Turning website traffic into Customers

web-trafficIf you are enjoying a well-placed website with a lot of visitors, it’s time to capture them and keep in touch with them. Picture yourself in a small time shop front business: There are hundreds of people that enter the store ‘ just to browse’, but they never stay to buy. They walk around and pick things up, but never stay. Why?

If I am simply waiting for a specific time, for a meeting, or am simply hiding from the weather outside, I always go into small stores like this. I do it to engage my mind in something, to see what kind of in-store marketing businesses are doing, and to kill a few minutes rather than just hanging around outside, looking suspicious. If I am asked whether I need assistance, I’m always honest about the reasons for my visit, so that the hard-working staff know that they can leave me and move on to someone who may be buying. In other words, I am the typical web visitor. Occasionally, a forward thinking shop staff will see what I am looking at, and say: “That’s at a special price today, because of (insert reason).” That’s thinking, because they want to know what I’m interested in. This is what you want your site to do; to separate the browsers from the shoppers, and find out what the interest level is, and in what.

Add a ‘Contact Us’ button. It’s a CTA (A Call-To-Action) that isn’t too pressurizing, and doesn’t add to much worry to the browser. They know that they can always unsubscribe from any service, and they can sift through the offers that you send them at their own speed, without being cornered into making a decision.

A good tip here is to purchase an automated mail system where you can enter a raft of e-mail messages, and send them information. They are very inexpensive to get into, and you can choose what bells and whistles you need. Now you can send out information about your company to those that have shown an interest: Not every day, but enough for them to keep you and their initial interest in mind. You can copy them on highlights of your latest blog post, or send them special offers that aren’t on your site. Whatever you feel will keep them engaged in your Company’s story. You can even send periodic/seasonal “feel good” emails – like Happy Holidays from…or Happy Valentines day from…and add your little spin to it . Even if only 10% of these contacts buy from you, the chances of them becoming long-term, multiple purchasers are very good. You can then think of new or better ‘Fanzone’ specials for these extra special customers.

If your site isn’t getting visitors, re-design it to cater to your Ideal Customer’s profile. If you are getting visitors, but too high of a ‘Bounce Rate’, re-design your landing page to entice closer inspection. If your Call To Action isn’t working, try different designs and strength of invitation. However, if you are getting interest from your ‘Contact Us’ button, use what you can from your ongoing writings to ensure those visitors remain with you, and shop from you, often.

Make the most of your businesses’ Holiday season

holiday-shoppingNow that Halloween is behind us, it won’t be long before US Thanksgiving celebrations, Black Friday/Cyber Monday online sales, and then Christmas. Of course, New Year is only a few days after that, so it’s time to start thinking about the exciting Holiday Marketing you need for your business. If you haven’t started planning these campaigns, yet,  and there isn’t time for separate, unique six-week ad campaigns that have proven useful for companies  for the festive season, you may want to think of an overarching idea ‘The Holidays’, namely November through February. If it’s too early to think about Christmas for you, it isn’t for your business, so here’s five tips on readying your businesses’ online holiday campaigning.

1.        ‘Click to Call’ tools

Get them to come to you: A ‘click through’ button on your website allows your prospects to see something they like on your website, and contact you directly with a question. Once they know they can reach you, you become approachable, friendly, and someone they would like to start a relationship with. In turn this makes them more open to receiving advertising from you.

There are plenty of tools for this, and to ensure that your company can do this on a regular basis, why not start at the beginning of the Holiday season? You can plan the staffing of the phones for business hours, set up a return call system for outside hours, and promoting this service gives you an additional ‘touch point’ with the fans you have already. It may teach you things that you need for times outside of the holidays.

Customers and prospects are usually busy themselves at this time of year, so you can open up a stress-saving avenue for contact with them. They will always pass on good news to others!

2.        Search Functionality.

If Prospects and customers cannot find what they want on your site in a short search time, they will give up and go somewhere else. Use your site analytics to find out where people go, which pages they land on, visit, and bounce from. These metrics will show you patterns of use that will give you clues on what is not working. If you are the type of business looking to use the holidays for sales or advertising and want to highlight different or new items and services, make sure that all pages showcase your business as best they can, and offer functionality. Now is the time to re-design to answer the questions these analytics results bring up. In turn, you may find places that need re-design to seamlessly loop this process site-wide.

3.        Add some video

It is by far the best teaching tool, is the most popular among visitors, and can be the most effective: is it time for a festive video presentation, or tour through the site? Get your gatekeeper to front it, and – when they answer the phone – they will be recognized.

4.        Related Content

Do your pages lead to the next right page? Is there a clue that your Analytics can give you as to how people navigate your site? Perhaps some well-placed teasers, directions, or offers would both strengthen those ‘tours’, and bring weaker ones up to that strength? This is not a case of more links, but rather stronger ‘suggestive’ items as to where to go next. This drives traffic to the warmest and coolest areas of your business, based on actual customer ‘tours’.

5.        Strengthen the customer engagement.

Make sure that you have an easy-to-navigate map of your site, ask for feedback, and advice, and always measure your engagement. The Holidays are a great time to do that, because you may be highlighting Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, Boxing day, New Year, and Valentine’s day special attractions. If the next time you take a breath will be in late February, have your specials lined up, and signpost them correctly. Then, take note of visitor feedback (Both on your site, and through contact), to find out what you can do better for the rest of the year.

This means that this time, next year, your site will be more ready for business, your advertising will change to reflect and point out these changes, your customer and prospect engagement will increase, and a glimpse inside your current and future customers will be much stronger.

Always look at advertising changes as another way to engage with both customers and prospects. If this time of year is your busy time, listen to what people are saying about you during the holiday period, and make changes based on this conversation. In turn this will keep people on our site longer, and lead to more committed evangelists as well as more newcomers interested in what you do.

Seven things you aren’t doing – but should be!

worker stress funnyWhy did you start your business? Usually, we hear the following:

“I could do this way better than the last Boss that I had.”

“I received a payout, and thought that it was time I went out on my own.”, and the famous: “I’ve always wanted to do it.”

If you didn’t get into a market segment for reasons such as goods requirement in that region, or competition, or even a better raw material source, you can still concentrate on how you can make your business succeed from this point on by creating practices that more seasoned companies have done. Here’s Seven tips on how you can start succeeding:

Businesses fail to reach their full potential.

Any reason you can think of is usually a symptom of a bigger problem, and two of those are usually more organic than you can see. Either business owners are unclear about their goals (or have lost sight of their original goals as to what they want to get out of their business) OR business owners don’t really know what’s going on in their business.

Not knowing what’s going on in the business is extremely common and relates to knowing your KPI’s (key performance indicators) For instance, how many people do you have to connect with to get the right percentage to walk through your door and how many have to purchase and how many who purchase have to become loyal clients and/or referrers of others to your business? Start with last year, find out how close you are, and what steps do you have to take to get it right this year.

Know where you are

What are you doing right, right now, and what do you need to strengthen in order to get our first tip correct?  Find out how long it will take to get there, and what it will cost. If you don’t know, get help – and factor that cost into your calculations.

Where are you going?

Many small business owners run a daily management routine on habit, rather than on a clearly defined journey toward a goal. Even if you are entrepreneurial, you must have something to head for in the medium and long term that is about your businesses’ success, not your rose colored view of the future. Break down the big picture into manageable chunks so you can see how far you have come, and what you have to do to reach your next steps.

How much do you earn?

You have to know how much it takes for the business to pay its bills, pay lifestyle wages and generate profits to grow the company. You need a predictive budget/cash flow model to see how much it takes to expand, and that includes owner’s salaries.

if you don’t plan to create profit for growth, how is your growth going to be funded? If you don’t pay yourself the right amount now, how will you know what you pay yourself in the future. Just taking ‘what’s left’ is not a plan.

Tell Everyone

Now that you know where you are, where you are going, and have decided your income, you have to get customers buying your products or services. But WHO are these people and WHERE are we going to find them? That is marketing, but now you know these two crucial facts about your future customers, you know what message will get to them, and that is the basis of your future. What are you doing right now for these customers, what do you need to work on to make their experiences with you better, and what will make hem return, or tell others?

Manage for success

While you are looking at these ‘big picture’ questions and challenges, you cannot be expected to run everything, perfect a customer relationship model for your staff, and be the corporate fireman. You need to get out of the everyday, and either delegate or hire someone that does these tasks for you.

These are two distinct jobs, and you shouldn’t be dropping complex calculations of future growth to go unblock the toilets. You need a head of daily operations, no matter the size of your company. That person reports to you, but on an organized daily meeting basis. Give yourself the time to plan the future.

Get a coach

A coach/mentor is outside of the day-to-day activity and can provide a cool outsider’s point of view about what needs to be done and/or can bring to the table ideas and concepts outside the your awareness or current level of experience.

Choose the right one: Remember, they are there to help YOU rather than sell you a coaching system designed to make them money. So ask questions about their specific expertise in your business, ask for names of other businesses in your industry area they have helped so you can reference check them, check their availability in relation to responding to problems or issues you may encounter, and lastly, determine what is and what is not included in their fee structures.

Give yourself the permission to speak candidly to someone about your business, and receive critical advice. They aren’t a friend, they are a professional, but they can become your company’s best friend.

Good Luck transforming your business for the next level of success.

5 Steps to Reach Your Writing Goals in a Pinch

writers-blockMet your article writing goals for the year? Congratulations! How did you do it?  Probably, by getting into a routine that you could handle easily no matter the circumstances you were in on any given day. But what if you haven’t reached those goals? Here’s a quick ‘cheat sheet’ on how to get into that frame of mind.

First, these steps are meant for those in a time crunch or for those who have a fast approaching deadline. It’s always recommended that you develop a structured plan that helps you achieve your goals so you aren’t scrambling at the end to meet your goal.

Next, use these steps to prioritize your tasks to make time for writing, budget your time effectively, and you will reach your target before you know it!

1. Identify Your Priorities – What tasks hold the greatest value (biggest ROI)? Make a list of everything you do in a given day and rank it starting with 1 as your highest priority. Delegate anything that is low priority. If delegation isn’t possible, let it go (deep breath) to make room for tasks that hold the greatest value to you.

2. Break it Down – Break down your tasks into actionable steps. For example, instead of “send tweet,” you might be break it down to “brainstorm tweet ideas,” “write tweets,” and “schedule/post tweet.” A more specific writing example would include “brainstorm article topics,” “outline article,” “draft article,” “edit article,” and “submit article.”

3. Increase Efficiency – Eliminate the following: Time sinks or activities that take up huge chunks of your time with little to no value.

Self-induced or outside distractions that make you lose your focus

Multi-tasking or not giving one task your full attention at any given time

4. Create a Plan – In the amount of time you have before your deadline, calculate how long it will take to perform a given task and schedule it at least a day in advance. To ‘amp up’ your writing efforts, take a day to write (or two or three – whatever you can). Clear your schedule and dedicate every resource you have to reaching your writing goal on that day.

5. Execute – Spring into action with every fiber of your being! Give every article an extra 10% of quality and originality to increase your ROI and exercise those article writing muscles.

Start now! Make your plan and get everyone (friends, family, and peers) on board. Don’t end with a whimper simply because you didn’t make your goal. Be a success!

Who is your “VP”? It’s not who you think.

fun officeConsumers have lots of choice for their buying needs, and you have lots of competition. So, how do you ensue that they look at your shopping experience, when compared to theirs? That’s a basic question, with a really simple answer.
Find a way to differentiate your business, one that matters to somebody, so that you do not have to compete on price. What is the single-minded point of difference that some narrowly defined ideal client cannot live without? The secret to marketing success is as simple as that. But by finding it, and exploiting it, your business would be in the elite, because your competition isn’t doing it. Why?Because to be unique, you have to actually be different and that scares the heck out of most business owners. Be very clear about this, though, your customers and prospects want you to be different, they require you to be different. To succeed in business you have only one job, and that is to find a way to show that you are completely different in a way that your market wants and values, exploit that difference in every word that you compose and watch your profits soar. It’s painful and a lot of extra work to do, sometimes, but you will be many steps ahead of the competition if you can do it.

Identify your ideal Client

You know you have an ideal client in mind when you can ponder how great life would be if you have a dozen or so more just like them. What makes them perfect for you? Have you done business with one, lately?

Create a list of six to eight of your current ideal clients and commit to sitting down with face to face or over the phone for about fifteen minutes, or you are going to devise a questionnaire and have them complete it and return it to you. As either of these methods are a conversation of sorts, the same questions should be included:

Why did you hire us/buy from us in the first place? Just because you think you know, you may not. You can collect surprising insights, here.

What’s one thing we do that you love the most? You need specifics, here. Drill down from their first answers.

What’s one thing we do that others don’t? Don’t be embarrassed to ask this – no-one else is, so it’s a refreshing change for the answerer. Even if the answer’s as plain as ‘you are close’, you collect extra knowledge.

If you were to refer us what would you say? Look for three adjectives, here. It will help you tally up the most important points when spread over several answers.

Can you tell me about three other companies that you love? Even if these other companies are in your field, you will get another view of your business from the outside. You also learn more about your competition.

If you were conducting an online search for this service, how would you search for it?: You are looking for their search terms in order to further define how a successful search would find you.

Remember that you’re not looking for scientific data, you’re looking more for themes and stories that offer clues to what really does make your firm unique. In most cases you will need to use follow-up statements such as – “Okay, we provide great service, that’s awesome, but tell me a story about a time we did.”

Work with themes that matter

From your interviews you should have some rich themes to work with. Don’t underestimate the power of simple things. Quite often your clients value the little things you do that are special. Resist the temptation to dismiss them as unimportant enough to use as your core point of difference.

List all of the answers, find out who said the most often repeated themes, and drive home a marketing campaign aimed at these clients.

This is your VP – Your Value Proposal to an entire business segment.

How your business can escape from ‘The Everyday Box’

Box 2It’s a worthwhile exercise to ask yourself if your life has turned out the way you expected it to – especially in your entrepreneurial life. If you ask yourself “How is my Business really doing?”, then how do you measure it? Turnover, Service, Employee number, growth, competition, money, your life-style? Nowadays we are expected to look at all of these as parts of the same equation. So, let’s start with an easier way to ask the question. Here are three choices, which one does your business most closely resemble?

 

Has your Business failed spectacularly?

Is your business a runaway success?

Is your business an ‘everyday’ business?

 You probably answered the third choice, and you have a business in The Everyday Box. However, because you recognize that fact, there are very simple ways for you to change it.

The Everyday Box is what your business gets caught in when you are ploughing forward, simply paying the bills. If you answered either of the first two, you may be in a better position. To have flamed out as a business owner, you have striven to get too far, too fast. You have made some choices that weren’t right at that time, or with those customers and prospects, or your staff couldn’t follow through for you.

If your business has – eventually – taken off, you have probably done the same things as the failure mentioned above, and they have worked. Chances are you have been through failure before, and it has resulted in a success this time. Of course, the answers aren’t simply to do with timing, but it could be something equally as glaring, or a combination of other simpler components that, when put together, made the choice. However, the education that you had been through before, made you do something a little different, or at a different time, or with a different purchaser profile, and, when put together, worked.

If you are ‘in between’ these two states, you are in the Everyday Box – and you may not know it. You are making excuses based on outside influences: The economy, the weather, the entrenched competition. You qualify your decisions as doing what you need to do to pay the bills, keep the staff happy, and keep everything ‘ticking over’ until this current negative situation clears up, miraculously. Of course the chances are that it will be replaced by another negative situation. As your business lurches toward the failure you are scared is going to happen, you become immobile, and continue on as if this is ‘business as usual’. If it is, you are really in trouble. So, how do you get out of it?

The first step, as with any difficult decision is to recognize that you are in the Everyday Box, and what you need to do to get out of it. That is remarkably easy: Go back to the reason why you started this thing in the first place, and what you were going to do to make it a success. Take a critical look at your entire chain, from prospecting to returning customers, and figure out how they differed from what you thought they were going to be. How do you change either them, their habits, your goods and services, or your marketing. Look at your staff. Are they in it for the long haul? They have to be entrepreneurial, too. Are they? Tell them what you are going to do, what changes are going to come up, how long it’s going to take. Will they follow you? Chances are, they will. Trim the dead wood, move forward, set yourself a goal and hit it. In other words, change.

One of two things will happen…and you know what they are. On the way to that place though, your business will change. Everyone will be more energized: Employees, contractors, suppliers and prospects will see how energized everyone has become. Everyone will be focused on the new goal, and you will be enjoying life once again.

You will pick up renewed interest from old contacts, and some new ones, too. Your drive to make this thing a runaway success is not only infectious – it is required. The way to get out of the Everyday Box is exactly the way to move your business toward success: Your enthusiasm. If you fail, you will have learned more about how to make it work next time. Your gutsy moves will mean more investment money next time, because nothing breeds enthusiasm in others like your own enthusiasm.

No business should be ‘just good enough’, it should be an unqualified success…or it should die trying. In either case, you will have gotten out of the Everyday Box.

Good Morning. What’s your First Task of the Day?

coffee

Yes, I know – put the coffee on. Or something like that. Now…concentrate.

The first thing I do is post my ‘morning thought’. This is the one that I have picked up from the latest trends across my social media platforms: In the business world in general this means LinkedIn for headlines, I glance through Twitter and, for fun (Fun is important in the Business World), check on Google+. I have started using Hootsuite, now, so I can post my thought across all of these platforms with one post. There, now I have just ‘touched’ over 200,000 people. I hope that it was a good post!!

Posting this way shows that I’m a real person that thinks of other things outside of my business model. This means that when I do post about my company it is at least tolerated by everyone, and may well mean some interest in my business page. In turn this means more clicks and higher ranking for my website, putting it closer to the number one position in ‘Search’, where people actively looking for my services will find me easier.

My second job is to write a blog, and post it on a couple of sites that are in my business niche. Of course, I include a link to my site within that post so that more people can find me if they are interested. Now, I like to be left alone when I’m writing like this, but you may find it better to break and look after other tasks while you are doing this. It all depends on the type of person that you are. By tying myself to these daily rituals, I find that after 60 – 90 minutes, I have done more advertising for my brand than most businesses have done in a week.

I even get to the office early to ensure that I’m left alone and can concentrate on this. Strangely, I have received more cold calls concerning my services at work since I have started working this way, and interest is growing. I have even come up with a questionnaire that I can e-mail to prospects that – when returned – gives me  a clearer picture of what these prospects are looking for. All from some creative writing first thing in the morning! By 10.00a.m.  I am ready to get on with the rest of my day.

OK, this isn’t for everyone, I know. So if you feel that this is a stretch for your writing skills (By the way, I had no idea where this post was going when I opened up my Blog file. This is simply, I find, a case of paying attention to what is going on around you.), do 4 things to your Facebook profile. It takes you a couple of minutes, gets you into the habit of writing something, and may whet your appetite for more.

Post
What happened yesterday to your business, or in your industry, or in the neighbourhood? If you can’t think of something, Post pictures, links, articles relating to your business, or any interesting events or activity your business is involved in. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you know something that someone else doesn’t, it will find an audience. Just Post It!

Engage
I answer every question I am asked online, thank people for stopping in, or at a minimum, click like on others’ comments.  I want them to engage in further conversation.  None of us likes to be ignored, so respond to those that took the time, and keep the conversation going…

Analyze

Check out Facebook insights, and Twitter Analytics. These features allows you to track the results of your page, as well as the results of every post you make.  Use Insights to learn what type of posts people enjoy, comment on, and engage in, and how their reception changes over time.
Advertise
Use Facebook Ads. You can budget a tiny amount per day, and bid on the amount of money you spend on each ad.  You can run ads for several of my pages, and Facebook will allow you to track the results of each ad.  Tracking the results allows me to improve on my ads.  The better the content of the ad, the more exposure they bring my page.

You have spent thirty minutes on Social Media, and have engaged with people that know you, as well as people that may become prospects. You have also had some fun. OK, time for coffee!