Do you understand specifically what your website visitors are looking for or do you only have a generic idea? If you understand what they are specifically looking for to meet their needs, you have a much greater chance of true engagement. When you have true engagement, your odds of a sale increase dramatically, if not today, then on the next visit.
But if you don’t understand how to look at the trends and numbers, you will have a challenging time understanding what your visitors are really looking for.
That’s why retailers count how many people are coming in and how many people are coming out there also counting how many of them are actually purchasing. I have worked with over 100 different retail chains from single store retailer to office supply big box stores. They are counting by the month, day of the week, hour of the day (I know, I installed the counters that go back to the corporate databases with these body counts). They are counting how many of purchasing customers are actually signing up for the e-mail list. They’re counting how many of purchasers are return customers from previous orders. There also counting what is the average amount of each visitor’s spending. Retail stores count the numbers in so many ways you would be amazed. Just like you need to on your website. Your website is not a black box. You need to be paying attention to what’s happening.
If these types of customer engagement don’t make absolute clear sense to you, then I would suggest you go and spend some time and with brick and mortar retailers. Consider even working as a retailer. Learn how retailers convert the looky loo’s into true engagements. Yes we have all been shopping, but look at how retailers work with other customers not just yourself. Learn how retailers try to customize to the needs of each person, not a one size fits all. It is important that you learn how to look through a store or website through the eyes of a customer. It is important that you understand that the customer is always right in their perspective, and how they are looking at the world. And if you don’t understand their perspective, it will be very hard to understand why they’re not buying from you. If that same attitude of understanding is what a potential customer or visitor is looking at when they see a store and their perspective also becomes very useful.
This attitude of looking at your website comes into play in how you design your SEO and SEM. Did you need to present the right kind of signage from the street to get the customer to pull into the parking lot? Once they get inside the store, they need to see what the sign promised is fulfilled. SEO and SEM is about creating it signage from the street. You can fake a man once or twice, but once you do, they will ignore your sign for the rest of their life, because you made them cut across left-hand lane and pull into your parking lot. And they will tell their friends to ignore you or worse. You need to create a good ‘sign’ in your SEO/SEM to attract your visitors into your store. But you also need the sign to be a good indicator of what is in the store.
Just as stores don’t (at least those that survive long term) have the same layout year after year, websites also must evolve and continue to improve based on what works and what does not. This should be done as measured experiments. You can follow the models used in Lean Start-up (Eric Ries) and E-Myth Revisited (Micheal Gerber). Those experiments need tools like Google Analytics and other tools like ChartBeat. Topics of other blog posts.
Oh, not selling products on your site? I would place heavy odds that you are selling your ideas – be they the idea that your service is better then someone elses, or your idea is more important then the next bloggers. Remember to look at the website through your visitor’s eyes in the path they took to get to your website, and your pages.
A customer is a customer is a customer, right? No, there is the customer that asks 200 questions and buys your loss leader, returning it used and unresellable. There is the customer who comes in, asks can you ship 200 of your most profitable item? Oh, and can you autoship if they pay in advance for the next 5 years? Who would you prefer more of?
Visitor traffic is similar, not all traffic is the same value to your organization today or tomorrow. There are different types of traffic to look at when trying to create a successful site. There are different dimmensions of traffic – what type of traffic, what quality of traffic, what the cost it was to get the traffic and others. But lets just look at one dimension, where is the traffic coming from:
This is the traffic created by other sites referring / linking to your site, or your emails driving traffic to your site. This is great ‘free’ traffic. Referrals from other websites also supports your SEO traffic and rankings, because the search engines (SE) respect other sites sending traffic to your site. The more you are listed on other sites, the better your SE (search engine) ranking. The more related the sites, the better your SE ranking. For example a site about guns referring to your site on trees is not as helpful as a referral from a site about arboretums referring to your tree site.
A way to quantify your ranking is to look at your Page Rank (named after Google Founder Larry Page). There are a number of tools including add-ons to your browser that will automatically let you know your PR (Page Rank) on a 0-8 (higher is better) score. Here is one – http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php
SEO – Seach Engine Optimization or Natural Traffic
This is the traffic that comes from your site ranking well in the search engines, and the traffic coming from others looking for answers to their searches. The 1st key to creating this traffic is to create content that answers your visitors questions. The key here is to look at your site from the perspective of your visitors. What are they looking for? Not what do you want to tell them. You may shift the answers to be what you want to share, but 1st look at what would be the perfect answer to a visitor coming the site.
Of course, if you collect the most common questions you can create a FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions page or better yet section of pages (depending on your answers, it may be appropriate to have a single page for each question). The challenge is to come up with the best answer to meet everyone’s needs. But like all good communications, allow the reader to choose how much they want to read by putting the most important/simplest information first. DO NOT follow the mystery novel format and keep the best for the last.
SEM – Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing is when you pay to get traffic to your site. This can include a variety of different strategies such as:
Banner Ads on other sites – here you can pay per image shown (maybe or maybe not registered in the viewers mind), or per click thru to your site.
Email marketing like Constant Contact or iContact (a whole other post) to someone else’s email list (make sure you are not spamming) or to your own list.
Google AdWords (buying ads on the search engine)
Google AdSense (buying text ads on different websites) – this is an overlap of banner ads, but through the 600 pound gorilla Google that acts as the ad-man for you.
Ads on other search engines
This traffic can be very profitable or a total waste of money. The great part of this type of traffic is it is easier to test. Testing is a big part of what you need to do to be successful. Consider it the equivalent of practice in sports, music or dating. You don’t expect to get it perfect the 1st time, and you need to keep improving as your competition keeps getting better.
LMT – Local market traffic
Local market traffic is when visitors are looking for the types of businesses and solutions that used to be typically found in a yellow pages directory. They are usually the local businesses like restaurants, and cleaners. These are businesses that are not trying to market across the country, but only the local community. This traffic is in some ways easier to get, because there is less competition (only a few real estate agents in Downers Grove, compared to million in the whole country). You don’t have to rank higher than the real estate broker in Texas, if you are Wisconsin. But you need to have people looking for Wisconsin real estate. That is where focus is important. This also requires looking outside the ‘normal’ spots. Don’t try to rank high in ‘real estate’ on the search engine. Instead try to rank in ‘Bloomington real estate’ or even better ‘Bloomington vacation real estate’. But also look at other sites than the big 3 search engines. Look at local sites like the different yellow pages or Yelp.com.
What kind of traffic you want will determine what kind of strategies you should follow.
SEO is more on content.
SEM is more on converting the visitor. Of course you have to define what conversion is. It may be a sale. It may be a signup for a newsletter. It may be a request for a consultation and setting an appointment. Or it may be requesting a free report. You need to define what your conversion funnel is (most businesses have multiple conversions in the process of a lifetime of a customer.
LMT is about converting and getting them to call or use traditional business channels. That may be getting them to drive to your store. That may be getting them to call and set an appointment. It may still be just calling or emailing for a report or other trust building step.
Understand that just like traditional sales takes on average 7 touches to convert to a sale (after having built up enough trust), online channels can take multiple steps to build the trust required for your final conversion. Make sure you design your website presence to convey that.
Is your website reaching its full potential? If not let us help you out.
For 21 years we have been producing results – Traffic, Prospect Inquiries, Phone Calls to Your Office, and most importantly SALES for clients using the Internet – websites, and email.
Let us briefly discuss your vision and objectives to see if we can assist you. While our list of successes is long, one brief example might wet your appetite – we grew the Internet side of one retailer from 2 orders a month to $1 million a month in online orders using search engine optimization, and email marketing in just 13 months.
We have a variety of ideas on how to optimize your business’ site for more traffic. But traffic alone is a waste of bits. We will gear your traffic towards results and profit.
We can offer solutions that range from simple (a quick phone conversation, where I will gladly share for the high price of a smiling voice) to consultative (let us get together for a lunch and a small fee to let you pick my brain of 21 years of web marketing experience) to structured (there are a variety of models).
Your Goals and Your Objectives determine the approach we can take to best work with you. Some of the custom approaches that have increased profits for our clients in the past are:
Pay per visitor
Fee per Phone call,
Fee per Email
Fee per Form filled out
Percentage of sales
Flat fee for services
Mix and match of the above approaches
Custom Solution Specific to Your Business Situation and Needs.
Rather then point you to a fancy website with a lot of fluff, or a 20 page whitepaper, we ask you to call us and cut through the jargon and speak on your terms. The biggest reason, we are not sure what your true objective is, so we currently have no idea what solution makes sense for you. So we will ask you to trust us this far – call us at (312)554-5009. Let us have a no pressure conversation where we get to learn your needs, we will share some tips and ideas. Then let us see if we can work in partnership to let you meet your objectives.
Another reason we don’t have a fancy website, to be brutally honest; we would rather put the effort into marketing your business rather than our’s.