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… on a first date?
Let’s face it: it’s typically not recommended! Though it may happen once in awhile, for most people it just doesn’t — usually for good reason. And yet many businesses treat first visits to their websites as if they’re expecting to go all the way on a first date.
Since we all need that little thing called revenue in order to stay in business and be profitable, many businesses just focus on tracking their one main revenue-generating action as a conversion event for online activity. Whether it’s a product purchase or generation of a lead, all online campaigns and keywords are judged by their ability to immediately result in this one conversion.
However, in this day and age of information abundance, reviews, referral sources, and the like, many searchers do lots of poking around before they are ready to take that conversion step. There are four generally-accepted steps in the sales cycle you should keep in mind:
Ignorance — This is the phase when a person is unaware of their need of a particular product or service that might make their lives or their own business somehow better or more efficient or less expensive.
Awareness — When a customer has become aware of a need and the means of addressing it, but is still learning, investigating and preparing.
Engagement — A customer-prospect has selected your company as one that might address their need.
Investment — Success! A prospective customer becomes a paying customer.
Most people these days go through these four stages of the sales cycle. So rather than throwing all of your eggs in one basket, hoping to convince your visitor to “go all the way” on that very first visit, we encourage you to offer different avenues to make a connection on that first visit. This will enable you to foster the relationship and be the one the searcher comes back to when they are ready to convert.
For prospects in the “ignorance” phase, it’s important to speak to a particular pain point. Call out that pain and the clear cure for it. For instance, say you sell solar panels. You may want to run PPC ads like this one:
Energy Bills High?
Solar is more affordable
than ever – learn how.
(Hopefully, this is a fake company… we intended it to be!) In this instance, the ad is addressing a common customer pain point: high household energy bills. They point out why an alternative could be viable for the searcher. And they entice the searcher with an answer to their pain (”lower my bills”).
Next, during the “awareness” phase, think about why your searcher is likely to be hunting around gathering more information:
- Are they looking for the best price?
- Do they need reviews / ratings / referrals before selecting?
- Are they researching a gift for someone else?
- Are they sure about the exact product accessory they need?
- Did they simply get interrupted in the middle of their search?
- Are they not currently using the right device or computer that they intend on converting from?
- Do they need to run it by someone else?
We could go on and on — there are so many different reasons why people aren’t ready to commit on the first click. After you figure out the likely scenarios for your particular offering, you can start to think about the types of valuable information for a connection that will enable you to stick in the mind of the visitor and leave a lasting presence they will return to.
The content that you offer to make the connection will need to be unique, valuable, helpful and just plain irresistible. Following are some additional “connection” ideas that you can try out:
- Newsletter sign-up. You’ll need to say more than just “sign up” though – for instance, does the newsletter contain offers? What type of content is in it that will entice them or be useful to them?
- Facebook / Twitter following. Again –why would they want to do this? Is there some enticing content from your community that you can use as a teaser? Are there special offers you have for your social following?
- Webinar sign-up. Do you have any relevant upcoming webinars that might be of interest that you can encourage them to sign up for?
- Conference sign-up. Any upcoming conferences that you will be attending? Perhaps you are going to have some form of a giveaway that they can sign up for.
- Notification sign-up. Can you entice them to sign-up for an email notification if there is a price changes in the future? Or would they like to be notified of future reviews that are posted, or stock level notifications?
- Third-party data. Do you have valuable industry or market data that you can share with them – any analyst or third party reports, or review aggregations that would help guide them?
- Personalized information. Can you provide them with any information that is personalized to them? The ROI on a purchase, help finding the right solution through a series of questions, previewing how something will look for them, analysis of something that is theirs, any form of a calculator, etc. Make sure to capture the results so you can also email them to them.
- Personal response to questions, or personal review of something. If an expert can help guide them in a personalized, non-salesy way, this is often attractive.
- Contests. Everyone loves to win things!
- Polls. Ask them for their input on something about what you offer. This will usually require a strong incentive – but even showing the results of an ongoing poll that you have, that they can participate in can often times be enough.
- A product brochure, white paper, recent use-case video, etc. Any content that can help them learn more about you after they go away from your website.
After you are able to make the connection, you’ll want to spend some time nurturing it. This gets you to the “engagement” level. Continue to reach out to the visitor on a regular basis with more unique, valuable content along the lines of the connection they made with you. Whether it’s an updated analysis, a new notification, some interesting community content from Twitter, or some new poll results, keep the conversation going and stay fresh in their mind.
Once you’ve gotten your additional connection points in place on your landing pages and throughout your website, you’ll want to make sure you are tracking their success. Track all the meaningful events for your online campaigns, realizing that any connection made carries value – so if you have keywords that are bringing in lots of new connections, but no immediate revenue you’ll want to keep them alive to see if your nurture-rate to revenue is high. For each of these connection points, you’ll want to monitor how often they bring about return visits and eventually generate revenue. This will help you know where to focus your efforts as you go forward.
All of which gets you to that “all-the-way goal”: investment.
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