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Make Your Website Four Times More Selling Effective

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You may have found this title somewhat surprising. Why precisely four times? Well of course it isn’t true. In your case it may be ten times. Or it may be less. What is absolutely certain is the following. If you are not already applying the practices set out in this Newsletter, then the selling effectiveness of your website can be increased by a significant multiple.

To be clear, we are discussing here websites that have already been well constructed, following the principles set out in Newsletter 32. In other words, they have Saleability, Searchability, Usability and Credibility. In addition from a design viewpoint, the website is attractive and creates a powerful reinforcement of what the company is offering.

Alternatively the website has been improved to eliminate the ten problems that can destroy the selling effectiveness, as described in Newsletter 33. In other words, we are dealing with websites that should be selling effective as they are launched on the Internet.

So why are we discussing how such websites can be made significantly more selling effective. By that we mean that there is more traffic visiting the website and more of this traffic converts to become purchasers. If such a selling effective website is now hosted on the Internet, isn’t that enough. Won’t the sales flood in? Possibly and possibly not.

Your website is not a road-side billboard

If you think that putting up your website is like putting up a billboard by the side of a busy road, then you have really missed the full potential of the website.

Once a roadside billboard is erected, there is little more you can do to improve its effectiveness. You have got to live with your mistakes if there are any. You are never sure who may have seen the billboard and what they may have done as a result. You may see some sales increase but will never be sure whether the billboards created this or whether some other marketing initiative was the cause. You’re into that old marketing joke situation, “I know that half of my advertising budget is wasted. My problem is I don’t know which half.”

You can measure exactly how a website is performing

The beauty of the Internet is that you can measure in very great detail exactly what visitors come to the website. You can identify exactly where they came from. If they used a search engine, then you can see exactly what keywords or phrases they used. You can also see exactly what they did whilst they were there.

You can measure exactly how the website could perform better

In some ways, there may even be more unrealized potential in prospects who never get to visit your website. More and more people use the Internet to explore supply opportunities. If these people are using keywords that lead them to competitors’ websites, then you are never aware of this lost potential. In markets where a number of keyword phrases might apply, your own website may see only a tiny fraction of all the prospects who are searching the Web. If prospects follow a link from a trade directory to a competitor website, then again you may not realize how many visitors you never saw because they followed that link.

A website is more like a garden than a billboard

Rather than thinking of the website as a static roadside billboard, it is better to imagine that it is more like a garden. A garden changes with time. Plants grow and with skill can be encouraged to grow in much more attractive ways. Weeds invade the garden and, unless they are tackled vigorously and regularly, will take over. Changing weather conditions may help the garden grow in a harmonious way or may damage certain more fragile plants. Effective gardening requires continuous awareness and regular attention.

Similarly by watching how a website is performing, it may become clear that small changes should be made to optimize the way visitors find the website or work their way through it. Watching what the competition is doing is important to ensure that they are not benefiting from a change in customer behaviour. Even if the website is fairly optimal the day it is launched, circumstances may change to make it much less optimal. Continuous awareness and regular attention is what is needed to derive the most from the website.

The ROI (Return on Investment) on website activities is much higher than for other marketing initiatives

Some may question why they should be spending even more money on Webmaster marketing activities, when launching the website itself is usually fairly costly. The answer is very straightforward. The returns versus the true costs are so much higher for Internet related activities than for more traditional marketing activities.

Doing the true accounting for a physical brochure can be somewhat depressing. If it is to have any chance of being read by the intended recipient, then each item can be somewhat expensive. If direct-mailed to each recipient, there are additional postage charges. Yet the response rates are likely to be very low.

Having a booth at a trade show has even more formidable economics associated with it. Adding the staffing costs onto the cash outlays, the cost per lead is usually very high.

One problem with these traditional marketing activities is that the intended audiences may not be interested in the product offered at the particular time the brochure arrives or they attend the trade show. On the other hand, the visitors to the website are looking for products that will meet their needs at that moment in time, as defined by keywords or by particular product categories in a trade directory. This is the very best permission marketing, where the prospect comes looking for the supplier.

A Pro-active Marketing Webmaster must be a part of your marketing and selling team.

The following sets out the basic tasks that a Marketing Webmaster must regularly complete. These should be regarded as minima, as usually more is better.

One essential process is the analysis of website visitor logs. The ideal is to have available the raw visitor log data that show full information on every file downloaded from the website. Traffic analysis programs are available and some of the free ones are very effective. For those adept in Excel spreadsheet analysis, some very interesting analyses can be done with modest effort. In some cases, the traffic reports provided by the ISP hosting the website can give the most important summary parameters.

Daily

  • Check daily visitor logs for any errors or failed links in web files and for the referral websites directing visitors to the website. The total number of visitors and web pages downloaded are two good measures of website effectiveness.
  • If the website itself is directly involved in transactions, for example with a shopping cart, evaluating conversion rates from visitors to purchasers is a critical activity. In some cases, the cost of detailed tracking mechanisms may be a wise investment.
  • Weekly

  • Check for news on key competitors and for any changes that may affect their websites.
  • Check weekly visitor logs re keywords being used to find the website and for referral websites. Sometimes this will suggest other keyword phrases that are being used frequently and the web pages can be optimized for these phrases.
  • Check SERP’s (Search Engine Reports) re rankings for keywords, particularly versus the key competitors.
  • Monthly

  • Check Competitors’ websites for changes. If Competitors’ websites rank higher in SERP’s, try to analyze their websites to understand why this happens. Often this will relate to their back links, i.e. other web pages with hyperlinks pointing to these competitive websites.
  • Contact other websites re their listing more back links to your own website. This seems to be particularly important for what might be regarded as “expert websites” for your area of interest. There has been a major upgrading of the Google search algorithm (often called the Florida update) in the last week of November 2003 that makes this important.
  • Add new web pages to the website or modify existing web pages and submit these changes to new referring websites (search engines, directories)
  • Maintaining this surveillance of the website’s selling effectiveness will likely suggest how improvements should be make to correct the deficiencies. Doing only these activities will likely produce the four-fold improvement in selling effectiveness mentioned in the Newsletter title over a 3 – 4 month time span. Although changes to the website can be made rapidly, it may take one or two months before a given search engine spider indexes the changes. In addition to these improvements, even greater effect can be obtained by the initiatives mentioned in the next section.

    Powerful ways of further increasing selling effectiveness

    A complete Internet Marketing Strategy will include other ways of working in a complementary way on associated marketing initiatives. These include the following:

    Newsletters

    If the company has news on recent developments that could interest potential clients, then an e-mail newsletter with subscriptions via the website help to develop a stronger bond with the prospects.

    Mailings

    Direct mailings or e-mail mailings to prospects can be considered where a reasonable proportion of prospects are likely to find the contents interesting. It is important in the case of e-mail mailings that an easy way for the prospect to block future e-mail messages should be provided. Clearly this block must be respected if the prospect exercises that choice.

    Trade shows

    Having a booth at a trade show should be strongly integrated with Internet contact with attendees. Sometimes e-mail databases can be obtained of attendees prior to the show, and more often for visitors to particular booths and to the show as a whole. This opportunity of sending personalized messages to attendees should not be missed.

    Publicity and Press Releases

    Traditional publicity and public relations activities should not be neglected. Again these should be integrated with the website and with the provision of further information in simple ways via the Internet when requested.

    Conclusion

    The Internet provides a vehicle for an information exchange with prospects on a time scale and in a format that they can determine. In addition, it is done very much more cheaply than other ways of trying to provide comparable information. The Internet vehicle should be worked as hard as possible and should be favoured over more traditional marketing and selling methods if there is a competition for resources.

    If you would like help in developing a pro-active marketing webmaster resource or would like this service provided for you, then contact SMM.

    Barry Welford, President of SMM Strategic Marketing Montreal works with business owners and senior management on Internet Marketing strategy and action plans to grow their companies. He is a moderator at the Cre8asite Forums and writes on current issues on the Internet and on the Mobile Web in three blogs, BPWrap, StayGoLinks and The Other Bloke’s Blog.

    Make Your Website Four Times More Selling Effective
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