create first-rate content such as blog posts, articles, and videos and distribute them socially, you’ll achieve some important benefits. You will:

  • Deepen your relationship with your customers
  • Increase familiarity, an important component of influence
  • Control mindshare
  • Remind them of your unique benefits
  • Strengthen their loyalty
  • Increase their willingness to buy from you again.

All of these are important embellishments to your overall persuasion and sales process strategy.

In my next blog I'll look at Persuasion Point 4: Getting Sales From Social Networks.

 

Persuasion Point 2: Prospects Start Researching a Solution

Sarah Jamieson - Saturday, March 22, 2014

This  blog is adapted from a series of articles I wrote with my colleague James Atkinson entitled: SEO Strategy: Buyer Persuasion Points

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When prospects look for a solution online they’ll usually start searching on Google or perhaps another search engine.

In my internet marketing experience I’ve found that the average “search” in a market range is typically between five to six searches.

This is because searchers don’t usually find everything they need to know about a subject on the first search.

Each segment tends to search on keywords in a certain order, usually progressing from general to specific. Usually, searchers find new information with each search. They do a search and read some of the results. This leads them to realize they will need to refine their original search based on what they’ve learned from reading.

This process of search-learn-refine goes on until they find what they’re looking for or the searcher gives up. This progression from inquiry to inquiry is called the search continuum.

The Search Continuum

In my previous blog I state the importance of surveying your market – see also: Market Segmentation. A proper survey should reveal the search continuum of your market.

Your survey should lay out for you not only the information prospects want now, but also the information they will want in the future.

If you think about the idea of the search continuum - knowing what searchers will require in the future in a tremendous advantage for the online entrepreneur!

After you have discovered the search continuum – you can cover searcher requirements with appropriate content.

Searchers may also progress from segment to segment. Using the dog market as example, here’s a hypothetical series of searches:

  • A searcher wants to buy a dog for her family. The first search is quite general – “family dogs”. She reads a web page from the search results describing good family dog breeds and decides that the family would like a Golden Retriever. 
  • She then searches on “Golden Retrievers” but finds that the breed has a genetic predisposition to hip problems. 
  • The next search is more specific: “Golden Retriever hip problems”. The searcher learns that breeders can screen dogs through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) to ensure they aren’t predisposed to hip problems.
  • Now she wants a breeder near home whose dogs are OFA screened. This leads to a more specific search yet: “Golden Retriever breeders California OFA screened”.
     

At this point the searcher may find a breeder and stop searching.

Knowing the search continuum for each segment means that you can actually discover not only what someone has just searched for, but also what they will want to learn in the future.

In other words, you’ll learn the sequence of information they will want to know, and in what order they will want to learn it. You can anticipate searchers’ needs before they even know they have them. And you simply cater for those needs in advance.

Understanding the search continuum allows you to build a relationship with prospects by educating them about how their needs can be met.

By showing that you understand their needs, you gain their trust and position yourself as an expert.

You can create free content pathways on your site that present the information that each segment wants to learn about, in the order they need to know it in.

You should then optimize this information so that it ranks high in the search engines for the appropriate keywords.

In my next blog I’ll discuss the next Persuasion Point: Search and The Educative Process.

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Persuasion Point 1: Prospects Perceive a Need or Desire

Sarah Jamieson - Friday, March 21, 2014

This  blog is adapted from a series of articles I wrote with my colleague James Atkinson entitled: SEO Strategy: Buyer Persuasion Points

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When does a prospect perceive a need that eventually results in a purchase of products?

The desire must of its nature occur in the prospect’s MIND – so influences on the mind must have both external (environmental) and internal (psychological) factors.

The initial perception may not immediately translate to the desire for a product. In the beginning, it’s simply a desire, need, or problem that has to be solved.

Humans being humans – the prospect, upon perceiving a need or problem, immediately sets out to SOLVE the problem or perceived need. It’s in our very nature to do so.

Knowing the prospects’ internal and external influences is important because you must persuade buyers at the psychological level before they’ll ever buy anything.

External Influences on The Buyers Mind

I outline these external influences on the buyers mind because I believe it’s important to initially analyse your online market from the broadest perspective.

Clearly in any market, external influences play an important part in how a buyer thinks and feels about products and about buying in general:

 

The image shows how external influences surround the buyer. I explain each element below.

The Overarching Environment

 This is the environment within which online buyers work & live and within which ALL internet players interact. For example, if you are marketing a financial product you certainly need to be mindful of the current global financial crisis which would exert a powerful influence upon a buyer’s mind.

Online Communities

 These are the online social communities which buyers join. The urge for people to belong & participate in "like minded" communities is strong.

Online Stakeholders

 There are many stakeholders who compete for the buyer's mental "space": These include: your competition, service providers, search engines, PPC engines, directories, internet access & broadband providers, affiliates, keyword service providers, article directories, ad providers, list marketers, and so on; and of course

Your eBusiness

Of course you own eBusiness and your various strategies to engage your market to buy particular products should be an important influence on buyers in your market.

Broadly then, it’s your job to show the prospect that your product/s SOLVE the searcher's problem or need. And to do so, you need to be aware of the various influences that occupy your buyer’s mental space.

Together with these external factors there are of course a number of internal, or psychological, factors that influence the online buyer.

Psychological Influences on the Buyer’s Mind

 These internal influences are generated in the buyer’s OWN mind and include personal thoughts and feelings. Of course there are many factors that influence a person’s mind and my colleague  James Atkinson illustrates a few in The Buyer's Mind.

In other words, the analysis of your market should take into account buyers’ emotions, attitudes, their perception of where they FIT into a market (segmentation), and their self-concept.

To assess the buyer’s emotions and the buyer’s attitude please refer to the above image - see: Buyer Emotions and Attitude.

And in relation to perception and the buyer’s perceptions in the market and self-concept see: Buyer Perception and Self Concept.

Please refer to Why Buyer’s Buy to assess how you can use the three images for your marketing creative.

One of the most important psychological inputs you’ll encounter as a marketer is the prospect’s SELF-CONCEPT. Buyers buy products because they want to feel good about themselves in a particular way.

This is the prospect’s way of solving a perceived problem or need. The product CONTRIBUTES to a prospect's positive sense of self-esteem or self-concept.

After the prospect perceives a need or desire he or she begins to search for a solution. The solution may be found online, offline, in a magazine ad, an article, in a newspaper – anywhere really.

As an internet business of course you place your solutions for the prospect to find online. My colleague explains the importance of self-concept in The Goal of All Marketing.

How then do you find out the buyer mindset?

To find out you must survey your market, conduct keyword research, and market research.

In the next blog I move to the next Persuasion Point 2: Prospects Start Researching a Solution.

 

Seller Persuasion Actions

Sarah Jamieson - Thursday, March 20, 2014

This  blog is adapted from a series of articles I wrote with my colleague James Atkinson entitled: SEO Strategy: Buyer Persuasion Points

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In yesterday’s blog I talked about ‘Buyer Persuasion Points’ and how they are useful to understand and plan the actions you, as an online seller, need to take.

Today I want to discuss the particular persuasion actions you can take. In the following image I have created red and blue columns.  The red column: The Market & Buyers, shows where your persuasion and research efforts interface with prospects and customers in the wider marketplace. The green dots are the main Persuasion Points.

The blue column: Your Persuasion Actions illustrates the tasks you need to do to affect a good persuasion strategy. The blue dots show the various efforts you must make to persuade your customers to BUY:

The image is self-explanatory but I will develop each of the 'Persuasion Points' in subsequent blogs.

You can see clearly that in relation to persuasion, there is a lot to do BEFORE the first sale - the First Buy Point - and that all subsequent sales and buy points (H) also require work on your part.

You must use every possible opportunity to state your persuasion message – in blogs, videos, web content, social networks / relationships, email campaigns, direct response process, and in your sales letters.

The important thing to remember is that each of the persuasion point actions outlined above should include – in a consistent way – as many of the persuasion principles as you can muster. That is, run the golden threads of persuasion through ALL your marketing efforts:

 

Thus, when you:

  • conduct surveys - use persuasion principles to obtain a better response rate;
  • compile your blogs - ensure that a persuasion is incorporated in the content;
  • write your educative, social media, and direct response content, make sure it is well grounded in relevant persuasion principles;
  • Compose your marketing emails and sales letters - ensure that persuasion is deeply embedded throughout - and so on.

Right at this moment, on search engines and social networks all over the world, your target audience is online searching for information and by extension information about products.

Getting your message in front of them at this crucial search period is the difference between making a sale and losing one.

If you’re NOT ranked well in the search engines and social networks, then it will be your competitors who are engaging your prospects and influencing their buying decisions.

Most online marketers believe that ranking in the search engines to too difficult and so they resort to direct response marketing. That is, they advertise on Google Adwords (or similar) and direct prospects to sales pages. In effect, they are trying to make the sale straight away – without the benefit of a reciprocal relationship.

Other online marketers modify this strategy by opting-in prospects to an eMail list – and then sending a series of autoresponder eMails to the prospect. 

In my view direct response marketing is a difficult and expensive way to make sales! I'll discuss the process in later blogs

Many marketers neglect to influence, shape buying decisions, and position themselves as trusted authorities before the sale. Once a prospect’s mindset has shifted to view you as an authority and trusted advocate, sales follow naturally.

Likewise, after the first sale you can build strong loyalty and keep your unique benefits top-of-mind with customers - making it hard for competitors to lure your trade away.

This leads to strong backend sales and a long relationship with customers, creating high lifetime customer value. Doing business in this way allows you to:

  • Make more sales
  • Make them more easily
  • Spend less money on advertising
  • Continue to sell to customers on the backend – over and over again.

I have found that my backend sales are so much more profitable than frontend (first) sales. This is because my existing customers buy more easily than “cold” prospects who have never bought from me before.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could set things up BEFORE the first sale so that prospects feel the same positive feelings towards you that existing customers do?

Well, you can – and it’s all the more powerful because most marketers are not doing it, and don’t even know how. Basically it comes down to one equation:

Relationships = Sales

The difference between selling to someone you have a relationship with vs. someone you don’t - is dramatic.

You can shift the prospect mindset before the sale so that by the time they buy, they’ve gone from seeing you as nobody they’ve ever heard of to a trusted authority who has their best interests at heart. Once this mindset shift is made, sales follow naturally.

Here’s how relationships boost sales:

Trust: I’ve said above that trust must be in place before a sale happens – but sales letters are not the ideal way to build trust. There is very little time and the prospect is well aware you are trying to close the sale.

The best way to build trust is gradually, by creating high-quality, extremely relevant     content that firmly cements your authority as an expert.

Repeated contact: Research shows that prospects are more influenced by those they are familiar with (Liking Principle), so build that familiarity with regular contact.

Prospects will associate you with quality and expertise as they are repeatedly exposed to your high-quality content.

Authority: By creating highly relevant content that answers all your market’s burning questions, prospects will irresistibly come to see you as a trusted expert and authority figure (Authority Principle).

The internet offers you great opportunities to engage with prospects and shape their mindset throughout the buying cycle or search continuum. This builds trust and your authority. When prospects accept what you say and follow you it’s easier to maintain that trust and authority through email.

Through eMail you can contact prospects in a strategic way - rather than just having them visit your blog / Twitter and soon.

Once they’re on your email list, give prospects more great content. Gradually segue into mentioning your products.

I have found that there is little need for hard sell – sales will happen naturally because prospects perceive you as their best choice in the marketplace.

In the next blog I’ll discuss the first 'Persuasion Point' – which provides you with the data you need to properly persuade your prospects.

 

Buyer Persuasion Points

Sarah Jamieson - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This blog is adapted from a series of articles I wrote with my colleague James Atkinson entitled: SEO Strategy: Buyer Persuasion Points

......

I said yesterday that I would show you what I call “Persuasion Points”. These are the points at which a business or marketer can persuade and move the online prospect towards a SALE.

While it may all seem chaotic and utterly indecipherable, searchers actually go online for only THREE reasons:

Information, connection, or purchase!

So, this is my working definition for making online sales:

“Online buyers and sellers meet and transact when searchers, seeking a solution to a need, go online for information, connection, or purchase.”

The image below shows the various stages a typical online searcher goes through – from perceiving a need to buying a product.

Each stage should be covered through careful keyword research:

Buyer Persuasion Points


The arrows show an idealized process. In fact, prospects perceiving a need or desire (A) may research solutions in a different order; for example, they may read some sales material (F), then find a blog (D), and then subscribe to an email list (E).

The point is that there is a research and education process that occurs as a prospect moves from identifying a need to buying a product or service to meet that need. Each “contact point” encountered during search shapes the searcher’s perceptions.

There are a number of points at which a business can influence and persuade searchers. The first six green dots are Persuasion Points that a business website can use to create reciprocal relationships with searchers. These relationships can eventually lead to sales.

The essential issue here is that a business must cover all the bases.

That is, its online marketing strategy should be aimed at allowing searchers to FIND the business no matter what approach the searcher takes to solve his or her perceived need.

This type of online marketing strategy aims to “take prospects off the market” at every point in the search-to-sales-continuum. In this way the business ensures that searchers who land on a website page eventually look to that business to be their only source of information, connection – and ultimately of sales.

At Persuasionworks we use these Persuasion Points to help our customers clarify, adopt, and implement a measurable online marketing strategy.

Keyword Strategy

Persuasionworks will assist you identify and target keywords with high market conversion potential. Our system identifies key phrases within those Persuasion Points that are related to the main keywords of the business. The market potential in this particular range of keywords is enormous.

The human mind simply cannot guess all of the keywords being used in a marketplace. Keywords, in fact, can only be successfully selected by scientifically-based research.

Persuasionworks selects keywords by considering a huge range of terms used within a market. In consultation with each business, we would carefully consider how you wants to position itself in any particular marketplace.

Persuasion and Content Strategy

There is a direct correlation between relevant web content and high search engine rankings. An authoritative website discussing its core subject will use “expert vocabulary”. A business become authoritative when it uses keyword-rich informational pages, blogs and other media such as videos and audios that are properly optimized.

Persuasionworks can help formulate this type of a persuasion and content marketing strategy.

In my next blog I'll build on today's discussion and further explain what online sellers need to do to take advantage of 'Buyer Persuasion Points'.  

Hey … What’s “Persuasionista”?

Sarah Jamieson - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Well - that’s what I’m called around here.

My colleagues and I have created an online marketing and eCommerce system. We’ve been working on the software for years and now we’re ready to take it to market. Persuasion is at the heart of the system.

Persuasion?

Yes, persuasion!

Software is important, but it’s just a means to an end – like cars, phones, computers, and so on.

“Hey Persuasionista … phone call - client!”

I still have to talk to them, sort it out, fix the problem, convince, persuade. One of most important qualities ANY business needs is the ability to persuade.

What My Blog is About

So, that’s what my blog is about – the points at which an online business interlaces between software, persuasion, and SALES. The software allows you to measure and manage your business but you still need persuasion to get sales. That’s why our system is called Persuasionworks!

Online Relationships and Persuasion

Look at it this way: Buyers and sellers are simply two sides of the same coin.
When you provide what your buyers want – they’ll buy! And to get them to buy or to keep buying – you need a reciprocal relationship with your prospects and customers.

Online relationships are NOT face-to-face personal sales relationships – such as occur at say a local electronics shop. In this situation, the salesperson gets to know you face-to-face and then uses various persuasion techniques to encourage you to buy. If you've been shopping there for a while, he or she may know all about the stuff you own, what you'd like to upgrade, and which new gadgets you've got your eye on.

On the other hand, the means by which you effect all your internet relationships are via written and spoken words delivered on a SCREEN.

This may seem a somewhat thin basis for creating sales relationships – but really all the influential principles of persuasion can be woven into the fabric of online relationships.

Internet interactions are powerful motivators of online sales when the relationship is built on reciprocity – creating Reciprocal Relationships.

The relationship is an exchange - a give and take. You give something of value to prospects who in turn eventually give something of value back to you – in this case money. In addition, value provided by the online entrepreneur can also be built on other persuasion principles - for example:

Commitment and Consistency

Free downloadable ebooks or white papers may act as more than a favor that needs to be reciprocated. That paper can provide prospects with valuable information shortcuts built around commitment and consistency.

Tailor your message so that prospects see the market in a way that suits your own business model.

Social Influence

An online social network can be used to show prospects social proof that many people use your products to solve their problems.

Liking and Partiality

Online narratives like videos and written content can be utilized very effectively to make yourself likeable and relateable and to show a strong understanding of your prospects' problems and their desired solutions.

Authority and Influence

The internet is a wonderful tool to build authority and influence. The web is a tireless medium that's open for business 24/7.

Scarcity and Exclusivity

This is one of the most commonly used persuasion tools online. The number of ways in which you can drum up scarcity and exclusivity is only limited by your ability to engineer shortages and construct uniqueness. 

All internet commerce occurs through relationships created by words.  These are what I call words of connection, social association, and persuasion.

You are judged almost entirely by what you write and what you say:

Online shopping is now the fastest-growing retail sector. Shoppers go online for a number of reasons including:

  • Convenience,
  • Ease of purchase,
  • Product research, and
  • An ever-increasing comfort level with the internet  

Consumers go online to research a particular product or market. A merchant can take prospects “off the market” at a very early stage in the “search pathway” and eventually lead the searcher through to purchasing a number of related products. I show you how to research here.

In fact, the economic downturn may be boosting online sales growth. In the search for value many buyers are shopping online rather than driving to the store. Consumers believe buying online is often cheaper than offline.

So, online sales, as a whole, are forecast to experience explosive growth in the next few years. I believe the trends driving this growth will continue for a long time yet.

In addition, there are unique differences between offline and online businesses that create remarkable opportunities for the online entrepreneur. For example, ultra-relevance is one of the most decisive advantages offered by internet marketing and you won’t see its equivalent in offline marketing. I'll explain this in later blogs.

In every market, people search online for information to educate themselves - their fears, desires, and everyday ideas. 

Searchers also explore specific product types for information or comparison before they buy. This research happens in the search engines and social networks. I call this information / education period the “pre-buying” phase.

My research indicates that many internet marketers ignore “pre-buyers”. Pre-buying prospects are simply looking for information - and they aren’t ready to buy. An online survey gives you the ability to stop prospects searching and as a consequence, stops prospects finding your competitors. You can take people off the market with ultra-relevant content.  For more see: Prospect Segmentation.

Put another way, you can inoculate yourself against your competition. Your ability to give each segment exactly what it needs can position you as an authority and build huge trust and loyalty that is very hard for a competitor to defeat.

You can deliver online content that BOTH:

  • Meets the immediate needs of prospects
  • AND

  • The needs they DISCOVER after searching.

There is a huge opportunity for marketers who are prepared to provide pre-buyers with ultra-relevant content. You can engage, educate, and create trust and loyalty with your ultra-relevant content - until prospects are ready to buy.

And, when prospects are ready, you present them with a sales funnel that completes the entire persuasion process you have built. 

In my next blog I am going to take you through what I call Persuasion Points. This will help you understand how you can interweave software and persuasion to make SALES.


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