Category Archives for "Conversions"

This Guarantee Will Increase Your Business…Guaranteed!

This is a great example of a business in a competitive, yet boring, business doing something really awesome with their marketing.

It involves the use of a powerful tactic that many businesses don’t take advantage of (and those that do, don’t execute it nearly as well as this business does)…the guarantee.

If the business in the example below can have a guarantee as effective as this, any business can.

Pay close attention to what they’re doing here because I have no doubt it can easily double or triple the conversion rate for some of your businesses.

Before we get there, let’s back up a bit.

Why even talk about guarantees in the first place?

Well, for one, you want to make things as easy and risk free as possible for clients to do business with you. Offering a guarantee is a great way to reduce the risk.

And it’s a powerful way to stand out from the competition…if they’re done right.

And that’s a big “if” because often they’re not done effectively. Just having a 30 or 60 day money back guarantee is great…but it’s almost becoming the norm these days in many markets.

So how do you do guarantees the right way?

Let’s get back to that example I mentioned.

This is from a dentist’s office in Virginia.

Yes…a dentist.

No offense to any dentists reading this, but a dental practice is a boring business.

No one gets up in the morning, springs out of bed and shouts “Yipee! I get to go to the dentist today!”.

(Well, my wife used to have a dentist that looked like Mel Gibson – before he went crazy – so she rather enjoyed going to the dentist for a while…but most people don’t!)

Going to the dentist is just something you gotta do. And, in any decent size metro area, there are hundreds of dentists to choose from.

So, how can a dentist stand out from the crowd? Well, one way is to use a guarantee like this…

Let’s break this down and see what makes it so powerful…

First, it addresses, head-on, 3 of the main problems/fears people have when going to the dentist:

1. Going to the dentist is a very stressful thing for a lot of people. So, at this office, if you’re a general anesthesia or sedation patient “your comfort is guaranteed.”

2. People are really busy and don’t want to waste precious time waiting around a dentist’s office all day. They want to just get in and out of there as quickly as possible. So this office  guarantees you won’t spend more than 15 minutes in the waiting room.

3. Patients want to make sure the work is done right the first time and they’re not going to have to pay to fix it if it isn’t. So the office offers a lifetime warranty for crowns, veneers,  and onlays (as long as you do your part and come in for regular cleanings…which is another stroke of genius because it encourages people to stick with this dentist’s office for the long term).

Second, it’s unique. I’ve never seen another dentist doing something like this before. And it definitely makes this office stand out from the competition.

Third, it gives them credibility. It shows they understand the issues dental patients are concerned about and that they, too, care about those issues. It demonstrates that they’ve put a system in place that they’re so confident in, they’re willing to back it up with this guarantee.

And, lastly, it makes for a very compelling offer. If I’m looking for a dentist and come across something like this, it’s hard to pass up. I mean, none of the other dentists are backing up their promises with a strong guarantee so what’ve I got to lose here?

There’s competition everywhere these days. Your job in marketing is to eliminate it. And you do that by being unique…offering things your competition doesn’t…proving your credibility…understanding your customers better than they do.

Offering a strong, ballsy, well-structured guarantee that your competition isn’t willing or able to make is an incredibly powerful way to stand out from the competition.

Come up with a good one like this dentist’s office and you’ll see an immediate boost in your conversions…I guarantee it!

3 More Ways To Sabotage Your AdWords Campaign (Part 3)

Google AdWords logoThis is the last in our series of mistakes that can sabotage your AdWords campaign.

The one we’re going to talk about today is the biggest blunder of all.

It can be a challenge, especially for local businesses to do, but the more you can do it, the better chance you have for success with AdWords.

What is it?

Ignoring conversions

Impressions, clicks, click through rates, etc. are all well and good. But AdWords success really comes down to conversions.

Would you hand your money over to a stock broker without having any goals or ways to track how your investments are performing?

Of course not!

Why would treat your AdWords account any differently?

Advertising is an investment. (Read that last sentence again, because most people don’t get that point.)

You should know what return you’re getting on your advertising dollars. And the only way to do that is to track the results of your campaigns.

Google makes this easy for you to do.

In AdWords, you can use conversion tracking. This is a code you put on your site to track sales, form completions, or other conversion events. Once the code is on your site, AdWords takes care of the rest and shows you which keywords, ads, etc. are resulting in conversions.

If phone calls are important to you, you can implement call tracking through AdWords which lets you track those who see your ad and then call your business.

The AdWords call tracking is a good start, but it isn’t perfect. It shows a unique phone number next to your ad on Google and tracks people who call that number. But if people click through to your website and call the number they see on your site (ie. NOT the number displayed next to your Adwords ad), AdWords can’t track that.

There are other, more comprehensive call tracking systems you can use if you need to boost your call tracking efforts. They are relatively inexpensive and will display unique tracking numbers on your website so you can tell which calls were due to AdWords vs. social media vs. direct traffic, etc.

You can also set up Goals using Google Analytics to track conversions. A Goal can be someone visiting a specific URL on your site (ie. the “Thank You” page someone lands on after making a purchase or filling out a form), how long they spent on your site, or an event (like a social recommendation or ad click).

Now not all AdWords campaigns are about the ROI. For example, the goal of your campaign may be to do some keyword and/or market research.

But most of the time, it’s about generating sales. And the more data you have about conversions, the more you can measure the true effectiveness of your AdWords campaign.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve shared 6 ways you can sabotage your AdWords campaign. There are certainly others, but these are some of the Biggies I see on a regular basis.

Now that you know what they are, there’s no excuse to have any of these mistakes in your campaign!

And if you need some help identifying the ways you’re sabotaging your AdWords campaign, check out our AdWords Optimization Review. It gives you personalized feedback about your campaign and highlights any ways you may be sabotaging it…as well as ways to do what you’re already doing well and do it even better!

The British Cyclists’ Secret To Boosting Sales

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{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e}, 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{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e}?

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{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e}.

It’s quite likely that they’d be more like 5{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e}, 10{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e}, 50{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} 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

The Misguided Belief That Torpedoes Most Websites

Let’s say you’re going to open a retail store.

You hire an architect and designer who work together to create a beautiful store for you and you can’t wait for customers to come in and see it.

But in your excitement and rush to open you:

  • carelessly throw items on the shelves
  • don’t train your sales associates
  • hide the cash register so people can’t figure out how to pay
  • have no inventory system in place, and
  • have no way of  keeping track of sales to figure out which items are the most popular and which aren’t doing well.

How successful do you think that store would be? Would you expect to make a lot of sales?

My answers would be “not very” and “NO”!

Now what would you do to fix the problem?

1. Focus on getting as many people into your store as possible (thinking that getting more people through the door would fix the sales problem), or

2. Focus on training your sales staff, strategically placing items on the shelves, fix the inventory issues, track sales, etc. first and then worry about getting more traffic.

In the scenario of a retail store, obviously #2 is the answer. With all the flaws in the store, more foot traffic ain’t gonna fix things.

But when it comes to their websites, most business owners focus on #1. They have the mindset that “if I can just get more traffic to my website, I’ll get the leads and sales I want.”

And that misguided belief torpedoes the performance of most sites.

You may not believe this, but it’s true

Getting traffic to your website is easy. There’s no shortage of ways to do it.

AdWords. SEO. Email. Facebook. LinkedIn. Blogging. Pinterest. adCenter. Video marketing. Article Marketing. Banner ads. Newsletter ads. Twitter. Blog commenting. Forum posting. Press Releases.

And that’s just a starter list that doesn’t even include offline ways to drive traffic to your site like direct mail, TV ads, radio spots, newspaper ads, etc.

Yes, you have to put in time, effort and/or money to get the traffic. But it’s not that hard to get.

Most business owners come to me thinking they have a traffic problem. But the truth is, in most cases, traffic really isn’t the problem.

The real problem is conversions.

Or, more accurately, a lack of conversions.

Conversions are what turn traffic into leads and sales. They’re what actually bring the dollars into your business.

You can get all the traffic you want, but traffic doesn’t make you money. Conversions do.

What It Takes To Win Online

In online marketing, it’s not the sites with the most traffic that win, it’s the ones that have the highest conversion rates.

Why?

Because when you have higher conversion rates than the competition, you make more money per visitor than they do.

When you make more money per visitor than your competition, you can profitably pay more for traffic and get traffic from more sources than they do.

And when you can profitably buy more traffic than your competition, you’re in the driver’s seat.

5 Step Plan For Boosting Conversion Rates

Not focused on the conversion side of the equation yet? Here’s a 5 step plan to help get you on the right track to making your website a conversion generating machine…

1. Set a benchmark

When playing outside with my 4 year old one day, she wanted to see how fast she could run from me to a tree in our yard and back. I opened the timer app on my phone off she ran. When she got back to me she excitedly asked “What’s my time?”. When I told her it was 17.2 seconds, she pumped her fists in the air and let out a triumphant “YES!”

Now this was the first time I ever timed her so she had no benchmark to judge her time by. She just thought 17.2 seconds sounded good and she was as pleased as punch.

Most business owners make the same mistake with their website. They have no baseline by which to judge conversion rates on their site or how many leads the site generates. So, even if they were to make some changes to their site, they’d have no idea whether the changes have a positive or negative impact on conversions.

So step 1 is to start measuring conversions and get a benchmark. You can do this by setting up “Goals” in Google Analytics which track when visitors complete certain key actions on your website, getting phone tracking in place if phone calls are important to your business, using the Conversion tracking code in Google AdWords and keeping an overall tally of leads generated by all sources.

This way you’ll have an idea what your website is actually generating as far as leads and sales and what impact any future changes have on your conversion rates.

2. Differentiate

Why should someone do business with you instead of one of your competitors? Why should someone do business with you instead of doing nothing at all?

Your website should answer those questions for every product and service you sell.

The businesses that have the highest conversion rates do an excellent job of setting themselves apart from the competition. Their sites clearly communicate what makes them unique.

Take some time to think about what makes your business/products/services truly unique from the competition.

Do you…

  • Serve a very specific segment of your market?
  • Offer a guarantee your competition can’t or won’t?
  • Have awards, honors, recognition your competitors don’t?
  • Have better pricing, financing options, payment plans, etc.?
  • Offer a unique twist on your product/service that your competitors don’t?

Showcase why your business is unique in a way that is meaningful to your prospects and conversions will follow.

3. Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

A strong offer is the most important piece of the conversion funnel.

Putting out a strong, unique offer can make up for a poorly designed site, average copy and many other shortcomings on your site.

The more value you offer prospects, the more you show how taking action will benefit them and make their lives better, the more you reduce the risk they take by accepting your offer…the higher the conversion rate on your site will be.

4. Include a Call-To-Action

Every page on your website should have a single goal. The goal is the one action you want visitors to that page to take.

It’s the part of a web page where push comes to shove and visitors either take the desired action or leave.

The stakes are high here so make sure it’s crystal clear to visitors what action you want them to take and why they should take it.

One effective strategy that helps with conversions is to use benefit oriented calls to action instead. So instead of “Click Here”, try “Get Your Free Monthly Newsletter” or “Start Your Free Trial Now”.

Don’t leave it up to your prospects to figure out what action to take. Tell them EXACTLY what they need to do and what benefits and value they’ll get by doing it.

5. Test, Measure, Refine

This is what truly separates the successful websites from those that struggle with conversions.

Once you have a benchmark, start testing different parts of your website to try to boost conversion rates. Common targets for testing include headlines, offers, calls to action, layouts, button colors, etc.

Testing different versions of pages on your site and measuring the results (known as split testing) has been used by the most successful direct marketers for decades. It’s really the key to success for any marketing campaign whether online or off.

Fixing Conversion Problems Fixes Traffic Problems

Traffic and conversion go hand in hand when it comes to marketing your website. You can’t succeed without both.

But the companies who truly dominate in competitive markets are the ones who have the conversion side of the equation down. While it’s much easier to focus on traffic (which, by the way, is why so many online marketing firms only focus on selling traffic), the payoff is much greater when you focus on improving conversions.

If you’ve ignored conversions on your website, please use this post as a wake up call to jumpstart your own efforts or hire a professional to help you start optimizing your conversions.

Because if you fix your conversion problem, you’ll fix your traffic problem.

Image courtesy of wallyg

Why You Shouldn’t Market on Pinterest

Pinterest has made a meteoric rise in the social media world. Now being the #3 social media site on the web in terms of number of monthly site visits.

With all those visits you know companies looking to sell their products and services to Pinterest users can’t be far behind.

And those that are jumping on the bandwagon are getting no shortage of advice. Do a search of Google for “marketing on Pinterest” and you’ll have over 62 million results to choose from. That’s a lot of people chiming in about marketing on a site that’s been around for just about 2 years.

My advice to you when it comes to marketing on Pinterest is simple…don’t!

Why?

Because chasing the latest Big Thing in online marketing is almost always a recipe for failure.

Business owners get caught up in the hype from the media and from marketers looking to make a quick buck and think “Everyone’s talking about Pinterest (or Facebook or Twitter or YouTube or Mobile or…) and jumping on board, so I’ve got to get my business on there too.”

So they hop from Big Thing to the Next Big Thing with no strategy behind what they’re doing. There’s no thought about how Pinterest (or whatever the next Big Thing is) fits into their overall marketing plan. And there’s no focus on what long term success in online marketing is all about…driving targeted traffic to landing pages that efficiently convert prospects into customers.

In most businesses, getting traffic isn’t the problem. Getting targeted traffic that converts is the problem. And using Pinterest’s active user base to drive traffic to your site ain’t gonna fix that.

It’s just going to distract you from doing the hard work that’ll pay off in the long run.

Yes, there are going to be businesses that have success marketing on Pinterest. These are the companies that have honed their sales message, know how Pinterest fits into their overall marketing plans, knows it’ll help them reach their ideal prospects, and are consistently testing, tweaking and measuring their results so they know that Pinterest is worth their attention. (And they’re most likely companies that sell unique, visually appealing products to women.)

So, unless you’ve got all that stuff squared away, do yourself a favor and steer clear of Pinterest. And if you’d like help getting that stuff in order, you can shortcut things by hiring a good online marketing consultant.

The New York Giants Guide to Executing a Successful Marketing Campaign

The Super Bowl Champs are back on the field. Last week the New York Giants, and the other 31 NFL teams, strapped on their helmets for the first official round of workouts for the 2012 season.

And each team took to the field knowing exactly what their goal is…hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy at next year’s Super Bowl.

Having a goal like that puts these teams at a big advantage over most businesses. Because everyone in every NFL organization knows exactly what they’re working toward each season.

Most businesses don’t. Especially when it comes to their marketing campaigns.

Sure, there may be vague goal-ish type targets in place…”more sales”, “improved website”, “increased ROI” but you can’t measure that stuff.

When I set up a Google AdWords campaign, the first thing I want to understand are what the campaign goals are.

And the more specific the better…

  • Generating more phone calls is fine, but increasing inbound phone calls by 20 calls a month is better.
  • Getting more people to download a Special Report is okay, but increasing the conversion rate of the report download form on your site by 50{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} within 90 days gives us something real to shoot for.
  • Increasing sales is the objective for everyone in business, but increasing web sales by 25{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} while decreasing the campaign budget by 10{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} in 6 months is much stronger.

A specific metric achieved by a specific date.

When you have those two things in place, then you have something real to shoot for. And having that specific goal simplifies things. Because every keyword, every landing page adjustment, every word of ad copy all have to earn their spot on the roster. If they can prove they’re helping the AdWords campaign reach its goal, they stay. If not, they’re gone.

When you run a campaign that way, you’re not constantly spinning around in the hamster wheel trying to reach fuzzy objectives. You’re laser focused on what you’re trying to achieve and when you want to achieve it by. That gives a huge boost to your chances of success.

And even if you don’t reach the goal you laid out, you’re still going to get better results than taking a shotgun approach.

(Non)Excessive Celebration

This is another area where entrepreneurs fall short of their NFL counterparts…the celebration. What happens in most companies if they hit their marketing goal (or overall business goal)?

Not much.

Contrast that to what fast growing St. Louis marketing firm goBrandgo did last year. They had a goal of $1 million in revenue. If they hit it, the owners were going to take the whole company on a trip to Mexico. That’s the way to celebrate when you hit your goals!

Now I don’t know if they hit the $1 Million mark or not, but I do know that everyone in that company was laser focused on what they were working toward and what the reward for winning was.

We entrepreneurs are a very hard working bunch and don’t usually stop to celebrate our successes…big or small. So, even if you’re a solopreneur, I challenge you to take a page out of the goBrandgo playbook and make sure you not only plan what your goals are, but how you’re going to celebrate when you achieve them.

So with that I leave you with just one question…

What’s your Super Bowl?