Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Website profits

Many of us in business are in the service industry. That means our website strategy isn't straight forward.

If I was selling TV's, DVD's or clothes the process is fairly simple.

Attract the punters in with compelling marketing.
Present them with a great website that takes them by the hand to the checkout page.
Make it easy for them to buy on-line.
Do the Math - Product margin less the advertising cost should equal profit.
Test and measure until you get the optimum sales volumes and profit.

Selling services can be a bit more difficult.

Our buyers probably don't buy a 'product' - they may buy a pick 'n' mix that suits their requirements and might need to talk to us first to discuss the options.

Folk lore tells us that we need to 'touch' someone 7 times before they buy. Face to face that's reasonably easy to manage. Gain their confidence, take their business card, keep in touch and sometime down the line you have a damn good chance of doing business.

When it comes to the internet, we have all these faceless people visiting our site. At this point we don't know if they are real prospects, people who landed there by mistake or even competitors. They may disappear without trace never to be heard of again. They might even buy from your competitor and you never even had the chance to do your sales pitch.

So the key function of your website should be to capture their contact details so that you can keep in touch.

'Gis us yur email' probably won't work too well, neither will trying to get their full name, company, phone number plus email address at this point.

So in that first visit to our site we need to be gentle and ask for just an email address. But, even then, they're not going to just roll over and give it to you because you asked. You have to give something in return.

Many sites offer a newsletter/regular tips subscription which is certainly an option. But maybe you are like me and have just too many regular emails in your inbox like that and reluctant to accept more. So, unless it looks absolutely compelling, I'll probably say 'no thanks'.

It's well proven now that most internet users are searching for information. When they visit your site why not try giving it to them? Plenty of knowledgeable and useful content will give them confidence that you know what you're talking about and keep then interested.

Then offer them, as a downloadable document/audio file/video, access to something covering really interesting,useful and appropriate information that is just an extension of what they've been reading - in return for their email address.

Successful ideas are '5 tips when choosing....', '10 things to consider...' or 'A guide to...'

What do you do with their email address? By far the best way is to use one of the well respected email autoresponder houses.

These on-line systems will handle the opt-in confirmation process to ensure that the recipient knows what they are getting, plus deal with bounced email addresses and subscription removal requests. But the biggest bonus is their ability to 'automate' your follow up.

The autoresponder facility will send out an number of follow up emails, at periods that you determine, each having a sales message to encourage the prospect to either part with a bit more information, contact you direct, or both.

Autoresponders are not expensive and have, if you use the right one, plenty of training to help you set them up to produce good results for you.

If you need help with your website sales and marketing or SEO contact me at AlloyCRM

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