The British Cyclists’ Secret To Boosting Sales

by Adam Kreitman

A member of a marketing mastermind group I’m in shared an article with us recently about the British Olympic Cycling team.

It was about the dominance of the British cyclists who won 7 of 10 track cycling gold medals in London (matching what they achieved 4 years ago in Beijing).

Why would he share this with a group of marketers?

Well, he was from London and was mighty proud of his country’s team…but he didn’t share the article with us to gloat.

He shared it because of the profound marketing lesson it contains.

Here’s a quote from the article from Dave Brailsford, British Cycling’s performance director, when asked about the “marginal gains” strategy that’s a big factor in the team’s dominance:

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

“There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away and training in different places.

“Do you really know how to clean your hands? Without leaving the bits between your fingers?

“If you do things like that properly, you will get ill a little bit less.

“They’re tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.”

So did you catch the marketing lesson in there?

No, cleaning your hands the right way probably won’t make you a better marketer!

But, if you break down everything that goes into marketing your business and then made small improvements to each, they’d all add up to a significant improvement in your overall marketing efforts.

Boiling Online Marketing Success Down to 3 Parts

Your online marketing efforts (and ultimately your online marketing success) come down to 3 main parts:

  • Traffic – driving people to your website
  • Conversions – converting the traffic into leads/sales
  • Profits – how much a customer is worth to your business (and it’s important to understand that this is the lifetime value of that customer, not just their initial purchase)

Increase any one of those 3 and you boost overall sales.

Below we’ll apply the British cyclists’ marginal gains strategy to online marketing and look at some examples of how to break each of these 3 things down further…

Traffic

There’s no shortage of ways to get traffic – PPC, SEO, Banner ads, Email, Social media, etc. And all of these can be broken down into many smaller pieces primed for improvements.

The traffic source I’m most partial to (and arguably can be broken down into the most pieces) is Google AdWords. Let’s look at the two key pieces – keywords and ads – that go into the overall performance of a campaign and how to make small improvements to each…

The foundation of your AdWords campaign is built on its keywords. But instead of looking at all your keywords and their overall performance, what if you focused on the 1 keyword that generates the most traffic and conversions?

How could you squeeze more out of it?

  • You could increase its bid price to get a higher ranking (which usually leads to more impressions and clicks).
  • You could work on improving the Quality Score for the keyword so your ads can rank higher at a lower cost per click (Quality Score is an algorithm Google uses to measure the relevance of the keywords in your AdWords campaign. In general, with a high Quality Score you can rank higher yet pay less per click than your competitors.)
  • You could put that keyword into its own ad group and write very highly targeted ads to try to boost your clickthrough rates (CTRs) and get more traffic from the keyword.
  • You could also try to find some close variations of the keyword that are not currently in your campaign and get more traffic that way.

The ads that searchers see on Google is another key part of your AdWords campaign. Get a higher CTR from your ads and you get more traffic to your website. Here are some changes you can make to your ads to boost CTRs:

  • Write new headlines.
  • Use sitelinks to call more attention to your ads.
  • Make changes to the punctuation and/or capitalization.
  • Write new ad copy that focuses more on the benefits of what you offer instead of its features.
  • Make better use of your ads’ Display URL.

Now, what if you did all of these things? And what if instead of doing it to 1 keyword or 1 ad, you did it to the top 5 or 10 in your campaign?

And if you’re having success with these changes in AdWords, why not start a campaign in Microsoft AdCenter (which serves ads on Bing and Yahoo!) and get more impressions and clicks there?

See how all these little changes could start adding up to some significant improvements in the traffic PPC is sending to your website?

Well,  now that we’ve boosted traffic, it’s time to focus on…

Conversions

There’s no shortage of changes you can make to your site to try to boost conversions.

Conversions either get people into your sales funnel (ie. newsletter sign up, contact form) or result in an immediate sale. It’s an area critically important to optimize, but relatively few people take the time to do (and even fewer do well).

Optimizing your site for conversions doesn’t have to involve major redesigns and lots of time. Let’s look at some key components that drive conversions and the relatively simple changes you can make to optimize them.

Headlines

Usually it’s the headline that gets a visitor’s attention first and determines whether they stick around or immediately hit the back button.

Testing a few different headline variations is a very simple thing to do that can have a huge impact on conversion rates.

More targeted landing pages

When discussing Traffic, we talked about focusing on a keyword that’s driving a lot of targeted traffic to your website. You can often boost the conversions from that keyword by creating a more highly targeted landing page that’s laser focused on that keyword.

(And this doesn’t have to be a big undertaking. Simply copy the current landing page you’re sending the traffic to, change the headline, copy, title tags, etc. a bit to highlight the keyword you’re optimizing for.)

Opt-in forms

A lot of options here.

You could change the placement of the form on the page so it’s above the fold.

Change the call-to-action on the Submit button to make it more benefit focused (ie. “Get Your Free Report Now” instead of “Click Here”; “Get Immediate Access” instead of “Sign Up Here”).

The color of the Submit button also impacts form conversions so test blue vs. red vs. orange and see what impact that has.

Add more “proof” elements to your pages

Why should people believe the claims you make? Well, they shouldn’t unless you give them good reason to believe in you, your products or your services.

Proof elements are things like testimonials, security badges that let people know any personal information they submit on your site is done securely, a strong guarantee that reduces the risk of buying from you and shows you stand behind your offer, etc.

There’s plenty of ways to demonstrate your credibility but most websites do a poor job of it. But adding these proof elements to your site is another powerful, yet simple, way to boost conversions.

Profits

What’s the lifetime value of a customer to your business? How could you increase that value? Here’s a few ideas how to do that…

Upsell

Do you have just one level of service for clients? What if you made your current level of service the “Silver” level but also offered a “Gold” and/or “Platinum” level of service that provided additional value at a higher price? (By the way, offering multiple options like this can also help boost conversions for your “basic” offering.)

Cross-sell

What other products or services could you offer your clients? Maybe there are additional product lines you could offer. Maybe you could write an ebook, create a video course or add group coaching to your list of offerings. Maybe you could promote affiliate products that you think would be beneficial to your clients and get a cut of sales you generate.

Raise your prices

A lot of business owners (particularly service professionals) don’t charge nearly as much as they should or could. How could you build the value of what you provide so you can charge more? I love this quote from the book Convert! by Ben Hunt

“For most brands, the ideal thought to create in the prospect’s mind takes the form, ‘You pay a bit more, but…'”

How can you change the perception prospects have about the value you provide that would let you raise your current prices?

Just 1%?

As you’ve been reading this post, I hope you were thinking that when making small changes to the items described above, the improvements probably aren’t going to be just 1%.

It’s quite likely that they’d be more like 5%, 10%, 50% or more.

And the really cool thing about all this is the exponential way it adds up. If you use the marginal gains strategy and make small improvements that lead you to double your traffic, double your conversions and double your profits, you’ve just grown your business 8-fold!

Marketing your business on the Internet is overwhelming, even for those of us who do it every day. I find it’s much easier to break things down to their component parts, look for areas that are ripe for improvement and tackle those first.

And, as with Great Britain’s Cycling team, if you make enough small improvements to your marketing processes, you’ll be bringing home a lot more gold!

Image courtesy of Sum of Marc

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