Tweaking the Steps Along Your eCommerce Sales Path

Posted by on Jul 17 2014

ecommerce pathDo you sell products and services via the Internet? Do you get the results you want?

If you don’t get the results you want, it’s helpful to re-visit each step of your “sales path” to see where tweaks can be made.

Do a little marketing detective work

For instance, let’s say your sales path starts with an email broadcast, which directs the reader to your website. Here are the different statistics you will want to analyze to see what’s working and what’s not.

  1. Open Rate: Open rates, on average, hover around 20-30%, and in some industries they go as low as 13%. (See Mail Chimp’s Open Rate by Industry table. Here’s Constant Contact’s version of the Open Rate by Industry.)  If your statistics show that 20% are opening the email, that equates to a real open rate of 40%. We know this because only half of all email users will open their email with the graphics turned on, which sends a “beacon” back to the email server to say “This person opened an email.” If they don’t have their graphics turned on when reading emails, then they won’t show up in your Open Rate.
  2. Check Click-through Rates: Just because someone opens an email doesn’t mean they read it. One way to calculate whether people are actually reading your emails is click-through rate (CTR). CTR is the percent of people who clicked on a link in your email which took them to your website. You can you get this statistic either from your email company or from your website statistics. Here’s Mail Chimp’s chart showing click-through rates, and here’s Constant Contact’s benchmarks for click-through rates.) There are a lot of opinions, pro and con, for whether you should put links in your emails or simply put the full text in your emails. Read more about that here in my blog post “Include Full Articles or Only Links?”.
  3. Check Your Website Statistics: Once they click through from the email to the page where you are making your offer, how long are they staying there? This number helps to guide you as to whether they’re actually reading the web page text or not. If your web page is too long, poorly written, or doesn’t clearly explain what you’re offering, people may be turned off. Or perhaps the text isn’t formatted in a way that’s conducive to reading. If they’re not staying long enough on the page to read it, it’s time to re-write the page. HINT: to determine how long it really takes to read the entire page, read it out loud to yourself. That will slow you down so that you read every single word as if it were the first time you’d seen the page.
  4. Bounce Rate: If they read the website text, does it answer all their questions? If not, they may click away and never return. Check your bounce rate. Bounce rate is expressed as a percentage of the people who visit one page of your site, then leave immediately without looking at other pages on your site. Google says the average bounce rate is between 40-60%. If your bounce rate for your page is less than 40%, you’re doing great! If it’s over 60%, you need to tweak that page.
  5. Call To Action. What are you asking people to do once they read your page? A strong call to action matters.  Let’s say you’re selling a class. Should the call to action be “buy now?” Maybe it would be better as “register now” or “click here to register.”
  6. Sales Rate: Did they buy? Which payment option did they use?

Which sources give you the best results?

Every step along the sales path is an opportunity to tweak your technique. Your ecommerce path might start with web traffic from a search engine (so good SEO is important) or it might start with online referrals from other sites. Perhaps you’re sending traffic to your site from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Check each of these “sources” in your website statistics to see which ones yield the best results. To do that, first go to the Landing Pages section of Google Analytics. You’ll find it under the Behavior section of the menu.

landing pages

Then use a very cool feature of Google Analytics, the “Secondary Dimension,” which allows you to select a page you want to focus on and drill down to each source of traffic to that page and how they did individually. To do this:

  1. In the Landing pages table, click on the URL of the page you want to study. This will bring up statistics only for that page and help you drill down to get specifics for that page.
  2. Above the “Page” column, you’ll see a button that says “Secondary Dimension.” Click on that, and a drop-down menu will appear of all the different statistics you can get about that page.
  3. Select “Acquisition” then “Source.” This will show you all the sources of traffic to this specific page. Check the Time on Page and Bounce Rate for each source, to see which on yields the best results.

source

NOTE: The source that says “(direct)” simply means that people came directly to this page without going through an additional website. These are the people who click-through from your email campaigns. If people are reading their email in a browser-based email system, like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, the source might say Google or Yahoo.

Once you find the right combination of the steps above that brings the best results, you then repeat that over and over again.

By the way,  I recommend you use Google Analytics, if you are not already using it. It’s free and it gives you a ton of good information about how your marketing campaigns are doing.

Do You Find These “How-To” Types of Posts Helpful?

Let me know if you find this helpful and if you’d like to see more of these step-by-step “how-to” types of posts!

   

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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Is the Problem Traffic or Copywriting?

Posted by on Jul 14 2014

I recently worked with a client who has a beautiful website. The graphics, layout and branding are perfect. So why wasn’t she getting more clients?

The first thing we needed to do was some detective work. Why? Because we don’t know if her problem is that she’s not getting enough traffic to her website or if the problem is that the visitors aren’t converting because of poor copywriting, website design, etc.

Here’s How to be a Website Marketing Detective

First, you must have access to your website statistics. I always recommend that you have Google Analytics installed on your website. The statistics that come with your standard website hosting package are probably not strong enough to help you do the detective work.

Second, you have to know how to find, read and interpret those statistics. This is just about the time that most people’s eyes glaze over, so let me short-cut the process for you and make it simple.

How Many Visitors Are You Getting Per Month?

In Google Analytics, look at the menu on the left side of the page. Find the section called “Audience” and open the menu, and then click on “Overview.”

How many visitors are you getting to your site? Is there an upward trend?

What I have discovered is that the concrete, exact numbers don’t matter as much as the direction they’re going. So look at your visitor numbers over the course of several months. If the number of visitors is trending upwards, then you’re doing a good job with driving traffic to your site.

Also note that in some months, the visitor count may be down. Sometimes it’s because you’re not doing your marketing properly or consistently that month, and sometimes it’s because it’s a month when your audience traditionally is away from their computers or distracted with other things, like summertime months and big holidays months. So don’t make assumptions about your visitor traffic; get to know your audience and know when they’re most likely to be paying attention to your site and when they’re likely way on vacation or holidays.

Recent studies show that 79% of visitors who come to your website are not ready to buy. If you’re not getting enough traffic to your website, you won’t have enough people interested in buying from you.

Which Pages Are the Most Popular?

Now it’s time to figure out if your visitors are looking at the website pages you want them to look at.

Go back to the menu and find the section called “Behavior.” Within that section, there is an area called “Site Content” which gives you information about how visitors are using your website. Go to the “All Pages” sub-area under “Site Content.”

Which pages are viewed most often? You can find this on the chart on the right-side of your screen once you select “All Pages.” (See example chart below.)

The two key statistics to review are:

  1. How many Unique Page Views does each page get? You will see two numbers: Page Views and Unique Page Views. Why are there two numbers? Because Google Analytics counts every time the page if viewed, even if one visitor views the page two or three times. So in the example chart, you can see the What Is  a Mastermind Group page got viewed 9,015 times, but only 8,034 unique views. This means (roughly) that 981 people viewed the page twice. Unique Views gives you a more realistic guide to how many unique visitors viewed the page and is a more reliable number to watch.
  2. How long are they staying on the page? In the same example, the average visitor viewed the What Is a Mastermind Group page for 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Why do we care? Because if it takes a visitor 3 minutes to read a page, and the average visitor is only on that page for 1 minute, it means they’re not reading your text! Here’s how you can tell how long it should take someone to read your page: Set a stop watch and read the page out loud to yourself, slowly. Because you’re used to seeing this text, you’re likely to skip over words and sentences. By reading it out loud, you are forcing your brain to re-see all the text.

What Results Are You Getting?

So now you know how many visitors are coming to your website, and which pages they’re viewing once they get there. Now look at your actual results.

  • How many sales are you making?
  • How many prospects are calling you to ask about your services?
  • Are they buying your products, classes and groups directly from your website?

Conversion Ratios

Let me give you a concrete example. In my client’s case, she got 113 people to visit her services page in the past month. She got three phone calls after people visited her website. Her conversion rate is 2.6% (3 divided by 113). Average website conversation rates are around 1%, so that means that her website copy is converting prospective clients into paying clients.

Because of this data we can conclude: Her problem isn’t that she needs to re-write her website copy or design. Her problem is that she needs to drive more traffic to her website.

Conclusions for You

How can you know if you have a problem with driving traffic to your site, or if your problem is that your copywriting needs work? Do the math above.

  • If your conversion rate is less than 1%, then you need help with your copywriting or site design.
  • If people don’t stay on your pages long enough to read them, you need help with your copywriting or site design.
  • If the number of visitors you’re getting to your website is low, or if the trend is not on the rise, you need help with driving traffic to your website.

Note that if you’re driving traffic to your site through email marketing or social media marketing, and your audience is a devoted following, you conversation rates should be much higher.

Now that you know how to read these basic statistics on Google Analytics, you can take control of your marketing and make changes for the better!

Was This Helpful?

I know that statistics can be daunting. If this was helpful to you and you’d like me to show you more (simple) ways to get important data from Google Analytics and interpret it for your small business, please let me know in the comments section below. I love statistics because they let me play marketing detective and figure out what’s true in my business. And that’s how my business remains successful! I’m happy to write more blog posts like this if you want this type of information. :)

   

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Website Planning
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9 Tips for Summer Business Cleanup and Planning

Posted by on Jul 10 2014

Many businesses slow down in July and August, so summertime is a great time to get reorganized for autumn. September always reminds me of “back to school season,” the beginning of a new year.

While there are always plenty of tasks for organizing your office, remember to focus on your upcoming marketing campaigns and projects so that you don’t get that overwhelmed feeling come September and October.

Here are nine great tips for getting ready for September’s busy season this summer.

  1. Enter all revenue and expenses into your record-keeping system. If you don’t have a record-keeping system for your business finances, create one. You can use Quick Books or Quicken Home & Business to keep your records in tip-top shape, and get great reports to measure your financial success and the growth of your business.
  2. Reconcile your bank account records with bank statements. I don’t know anyone who really loves to reconcile bank statements, but as a business owner you have a responsibility to know where every penny enters and exits your business. Just the other day, while reconciling my bank statements, I noticed a $745 deposit that never showed up in my business checking account!
  3. Estimate your tax payment for the current year; typically you’ll have one more estimated tax payment to make in autumn and a final one for this year that’s due in early January of next year. Have a plan for saving money towards your tax payments so that you’re not caught short when the tax man cometh.
  4. Clean out old paper files, emails, and books you never read. Now’s the time to do a clean sweep of your office! You’ll feel so much better without the clutter.
  5. Speaking of books: take a look at your bookshelf and make a note of which books you’d like to read by the end of the year. You can choose them based on a topic you’re interested in studying, or just select them intuitively. If you’ve been wanting to purchase some new books, now’s the time to visit the bookstore or Amazon.com and browse their selection. And don’t forget your local library: why pay for a book that you just want to scan but don’t want to own?
  6. Compare your financial and other goals to your current reality. Are you moving towards your goals? What tasks do you have to do to make sure you complete the goals you’ve set in the time frame you’ve chosen? Make a task list and assign deadlines to even the smallest task, so that you’ll be on target for the year. And why not start day dreaming about your goals and projects for next year?
  7. Organize your desk. Put things that you need often in a logical place and things that you rarely use in a drawer or cabinet.
  8. Figure out a system for keeping track of your To Do list. The biggest anxiety producer that people face is having to keep all their tasks in their head.
  9. Plan next year’s vacation! Hey, why not??

   

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Don’t Let Crazy Clients Drain You

Posted by on Jul 07 2014

A client told me the other day about a Crazy Client story that just happened to her:

One of her clients emailed her on a Sunday morning. As a courtesy, she emailed the client back on Sunday evening (normally, she doesn’t work weekends).

Her client then complained that she “didn’t get back to her quickly enough!”

I sent MY client this article on How To Say No.

And the problem isn’t just the way clients and customers treat business owners. It’s how people act in your mastermind group, your relationship with vendors, employees, and management. (Shhhh…and it just might be you who is making others crazy! Read on to find out…)

Want to know more about how to deal with crazymakers? Read my in-depth blog posts:

I hope these articles help you. Because you wouldn’t treat a client disrespectfully, you must insist that they treat you with respect…or fire them. There simply is no excuse for bad behavior.

   

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Email Marketing: Include Full Articles or Only Links?

Posted by on Jul 01 2014

It started as an innocent question on Facebook: do you prefer to get email newsletters with the full article in the email, or do you prefer to get a short description and link to read the article on the author’s website?

The response was intense on Facebook, so I sent an email to my entire list asking their preference, too. And the results are: 60.1% prefer to get the entire article in the email, and 39.9% prefer to get just a link in the email and to read the article on the author’s website.

What I decided to do…

Sometimes I write short articles (around 400 words). Those I’ll put in full in the email newsletter AND include a link for those who prefer it.

But for my longer, more sophisticated and strategic “how to” articles (like this one, which is topping out around 2,250 words), I’ll include a short blurb and a link in my email newsletter. And I’ll let you know why you’re not seeing the full article — because it’s rich and juicy and has a lot of incredibly practical content but it’s too big to put in an email.

If I include a link, I’ll tell you what you can expect to find on the other side of that link, so you can make a decision if that information is valuable to you or not.

P.S. I love you…

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of how to make this decision for your own newsletter, I want to share a heart-felt thank you to everyone who replied to my “vote now” email. Not only did you state your preference, but so many of you shared that you loved my articles. As a writer, this is what I need to hear! Writers often wonder if there’s anyone out there reading their material. :)

So thank you for letting me know that what I write is important to you. It means a lot to me.

But that’s just part of the story…

It was the responses where people shared their reasons for their reading preference that got my attention. Here’s what some of them said:

From those in favor of the FULL article in the email:

  • Full article in the email, Karyn. If I have to click through I will often save it for “later” and as we know, later usually doesn’t come!
  • The whole article. I like to read it on my BlackBerry and don’t have a good web connection (or unlimited data), so it allows me to read it wherever I am.
  • I prefer newsletters to be in full in an email with a link to the website if I prefer. This is so I can go to an internet café with my laptop or hook it up with my cell phone regularly download your emails and then read them when I have the time and environment to digest (like on a plane).
  • Full article in the email. Less clicking, plus I usually read these kinds of things on my phone, which is sometimes slow loading web pages — so I often don’t click.
  • I like to have the entire article in the newsletter but don’t want to necessarily see the whole thing until I’m ready.  I like to scan all the headlines then go back & read the articles that interest me.  Going to another window or website makes me lose track of what I was doing in the first place…oh yeah–checking my email!
  • I prefer the full article because seeing it all at once saves me from having to click.
  • I would prefer the full article. It takes extra time on my phone to pull up a link so alot times I don’t bother.
  • Full letter in the email – otherwise I get distracted and don’t read it.
  • I prefer the whole article. Sometimes links do not work.
  • I rarely click through on newsletters…. If it is important enough to get to my inbox, it must contain what I need or I will unsubscribe usually.
  • Have to admit to a small preference to have the whole thing right there – easier to copy snippets that I like and want to keep to think longer about.
  • Full – because of the potential for viruses
  • I prefer getting the full article so I can read on the go, forward to Evernote for future reference, or share via email. I also like having the link to the full article so I can quickly share via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Full article in email with web-link for sharing!
  • I like the convenience of reading them in my emails. It also lets me keep your articles as a reference or reminder too!
  • I prefer the full article.  Many, many times I don’t follow the link to complete the article, but there are very few that I don’t complete when it is in the email.

From those in favor of a LINK in the email:

  • I like a short blurb with a link. I’d rather see snatches of all the articles offered and then choose which to pursue.
  • I like either method.  However going to your website allows for more variety and innovation.
  • I prefer a link personally. That way I can add it to my reading list to read and share later.
  • I prefer the link method. That way I can save it in your file in Evernote for later reference. I don’t always read them right away, and Evernote is easier for me to organize than my email. Thank you for asking.
  • I like a link as long as the link sends me directly to the article and I don’t have to hunt for it once I arrive on another page. If it’s hard to find the article, I’ll simply click off.
  • Teaser with link would be my preference because I like to share great articles on Twitter.
  • A link to your website because then I can look around and see what else you are up to! ;)
  • I prefer the link. If I’m trying to quickly clear the more than 70-100 emails in my inbox every morning, I typically delete all but the shortest ones. With a link, I can put your newsletters into my “To Read” folder on my desktop.
  • My preference is shorted article with the link to the full but that can also depend on how many articles and how long the articles are.  I scan all newsletters first then decide what I want to read.  Like in the newspapers, the headline is most important, then the first two paragraphs.  If they grabbed me, I always hit the hyperlinked “more” and view the entire article.

In favor of both ways:

  • It makes no difference to me. I guess it depends on how mobile friendly your site is for those who only access the internet via mobile.
  • I prefer to receive both. If it is a interesting small article I like to finish it while reading email. If it is longer I like to save the link for later reading.
  • Can Both be an answer? There are times where its very easy to just read it in gmail, and other times where I have other email that I have to get to, but it’s nice to be able to just click a link and save it in pocket or instapaper.
  • My preference is the whole article in the email. I wanna get the goods ASAP and without a lot of clicking and waiting for a website to load. If there’s a link within the email that gives me extra info related to the topic then I don’t mind clicking through to go deeper.
  • If there’s just one article in the newsletter, I prefer the full text. If there are multiple articles, I prefer blurbs and links.
  • Honestly Karyn, because I value your content, I don’t mind having to click to read the link. Most of the time, I prefer the content to all be right in front of me.
  • If it’s just one article, I like reading within the newsletter, but if you have more than one section, I’m ok with excerpts and links.
  • Whichever prints easier.  I sometimes like to print the article to read it while relaxing.  Otherwise, either way is fine.

So how do you serve both types of readers? 10 things to consider…

As an email newsletter publisher, I needed to make a strategic decision that both served my audience and served my business needs. Here’s how to think through this decision:

  1. You may not be able to please everyone – While I decided to post full articles under 400 words, and post excerpts with a link for longer articles, that may not make everyone happy. I think you have to do your best, and if people find your content helpful, practical, inspiring — and if they connect with you, then they’ll read what you write.
  2. If engagement is important – One of the ways that Google decides if you should have high rankings on search results is whether your content has engagement: comments, shares and likes. If good SEO is important to you, put LINKS in your email newsletter, and at the bottom of your blog posts, encourage discussion and sharing.
  3. If site traffic is important – Another way Google decides if your site is rank-worthy is by how much traffic you get to your site. Also, if you’re trying to get a book published with a big publishing house, or trying to get hired for keynote speeches, these folks want to know if you have a platform and an audience. So if site traffic is important to you, put LINKS in your email newsletter.
  4. If sharing of your article is important – I did a test last year, putting the FULL article in the email newsletter and including “share this” buttons in email newsletters where people could then share the article on Facebook, Twitter, etc., to see how many people actually shared the content. Then I did the opposite: put the excerpt and a LINK in the newsletter and put the “share this” buttons on the website blog post. FIVE TIMES the number of people shared it via my website than via my newsletter.
  5. If having your readers actually read your article is important – Just reading through the comments above tells the story. People are busy, distracted and time-constrained. If you want them to read the article, put it in FULL in the email.
  6. If you include multiple articles in your email newsletter – I got a lot of comments from people saying that they prefer LINKS when there is more than one article in the email newsletter.
  7. If your article is very long – Some email systems won’t deliver long emails (they might think they’re spam). Some mobile devices have a limit of what they’ll display in an email. So if your article is over 400-500 words, consider providing a LINK in the email. (And tell them why you are using a link: because the article is long and contains an in-depth discussion of the topic.)
  8. If your article is short – Include the FULL article. People love it. :)
  9. If your article includes phrases that might trigger a spam filter – Sometimes as marketers and writers, we actually are talking about ways to grow a business, selling Rolex watches, or talking about losing weight. But using certain phrases might trigger a spam filter, even if they’re a legitimate part of your article. If you have been dinged in the past by spam filters for phrases like this, use a LINK in your email and avoid using those phrases in the excerpt you provide with the link.
  10. If your readers typically read on a mobile device – Let’s face it, reading long articles from small screens can be tough. Do you know if your email newsletter is mobile-friendly, with large fonts and a good layout? Also, some people prefer to download their email and then read it on the go, and if they don’t have internet connection when they read your newsletter, they won’t be able to click through to your article In this case, include the FULL article. If you are going to provide them a LINK and have them click through from the email newsletter to your website, make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

When you send your email newsletter, test it…

 I have been publishing my email newsletter for over 10 years. And every single time we do a test run first, sending it to all of our own email addresses in all of the major email services and software: Outlook, Windows Live Mail, Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com, Mac Mail, iPad email, etc.  We look at the email in the full screen version and the “preview” pane for all these email readers.

This way we know two things: the email is formatted properly for easy reading on any email reader, and all the links work. It’s just plain embarrassing to have to send a follow-up “Oops, wrong link” email to your readers.

And remember to also test it in the major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.) because some browsers may render your email newsletter differently than others.

Do the obvious…ask your audience!

Just because my audience is split 60/40 on this topic doesn’t mean yours will be. Send out a simple email asking them about their preferences, and tally the results for yourself.

Was this article helpful?

I’d love to hear from you! What are you thinking about regarding your own email marketing?

And, yes, I’d love it if you share this article with your audience. :)

   

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing
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Please help: Your opinion needed about membership in Professional Associations and Chambers of Commerce

Posted by on Jun 10 2014

I’m writing an article on the pros and cons of memberships in Professional Associations and Chambers of Commerce.

If you’ve ever been a member of one, would you please take 1 minute to answer these 5 questions:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/58R8PZS

Thank you!  :)

   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning

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