Wendy and I were discussing a postcard campaign she was planning when she asked if it was a good idea to direct people to her web site. She’d asked the same question when we were talking about how to get a better response with her marketing phone calls. She wanted to know whether she should direct prospects to her web site or tell them to call her office.
I’m asked the same questions by other business owners. They want to know if it’s a good idea to use their other marketing efforts to direct prospects to their web sites.
Should you be trying to get more people to your web site? My answer may come as a surprise to you.
For most companies, it’s a bad idea to try to direct people to your web site for a crucial reason. Very few web sites do a good job of converting prospects to clients. Wendy’s site was no exception. It looked good, but it wasn’t clear what site visitors were supposed to do or why. The result was that first-time visitors and qualified prospects looked around and left.
You wouldn’t take a solid lead and give it to someone on your staff who knew nothing about marketing; you’d give it to someone you could rely on to follow up and close the sale.
Typically when you have a prospect on the phone you do an excellent job of getting them to tell you what you need, clarifying the value of your services and getting them to take action. Most small business owners and marketers I talk to tell me that once they are talking with a prospect they can close the sale 20% or more of the time.
The opposite is true with most web sites. Most don’t generate leads or sales, even for a half a percent of the prospects that visit them. In effect most web sites are like a sales person who never shows up for work and never follows up on leads. If you had such an employee, you’d retrain them or fire them.
Is it time to retrain or fire your website?
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Creating a Path to More Sales
With effective internet marketing, it’s possible to lead your prospects step by step through the sales process. First you grab their attention; then you demonstrate your expertise; then you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt how much better off they’d be with your product or services and, finally, you give them an urgent need to buy. Here’s how:
Take a couple of minutes to map out the sequence of steps involved in your marketing and sales process. List the actions you want your prospects to take. What information do you want them to read and in what order? At what point in the process do you want them to contact you? How?
Not all your prospects will take the same path. With the right incentives, you can prompt some prospects to take a shortcut to the point of sale. Include the incentive information you want prospects to read in your sales sequence.
Use the map of your sales process to plan your web site, the layout or organization of elements on the page, and the marketing copy you’ll uses.
Test each of your web pages and each element on the page to determine its effect on lead generation and sales. With a bit of fine tuning, your web site can become your best sales tool.
When should your marketing direct prospects to your web site? When you’ve set it up to move prospects along the sales path. If it doesn’t do that, don’t send prospects to it. Once you’ve built the pages to convert prospects to clients, you’ll want to refer everyone to it.
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