Tweaking the Steps Along Your eCommerce Sales Path

Posted by on Apr 06 2020

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 20-25%, and in some industries, open rates go as low as 15%. (See Mail Chimp’s Open Rate by Industry table. Here’s HubSpot’s version of the Open Rate by Industry.)  About half of all email users will open their email with the graphics turned on, which sends a “beacon” back to the email server to indicate “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. So, if your statistics show an open rate of 10%, that means that it’s closer to 20%.
  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 get this statistic either from your email company or from your website statistics. You’re either calculating CTR (number of people who clicked compared to total emails sent) or CTOR (number of people who clicked compared to total emails opened.) 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 from your website 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 traffic sources give you the best results?

Every step along the sales path is an opportunity to tweak your technique. Your e-commerce 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 using sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to send traffic back to your site. Check each of these “sources” in your website statistics to see which ones yield the most traffic.

To do that, first go to the Landing Pages section of Google Analytics. You’ll find it under the Behavior section of the menu. (Behavior>Site Content>Landing Pages)

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 and how much each source sent traffic to individual landing pages.

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 one yields the best results.

source

NOTE: When source says “(direct)” that means that people came directly to this page without going through an additional website. These are the people who click-through from emails or type your URL into their browser.

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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10 Ways to Cope with a Recession

Posted by on Mar 18 2020

Whether we’re in a recession or not, the economy surely seems shaky right now. When things take a down-turn, how will you handle it for your business?

Now is the time to think strategically.

Hasty decisions often lead to poor decisions for the long term health of your business. According to Wikipedia, there have been four recessions since 1980, lasting from 8 months to 18 months. If you lived through the Great Recession which began in 2008, you know the recession officially ended 18 months later, but the economic fallout lasted for many, many years after the recession had ended.

Here are some tips on dealing with a recession for your business:

  1. Cut costs, but only if it won’t harm you later. The first thing business owners think they must do it cut costs. But don’t cut costs or decrease prices now, if it will hamper your business later. Ask yourself: once the economy picks up again, will the cost I’m cutting or the price I’m reducing put me in a worse situation than I’m in right now? Learn what not to do, from Pizza Hut’s pricing mistakes in 2008.

  2. Think sub-contractors. If you have employees, consider turning them into sub-contractors. This will help you avoid paying additional employment taxes and benefits. However, the IRS or your country’s taxing authority can be very strict about the definition of an employee versus a sub-contractor (they call them ‘independent contractors’), so check their rules. This might be an alternative to laying off your staff.

  3. Get out there and shine. This seems counter-intuitive, but now may be the time to increase your marketing; hard economic times may cause your competition to disappear, leaving the field wide open for you.

  4. Take the long view. Remember, marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You should have been doing (and keep doing) marketing every month, month in and month out, not stopping and starting on a whim.

  5. Choose your marketing techniques wisely. You should have been tracking, historically, which techniques bring you the most business. Reduce or eliminate those marketing techniques that aren’t paying off for you, or fix them so that they do increase leads and sales. If you can’t do face-to-face marketing any longer because of the coronavirus, move to online marketing techniques.

  6. Renovate your marketing tools. For those marketing techniques that are working for you, this might be the time to revamp your marketing tools. Does your website need a facelift? Do you need to offer some new freebies to entice people to look more closely at your products or services? Do you need to change the way you phrase things when you are selling to your customers and closing the deal?

  7. Automate wherever you can. Find ways to automate any tasks to reduce the workload on yourself and your staff. What have you been doing manually that a computer system can do for you? Take a look at all your daily tasks and see if there is a computer solution to these time-wasters.

  8. Spend your time on what really matters. Consider hiring a virtual assistant or a technology consultant to help you with routine administrative, marketing and website tasks, so that you can use all your time to focus on marketing and delivering your product or service. Decide on the tasks that you are best at, ones that will directly increase your income, and delegate the rest. If you can earn more per hour than it costs you to hire help, then it’s a good use of your time and money to delegate tasks.

  9. Make do and mend. Because raw materials were in short supply during World War II, people were encouraged to “make do and mend” an item instead of simply replacing it. Consider your own expenditures and items that might be hard to acquire over the next few months or years: do you really need a new computer, or could you somehow upgrade your existing one for less money? Do you need a new smartphone or can you get by with the old one for a while longer?

  10. Reduce inventories. If you sell a product, and you believe your sales are going to decrease, this might be a good idea to reduce inventories and not restock to the same level. This is a risky strategy (what if the recession only lasts 6 months?), so be sure you know exactly how long it will take to replenish inventories once the economy picks back up.

Now is the time to begin thinking about what you’ll do if the economy affects your business. It doesn’t matter if we are in a recession now or not. Economies, by their very nature, are cyclical, and you will face lean times and booming times in the future.

It’s important that you have a plan for dealing with all types of economic realities.

   

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Crafting Your Core Message

Posted by on Mar 09 2020

For some business owners, it’s a struggle to clearly explain what it is you do, especially if your business is unique or you are trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Often, we explain what we do, but not how it’ll benefit the person we’re talking to. We need a clear way of saying, “This is what I offer and this is how it will help you.”

Whether you are marketing service or products, classes or mastermind groups, you need to have a quick, precise way of explaining your offer.

Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo suggests three steps to map your message in 30 seconds or less:

1. Write a short headline with the one well-defined message you want to send to potential customers. What is the single-most important thing you want your audience to know about your product, service, brand or idea? What do you do and who do you help? If this is all the customer knows about you, does it give him or her a clear picture?

Hi, I’m Karyn. I’m a business-building consultant for micro entrepreneurs.

2. Expand on that message with three important benefits.

I help people expand their reach, increase their revenue and decrease overwhelm.

Put steps 1 and 2 together, and you have your 15-second commercial. If potential clients walk away from the conversation hearing only that, they have a good idea of what you do and how you might help them.

3. Support those points with additional benefits (or examples). Come up with three examples, stories or statistics that reinforce your statements.

I’m a business-building consultant for micro entrepreneurs. I help people expand their reach, increase their revenue and decrease overwhelm. I teach people how to get known in their market, package and price their offerings for maximum profit, and create cohesive action plans to get it all done efficiently.

Here’s another example:

Hi, I’m Joe. I facilitate a mastermind group for baby boomers who are getting ready to retire. Through brainstorming, support and accountability, we help you to find clarity on your goals, make the best decisions, and move forward. You will walk away knowing that the retirement you envision is not only possible, but that you’re designing and taking active steps every single day to making it a reality.

Use This for Networking and Marketing Launches

It’s easy to see how this would be useful in a networking situation where you have to quickly explain your business to someone when they asked the dreaded question, “So, what do you do?”

But you can also use this same exercise for all your marketing. You need to come up with your Core Message in these types of marketing situations:

  • When you’re describing your services on your website
  • When you’re writing an article or blog post
  • When you’re putting together a speech or a class
  • When you’re launching a new product
  • When you’re writing a proposal or white paper

Not comfortable with your writing skills? Use the same outline to create a vision board. Cut out pictures and words that explain your business, and arrange them in a map that helps bring clarity to your message.

Mapping your message, whether with words or pictures, will help you move beyond telling people what you do to clearly explaining what results your customer can expect.

Remember, when crafting your message, make sure it is short and clear, and that you can say it in 30 seconds or less. (If you can say it in 15 seconds or less, you win the prize!) Too much information could confuse the person you’re speaking with. This message will become your elevator speech at networking events, and your marketing message to potential customers. It’ll be the core message you use when launching a new product, service, class or mastermind group.

   

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Category: Marketing

3 Headline Formulas For Non-Copywriters

Posted by on Mar 01 2020

This article is for the rest of us – people who are NOT professional copywriters, but need good copy and good headlines for our websites and email newsletters.

Let’s focus in this article on writing good headlines. Or, in the case of email newsletters, good subject lines.

The purpose of a headline or subject line is to grab the reader’s attention and motivate them to want to read further. If you can’t get them past the headline, the rest of your copy is wasted, no matter how elegantly it’s written.

Most of the examples are funny, but you’ll get the point. When you’re done, check out my companion blog post, 6 Copywriting Steps for Non-Copywriters.

I’ll share 3 headline writing tips today:

  1. Use numbers
  2. Tell a secret
  3. Use emotion

Use Numbers

Formula:

  • _____ (number) _____ (adjective) Ways To _____ (thing they want to do or to have or to become)
  • _____ (time) to Learn/Get _____ (topic)

Examples:

  • 10 Easy Ways to Wash Your Dog
  • 5 Exciting Ways to Make Spinach That Children Will Eat
  • 20 Minutes to Learn Chess Like a Pro
  • Get a Complete Personality Makeover in 10 Minutes or Less

Tell a Secret

Everyone wants to the learn the insider secrets of people who have been successful.

Formula:

  • My Secret Formula to _____ (thing they want to do or have or become)
  • Insider’s Guide to _____
  • Easy Success Secrets to Create _____

Examples:

  • I’m Drawing Back The Curtain and Revealing My Secret Formula to Buying Pencil Holders
  • 10 Secrets Steps to Finding Online Grammar Mistakes

Use Emotion

People are only motivated by two things: to go towards pleasure and to get away from pain. But pleasure and pain can be subtle. For instance, I find it a pleasure to learn something new, to increase my mastery of a subject. So if I see a headline that promises to teach me something, I will always continue reading.

Another thing that motivates people is scarcity. If you TRULY have a limited number of items available (don’t lie to people about this, folks, they can see right through a scam), then telling them how many are left can get them to read the rest of your web page or email newsletter. Also, if there is a time limit, that motivates, too.

Think about what emotion your customer wants to feel. Confident? Energetic? Free? Safe? Take a moment and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Then you can write a headline that speaks to their emotional needs. (Look at the photo above…who would respond to a Stop sign like that?)

Formula:

  • _____ (number) Keys to_____ (topic or outcome)
  • Learn _____ (topic)
  • How to _____ (outcome)
  • Only _____ (number) of _____ (item) Available
  • You Have Done _____ , Now Try _____
  • Do You Have _____ (name of problem)?
  • _____ (name of problem) Got You Down?
  • Do You Want _____ (name of desired item or outcome)?
  • Never Be _____ Again!

To increase the motivation level, use phrases like hurry, last chance, and only.

Examples:

  • 3 Keys to Better Peanut Butter Sushi
  • Learn to Buy Fresher Bread
  • Only 5 Seats Available for Seat Sitting 101 Seminar
  • Last Chance! Special 1 Percent Off Coupon Expires Wednesday
  • Do You Want a Better Goldfish?
  • Find Your Keys. Find Your Children. How to Solve Your Clutter Problems.

(Okay, some of these are silly. Just making sure you’re paying attention!)

Plain and Simple

Don’t forget the basic, informational headline. You don’t always have to get jazzy with your headline or subject line; sometimes just saying what the article is about is motivating enough. What if you were to see these simple headlines or subject lines?

  • 50 Percent Off All Classes
  • How To Type Faster
  • The Recording Is Available Now

TAKE ACTION NOW: Now take these headline tips and write three possible headlines or subject lines for your next article or email newsletter. Play with them until they feel right. Then try them out and watch the results!

Want more information on copywriting? Let me know in the comments area of this post and I’ll create more copywriting blog posts in the future! I could write about this stuff all day. 🙂

   

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7 Tips for Managing Information Overload

Posted by on Feb 01 2020

Do you ever have that disturbing feeling that trying to squeeze one more piece of new information in your brain will render you senseless?

Information overload causes stress and a loss of productivity. We’re so busy gathering information that we never get into action around implementing all these great ideas. And we can’t seem to put our fingers on the important information that we’ve gathered!

Here’s even more bad news: when you take in too much information, according to a Temple University study, you begin to make more errors, and worse, make more bad decisions. Can your business really afford that lack of clear thinking? (Don’t even get me started about how a hyper-connected lifestyle is bad for your physical and emotional health!)

Here are 10 tips for managing information overload

Regain control of your brain, your time and your tasks with these ideas:

  1. Remember the most important rule: YOU are in charge of your To Do list. YOU are in charge of your calendar and YOU are in charge of how much information you’re willing to receive each day. Trying to take multiple classes at once, or trying to read more than one book at a time, is a recipe for information overload. It doesn’t allow you any time to assimilate and implement. Be selective and base all your decisions on achieving your goals while mirroring your values.
  2. Get things out of your head and on to paper. When you take new information, your brain naturally tries to process it, to make connections, and apply it to your real life. Trying to keep all that “thinking” in your brain makes you feel muddled, anxious, confused. Doing a brain dump — writing down your ideas, even in a quick list format — will help clear things out.
  3. Take the most recent class you’ve attended or the most recent book you’ve read, and create a Top 3 Action Items list. Don’t create a massive To Do list of every great idea from the class or book. Instead, choose the top three actions you can take within a month, and put only those tasks on your To Do list. Once they’re done, you can always go back and choose three more. The point here is two-fold: start implementing what you’ve learned, and do it in such a way that you don’t overload yourself.
  4. Make the decision to make a decision. I know, it sounds silly, right? But if ideas and information are running around in your head and you’re not willing to either act on them or let them go, you sabotage yourself and hold yourself in a perpetual state of overload. Stop doing that to yourself. Instead, tell yourself, “Today I will make a decision,” then do it. You’ll feel better immediately.
  5. When you are drowning in information, stop piling on more. It’s okay to stop watching the evening news. It’s okay to stop reading articles or checking social media sites several times a day. Each time you interact with an information delivery system, guess what? More information is shoved in your face. By taking a vacation – even a short one – from any information delivery system, you get immediate relief from information overload.
  6. Use tools like Evernote or One Note to have a central location for storing information. As important as storing information is, retrieving it easily is even more important. That’s why I moved from paper notebooks to Evernote for storing notes when taking classes, reading books or perusing articles. Evernote allows you to tag each note with keywords and sort them into folders. Notes are completely searchable, so you can have all the information and ideas at your fingertips.
  7. Do you have competing goals? Work on one at a time. For instance, today I wanted to accomplish three things: write this blog post, create my class schedule for the next nine months, and work on a class agenda for a new program I’m designing. All of these things are exciting, and all need to get done soon. All require research and paying attention to incoming information. But only one of the three had a deadline: writing this blog post today. So I put the other things on the back burner and focused solely on writing this blog post. Once it’s done, I’ll choose one of the other two projects to work on next. You have to be willing to let go of some information, even exciting information, so you can focus on your priorities.

I’d love to hear from you: how do you cope with information overload? Are there techniques or software products you use to help you manage absorbing, processing and retrieving information?

   

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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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12 Must-Have Items to Put in Your Welcome Email

Posted by on Jan 14 2020

Think of a new subscriber to your email list as a guest in your home.

How will you make them feel welcomed and appreciated?

Your first email to them, your “Welcome” email, can begin that relationship, and turn a one-way conversation into a two-way conversation between your business and your customer. Make it count.

Your customers are accustomed to building personal relationships with a business via email. They reject companies and service providers where they don’t feel they’re being honored, heard or respected.

Send the first email out automatically, within a few minutes after a person subscribes and opts-in to your email list. It can be one email, or a series of emails, triggered by a person joining your list.

What a Welcome email will do for you and your business

A well-crafted Welcome email – whether it’s confirming a person’s subscription, offering immediate access to your free content, or a receipt for a purchase – can build trust and a rapport with your audience. It sets the tone of future communication, starts a conversation, helps reinforce your brand and message, and acknowledges how important your audience is to you.

Consider it your calling card; it’s your one opportunity to knock their socks off with meaningful content that solves their problems or answers their questions. You want them to open future emails from you.

Be warm, professional, helpful – and human.

Some tips on what you should put in your first email

  1. Welcome them to your community. Remind them how they got on your list – did they sign up for a free offer, did they make a purchase from your online store, or did they hear you speak or teach somewhere?
  2. Thank them. Acknowledge that you’re grateful they chose your content, or for their purchase.
  3. Talk to them about what they’ve signed up for. What kind of content can they expect? If they bought something from you, let them know how to access that item or when they can expect to get it. If they signed up for an event, remind them of the date and time. Help them figure out how to get started quickly.
  4. Let the content match the relationship. If your Welcome email is to a new customer, craft it as a thank-you for their purchase. If your Welcome email is to a new subscriber who is not a customer yet, focus the email on what resources you have for them (especially free resources/content, to help build the relationship).
  5. Assure them that you understand what their challenges and dreams are. They signed up to your list, but they still want to know that you understand their situation and that you can provide solutions. Provide content that outlines some common problems or questions they have, along with tips and techniques to move forward.
  6. Give them more than they expected. Offer links to important and helpful content on your website, or links to audio files, documents or webinar and video content.
  7. Tell them how often they can expect your emails. You should be sending email newsletters at least once a month, but once a week is better. Whatever you choose, be consistent.
  8. Provide them with links to your social media accounts as another way to connect.
  9. Answer frequently asked questions. Are there questions that pop up all the time which a list of FAQs could answer quickly?
  10. Continue the conversation. If you promised something in return for their signing up, make sure they got it. Follow up with a survey asking them what they think about your product or service. Remember: Even if it’s free, they’re still a customer. They’re consuming your content.
  11. Ask them to take action. To keep email subscribers engaged, ask them to take action: click a link, complete a survey, respond to a question, share a comment, sign up for a video tutorial.
  12. Tell them how to unsubscribe. It’s important that you give clear instructions on how to get off your list. Most automated emails have a link at the bottom to unsubscribe, but assure them in the Welcome email that they can exit anytime they want.

One email… or two?

There’s a lot of information you could include in your Welcome email. But you don’t want to overwhelm your new prospect or customer with too much information in one email. When you’re crafting your Welcome email, take a step back and ask yourself: Am I overloading them?

If yes, consider just putting the welcome, thank-you, and what you can expect topics in the first email, and use a second email for additional information.

Sometimes the shortest, simplest emails get the best response.

Doubling down with a double opt-in

Sometimes asking people to confirm their email address – known as a “double opt-in” – will be your first electronic correspondence with a customer. By asking people to double opt-in, you’re ensuring a quality list of real email addresses.

The double opt-in is meant to get people to click on a link to confirm their email address. Some people don’t do this right away – or they don’t do this at all – so you might have to send a reminder. You can also check the list of people who signed up but didn’t confirm their subscription to check for obvious misspellings in their email addresses.

If you are finding that people don’t click the confirmation link, the first question to ask is: Are they receiving the email in the first place?

Check your bounced email list to make sure they are receiving and opening the confirmation email. If necessary, send a reminder.

I’d love to hear from you

Are you sending out Welcome emails? Do you add anything to them aside from the 10 items listed above? Do you send them automatically or manually? Share your story, comments and questions in the Comments area below. 🙂

   

21 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

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