Tweaking the Steps Along Your Marketing Sales Path

Posted by on Oct 14 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 “marketing 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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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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Can You Explain Your Target Audience in 15 Minutes?

Posted by on Sep 26 2020

I had a tough discussion with a client yesterday. She needs to hire a marketing manager, but would rather first find a person who knows her narrowly niched target audience intimately, and then teach them the marketing skills they’ll need to do their job.

I suggested to her that she turn it around. It would be far easier to first find a marketing expert who had all the skills she needed, and then to teach her new team member about her target audience. It’s too much of an uphill slog to have to teach someone all the marketing, administrative and technical skills that make a marketing manager great.

She said she couldn’t do it that way

I asked, “Can you explain your target audience, their needs, philosophy, and psychology (to someone not familiar with your industry) in 15 or 30 minutes?”

She said no, that it would take “days and days” to explain her target audience to someone.

It was clear that she felt her new marketing manager needed inside information into her industry in order for them to do their job well. I countered that a skilled marketing manager knew how to learn about a new target audience, as that’s their job.

She was so deep in the weeds of her industry that she thought her marketing manager needed to know everything about it. My guess is that they wouldn’t need to know every single detail about a new industry. What they would need is a high-level overview of who the customer was and what they struggled with. They could learn the nuances over time, as needed, and would ask questions as they needed to fill in the blanks.

What about you?

Do you know your target audience so well that you could provide a high-level description to your new team member in a short time?

If not, why not?

You must have a clear description of who your target audience is at a detailed level (demographics and psychographics). Included in this description should be what their primary goals are and the types of problems that get in their way to achieving their goals.

Here are some examples

  • I work with small business owners with 10 or fewer employees and help them with creating efficiencies in their business so they can get off the treadmill and start enjoying their business again. My customers are typically male between the ages of 40-55.
  • I teach new novelists how to create characters, design scenes, create dialogue, and map out their novel so they have a plan for moving forward with their writing.
  • I help new corporate managers, typically ages 30-40, learn how to recruit, hire, retain, and fire employees.

With these high-level overviews, you can then flesh them out with more demographics and psychographics for clarity, but if you can’t explain your target audience in one or two sentences, you need to go back to the drawing board.

   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Marketing

Should You Put Your Prices on Your Website? Pros and Cons

Posted by on Sep 24 2020

The decision to put your prices on your site is a strategic one for your business. In some ways, it can make you feel vulnerable.

Ask yourself: What does my prospective client want and need when they visit my website?

Studies have shown the consumers want to see prices of products and services. Even a price range is sufficient. But many business owners have reasons why they prefer to not include pricing.

How can you decide which way to go?

Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Nine Reasons to Put Your Fees and Prices on Your Site

  1. Trust. Many customers will not do business with a company that is not forthcoming about pricing and fees. They simply won’t waste their time talking with a sales representative, only to find out that the price is too high (or too low, which may feel cheap or low quality to them).
  2. Price Range. Customers want to know what they’re going to pay for your service or product, or at least have a ballpark figure.
  3. Unaffordability Beliefs. Some customers believe, perhaps incorrectly, that if the price is not shown, then it “must be too high.” They reason that if they aren’t shown the price, they probably can’t afford it.
  4. Efficiency. People who can’t afford your services or products will not request a prospect sales conversation. Hear me out: do you want to spend time convincing people on the phone that they can afford you, when they really think they can’t, or don’t see the value you are offering? It’s hard to have sales calls with people who have unrealistic expectations because they don’t know the fees. Trying to convince them is a hard-sell tactic that I choose to avoid.
  5. Branding. Pricing is a strategic marketing decision and helps to set your brand apart from others. Are you the low-cost leader? Are you the expert who people pay more for because you’re worth it? Your fees tell the prospective customer where you place yourself among the others in the industry and which target market you want to serve. There is no right or wrong pricing brand strategy. The key is that you’ve developed it consciously through your marketing plan.
  6. Discounting. For products and classes, there’s typically no negotiation in pricing: either they purchase it or they don’t. You can always create a separate page with special pricing for existing customers or special groups, or offer coupon codes that give discounts, if you want a tiered pricing approach to products and classes. Or indicate that you have installment payment plans, if that helps your customer with a buying decision on a high-ticket item. If you offer special pricing for nonprofits, put your regular fees on your website, and add a sentence that indicates nonprofit pricing is available.
  7. Budgeting. If people feel like they can’t afford you, but want to work with you, they now have a price-point from which they can start savings towards working with you. I have had a number of clients who tell me that they saved for three months in order to work with me.
  8. Honoring. Your customers are busy and time-constrained. They need information at the moment when they have time to do their research. Don’t make them jump through hoops or waste their precious time. Try to be helpful in getting them all the information they need, not just in your pricing, but in the valuable benefits you offer.
  9. Information Gathering. People who are looking for a price range so they can get some budgeting ideas may be a perfect client for you. One of the important stages your customers’ sales timeline is the Information Gathering phase when they are researching possible solutions. Get to know your prospective customer’s process for making buying decisions and plan your marketing accordingly. This is especially true when marketing to women: they do a lot of research before they buy.

Ten Reasons Not to Put Your Fees and Prices on Your Site

  1. Customized Services or Product. Sometimes you can’t list your prices, because each customer gets a customized quote based on what they need from you, like a home builder or a website designer. But you can offer packages on your website, with a note that says, “Fees start at…” for each package. Or show them examples of your work and indicate what each of those project fees were.
  2. Competition. You’re afraid your competition will find out how much you charge. I have bad news for you: your competition already knows what you charge. It’s easy for them to have a friend pose as a prospective customer and get your entire price list. Or your customers tell others what they paid. You are going to have a tough time keeping your pricing private, especially in the internet age.
  3. Value and Selling Strategy. You feel that they need to talk with you first, so that you can show them how valuable your service is, before quoting them a price. That is the job of your website and your other marketing techniques. If your website is written well or your webinar is designed properly, it will easily show someone whether you can solve their problem — and that the price they’ll pay is worth it. Then, when a prospective customer finally does contact you, they’ve already been pre-sold by your marketing and you don’t have to struggle to convince them of anything. I figure if a sales rep needs to speak with me, it’s because they think the product or service “needs explaining,” or that they need to “handle my objections.” Neither is a good excuse to waste my time on something that doesn’t need explaining or should have been explained thoroughly on the website or webinar. Need help with your copywriting? Read my blog post on 6 Copywriting Steps for Non-Copywriters.
  4. Rapport. Your service is based on your personality and your rapport with your customers. Therefore, they need to speak with you in order to get the connection and see if it’s a good fit. I agree with this 100%. But if it’s a perfect fit, and they can’t afford you, how does that benefit either of you? Why not put some videos on your website or offer some free webinar or workshops, so they get a chance to experience you before the prospect call is scheduled.
  5. Price Fixing. You (or your industry) is concerned about price-fixing. By definition, price-fixing is a conscious agreement among businesses to keep the price of something unnaturally high or low, instead of letting free-market forces determine what each customer pays. Putting your own prices on your own website is not a conscious agreement with other businesses, it’s not a conspiracy, and therefore is not price-fixing. If you’re really concerned that you’ll be accused of price-fixing, consult your business attorney.
  6. Mimics. You are concerned that competitors who are less qualified than you will increase their prices to mimic yours but offer poor service. Let them. You cannot be responsible for what your competitor does. If they charge too much and offer a shoddy product or service, they’ll be out of business soon enough anyway.
  7. Uniqueness. You feel that your service or product is not unique, but is exactly the same as what your competitor offers. This is called a commodity. But a commodity implies that what the customer is purchasing is the exact same thing, regardless of the vendor (like milk, flour, or gasoline). By being clear on what makes you unique, different, or better than your competitor, you avoid being seen as a commodity. This is called your Unique Selling Proposition. If you don’t have one, get one.
  8. Ongoing Marketing. You’re concerned that you’ll lose a way to connect with a prospect if they see your prices but don’t reach out to you. This is where having an free offer on your website can help you gather a list of people who may be interested in your product or service. Think: email newsletter, webinar, or whitepaper. However, you need to handle these people differently than you would a bona fide prospect because most people who sign up for free things are in the Information Gathering stage of the sales cycle. Prospective customers are in the Decision Making phase of the buying cycle.  Establish your sales and marketing strategy and funnel, and reach out to people based on where they are along the sales path. Here are the buying cycle stages.
  9. Price Shopping and Tire Kickers. If they’re shopping on price alone, they’re probably not your ideal client unless you are Wal-Mart. People who shop only based on price will leave you when they find someone cheaper. So, if you put your prices on your website, you get them to exit before they waste your time. If a prospective customer is truly only shopping on price, then it wouldn’t matter if you tell them the price on your website, or on a sales call.
  10. Not Knowing Your Worth. It’s true. Many small business owners feel uncomfortable setting their prices because they don’t truly know their value. Here are some tips in setting your service fees.

What To Do?

Whether you put your prices on your site or not is a personal business decision. It depends on your business and marketing strategy. Just make sure you make your decision based on what’s helpful to your customer and right for your marketing plan, not based on your fears about what “might” happen.

If you don’t put your prices on your site, it may be helpful to explain to people why you didn’t include them, and explain what the next step is in the process. Prospective customers will want to understand why they need to speak with you first.

People often ask me, “Don’t you think you’ll lose prospective clients that way?” My answer is: I get 10 phone calls a week from people who want small business coaching/consulting from me. I’m not losing ideal client prospects by putting my fees on my website. But when my consulting business is full, and I’m referring prospective clients to my trusted colleagues, having my prices on my site implies that my colleagues will honor those prices (which they won’t). So during those times, I take the prices off my site so that my colleagues can set their own prices.

So…should you put your pricing on your website or not?

The best thing you can do it test it. Put your prices on your site for two-to-four weeks, and compare the results. If you get more inquiries, more sales, easier conversions, then you know your audience found it helpful.

You’ll never know if something works or not until you try it.

Do you put your prices on your site? Why or why not? When visiting other sites, do you want to find pricing there?

   

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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Demystifying the Art of Action Planning

Posted by on Aug 11 2020

Do you have an area in your business that you want to grow or change? Sometimes it feels like you can’t get there fast enough.

Setting goals can seem intimidating until you realize goals are simply statements of results you want: be more profitable, finish a big project, launch a new service, or help more clients.

It’s more than a mere wish list; it’s stating exactly what will get you quicker results.

Start with Big Picture Goals

Before you jump into details, start with big results you want for your business over the coming year. People often confuse goals with projects, and the easiest way to split them apart is to ask yourself some questions.

  • What results are you trying to achieve and why (goals)?
  • Which vehicles will you use to attain those goals (projects)?

For instance, say your goal is to launch a new class. But there’s a reason you’re launching this new class, right?

Maybe it’s a free class to build your mailing list. Your goal is to build your list; your project is to create and offer a free class.

Or maybe it’s a paid class to show your expert status and build revenue. Your goal is revenue generation and visibility; your project is the paid class.

By asking yourself why you want to achieve something, you get to your core goals.

ACTION STEP: Pause for a moment and write three big goals you have for the next 12 months.

Brainstorm Your Projects

Now that you have your goals in mind, let’s talk about how to achieve them.

There are many paths that will lead you to the same goal. Choosing your projects wisely will help you get where you’re going faster, with less effort and friction.

Start by brainstorming all the projects that can help you achieve the same goal. For example, say that one of your goals is to build your expert platform and to get known. You could boost your blog audience, write a book, teach a class, do more speaking engagements, start a column in a national magazine or website, hire a PR firm, or create a podcast. All of these things will show you’re an authority in your field.

How do you know which projects are the best ones to tackle? Here’s a checklist to help you decide:

  • Which ones inspire and excite you?
  • Which ones align with your personality, knowledge, and skill set?
  • Which ones match the way your audience likes to connect with you?
  • Which ones fit your budget?
  • Which ones are likely to get you to your goals the fastest?

ACTION STEP: Pick one or two projects to work over the next year.

You can always add more later, but choosing too many projects will overwhelm you and cause you to lose focus. Start the year right: don’t overburden yourself.

Tap Your Task List

Write a list of the tasks to complete for your project. Next to each task indicate whether it’s a task you will do or whether you’ll need to outsource it to someone else. Also note whether a task will require a specific resource, like hiring someone to update your website, or taking a class to learn a new skill.

Say that your project is to create a new class. Tasks might include writing a lesson plan, creating worksheets or a student guide, selecting a teaching method, picking dates for the class, setting a price for the class, creating a marketing plan for the class, etc.

ACTION STEP: Take one of your projects and begin writing a To Do list of tasks needed to accomplish that project. I call this your Action Plan.

Next, organize the tasks into a logical order. Let’s use the class design project as an example. You’ll need to write a lesson plan so you know how long the class is, and which topics you’ll cover, before you can set the price or write your marketing copy.

And you’ll need to write the marketing copy before the sales page can be put up on your website.

Tally up those tasks and the timing for each one, and calculate when the project is likely to be finished. Allow for some “stretch time” in your action planning; you never know when you’ll hit a bump in the road that might delay your project.

ACTION STEP: Organize the tasks, and take an educated guess as to how long each task will take.

Get Moving, It’s Easy

You have an action plan for your project. That’s great!

Now it’s time to start implementing that plan. This is a place where many people freeze. You look at your To Do list and it feels like climbing Mount Everest.

Don’t look at the totality of every task on your list. It’s not possible to do all those tasks simultaneously, so step back and focus on the very first task.

ACTION STEP: Look for one action you can take right now. Just one action, no more.

If your project is to write your marketing copy, your one action might be to write the headline. If your project is to create a profit model for your class, your one action could be to calculate your costs so you know your class will be profitable.

By breaking projects and tasks into small increments, you achieve everything – on time, on budget, and with grace and satisfaction.

   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

Why Marketing Fails: The Silo Effect

Posted by on Jun 22 2020

When you think of a silo, you think good thoughts: silos on a farm filled to the brim with an autumn’s grain harvest. It sounds like a perfect metaphor for a successful business marketing campaign.

So how can a silo be a bad thing?

The Silo Effect in business refers to groups of people, or groups of projects, working independently from one another. You think this lack of communication and cross-departmental support is only found in large companies.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in your own small business marketing efforts.

  • You give a speech on your favorite topic, but you fail to mention your own services and how you help people around that topic.
  • You mingle in a networking meeting but don’t tell them about your upcoming free webinar, or give them a way to register immediately while it’s fresh in their minds.
  • You post on social media but never tell them about the podcast next week where you’ll be a guest.

The Silo Effect in small business marketing is this: the lack of coordination and integration of all your marketing techniques so that they support each other and continue to move the prospective client through your marketing system.

Introducing integrated marketing: bringing it all together.

Instead of simply doing one marketing technique then walking away, consider creating a marketing “network” of techniques where one technique encourages the prospective customer to participate in another marketing technique.

In this way, prospects who aren’t ready to buy can stay within your marketing network and continue to connect with you via all your marketing techniques.

Some examples of integrated marketing techniques:

  • When giving a speech, ask the audience to sign up for your free newsletter or an upcoming free event, whatever you’re currently offering to get them on your mailing list.
  • On the back of your business card, offer a free report, and give them the URL where they can download it.
  • After a networking event, email your new contacts with a link to a blog post on your site which solves a problem they’re having.
  • When doing a radio interview or podcast, remind people that you offer a free initial consultation and tell them how they can sign up for one.
  • On your website, place a big opt-in box that tells visitors about your free monthly webinar.

Never ask your marketing techniques to stand all alone like silos in a field. Connect them together and show that path to your prospective customers so they can walk the path through your marketing techniques to your door.

   

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Are You Using the Wrong Marketing Model?

Posted by on Jun 09 2020

Should your marketing strategy be a funnel or a bullseye?

Neither marketing model is wrong — but one is more flexible to real-world situations than the other. And both offer you insights into creating a successful marketing strategy.

Let me explain…

Imagine two images:

  • A funnel, where the entire universe of possible clients start at the top of your funnel and trickle through your marketing campaigns until they become paying clients.
  • A bulls-eye target, where the outer circle represents the entire universe of possible clients and the inner circle represents your closest paying clients.

funnel marketing versus bullseye marketing

Whichever marketing model you’re using, the concept is similar: you are going from a large audience (“top of funnel” versus “outer circle”) of people towards a smaller audience of paying clients.

These aren’t new concepts, but there’s something you should know

In both of these models, you begin by offering something for free, to get people on your mailing list. Through your marketing campaigns, these lead the prospect through the needs assessment phase and the decision-making phase of marketing.

The further along the marketing funnel a client gets, the the more likely it is they’ll buy from you.

Check. Got it.

Nothing new here.

But marketing funnels will trip you up.

Here’s where marketing funnels fail

When you use a funnel marketing strategy, you assume everyone starts at the same place: at the top of your funnel. And this might be true for 70% of your prospects.

But what the 30% who are referred to you from a colleague? Or those that find you in a Google search or on social media, and are ready to buy now?

Some people don’t enter your funnel at the top.

The funnel model doesn’t capture those people who are predisposed to purchase from you.

Many of my consulting clients buy my 90-day private program without ever having been on my mailing list. They heard great things about me from a fan, or they’ve seen me speak at a conference, or they found me through a Google search. I’ve also had people on my mailing list for five years who finally decide to take a class with me. As long as your marketing strategy allows people to enter at any point they want, it’s a viable strategy.

And that means you need more than just a funnel.

Here’s where a bullseye strategy shines

With a bullseye marketing strategy, you target (get it?) your marketing based on what’s really happening on the ground.

  • If someone is just discovering you and isn’t ready to buy, you have free offers available, and they move through your marketing campaigns in a linear way. They’re your “funnel” people.
  • But, if they are ready to buy, you can market to them wherever they are in the sales process. They’re your “bullseye” people.

Instead of forcing people to go through your marketing funnel in only one way, you are adaptive to their real needs, and your marketing strategy is flexible.

Read my blog post: How to Choose the Best Marketing Techniques based on where prospects are in the sales pipeline.

The sales pipeline is key

The sales pipeline is the movement of a prospect from “not knowing me at all” to “purchasing from me.” But it doesn’t end there: there is an ultimate goal of your sales pipeline — to have raving fans who tell others about you.

This is crucial because knowing where they are in your sales pipeline allows you to select the appropriate marketing technique.

When you use a funnel as your metaphor, you assume everyone starts the sales process at the “not knowing me at all” stage.

But when you use the bullseye model, you’ll identify the different stages of the sales pipeline and then craft the perfect marketing technique to speak with your prospect based on their needs.

For instance, I use different marketing techniques with someone who has seen me speak at a national conference compared to someone who has already taken an introductory level class with me.

Next steps

  • Determine where the prospect is in the sales pipeline. Read my blog post: How to Choose the Best Marketing Techniques based on where prospects are in the sales pipeline.
  • If they’re early in the sales pipeline, capture their contact information so you can stay in touch, and share great content with them so they get to know you.
  • If they already know who you are, and are in the middle of the sales pipeline, craft a marketing plan to help these prospects make the decision to purchase from you.
  • If they are near the end of the sales process, stop marketing (stop giving them information), and start selling (making an offer and asking for the sale).
  • Price your products/services across all price-points to allow for multiple streams of income.

Take some time to learn more about these models, understand how the audience participates in them, then create a model for your own business. It will give you clarity and insight, and allow you plan your marketing in a more powerful and effective way.

   

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