Are you using your content effectively?

Good content is not easy to come by. It usually takes hours to write and/or costs money to have written and yet often it’s entirely under-utilised.

Unless you get a stack of traffic to your site every day, the great new content you’re adding is going unread. Sure, it may be helping you from an SEO perspective (and that’s important), but if it’s not also being distributed by email and on your social networks, you’re missing huge opportunities to build your profile and generate business.

Stay in touch

One of the  first things we do for many of our clients is establish an automated emailer (weekly or monthly depending on the amount of new content added), that goes to your list and shares your new articles. It’s one of the easiest things in the world to do and if your articles are focused on adding value and educating your clients on the various ways you can help them (which they should be), it can be a brilliant way to make your content work a little harder.

Email is still one of the most effective marketing tools available and content from a trusted source that’s informative and helpful is usually welcome.

Once you’ve set up your automated email, all you need to do is keep adding your content and it will go out every week to your subscribers. Super simple, super effective. Some people even take this to a hyper-detailed level where certain content is sent to certain subscribers and this can be effective if you have different market segments to satisfy or if you want to be able to offer your site visitors a way to be kept up to date on new product or specific topics.

The good old e-newsletter can still be a very effective tool for both nurturing your clients and selling.

Get social

More and more companies are getting into the groove of social media now, which is great. Sharing your articles on the most appropriate social platforms can be a fantastic way of keeping your fans happy and getting new ones. Plus, as I mentioned in an earlier post about simple things you can do to help with SEO, all those shares and likes are very valuable.

If you’re a little overwhelmed with the idea of managing all those social media accounts, don’t be – there are people and programs to help with that.

Many of our clients work with the firm Socialface – they manage multiple social media accounts  for all kinds of businesses so you get the benefit without the headache. Check out their blog for some great tips and strategies to get the most out of social media.

However you choose to do it, social media is important in business today and good use of social media is fueled by good content, so make sure you push it out in all the right channels.

These are just 2 of the ways you can get more mileage from your great content today. Drop us a note if you’d like some help with your newsletters or an intro to Socialface.

The Super Simple Digital Sales System

A clearly defined sales process that leads prospects from interest to action is essential if you want to sell your products or services on line or simply use your site to generate good quality leads for your sales team.

Starting with the hot buttons that would inspire someone to come looking for you – the problems you solve or the ways you make life better – you can use this simple system to develop your own lead generation process.

How to create your sales systems

With this system, you can build a general campaign (a catch-all for anyone new to your site), as well as any number highly targeted campaigns (targeted to specific problems and solutions and promoted with adwords). For example, a business consultant may have 3 key reasons people seek them out…

1. To increase profitability

2. To improve business performance; and

3. To expand their business

The business consultant could create 3 targeted campaigns, each specifically addressing these needs and each with their own landing pages. The more targeted and specific you get, the better your results will generally be. He might even choose to split these 3 main drivers into 6 – with a different set of materials for small-medium sized firms and large firms. Why? Because he can get a lot more specific and speak more directly to the different issues they are facing and the different factors involved in their operation. Just remember, the more specific, the better.

Here’s what the whole sales system looks like.

super simple digital sale system

The sales system components

So let’s take a look at each of the components.

  • Targeted landing pages explain how you can provide immediate solutions to specific problems and take the prospect to the next step which is to collect their email address (lead) in return for an Info Kit (or it could be a whitepaper or something else of value);
  • An Information Kit that is available to download, view online as a presentation or email to prospects, would provide an easy-to-follow but comprehensive overview of how you solve problems, improve lives and achieve outcomes. Its purpose is to take the lead through enough detail to allow them to make a decision and answer their questions but also to allow them to skip the content they’re not interested in and drill into the parts they are without forcing everyone through the same process. The Info kit then asks for the sale and takes the lead back to the site to continue;
  • A sales page reinforces the decision to buy and guides the client to complete the purchase… “Let’s get started”. This page would be reasonably short and sweet and would always sit immediately before the actual purchase;
  • A series of autoresponders work to keep (still-not-convinced) leads warm and continue to provide them  with provocative examples of how you can help (each time asking for the sale.) A series of autoresponder emails spread over 3 months works well as a basis. From there you can keep adding and tweaking to ensure you stay in touch with the most relevant and motivating message at exactly the right time intervals.

And there you have it! The most basic automated sales system you can use to generate leads and sales on your site.

Keys to making it work

There are a couple of very important keys to making your sales system work…

The right topics / hot buttons

Even with the most sizzling copywriting, you’re simply not going to get much traction if you don’t nail the key things you can solve or change for people. But with the right hooks and a great ad (or two), you can focus on the next critical point…

The right strategy

If you believe you have the content and the system right but you’re not getting good results, there could be a problem with your sales or marketing strategy. Perhaps your product and audience aren’t aligned, perhaps you’re not promoting the right thing… even your business model could be flawed. If you think this could be the case (or indeed your business could be performing better), I’d suggest you stop spending money on marketing and talk to a specialist marketing strategist. A good place to start is Billion Dollar Sales Machine, an organisation that was founded by my own marketing mentor and good friend Peter Spann. You’ll find loads of resources there and they can help you in a number of ways from online training through to one on one coaching – even with Peter himself which I would highly recommend – no one, but no one, understands marketing strategy like this man!

Great Copywriting

Once you have people interested in your solution for something that drives them to despair, or in your promise to give them something they really, really want… your landing page needs to make them salivate and start reaching for their wallet. Good copy is designed to do just that. Unless you have absolutely no competitors (and this is almost never the case), you’re going to need to sell your widget and yourself with well crafted copy. Spend a LOT of time on this and don’t be afraid to keep tweaking it all the time. Or, if you just don’t have the time, drop us a note and we can help you out.

Following a structure like this helps to ensure all your marketing efforts fit into a clearly defined sales pipeline. From there you can test, measure and tweak until you’re able to know precisely how many leads your campaign will deliver every time you run it. Wouldn’t that be awesome!? 🙂

The key is in the conversions

Getting leads flowing into your business is pretty darn important, but the real money (quite literally) is in the conversions.

Do you spend thousands of dollars on SEO, digital marketing, direct mail, Adwords and even people in a quest to turn up new leads and hopefully sales? If the answer is yes, then this is for you.

Lots of leads but not enough sales?

If you’re finding the leads are coming but the sales don’t follow, you either have a problem with your ad copy or a problem with your conversions.

Let’s get to the bottom of it now, shall we?

For starters, we need to recognise that the vast majority of leads will not end up buying (in most cases anyway). Sounds obvious, but plenty of businesses have extremely high expectations about turning leads into sales.

And on this note, before you go looking for a benchmark, you need to know there is no hard and fast benchmark. Lead to sale ratios very a lot and depend a lot on what you’re selling, the marketplace, the level of competition and so on, so we suggest you don’t waste too much time trying to figure out what your conversation rate SHOULD be. Instead, take your current conversion rate and just focus on improving it.

So, with that out of the way, lets finish getting to the bottom of your conversion issues.

Why aren’t people buying?

If you’re lead generation is going gangbusters and feeding a constant stream of traffic to your site but very few of those people are buying, they’re either not the right prospects or you are failing to close the sale with your landing page.

If you don’t have a landing page, or you don’t know what one is, make a mental note to come back here and take a look. Chances are that this single, missing puzzle piece will change your world!

Clearly your ad (or whatever you’re doing to bring leads to your site) is doing something. But traffic is pretty useless unless it’s the right traffic. If people aren’t buying, there’s a disconnect somewhere… they don’t see what they were expecting to see when they responded to your ad. Is the message different? Are you just making it hard for them by not telling them what they want to know right away? Do they feel like you’re not giving them what you promised in your ad? Are you still selling them when they’re ready to buy? Are you banging on with stuff only you actually care about? You get the idea.

All these factors will quickly wash down any tentative interest your prospect may have had and have them mousing straight to the back button (and perhaps another search that will land them in the hands of your competition).

So these are the first questions to (honestly) ask yourself. In business it’s ridiculously easy to make a bunch of assumptions about your offering and your prospects. You can forget to put yourself in the prospects shoes and build a process they’d reasonably expect – from the ad to the delivery of whatever it is you’re selling. If you’ve fallen into the trap of assuming that your product / service should sell just because it’s really great and genuinely solves problems for people, you need to start climbing your way back out right now!

Getting better leads and increasing your sales

One of the cheap little tactics a lot of facebook and adwords marketers are using at the moment is the bizarre photo that has absolutely nothing to do with the ‘revolutionary secret weightloss formula’ or ‘amazing home made wrinkle cure that make this mum look half her age’. The image is usually some weird fruit or a closeup of some strange textured thing. I’ve even seen one for a vacuum cleaner that used a picture of a cat with a helmet cut out of an orange on it’s head. They’re totally off the wall pictures that do actually make you want to see the full size image just to figure out what it is.

Anyway, the point here is that these ads are probably getting plenty of clicks. But I’d wager a fair bet that they also get plenty of bounces. Honestly, what is the point of this sillyness?

So, here’s the work you’ll need to do to increase your conversions…

  1. Answer the questions above (and be brutally honest with yourself)
  2. Get in your prospect’s head and work out precisely what they’d need to hear to spark their interest in what you have to offer (this is what needs to be in your ad), and then precisely what they’d need to hear to make a decision to buy (this is what needs to be in your landing page).
  3. Consider split testing a few different ideas and prepare yourself for a possible FALL in leads if it’s the ad you end up adjusting more than the landing page. You’ll be better off with fewer, more qualified leads than a bunch of traffic that never buys.
  4. Make use of your analytics to determine where people are dropping out of the process and work on honing your landing page copy (and layout). Once you’re confident your ad is bringing you qualified leads, the issue is definitely going to be with your landing page.
  5. Keep tweaking, keep measuring and keep using your best performing ad and landing page until they stop working (it will take longer than you might think).

Focusing on increasing your conversions is one of the most critical things you can do in your business. If you can get your website ‘selling’ for you (even if that means delivering you appointments or making your phone ring), it’s all a numbers game from there. Advertise more and it follows that you’ll get more business. That doesn’t work exponentially but most small – medium sized businesses are more likely to max out their capacity to deliver before the sales system maxes out.

And a final note on the subject for anyone out there who is trying to a sell big ticket item… Don’t fret too much about your conversion number (if it even IS a number that doesn’t need a decimal place). It takes some seriously savvy copywriting to ‘sell’ an expensive item on one page (and it is stupid to even try). Your sales system is going to be longer (in both time and number of steps). You can still run through the process above, but spend a lot more time on step number 2 – working out what your prospects need to convince them to buy. Add more steps than one landing page, consider using some traditional elements like information kits you can post, think about ways you can communicate on multiple levels, write some autoresponders that can carefully and systematically knock out objections before they come and add layer upon layer of proof and convincing.

You’re probably also going to be talking your prospects during the sales process so use that time to reveal every objection, every motivation, every concern and every desire your prospects have and feed that knowledge back in to improve your sales system.

2 simple things you can do for better SEO

No two ways about it… Search Engine Optimisation is a specialty, but there are a couple of easy things you can do which will definitely help whether you use a specialist firm or not.

Thee major search engines are constantly adjusting their algorithms to provide users with the most relevant results so staying on top of SEO takes a serious commitment. If you’re serious about being number one (and staying there legitimately) we’re all for using a specialist SEO firm. But there are a few things that you just need to keep in mind anyway…

First, find an SEO firm that specialises in whitehat SEO. If anyone tells you they can get you on page 1 in under 6 months, be very suspicious. Blackhat strategies are on the search engines hit list and they utilise the oldest, most archaic methods like meaningless links and keyword loading. The difference between a good site and a bad site as far as SEO goes is the quality and relevance of the content.

Understanding all the factors that go into getting your site ranked would be like taking on a law degree to learn how to write a contract – leave it to the professionals – but there are a couple of things that matter a lot (and will matter all the more) as Google’s Penguin  and Panda become more evolved…

1. Quality Content

Google and other search engines are interested in delivering the best search results for their users. As a result, they are constantly adjusting their search algorithms. Once upon a time you could load a page with search terms (keywords) and the search engines would reward you. Now, they’re not so easily fooled.

Search engines consider how recent your content is (they like new stuff), and how well it answers people’s questions. Longer keywords and phrases are becoming more recognised and of course, unique content is essential.

2. Endorsement

Google now pays a lot of attention to your authority. This is established whenever people ‘endorse you’ by sharing, liking or linking to your content.

It makes sense… if people are visiting your pages and sharing them, you could make the reasonable assumption there’s something useful there. That’s exactly the assumption the search engines make and the more your content is linked to or shared by relevant sources, the better.

Rumour also has it that google is beginning to favour long content. The more (relevant and useful stuff) you write, the more SEO love you’ll get… as long as it’s useful.

So, forget trying to trick the search engines and completely blacklist blackhat…. make your site truly add value to readers and you’ll benefit long term in the SEO space.