How To Create Your First Business Website – In 8 Simple Steps

How To Create Your First Business Website – In 8 Simple Steps

Your website is the foundation for your online presence.

It doesn’t matter where or how or how often you advertise online, all the leads you generate land on your website. So, it only stands to reason that your site needs to be clear, useful and well designed for the needs of your audience.

Before you start worrying about Google AdWords, banner ads, Facebook or search engine optimization, you need to make sure that your site is effective enough to convert all those website hits into qualified leads. Otherwise it’s like sending all your friends to a bad restaurant – no one is going to want to go back.

The quality and quantity of ‘useful’ information on the site will impact how many people can find it in search engines and consequently the number of daily ‘hits’ your site will earn. The more hits you earn, the more your online marketing will drive sales and profits, and isn’t that the goal?

Ready to get started?

This Post will cover:

  • How to create a website that is user-friendly
  • Why your site may need to be redesigned or updated
  • The benefits of using a firm to build your site
  • A step-by-step process for creating a website
  • How to optimize your site for search engines

Create a website that is designed for your existing and prospective customers to use.

Many business owners get really excited about creating their websites, and get completely wrapped up in the design process. Usually this results in fancy flash sites that are difficult to use, take forever to load, and drive customers away.

The website is not about the needs of your business, but about the needs of your customers. What do they need to know about how your product or service will solve their problem or meet their need? What additional information would they benefit from learning from you? What do they need to know before they pick up the phone and contact you?

Every business is unique, and will have a different purpose for their website. Some will have an online store, while others will have three simple pages relevant product and contact information. An effective website is one that meets the needs of the target market.

If your business has an existing website, it might be time for an update or a complete redesign.

It’s time to take a critical look at the website your business currently has online. Of course, if your site is experiences a high number of daily hits and has a high conversion rate (converting ‘hits’ into leads), you may not need to revamp it. However, I recommend you always look for opportunities to improve.

Does your website look professional and of a high quality design?

There are millions of websites out there, but unfortunately many look sloppy, templated, and unprofessional. In all areas of your business your first impression matters and this includes your website. Prospects who know nothing about your company will judge your product or service based on how your homepage looks and feels. A well-designed website will attract customers and begin to build trust and confidence in your offering.

Has your business grown since you built your website?

If it has been a while since you built your site, chances are your business has grown and so has your customer base. This is great, but you need to check in with your current website and make sure it still provides accurate and relevant information about your products and services.

It also may be time to take your site to the next level. Here are some suggestions:

  • Online customer support
  • Online purchase of products or services
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Customer feedback form
  • E-mail newsletters or auto-responders
  • Free ‘expert’ information

Where does your website rank when searched on Google and other search engines?

When you take the time to build a website, you want to make sure that people can find you when they search the major online search engines. If you are a dog groomer, you want your site to be in the top 10 when people search for dog care and products in your area. You want your site to rank higher than the competition on the list.

If you didn’t design your site for search engine optimization (SEO), then redesigning it to rank higher is a smart investment for any business. I’ll explain more about SEO and using keywords later on in the E-Class.

Unless you’re a web designer, I highly recommend outsourcing the creation of your website to an experienced person or firm.

The reason for this is simple. It’s really hard to create a site that looks and functions professionally when you have little experience in web design. Plus, you’re busy running and growing your business, and building websites can be a huge drain on your time – especially if you’re building your first one.

Customers’ don’t trust sites that look like amateurs have created them, so spend your time choosing a good web designer and leave it up to the experts. Here are some tips for finding a firm or freelancer:

> You get what you pay for. Avoid the temptation to go with the cheapest web design company or contractor. If you end up with a poorly designed site, it will cost you more money in the long run, driving away customers and needing to be redone.

> Ask around for referrals. Ask colleagues and other business owners who they used to build their sites or can recommend anyone. You can also do a search to locate local web designers.

> Contact a few firms for a quote. Make sure they can turn the quote around in a timely fashion, which shows they can give you the time and service you require.

> Get a fixed fee quote with a payment plan. A fixed-fee quote will keep your costs predictable. Make sure the payment plan is fair; don’t pay more than 50% up front before the project is completed.

> Check out the company’s portfolio. Aside from deciding if the company is a good working fit for your business, make sure they do good work. Look at their past web projects and make sure they design good-looking, easy to use sites.

> Make sure they make Google-friendly websites. The majority of websites are found through search engines, so if your business doesn’t show up on the first two pages of Google searches for related keywords, you’re going to have a hard time generating hits.

website great for customer

1. Decide what your customers need from your website.

Just like any of your marketing materials, when creating a website you need to first stop and think about your target audience. In this case, you want to consider how your market is going to use your website, how web savvy they are, as well as how much information they need to know about your business before they contact you.

Ask yourself:

  • Who are my target audience?
  • What is the purpose of my website?
  • What do viewers need to know to convince them to make contact?
  • Will I need to sell products or services online?

Based on your answers, there are basically two types of sites you could set up for your business:

1. Content Site. This is the type of site you see most often, as it is fairly inexpensive and easy to create. It provides product, service and company information, as well as other useful information relevant to the business offering. The customer has to go in store or contact you to make a purchase.

2. E-Commerce Site. This is a site that sells products or services online through PayPal or a credit card processing company. This is a more expensive site to create that requires much more maintenance and attention. Other considerations include shipping, payment security, inventory updates, order forms and customer relations.

select domain name

2. Register a domain name that’s easy to remember and then select a web host.

Choose a domain name, and register it online.

A domain name is your ‘address’ or ‘location’ on the Internet. It’s the phrase a customer will type in to find your website. Your domain name can be any combination of letters and numbers up to 63 characters, and followed by an ‘extension’ like .com, .ca, or .biz.

A good domain name:

  • Is short and easy to remember.
  • Is simple and easy to spell.
  • Reflects your business.
  • Usually ends in .com

To register your domain name, simply search “register domain name,” and find a registration website. You will need to first search the availability of your domain name, then secure it by registering it to your name for one or more years.

Choose a web host.

A web host is a company that stores your web site on their servers and transmits the files to the internet so that when someone goes to your domain name your website appears.

When you have your domain name registered, you will have to choose a hosting company. The key here is to find a host that offers great tech support and is available 24/7. If something happens and your website goes down, you’ll need to be able to reach them quickly to fix the problem.

There are a variety of web hosts out there, and many major Internet providers will also offer hosting services. If you are using a web design company, they will be able to recommend a quality host.

great website wequipu.com

3. Hire an expert to help build your website.

Like I said above, I highly recommend using a web design company to build your website – especially if you are building an e-commerce site. The process for finding and hiring a firm is explained earlier in this E-Class.

If you do decide to create it yourself, there are many website-building programs out there, and some web hosts even offer templates for you to use. If you choose this option, ensure that your copy and images are as clear and simple as possible. Don’t attempt to earn any design awards, or you may run the risk of producing an amateur site.

Remember that attractive web design will draw visitors to your site, and engage them in what you offer. Many people will judge a product or company based on the design of the site, which means that a good web design can potentially help your business grow.

However, also be aware that content is still king. It’s easy to get wrapped up in flashy design and lose focus of the content or purpose of your site. Make sure there is a healthy balance.

4. Use keywords throughout your web copy.

keywords seo wequipu.comOne of the key strategies for search engine optimization is the incorporation of keywords in your body copy. Keywords are the most common words and phrases that people use to search for when looking for businesses like yours, or any other type of information online. When the words are entered, the search engine delivers the top sites that relate to those keywords – there may be millions of them.

If your website is search engine optimized, it will appear in the top 20 to 30 sites displayed, which will usually generate a high volume of traffic to your website. If you don’t use keywords, you will have a difficult time brining your website up the search engine rankings.

If you’ve hired a web design firm, they should be well versed in SEO and able to help you write your copy with keywords in mind. To find out what keywords you should incorporate, go to Overture or WordTracker and follow the steps.

You will enter some common search phrases a customer may use to find you, and hundreds of similar search terms will be listed, along with frequency. The more often you use the high frequency search phrases in your copy, the better the SEO of your site.

5. Publish your site by uploading it online.

website wequipu.comWhen the files that comprise your website are complete, you will need to upload them to your web host’s server in order to ‘publish’ your site or make it live.

If you are using a web design firm, they will usually take care of this for you. If you are building your site yourself, you will need to use an FTP program like FileZilla to login to the host server and upload the files to your domain.

If you want to make edits to the site yourself, you will have to download the files to your computer, make changes, and then upload them to the host server again. Be clear with the company that designed the site about the procedure for making changes. The most current files should always be the ones on the host server, because it can get complicated if edits are being made in two places, with two sets of files.

6. Test your website for usability.

When your site is published, invite your friends and colleagues to “test drive” it for user-friendliness. Watch them as they fill in forms, submit quote requests, edit user accounts or profiles, make a purchase or even just find key information. Don’t help them along, just sit back and see how easy it is to navigate around your website as a customer. You may find areas that you need to tweak or improve.

test first website7. Register with search engines and tell everyone about your site.

Ensure that your site will get listed with major search engines. Register your website address with the top search engines so prospects can find your business. 70% of web surfers find sites through search engines, so you really can’t afford not to. Most a free, but some will charge a nominal fee for the registration. It’s worth the investment.

Click on the following links to register your site:

Send your friends, customers and colleagues an email announcement. Send an email announcement to your customer database, as well as your business partners and colleagues announcing the launch of your new site. Provide a link for them to easily access the new page.

Exchange links with complementary businesses. If you know of other complementary businesses with websites (make sure they’re not competitors) offer to exchange links and post them on each other’s sites. Generally, the more sites that legitimately link to yours, the higher your search rating will be.

Promote your website offline too! Don’t forget to include your website address everywhere you include your contact information. This goes for ads, brochures, direct mail pieces, business cards, business listings and letterhead. Use an email address with your domain name.

8. Implement a system for tracking traffic on your website.

website analytics wequipu.com Establish an in store system for tracking leads generated from your website. Include your website as a lead source in your tracking systems, or when you ask customers where they heard about your business. This will give you a sense of how many people you are converting from website hits to qualified leads.

Build a tracking system into your website with Google Analytics. Use an online metrics measurement system like Google Analytics to monitor the traffic your site generates. Google Analytics is free to use, and easy to set up. Register at http://www.google.com/analytics/ and have your web design company insert a small tracking code on each of your web pages. Google Analytics offers a comprehensive range of tracking and web analysis tools, and will measure metrics like:

  • how many people visited your website
  • which pages they visited
  • where they came from (geographically)
  • where they came from (online – search engine, link, other site, direct)
  • at which page they left the site

You can then use this information to restructure the copy on your website so that the pages with the highest traffic also have the most important messages. You will also be able to see which advertisements are drawing the highest traffic, and drop the ads that are generating the least.

The world of online marketing can be a confusing and challenging place, but the best strategies start with a strong, user-friendly website.

Once your website is up and running, remember that it’s an evolving tool for you to use and change as the need arises. Keep the content fresh, and look for new opportunities to make it more useful to your customers.

Don’t forget to monitor the site’s performance on a weekly or monthly basis. Like everything else in your marketing plan you need to track the results to find out what is and isn’t working.

Here’s To Your Success!

 

The 6 Things You Should Know To Craft Powerful Offers in Your Business

The 6 Things You Should Know To Craft Powerful Offers in Your Business

Focus on using powerful offers to generate leads, not to close sales.

Powerful offers that drive your audience to take action can be used in your business to do a myriad of things. They’re great for moving old or overstocked product, overcoming buyer objections, eliminating purchase risk, or even just building your customer database.

Well-crafted offers are also fantastic lead generators – which is what we’re going to focus on in this post. In this case, the offer is designed to get potential customers to identify themselves, not to close sales. Once those potential customers have identified themselves – they’ve taken action to redeem the offer – they enter the formal sales process and you can convert them into a loyal customer.

Offers designed to be lead generators drive more qualified prospects to your business. They weed out the buyers who would take advantage of your offer, but who are not otherwise a part of your target market.

I’m going to show you how to speak to your target market’s “hot buttons” and emotional motivators, instead of simply crafting an offer based on financial savings or bonuses. Let’s get started!

In this post we will cover:

  • The elements that make an offer ‘powerful’
  • A step-by-step process for creating a powerful offer
  • Types of powerful offers
  • Examples of powerful offers
  • Testing and measuring your powerful offers

A powerful offer is irresistible to your potential customers’ emotional motivators.

In simple terms, a powerful offer gets people to respond, or take action. It will provide enough motivation for the reader to pick up the phone, visit your website, or walk into your store.

Often, powerful offers are called irresistible offers because they seem too good to pass up. They make your target audience think, “Wow! This is the chance I’ve been waiting for!” or, “I’d be nuts not to take advantage of this opportunity!”

Using emotional motivators in your offer will drive qualified prospects to your business, and will make the job of converting customers into repeat business easier and more cost effective.

A powerful offer will feature an element of urgency or scarcity as a key motivator for action.

If I offered “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts” every day of the year, chances are I wouldn’t have a stampede of prospects at my door. I would likely draw a few new clients a week, but the majority of those who saw the offer – even if they were interested – would probably put it off for later.

When you create an offer for lead generation, you want your prospect to take action as soon as possible. Now, let’s face it, we’re all procrastinators at heart, so you have to give your audience a reason to take action without delay.

So, instead of just “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts,” I could offer, “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts, Mother’s Day weekend – 20 spots available, book your appointment today!” This offer has an element of urgency – the offer is only valid for a two-day period – and scarcity – there are a limited number of appointments during those two days.

Here are some other ways I could use scarcity or urgency to ‘sweeten’ the offer:

Strategy Scarcity / Urgency Example
Limited time offer Urgency 2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts – Mondays from 1pm to 4pm.
Limited supplies available Scarcity Free! Mother’s Day gift ($50 value) with purchase for the first 20 customers on Mother’s Day.
Seasonal specials Urgency Mother’s Day Special: buy one, get one free on any service in our spa, Mother’s Day weekend only.
Free gift with action Scarcity Bring your mom in for a free haircut on Mother’s Day, and receive a salon bonus pack, worth $45, absolutely free!
Daily deal Urgency Book an appointment with us by the end of the day, and we’ll add on a free haircut for your daughter.

Let’s walk through an easy step-by-step process for creating powerful offers that will generate qualified leads for your business.

how-to-define-your-target-market

1. Establish who you are trying to target, and what you want them to do.

Like all of your lead generation efforts, you need to establish who your target market or audience is before you can attempt to reach them. In most cases, this will be the target market you originally identified. In my salon example, the target market is middle-class women aged 18 to 65 with an interest in the latest trends in fashion and beauty.

You may also wish to segment that group of people into a more specific category. I could limit my target audience to those women in my target market with daughters.

Secondly, you must be clear about what you want your readers to do, and ask them to do it in your offer. Since you’re creating an offer to generate leads, in this case you want readers to identify themselves in some way, and make contact with you. In my example above, I asked customers to call and reserve their appointment today. You may ask your readers to come to the store for a free trial, or place an online order.

hot button offer triggers2. Identify the emotional motivators or “hot buttons” that will get your target to take action.

Using the categories below, decide why your target market needs or wants what you have to offer. How do they feel in general about your product or service? What problem does your offer provide the solution to?

  • Safety and financial security for self and family
  • Convenience and time management
  • Freedom from worry
  • Self-improvement
  • Acceptance and recognition from others
  • Basic needs, including food, shelter, love, personal maintenance, etc.

In my example, I’m targeting the emotions associated with the bond between mothers and daughters, especially on Mother’s Day, and their common interest in beauty services. The offer alludes to an opportunity to spend time with each other, an activity for Mother’s Day, and a way to save money while doing so.

emotional triggers3. Once you have identified the emotions you will try to target, determine which type of offer will work best.

Free Offer
Ask your potential customer to act immediately for a free reward. This is a great lead generator if you can offer a solution to a common problem for free. Examples would be “Contact me now to receive your free 10-page guide to financial freedom,” or “Act now and get your first month of home security for free – a $99 value!” Try to include the dollar value of what you are providing for free to increase the perceived value.

Guarantee Offer
Guarantee the performance of your product or results of your service, and you’ll take away the fear many customers feel when making a purchase. This is a great way to overcome barriers when a customer is making a large or important purchase, or when safety and security are involved.

  • Money-back guarantee: full refund for unsatisfied customers.
  • Double-your-money-back guarantee: double refund for unsatisfied customers.
  • Long-term guarantee: one year, multi-year or lifetime guarantee.

Free Trial or Demonstration Offer
Another great way to reverse purchase risk is to offer a free trial (7, 14, or 30 days) or to provide a free demonstration. This works with all kinds of products or services, and allows the customer to convince himself that he needs what you have to offer. Those customers who are concerned about making the right purchase decision will be put at ease by this offer.

Package or Value-Added Offer
This offer appeals to customers looking for convenience because their needs are met in one place or one purchase, like start-up kits and special packages. Packaging products also increases the perception of value, often without adding costs. For example, offering a free printer with computer purchase.

Premium Offer
Always offer premiums over discounts, as they will better serve your bottom line. Reward purchases with bonus products or services, and you’ll give new customers an incentive for choosing your business over the competition.

hard to refuse offers4. Draft several hard-to-refuse offers based on these motivators.

Brainstorm as many different types of offers as you can, using emotional keywords or hot buttons. Depending on the type of business you have, and the products or services you offer, you may wish to focus on a single product or service, or open up the offer to all the items you have in store.

Are there any freebies you can throw in? Any overstock that can be handed out as a free gift, packaged with a complementary product? What about bonus services that you can add on to products for a limited time (with limited costs)? Will a simple guarantee make a big difference? Remember that when you are describing your offer, be as specific as possible and avoid

What about bonus services that you can add on to products for a limited time (with limited costs)? Will a simple guarantee make a big difference? Remember that when you are describing your offer, be as specific as possible and avoid lengthy description of product details and benefits. Your goal is to sell the offer and motivate readers to take the next step, not to sell your product.

offers targets5. Evaluate the financial viability of each of your brainstormed offers.

Even though you’re using these offers as lead generation tools, you need to make sure that each transaction will turn an acceptable profit – or at least allow you to break even. The last thing you want to have happen is a store full of leads redeeming an outrageous offer that will leave you broke.

So, for each of your brainstormed offers, calculate your break-even point. If I were offering 2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts, my calculation would look something like this:

A. Costs: Determine the costs involved in your offer (hard costs – product or service, and soft costs – advertising or marketing).

Service costs:
Adult Haircut: $20
Junior Haircut: $10

Marketing costs:
Advertising: $200
Flyer Drop: $100

B. Profit: Assess how much profit you’ll generate per sale (price minus hard costs).

Adult Haircut: $40 (price) – $20 (cost) = $20 profit
Junior Haircut: $0 (offered free) – $10 (cost) = $10 expense

Profit: $20 – $10 = $10 profit per transaction

C. Break Even Point: Calculate how many transactions you’ll need to break even (how much profit will you need to make to cover soft costs).

Advertising (total): $300
Profit: $10
Transactions: $300 / $10 = 30 transactions required to break even.

From here you can assess whether or not you can realistically break even, and if your offer is financially viable. In this example, 30 transactions is a reachable target for my salon over the course of a weekend. I may also consider extending the offer over the course of a week, maintaining an element of urgency, but allowing more time to recover my costs.

Keep in mind that their initial purchase in response to your offer may only allow you to break even, but if you are able to convert them into repeat customers, the profit of their subsequent purchases may make up the difference.

offers target6. Select two of your financially viable offers, then test them to measure which works best.

I like to test two offers at a time when I first start to use this lead generation strategy. This will tell me what emotional motivators really work with my target audience, and then I can continue to build on that knowledge.

Use your lead tracking system to measure which offers generate the highest number of leads. If coupons are a part of your offer, put a tracking code on each of them, or make sure that your staff are asking every inquiry which offer they are responding to.

Remember, testing and measuring is a vital component of your lead generation efforts, and it elicits some really valuable information. Once you know what works with your audience, you can use that information on emotional motivators to influence decisions you make when writing headlines and other copy.

Get creative and put together new and exciting offers for your potential clients on a regular basis.

Remember – you’ll need to keep improving and revising your offers to ensure you continue to draw leads from them. Otherwise, your audience will get used to seeing the same offer, assume it is always available, and it may become stale.

Use opportunities like seasons, events, anniversaries and other celebrations to change and renew offers. When you bring in a new product line, feature a new service, or try to go after a new segment of your target market, check-in to see if you can create an offer around the news and bring in some new leads.

See you in the next one!

 

7 Easy To Follow Steps To Generate More Leads with Less Effort Right Now

7 Easy To Follow Steps To Generate More Leads with Less Effort Right Now

What is the current picture of lead generation and management in your business?

Here’s the deal: in order to start generating more leads with less time and financial investment, you first have to spend time setting up systems and making some changes.

7 Steps Needed to Generate More Leads NOW:

  • The current status of lead generation in your company
  • The purpose of lead tracking and management systems
  • Types of lead tracking and lead management systems
  • How to set up a lead tracking and or management system
  • Qualified lead generation
  • How to get more results from your existing strategies

Do you know where your current leads are coming from, or how many you get on a daily, weekly, or by-campaign basis?

If I asked you to tell me right now what your top lead generation strategies are, what would you say?

A big part of step-one is gaining a solid understanding of where your business stands right now in terms of lead generation. Otherwise, how are you going to know when your lead generation strategies are working? Or which strategies are working?

In a few minutes, I’m going to show you how to set up a lead tracking and lead management system that works with your business. But first, I’d like you to write down (on your pad of paper) what you think your top three lead generation strategies are right now.

Lead tracking

Every business needs a lead tracking and management system. Do you have one in place?

A lead tracking and management system is absolutely essential to your business for a number of reasons.

One, it is the only way to know which marketing strategies are working, and which ones aren’t. The information your system gathers will allow you to make educated decisions about marketing campaigns and investments.

Two, it organizes your sales and marketing efforts and manages contact information in a user-friendly way. It’s clear who you called, when, what you said, and when you said you’d follow up.

Three, it enables you to manage your sales staff by tracking their progress on several leads at once. You’ll have access to an at-a-glance picture of their sales figures and productivity.

Your lead tracking system needs to:

  • record the leads that arrive by phone, in-store visit, and website visit
  • track the source of each lead over specific time periods
  • record pertinent customer information
  • be simple enough to be used by all staff members

Your lead management system needs to:

  • track your leads through the sales plan or process
  • increase customer communications or contact
  • keep track of correspondences and follow-up requirements
  • make it easier for you and your staff to close more sales

Here is a list of information you will want to gather from your leads.

Depending on the needs of your business and the lead tracking and management system you choose (i.e., do you need a mailing address, or just email address?) some of these items may be optional fields.

  • Company Name
  • Name of Contact
  • Alternate Contact Person
  • Mailing Address
  • Phone Number
  • Fax Number
  • Cell Phone
  • Email Address
  • Website Address
  • Product of Interest
  • Source of Lead (i.e., How did you hear from us?)
  • Reason for Enquiry

If it is appropriate for your business, you also may wish to gather demographic information from your leads – but keep this voluntary. This information would be ideally used in your market research analysis.

Keep in mind that your lead tracking and management systems  need to be simple enough for everyone in your company to use.

Unless you are the only person in your company who manages incoming phone calls, greets customers and chases down leads, the systems you implement will need to be used consistently by everyone in your organization.

Once you have decided on a system, schedule enough time to train your staff thoroughly and be open to feedback. Since you’re not the sole user, you’ll need to consider their thoughts on the usability of the systems.

Pick a lead tracking and management system that suits your budget, and offers the features your business needs.

Each business will have different requirements when it comes to lead tracking and management. A retail store will have different needs than a realtor’s office, for example.

The retail store may only need to record leads based on lead generation strategies, and keep lead information for their direct mail or newsletter databases. On the other hand, the realtor will need to make contact with their leads on several occasions, and need a system that will record and remind them of those correspondences.

Software for lead management ranges from simple to highly sophisticated, and can be a great investment depending on the needs of your business. Some CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools are available online as a web-based system you can subscribe to and have access to on the road.

I’ve listed the features and advantages to a number of different systems below – ranging from low-tech to high-tech, paper-based to web-savvy.

Index Cards
Variety of sizes: 3×5, 4X6 or 5X8Basic contact information on one sideNotes on the other sideEasy to organize and sort
This is a basic system used to manage leads by those who may be less comfortable with computers. This system will be effective at tracking low volumes of leads.
Rolodex
More contacts than index card systemEasily organized and compactBasic contact information on one sideNotes on the other side
Another basic system that will effectively manage leads without the use of a computer. While this system can store a higher number of cards, it is also only effective for tracking low volumes of leads.
Excel Spreadsheets
Electronic system that is highly customizable by date, name, source or other variablesEasily organized and analyzedSeveral worksheets in a single file allow leads to be tracked and contact managedAccessible for those with basic computer skills
This is a slightly more sophisticated system that will allow you to track higher volumes of leads, and effectively organize the information that you collect into charts that can be analyzed.

In Excel, you are able to work with a number of tracking sheets in a single file, and create hard copy tracking sheets for staff to use at point of sale and reception.

Excel also has the capability of importing data from Outlook and Maximizer.

Database Management Programs
High level of organizationUnlimited space for notes and record-keepingData-entry requiredExamples include: MS Outlook, MS Excel, Maximizer
A more sophisticated system that will interface with Excel and manage high volumes of leads and customer details.

Manages distribution lists for newsletters and direct mail campaigns.

Primarily manages contact information, and provides space for notes, follow-ups and reminders.

Tracking high volumes of leads without recording and inputting customer information is best done in Excel.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
Web-based, and accessible from anywhere with internet accessOrganizes leads and customers by name, company, date, or statusAbility to attach documents (like proposals and contracts) to leadsAbility to write notes and log correspondence by dateView contact history and statusInterfaces with e-mail marketing programsExample is SalesForce
A highly sophisticated system with advanced features.

Tracks a high volume of relationship-based leads, and provides a detailed, feature-heavy system for lead management.

Not ideal for retail businesses, or businesses that need to track a high volume of leads with minimal customer information attached.

Website Analytics
Monitors and analyzes website traffic and online advertisingTracks number of people who visit your site, where they came from (search engines, online advertisement, website link etc.), how long they stayed, the pages they visited, and which page they left the site from.Google Analytics is an easy-to-use example
An ideal way to track and analyze website traffic to complement your overall lead tracking system. This is not a complete system on its own.

Requires the insertion of a specific code into each of your webpages, or each of your online advertisements.

Monitors usage statistics, and generates reports, charts, graphs, etc.

lead generation

Bringing qualified leads into your business will save you and your sales team time, and result in higher revenues.

Qualified leads are simply the potential customers who are the most likely to buy your your product or service. They’re not just in your store taking at look at the latest features in refrigerators, they’re in the market to purchase a refrigerator. They’re not wandering in to see what a $500 handbag looks like, they are the kind of person who can actually spend $500 on a handbag.

Some of the people who will call you or visit your business will never buy from you no matter how good your sales scripts are or how much time you spend overcoming their objectives. There are a variety of reasons for this – and you’ll never eliminate all of these people – but you will need to focus on bringing in more of the people who are ready to buy.

The good news is you have spent so much time and energy cultivating a comprehensive knowledge of your target market, that you’re in a great position to increase the number of qualified leads you bring into your business.

How do You Get Qualified Leads?

The crux of qualified lead generation is making decisions based on the market research you completed on your target market. You basically need to know where to reach your market, and how to speak to them.

When you are designing, executing and making choices about your lead generation strategies, always consider these questions.

Who is my target market? Write down your target market description to keep you focused on the specifics of this group of people.
DISTRIBUTION IS EVERYTHING: How does my target market like to receive information? Do they read the newspaper? Pick up the family mail? Spend hours on Facebook? Subscribe to Reader’s Digest? Listen to newsradio on long commutes to work?
What motivates my target market to take action, and how can I tap into that motivation? How will you tap into your target market’s emotional response? What issues or needs will mean something to them, and drive them into your store to solve them.
Where can I place my marketing message so my target market will see it? Look at what you found out in your market research about your target market’s hobbies, activities and interests. How can you place your message or your product or service in their path?
What can I offer my target market to entice them to purchase from me? Can you offer your target market something special, rare, or time specific that will appeal only to them?

I’m going to show you how some little changes will generate big results for your company in short order.

Once you’re set up with a testing and measuring system (your lead tracking and management systems) to evaluate the success of your lead generation strategies, you need to start by looking for opportunities to juice up the strategies you’re currently working with.
Use your new marketing message. Make sure that you have put your new marketing message on all of your marketing materials, where new and existing customers can see it. Revise your standard advertisements to feature the strengthened copy.
Strengthen your offer. Create an offer that’s too good to refuse – not for your entire target market, but for your ideal customer. How can you cater to their unique needs and wants? What will be irresistible for them?
Refocus your direct mail campaign. If you’re sending your direct mail to entire postal code areas, stop and refocus. If your distribution area is that broad, chances are the copy on your postcard or letter is too broad as well. Brainstorm ways to narrow your distribution and only hit your target audience. Purchase consumer lists based on demographics, not just location, or limit distribution to specific housing types. Of course, make sure you rework the direct mail piece to feature your marketing message.
Let your target market’s behaviors dictate your distribution plans. As I discussed above, the more you can tailor your strategy to the needs and habits of your target market, the strong your results will be. Look for opportunities in your existing direct mail, advertising, flyer drop and other strategies to get specific. Narrow the demographics of your list, or place an ad in a niche publication. Brainstorm new ways to target your market’s emotional reactions.
Tap into low-cost advertising. Advertising in places like the YellowPages, classifieds sections, e-mail newsletters and Google Adwords can be a great place to test your marketing message for minimal investment. In an upcoming E-Class you’ll learn how to place ads in the YellowPages and other listings that stand out from the competition.
Look for some referral business. Referral business is desirable because it usually brings qualified leads into your business. Someone has referred them to you based on a current need or desire.
> Provide your customers with an incentive to bring business to you. Reward successful referrals with discounts or gifts.
> Create a referral chain by giving each new customer three free coupons for products or services that they can give to their friends. When their friends come into your business, do the same.
> Create complementary alliances with non-competitor businesses with the same target market. Cross-promotion or cross-referral strategies will benefit both businesses.
Look for some referral business. Referral business is desirable because it usually brings qualified leads into your business. Someone has referred them to you based on a current need or desire.
> Provide your customers with an incentive to bring business to you. Reward successful referrals with discounts or gifts.
> Create a referral chain by giving each new customer three free coupons for products or services that they can give to their friends. When their friends come into your business, do the same.
> Create complementary alliances with non-competitor businesses with the same target market. Cross-promotion or cross-referral strategies will benefit both businesses.
Website sign-up Add a feature on your website that encourages visitors to sign-up for newsletters or other communications. You can also set up your website so that potential customers need to fill out a simple form before they have access to “free” information.
How to Create Marketing Materials That Work E-Class The next E-Class will walk you through some tips and helpful suggestions for improving your marketing materials. Revise your existing materials based on these suggestions, and watch your leads multiply.

Stop using strategies that don’t work.

Now that you have a comprehensive lead tracking system in place, you’ll be able to track the leads that each strategy is responsible for generating.

When you complete your first few campaigns with the lead tracking system and analyze the numbers, compare the results to the initial predictions you made. Were you correct in your assumptions, or were you surprised by how things shook out.

The purpose of testing and measuring using a lead tracking system is to figure out which strategies work, and which don’t, as well as which strategies work best, and which generate mediocre results. This not only will save you money but is incredibly useful information to have when developing marketing budgets and, of course, trying to drive sales.

READ THIS: A quick cautionary note on conversions.

While the focus of this E-Class and recent E-Classes has been lead generation, remember the first part of the formula: #leads x %conversion rate = #customers. You’ll be working on conversion rates in just a few E-Classes from now, but my point is don’t lose sight of the relationship between leads and conversions in the overall formula.

Remember that when more leads start flowing through your door, you’ll need to have the resources and systems in place to give a high level of customer service and to convert them into loyal customers. You’ve put effort into generating these qualified leads, but if you don’t have the resources in place to give them the attention required, you’ll lose them.

Once established, your lead tracking and lead management system should require minimal time investment…if you keep it up to date.

One last reminder before I sign-off – keep your systems up to date. The biggest pain (and drain on time) is having to go back and enter heaps of data into your database or management system because someone has let it pile up.

It’s also a huge missed opportunity! If you fall behind on your lead tracking system, because you won’t be able to effectively evaluate your campaign or strategy. Or, you may have missed a lead because you didn’t follow-up soon enough.

Be diligent, and set a strong example for your staff members.

Good luck!

 

Stop Discounting Add Value And Giveaway Perceived Value

Stop Discounting Add Value And Giveaway Perceived Value

Increase the perceived value of your products and services to boost the average amount customers spend in your store.

Increasing the average amount of money customers spend in store is the last chance you have to increase the total amount of money that flows into your business. Don’t get overwhelmed, you can start small – it’s amazing how small increases can add up to big results.

Adding actual and perceived value to your products or services is the primary way you can boost how much each person spends in store. These are usually little changes or bonuses that don’t cost you very much, but make the customer feel that their money stretches farther at your business. This encourages them to spend more to get more.

Of course, the amount that you’ll be able to upsell or add-on to your customer’s purchases will depend on the business or industry you’re in. It’s much easier to get someone to buy an extra sharpie market than it is to get them to buy an extra piece of furniture or a DVD player for their TV. But generally, everyone can find a way to boost their average dollar sale.

4 Simply Ways to Add Value:

  • How your average dollar sale impacts the bottom line of your business
  • How to calculate and monitor your average dollar sale
  • How to train your staff to increase your average dollar sale
  • Other strategies for increasing your average dollar sale

Boost the amount each customer spends in your business, and you’ll see a large impact on your bottom line.

Your total revenue is the product of how many customers you have, how many times they purchase from you, and how much they spend.

# CUSTOMERS X # TRANSACTIONS X $ AVERAGE SALE = $ Revenue

So, if you have 360 customers in a month, who each purchase from you an average of 1.5 times, and spend approximately $100 each time they do, your gross revenue will be $54,000.

Like I said earlier, increasing your average dollar sale is the last factor in the revenue equation that you can influence in your favor. You want to look for opportunities to have each customer spend more than they intended when they walked in your store – even if just by a small amount. This is why the point of sale at nearly every business I can think of has a handful of low-price items to encourage impulse purchases.

In the example below, take a look at how a 10% and 30% increase in your average dollar sale can impact your overall profit. In this case, the average dollar sale started at $140, so a 10% increase is $14, and a 30% increase is $42 dollars. If the product was an MP3 player, a $14 increase could be a pack of extra batteries or a better set of headphones. A $42 increase could be a better MP3 product with more music storage.

Starting Point 10% Increase 30% Increase
Leads 4,500 Leads 4,500 Leads 4,500
Conversion Rate 30% Conversion Rate 30% Conversion Rate 30%
Customers 1350 Customers 1350 Customers 1350
Transactions 1.3 Transactions 1.3 Transactions 1.3
Average Dollar Sale $140 Average Dollar Sale $154
(10% increase)
Average Dollar Sale $182
(30% increase)
Revenue $245,700 Revenue 270,270 Revenue 319,410
Margins 24% Margins 24% Margins 24%
Profit $58,968 Profit $64,864.80 Profit $76,658.40

Set a reasonable target for yourself, and you’ll see the same increase in your bottom line. A overall 10% increase in your average dollar sale – assuming your margins are unaffected – will generate a 10% increase in profit.

What is the average dollar sale in your business?

The easiest way to calculate your average dollar sale is to divide your total revenue (before you factor in your margins) by the total number of transactions in the same time period.

$ revenue / # transactions = $ average dollar sale

For example, if my total monthly revenue was $76,000 and 1745 transactions were processed through my point of sale, my average dollar sale would be $43.55.

This is another measure that will fluctuate from business to business, industry to industry. Remember that you’re not trying to reach a “good” average dollar sale, you’re trying to increase your average dollar sale by a reasonable increment for your business.

Once you know what your average dollar sale is, set yourself a reasonable target based on the opportunities that exist in your business for boosting sales. A great way to do this is to involve your sales staff – these are the people on the front lines who know your customers and types of products or services they would benefit from.

You will also need to train and develop your sales team to maximize the total value of every sale they close.

Sales training team adding value wEquipu

Train your sales staff on the sales process from beginning to close.

Everyone can benefit from additional sales training, including so-called ‘naturals’ and your star salesperson. Make sales training a regular part of how you run your business, and you’ll have a stronger team of more focused people.

You’ll need an entire course on your sales process, but here are some tips to review with your staff in the meantime:

  • No one likes to be sold – including your customers. Find ways to make their decision to purchase seem like their idea. Educate your customers on the merits of the product or service you offer, and connect those merits to their needs. The more they believe you are working to meet their needs and solve their problem, the more responsive they will be to additional product suggestions.
  • Be clear when addressing objections, and present one or two solutions at a time. Being over-eager to blurt out the answer, or suggesting too many alternate products can be overwhelming and confusing to the customer, which will deter them from purchasing.
  • Make sure each staff member knows how to up-sell, cross-sell and down-sell to close and boost sales.
  • Follow through to the end of the sale. Work through the sales process (understand the problem, offer solutions, address objections, close) then suggest additional or complementary products and head straight to the point of sale to complete the transaction.
  • The success of your sales process and your ability to up-sell is based on trust and credibility. Work with your team on finding ways to build instant trust with each client you work with.

Provide Incentives for your team

  • Give your sales staff a reason to work for higher sales, and you’ll have a team of people supporting your business growth efforts. Would you work harder to make someone else money? Absolutely not. If you want to leverage the sales talent of your team, you have to build in a performance-based system to reward strong work.
  • Be generous with your rewards – token gestures will have the opposite effect you’re looking for. Consider rewarding both high performers, and those who have demonstrated great improvement, as this will motivate staff to keep improving. You can also reward staff on an individual and team basis.
  • Incentive programs can include bonus checks, gifts and gift certificates, recognition awards, or a combination for meeting agreed-to sales targets.

Once you’ve trained your staff, implement one or all of these strategies to add perceived value and increase your average dollar sale.

increase value

Package products or services

  • Package products to increase your customers’ perception of value. Bundles and packages are perceived as having a higher value than the sum of individual items and customers will feel they’ve received something for free.
  • Use packages to revive interest in old or new products, or to move old product out of your store. This will work for services as well, as long as the offer or package is given an end date and there is a sense of urgency. For a spa, you could package manicures and pedicures and reduce the cost by $5 for limited time. Customers coming in for a manicure only may be encouraged to book both services and take advantage of the perceived discount or increased value.
  • Package products or services so that they are intuitive, like socks and running shoes or razors and shaving cream. Make sure that the products relate to or complement each other. Packages that don’t make sense to you won’t make sense to your customers.
  • Create starter kits to ease customers into new products, and boost the dollar value of the sale at the same time. Any new activity or tool could feasibly have it’s own starter kit, like painting, camping, running, a new computer or skin care line.
  • Use your list of up-sell items to create packages. If you always encourage customers to buy leather protector with their winter boots, consider marking up the cost of the boots and including the protector for “free.”

Charge for convenience.

  • Offer to ship or deliver your products or services for a small fee, or provide free shipping or delivery on purchases over a certain dollar amount. Many customers will pay a little extra for convenience services, as long at the fee is within a reasonable range.
  • Set up service contracts or in-store warranty programs, and charge for them. This works well with electronics, appliances and other products that may require regular servicing or tech support. It is more convenient for the customer to deal with you instead of the manufacturer, so most client will be happy to pay a small amount more for the service.

Give visual reminders through merchandising.

  • Use checklists next to product signage to suggest additional complementary or required items. For example, if a customer is purchasing a printer, do they have the USB cord, paper and ink they’ll need to get it set up?
  • Always have impulse products available at the point of sale. Failing to do this usually means saying no to hundreds or thousands of dollars in revenue. Even hardware stores have displays of candy and personal maintenance – completely unrelated items – at their point of sale to boost each sale that goes through the till.
  • Post reminder or suggestion stickers on products for passive up-sells. On printer paper, suggest ink cartridges and vice versa. If items are part of a set or particular line of items, put a sticker on the product that says “I’m a part of a set!”
  • Ensure your store layout and merchandise displays are conducive to complementary purchases. Place batteries next to items that require them, and other items together if they make sense as a single purchase. If you can’t put all like items together, use strip tags to give items like batteries a second location.
  • Organize your products in order of price from basic to premium, and label them as such. Customers who come in looking for the high end or budget products will be able to quickly identify which is which, and your sales team will be able to easily explain the benefits and differences between each.

Provide financial incentives to spend more.

  • Offer a bonus gift or in-store credit for purchases over a certain value, and put that value at about 25% more than your average dollar sale. For example, all customers who spend $100 will receive a $20 gift card for their next purchase. Or, all customers who spend more than $50 will get free shipping.
  • Stop discounting, and find ways to add more and charge more without spending more. Instead of a discount, can you package two items together and charge a price just slightly lower than the cost of the two individually?
  • If your business is catalogue or order based, establish a minimum amount per order. This could be as low as $25 or $30, depending on your business, but it will reduce the number of small orders that come through and your cost to process them.
  • Provide easy access to credit and financing options, especially if you sell high-priced items. Use these credit facilities to provide “no payments for 90 days” and similar offers. This strategy usually boosts the average sale of big ticket items like appliances and electronics because customers will opt for the higher end model.

Small increases in each transaction can have a big impact on your profit at the end of the day.

As you can see, there are endless ways to boost your average dollar sale. Choose a few strategies that you think make sense for your business and your customers, and evaluate how well they work. The idea here is to make it as easy as possible to pad your revenues with a little extra cash through the till.

To Your Success,

Top 6 Ways to Write Headlines That Stop Them in Their Tracks

Top 6 Ways to Write Headlines That Stop Them in Their Tracks

All your headline needs to do is convince your reader to keep reading.

Just like your lead generating offer, your headline has one job. It doesn’t need to close sales, or win copywriting awards, it just needs to grab and hold your reader’s attention long enough to keep them reading.

Studies have shown that around 80% of people read headlines when they’re looking through the newspaper, but only about 20% actually read the ad or article.

Your headline is the only tool you have to get the rest of your copy read, so you’ll need to focus the majority of your copywriting efforts on catching and holding your readers’ attention. The rest of your copy only matters if you can get them to read it!

In this post we will cover:

  • The role of strong headlines in all of your marketing materials
  • Headlines as emotional motivators
  • How to create strong headlines for your audience
  • Examples of strong headlines
  • Headline templates
  • Testing and measuring headlines

Headlines shouldn’t be limited to advertising alone – they’re essential elements of sales letters, direct mail cards, websites, newsletters and brochures.

Headlines are used to grab and hold reader’s attention in ALL marketing materials – not just advertisements in newspapers. Most readers take only a few seconds to decide if they want to spend any time reading what you have to say, in an email, website, sales letter or direct mail postcard. Just like you, your audience is bombarded by information every minute of the day, so if you haven’t convinced them to care in a few seconds or less, they’ve already moved on.

Your subheadline is almost as important, because it’s your second chance to tell the reader why they should care and keep their attention. It also creates a transition between your headline and the body of your letter or advertisement, and acts as a teaser.

Every headline should:

  • Grab the reader’s attention
  • Be something the reader cares about
  • Offer your reader something
  • Trigger emotional reactions
  • Incite curiosity

Headlines need to trigger an emotional response and motivate your reader to keep reading.

When you’re writing, you have to put yourself in the mindset of your audience. People are pressed for time, so your headline has to offer something to them that is going to solve their problem, make their life easier, or give them information that they know they need. Otherwise, they’ve already turned the page.

For example, if I were to write a headline like this – Give me three hours of your time and I’ll show you how to double your annual income by creating a passive income stream – I’m probably targeting overworked, overwhelmed, underpaid professionals who are struggling to provide for their families. I’ve tapped into their emotional motivators and caught their attention.

There are a few categories of basic human needs that most purchase motivations come from. When you are aware of these, you will be able to incorporate them into your writing and appeal to your target market’s emotions.

By identifying your target market’s needs, wants, and desires, you’ll be able to identify the words and phrases that will effectively trigger emotional reactions, which will motivate them to take action.

Using the list of basic human needs below, identify which apply to your target market and create a list of words that will trigger the emotions related to these needs, wants and desires.

  • Personal, financial and emotional security for self and family
  • Convenience and time management
  • Freedom from worry, including peace of mind, comfort
  • Self-improvement, including spiritual, intellectual, physical
  • Acceptance and recognition from others, including self esteem, achievement, attention, respect, companionship
  • Basic needs, including food, shelter, clothing, love, personal maintenance

When you begin writing your headlines, you will discover that certain word combinations are also very powerful. You can combine your list of emotional trigger words with these power words in all of your copywriting.

According to a Yale University study, the top two rows of words are the most powerful words in the English language.

create-headlines-work

Here’s how you can write effective headlines for your business in a few easy steps.

1. Identify who you are trying to target.

You need a clear understanding of who you’re writing for and what their motivators are before you can attempt to reach them. This is the target market you identified for yourself in the target market Blog-a-Lesson.

If you are trying to target a more specific group within your target market, you can chose to segment your market into sub-markets by demographic or behavioristic characteristics. For example, you might choose to focus on only men or only women with children under five years of age.

The more specific you can be with your market, the easier time you will have identifying and reaching their emotional ‘hot buttons.’

2. Identify what you are trying to communicate.

Once you know who you’re speaking to, clearly define what message you need to communicate to them. Be specific, and even write it down in plain language before you start drafting your headlines.

To clearly articulate your message, ask yourself questions like:

  • Do you have a solution to their problem?
  • Do you offer a new product or service that they need?
  • Can you provide the information they’re looking for?
  • Do you have a better option for them?

3. Identify the motivators or “hot buttons” that will elicit an emotional response from your audience.

Take the list you drafted above, and highlight or write down the words that will pique your target market’s interest, or trigger their ‘hot buttons’.

If you’re selling vacuum cleaners to young mothers, you’re going to want to identify words that would appeal to her desire to keep her home germ free for toddlers, and make her cleaning efforts easier and less time consuming.

When you’re writing for sales and marketing, always try to paint a picture for your audience. Carefully select descriptive words they will relate to and resonate with, and strong power words like the ones listed above. For example, phrases like “challenging outdoor experiences” would appeal to physically fit readers, but not those who don’t like to exercise.

4. Choose a type of headline that will work best based on the emotional motivators you have identified.

Direct Headlines clearly and simply state the offer or message, without any attempt at humor or cleverness. Pure Silk Scarves – 40% This Weekend Only | Brand New Security System Just $99 Per Month

Indirect Headlines are subtle, and often use curiosity to pique a reader’s interest before providing an explanation in the body copy. Clever puns, figures of speech and double meanings are often used. The key to weight loss success lies in your backyard.

News Headlines mimic a headline you would read in the newspaper and are a great option for a new product announcement or industry scoop. These work best when you actually have news, and can stay focused on benefits, not features. Newco launches the ultimate timesaver for new moms

Question Headlines ask the reader something they can closely relate to or would need to continue reading to discover the answer. Questions are easy to read, and can immediately tap into your reader’s emotions. Are you tired of worrying about your children’s education fund? | Do you know what’s in your fruits and vegetables?

‘How to’ Headlines indicate that the rest of the copy or the offer itself will describe a step-by-step process of interest or use to the reader. These two words create headlines that work wonders. How to find a job in a recession | How to start a profitable internet business from scratch.

Command Headlines are similar to direct headlines, but always start with a strong verb or command for action. It usually focuses on the most important benefit you offer your reader. Triple your energy in just three days | Stop wasting money when you travel.

‘Reasons Why’ or ‘Ways to’ Headlines precede lists of tips, suggestions, product benefits or even mistakes of interest to your target audience. Keep the list to a reasonable length or you’ll run the risk of losing your reader. Eight ways to save money around the house | 25 mistakes you could be making at the grocery store.

Testimonial Headlines use other people’s opinions and expertise to persuade a reader to keep reading and begin to build trust. Quotation marks are used to indicate that the words are a testimonial, not the words of your business, and they can increase readership by almost 30%. “ToneYou Bootcamp completely changed the way I look at my body” – Miley Cirrus | “I never thought I’d get out of debt before I discovered Money Saver Inc!” – Grace LePage

5. Draft at least ten different headlines using the templates below, and pick your best three to test and measure.

I often get asked how long a headline should be. This is something that is debated in the marketing community quite a bit, but I always tell my clients not to stress about it. Use the number of words you need to get your point across, without writing a paragraph. Remember that your headline needs to do one thing: get the reader to keep reading.

Don’t be afraid to draft pages of headlines or sift through the pages of a thesaurus before you get yours just right. Sometimes you’re only a word or two away from transforming a boring headline into a really effective one. If you’re having trouble, you can rely on the headline templates I’ve included in this Blog-a-Lesson.

Headline Templates

  • How to become the smartest _____ in _____
  • How to end ______
  • How I improved my _____
  • How to develop _____
  • Seven ways to add to your _____ without cleaning out your bank account
  • How to begin _____
  • 12 innovations in _____ design
  • How to enjoy _____
  • Introducing the four key rules for _____
  • How I _____
  • Six things to check when buying a new _____
  • How to conquer _____
  • Complete these three simple steps for a _____
  • How to start_____
  • Five hints to make your _____ rise above the rest
  • How to have______
  • How to become _____
  • Announcing eight powerful answers to your “what _____ to buy” dilemma
  • Which _____ do the experts use?
  • Powerful ways to update your _____ for free
  • How to keep _____
  • The four components that make up a successful _____
  • How to improve your _____
  • Six essential questions to ask before you buy a _____
  • How to get ______
  • Three clever ways to impress _____ without breaking the bank
  • The six warning signs you don’t want to miss in _____
  • How to get the most out of ______
  • Nine tips from the _____ experts
  • How to avoid _____
  • How to stay ahead of business _____ trends in _____
  • How to get rid of _____
  • Five proven advantages that _____ enjoys over the competition
  • How you can _____
  • Finally! The latest _____ secrets revealed!
  • Learn how xxx has improved since you bought your last _____

6. Always test and measure the effectiveness of your headlines. Try two at a time and compare which generates the best results.

As always, you will need to test and measure the strength of your headlines. Try to test at least two “hot buttons” in different media to determine where your target audience’s reaction is the strongest.

You can leverage off of the information gathered from testing and measuring your powerful offer as well. For example, if the offer geared to safety and security concerns was a roaring success, headlines that tap into those motivators will also be successful.

You can apply these headline writing techniques to all your marketing materials, as well as your copywriting.

In our fast-paced society, nearly everyone has become a skimmer instead of a reader. Strong, well-written headlines are the only way you can lure a browser into reading your message – so use them on every piece of marketing material you have.

In upcoming Blog-a-Lesson, you’ll work on creating brochures, newsletters, direct mail pieces, sales letters and sales scripts – all of which need strong headlines to get noticed.

Next week we’re going to work on a really popular lead generation tool that also relies on effective headlines for success – ads. You’ll focus on how to use print advertising to bring in qualified leads, as well as how you might benefit from trying some inexpensive forms like classifieds and Yellow Pages.

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies. 

As John Maxwell Certified Coaches, we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, transactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies. – wEquipu Team.

How to Increase Your Conversion Rate In 5 Easy Steps

How to Increase Your Conversion Rate In 5 Easy Steps

Now that your target prospects are answering your call to action, how can you get them to actually become your customers?

A big part of your focus to date has been on identifying who your ideal customers are, deciding how to reach them, and how to communicate with them so that they take action and contact you.

Converting leads into customers is your next point of focus, and step two of the five-step process. You’ve spent so much time and money enticing the right people to raise their hands and identify themselves that now all you and your staff need to do is convince them to become your customers.

Generally, how your potential customers perceive your business and your staff, as well as how much trust you can build and how fast you can build that trust are the two key factors that impact conversion rates.

Secondly, the strength of your sales process and scripts as well as the level of risk involved in purchasing your product or service also have a powerful impact on conversion rates.

Here are the 5 Steps

  • How your conversion rate impacts the bottom line
  • How to measure your conversion rate
  • How to evaluate your conversion rate
  • How trust and qualified lead generation impacts conversion rates
  • Strategies for improving your conversion rate

Your conversion rate is the second factor in the customer equation.

conversion rates website

A conversion rate is simply the number of transactions divided by the number of leads during a specific time period. It’s a ratio between the number of people you attracted with your lead generation strategies, and the number of people who purchased from you and became your customers.

So if 150 people come through your store in a day, and 50 of them make a purchase, your conversion rate is 33% for that day.

# TRANSACTIONS / # LEADS X 100 = % Conversion Rate

Converting leads – which is essentially the sales process – is likely the core of your daily business efforts. You’ve spent time and money setting up lead generation systems and strategies, so it stands to reason that you should put equal time and energy into converting those leads into loyal customers.

I’m going to show you in a few minutes how you can improve your conversion rate with a few simple strategies, but first I want to show you how increasing your conversion rate alone will have a dramatic impact on your bottom line.

Using the five-step formula, here is an example of how a 10% and 30% increase in conversions can impact your total profit.

Starting Point 10% Increase 30% Increase
Leads 4,500 Leads 4,500 Leads 4,500
Conversion Rate 30% Conversion Rate 33% (10% increase) Conversion Rate 39% (30% increase)
Customers 1350 Customers 1485 Customers 1755
Transactions 1.3 Transactions 1.3 Transactions 1.3
Average Dollar Sale $140 Average Dollar Sale $140 Average Dollar Sale $140
Revenue $245,700 Revenue 270,270 Revenue 319,410
Margins 24% Margins 24% Margins 24%
Profit $58,968 Profit $64,864.80 Profit $76,658.40

Do You Know Your average conversion rate for your business?

To figure out your conversion rate, choose a specific time period (day, week, month, campaign) and then divide the total number of sales transactions by the number of people who inquired about your product or service (leads) and multiply by 100. This is a percentage value of your conversion rate.

For example, 50 transactions / 150 leads x 100 = 33% conversion rate.

Now, if I wanted to look at conversions over a specific time period, the rate would vary:

Leads Sales Conversion Rate
Day 150 50 33%
Week 910 286 31%
Month 4050 1196 29%

If you’ve been tracking your leads over the past few weeks, you’ll be in good shape. All you may have to do is look at your lead tracking sheet, and divide into it your total number of sales over specific time periods. You’ll be able to analyze what your conversion rate looks like over the course of ad or direct mail campaigns, as well as over various weeks in the month.

If you haven’t started tracking your leads, you’re going to have to start in order to understand what your true conversion rate is. In my experience, many business owners overestimate what this percentage actually is, so I feel this is an important step in the process.

Keep track of the following items in your conversion rate measurement sheet:

  • Start date and end date of the measurement period (by ad campaign, week, or month)
  • Total number of leads (divided by source – telephone, in store, online, etc.)
  • Total number of sales transactions
  • How trust and qualified lead generation impacts conversion rates

If you’re starting to track leads and sales today, by the end of a week you’ll have a reasonable understanding of where your business stands.

How do you evaluate if your conversion rate is “good” or not?

customer price

I have clients ask me this all the time, ‘Once you know what your conversion rate is, how can you tell if it’s “good” or “profitable”?’

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a black and white one. The truth is that conversion rates vary and depend on the product, service and customer base. Different businesses can have dramatically different rates, yet both rates can mean the respective companies are highly successful.

For example, a thriving dollar store may have a conversion rate of almost 80%, while a profitable furniture store may have a conversion rate of 30%. Other businesses might have rates of anywhere from 4% to 99%.

You can put it into perspective if you think about how differently these businesses operate. Dollar stores generally have a high volume of foot traffic and offer a wide variety of products. The price point is low, and most people who walk into a dollar store buy something.

Furniture stores, on the other hand, offer products of a higher value that usually require more thought prior to purchase. The store generally advertises to attract leads that are looking for specific items and features. Lastly, the product requires a much more substantial investment.

So, instead of focusing on how close your conversion rate is to 100%, you need to think of conversions as relative to your break-even point – either for a campaign or for regular business operations. To do this, you need more information than the rate itself. You need to know how many leads you need to convert into customers to see a return on investment. You need to know how much money each lead costs you, on average how much they spend, and how much of their spend is actual profit.

For example, if you have $4,000 to spend on advertising and you want to see $20,000 in sales, will a 20% conversion rate be enough to do the job?

To answer this, you need more information on other measures in your business. You need to know your average dollar sale and average customer acquisition cost. In this example, let’s say your average dollar sale is $42 and your average customer acquisition cost is $2.50. (You’ll look at customer acquisition costs in the next E-Class).

If you take your $4,000 advertising budget and divide by your $2.50 customer acquisition cost, you’ll expect to generate about 1,600 leads.

So 1,600 leads with a 20% conversion rate would equal 320 sales – not bad. Now, take the 320 projected sales times the average dollar sale of $75, and you’ll get $24,000 in revenue. That’s a reasonable ROI for a $4,000 investment!

But is the 20% conversion rate a ‘good’ one? To answer this, you’ll have to factor in your profit margin to determine the answer. You wanted to achieve $20,000 from your $4,000 advertising investment.

Let’s say your average profit margin is 45.3%. So, on each $75 sale, you made $34 profit. So, let’s look at your actual profit after costs:

320 sales x $34 profit per transaction= $10,880 in take home profit.

So, when the rest of your business measures are factored in, you actually only achieved a 272% return on investment, which is about half of what you were targeting. Therefore, in this case, a 20% target conversion rate isn’t necessarily a strong one for your business.

Now, before you dive into any conversion rate boosting strategies, focus on building trust and generating qualified leads – the cornerstones of a profitable conversion rate.

You likely already know that trust his a huge factor in any exchange with a potential customer. When you first learned about sales and the selling process, you learned about building trust and rapport with the people who are giving you their money.

So, trust is therefore a big factor in having a healthy (and profitable) conversion rate. Your prospect needs to trust in the value of your offering, as well as the credibility of the business and the knowledge of the people who work there.

The issue here, of course, is the length of time it takes to truly establish trust, or credibility. With all your new leads – practically strangers – walking through the door and picking up the phone, you need to establish instant trust and credibility in order to make the most of the time you spend with each prospect.

The other important point I want to make is about the role that qualified leads have in your conversion rate. It’s one thing to have hundreds of leads contact you on a daily basis, but if they’re not qualified leads, they’re less likely to buy from so, and thus potentially wasting your time and squashing your conversion rate.

Here are five ways you can boost your conversion rate with little improvements to your business.

conversion rate optimization

1. Build instant trust.

Use testimonials. Ask happy customers to write testimonials about their experience at your business. Use their words (or even their whole letters) in your marketing materials, or post them in your place of business. Testimonials boost confidence in what you’re offering and establish trust in the eyes of prospects.

Showcase your good news. Post awards, accolades, media articles and other ‘proof’ of your credibility around your business and on your website.

2. Create an image of quality.

Consider the appearance of your staff. How do you and your staff members dress? Does your appearance communicate the right message to potential clients about your offering? You don’t need to show up in a suit every day, but make sure everyone’s appearance is professional and appropriate for your business.

Improve the perception of your business. This includes the physical state of your place of business, as well as the quality of your marketing materials and the quality of the service customers’ receive when they purchase from you.

Give merchandise displays a boost. Can you make your products look more attractive through the way they’re displayed or arranged? Put complementary products together, and create feature product displays to create variety and interest.

3. Train and develop your staff.

Give staff conversion targets and incentives. Remember that you’re not the only one who can contribute to an increase in conversions. Involve and support your staff in tracking and boosting conversion rates. Give them individual targets, and incentives for meeting them.

Review and improve sales process. Everyone can improve their sales skills, and refine the process they use to close sales. Take an opportunity to watch and give feedback to your staff members, or hold a brainstorming session to discuss what techniques, phrases, objections are most effective when selling your product or service.

Develop and continuously update scripts. If you’re not using scripts, it’s time to start. If you are using scripts, make sure you’re revising and improving them on a regular basis based on what you and your staff experience during the sales process.

Focus on customer education instead of sales. Face it, no one likes to be ‘sold’ to. Focus your sales process on building a relationship with and educating your customer on the benefits and solutions of your offering. The more they learn, the more they’ll believe what you have to say, trusting the business enough to make a purchase.

4. Improve your offering.

Increase quality, exclusivity or range. Can you improve the quality of products or services that you offer? Carry a more exclusive product, or extend your range of products? Take a look at your merchandising mix and service menu and identify areas where you can expand or specialize.

Make great offers. Strong offers can also serve as an incentive for a potential customer to complete the sale. Offer great perceived value, or exclusive and time-sensitive products or services, and you’ll see a spike in your conversion rate.

5. Take away purchase risk.

Provide free trials and demonstrations. Allow your customers to test out your product or service for free, with no obligation to purchase. Or, offer free demonstrations so your customer can see the benefit or solution your product or service provides.

Guarantee product or service performance. Take away the purchase risk from your potential customer, and you’ll have a powerful strategy for closing sales and increasing conversions. This is also an immediate trust and credibility booster – you are so confident in your product or service’s results that you’re guaranteeing them.

Work with your staff on a daily or weekly basis to consistently measure and increase conversion rates.

converstion rate

Post a calendar in the staff room or common area, and track your targeted and actual conversion rates on a daily and weekly basis. This will give you and your staff a visual reminder of the company’s goals, as well as an indication of how the team is performing.

You don’t work in your business alone, so involve and motivate your team to support you in growing your business. Give them incentives and help them develop their sales skills, and I promise you’ll see an impact on your conversions.

The next step is about customer loyalty – how to keep your clients coming back to make new purchases, instead of continuously trying to buy new clients.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Good Luck!

 

How to Use Testimonials Strategically

How to Use Testimonials Strategically

So now you have a pile of glowing customer testimonials. What’s next?

Testimonials are enough to convince people for now. – Alex Chiu

Well, obviously your next step is to use the testimonials you solicited. Generally, you want to place them in your marketing materials and other places where prospective customers will see them.

But you probably have a variety of testimonials, in e-mail, letter and verbal format. These testimonials probably speak to a wide range of aspects of your business, and your product or service offering. You may have some that sing the praises of a particular product, and others that rave about your customer service standards. Some might be from customers, others from the media.

We have created this blog to show you how to use your testimonials strategically and to get the most out of their power. Testimonials may be more believable than sales copy, but they way you use them in your marketing is the same: with a clear purpose in mind.

In this post we will cover:

  • Why testimonials need to be used strategically
  • How to choose the right testimonials
  • Where to use testimonials in your business
  • How to make the most of your testimonials

Testimonials need to be used strategically to maximize their value and their impact on your business.

Testimonials website www.wequipu.com

Let’s say you were reading a brochure about a new product that you were interested in purchasing. The copy describing the product claims that it is the ‘best product you’ll ever use’ and that the quality ‘far exceeds the competition.’ That might be true, but I bet you’re a little skeptical.

Next to the sales copy, there is a quote from a customer that reads, “Exceptional customer service. The salespeople made every effort to ensure I found what I needed, and left the store happy.”

What does that do to increase your confidence in the product? Does it help to eliminate some of your skepticism? Probably not. It’s just telling you that you’ll be treated well in the store.

In order for you to really harness the power of testimonials in your marketing materials, you have to put some thought into where you place them and why. They need to support the message you’re trying to communicate, even though the words aren’t yours. They need to make sense in the context of where they’re used.

Each time you use a testimonial you need to decide what you are trying to accomplish or what message you are trying to support.

Testimonials have the power to achieve a variety of things for your marketing and customer retention programs. They can:

  • Overcome buyer skepticism. Use a testimonial to shine light on your credibility, or on the quality of your product or service. This type of testimonial builds trust and overcomes natural barriers. In the example above, the testimonial could have read: “Best product I’ve tried in this price bracket – and I’ve tried many. Great value for money, and no shortcuts on quality.”
  • Overcome objections. Your readers are going to be naturally skeptical of any claims, promises or bold statements. As much as you can back yourself up with facts, a third party experience or opinion will work wonders to overcome unspoken objections in the customer’s mind. “It all sounded too good to be true, but when I used the hair straightener, there was more shine and less breakage.”
  • Simplify or make a point. A customer’s personal experience with your product or service will work to persuade your audience like a story does. Complex explanations or abstract applications will make more sense when applied to real life examples. This works well with highly technical products or complex services where the customer doesn’t need to understand all the details.
  • Break up and maintain interest in long copy. Readers have short attention spans and they will get bored unless you can change up the structure on a regular basis. Quotations and testimonials will break up the tone or voice of the copy, and sound like the customer is reading dialogue, which will keep them engaged. You can also break up paragraphs with a testimonial that supports the point you have just made.
  • Target anxieties or doubts. Just like they can overcome skepticism and objections, they can also overcome hidden anxieties or doubts at each stage of the sales process. Anticipate questions like “is this worth my money?”, “do I really need this?”, “can I trust the guarantee?” and “will they sell my information?”, and place testimonials accordingly.

When you have established what you’re trying to do with the testimonial, choose credible ones that will support your purpose.

testimonial www.wequipu.com

When you’re going through your stacks and stacks (hopefully!) of customer testimonials, it can be hard to choose which one will suit your purpose best. I’m usually so proud of mine that I want to use every word of each of them, but of course that’s not possible.

Use these guidelines when choosing your testimonial:

  1. Is the testimonial credible? (includes customer’s full information)
  2. Does the testimonial describe or prove the top benefits or results of my product/service?
  3. Is the testimonial detailed and specific, and describe their experience as a customer?
  4. Is the testimonial from an expert source or organization that will be recognized?
  5. Does it describe the problem the customer was experiencing before the purchase and the relief or happiness they experienced after?

Of course every testimonial won’t be all five of these things, but they’re a good way to identify strong testimonials that will have impact.

Remember that more isn’t always better. Choose quality over quantity, and try to support what you’re saying, not distract from it. A single strong testimonial will have more impact than a page full of mediocre ones.

Now, make the most of each testimonial you choose.

Chances are, you won’t get testimonials in convenient paragraphs of copy that support what you’re trying to convey. Usually, they’ll be in letter form, and potentially a few pages in length.

Sometimes you’ll use the entire testimonial, perhaps on your website or posted in store. However, most of the time you’ll need to choose an excerpt that will fit your needs. You can always use a different part later. To identify what part of the testimonial should be used, ask the following questions:

  • What is the most convincing part of the testimonial?
  • Is the author a recognizable name?
  • Is there a specific sentence or paragraph that sums up their experience?
  • Are there several sentences or paragraphs that will be of use?

For example, if you need to group testimonials under a specific category, like “Here’s what our customers had to say about their experience,” you’d only need to pull sentences that speak to customer service. If you’re looking for a killer testimonial that will speak to product quality and service standards, you may want to pull a full paragraph and let it stand alone.

You can use testimonials in your business wherever your customers can see them. Here are some suggestions for placement:

Put them on your website.

  • Create a page of your website dedicated to customer testimonials.
  • Include testimonials on every page of your website – especially the pages that generate the highest traffic.
  • Put your best testimonial in a prominent location on your homepage – in sidebars, call out boxes or above the headline – and put a new one up on a regular basis.
  • Use testimonials to break up long bits of sales copy throughout your website.

Put your best 25 to 50 letters in a waiting room book.

  • Keep a binder or album of testimonial letters, printed on source letterhead, for your prospects and customers to flip through.
  • You can keep this binder in the waiting room, your office, your point of sale, your boardroom, or anywhere else you prospect may have an opportunity to look at it.
  • This strategy allows customers to build trust while-they-wait, and usually results in prospects being more open to what you have to say.

Hang your best testimonials in your store or office.

  • Frame your best testimonial letters (again, printed on letterhead) and hand them up in your business or your office. Hang several in a row for maximum impact.
  • Even though your prospects may not read each and every one, the presence of testimonials will send the message that you have happy customers. They may even want their company names on the wall too.

Put them in your advertisements.

  • Testimonials are highly effective in advertising. Use short, clear, purpose focused testimonials for the best results.
  • Avoid cluttering up your ad with paragraphs of testimonial copy – save that for your website and brochures.

Put testimonials in your direct mail.

  • Let the words of others speak for you when sending a direct mailing. Attach a page of testimonials to a direct mail letter, or include them on postcards or brochures.
  • Since you can’t physically be there to sell your product, the use of testimonials in direct mail campaigns can boost response rates.

Partner with a complementary company for a joint mailing.

  • Send a joint mailing with a company that offers a product or service that is complementary to yours, and you’ll gather a host of qualified leads.
  • The way it works is you send a letter to your clients on your letterhead introducing and offering the other company’s product or service, and they do the same for you. Since your existing customers already trust your business, and you endorse your partner company, the letter acts as a testimonial.

Use video testimonials on your website, in presentations and in store.

  • Put videos of happy customers on your website for browsers to find when they’re looking at your offering. Videos tend to be more interactive, and may be seen by more people than plain text.
  • If you attend trade shows or sales presentations, keep video testimonials on a CD or DVD to play on a loop or in strategic points of your presentation.
  • Transcribe the audio to written testimonials that can be used in your print collateral, and make the most of your customer’s comments.
  • In your marketing materials, invite customers to visit your website to view videos of other client’s experiences and thoughts after using your product or service. It’s always more interesting to see something live than read it on paper.

When you put some thought into how you use testimonials, they will have a stronger impact on your target audience.

Remember that the key to maximizing the power of your testimonials is making sure that your prospects see them when they need to see them.

You want to use testimonials to back you up when you’ve said or claimed something unbelievable, or are trying to build credibility. You want to place them so they’re seen right before you ask for the close, or the call to action. Let others speak for you when it matters the most.

To Your Success!

5 Easy Steps to Test and Measure Your Marketing Results

5 Easy Steps to Test and Measure Your Marketing Results

Testing and measuring your marketing is critical to the growth and profitability of your business.

In fact, unless you have some form of measurement system in place, how will you even know if your business is growing or making a profit?

Of course if your net income is greater than your costs, you know you’re making money, but how do you know that cost of one marketing strategy isn’t eating all the profit of another? You need to know that each penny of your marketing budget is bringing in an acceptable return on investment so that your business grows and stays profitable.

Too many business owners fail to test and measure their marketing, and end up spending way beyond their budgets or leave heaps of money on the table. I find that there are three reasons for this:

  1. They don’t know how to test their marketing
  2. They think the testing process is too time-consuming or complicated
  3. They don’t know how to evaluate their results or make decisions based on them

Let’s get started and make sure you don’t fall into any of those categories.

We will cover:

  • How testing and measuring relates to your bottom line and business growth
  • How to test and measure on a small scale before you go big
  • How to track responses on your marketing campaign
  • How to split-test your marketing
  • How to evaluate your results and make decisions
  • Campaign rate of return and break-even analyzes

Testing and measuring is an overall, ongoing system or habit that you need to implement in your business.

You need to consistently test and measure your marketing to make sure you don’t make mistakes that cost you money. You also test and measure your marketing to make sure you’re making the most money possible from each marketing strategy you execute.

Since you should measure every time you market your business, you will need to have an ongoing system integrated into your business operations.

There will need to be a clear system for tracking responses and sales, and attributing each to a specific campaign. You will also need to make evaluating your results and making changes based on them a regular part of your weekly or monthly routine.

This may be as simple as a tracking sheet placed at every point of sale and phone in your business. It could be as high-tech as a web-based lead tracking system like SalesForce. Either way, you need to use a system that works with your business. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting into the habit of asking every customer how they heard about your company.

Your marketing strategy or campaign will never start out perfect – it will be a constant work in progress. The only way you’ll be able to establish what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong is to test and measure the results. When you make these tweaks, one at a time, on an ongoing basis, you will leverage your marketing to get the best possible return on investment.

You can learn something from every mailing, ad, newsletter or promotion, but if you fail to test and measure you’ll run the risk of making mistakes that cost you money, and repeating them.

Always test and measure your campaign ideas on a small scale before you go big.

Like I said, none of your marketing strategies start out perfect. To perfect them and maximize your return, you need to test and measure your results. This means all you perfectionists need to just dive in and start your campaigns instead of waiting for the time to be perfect or for yourself to be absolutely sure of the results.

This is a straightforward strategy when you run regular advertisements in the local paper, mail to your base of existing customers, or are thinking of a cool promotional idea. However, if you’re about to embark on a big marketing strategy and make a big investment, it’s best to test on a small scale before you commit to a large campaign.

Failing to test on a small scale before you go big will put you at risk of blowing your entire marketing budget, and having nothing left but a flopped campaign. You need to take a small portion of that budget to test your idea, and then evaluate the results to determine if it’s worth committing the rest of the budget to it.

Depending on the size of the strategy, I would recommend testing with about 10% to 15% of your overall budget. Here are some suggestions for small tests:

> Direct Mail. From your direct mail list, choose at random 10% of the contacts and send your mailing to that 10% first. Then measure the results, and make changes based on the response rate and sales generated. You may wish to split test if you need to evaluate the impact of your offer or price point and compare the response.

> Website. If you’re creating a website or redesigning the one you have, start by creating a simple splash page or a simple five or six page starter site. Then track your website hits and which pages your visitors are click on most often. This will tell you which areas of your site you need to invest the most time on.

> Advertisements. If you’re planning a big ad campaign in multiple publications, try testing your headlines and offers on a smaller scale in smaller or less expensive publications. If you were planning a series of ads in the same publication, try measuring the impact of one to see if the rest of the series will be worth the investment.

Remember that it can be difficult to get a true understanding of the impact of a big campaign when you’re testing small because often prospects will have to see your messages multiple times. The cumulative impact of a campaign can’t be measured over the short term. However, small tests will allow you to see if a campaign is going to be a big flop, or if you can tweak it to have more power.

Use this process to track, test and measure each of your marketing campaigns.

1. Conduct a break-even analysis to identify the results needed to recover cost and make an acceptable profit.

Before you a run an ad or a campaign, it’s essential that you work out exactly what response rate you need to recover your costs and turn enough profit to make the campaign worthwhile. This will prevent you from running campaigns with a low chance of success.

What should I target as a response rate?

While response rates will vary dramatically, it’s best to be conservative. If you require a high response rate – anything about 20% as a rough guideline – to break even, the campaign runs the risk of costing you money.

Once you begin tracking and measuring response rates on all of your marketing initiatives, you will gain a better understanding of typical response rates for your company, target market and industry. You can base target response rates on averages of these figures.

How do you know if your profit target is ‘acceptable’?

Profit targets will also vary by ad, campaign and, of course, business type. You need to establish what a realistic figure would be for your business, taking into consideration your average revenue and the relative cost of the campaign.

For example, it would be unrealistic to try to double your revenues in a month with a single advertisement, but a 10% increase with three advertisements may be a more attainable target.

Also consider the relative cost of the campaign. If you’re spending $5,000 on a direct mailing, $100 in profit doesn’t justify your time investment or make the campaign worthwhile.

Use this simple break-even analysis to plan for an advertisement, direct mailing or entire campaign.

A break even analysis will tell you how many sales you will need to generate to recover your costs and turn a profit.

A. Costs: Determine the total costs involved in your offer, both fixed and variable.

$ fixed costs + $ variable costs = $ total costs

B. Profit: Assess how much profit you generate per average sale or transaction.

$ average sale x % profit margin = $ profit per sale

C. Break Even Point: Calculate how many transactions you’ll need to break even

$ total costs / $ profit per sale = # sales to break even

So, if I’m considering running a direct mail campaign, my calculation would look like this:

02-How to Test and Measure Your Results

Now, to figure out if the campaign response target is realistic, I include the total number of mailings to calculate the percentage response rate.

# break even point / # total mailings x 100 = % response rate

So, if my direct mail list included 250 people, the response needed to break even would be 19.6%, which is too high for a break even point. I’d need nearly 20% of my recipients to buy before I even started turning a profit. If the mailing list included 5000 people, the break even response rate would be much better at 0.98%

2. Implement coding and tracking systems in your marketing campaigns.

While testing and measuring is not an exact science, there are ways you can build coding or tracking systems into your marketing campaigns to make it easy to see where your leads and customers are coming from.

Each time you design an ad or create a direct mailing, think about how you will be able to tell when a customer purchases in response. Here are some suggestions for “coding” your marketing strategies so you can track their results in your tracking systems:

  • Count the number of people who walk in your store to track retail traffic before and during a campaign.
  • Compare sales figures before, after and during a campaign. Remember that advertising can have a cumulative effect, so don’t be surprised if results spike after the third campaign in a row.
  • Print a coupon as part of your print advertising or direct mail. Offer a discount or free product and require customers to present the coupon to receive it. If you advertise in several places, put a different code or number on each publication and you’ll see which publication generates the best results.
  • Give an incentive for disclosing their source. Give them a reason to tell you what ad or strategy they’re responding to: “Mention this ad and get 5% your next order.”
  • Dedicate a phone line or extension to each campaign. If you do a lot of advertising, publish a different extension for each ad. When a customer asks for “extension 53” you’ll know which ad or direct mailing they’re responding to.
  • Compare website traffic before and after a campaign. Use Google Analytics or ask your web host for a report on the number of hits on your site by day, week or month. Do the same after or during a campaign and compare.

Use a tracking sheet to log leads and customers.

Ask every customer who visits your store or calls your business where they heard about you. If you have contact forms on your website, include a “where did you hear from us?” box. Make it a part of you and your staff’s conversations with customers.

Use a simple tracking sheet like this to keep tabs on where your customers are coming from. I suggest keeping a sheet like this by your point of sale system and by the company phone, and using one per day or per week. This will give you an easy at-a-glance idea of how your strategies are performing.

04-How to Test and Measure Your Results3. Split-test your marketing to compare the impact of two offers, headlines, or other elements of a campaign.

Like I said above, no form of marketing is perfect from the beginning. You need to test and evaluate your strategies to determine which is the most effective. This goes for entire strategies – like direct mail – or elements of that strategy – like offers, color, headlines, font, layout or price. You can always improve your marketing by tweaking the details.

You can use split testing to test two elements at the same time, and see which is most effective. When you measure your results, you usually will find that one works better than the other. Then you can ditch the ineffective one, and go on to test another element, or test the successful element against another version.

For example, if you want to test offers in your direct mail, you would send one offer to half your list, and the other offer to the other half of your list. Then, when customers call or come in store, you see which offer they ask for. The offer asked for most is the strongest one. If you’re happy with the results, move on to test headlines. If not, test the successful offer against a new one.

4. When you’re testing your marketing, only test one detail at a time.

Like any good science experiment, you can only test one variable at a time to measure its impact. So if you’re testing your headline, you can’t test your offer or your price. Otherwise you won’t be able to evaluate which of the two changes generated the change in results

So, if you run a regular advertisement in a magazine or newspaper, only change one element of that ad and measure the difference in response or sales. If sales go up, keep the change and test another element. If they don’t, try another strategy.

5. At the end of the campaign or advertising period, calculate the campaign rate of return or ROI and analyze your results.

Calculate your return on investment for each campaign or ad you run.

To calculate your campaign rate of return as a percentage, divide your profit by your total spend and multiply by 100. You can also simply subtract your investment from you profit and get a dollar value.

$ profit (after costs) / $ investment x 100 = % rate of return

$ profit – $ investment = $ return on investment

So, if your ad campaign costs you $10,000 and after three months it has generated 190 customers with an average sale of $1,500, and a profit margin of 50%, your calculation would look like this:

[($1000 x 190) x .50] – $10,000 = $85,000

or

[($1000 x 190) x .50] / 10,000 x 100 = 950%

This figure will vary depending on the campaign and the business. Generally, a figure that is between 10% and 15% of your sales is a reasonable target. So if you typically bring in $150,000 in gross revenue per month, a healthy expectation for your campaign would be to bring in about $15,000 to $22,500.

Remember that a successful campaign is one that makes you money – not just generates more inquiries or leads – so make sure there has been some increase in sales.

Evaluate and analyze your results to make decisions and draw conclusions.

Once your campaign is over, compile your tracking and sales sheets and evaluate the results. Make sure the tracking and sales are captured over the same time period, and break your chosen time period down by week (if you’re looking at the month) or the month (if you’re looking at the quarter or year). This will give you an idea of how the campaign performed over time.

When you have your results in front of you, ask yourself some of these questions to analyze them and draw conclusions. Then, make decisions about changes you could make to further enhance your results.

  • Did I hit my target response rate?
  • Did I hit my target return on investment?
  • Is the return on investment acceptable?
  • Did I make money on this campaign?
  • Which (headline/offer/guarantee/layout, etc.) generated the best results?
  • How do these results compare to other forms of marketing?
  • How do these results compare to past strategies and campaigns?
  • What can I split-test next?
  • Will I run this campaign or strategy again?

Testing and measuring is the only way to make the most of your marketing campaigns and avoid repeating costly mistakes.

Like I said before, it’s just a matter of getting into the habit of budgeting for and evaluating each campaign you run. Once the systems are in place, it will take very little extra effort and you’ll really see the difference in your marketing budget and in your revenues. You can’t afford not to.

Coming up next is a two-part Class on social proof, or testimonial marketing. The thoughts and opinions of your customers have incredible power over the decisions that your prospect makes over the course of the sales process.

I’m going to show you how to collect and use testimonials to boost your conversion rate.

Until next time!

 

The 6 Steps to Creating Killer Marketing Materials – Ads

The 6 Steps to Creating Killer Marketing Materials – Ads

Blog-a-Lesson Checkpoint:

  • You have created a list of words to use in your marketing materials that will target your potential customer’s emotional motivators.
  • You have practiced writing headlines, and are working to strengthen the headlines you have been using.

For many small business owners, advertising is a confusing, expensive marketing strategy that delivers mediocre results.

We’re surrounded by advertising every place we look. From TV commercials and Google Adwords to local newspaper and radio spots, everyone is vying for your attention and the money in your wallet.

So, as a small business owner, how do you weed through the big corporate marketing campaigns and your competitors’ ads, flashy design and high budgets, and figure out what you should do for your own business?

In this post I want to show you how to create clear, cost-effective ads and placement campaigns that get results for your company.

Take a look at the examples I provide for you in the body of this post. They’re not going to win any advertising awards, but they don’t need to because they’ve generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for small business owners just like yourself! At the end of the day, do you want an advertising trophy, or thousands of dollars in the bank?me

In this Blog-a-Lesson we will cover:

  • Types of advertising
  • Print advertising for lead generation
  • Steps to creating effective (and inexpensive!) print and classified ads
  • Testing and measuring your ads
  • Examples of effective ads

Successful advertisements are those that have been designed with a clear purpose, and for a specific target audience.

Successful ads are successful because they pay for themselves with the sales traffic they generate. They bring in leads, promote products and services, and maintain awareness of your business.

So, like all of the lead generation strategies you’ve been working on, effective advertising is rooted in a strong understanding of your target market and how to motivate them to do what you want them to do.

Successful advertising, no matter what its specific purpose is, always:

  • provides a benefit, meets a need, or solves a problem
  • targets an audience that wants or needs the benefit or solution
  • offers a product that is closely tied to the benefit or solution
  • clearly communicates the message (the benefit or solution) and is easy to understand
  • pays for itself by generating a high volume of sales traffic

Every business should have an overall strategy or purpose for their advertising over time. This will not only allow you to save money by making bulk ad purchases, but will keep you from advertising on an infrequent basis, or in an ad hoc fashion.

Align your advertising with your business growth or positioning goals, and map out a six month or year-long strategy. Do you want to position your business as the expert in the industry? Double your lead generation? Sell a specific product or service? Announce new products or services? Maintain awareness of your company?

Here are some forms of advertising that each have a separate purpose:

Information Advertising is a common form of advertising that features the company in question in a positive light. Be careful not to misuse this form, as no reader is going to be interested in an ad that is too “me”, “me”, “me” focused. Always provide something of interest or benefit to your reader.

Image Advertising is a type of advertising that reinforces your brand name and image. It’s a less aggressive strategy that aims to keep your business at the top of customers’ minds, even if you have no specific message to communicate. It might include running frequent small ads with just your business logo and phone number or email address.

Ads That Sell convince a prospect to make a purchase before they’ve even identified themselves as prospects. These are more rare forms of advertisements, and harder to create. Lead generation ads are a more effective way to generate traffic.

In this post, we’re going to focus on advertising for lead generation.

Ads that have been created for lead generation have a strong “call to action” and are focused on motivating readers to respond.

You may want prospects to pick up the phone, bring in a coupon, enter their contact information in a contest, call for free information, visit your website or visit your place of business. At that point, they enter the formal sales process and you can work to convert them into loyal repeat customers.

Use the emotional motivators you’ve been focusing on the previous e-classes to speak to your target audience, and focus on getting your readers to do something that identifies themselves as potential buyers.

1. Design your advertising strategy. Advertise to your target market in the places they go to most often for information.

Using the information you gathered in your market research, determine the publications that your target market accesses most often.

  • Do they read the local newspaper? If so, which section?
  • Is there a community newsletter or neighbourhood publication that would also serve as an effective vehicle for your message?
  • Is there a local listing publication that would serve as an inexpensive way to test and measure your offer?
  • Can you create a YellowPages ad that generates leads?

Once you have determined the publication (or publications) that you wish to target, make contact with the sales representative at each. This person is a great resource for you to use to your advantage – ask questions about size, specs, deadlines, proofs, changes and other expectations. Newspapers often use their own systems for layout, and have their own requirements for file preparation.

This person will also have demographic information on the publication’s readership, so gain access to that data and use it to inform your campaign.

When you are establishing a relationship with the publication, make sure to spread your advertising dollars out to maximize your investment. Publications will often give you discounted rates when you buy in bulk, or commit to a certain budget over the year. Keep in mind that you will need to test and measure which ads are effective, and which aren’t, so try to structure your contract in a way that allows for flexibility.

While you are looking for a good advertising rate, remember that advertising is an investment that you make into the growth of your business. That money is used to ‘buy’ customers, whose purchases become your return on investment.

Ad placement is also an important consideration, but you will have varying degrees of influence over the final placement. Always request placement that is well forward and in the top right-hand corner, preferably in the section of the paper that best relates to your industry.

Advertise frequently – or at least regularly – to see the highest return on investment. There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. People need to be reminded constantly of your business (even big household names like CocaCola advertise regularly)
  2. There are always new customers to market to
  3. The people who are actually looking to purchase your offering are a percentage of your target market that rotates regularly
  4. People need to see your advertisement regularly to build trust and belief in credibility

Make a plan for regular advertising that suits your budget. You may want to alternate between large and small ads, or between display and classified ads.

2. Write copy for your ad that speaks to the emotional motivators of your target audience.

Use the writing and persuasion skills you’ve been learning in the past two posts, and apply the same principles to writing your ad copy. The next post takes an in-depth look at copywriting; so more help is on the way!

Like you learned in the headline post, the most important part of your copy is your headline. You need to start with a headline that catches their attention with emotional triggers, and then gives them a reason to keep reading and care about what you have to say.

In advertisements it’s especially useful to follow your headline with a subheadline that is equally interesting and engaging. The remainder of your copy should focus on communicating the benefits or solutions that your product will provide, and deliver on any promises you made in your headline. Tell your prospects why they should take action, and what they’ll get when they do. Use the emotional trigger words to hit their ‘hot buttons’ and keep them reading.

A final tip in writing ads for lead generation is about weeding out unqualified leads. Make sure you include enough information in your ad to deter unlikely customers from making contact with you. For example, be up front about price and you’ll avoid dozens of phone calls from people who can’t afford to purchase your offering.

3. Ask your customers to take action.

Since the purpose of your ad is to generate qualified leads, your call to action has to be prominently featured so your readers know what to do and how to do it.

  1. Ensure the way you want them to contact you is a larger font size than the rest of your contact details, or the only contact method.
  2. Tell them how to receive what you’ve promised – free information, a special offer, preferred status. Call 999.555.9595 and ask for Ted. Visit www.newco.com and sign-up to start receiving your bonus guide. Come to the store and ask for your membership card.
  3. Link your call to action to copy that mentions customer benefits and rewards. Phrases like, Call now and start receiving: [list of benefits] are strong motivators.

4. Layout your ad using these guidelines or my easy to follow template.

Remember that it is the strength of your message and the clarity of the layout that will determine how effective your ad will be. Resist the urge to get really creative and stick to a clean and simple design.

Layout should be kept simple and allow the message to come through clearly, not the formatting. Keep all type horizontal, and avoid the urge to get too creative.

Headlines are absolutely essential to successful ads. Create a powerful headline that draws in readers, and make it stand out from the rest of the ad.

White Space gives your reader’s eyes a place to rest and will keep their attention on your ad longer. If you cram too much copy or too many images into a small space, your readers will move on.

Type needs to be easy to read, but also stand out from neighboring newspaper copy. Stick to a maximum of two types of font, and avoid font sizes below 9pt. ALL CAPS and reversed type (white on black) should also be avoided.

Images need to be professionally taken in order to be reproduced in newspapers. Take care that black and white images are not too dark, or too light, and choose photos the will clearly communicate your message.

Color can boost the response rate to your ad by almost 40% over a black and white one, so use it if you can fit it into your budget.

Marketing Materials - Ads

5. Make sure to be aware of and set yourself apart from the competition

Pay attention to what your competitors are doing so you are aware of what they are doing well, doing poorly, or not doing at all. With this awareness, you can make choices to set yourself apart, or improve on your own strategies.

Without copying their strategies (you don’t want to be a “me too” business), look at their messages, layout, placement choices and offers. What can you do to give your offer or your ad an edge? Is there something they haven’t thought of?

You may want to get into the habit of clipping their ads out of the newspaper, and making observations about the messaging or design. Use this information to improve your ads and distinguish your business, but stay focused on your own purpose and messages.

6. Test and measure each and every ad, every time you run it.

Like I said above, successful advertising is advertising that pays for itself.

It is helpful to think of advertising as an investment, rather than an expense. You are investing money in your business and using it to ‘buy’ customers. Ideally, those customers will offer you a favorable return on your investment by purchasing from you on a repeat basis (we’ll look in detail at customer acquisition costs and lifetime value in an upcoming E-Class).

The only way you will know if an ad is paying for itself is if you track and measure the results it generates. You need to know where your customers are coming from, how they found out about your business, and why they decided to take action.

You can use your lead tracking system to do this, and then assess the results at the end of a fixed time period. You can also put codes or “keys” on your ads to indicate where your customers came from. This includes actual codes on coupons that tell you which publication the ad was placed in and in which week, as well as different offers and bonuses: Buy 2 get 1 free vs. Free gift with purchase, or Guide to Home Energy Savings vs. 25 Ways to Save Money on Energy Costs.

Remember, effective print and classified advertising rarely needs to be flashy or clever.

Get into the habit of always asking yourself, “what am I trying to accomplish with this ad?” You can even write your purpose on a sticky note and put it on your computer screen to keep you focused. Then, make sure that your headline, message and unique offer all cater to that purpose.

Effective advertising doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or even cleverly designed. Like all aspects of lead generation, it really comes down to a strong understanding of your target audience, and knowing how to communicate with them.

So, in the next post I’m going to help you become a better copywriter. You’ll build on the skills you cultivated creating strong offers and writing effective headlines, and learn how to craft persuasive text.

To Your Success.