This blog is adapted from a series of articles I wrote with my colleague James Atkinson entitled: SEO Strategy: Buyer Persuasion Points.
This blog is about those prospects you have deemed ARE ready to buy.
Up to this point I have suggested that your marketing efforts should not be openly related to ‘sales’. But of course your entire marketing process is about SALES. It’s just that in the earlier Persuasion Points prospects are not ready to read or hear your sales message.
There is not much point in leading a prospect to a sales page if they are not ready to buy. The result is well, - they won’t buy!
Naturally there comes a point where that sales process must openly be about what you are selling. Ideally the prospect will already be in one of your ‘information’ eMail Marketing lists.
Accordingly, I suggest that you separate your social networks, search engine content, and PPC from the point where the information process openly becomes a sales process.
I’ve found this much easier to do in an eMail campaign. But of course you should test where best to start your “open” sales process.
But of course you also need to cater to those prospects who simply want to buy NOW. Most of these ‘buy now’ prospects will arrive via PPC. The image below shows the two types of prospect eventually reading your sales material:
Each of the green dots is a persuasion point. For more on going direct from PPC to Sales Letter see: Sales Force Automation.
The Role of eMail and Persuasion
One of the biggest mistakes web site owners make is not capturing the names and email addresses of their visitors so they can follow up later.
Even sites with high conversion rates lose the vast majority of visitors. Distraction plus lack of trust, information, and time to read and consider the offer all contribute to this.
The bulk of web site visitors do not buy anything on the first visit. The average web site conversion rate is around 1-2%. That means up to 99 out of every 100 visitors leave your site without buying, and most will never return!
When someone visits a search engine or a social site, they are usually actively seeking information about something. In my experience, people seeking information are much more willing to take action, for example, opt-in to your email list or buy from you - if you fulfil the need they are trying to meet. By contrast most offline advertising is incidental to what the user is trying to do, read the paper, watch their favourite TV show, listen to radio music and so on. Products that are advertised offline may fill a user need, but the users’ response rate will be lower because they are not ACTIVELY searching for a way to meet the need.
Online, you can position your message at multiple “key information points” where people go to search for a solution to their problems. For example: In the search engines, you can be the most relevant search listing or PPC ad; in social sites (forums, article directories, Facebook, etc.), you can be the helpful friend giving free advice; on related sites, you can show up as a relevant advertisement.
This hunger for information online also creates the opportunity to build a relationship with users - through repeated contact to deliver information. Online marketing is all about relationships, so this is a big advantage.
Online market research surveys let you find out exactly what information different market segments desire, and the language they themselves use to talk about it. It’s akin to reading prospects’ minds. You can then create content that is ultra-relevant and desirable for each segment. Information marketing is all about talking their problem before your product.
And because you understand their problem so well, and offer relevant information, you build trust. This can position you as the only choice in the market when you eventually deliver your sales message.
On the internet you can get your message in front of millions of people and can potentially generate huge amounts of traffic and sales. At the same time, you have unprecedented ability to target your message to the people who are most likely to buy, and then to quickly measure virtually everything they do.
With online marketing you have instant access to sophisticated statistics like click-through rates, conversion rates, ad and keyword stats, email open rates, split and multivariate tests and so on.
This kind of targeting massively increases your sales conversion rate. When you use people’s own language and the exact features and benefits they’ve told you they want, you are telling them exactly what they want to hear - in order to BUY. In my experience this usually equates to a large increase in sales.
This is very different to offline marketing, where market research is very expensive (e.g. focus groups), making it hard for small businesses to benefit from research.
In addition, offline segmentation is a tough process. You can only target your offline message to a relatively broad group, based on the demographic profile of the average viewer of a certain TV show, reader of a certain magazine, and so on.
So, persuasion begins in search engine and social network content – then flows through into the eMails that you send out to your prospects. It must be a slow and well thought through process. Don’t start your sales messages immediately your prospect opts-in to your list.
Take your time and build the relationships – then give out the sales message. It has to be a “natural” process – not forced. It has to flow in a logical way.
Yes, it is time consuming and difficult. But remember this, once you have set up your content > sales process it’s pretty much automated.
I often read that you must get your message out seven times before it is effective. That’s not been my experience. I think the important issue here is not some magic number of email messages, but rather of simply letting your prospects get to know you and creating a reciprocal relationship – over a period of time.
Computer screens are pretty faceless and it’s difficult to have eye ball conversations with prospects. On the face of it, then, you would think that it’s easier to build relationships OFFLINE. My experience however, is the opposite.
The internet is not as faceless as it first appears. You CAN build relationships online – very quickly and relatively inexpensively.
I mentioned above that providing information and content is a great way to build relationships. Of course writing articles and making videos for the social networks takes time and this is a cost to you – but often you can do it at minimal cost.
In any event, when your prospect is deemed ready to buy – you must refer them to a sales letter which is the topic of my next blog.